Sierra: Walls and Weeds, Spikes and Grasses

A quick fall visit to one of the hospital renovation projects I provided landscape architect services on, from a few years ago.

And what did I see?

I’m unsure why the grasses (gulf grasses – Muhlenbergia capillaris / ‘Regal Mist’ Grass) didn’t put on their pink flower show. They are staying smaller than I feared they might grow, though they somehow weren’t sheared either and they have drip irrigation, so they should be pink.

The hotter summer wouldn’t faze the Regal Mist Grass, given this muhley also thrives in low desert landscapes such as Tucson and Phoenix, plus this drip irrigation system looked to be functioning.

Got me…

The spiky forms of natives Dasylirion wheeleri and Yucca elata just truck along, elegant and shimmering in their eternally breezy or windy town. Their short-lived flowers earlier in the summer attract bees and small moths.

Can you see why I designed in the low garden walls here?

They stagger out from the boxy, actual structure, still parallel. I originally envisioned them a foot taller, but was glad they were adjusted down in height during field layout. The creamy color really helps the greens of the different plantings.

The native shrub behind the low wall closest to the building is Ericameria laricifolia / Turpentine Bush. Each was needlessly sheared, though it probably flowered the next month, in October. There’s a gold tinge to them when looking closely, and the waxy, needle-like foliage does smell like a clean take on turpentine.

When in bloom, it attracts various butterflies, and some bees, of course.

Hopefully this fall, I can visit when the different plants are in bloom, as well as in the morning, to better capture the different lighting at that time and the elevated, exposed terrain at the southern edge of the Franklin Mountains.

And hopefully, late summer 2021 brings us a solid monsoon season!

Streetscape in Spring

Between my hikes and home, I was finally able to spend some time admiring spring growth of one old streetscape design.

It lies within the Doña Ana County street right-of-way, leading to a private development.


Evening, 5/6/20:

Some views of where ornamental planting meet revegetation seeding and planting on the parkway.

All of this scene except some of the medians include 100 percent native species*, which combine better than I ever imagined. That’s partly due to some very-appreciated maintenance thinking and deeds.

Plants except the seeding and median yuccas were installed from seed-grown plants as specified, which have matured mightily.

Those desert sunsets, a clean and dry finish to the day


Morning, 5/7/20:

The first view, evergreen and bold, with an openness to distant landmarks

There’s something about cool, dry mornings and low, softer light.

I think it relates to a colleague’s telling me how our thoughts and planning peak in the morning hours. Here it’s a fresh view of the expansive terrain and landmarks.

Even a few remaining Penstemon superbus are left, being colonized by Aristida purpurea. I wonder what grew in the now-open area

The Dasylirion wheeleri march on, and then the Ericameria laricifolia march along.

The blank ground under the Dermatophyllum secundiflorum ‘Silver Sierra’ mirrors the payment for my design and drafting of the pilaster-gate combo.

Rhus lanceolata adds a needed tree element.

Its mature height doesn’t violate those ever-crucial viewshed requirements throughout the greater community, including this development or my own block one half-mile away.

Hope is always important, and not only hoping what’s good about the maintenance keeps going.

Rather, I hope that the next wet period occurs during warm not cold temperatures, and the contractor doesn’t shape the Leucophyllum for at least a few weeks after. May it all coincide, so those poor shrubs enduring months of heat will blossom forth.

More Spring Flowering near My Home

(I forgot to publish this post, so we’ll whiplash back 2 months)

Here are more images of spring coming on around my block in the hills west of the Mesilla Valley.

Some people believe the Las Cruces area has no seasons, claiming “it’s always summer” or other oddities. Such provincial bias and negativity isn’t helpful. It’s better to embrace the annual cycle of our moderate 3-1/2 seasons. Spring often comes early but leaves early, too.

Spring is the 2+ months between our “winter-light” and summer, mild and increasingly dry though windy at times. Photos through 4/2/20:


Texas Mountain Laurel / Dermatophyllum secundiflorum puts on a show in a more clipped but free-form garden of mostly arid-region native plants such as a mass of gray Texas Sage.

Dermatophyllum_secundiflorum-Leuc Shape PH1-SML


Near-native Parry’s Penstemon / Penstemon parryi, some possibly crosses with nearby P. superbus, grace and bounce in the breezes around Pulque Agave / Agave salmiana.


Across the street from the home with the Texas Mountain Laurel, is this attractive pergola softens the garage, covered with a relative to that neighboring plant: the more common Wisteria / Wisteria sinensis.



A few blocks away, an Oklahoma Redbud / Cercis reniformis is at peak bloom. Merging an irrigated lawn and non-thirsty ocotillos and cacti, it’s happy.



These 2 species of quince are not common today or in Las Cruces, but this home dates back to when they may have been used more. This Flowering Quince / Chaenomoles speciosa is in a neighbor’s front garden area.


Stepping out of my car, I got to meet my neighbor Bruce, who lives here with his wife. They retired here from Phoenix.


Japanese Flowering Quince / Chaenomoles japonica has a more pale, scarlet flower.



I’ll get back on track with upcoming posts, or in other words, catch up to early summer. Though not without a few flashbacks to this spring.

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