Though I moved from Albuquerque in 2013, over 2 decades there including 15 years in the foothills left its mark.
After visiting a client’s and now-friend’s landscape, I high-tailed it up in elevation where I found more pleasant temperatures in the high 80’s and some familiar highlights. Photos are from 5/18/20.
Rt 66 / NM-333 medians:
Actually, this is the larger of two guerrilla-planted medians from 1998! It’s unirrigated and uses xeric natives including Prosopis glandulosa and Dasylirion wheeleri.
I quickly measured and designed both medians after moving across town to a new home. Since this was to be my most likely route, I needed a planting more adapted and interesting than their usual streetscape then and still today.
Like a bad cross of 1970’s Midwest and Napa Valley-minimal. More on this later, as this landscape and the range of reactions were telling.
It worked! Doing more with less wins again.
From the opposite side, a rhythm of Opuntia engelmannii or O. lindheimeri were added, as well as volunteer Ericameria nauseosa allowed to stay, their gray complimenting the green of the cacti.
My guess is a contractor friend from ages ago played a part in those additions, plus some light pruning. He helped me with pruning, weeding, and hauling out here one morning 10 years ago, and he lives 30 minutes east in the mountains, so that’s my guess.
If so, thanks, Tim!
My former home:
The Ephedra viridis took and outgrew any I’ve seen, even in their native habitat in the Four Corners and west. That in spite of no drip irrigation on the property, and the thin soil layer atop granite bedrock.
The mesquites are mesquiting. They look good and rugged including braving the periodic east canyon winds that I will never miss, as their roots rip into the bedrock. Most of the other plants are growing, including Penstemon eatonii, P. parryi, Aristida purpurea, and others also reseeding.
Some of the reseeding isn’t managed as it could be, so that’s not ideal. Though that’s mostly unimportant, as it’s still enhancing the area.
And those walls, with a few accent natives like Nolina greenei or Opuntia engelmannii…
And no, this isn’t “trying to look like Phoenix”. It just isn’t Denver, Oudolf, Rudolph, or Midwest enough for some!
Even the tangle of the still-unbuilt lot and on my former home’s terraces is OK. Considering those terraces are 95 percent compacted grade and face west. Persisting or multiplying in spite of being parched are a duo of Fouquieria splendens, Fallugia paradoxa, Ericameria, Larrea tridentata, Opuntia, and who knows what else.
Ignore the few, stray Tamarix…
The locals including rabbits, western diamondbacks, or velvet ants enjoy it the most.
But once past my home, then their town’s endless areas in entropy, my constant mountain bike rides and hikes got me many rewards in the forms of stiff workouts through amazing scenery. That preserved my health, too. Just a quick visit there…
My favorite trailhead:
Trail #365 and the south foothills look parched, but with the same stunning views as ever.
The natural areas near my new home west of Las Cruces appear to have had more cool season precipitation than my old home, before the moisture supply shut off.
Some nearby residential landscapes:
Two of the original three Nolina nelsonii are happily growing in with other native or adapted xeric plants on their front slope, rock and boulder-strewn. Even a small water harvesting cistern…
The huge Yucca faxoniana still stands, and the long hedge of Opuntia subarmata is slowly hiding the concrete retention trough. Unkempt in a negative manner, the regional plants and even the fading Spartium junceum help.
I often rested here riding uphill before the fun part, the trails.
Stay tuned, since this day trip isn’t even over.