Forms and Feel

Plants are crucial to gardens and landscapes distinctive of their place, not just anywhere. Tight budgets and extremes in winter and summer inform my bias towards species providing impact year-round.

That impact isn’t fleeting flowering, though I try to incorporate that too.

Photos from June 2015 in Boulder City, Nevada. You mean you don’t visit landscapes you designed when it’s 110F?

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by the main doors, where visitors park

This softens the view out into the blazing Mojave Desert light, even though each Larrea tridentata isn’t growing the same, identical way.

I can’t wait to see the Yucca brevifolia ssp. jaegeriana grow more.

Here, budget limited the plant quantities needed to create flowering masses I like, as did the jackrabbit population and the nature of federal facility maintenance.

Summer is their 2nd dormant season, so little would flower in June, anyway.

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I wasn’t given notice to place those agaves more per plans, but the clearances to the various panels and lights should still work out

Ocahui / Agave ocahui are the agaves, spaced about 25-30% too far apart, but who’s counting except me?

My plans specified native Agave utahensis, but this is close enough given availability. Plus the Mojave is parallel to Ocahui’s home in the Chihuahuan Desert, only the reversed wet seasons and some extra dryness.

And notice, no grasses. In Mojave Desert shrub communities, grasses are uncommon ephemeral plants in washes, if at all, below 4,000′.

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a good marriage of industrial metal, edgy agaves, and rock mulch color

Unlike my days of travel between here and Albuquerque, driving isn’t as much of an option from Las Cruces. That makes it hard for what I wanted to also do, even if for my own pictures…bring loppers and hand pruners for a few plants in need.

Thanks for accompanying me to one last, lingering wrap-up post from an old trip to Reclamation’s Green Building in southern Nevada.

Desert Landscaping: Maintenance Fails and Fixes

If only I could be in charge of each of my projects’ maintenance, but then, who would design them? Just a few adjustments are needed in the below areas, looking at the big picture and then close-up.

Musical pairing, little to do with Las Vegas except it has a great beat and is about nightlife; I hear that city to the west has some of that – here

Photos from 6/24/2015 –

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Do you see what the Honey Mesquite in front needs?

1 thing: prune off the 1″ branch growing low and into the building wall. If only I still had loppers, and I had driven there instead of flown.

From my last posts on how I wish I had designed something differently, you can tell how important I view even our smallish desert trees – which old guard definitions from cooler or wetter places refer to as “shrubs”.

Rabbits. Yet, there reaches a point when the wire cages can be removed, after the plants established and are no longer salad.

While the creosote bushes are growing, some are growing less so than the others. Such a difference, a simple light prune of taller stems back to the main stems is all that’s required to create a more appealing look, while maintaining some individuality in size. Even some of the lower, more dense creosotes could be thinned 10% to blend in some.

Balance, instead of unkempt or given the treatment.

Creosote Bush / Larrea tridentata
Creosote Bush / Larrea tridentata

Just imagine a little attention to some of the creosotes. While you imagine the few plants that die to be replaced by the same or similar plants.

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see anything missing between both panels of windows?

A Joshua Tree once stood there.

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position the Joshua Tree replacing the one that died, just like this one

I really enjoy the solar parking lights the architect specified. They fit the modern, space-age look there, with the sere Mars-like scenes beyond. But something else lurks…

Overall, I’m happy with much of what I see. Anyone who works outside in their heat should be thanked, even if one has to be insane to be in that line of work there… Though I forgot to mention in the last post, plant changes are often made without me – we cannot rule that and the other pitfalls.

But don’t you wish someone would step back, and pay a bit more attention to important areas of a planting, as I do this one?

Desert Landscaping: Design Fails and Fixes

Some have the idea I or any designer think we’re above reproach. No – some of us are actually our biggest critics, and that’s not being a perfectionist – it’s simply wanting to improve each time.

At the end of a long desert road, southern Nevada, late June 2015 –

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that Joshua Tree should have stayed a Desert Willow…shade!

I’m unsure why I didn’t revisit Mike the architect’s suggestion (namely a tree for the L-shaped seat wall), but if only I stepped back and visualized summer – especially in Las Vegas!

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too sparse…and plants at the gas meter, let alone agaves??!?

Now imagine a sunken swale down that planting area splitting the sidewalks. Catclaws, screwbeans or desert willows filling in the canyon created by both buildings, the entire length. Maybe some grasses or shady plants under, maybe just gravel.

Also, when I designed this in 2009-10, I hadn’t yet seen Loree’s blog to become more indoctrinated like today, so there’s no excuse for such an act :-)

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and…should be trees in basins, not Joshua trees

While many of the above plants no longer get permanent drip irrigation due to the LEED Gold rating, basins and some hand-watering in summer could keep some going. Though perhaps not desert willows…

Where can people sit? Is there room once the plants grow in, those the contractor wants to substitute over the plants and alternates that I specified?

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should be something smaller than the Brittlebush / Encelia farinosa

A favorite quote is from Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “a designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

As I continue on a few designs, that plus starting with the big idea like shade, might help force the rest of the design how it needs to go.