Walking to a Park

After enjoying breakfast and walking a neighborhood I may move to, I visited a tiny park missed on cross-town drives.

Mostly bullet-proof plants for Las Cruces’ arid Zone 8 were used.


The ubiquitous Chilopsis linearis and Fallugia paradoxa are near a small, cobbled swale, plus a sturdy, appealing upright Juniperus and a few unidentified Opuntia with a healthy dose of cochineal.

Nothing exciting for the hoarder collector of what nobody else has.

Though for the realities of a public space, these are appealing and tough plant choices. There are also inviting, shaded places to sit. The economical site furnishings and colors are a plus.

This park demonstrates good plants in a harmonious composition, and there is a healthy amount of shade using trees that thrive here.


Now, onto the concerns I have, though I won’t refine or redo the design in this post; I get paid for that kind of gig.

You can call me “Captain Obvious”.


1. Most of this park doesn’t demonstrate the “lush” part of the title, nor is there adequate relationship between water harvesting and a denser planting, or even fragrance and sound, which could compliment.

2. This was a light traffic day, but this street is often busy. Being a medium-sized agricultural town, picture the sound of huge pickup trucks all day, many missing a muffler.



Wouldn’t visual buffering or softening of Spruce Street be in order? Either plants died or also likely plants were removed due to the loud words of a few misguided folks unable to balance safety and aesthetics. That view needs better psychological separation; screening with reasonable visibility. Balance!

3. Don’t demonstrate over-maintaining and ugliness with such pruning. Who wants to lose winter interest or seasonal flowering, and get less for more money?

This pruning and hot siting of Nandina…ugh. But the use of Calliandra…more of that in such a spot!

LushLeanPark1-Front5-SMLLushLeanPark1-Front6-SMLWith my main criticisms, for a low cost and maintenance public space on unusable land, this is mostly a good greeting from 35 mph.

With more thought, it could become stunning from the front.


Other functions are in back along a small side street: a permeable DG area to park vehicles, plus an easily-irrigated Bermudagrass lawn.


When I wrote “bullet-proof” at the beginning of this post, you knew there had to be a yucca.

This time, here’s a single Yucca rostrata, which our 4,000 ft elevation sweet spot grows better than most. Phoenix and Tucson have native saguaros and palo verdes, Austin and central / south Texas have non-native but adapted agaves galore, so naturally we have our own spiky choices to provide power.

Cliche and heavily-used, sure…worthy, definitely.


Near the sidewalk, the few Salvia greggii are declining. Perhaps that’s due to over-pruning, too small of drip emitters or under-watering, or too much late afternoon heat in summer from improper siting.

Everything else is common but tough; mostly native within 200 miles, 1000′ in elevation, and is low water-use.

I do tougher critiques on my own array of projects, so all I’ve related on this small park adds up to “good job”.


2 blocks across Spruce Street. Will I or will I not buy this adobe, with a high asking price for the neighborhood and tight interior spaces?


The cobalt blue sky is included, though. Stay tuned.


12/1/17 weather: 62 / 44 / 0.00


Minimal With Warmth

The title sums up when I create a garden space, in the way many larger clients like Tenet require more for less, here at the new Transmountain hospital.

Sometimes less is more.

You pick. Minimal with impact? Or just subtle impact?


Yucca rostrata and Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’, companions in the Chihuahuan Desert below the Big Bend, are united here.

Not naturalistically, but rather, with the architecture of the space, visibilities, and negative space.

To think, this success involves “a yucca and rock”, but with shrubby companions to add warmth to the scene. Those into minimalism or modernism only need to warm up and humanize their spare scenes.

Some can do it, others can’t.


I rarely find that less is less, or more is more. It’s really about how one does either. But I’m not a hobbyist or collector!


Desert skies and mountain vistas don’t hurt, either.


11/20/17 weather: 67 / 30 / 0.00

Marfa After Dark

While attending Chinati Weekend last month, walked around town. Marfa was dead when I arrived at 6 pm.


Yet within minutes of getting my bags into the room and freshening up, I drove to find the exhibit at the Locker Plant. Everyone was out. I parked my car back at the fine Airbnb where I was staying, a few blocks away from most things that night.

On the way to a few open galleries and exhibitions, I recognized the usual locals and they me. Plus loads of others who must live for these Marfa art parties.


I stayed about 30 minutes, as Big Bend Brewing Co’s Tejas Negra Lager and my conversation with the bartender helped. He’s also looking for something better and asked about Las Cruces.

By 8 or 9 pm, after more visits, it became peaceful again for resuming my walk about town with some dusk-botanizing, including this fine Bur Oak / Quercus macrocarpa in silhouette.


I’m told the Marfa Plateau has some good, deep topsoil, explaining so many amazingly healthy, xeric trees in town.


Donald Judd’s “Ranch Office” was next. I believe the ADC brand means Ayalas de Chinati, the name for his collection of remote properties in the region.


Some of Judd’s art pieces and assorted ranch parts are set in a spare but appealing building room.



Of course, I’m not alone in taking pictures of everything.  Photos of another photographer.


As she snapped away, I sat on the step near her boyfriend, we both connected but kept to ourselves in the solace.


At the local public radio station, Jackson is spinning yet another great selection of tunes on vinyl.


If I had a get-together, I would happily hire Jackson to spin disks and cook all bloody day and night. Plus he’s as friendly and intelligent as his knowledge of music and things culinary is immense.


Of course, there’s someone running short films, somewhere.

This time it’s inside a gritty auto shop, a very independent, touched-up film about who-knows-what, running in the background of some people chatting. And no surprise how they are very much in the know of the other, even way out here!



11/17/17 weather: 81 / 40 / 0.00