The Neighborhood Last Week

I finally took out my DSLR to comb my neighborhood route I drive, to do things a landscape architecture snob enjoys.

Things don’t look shabby for June.

TrafficCircle-RenoirTuscany1-SML

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (selection unknown). No wonder it gets used here. This species is native to Brewster County TX, making it native to the Chihuahuan Desert, even if it’s natural range is centered in the dry parts of Coahuila to Nuevo Leon.

It has less of an unkempt habit than that of the also native, sometimes-praised A. thurberi.

Some forget that just like some ugly plants can become stars only where there’s good design and context, pretty plants with good habits are already stars.

TrafficCircle-RenoirTuscany2-SML

Of course there are some Ocotillo, Fishhook Barrel Cactus, Cane Cholla, and grasses (probably ‘Regal Mist’ Gulf Muhly). Overall this roundabout island is attractive – and drip irrigated, with care paid for by property owners.

TrafficCircle-RenoirTuscany3-SMLTrafficCircle-RenoirTuscany4-SML

The entry to one of the gated, smaller residential areas within the neighborhood works with Soaptree or Palmilla and the Sweet Acacia, even though the Texas Sage are a bit under “the treatment.”

.

I showed the evil overused Russian Sage to screen the ugh rock slope. This simple use of gnarled Honey Mesquite with some barrels, yuccas, and beargrasses works. Flowers are fleeting anyway, especially when maintenance crews have Roundup.

TrafficCircle-RenoirTuscany5a-SML

Though Russian Sage actually looks happy. Its flowers and lifespan are anything but fleeting.

TrafficCircle-RenoirTuscany5b-SML

.

Down the street, here are just a couple front yard designs. Though I’m a sucker for many of the different interpretations of our state bird.

TuscanyDrLS1-SML

The gate and the common Blue Sotol counter the Heavenly Bamboo. Though the latter is doing better than I might expect in an obscenely hot, west exposure.

We can all rest easy that roadrunners aren’t that large.

Desert Museum Palo Verde and a duo of Purple Smoke Tree anchor the landscape mostly of lantanas, Damianita, and (I think) Mexican Feathergrass.

TuscanyDrLS2-SML

.

And even something I designed, just not front yards. Still the stuff of curb appeal, which most everyone values.

Like our distant views and clarity of light that go on and on.

PicachoMtn-AnthemS1_2018-06-16-SMLPicachoMtn-AnthemS2_2018-06-16-SML

More Faxon Yucca, Beargrass, Sotol, and Mescal Agave. And more Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii ‘Mexican Fire’!

PicachoMtn-AnthemS3_2018-06-16-SML

I wish more of our front yards and developments made greater use of garden walls. And designs other than southwestern with massive profiles and tan stucco.

That one’s my fault, though if you look at their CC&Rs…

No wonder I once had half of my courtyard ripped out and replaced with an angular CMU wall and purple paint…and no stucco.

.

I’m thankful to now live in a neighborhood where more than a few properties for blocks have even a few appropriate plants besides yuccas, let alone where a number of thoughtfully-designed landscapes are visible from the street.

.

From the previous image, it partly goes downhill in the maintenance department. Most every Sophora x ‘Sierra Silver’ and some Nolina greenei got “the treatment.”

BadMaint-PM_Entry1_2018-06-16-SML

Fortunately it’s not all bad news, but that’s a future post!

.

6/24/18 weather:
100F / 73F / .00″ or 37c / 18c / 0 mm

.

Epilogue (for weather nerds, only):

The day I took the photos in this post the high was only 80F or 27c, rather unusual and abnormally cool for our hottest month of the year. That period typically runs from about mid-June to mid-July.

Which is why though today’s average is 96/62F or 36/17c, I decided to not show today in red as “notably above normal” though it’s 7.5F or 1c warmer than average.

In fact, I’m going to change “average” to “normal”, which can be 2 different things. Average = mean, normal = median.

In my time living from Albuquerque to El Paso, this time of year tends to be warmer than averages indicate, though a minority of Junes are cooler, generating the average often referred to but rarely seen.

It’s a statistical thing and nothing to be alarmed over.

Precipitation averages vs. normals tend to work the same way, especially March to June. As you can tell, one .50″ rain in that period makes desert deniers and newcomers alike believe with religious fervor that it should rain every spring, especially June.

As if In Las Cruces, we should use the astronomical calendar to tell us our climate seasons for gardens, instead of the meteorological calendar. Summer starts here most years about mid-May, not June 21, if one uses consistent 90F or 32C + highs as the marker, which many do.

So, there’s some climate nerdiness for you.

Advertisements

Common is Never Overdone if Native

Common? Boring? Effective?

ChilopsisYuccaSky2-SML

It’s just another scene here with natives Chilopsis linearis / Desert Willow and Yucca torreyi / Torrey Yucca.

Evocative of place? Namely natural place or ecoregion?

.

How about something else so native, it was already here? Complete with a focal point right in front of my neighborhood volcano, Picacho.

Trail_PicachoView-SotolFocalPt -SML

That landscape is typical of the hills east of the Mesilla Valley with sparse desert grasses like Bush Muhly and Fluffgrass, Creosote Bush and Mariola, all cut by arroyos lined with Whitethorn Acacia, Littleleaf Sumac, and Apache Plume.

But no matter what, the Dasylirion wheeleri / Blue Sotol with the new flower stalk stands out. Yet it’s in more front yards than I could count.

To me, it might never get old.

.

I’m now on the best part of any design, which is the construction observation phase. That’s the fulfillment of intellect, addition, and then reduction. It’s for the future home for a couple who’ve been married many moons, with the request and means for plants and other features nobody else has.

This tree, Monterrey Oak / Quercus polymorpha, is not native but is adapted. It’s perfect for the limited oasis area either side of the pool.

DSC_0049-SMLIMG_6211-SML

To the architect and myself, what “nobody else has” required more thought. Of course it meant some uncommon plant species, methods, and hardscape. It also meant using the common in an uncommonly purposed manner – even species native to the western bajada of the Franklin Mountains, used well or poorly in many landscapes.

Are you glad I didn’t do the trendy misuse of “curate” in the above?

Stay tuned for more on that project, which will now evolve quickly with the specimen trees in. Everyone’s vision is coming together.

IMG_6179-SML

 

.

I’m about to re-pot two poor agaves that have traveled with me since late 2012 in the same now-undersized terracotta pots! Though it’s too warm outside for that right now.

So, I’ll begin sketching visions for my own house.

But first, some notes for a suburban home along an arroyo here in Las Cruces and another upcoming, mountainside residence in El Paso. And a proposal for the first, though I know it’s Sunday.

And a margarita before I grill up dinner.

6/10/18 weather:
98F / 70F / .00″ or 37c / 21c / .00 mm

Before and After the Plant Sale

After I gave the FloraFest lecture at the University of Texas at El Paso two Friday nights ago, they put me up at the campus hotel. That way I would spend part of Saturday helping with their annual plant sale.

And that I did, most of the day.

UTEP-PlantSale1-SML

I didn’t answer many specific design questions, nor did anyone ask about that 1 plant to buy. You know, a plant that needs no water, flowers all year, won’t attract bees, is evergreen, and has nothing to do with anything else they have. Instead, most people asked me about their entire front or back yard as a coherent space – that’s a first.

My kind of people. I must have advised on and sold 4 gardens, plus various plants.

.

I didn’t buy 1 plant. My own landscape plan must come first.

I know, “boo, boo”! I’m setting a good example. And try keeping container plants alive in a shady spot with our wind and single digit humidity, plus some rear-record warmth on top of all that.

.

Before showing up, I took a quick look at an in-progress hospital renovation I designed just blocks away. Many plantings are just months old, and we’re awaiting the sculpture tree installation from Seattle’s Koryn Rolstad.

I didn’t ID materials and plants, but you can always ask.

PMH-Front1_2018-04-28-SMLPMH-Front2_2018-04-28-SMLPMH-DocPkng1_2018-04-28-SML

.

After the sale, I enjoyed perfect weather walking UTEP’s Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, adjacent to the Centennial Museum.

UTEP-CDGdn1_2018-04-27-SMLUTEP-CDGdn5_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CDGdn1_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CDGdn2_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CDGdn3_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CDGdn4_2018-04-28-SML

.

Instead of driving home to start unpacking, it was more enjoyable to first check on the growth of Ten Eyck Landscape Architects’ Centennial Plaza.

UTEP-CentPlz04_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CentPlz05_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CentPlz02_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CentPlz03_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CentPlz01_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CentPlz06_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CentPlz07_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CentPlz08_2018-04-28-SML

.

All kinds of impromptu and ceremonial activities go on here, where it was once a wasteland of asphalt, vehicles, and lawn on 2:1 slopes. I’ve happened upon quinceanera, wedding and graduation photography, Frisbee throwing, and of course studying, but never dance practice.

Work it!

.

Back to hardscape and planting design…

UTEP-CentPlz09_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CentPlz10_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CentPlz11_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CentPlz12_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CentPlz13_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CentPlz14_2018-04-28-SMLUTEP-CentPlz15_2018-04-28-SML

.

I’ve had a very busy 3 months involving a move, speaking engagements, travel, and trying to keep up with working out and just living some.

I’ll start posting on my latest travel in pieces, including the Garden Blogger’s Fling in Austin. Though these last few months gave me far more to post about than possible.

Only my need to get settled and design my own garden exceeds my ideas to post!