Winter Walk-Off 2018: v. Las Cruces

I’m moving, closing on my new home in April, only a few blocks from my present rental house.

This past winter of 2017-2018 ended in the last couple weeks. We had mostly sunny days, high temperatures above normal, almost no rain or snow, and it seems a typical amount of freezes.

The actual cool season might not be over, so I’ll tabulate the actual statistics later. Do check back.


My 20 minute walk-off starts on the unbuilt lot next to my future house. The front view and remnant Chihuahuan Desert vegetation will go away, but it will remain in the back.


Just some meaningful gaps in the mortared rock slope, filled with rocky-soil native plants, would be stunning.


I’m seeing some young Cylindropuntia imbricata that might need liberating once threatened by a new house. From experience, I can handle a 3-4 foot cholla…



This is an unbuildable, 75 foot wide lot between my block and the other houses’ block. It is either a slope or an arroyo, mostly left in natural desert cover with some Larrea tridentata and loads of Sporobulus flexuosus, Sporobulus cryptandrus, and Dasychloa pulchella.



Here’s a desert-contemporary house, with carefully-shaped Leucophyllum.

And that monster Yucca thompsoniana on the upper terrace. I wonder why there are so few down here, yet this thriving species is so common all over Albuquerque?


It looks as if the Sophora secundiflora is never going to stun all year with this shape, only for a couple weeks in early spring with some of its flowers.


A vigorous Cylindropuntia kleiniae. (??) A few nearby Lantana x ‘New Gold’ are starting to grow back at the base.



This front garden and the house is among the best designs in my neighborhood.


Especially if the pampas grasses were changed to native Sporobulus wrightii… #picky

This side includes a skilled use of ever-tough Euphorbia rigida, Juniperus horizontalis ‘Blue Rug’, Rosmarinus officianalis ‘Huntington Carpet’, and Agave americana.


A few Opuntia and Echinocereus species adding one of my xeriscape principles, sculpture or CAM plants. Even a healthy but doomed-forever-in-our-climate to be compact Olea europeae.


Or perhaps it’s a hardier, compact olive like O. e. ‘Sevillano’?

The ramada driving into the garage, with wisteria or grape vines up both wood posts, is a very good touch. So is the copper roof across the front. Will check daily, soon!


A few Agave salmiana are hiding behind more Euphorbia rigida, a young, vigorous Sophora secundiflora, and the ubiquitous local Yucca elata. With our (really) sandy soils, I expect that yucca to stay small.

Various agaves, including some A. lechuguilla from the limestone areas east of the Rio Grande. Even one of the tiny, northern Arizona-native agaves (I’m now forgetting) from seeing some in the old burg 3 hours N.

And a favorite re-seeder from my former, purple wall house, Penstemon parryi.



Once there’s some maintenance, most of the plants left are worth maintaining…



The front courtyard wall with the Taos-esque carved posts are excellent. And I like when Opuntia ellisiana tries to become a tree, like a miniature O. ficus-indica.



Tall, lean, but lonely natives, Yucca torreyi.


Sheared back from the walk, a Dasylirion wheeleri…everywhere a Dasylirion, wheeleri, Dasy…..


This is looking like another fine example of Opuntia orbiculata or O. subarmata.


In the southeast where Crepe Myrtle likes it, they are often butchered into forms that cannot be mentioned. Here, where only a few cultivars like our wonderful “dry heat”, those still don’t like the stingy irrigation on xeric companion plantings, let alone when placed in extensive gravel areas over deep, sandy soil.



The same Atlantean staircase I showed a year ago, is even better from this side. It’s topped with Canterra Stone, one of my favorites that we should use muchmuch more.


Now, we’re within a block of the house I’m renting, plus you saw all that last year. But things are greening up, about 1 week behind last year’s amazingly balmy-and-wet-for-here winter.



It’s time to finish my walk, since I have to light my charcoal grill. 15 minutes so far.

And the torture of Leucophyllum frutescens carries on. Glad it’s not just my work that gets the treatment!


Oleander and some other non-native plants had some dieback this winter. Considering they had generous moisture for 18 months compared to usual, until November when it dried out, it’s from normal lows. They will green up soon.



I’m glad some of the native Atriplex canescens are retained, with its light green, open form. As are the happy populations of Gambel Quail and Scaled Quail.


Saltbush seed provides food for quail, not to mention shelter from our prehistoric-looking raptor known as the Roadrunner. A few Baileya multiradiata are flowering nearby, but the wind had to start and blur the photo…


And little 4,950 foot Picacho looms in many spots, which actually makes a good stair-master.


Back to my rental, where I’m making margaritas to enjoy out on the back patio, as I grill up dinner and the sun sinks low. If you’re into it, you can comment – at least this time!

3/18/18 weather:
65F / 47F / .00″ or 18c / 8c / .00 mm


Here’s a link to others’ winter walk-offs and Les’ blog post, which I missed…like my missing almost everyone else’s posts for a while.

9 Replies to “Winter Walk-Off 2018: v. Las Cruces”

  1. A very different landscape than the one I inhabit. The cholla looks formidable!

    Thanks for stopping by! Yes, we have alot of beach, but little water…though one gets used to all the spines!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha – I finally get to leave a comment! ;) I really enjoyed the tour, and it’s always fascinating to see where the plants are similar and where they diverge from my low desert region. Not to mention the differences between planting on sand or, in my case, on clay.
    I wish yuccas were more in use here (I guess I really mean that I wish they were easier to find for purchase!); oddly they are one thing that stands out to me when I see them so freely used in NM.
    No need to comment on butchered Leucophyllums, I suppose… sigh – except that I did a version of it myself last winter to get light to some plants that needed it very much. The bush is finally exploding into growth, once more reminding me how dependent they are on heat.
    Hope you enjoyed your margaritas and BBQ! Congrats on your new home!

    I just may have to keep comments on, since I’m finally making progress on some lingering design practice tasks…

    We have some here who think we / El Paso are like Tucson, but not even. And those distinctives make all the difference and each place special. Yuccas seem to be more a high desert and desert grassland feature, as we would love to grow saguaros and palo verdes!!

    Thanks, the new home will be so appreciated after 5 years of uncertainty and renting. Stay tuned!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One of the reasons I originally held my Walk-Off was to see things and places I don’t get to normally see, and you have accomplished that with this post. I love the architecture, and I love the plants. Half the species you mentioned I am familiar with, and the other half – not so much. Good luck with your move, and thanks for joining in!

    Thanks, that may be my favorite thing about blogs in general. Though I wish many more in the Desert SW would blog even with our similarities. Thanks, will be fun to start new garden spaces!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wait, what? Comments on! I have so much to say…but will keep it short.

    Congrats on the new digs, and like Shirley I was wondering if there might be a purple wall?? Oh, and I think you should tap a friend to make a video of you moving that Cholla. Ouch!

    It’s true, I’m going to be more sociable on social media! Go as long as you wish…plus the fling is only 6 weeks away.

    Thanks, not sure on the wall, but once I have a survey, study sketches and then a plan are next. Great idea to video moving a floppy cholla…it’s far easier than moving a big barrel!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Just this once? Oh, okay I’ll go ahead and comment since you put the comments on! Love the new neighborhood and inquiring minds wonder if you just might find a place for a purple wall. And those plants! That Euphorbia rigida is amazing. Mine never seem to grow larger so maybe I should move them.

    Looks like one Leucophyllum couldn’t take it anymore and departed the scene. So much better left natural.

    I also want to grab the loppers and turn that Sophora secundiflora into a sculptural tree. We do allow one to stay shrubby to hide an ugly garage window but that wall doesn’t need to hide. Nice walk, enjoyed the look at your new digs.

    Maybe more times, hopefully indefinitely… I’m not sure I’ll do a purple wall, since I might plan that inside the back area, and it faces into the sun…maybe something red or blue might work?

    The Euphorbia really likes their front, some looks reseeded. A really enjoyable neighborhood, and the few houses near me all seem like they are friendly people. My guess is all are from the midwest. Yes, it seems shaping only works when one doesn’t lose more than 1/4 of the mature size. I still cannot believe how some Leucophyllum here flower so heavily each July and August, but heavy rain and a few 88/65 days seems to be irresistible to them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used “Dried Chili Pepper” red in my entry. Not available now but you could probably find something similar.

      Thanks, I found some colors that resemble your’s. My front door / wall and garage are a deep blue, so that’s also nice.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your new home looks fabulous. Plus lots planting in gardens around you. Euphorbia rigida is my favourite plant in the garden at the moment.

    Thanks, it’s good to have company with people who care about their land and having a garden! That Euphorbia is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.