Dissecting Retail: Three Years After

At El Paso’s Kern Place Crazy Cat Cyclery store, the architect and I created some small but distinct spaces using our ubiquitous rock walls with grade changes.

It won an AIA El Paso award a couple years ago.

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That enclosed, communal space with a single Quercus fusiformis and some Yucca pallida is good. It’s mostly being maintained well, too.

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The far side that once contained a rather “seasoned” Yucca torreyi specimen, then it fell, and finally the yucca’s replacement, is not so good.

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The small spaces on the side will fill in more, as the sotols grow and damianitas hopefully reseed around.

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I still regret not insisting on what should have been done on the south street’s uphill climb.

Because mountain biking and good headlamps are important, so is good plantsmanship.

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12/25/17 weather: 7331 / .00″

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Home Take 3

I found a home after much looking.

The existing adobe I placed an offer on gave me a counter offer out of line for the neighborhood and future redo of owner “touches”. So, a couple weeks ago my realtor and I executed a contract for a home built to LEED Platinum standards, including total solar power.

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front looking east (porta-potty not included)
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front looking west (new construction all around like my ’98-’04)
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back looking east

I’ll do my best to agree with any neighbors’ bad tree choices, so my small view of the Organ Mountains stays in some form! (smile)

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The 4 floor plans I entertained were narrowed down to one with outdoor living space potential.

Shifting the house footprint back a few feet allows a 12 foot square courtyard with a locking gate. Privacy is king. The front kitchen window may be changed to a door, to step out onto a firm, crunchy gravel patio with a few well-placed plants.

North is on the right.

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The 4,337 foot elevation is a touch closer to the sun’s surface than my rental, but the location at the south end of the Jornada basin might put me back in USDA z 7b. But still Sunset z 10. We’ll see.

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My new home happens to be in a development I provided landscape architect services for. Perhaps using xeric Quercus was my unintentional signature?

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Only 8 months until the house is finishing up!

Early Winter at the Roundabout

After a few years in the high desert, the savvy designer learns to design based on winter, so the landscape looks good all year.

They aren’t fooled by glossy catalogs based on cool, temperate garden models somehow juxtaposed with regional architecture. Those depend on warm season vibrancy and total cool season dormancy, interest often lying in seed heads that withstand snow. Those aren’t our reality or potential.

Our autumns and springs are long, but they seem fleeting.

The road to the Red Hawk Golf Course near my future neighborhood reflects early winter’s low lighting and gentle rest.

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Agave neomexicana, Yucca rostrata, Chrysactinia mexicana, and some volunteer Larrea tridentata are often in my bullet-proof mix.

Though the developer or maintenance crew may have thought less of the native Aristida purpurea than I. Others replaced mine with the mesic, habitual Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Regal Mist’. Remember, we average 8-9 inches of rain per year. Aristida happily grows and reproduces here with that, while that Muhlenbergia grows natively where 40 inches or more rain falls per year in southern coastal areas; that’s regular drip irrigation, unless you prefer stunted.

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There were once native wildflowers at the median ends from my original design. This time of year, though, they would not be evident.

Looking south, the Quercus polymorpha are trying to be semi-evergreen but losing all green, while the reliable Nolina microcarpa are vibrantly evergreen.

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Before our couple days colder than average, these Chrysactinia mexicana look like they got in some late flowering. Lows in the high teens and highs in the high 40’s quickly returned to average, which is lows in the 20’s and highs in the upper 50’s.

With those Chrysactinia a less vibrant green after a number of hard freezes, it’s next spring for new growth and flowering.

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Sculpture and textural contrast, seasonal dormancy versus evergreen, low maintenance, and low water-use are all ideas here.

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12/10/17 weather: 59 / 25 / 0.00