Transmountain Hospital – the latest

A full growing season covers all sin, or at least sin unrelated to improper maintenance.

That’s what cropping is for!

While in El Paso for other things, I stopped by the last hospital I was the LA on. It’s yet another project where the civil engineer was hired at least 3 years before the architect project team, including me. They were accommodating and helpful where possible, though.

Only the strong survive, but even the strong can’t always last. Yucca rostrata is native a mere-in-Texas 5 hours southeast in the Big Bend. Those desert-native yuccas are among the strongest here.

Of those yuccas’ other companions, most Sphaeralcea ambigua and Agave parryi ssp. truncata left are thriving.

I’ll bounce between each visit, and at different times of day in early spring and early fall. Think about the lighting, the vast site and views, and the relationship of that with architecture and landscaping.

While you’re here, consider the look of dormancy or fall growth.

The agaves, Prosopis glandulosa, and Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’ soften walkways and required fire lanes.

Other locations in front, which would offer landscaped views towards the hospital, include the only passive water harvesting we were able to incorporate. After much coordination, if you remember the firm hired previously.

Too bad only some parking lot shade trees are still growing; the rest is dead or dying.


More of the same mix in the rear drive lanes, but add in Vachellia farnesiana.

The ever-popular Sporobolus wrightii was used in clumps or masses in ponding areas and to line edges of the south perimeter walk/run path. When dormant, the gold grass clumps stand out well against the olive-green creosote bush expanses,

I need to see if any of the native trees are still alive or growing along that walk/run path.

Notice what’s different about the sotols growing below the yuccas, from a March evening to an October day. Read on.


The Kornegay containers with native Forestiera neomexicana are under-performing, as by now they should have sprawling, spreading branches, Some were even partly dead this summer.

I was told that the maintenance contractor was directed by facilities or management to shape many of the plants at this and their other hospitals around town. That’s regardless of the maintenance plan included on that work. Until that, I only suspected that.

Such unneeded work that could be reallocated elsewhere, such as proper pruning to train the above container trees. That’s based on horticultural need: less work, more benefits.


Dasylirion wheeleri don’t deserve to be turned into shaving brushes, anymore than the owner’s investment deserves to be ruined.

After all, I designed this, and I give plants ample room to mature.

The seat walls we designed provide a resting place, to only grow in value as trees fill in. Originally, more lower plants, including grasses and seasonal wildflowers softened and grounded the walls.


A leaning acacia <<< has some character.


The front of the MOB (medical office building) mostly looks good, even with a number of Agave and Damianita fatalities.

I’m always glad to find some of the original vision and client’s investment in tact, like here.

Have you ever designed landscapes or gardens on a plan, then helped implement them? Any designs for a larger, commercial scale, as part of a project team? Do you wonder about all the elements that go into a garden design, or believe it to be easy? Do you ever return to watch a design mature, year after year?

Most haven’t done the above. I encourage you to do the latter two items, and get insights to other landscapes you see daily.


One Reply to “Transmountain Hospital – the latest”

  1. QUOTE: – “Do you ever wonder about all the elements that go into creating a garden design, or believe it to be easy? Do you ever go back to watch a design mature, year after year?”

    Yup and for a time things are fine, but then like your experience, maintenance companies which win the cheap contract, with a revolving door of minimum wage staff can quickly trash landscape theme because they do not understand that trimming is not about hacking, but rather sculpting and picturesque shaping over time. They also have no concept or understanding of watering natives or other exotics with similar requirements.

    This past late Sptember and 1st week in October I visited my mother’s place which has a 3rd of an acre in landscaping near San diego. Over the years I’ve planted several Chaparral Shrubs I like for shaping into multi-trunked small trees and they do extremely well. I favour many small trees in landscaping for niche areas. I have not been there since 2017 and the company hire to keep clean used a hedge trimmer on all shrubs, including the manzanita making medium sized round balls of the. Some shrubs like Laurel Sumac, Lemonade Berry and the Sugarbush they chopped to the ground level. They claimed and convinced my 92 year old mother they were a fire hazzrd. I can’t begin to tell you how livid I was when I first saw everything. *sigh*

    Multiply that and more for about 25 years of my business, on multiple projects. It’s just weird, all that you say. Except the problem’s root isn’t the minimum wage, expendable workers. It’s the owners who pay and train them the minimum (it will trickle down – ha ha!) and their incompetence at taking X money but doing the work poorly. It’s simply a reallocation of money for the right work, and few see that. Loads of incompetent maintenance people who fall into that important work, like the same who fall into many fields here in NM.

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