After the Love is Gone: A Decade After Installation (part 2)

…Continued from the previous post, photos from 11/2/2019

Medical Office Building (by QUERCUS)

This office building and landscape were completed in 2009.

I remember the August day the design team completed our final inspection / punch list, as we stood under the portico. It had rained the day before, and the other team members (from San Antonio) remarked at how pleasant El Paso’s weather was in August compared to there.

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A lone Salvia greggii remains, in once-thriving groupings of that same plant among the boulders and other flowering plants.

Thank goodness for ProsopisHesperaloe, and Muhlenbergia!

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Spread out, Texas Honey Mesquite / Prosopis glandulosa! Too bad the small grass clumps were more in quantity and should be matured at 6 feet tall and wide by now…arroyo native, Sporobulus wrightii.

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The flow of Deergrass is something I was inspired by, seeing it done with another plant (Red Hesperaloe), in another climate (sub-humid prairie at Dallas Love Field), and on a business / design trip for the first phase of the main hospital.

It’s a disservice to use grasses or accent plants as a mere clump of 3 around a boulder! They need massing, with only a few plant or tree accents in small clumps.

This works for parking lot speeds and even walking to the front door.

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In back of the MOB, things fell apart more than in front.

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Unequal plant substitutions, new sidewalks, or just blight

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Poor Manfreda spp.: first rabbits, later no care and few remain

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The modest income from design fees is long gone after a shorter period on life’s necessities.

Yet, the care for my work, the long nights, or the appreciative client, colleague, or project user continue to pay off. In spite of the others who don’t involve me, let alone compensate me for that time.

I return to visit old designs when I can, to document. Even others’ work…

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UTEP Centennial Plaza (by the office of Ten Eyck Landscape Architects)

I watched this project get built when I moved to El Paso in 2013, living a 10 minute walk away, and it was completed shortly after I moved to Las Cruces in 2016.

First, parking by this old and rugged native, Desert Willow / Chilopsis linearis.

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This holds together thanks to the generous use of mostly Chihuahuan Desert-region / environs plant species, with some adaptive mesic species. Not to mention, a strong maintenance commitment from the designer and owner. As part of their contracted services, the landscape architect’s office provided the owner’s crew hands-on maintenance instruction.

I.E. demonstrated how to do various tasks for various plant types, and not just once.

From what I see, this has worked and will continue to work, benefiting the owner and the array of those who enjoy the garden spaces at UTEP.

Never has there been the budget in my scope of work or support of the prime consultant to do that. Except out of the kindness of my heart or at most, I’m paid to add a maintenance sheet on the plan set for a few projects.

I can count my times when a wedding or quinceañera shoot isn’t happening at UTEP.

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Just seek out the good, and enjoy it like this guy!

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I can’t wait to ride one of these scooters or rent a bike, on some future trip to the “big city” of El Chuco!

Saguaro-Inspired

I forget who recommended I visit the landscape outside Scottsdale’s Museum of the West in Old Town. Maybe it was Danger?

Saguaro cactus ribs seemed to have inspired parts of the museum and its landscape design, at least to this New Mexico resident’s guess. Photos from 4/26/19.

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From my explorations near Camelback Road, it was only a 1-1/2 mile round trip walk in a rather pleasant, dry 100 degrees, with plenty of design-worthy window shopping and landscapes on the way, as I clung to shady areas.

Then my epiphany: Scottsdale is almost a cross of New Mexico and Beverly Hills!

I was drawn to the above by seeing the below. Multiple focal points, yet all related. Living sculptures with created sculptures, shadow patterns of multi-trunk desert trees…

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More sculptures in the dappled sunlight…

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In the shade, walking back to my car…

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Another sculpture within plant sculptures, playing off the saguaro rib walls…

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The yuccas look like Blue Yucca / Yucca rigida, often bluer than prom queen du jour Y. rostrata.

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More sidewalk patterns I’ve never seen before, at least outside the Valley of the Sun…

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Those intricate patterns might spall (fracture into adjacent concrete) in cooler winter climates, where there is some moisture with freeze / thaw. Even slight amounts of the above can limit the finishes practical on concrete paving.

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Any questions why Deergrass / Muhlenbergia rigens was used in the parkway strip?

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Deergrass looks tougher than even in the Rio Grande Valley.

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The curb cuts for storm water infiltration into plant root zones is great to see. Believe it or not, some municipalities forbid such bioswales involving street runoff, even when their own codes or guidelines imply or encourage it.

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Different, large rock chunks mixed with smaller rock line those swales, while the incredible rock slab mulch covers this spare planting of Datil or Banana Yucca / Yucca baccata. Though yet another statue steals the show.

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This ground plane cover is very unique and really compliments these bulletproof plantings. I’ve seen something similar in past wild places I’ve explored in the west.

A mesa top near Cubero NM and this morning’s hike in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve come to mind.

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More of my rewarding walk to / from the museum…

Duck season! Wabbit Season! I’m not sure about ducks in Scottsdale, but they sure like (jack)wabbits here. Even if my visit was actually Palo Verde season…

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“Bye bye, tomorrow, Jody’s gone to the rodeo,
And you know some good old boys are getting ready to ride,
‘Cause it’s almost Saturday night.” – Dave Edmunds

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This small but lush garden entry to a salon is appealing, even if the fountain isn’t running.

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The sweet scent of the Star Jasmine / Trachelospermum jasminoides was gently intoxicating. Mixed with more mesic agaves and yuccas, it is even better.

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After passing a tapas restaurant I should have stopped at…

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Yucca rostrata that remain from some initial plantings; they seem to do almost as well here as in their home in the high, Chihuahuan Desert borderlands.

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The Arizona Canal and some new buildings offered seeing water that wasn’t coming from spray heads midday to water token turf areas…

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I missed getting a closer look at the Soleri Bridge, barely seen in the distance, right of the canal.

An interesting shade structure north of the canal…

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I’ll follow-up the first, museum landscape portion of this post with another post, if I’m able to ask the museum’s landscape architect a few questions I have of their design. Not many questions, since their firm’s project narrative covers many details of their design.

Though I rarely ask much of anyone, preferring to figure out things for myself. But since I’m nearby and one of the LAs commented on my Instagram post, why not?

Now to My Landscape

I’m starting the design of the garden spaces at my new home. Study sketches are loose and rough, since they get marked up! That’s already revealing some things that won’t work.

My design statement:
serene, inviting, and sometimes dramatic outdoor spaces, with the soul of the desert

Don’t laugh; that’s to help me carry through with the idea!

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Here’s Option ‘A’ (front / northwest at the top):

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Once I’ve explored a few options, I might import the best design direction into SketchUp, to “walk around” the property and further refine a final design in CAD.

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The front, in and out:

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A tiny courtyard off my home office:

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In back:

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But here’s one catch.

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When I’m out on the covered patio, I see that. So…

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…I’ll work hard on the spot between my patio and their property. My first hunch is to build a wire mesh or hog panel trellis immediately between the cover’s columns, then plant a dense, evergreen vine.

The male half of the neighboring household and I get along well, and my not-so-subtle screening solution has already been discussed. We both agree on the issue.

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The other catch: views to the unbuildable hill lot with desert growth should be preserved, since once the area is built out, I won’t have mountains or other vistas. That hill out back is the power here, and the dining room view is desert serenity.

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Plant selection is to come, once functions and forms are explored and established.