Low Down

Water runs downhill, so look to the right side of this photo. The planted and naturalized areas offer proof.

PicachoMtn-EntryUp01_2017-06-12-SML

Another person just told me how “it’s not a good idea to plant in ponding areas and drainage swales.” Like this:

DonaAnaPlaza-EmptyBasin01-SMLDonaAnaPlaza-EmptyBasin02-SML

I bet my person would find that acceptable, if only the weeds were herbicided. It’s even a historic plaza on El Camino Real.

As a designer who values enduring aspects of history or nature, that basin would be much better with native arroyo trees filling in and softening all the gravel plaza area behind it. Human and wildlife habitat.

These basins in my decade-old design were perfect for the latter, on the right side of the first photo and now below.

PicachoMtn-EntryDown01_2017-06-12-SML
Prosopis pubescens L, Celtis reticulata R / distant, some grasses and Atriplex canescens

I’m not sure all the grasses specified and installed in the pond bottoms made it, but some did. Most of the unirrigated native trees made it.

Xeric trees were specified, typical of settings getting deluged then staying dry, yet the deluge elevates soil moisture enough for long-term tree growth…similar to what’s observed in many of our arroyos.

PicachoMtn-EntryUpDown01_2017-06-12-SML

Trees were planted from smaller sizes than is regional convention. No irrigation was used in the basin, except DriWater or water truck applications the first year. That same idea was used in other basins in the same development, with similar success.

Soil: sandy loam or gravelly sand, which allows water and roots to develop deeply.

6/14/17 weather: 100 / 60 / 0.00

Focal Points

Focal point is a design principle I learned as a college sophomore, but lost in designs while fielding an array of requests and deadlines.

Landscaping is much about focal points.

Pick a great place to be or just sit, then plan what you’ll look at.

PicachoMtn-EntryAnth01a_2017-06-12-SML

I spaced the Dasylirion wheeleri into Picacho Mountain just so they would do what the three with flower stalks are doing – interrupting the sky. Focal points even work when driving.

PicachoMtn-EntryAnth01b_2017-06-12-SML
Nolina greenei, Sophora x ‘Sierra Silver’, and Larrea tridentata

That was another view of the same development entry, with more evergreens playing off the Dasylirion on the left. But mostly a non-focal point of clumped desert plants, except the ocotillos.

Passing the entry island and leaving Picacho Mountain, another focal point you miss while entering the same development. It faces you only while exiting.

PicachoMtn-EntryAnth02_2017-06-12-SML
Yucca faxoniana and a mass of Nolina greenei

Inside the development, one has to look at an island in each cul-de-sac, with no irrigation and native plants.

PicachoMtn-EntryAnth03_2017-06-12-SML
Fouquieria splendens, gray Leucophyllum zygophyllum ‘Cimarron’, and Ungnadia speciosa

Another cul-de-sac.

PicachoMtn-EntryAnth04_2017-06-12-SML
another Fouquieria splendens for height, Leucophyllum zygophyllum ‘Cimarron’ for fill, and Ferocactus wislizenii for pop

Do ever step back from your overall design, only to add in focal points and then work off of those?

6/12/17 weather: 96 / 65 / 0

Hospital: Daytime This Time

A coworker has accompanied me every few weeks to bustling El Paso, so I can take care of some wrap-up work.

Combined with barbecue at 2 restaurants, dinner time trips caused too many late arrivals here to see much. This time was a morning trip to close out bank accounts, so I finally saw my work in daylight.

Without overplanting, this new landscape is thin. Some looks good…

SPWMC-Front01_2017-05-13-SML

…some other plants and many grasses not so good, the daytime arrival under a scorching May sun revealed the brown, bad news.

And poorly-placed signage added to a few changes. Striping seems less obtrusive, until the owner implements their wayfinding consultant’s excellent signage

SPWMC-Drop01_2017-05-13-SML

Out the canopy-shaded walkway to the front doors, the Salvia clevelandii are already growing in to soften the Yucca rostrata.

SPWMC-CurtainWall02_2017-05-13-SML

So Cal: meet the Texas Big Bend. This side was barely interesting to me originally.

SPWMC-CurtainWall01_2017-05-13-SML

It now may be my favorite spot there; the curtain wall effect with the simple yucca and shrub grouping is better than I envisioned.

SPWMC-Drop02_2017-05-13-SML

Oh yeah, Hueco boulders and yuccas. Or, I need to branch out more from using scenes from desert hikes and mountain biking.

Finally, I’m including my plant lists…

PlantList-SPWMC1

PlantList-SPWMC2

The clouds are mostly where I had to change some symbols that my CAD program didn’t generate at the correct size.

Salvia clevelandii again –

SPWMC-Front02a_2017-05-13-SML

SPWMC-Front02b_2017-05-13-SML

The break patio, some more concrete seat walls. And after the monsoon season, time to prune up the Forestiera neomexicana.

SPWMC-BreakE01_2017-05-13-SML

The mostly unoccupied medical office building (MOB) has this great razor-like entry canopy.

SPWMC-MOB01_2017-05-13-SML

It’s flanked on either side by a spare but purposed green ribbon between a tree grove for shade…Prosopis glandulosa trees and Baccharis x starn groundcovers.

And a rhythm of Dasylirion wheeleri of course, every 12 feet or so.

The bump-outs use many Hueco boulders filled in with spikier or flowering desert plants: Agave parryi ‘Estrella’, Chrysactinia mexicana, Fouquieria splendens, and Dasylirion wheeleri included.

SPWMC-MOB02_2017-05-13-SML

And out via the service road, with a swale and Sporobulus wrightii along it. Plus Larrea tridentata, Fouquieria splendens, an Agave lechuguilla beyond the swale, to tie in with the desert background.

SPWMC-SSvcDr01_2017-05-13-SML

The blank area between the grasses and curb is an 8 foot wide, future walking path. I prefer compacted, small crushed gravel – I’m sure the owner will do pricier concrete.

I’m showing some of the good parts; I’ll try and follow up sometime with some odd plant issues I saw driving onto the project.

5/16/17 weather: 76 / 55 / T