Some Details Are Easy

Or at least with a little skill, they are!

Someone once summarized my design philosophy as “inspired by nature (desert)”. Here behind an unfulfilled project in the Mojave Desert outside Las Vegas: rock cover of various sizes, thin plant cover.

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Desert pavement is the term for the ground surface in many shrub desert communities, and it is a great model for the aesthetic and function of gravel mulch in the arid-region garden.

After all, desert pavement in the wild serves as mulch.

The owner had their contractor do this on one of my designs. They tried, but the larger rocks need to have been impressed, or filled in between using the overall, smaller gravel mulch, to avoid looking contrived. Almost!

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I specified this at a school design nearby, and it worked: 50 percent 3/8″ gravel mulch and 50 percent 3/4″ gravel mulch.

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The architect didn’t get it, didn’t try, and he’s from El Paso. One cannot miss seeing this very same effect on the groundplane, on any hike or travel into our area’s creosote bush scrub. And an architect, who has more design savvy.

If some 2-4″ rock had been added to the mulch mix, his approval might have been even less. I tried, but easy isn’t so easy. People are the main limit, not reality.

Tree stakes…do you really think they need to remain after the first year, let alone 9 years later, with 4-6″ caliper trunks and obviously quite establish and sturdy?

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Nor do I!

Disagreeing and not removing the stakes will not prove anyone right; it will girdle and damage the tree, possibly killing it.

6/15/17 weather: 102 / 61 / 0.00

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

Prepare for a Yucca Explosion

With all our moisture until spring set in to scorch it all, our local yuccas seemed primed to go into full bloom. That they did.

My first year in this house, I only pruned a few of the huge, dead flower stalks off, without a truck to haul them to the dump and also enjoying the interest of “dry arrangements”.

This year, seeing all the new flower stalks forming, I cut off all the old stalks so the better blooming year could shine and knowing I would find a way to haul.

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The large, dead stalks are bold to look at, plus some smaller birds perch on them.

Of course, birds have plenty nearby to perch on. For a garden to look better in less than geologic time, we can do simple, beneficial maintenance practices.

I’m finished with some Yucca elata clumps, their dead stalks bundled.

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One of many vigorous flower stalks that will soon shine.

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All done, looking back to the N.

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I’ve met some hobbyists, a couple architects, and others, all with a belief system that won’t grasp maintenance and pruning. Yet the same often switch and then regard gardens whose staff knows what, why, when, and how.

Have you met any people like that?

Now, to pull all those weeds and mooch kindly ask to borrow someone’s truck for a delivery to the dump!

5/15/17 weather: 88 / 53 / .00