After the Love is Gone: A Decade After Installation (part 1)

Some designers like to see which parts of their landscape designs perform well, once time and poor maintenance conspire.

They appreciate what works and on future designs try to not repeat mistakes, at least those which can be helped. A visit to El Paso on Nov. 2, 2019:

The Hospitals of Providence, East Campus (by QUERCUS)

The first phase of this hospital campus was completed in 2009, including minimal landscaping to meet City of El Paso codes. The caliche soils are stunting the Chinese Pistache / Pistacia chinensis trees in the parking areas.

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Still missing the other plants on the berm by the portico. Mostly lower, that softened the boulders and yuccas. Penstemon amphorellae, Leucophyllum spp., and so on. Unknowingly removed, herbicided, pulled, etc…

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Still liking my curved seat wall, of buff-colored concrete, but the chocolate flowers, autumn sages, and rain lilies are long-gone.

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Color trinity, arc vs. angles


Onto the more recent South Tower addition, built in 2013-2015, with the landscape installed in 2015.

The amount of missing plants out front from the original installation is higher than expected. Those that died for whatever reason were never replaced from what I could tell.

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I’ll need to look at my photos from earlier to verify what was originally there.

On the side entrance, more of the plantings are in place except the perennial flowering plants. The cupcakes ‘Rio Bravo’ Texas Sage / Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’ look to all be there, in various sizes. Same with the Catclaw / Senegalia greggii, Coahuilan Hesperaloe / H. funifera, and Deergrass / Muhlenbergia rigens.

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Same with the Torrey Yucca / Yucca torreyi, less skinned up of green and dead foliage than earlier plantings at the first phase here. And a stray flowering sage…

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An add-on after the project was designed, approved, and under construction was the community garden. This I really liked, but it appears to now be abandoned. The 12+ foot Siberian elm volunteer tells me much. The hospital kitchen was going to use items grown here, as well as the community.

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The raised beds are solidly and attractively crafted.

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As typical for me, I used low ornamental grasses in the parking islands where people walk and might trample weaker plants.

The Blue Grama / Bouteloua gracilis and mounding but spiky Beargrass / Nolina spp. are doing well and haven’t been removed, so far. The Chinese Pistache trees are ironclad as usual, though still not growing into the caliche soils as fast as we’d like to see.

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Moving from the covered doctor and nurse practitioner parking, the only lawn on this hospital campus is doing fine. With the first few freezes occurring earlier than usual, over the previous week in late October, the Santa Ana Bermuda is going dormant.

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More cupcake-pruned Rio Bravo Sage stand out from the now-growing Texas Red Oak / Quercus buckleyi and Deergrass.

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My original bosque of Texas Red Oak is still shrunken, me unsure if the other programming change after plans were completed ever happened – an area to show movies for staff and the nearby community, projected against the far wall.

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I’ve grown weary of last minute changes, which always result in someone’s pet project forcing the unnecessary deletion of trees in a desert climate. As usual, the disregard for a need for shade per the original design is couple with the next cliche: “any trees will block what we want to do.”

At least I was able to salvage enough of the oaks for this to become a soft, shaded picnic spot in the future, for the milder months.

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And the oaks as they grow are revealing they are what I specified but doubted at installation: Texas Red Oak. Coming from the grower near Houston, they were vigorous with one central leader. Now they’re all starting to spread out and growing multiple leaders, like more xeric Texas Red Oak tend to compared with eastern oaks.

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Medical Office Building (by QUERCUS)

The first of a few Medical Office Buildings (MOBs) to be constructed on the Hospitals of Providence East Campus was completed in 2009. Often specialists with their own practices are located near a major hospital.

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The plantings are growing slowly, though the Texas Honey Mesquite / Prosopis glandulosa are growing more moderately, since they seem to chip through caliche over time. And the usual calcium deposits from the drip irrigation.

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The ‘Silver Peso’ Mountain Laurel / Sophora x Silver Peso are growing well, though the Trailing Indigo Bush / Dalea greggii are left alone, forming odd mounds!

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To be continued in my next post

2 Replies to “After the Love is Gone: A Decade After Installation (part 1)”

  1. Maintenance matters–no kidding! Maintenance is a manifestation of love.

    Crazy that in a climate with intensely hot summers, the need for shade is overlooked.

    And when there’s never a regard for maintenance, it’s a one night stand! Trees – yes! Especially tough, long-lived trees vs. clueless people in high positions

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