Care for What Can’t be Bought

When wild land is developed, plants once native to that site often recolonize the construction scars alongside new landscaping.

Can you see where that occurred below?

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In arid desert (my examples) or even semi-arid steppes, conditions are especially harsh for that regrowth.

Some plants rapidly heal such scars, while others take decades, if at all. The concern here is plants native to the site, not invasives.

Purple Threeawn / Aristida purpurea var. longiseta is the golden-green carpet barely forming the reddish fringes and seed heads. A few Sunflower / Helianthus spp. are in there, plus some invasive annuals (kochia?). Areas of gold-flowering, mat-like Pectis angustifolia / Limoncillo are present, too.

This side of the road was mown or herbicided to eradicate the above natives, which control erosion better than gravel while providing other functions, habitat value, and aesthetics.

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The Soaptree or Palmilla / Yucca elata were installed per plan, while natives alongside installed plants including the creosote bush stand were somehow not removed during road construction.

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Often such recolonizing plants are considered attractive, but they aren’t for sale. People often ask me, “ooh, what’s that?” in admiration.

Those attributes demonstrate what such plants are: priceless.

Therefore, they should not be removed in the first place; if they are removed allow them to stay, but selectively weed out invasives.

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On the opposite side of the street, the tan grass clumps are the same Purple Three Awn, but these don’t get eradicated and not a carpet.

What a difference and for the better, on the far side of the street.

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While protecting areas from unnecessary disturbance is usually more economically-sound and better, site development disconnected to the land is where maintenance skill and client savvy really must meet.

9/6/17 weather: 89 / 64 / 0.00

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Color Overload but Look Sharp

A college professor with her Australian accent told our class, “if your design looks good in black and white, you can always add color to make it even better. Perfect your graphics in black and white. Spend your time working in black and white, and only color if you have extra time.”

I applied that here, only to have it cool and rain so much, the color went into high gear, the accents remaining.

Simple cul-de-sac turnarounds at Picacho Mountain:

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Depressed grade in the center, boulders, and xeric native plant species.

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Last week, we had a hot spell as the monsoon pattern weakened into something more like south Texas’ “La Canicula“. For our high desert that means muggy nights and mornings, but hot afternoons and low humidity.

The above Leucophyllum flowers are gone, every one!

The monsoon pattern moved back for a few days, and voila: humid but mid-60’s by midnight, and 4 rounds of thundershowers soaking the land. Then yesterday, the monsoon pattern moved south, and we’re in low humidity day and night.

8/16/17 weather: 91 / 66 / 0.00

Color Spots

Tired of cool-colored Leucophyllum?

Well, I almost am, but cool colors are welcome here. By the end of our hot, week-long monsoon season break, most of the flowers went away.

But before the drying, do you see the flowering?

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Small trees were used lower, near the entry into the first phase of the development. Here it was Rhus lanceolata, to add interest to the pedestrian use of yuccas.

Here’s your color at the intersection.

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Masses of color work, but so does the special feeling of an unexpected spot of color.

Looking south from the rear view mirror angle and the front windshield view. It’s subtle, but subtle often makes more of an impact, especially with the juxtaposition of my design using boulders and plant forms.

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Sparse or spiky, then color, then more sparse and spiky. The gravel groundplane dominating with Dasylirion wheeleri and Aristida purpurea, then Leucophyllum zygophyllum and Yucca faxoniana dominate the gravel ground plane.

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8/11/17 weather: 98 / 73 / 0.75