Office Space

The contractor friend I helped design this for did a number of things on the fly, including surprising me that it had to be LEED certified.

Even with that, sketchy maintenance and caliche soils are giving way to a maturing planting for more than the usual, bullet-proof plant posse of Yucca-Sotol-Purple Three Awn-blah blah blah.

Though the latter is there.

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The end-of-the-monsoon skies and a quick flash of warm, humid air help provide a backdrop of my simple design of Quercus fusiformis, Nolina greenei, Rosmarinus officianalis ‘Prostrata’, and accents of beefy Yucca faxoniana and Dasylirion wheeleri.

These are actually the first live oaks I noticed when I drove by, and they just need some light, interior pruning with some more drip emitters.

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But those root sprouts…just let them fill in and mow to 4″ like a groundcover.

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The sides and decline or removal of once-thriving native wildflowers is disappointing to me. But the maintenance here is finally better than it was.

There’s hope.

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A Spiky Surprise Out Back

I remember this latest strip mall that went up years before I moved from Albuquerque, as a major arterial road was widened.

The street behind it allows neighborhood traffic to access it, without having to drive onto the 55 mph+ Paseo del Norte drag strip. Smart, even if by accident. Of course, this caught my eye.

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Also smart are the higher quality, native plantings in the various retail access points as seen above and below. Too bad this palette wasn’t included along the arterial’s more visible access points.

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Just a little maintenance is needed, especially tree pruning, so plantings are healthier and turn more people on to tougher natives.

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I enjoy the dueling of two succulents – Dasylirion wheeleri and Nolina microcarpa (?). I’ve never used both in close proximity, but maybe I should give it a try? It really works well here. So does the Cylindropuntia imbricata.

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Most Chilopsis linearis produce abundant seed pods, which many tell me is their main objection to this fine, bulletproof native. Cleaning up seed pods might be a good idea, even if tedious.

Then again, removing countless Chilopsis volunteers nearby is tedious!

Wildflower Hike

We all need to stay in (or get into) shape. So why not exercise your body and mind at the same time?

Easy for me: we have mountains all around, to climb or hike up.

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Zinnia acerosa / Desert Zinnia

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Parthenium incanum / Mariola
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Psorothamnus scoparius / Broom Dalea

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And the inevitable question: what are your spring wildflowers like, if you get August wildflowers when it’s hot?

The answer to your question lies in this graph comparing annual rainfall. I used 3 much different climate types across the southern edge of the US: near-arid Mediterranean (San Diego), arid Desert Southwest (my locale, using nearby El Paso), and sub-humid Southern Prairie (San Antonio).

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Spring does have some wildflowers showing off here, but those depend on ample winter precipitation (which we had last winter). Often spring has very few wildflowers, or they are short-lived, since October-June is normally dry, with March-June sometimes having no rain – zeeeero.

While there’s some cross-over on prime flowering times, even species that flower in the above places, my area is at its best in our monsoon season mid July-September, when the high and low pressure areas shift and the gates open for tropical moisture…sometimes floodgates. Our fall usually sees good flowering, too, until at least our first average freeze by mid-November.

Of course, this leaves out temperature, which is another topic.

San Diego / southern California and my region get almost the same rain totals during an average year, but how both get rain is the opposite.

San Antonio / south & central Texas get 4 times our rain during an average year, and how both get it is quite different.

That graph was generated using this website, and it can do the same for a number of major weather stations, but only in the US.

8/20/17 weather: 76 / 63 / 0.75