Saguaro-Inspired

I forget who recommended I visit the landscape outside Scottsdale’s Museum of the West in Old Town. Maybe it was Danger?

Saguaro cactus ribs seemed to have inspired parts of the museum and its landscape design, at least to this New Mexico resident’s guess. Photos from 4/26/19.

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From my explorations near Camelback Road, it was only a 1-1/2 mile round trip walk in a rather pleasant, dry 100 degrees, with plenty of design-worthy window shopping and landscapes on the way, as I clung to shady areas.

Then my epiphany: Scottsdale is almost a cross of New Mexico and Beverly Hills!

I was drawn to the above by seeing the below. Multiple focal points, yet all related. Living sculptures with created sculptures, shadow patterns of multi-trunk desert trees…

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More sculptures in the dappled sunlight…

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In the shade, walking back to my car…

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Another sculpture within plant sculptures, playing off the saguaro rib walls…

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The yuccas look like Blue Yucca / Yucca rigida, often bluer than prom queen du jour Y. rostrata.

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More sidewalk patterns I’ve never seen before, at least outside the Valley of the Sun…

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Those intricate patterns might spall (fracture into adjacent concrete) in cooler winter climates, where there is some moisture with freeze / thaw. Even slight amounts of the above can limit the finishes practical on concrete paving.

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Any questions why Deergrass / Muhlenbergia rigens was used in the parkway strip?

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Deergrass looks tougher than even in the Rio Grande Valley.

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The curb cuts for storm water infiltration into plant root zones is great to see. Believe it or not, some municipalities forbid such bioswales involving street runoff, even when their own codes or guidelines imply or encourage it.

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Different, large rock chunks mixed with smaller rock line those swales, while the incredible rock slab mulch covers this spare planting of Datil or Banana Yucca / Yucca baccata. Though yet another statue steals the show.

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This ground plane cover is very unique and really compliments these bulletproof plantings. I’ve seen something similar in past wild places I’ve explored in the west.

A mesa top near Cubero NM and this morning’s hike in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve come to mind.

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More of my rewarding walk to / from the museum…

Duck season! Wabbit Season! I’m not sure about ducks in Scottsdale, but they sure like (jack)wabbits here. Even if my visit was actually Palo Verde season…

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“Bye bye, tomorrow, Jody’s gone to the rodeo,
And you know some good old boys are getting ready to ride,
‘Cause it’s almost Saturday night.” – Dave Edmunds

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This small but lush garden entry to a salon is appealing, even if the fountain isn’t running.

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The sweet scent of the Star Jasmine / Trachelospermum jasminoides was gently intoxicating. Mixed with more mesic agaves and yuccas, it is even better.

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After passing a tapas restaurant I should have stopped at…

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Yucca rostrata that remain from some initial plantings; they seem to do almost as well here as in their home in the high, Chihuahuan Desert borderlands.

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The Arizona Canal and some new buildings offered seeing water that wasn’t coming from spray heads midday to water token turf areas…

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I missed getting a closer look at the Soleri Bridge, barely seen in the distance, right of the canal.

An interesting shade structure north of the canal…

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I’ll follow-up the first, museum landscape portion of this post with another post, if I’m able to ask the museum’s landscape architect a few questions I have of their design. Not many questions, since their firm’s project narrative covers many details of their design.

Though I rarely ask much of anyone, preferring to figure out things for myself. But since I’m nearby and one of the LAs commented on my Instagram post, why not?

Friday: Garden Bloggers Fling ’18

Forgetting the token umbrella in my car, safe inside the parking garage, the 90 percent rain chance was destiny! But that’s okay.

On to the first day of the garden tour.

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The Wildflower Center is where the weather hit the proverbial fan. So many spots there are magical, especially with their sub-humid climate version of juniper savannah, adding in oaks and completed with a heavier atmosphere.

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Spikes of native Yucca treculeana, prairie wildflowers such as Echinacea purpurea and Coreopsis spp., and ponchos for the ensuing rain.

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Wedelia texana, as the lightning and thunder suddenly began to crash.

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Diana’s Garden was very comfortable to enjoy inside her living room, and so gracious. A nice break from the kind of decor I’m around. Though you can’t hold me back from going outside… Her rustic pool pavilion was so appealing, implying Robert Earl Keen playing Gringo Honeymoon as I swim off a BBQ dinner. But my photo looked more like a water-induced blur. So, use your imagination on that area.

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Looks like one of my favorite palms, Butia capitata / Jelly Palm.

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I skipped photos at The Natural Gardener, instead struggling to be comfortable post-cold front wearing shorts and forgetting my long sleeve tees (a packing faux-pas). Over lunch we enjoyed another of John Dromgoole’s inspirational talks, as I have before in other venues.

So laid back and matter-of-fact, he spoke of how things can and did happen, but in a different place and time than I know.

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Rock Rose was more floriferous than ever, and the rain slowed to light but persistent showers.  It hit me that owners Jenny and David might be as Loree as Loree is, at least in some of their multiple spaces with so many potted plants and details pulled together in unity!

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Agave and succulents in the rocky ground or in hanging planters…

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This planter box and bench provide yet another location to pause in all their garden spaces – I forget Jenny’s name for it.

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Here I almost feel like I’m in sub-tropical Asia with variegated Pittosporum and a Trachycarpus palm.

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And now I’m somewhere in Mexico, drying out in my mind!

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Everyone peering at Jenny’s find – an emerging insect!

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On my previous trip to Rock Rose in 2011, I took numerous photos and even did a post or two of it on my former blog, so I didn’t feel too pressured to capture more this visit. I could have taught a college semester course on Rock Rose, alone. I’ll need to re-visit those photos, and possibly post on this blog.

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The Mirador Residence was our bus’ last stop on the Friday tour. The rain lightened to a Seattle-type dripping, which allowed more pics. Like each garden seen that day, it was of a different style

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Ordinary (in Austin) cor-ten and spiky plants here were given an extraordinary treatment. Higher Yucca rostrata low and lower Hesperaloe funifera high.

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Beargrass or Sacahuista / Nolina texana – the real Nolina texana – softening the oxidized edges.

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Plant massing and plant punctuation are used well, whether Yucca and Agave, or Taxodium / Bald Cypress and Muhlenbergia capillaris / Gulf Muhly grasses.

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Green on green. Cream on cream.

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The contrast of wilder plant forms with manicured, clipped Boxwood always gives me enjoyment.  I’ll let you ponder why it works. Hint: search garden design principles, and you’ll see and probably come up with even more principles.

This is the kind of garden that blows out the repressive perceptions of “native plants aren’t tough to the urban environment like invasives”, “there are no lines in nature”, “I don’t like lists”, “nature doesn’t fit into neat categories”, “formality is so passe”, “you need more flowers”, “I don’t like roses, hedges and lawn”, “oh, you’re into ‘design’ “, or the other silliness.

I’ve actually heard that and more from the untrained or unpracticed. We do better.

Having met this garden’s landscape architect, and now the owner, this landscape is one rare, harmonious connection between both parties and to the land.

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Details, details. Forget the devil, there’s greatness in the details!

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Comfortable, minimal, yet warm and peaceful.

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Yes, more rain spots on my camera lens prove I could improve my wet weather photog skill set. Then in moments, the chairs and patio filled in with tour bus companions, so no more pictures for me in that magic spot.

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There’s so much movement and energy in this scene, even under the parting weather front’s moisture blanket.

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Now, imagine this under my desert southwest conditions. Flowers optional, form required for success.

This does that well in Austin, so probably as well where I live, given our .75″ of rain since October. There are only the occasional flowers in my nearby wild areas.

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Almost dried out and feeling more normal, we arrived at the conference hotel downtown, where I quickly found the way to my car.

It was time to visit a colleague working late that Friday with a few coworkers at her office (no surprise), a drink and freshen-up at my lodging while reviewing photos, and then a long-time friend over tapas and [dry] red wine.

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** Disclaimer: differing quantities of photos of each garden are mostly a case of weather and comfort. In no way does that represent more or less favor. As a designer who appreciates most styles, each garden had numerous merits! **

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