Tierra Verde – Saturday

While on a recent HOA consultation, we diverted down a few side streets. Some front landscapes stood out, many with good designs and plant choices.

Here’s one example of several simple but effective and low-cost front yards. A multi-trunked, native tree, with adapted grasses and several different shrubs. No gestures to inapplicable places, plus potential if one wants more.

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Compare the pruning of the Prosopis glandulosa above to the one below.  One is correct and the other is incorrect / counterproductive. Learn more at ISA and SNAG.

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My area has many seniors and part-time residents escaping northern winters, so the gravelscape is common, since some aren’t here summers to broil on a bed of rock. They’re swatting armies of mosquitoes by Lake Wobegon!

Yet they did this, like what a few skilled gardeners we know might do if in NM. A great container display, even if some are seasonal.

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Ordinary all over the southwest: yawn at the lawn, with or without the palm. And there’s a struggling chitalpa, one celeb’s recommended tree, as bacterial leaf scorch attacks it and all its kinfolk around.

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But wait!

Massed Hesperaloe parviflora, clean lines of the stepped wall, red tile, and the palm fronds all add up. Hopefully it’s not a Washingtonia filifera: the trunk and roots will not have room to develop, then destroy the wall.

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Free “expert” advice: learn each plant’s mature size in your locale, then apply.

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Oh, Ocotillo! Fouquieria splendens with local compadres, Fallugia paradoxa starting to flower and Ferocactus wislizenii. Ample room, too.

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Ha!

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This looked like a good start to an “Asian theme” using native and adapted plants. They’re onto something. No, I didn’t lose my mind.

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The pruned Leucophyllum only need to be sheared with more stems and foliage left, so the bases of each are broader than the tops. /-\  not  \-/

The Vitex agnus-castus already works with its natural form and proper pruning.

Here’s to effective use of a cool color in the gate and containers, with fuzzy Oreocereus celsianus ready to snag a woman’s dress looking snazzy.

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Potted Nolina texana greenei and Rosa banksiae: as tough as any gravelscape.

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Last stop! This resembles some of the original design at my last home in Albuquerque, but a twist of Las Cruces: “diversity unified by repeating similar forms”.

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A tougher tree than Phoenix-pushing Palo Verde: Koelreuteria paniculata. Imagine this in several years, much broader and clothed in sweet yellow flowers.

What else is there?

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Opuntia santa-rita losing the cool season purple and budding out, among a pincushion Dasylirion wheeleri and a bushy Sphaeralcea.

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Sphaeralcea ambigua ‘Louis Hamilton’

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Fouquieria splendens was salvaged from development partly to save the Echinocereus triglochidiatus at it’s base. Staying together.

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The Bouteloua spp. and the small outcropping really work, rock type similar to the distant sandstone boulder and gravel mulch.

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A tough trio of Las Cruces commoners: Washingtonia filifera, Pinus edulis, and Juniperus. Except under desert conditions, the greener J. chinensis ‘Torulosa’ or Hollywood Juniper becomes more like our native J. monosperma.

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The palm seems more stately and insulated against weather extremes with the dead foliage skirt left.

4/18/17 weather: 86 / 49 / .0

Ordinary and Good

As my design process matured in decades of weather extremes, a new appreciation for landscape techniques grew. Plants re-took center stage – lower water-use species, hardy in desert winters and summers with little care.

India Hawthorn / Rhaphiolepis indica, found at most strip malls and gas stations, along with junipers or trailing rosemaries.

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Since we can’t grow azaleas, Raphs have to do.

Raphs have always reminded me of those elusive foothills manzanitas, so picky that few here bother. And there are many different forms of tough Raphs out there in the high desert towns I’ve been or worked, all happy.

Red Tip Photinia / Photinia x fraseri can be scorched and anemic, wanting richer soils and more water than desert soil torture. But who doesn’t enjoy the new foliage?

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Is that another gas station plant hiding between Photinias – Silver King Euonymus?

Good design is a key, like with even exotic plants.

Boxleaf Euonymus / Euonymus japonicus ‘Microphyllus’ always looks green.

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No I haven’t lost my mind; it is green. And that genus’ powdery mildew or scale is rarely a problem in our rarified desert air.

Those can be issues if overwatering and irrigating overhead, but why would a person feel a need to do that?

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My point, as often, is fashion over fad. Classic over trendy.

Are there plants that thrive with little water and care where you are, which are not in vogue like they should be?

4/15/17 weather: 86 / 49 / .0

Soft and Sharp Again

Visiting past projects brings back memories, including why I placed certain plants or other features and sometimes before I learned another lesson.

The sky was still moody, though all chance of rain and the morning cold blew away.

After a too-long Saturday meeting with a prospective client, it was Picacho Mountain before a satisfying grilled dinner at home:

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the Agave neomexicana clump and ocotillo contrasts chartreuse Prosopis torreyana, even after the original wildflowers thinned and then vanished
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looking back towards the main road
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a solo Echinocereus horizonthalonius was added to the original Sophora x ‘Silver Peso’ and the Nolina texana greenei

The latter almost echoed in shape by the round, bluish pincushions of Dasylirion wheeleri across the street. Almost…

Seeing these photos as I write, we’ve had an unusual surge of humid winds off the Gulf, more the feel and scent of another place and time. This weather change really changes the way these ordinary plants look to me.

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the only Leucophyllum zygophyllum plants not butchered in their medians

I’m still figuring out why some areas of Purple Threeawn are left and others not.

The development here seems to not have a plan of action on what’s maintained or not, what can remain or get pulled out, and where. Some grasses were in the seed mix, some not – at least 50% should remain, not the 10-20% that are left or missed.

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an unusual form of Opuntia macrocentra
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see if you can spot another purple oddball Opuntia macrocentra from my plan

The occasional agaves on the sides, which I wish were parkways, so that’s what I wrongly call them. I wanted simple, gracious walkways down each street, too.

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Penstemon superbus

My guess is even with the optimal gritty soil habitat for penstemons, the maintenance directive and implementation here missed these volunteers. Where intentional from my design, most are long-gone.

Penstemons are no match for xeriphobia, overwatering, or Roundup!

And I would say those are no match for having one’s desert eyes on. Thanks for that term, Scott in Tucson.

4/12/17 weather: 87 / 63 / .0