Seen On the Way to My Other Work

I first drove past this landscape in 2011. I was amazed at the sheer amount of mostly spiky plants used. Since, the owner has only added more and grouped some plants differently.

In face, this is where I sometimes park to do construction observation work at a nearby residence.

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Potted Yucca recurvifolia and Hesperaloe parviflora, in-ground a specimen Agave salmiana, a Ferocactus wislizeni, and some Yucca thompsoniana clumps.

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This looks striking as always against tiled, Mexican-Mediterranean hybrid architecture seen occasionally in a few higher end neighborhoods in El Paso.

My main question is the use of so much large rock much instead of something finer textured or smaller in size? That would allow many plants to show up more. Also, sunken grades might help hold in water to benefit the plants and still provide terrain interest.

I cropped out the hose, but hand-watering by hose might be the irrigation method over drip. I’m not sure.

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Echinocactus grusonii overload, of course. Some Yucca faxoniana appear in back, to add height and show well against the home’s shady portal.

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On the east side, there are some great examnples of Opuntia engelmannii and O. lindheimeri growing among Dasylirion wheeleri and Agave parryi.

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And more golden barrels and yuccas.

Even a Larrea tridentata is growing against the wall, it’s wispy form adding softness to the sharp Yucca thompsoniana or Y. rostrata. And more E. grusonii.

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In this spot, I can’t tell if the greener sotol is Dasylirion leiophyllum or D. acrotrichum. And what looks like a relative of Yucca faxoniana, though some will attribute the smaller head to Y. torreyi…too even of foliage growth for the latter, methinks.

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I really enjoy this landscape, ahead of many with vast lawns and mesic plants. A few houses in this neighborhood are starting to update their front yards with lower water-use and native plants.

This landscape is already there, and then some.

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8/20/18 weather:
96F / 73F / T or 36c / 23c / T

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Now to My Landscape

I’m starting the design of the garden spaces at my new home. Study sketches are loose and rough, since they get marked up! That’s already revealing some things that won’t work.

My design statement:
serene, inviting, and sometimes dramatic outdoor spaces, with the soul of the desert

Don’t laugh; that’s to help me carry through with the idea!

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Here’s Option ‘A’ (front / northwest at the top):

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Once I’ve explored a few options, I might import the best design direction into SketchUp, to “walk around” the property and further refine a final design in CAD.

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The front, in and out:

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A tiny courtyard off my home office:

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In back:

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But here’s one catch.

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When I’m out on the covered patio, I see that. So…

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…I’ll work hard on the spot between my patio and their property. My first hunch is to build a wire mesh or hog panel trellis immediately between the cover’s columns, then plant a dense, evergreen vine.

The male half of the neighboring household and I get along well, and my not-so-subtle screening solution has already been discussed. We both agree on the issue.

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The other catch: views to the unbuildable hill lot with desert growth should be preserved, since once the area is built out, I won’t have mountains or other vistas. That hill out back is the power here, and the dining room view is desert serenity.

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Plant selection is to come, once functions and forms are explored and established.

 

Growing Pains

Until the weather cools and moistens back to normal for our monsoon season, this will probably be my last post on the hospital projects in El Paso. So much is summer-dormant, plus young plantings via a tight budget need more time to reveal their true look.

Besides, I have items for my own property to start posting on, even if they are only conceptual and not in the ground!

Sierra Campus:

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The view from higher on the site reveals the spatial and plant relationships. Closer-in shows gaps in the plants, below the missing Agave neomexicana. Or whatever I specified!

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Providence Memorial Campus:

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Here, it’s waiting for Koryn’s art installation to go in.

In this case, since the landscape contractor ignored the plan’s curved arrangements of Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ and even some of the massings of other plants (namely the Maleophora crocea iceplant), her art will help soften the planting faux pas!

Usually it’s the other way around.

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Transmountain Campus:

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Aside from some missing Chrysactinia mexicana and the young age of the plants, the overall effect works, with the walls, while entering the site. That is, with the legibility of the Prosopis glandulosa trees up top and the Baccharis x Starns below.

The continued intrusion of all the behavioral signage detracts from the wayfinding consultant’s excellent signage, and it detracts from the view or plantings.

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Really? Very disturbing and the wrong way to go about things. “We’ve got a problem, Houston El Paso.”

This should look good in the fall or especially next spring, when everything recovers from our summer of June heat with July humidity.

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I’ll move onto the first problem I saw. In some other areas it was made so bad, I didn’t have the heart to post it.

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We chose to use the available reclaimed water to irrigate the landscape, instead of potable water. Partly from cost and partly from ecological reasoning. That greatly limited the plant palette, due to the elevated salts in reclaimed water.

Notice anything with the grasses, above and below?

Muhlenbergia emersleyi grasses were not tested in the extensive research materials I had from the El Paso Water Utility. That genera and many others now common weren’t even available in the trade or sold when those studies were made! My guess is with most other plants OK and the grasses not, that’s the issue.

Time will tell if that’s the reason. I hope I’m wrong, because this won’t work.

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Related Muhlenbergia rigens below is not much better, while other plants look OK.

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I’ll close with the parting shot, exiting the property. The simple lines of Agave parryi var. truncata playing off the Leucophyllum langmaniae and Yucca rostrata gives me hope.

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About that hope?

That the reclaimed irrigation water isn’t a problem and the grasses will decide to thrive, that the maintenance people and owner will do less counterproductive and unnecessary (and do right), and that these projects will enhance the entire community they touch.

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8/7/18 weather:
99F / 70F / .00″ or 37c / 21c / 0 mm