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?


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.


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


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.


Inner El Paso

A coworker and I were in El Paso, to learn about their proposed Paso del Norte Trail. Our El Camino Real Corridor work and New Mexico’s Rio Grande Trail all have potential to link their system to the Colorado border.

The entry planters to the Hotel Indigo are still there, though I’m unsure about these plants’ health.


A former coworker who’s now a planner with the City of El Paso was in attendance, and we surprised him.

The view from where the Paso del Norte Trail boards and meet-and-greet event were held. A 5th floor pool and patio area the bar and restaurant open to, revealing attractive plantings, hardscape, places to sit, and an elevated view of downtown.

Yucca torreyi and cacti in a hip planter setting finish this off.


Walking back to my car, this parking garage mural is by my former neighbor Dave “Grave” Herrera. He also works part-time at the hotel, when not involved with his creations. He was glad to see us when we arrived.


Of course, there was a hearty meal in the way home.


That baked potato with a heaping of brisket was almost 1 foot long. I took half home!


2/3/18 weather: 7336 / .00″

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.


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



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.



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


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.


12/25/17 weather: 7331 / .00″