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…

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…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

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

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

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

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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…

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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 –

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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

The Power of Green

My land is one of brown to olive shades and accented by blue-greens, under big blue skies and sun. It can be stark. Yet gardens can tap into the beautiful power of place by emphasizing that.

I learned to run when a prospective client gets that in nature, then switches into a belief that gardens need many flowers.

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Hesperaloe funifera, with Agave bracteosa and A. parryi var. truncata L…Yucca pallida and Zephyranthes candida R

Even a few attractive flowers, but it took some “wetter” weather periods to grow those. Don’t fixate on the flowers.

Green, earth-toned stucco, and indirect light = a desert trio.

Mid-winter frames the building entry to our local state park. In a bosque ecology being restored along the Rio Grande, there were and are no bold plants native.

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Nolina greenei in both containers

To bring interest, gray and brown forbs or dormant grasses won’t work. Nor would beds of winter pansies or summer lantanas be authentic to compliment the pueblo revival architecture.

The designer borrowed from where similar grassy forms, but evergreen, tend to dominate – mountain edges, also fairly hot and dry. Containers elevate more to eye-level, and provide drainage that can lack along the river’s floodplain soils.

It works and no flowers.

5/5/17 weather: 90 / 57 / .00

Night Effects

I smile when others “discover” garden lighting, especially subtle methods that don’t detract from night skies.

My first job out of college was being a design grunt at a firm in San Diego’s Mission Valley, in pre-AutoCAD 1989. They often used lighting, aware of its high-impact dimension in outdoor living.

What a difference, even in a new landscape.

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Forestiera neomexicana in containers, Salvia clevelandii in front

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In San Diego nearing the beaches, shade trees aren’t as necessary, and people there live outdoors all year like few others. Yet they appreciate night lighting, to extend garden time. In the high desert, even with low humidity and shading from trees and architecture, summer days outside are not so pleasant.

Then night comes, blissful except the hotter periods: that’s when garden lighting allows the landscape to be savored. Forestiera neomexicana in containers will be pruned and lifted once established, for more wow factor.

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Winter isn’t bad to enjoy lighting, either, sans the breeze.

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I must drop by as hospital staffing grows, to see how many break out on the patio. Not to mention what these Prosopis glandulosa trees will develop into, lit up at night.

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That mesquite grouping will be joined by the Yucca rostrata as they also mature.

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Yucca rostrata with Salvia clevelandii

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You may remember my former house from 1998 to 2013.

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Agave scabra with young Verbena wrightii and Salvia chamaedryoides
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Nolina greenei, with Parthenium incanum and Salvia henryi in front

I rolled over in bed awakening to this many spring mornings, sleeping all night with the sliding doors open.

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Yucca rostrata, Lavandula, Salvia greggii, Quercus fusiformis, with a potted Aloe vera that came out in the warm season

After specifying landscape lighting for a few clients who valued it, I figured I deserved it, too. Mine was low-voltage, but a quality brand – FX Luminaire.

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Of course, luminarias add to the scene, but that’s only in chilly December.

Someone once asked (challenged) me, “why light up a cactus?”

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Opuntia engelmannii with Chrysactinia mexicana

That’s why!

The purple wall probably bothered her, too.

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When trying out garden lighting, first experiment with a big box store brand to find where it will work and the effects you want, before spending more money on a higher-grade system to truly reveal your spaces.

Free advice: really, really rethink copying the “airport runway” look of path lights, which many default to.

Indirect lighting does something, not drawing attention to itself. The former provides a professional touch others will want to copy but you get to live with.

4/29/17 weather: 60 / 43 / .03