Keep the Lonely Places

A month ago, I paused work I was at a good place on to make the trek to Marfa, Texas. I last visited briefly in April, but it was over 2 years ago I spent more time there. I looked forward to seeing parts of Chinati I hadn’t yet seen. Photos from 6/24/2022.

After quick stops for gas and lunch, my next stop was Lobo.

Native grasses have been recolonizing the land in Lobo, but they’re mostly dormant instead of a more typical, pale green. That’s due to an ongoing, severe drought in much of the southwest into the southern prairies and California. (except Arizona)

Arizona Cottontop / Digitaria californica is trying to green up from spotty rains, 180 miles southeast of my home and over a few low mountain ranges.

The German friends who bought this ghost town and put on a biannual short-film festival in the past may not be regrouping. They still get their area.

Nice line drawing, fully agreed

The weight on my shoulders is gone by now, though it starts to lift off my shoulders at the 80 mph speed limit sign at the El Paso / Hudspeth counties line on I-10.

Chihuahuan Desert grassland here is dissected by an arroyo, lined with an open gallery of Little Walnut / Juglans microcarpa. The Davis Mountains peek through the distant hills.


Almost 4 hours after leaving home, I’m safe at my serene abode for a few days. Marfa is a small, peaceful island of people, surrounded by lonely yet awe- and idea- inspiring expanses. There are a number of places worth experiencing apart from the vibe-seeker-influencers, not to mention the interesting people I’ve met during many visits.

Though with such a hot, early summer, there was no sitting on the pleasant porch this visit, except at sunrise or after dark.

Marfa this June was as hot as it typically is in hotter Las Cruces or El Paso.

Another stay at this pleasant house is in order, but probably not in the now-unreliable-for-comfort May to September time frame.

Between some personal and invoicing fires, I was able to walk around town, except for the drive to take in the 7 hour full tour at Chinati. Not to mention I was able to relax and write some, though not on this neglected blog.

Confirming my experiences, the sayings ring true to, “write only what you know” and “write the (book) you wish you had.”

Finding a serene place to rest, even if you already live in serenity, can help, too.


A simple streetscape of decorative brick wall, with a planting of escarpment live oaks and yuccas is another Tim Crowley & Compadres project.

Years ago I was told these special bricks were spotted at a sales yard beyond San Antonio by Crowley or a designer he works with, and using some design savvy, they make quite a show along this street.

Next post and on others to come, we’ll enjoy some more garden related sights from my locale and beyond.

How have you been in the time I last posted? Let’s continue our past conversations or start something new in the comments.


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.

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