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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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!

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Back to hardscape and planting design…

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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!

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Spring Light

Following a recent pre-construction meeting one morning away from the day job, using more vacation time to do so, I was glad to visit El Paso’s new Transmountain Hospital. You might remember I was the LA on its HKS-led project team.

The light was perfect, and the spaces I designed are settling in.

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Masses of similar plants contrasting other masses would never satisfy some, but it satisfies the need for ease of maintenance, and rhythm driving or walking.

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Available plants in quantities meant natives like Prosopis glandulosa, Muhlenbergia emersleyi, Chrysactinia mexicana, and Agave parryi. And adapted plants like Salvia clevelandii and Zephyranthes candida.

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The bright green of newly-leafed out Prosopis really is stunning against shadowy buildings and mountains, or bright blue skies.

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On to the break area, designed especially for nighttime sitting.

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Soon, the Salvia and Zephyranthes candida will be in bloom for the front doors area.

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The physicians parking area is stunning, and sweetly scented with near-native Acacia farnesiana. (take that old genus name, taxonomists!)

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Ahhh, the bold mountain islands on the east side of the Rio Grande Rift…

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If you’re entering from the west, off Resler, this is part of the greeting.

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Masses of the common Dasylirion wheeleri…just know when this planting is a few more years old, it will look almost too dense in spots but be spare and interesting in most of it.

The unknowing person would never imagine any of that.

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Time to head back home and to the now-day job.

Do you ever look at large-scale landscapes the public uses? Do you know the severe time and budget constraints on those? Or the array of other challenges on each one?

Time for bed, computer software diagnostics for hours over months are enough challenge.

Winter Interest: Arizona Rosewood

Though we skipped winter this year, like 2016-17 but with a more normal, dry moisture regime, the high desert always has some winter dormancy. Even the bluegrass fairways aren’t so green with many hard freezes at night and a handful of lows in the teens.

But do you see anything in the distance?

A green, shrubby, and dwarf tree or two?

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Not the olive-green Creosote Bush or assorted cacti and yuccas.

That’s the fairly-common and almost bullet-proof, Arizona Rosewood / Vauquelinia californica. I prefer mine pruned up to perform as a small evergreen tree in tight areas, but I’m not sure of this person’s accompanying landscape.

This looks good, too, and both stand at least 15 feet tall.

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When I move, I’ll likely miss my glimpse of 4,950 foot Picacho.

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This rosewood thrived in many landscapes others and I designed back in that other place 3 hours north as it does here. It needs some winter moisture to supplement the summer monsoon season, and it has 2 related species that to me look more refined – Vauquelinia corymbosa var. angustifolia and almost tree-like Vauquelinia corymbosa var. heterodon.

All Vauquelinia species enjoy the moderate temperatures of USDA zones 7a to 8b, between about 3,000 and 6,500 feet elevation in the southwest. The coldest climate I’ve seen V. californica grow decently in is the east side of Santa Fe; the couple ones in Denver look horrible.

I’ll let you look up the long, serrated and evergreen foliage and other attributes.