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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Minimal With Warmth

The title sums up when I create a garden space, in the way many larger clients like Tenet require more for less, here at the new Transmountain hospital.

Sometimes less is more.

You pick. Minimal with impact? Or just subtle impact?

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Yucca rostrata and Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’, companions in the Chihuahuan Desert below the Big Bend, are united here.

Not naturalistically, but rather, with the architecture of the space, visibilities, and negative space.

To think, this success involves “a yucca and rock”, but with shrubby companions to add warmth to the scene. Those into minimalism or modernism only need to warm up and humanize their spare scenes.

Some can do it, others can’t.

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I rarely find that less is less, or more is more. It’s really about how one does either. But I’m not a hobbyist or collector!

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Desert skies and mountain vistas don’t hurt, either.

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11/20/17 weather: 67 / 30 / 0.00

Looking In and Out

Driving home, I took an hour to tour the Transmountain Hospital landscape I designed in El Paso. It was actually daylight.

Looking towards the ER entrance, I was disappointed about not being able to utilize passive water harvesting to benefit these plants.

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The simple pattern of Muhlenbergia emersleyi ‘El Toro’ and young Acacia farnesiana in a part-curve compliments the Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’.

The lone Yucca rostrata stands as a focal point, swallowed by the swirl of grasses.

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The same scene, but looking out of the ER portico and far into the badlands along the US-Mexico border.

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