Walking to a Park

After enjoying breakfast and walking a neighborhood I may move to, I visited a tiny park missed on cross-town drives.

Mostly bullet-proof plants for Las Cruces’ arid Zone 8 were used.

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The ubiquitous Chilopsis linearis and Fallugia paradoxa are near a small, cobbled swale, plus a sturdy, appealing upright Juniperus and a few unidentified Opuntia with a healthy dose of cochineal.

Nothing exciting for the hoarder collector of what nobody else has.

Though for the realities of a public space, these are appealing and tough plant choices. There are also inviting, shaded places to sit. The economical site furnishings and colors are a plus.

This park demonstrates good plants in a harmonious composition, and there is a healthy amount of shade using trees that thrive here.

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Now, onto the concerns I have, though I won’t refine or redo the design in this post; I get paid for that kind of gig.

You can call me “Captain Obvious”.

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1. Most of this park doesn’t demonstrate the “lush” part of the title, nor is there adequate relationship between water harvesting and a denser planting, or even fragrance and sound, which could compliment.

2. This was a light traffic day, but this street is often busy. Being a medium-sized agricultural town, picture the sound of huge pickup trucks all day, many missing a muffler.

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Wouldn’t visual buffering or softening of Spruce Street be in order? Either plants died or also likely plants were removed due to the loud words of a few misguided folks unable to balance safety and aesthetics. That view needs better psychological separation; screening with reasonable visibility. Balance!

3. Don’t demonstrate over-maintaining and ugliness with such pruning. Who wants to lose winter interest or seasonal flowering, and get less for more money?

This pruning and hot siting of Nandina…ugh. But the use of Calliandra…more of that in such a spot!

LushLeanPark1-Front5-SMLLushLeanPark1-Front6-SMLWith my main criticisms, for a low cost and maintenance public space on unusable land, this is mostly a good greeting from 35 mph.

With more thought, it could become stunning from the front.

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Other functions are in back along a small side street: a permeable DG area to park vehicles, plus an easily-irrigated Bermudagrass lawn.

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When I wrote “bullet-proof” at the beginning of this post, you knew there had to be a yucca.

This time, here’s a single Yucca rostrata, which our 4,000 ft elevation sweet spot grows better than most. Phoenix and Tucson have native saguaros and palo verdes, Austin and central / south Texas have non-native but adapted agaves galore, so naturally we have our own spiky choices to provide power.

Cliche and heavily-used, sure…worthy, definitely.

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Near the sidewalk, the few Salvia greggii are declining. Perhaps that’s due to over-pruning, too small of drip emitters or under-watering, or too much late afternoon heat in summer from improper siting.

Everything else is common but tough; mostly native within 200 miles, 1000′ in elevation, and is low water-use.

I do tougher critiques on my own array of projects, so all I’ve related on this small park adds up to “good job”.

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2 blocks across Spruce Street. Will I or will I not buy this adobe, with a high asking price for the neighborhood and tight interior spaces?

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The cobalt blue sky is included, though. Stay tuned.

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12/1/17 weather: 62 / 44 / 0.00

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Natural Order

The streetscape here was designed to combine naturalistic planting arrangements, yet be structured to read at 30 miles per hour.

Note the variety in taller Yucca faxoniana and Rhus lanceolata, playing off the gray Leucophyllum zygophyllum.

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This Nolina greenei and the boulders were installed, but happily, a Gutierrezia microcephala volunteered in between the boulders and has been allowed to stay. Extra rain water collects there, the boulder acting like a dam just like curb and paving edges act.

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Those golden flowers are welcome, as is the irregular and planted arroyo tree, Celtis reticulata / Canyon Hackberry.

The latter tree is on the edge of the basin but rooted into it, which mimics its natural arroyo habitat.

But to get natural order in less than geologic time, or even 50 years, one needs to weed out the basins of invasive species, so the native seeding can establish.

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To keep a diverse yet healthy and appealing biota for all, mindful yet proactive maintenance is key.

10/28/17 weather: 6437 / 0.00

Native, Annual Grass

I need to confirm with my next-door neighbor and his rain gauge, just how wet it’s been in 2017 and in these recent storms. My guess is 2017 to date is at least 10 inches of rain, which is over 2 inches or 25% above average – but for the entire year. We have 2 months left.

Below, the same tan grass now was a green carpet over most every hill here.

Six Weeks Grama / Bouteloua barbata is a common, native annual grass in the southwest.

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We had another 1 inch or even more in a late night downpour, with more lightning than I’ve seen in a couple years. But no matter how much falls, Six Weeks Grama will not re-germinate – the temperatures are cooling into fall levels, and that grass only seems to germinate in late summer and no other time.

As long as native grasses don’t grow too rangy or leggy in key areas, I assume keep them for aesthetics and function.

Even as an annual, this grama does a good job holding in the loose soils here with their roots, while gravel mulch can only cover the soil and soften the blows of wind and hard rain. Gravel cannot root.

My fingers are crossed for restraint in such areas.

The tan really creates a good visual contrast to the greens of Yucca faxoniana and Larrea tridentata.