Thoughts in Old El Paso

Like the Steve Miller Band, I “headed down to-ooo-ooo Old El Paso.”

Before a meeting about a potential landscape renovation, I visited some other designs of mine within another 20 minutes of driving. Photos are from 10/20/18.

Memorial Hospital:


Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ was used with a fight, since this landscape contractor was difficult and even claimed they weren’t hardy in El Paso. He was already planning to make an inappropriate substitute of a gulf coast native! So, he didn’t care they weren’t placed with the semi-circle per the plan.

Since small grasses mature in a couple seasons, they should grow irregularly to soften the row faux pas. They are already working, especially in their wind.



I didn’t authorize Nasella to be substituted here, but many feel compelled to use it. Then, they complain it reseeds everywhere.

The Berlandiera lyrata should look good and smell very chocolaty, as it fills in and reseeds gently into the rock mulch. That was on the plan, as was the Nolina greenei.


I do like the Seattle diva’s artist’s colorful sculptures, at $***K on the hospital’s dime.

Though the approach to that work was anything but acceptable to myself and others. I had to adjust the landscape around them, then delete important sitting walls (paying for $***K art means sacrifices), and deleting some trees that were only a perceived problem and not a real issue for the entire design including the art pieces.

News flash: know your species, what trees become in Seattle vs. El Paso, trust an arid region designer over unfounded reactions, and mind your manners since you’re 3 years late to the party.

I was also urged to shift the grasses to be magically planted on the sculptures’ concrete footing without soil. I held my ground that “no way will that work with roots, drip irrigation, and the integrity of the artworks’ fastening method at the footing”. Moisture – steel – gravity – wind…that won’t turn out well. I later heard the artiste was disappointed the grasses were away from the sculptures.

Imagine if the artiste were a reasonable, flexible “team player”?

The overall landscape still came out, thanks to my diligence and that of the general contractor. It’s even being maintained sensibly, as opposed to “getting the treatment”  unnece$$arily; hopefully that remains the case for decades.

Patting self on back, as maintenance is also on the plans. Better yet, someone might be reading and following it!



Sierra Medical Center:


I was too early to see the Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Regal Mist’ get pink flowers, but on-time to see the golden massings of Chrysactinia mexicana work with other plant massings and low garden walls.

I was also on-time to catch the beginning of weeks of fall color on Pistacia chinensis.


Do you see why seat or garden walls are important, even if visual? Delete divas, not substance.


The natives against the dark glass at the facade are looking good as intended…golden Ericameria laricifolia and blue green spikes of Dasylirion wheeleri, plus Yucca elata lifting through the non-native, unapproved contractor substitution of Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Regal Mist’.

Again, kudos to myself again, for making lemonade out of lemons, collaboration, and flexibility using a solid design, under you-have-no-idea-of-my-painful-circumstances in 2014-15.

And let’s not forget someone might be following the maintenance sheet. Only some replacement of dead Leucophyllum and adjustments of irrigation downward are in order so far.


I’ll return to these landscapes for their winter looks, after I post on other assorted design doings further north along the Franklin Mountains.