Color Overload but Look Sharp

A college professor with Australian accent told our class, “if your design looks good in black and white, you can always add color to make it even better. Perfect your graphics in black and white. Spend your time working in black and white, and only color if you have extra time.”

I applied that here, only to have it cool and rain so much, the color went into high gear, the accents remaining.

Simple cul-de-sac turnarounds at Picacho Mountain:


Depressed grade in the center, boulders, and xeric native plant species.


Last week, we had a hot spell as the monsoon pattern weakened into something more like south Texas’ “La Canicula“. For our high desert that means muggy nights and mornings, but hot afternoons and low humidity.

The above Leucophyllum flowers are gone, every one!

The monsoon pattern moved back for a few days, and voila: humid but mid-60’s by midnight, and 4 rounds of thundershowers soaking the land. Then yesterday, the monsoon pattern moved south, and we’re in low humidity all day and night.

8/16/17 weather: 91 / 66 / 0.00

Key Areas, Intensity Missing

To a drive-by, these key areas have impact. But do they have the impact designed into them originally?

This worked, especially with the Yucca faxoniana, but I cannot ignore the large bare stretch by the Rhus lanceolata.


The original wildflowers are gone at the far left end among the agaves, and the low evergreen Ericameria laricifolia missing from the near, right.

Yet holding their ground and defining the space nicely with the other plants missing, the yuccas and the framed yuccas with Nolina greenei behind both work. The low Rhus lanceolata in front defines the space for drivers, too.

Looking forward towards the yuccas and beargrasses more closely…


My design had more shrubs and so did that post-installation view, than exists now.

Maintenance is usually some of the reason, with drip irrigation not re-buried correctly, as periodic erosion occurs.


So was installation: the developer’s field person let me know about his waiving the contractor’s occasional errors in plant and even drip emitter placement, compared to what my plans specified.


8/15/17 weather: 92 / 64 / 0.00

Mesic Low, Xeric High

I always say this, because it’s the natural world’s model.

Modeling design on how water moves with gravity pays off with successful landscapes.


Xeric plants are on top where the sandy loam grains sharply, but in the basin which floods briefly and the soil stays moist longer. It’s similar to a broad arroyo in the general hydrology.

There, I used mesic Celtis reticulata and Prosopis pubescens plus seeding.


On that high area, there are some volunteers of the very xeric, sandy soil specialist Psorothamnus scoparius.

This basin or ponding area isn’t the most aesthetic part of my design or the overall development, but it’s required so excessive runoff from development can safely exit properties. Usually such areas are fenced in with chain link, inside only bare dirt kept free of plants or covered in rock kept free of plants.

Here, arroyo plants absorb that extra water and provide habitat for wildlife. More attractive and productive than barbed wire, chain link and rock.

Another view of the basin below.


8/13/17 weather: 89 / 68 / T