Dissecting Retail: Three Years After

At El Paso’s Kern Place Crazy Cat Cyclery store, the architect and I created some small but distinct spaces using our ubiquitous rock walls with grade changes.

It won an AIA El Paso award a couple years ago.

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That enclosed, communal space with a single Quercus fusiformis and some Yucca pallida is good. It’s mostly being maintained well, too.

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The far side that once contained a rather “seasoned” Yucca torreyi specimen, then it fell, and finally the yucca’s replacement, is not so good.

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The small spaces on the side will fill in more, as the sotols grow and damianitas hopefully reseed around.

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I still regret not insisting on what should have been done on the south street’s uphill climb.

Because mountain biking and good headlamps are important, so is good plantsmanship.

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12/25/17 weather: 7331 / .00″

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Early Winter at the Roundabout

After a few years in the high desert, the savvy designer learns to design based on winter, so the landscape looks good all year.

They aren’t fooled by glossy catalogs based on cool, temperate garden models somehow juxtaposed with regional architecture. Those depend on warm season vibrancy and total cool season dormancy, interest often lying in seed heads that withstand snow. Those aren’t our reality or potential.

Our autumns and springs are long, but they seem fleeting.

The road to the Red Hawk Golf Course near my future neighborhood reflects early winter’s low lighting and gentle rest.

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Agave neomexicana, Yucca rostrata, Chrysactinia mexicana, and some volunteer Larrea tridentata are often in my bullet-proof mix.

Though the developer or maintenance crew may have thought less of the native Aristida purpurea than I. Others replaced mine with the mesic, habitual Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Regal Mist’. Remember, we average 8-9 inches of rain per year. Aristida happily grows and reproduces here with that, while that Muhlenbergia grows natively where 40 inches or more rain falls per year in southern coastal areas; that’s regular drip irrigation, unless you prefer stunted.

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There were once native wildflowers at the median ends from my original design. This time of year, though, they would not be evident.

Looking south, the Quercus polymorpha are trying to be semi-evergreen but losing all green, while the reliable Nolina microcarpa are vibrantly evergreen.

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Before our couple days colder than average, these Chrysactinia mexicana look like they got in some late flowering. Lows in the high teens and highs in the high 40’s quickly returned to average, which is lows in the 20’s and highs in the upper 50’s.

With those Chrysactinia a less vibrant green after a number of hard freezes, it’s next spring for new growth and flowering.

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Sculpture and textural contrast, seasonal dormancy versus evergreen, low maintenance, and low water-use are all ideas here.

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12/10/17 weather: 59 / 25 / 0.00

Repetition

Different methods use similar elements to create continuity.

Repetition, rhythm, massing, and echoes are just a few design principles among many. Design principles are easily and repeatedly observed in an array of creative fields that people respond to: visual arts, horticulture, and music included.

It is that simple!

Any design principles noted, in the below median or parkway?

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Aristida purpurea, volunteered from the seeding specified on the plans, is now in its autumnal tan.

Agave neomexicana does the same within the parkway’s Aristida.

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Nearby, Dasylirion wheeleri was repeated. Its color and spent bloom stalks, plus a similar look of Agave parryi, help unify the scene.

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10/24/17 weather: 71 / 42 / 0.00