Maintenance Mystery

Here’s the same development’s landscape, but different treatments to the same plants and for no apparent reason. Is someone listening and starting to think while experimenting?


Yucca faxoniana / Faxon or Palm Yucca


These different treatments are under 8 feet apart. The missing understory plants is another topic, for now.


Above: that yucca has been allowed to grow naturally, with a spiky sphere of live, green foliage to photosynthesize (manufacture food) for its roots. I learned about photosynthesis by the 7th grade!

Food is crucial to long-lived plants.

Below: this yucca has had over 1/2 of it’s live, green foliage removed. Often someone believes it needs trimming to look better. The live crown, important to plant health, was exposed from over-pruning; only the bottom 3 inches is brown and appropriate for removal, if at all.


One can research the need for plant photosynthesis and ways to neaten the skirt of dead leaves on yuccas (or palms) without doing long-term damage to the crown.

“Look better?” At least this couple gets to change out of their party costume; the plant can’t and is affected for years:



Dasylirion wheeleri / Blue Sotol


Above: adequate room, but left to grow naturally. Below: adequate room, but the aesthetic of the original plants is gone for a long time. The sotols won’t soften the view of utility boxes, either.



I’m sure any relationship between Hawai’i and Las Cruces is a coincidence.


Nolina greenei / Beargrass


Above: adequate room, but the beargrasses are left to grow naturally and sway in the wind.  Below: adequate room, but the beargrasses met the power hedge trimmers and became chopped cylinders.


All the above plant species require no pruning or shaping, and they look better that way than what many do.

Money saved by not doing counterproductive tasks can be applied to necessary landscape tasks. Imagine how much money adds up long-term, when monthly or even quarterly tasks are pared down to only what’s beneficial.

It costs less to do nothing or use restraint, and have elegance.


In another post, I’ll show you what can happen to ocotillos around these parts. Many aren’t so lucky, but these are sliding by so far!



Evening Light: A Drive-by

Someone is reading my casual or pointed rants via Instagram. Or so I think.

Back from a hike at the neighborhood volcano (extinct), it appears the landscape lighting is being moved to correspond with the plants. Possibly like the original design.

Fingers crossed that’s not just a coincidence.



Most every time I flew home from Las Vegas, I exited 215 to McCarran past a series of widely-spaced Dasylirion wheeleri. That and the sotol spacing on medians near my then-Albuquerque house may have inspired me. (the latter I pirated several years earlier – yes, it’s true)

But lit up, they add ambiance to the dry breeze wafting in at dusk.



I need to find old photos of these Fouquieria splendens soon after installation. They’ve really grown in from the smaller, seed-grown plants – not wild-collected.


What I do as a landscape architect is much about evoking moods using light and shadow.


5/31/18 weather:
99F / 64F / .00″ or 37c / 18c / .00 mm



Before and After the Plant Sale

After I gave the FloraFest lecture at the University of Texas at El Paso two Friday nights ago, they put me up at the campus hotel. That way I would spend part of Saturday helping with their annual plant sale.

And that I did, most of the day.


I didn’t answer many specific design questions, nor did anyone ask about that 1 plant to buy. You know, a plant that needs no water, flowers all year, won’t attract bees, is evergreen, and has nothing to do with anything else they have. Instead, most people asked me about their entire front or back yard as a coherent space – that’s a first.

My kind of people. I must have advised on and sold 4 gardens, plus various plants.


I didn’t buy 1 plant. My own landscape plan must come first.

I know, “boo, boo”! I’m setting a good example. And try keeping container plants alive in a shady spot with our wind and single digit humidity, plus some rear-record warmth on top of all that.


Before showing up, I took a quick look at an in-progress hospital renovation I designed just blocks away. Many plantings are just months old, and we’re awaiting the sculpture tree installation from Seattle’s Koryn Rolstad.

I didn’t ID materials and plants, but you can always ask.



After the sale, I enjoyed perfect weather walking UTEP’s Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, adjacent to the Centennial Museum.



Instead of driving home to start unpacking, it was more enjoyable to first check on the growth of Ten Eyck Landscape Architects’ Centennial Plaza.



All kinds of impromptu and ceremonial activities go on here, where it was once a wasteland of asphalt, vehicles, and lawn on 2:1 slopes. I’ve happened upon quinceanera, wedding and graduation photography, Frisbee throwing, and of course studying, but never dance practice.

Work it!


Back to hardscape and planting design…



I’ve had a very busy 3 months involving a move, speaking engagements, travel, and trying to keep up with working out and just living some.

I’ll start posting on my latest travel in pieces, including the Garden Blogger’s Fling in Austin. Though these last few months gave me far more to post about than possible.

Only my need to get settled and design my own garden exceeds my ideas to post!