Winter Interest: Arizona Rosewood

Though we skipped winter this year, like 2016-17 but with a more normal moisture regime (dry), the high desert always has some winter dormancy. Even the (crazy) bluegrass fairways aren’t so green with many hard freezes at night and a handful of lows in the teens.

But do you see anything in the distance?

A green, shrubby or dwarf tree or two?

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Not the olive-green Creosote Bush or assorted cacti and yuccas.

That’s the fairly-common and almost bullet-proof, Arizona Rosewood / Vauquelinia californica. I prefer mine pruned up to perform as a small evergreen tree in tight areas, but I’m not sure of this person’s accompanying landscape. This looks good, too.

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When I move, I’ll likely miss my glimpse of 4,950 foot Picacho.

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This rosewood thrived in many landscapes others and I designed back in that other place 3 hours north, and even more here. It needs some winter moisture to supplement the summer monsoon season, and it has 2 related species that to me look more refined – Vauquelinia corymbosa var. angustifolia and Vauquelinia corymbosa var. heterodon.

All Vauquelinia species enjoy the moderate temperatures of USDA zones 7a to 8b, between about 2,500 and 7,000 feet elevation in the southwest.

I’ll let you look up the long, serrated and evergreen foliage and other attributes.

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Back to an SLR Camera

I had a 35 mm SLR film camera decades ago, but I’ve used handheld film or handheld digital cameras since at least 2001.

I tried out my new digital SLR camera this past week.

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Then from my front patio, without and with the zoom lens.

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Yes, my neighbor developed a brand or logo for her home, a stylized version of our local three crosses icon. It even appears on her flagstone address number plaque.

That hazy day, El Paso’s Franklin Mountains loom just inside the Texas border, 35 miles away.

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Part of this new camera will be my re-learning techniques such as depth of field, in order to take better photos of my work and what inspires my work. I took a quick tour of my favorite project near my home to critique aspects of.

I’ll try not to scare you with the bad maintenance. Again, no zoom and zoom.

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Recently seeing Danger Garden’s images of Agave neomexicana at one of her local nurseries, those in Oregon look healthier than here, though they grow natively on most of our hills. So, our “dry heat” can be overrated!

At least we don’t have a chance at developing SAD, and the light for photos is amazing.

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At the entry, the zoom lens reproduces what I see exiting the development. Though it also shortens the close-in view, causing the houses to appear closer than in reality. This is where using depth of field might help on sharpness through the view.

Many Yucca faxonianaDasylirion wheeleri, Agave parryi, and Nolina greenei forms going solo, with softening blooms and smaller plants long ago dying or removed. Their green really stands out and brings welcome life in winter dormancy.

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“Design for summer, and your garden looks good in summer. Design for February, and your garden looks good all year.” – Tara Dillard

The usual brown tips on foliage are evident on many plants (i.e. winters’ freezes and summers’ legendary “dry heat”), blurring to the left and further back.

Changing my SLR camera’s depth of field would sharpen all plants as they recede in this mass. Which is what one sees without a camera.

The structure of that mass facing exiting drivers works as intended, not forming a hard wall. It affords home properties a gentle buffer west towards the development, yet preserving driver views exiting the development, east into the valley and beyond to the Organ Mountains.

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2/20/18 weather: 5835 / .00″

Roadtrip: Chinati

Taking a half-day off this past Friday, I drove out of Las Cruces after two showery days, actually, for a Chinati Foundation sunset event.

Soundtrack: loads of Pink Floyd, plus Stevie Ray Vaughan, Laura Marling, etc.

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The high clouds and filtered sun in Marfa caused a more muted, less golden effect than what I was hoping for, but it still created light-shadow contrasts. That plus a very light turnout of visitors was exactly what I needed to relax and start the weekend.

So was arriving 30 minutes early for a margarita at the Hotel Paisano’s bar.

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I didn’t run into one Marfa local or visitor I know. Only plenty of solo time.

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First, Judd’s 100 works in mill aluminum:

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Then, Judd’s works in concrete. I’ve recently read that Marfa’s “unique light” comes from miles of Blue Grama grasses, like you can see to the horizon or in swaths by the concrete works:

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Of course, a little botanizing during and after their evening event. This looks like a Little Walnut / Juglans microcarpa.

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One of a few paths worn into the endless Chihuahuan desert grassland, here with mesquites, soaptree yuccas, and some other native species.

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Just under 4 hours there, and the same time back.

The setting sun beams through the Arena’s clerestory windows, ahead of incoming showery weather I left behind at noon.

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Dinner first, of course.