Checking out Hospital #5

Over my career, I did landscape designs on several hospitals in El Paso and Albuquerque. The last design in this post may be my favorite, and I’m enjoying it grow in.

Photos from 2/13/20. Picking up my friend at the train station, I enjoyed one of El Paso’s many architectural gems and an established Live Oak / Quercus X virginiana:

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Hurrying back to my home for the sunset, it’s The Hospitals of Providence, Transmountain Campus, starting at the entry portico.

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The late sunlight caught the grouping of natives; a foothills Bull Muhly / Muhlenbergia emersleyi with the oft-used, Big Bend accent Beaked Yucca / Yucca rostrata.

There was no ability to include passive water harvesting (aka bioswales or rain gardens back east) or many site planning innovations when the architects and us other team members began work; the civil engineering design was mostly complete by then.

But we did get to use gray water, and learn a few unexpected things with plants that take that treated water along the way. Those plants weren’t included in a decade-old study since they weren’t available and tested.

Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion native plants were heavily used.

At the ER parking area, more space with less visibility concerns exist. More Beaked Yucca were specified, to take advantage of the expansive desert skies, while a green ‘Rio Bravo’ Texas Sage / Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’ was massed as an informal hedge.

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The compact showpiece of Artichoke Agave / Agave parryi ssp. truncata was used near intersections, to allow greater visibility and interest at those key locations.

Too bad I can’t transplant some of the pups and fill in some gaps…

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Across the way, more of the same plants unify that area’s overall effect. This will also will provide some skyline accent with the sky and view of the Franklin Mountains.

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I hope to visit other portions of this landscape as it warms up to see other areas and spring growth before summer. It will need to be done in covert fashion, since there’s now a requirement with this facility and others like it to get written authorization for photos and for one time, only.

That’s the meeting of post-9/11 security meets proprietary ownership, and this is private property.

My other hope is that post-Covid-19 protocols will not further prohibit the ability to enjoy and document landscape treatments. That’s a possibility, but perhaps being reasonable will once again rule.

Early Spring: Desert Botanical Garden

With a wet, cool spring in much of the desert southwest, plants were thriving though a little late for spring blooms. Even in the low desert of Phoenix.

Monday afternoon was free, so I took one of my brothers, his lady friend, and her son to the Desert Botanical Garden for a few hours.

They really enjoyed it. Pics from 3/16/20:

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Chainfruit Cholla / Cylindropuntia fulgida joins other Sonoran Desert indicator plants such as Saguaro / Carnegia gigantea 

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The spare feel of this, where plants aren’t crowded together, seems to reflect the essence of the desert southwest. The splash of color from Chuparosa / Justicia californica against Organ Pipe / Stenocereus thurberi also softens the foreground without crowding.

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Always birds like white wing doves nesting in a saguaro

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Though the closures and fear of Covid-19 was about to hit, people were already canceling reservations in the Valley’s high season. This garden was not as busy as typical in early spring. Now it’s been closed for over 2 weeks.

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I’m enjoying seeing the yellow wall and other plants mellowing with age.

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Superstition Mallow / Abutilon palmeri is a large, open shrub with large, papery blooms.

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After spending so much time in the Valley over the last year and before that, I can spy Piestewa Peak far left where I’ve hiked. Plus portions of Camelback Mountain where I’d like to hike soon.

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And back to the beginning, as we head out. Blueish agaves, yellow Desert Marigold / Baileya multiradiata left, and Desert Bluebells / Phacelia campanularia on the far left.

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After the Love is Gone: A Decade After Installation (part 2)

…Continued from the previous post, photos from 11/2/2019

Medical Office Building (by QUERCUS)

This office building and landscape were completed in 2009.

I remember the August day the design team completed our final inspection / punch list, as we stood under the portico. It had rained the day before, and the other team members (from San Antonio) remarked at how pleasant El Paso’s weather was in August compared to there.

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A lone Salvia greggii remains, in once-thriving groupings of that same plant among the boulders and other flowering plants.

Thank goodness for ProsopisHesperaloe, and Muhlenbergia!

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Spread out, Texas Honey Mesquite / Prosopis glandulosa! Too bad the small grass clumps were more in quantity and should be matured at 6 feet tall and wide by now…arroyo native, Sporobulus wrightii.

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The flow of Deergrass is something I was inspired by, seeing it done with another plant (Red Hesperaloe), in another climate (sub-humid prairie at Dallas Love Field), and on a business / design trip for the first phase of the main hospital.

It’s a disservice to use grasses or accent plants as a mere clump of 3 around a boulder! They need massing, with only a few plant or tree accents in small clumps.

This works for parking lot speeds and even walking to the front door.

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In back of the MOB, things fell apart more than in front.

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Unequal plant substitutions, new sidewalks, or just blight

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Poor Manfreda spp.: first rabbits, later no care and few remain

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The modest income from design fees is long gone after a shorter period on life’s necessities.

Yet, the care for my work, the long nights, or the appreciative client, colleague, or project user continue to pay off. In spite of the others who don’t involve me, let alone compensate me for that time.

I return to visit old designs when I can, to document. Even others’ work…

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UTEP Centennial Plaza (by the office of Ten Eyck Landscape Architects)

I watched this project get built when I moved to El Paso in 2013, living a 10 minute walk away, and it was completed shortly after I moved to Las Cruces in 2016.

First, parking by this old and rugged native, Desert Willow / Chilopsis linearis.

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This holds together thanks to the generous use of mostly Chihuahuan Desert-region / environs plant species, with some adaptive mesic species. Not to mention, a strong maintenance commitment from the designer and owner. As part of their contracted services, the landscape architect’s office provided the owner’s crew hands-on maintenance instruction.

I.E. demonstrated how to do various tasks for various plant types, and not just once.

From what I see, this has worked and will continue to work, benefiting the owner and the array of those who enjoy the garden spaces at UTEP.

Never has there been the budget in my scope of work or support of the prime consultant to do that. Except out of the kindness of my heart or at most, I’m paid to add a maintenance sheet on the plan set for a few projects.

I can count my times when a wedding or quinceañera shoot isn’t happening at UTEP.

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Just seek out the good, and enjoy it like this guy!

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I can’t wait to ride one of these scooters or rent a bike, on some future trip to the “big city” of El Chuco!