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.

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Back to an SLR Camera

I had a 35 mm SLR film camera decades ago, but I’ve used handheld film or handheld digital cameras since at least 2001.

I tried out my new digital SLR camera this past week.

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Then from my front patio, without and with the zoom lens.

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Yes, my neighbor developed a brand or logo for her home, a stylized version of our local three crosses icon. It even appears on her flagstone address number plaque.

That hazy day, El Paso’s Franklin Mountains loom just inside the Texas border, 35 miles away.

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Part of this new camera will be my re-learning techniques such as depth of field, in order to take better photos of my work and what inspires my work. I took a quick tour of my favorite project near my home to critique aspects of.

I’ll try not to scare you with the bad maintenance. Again, no zoom and zoom.

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Recently seeing Danger Garden’s images of Agave neomexicana at one of her local nurseries, those in Oregon look healthier than here, though they grow natively on most of our hills. So, our “dry heat” can be overrated!

At least we don’t have a chance at developing SAD, and the light for photos is amazing.

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At the entry, the zoom lens reproduces what I see exiting the development. Though it also shortens the close-in view, causing the houses to appear closer than in reality. This is where using depth of field might help on sharpness through the view.

Many Yucca faxonianaDasylirion wheeleri, Agave parryi, and Nolina greenei forms going solo, with softening blooms and smaller plants long ago dying or removed. Their green really stands out and brings welcome life in winter dormancy.

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“Design for summer, and your garden looks good in summer. Design for February, and your garden looks good all year.” – Tara Dillard

The usual brown tips on foliage are evident on many plants (i.e. winters’ freezes and summers’ legendary “dry heat”), blurring to the left and further back.

Changing my SLR camera’s depth of field would sharpen all plants as they recede in this mass. Which is what one sees without a camera.

The structure of that mass facing exiting drivers works as intended, not forming a hard wall. It affords home properties a gentle buffer west towards the development, yet preserving driver views exiting the development, east into the valley and beyond to the Organ Mountains.

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2/20/18 weather: 5835 / .00″

Low Light, High Impact

Checking the flowering status of Sophora on some streetscape work, I really had some excellent lighting. I remembered that S. x ‘Silver Peso’ wasn’t specified, but rather it was S. x ‘Sierra Silver’.

Photos from Picacho Mountain, celebrating daylight savings time, 3/12/2017.

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north towards the development’s namesake

That’s on Anthem Road, the first area one sees before buying a lot, or returning home.

I’ll need to dig out some earlier photos, before the demise of flowering groundcovers among the agaves and some other accents. There were some good combos that are tough and reproduce madly, but not with roundup or lacking initial rabbit control.

I’ve been blamed on not using rabbit-resistant plants, no matter how explained.

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Sophora x ‘Sierra Silver’, the main reason I visited

Yet these native volunteers of Aristida purpurea are appreciated and their forms left the best way between the boulders and under the Yucca faxoniana.

You may have spotted a few maintenance issues on your own by now. “Giving most landscape maintenance people your trust here is like giving whiskey and your Porsche’s keys to teenaged boys.” – my local adaption of Wasowski ala O’Rourke.

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same median looking south, I’m also impressed how the wild Larrea tridentata / Creosote Bush are all left on the street sides…classy

Desert plants used well offer an understated elegance.

The low lighting really added some drama on this secondary neighborhood entry. About a half-mile away over the hills, onto Calle Vigas.

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agaves and rocks just work

Agave neomexicana is also elegant – not the most interesting agave to many, since it isn’t zone-pushing, unusual, or glamorous enough. But it’s our’s, so just use it well and experiment well with it.

After a few years in my own garden I was blessed to own, I got such things right after enough cuts and flesh wounds.

Then I was free to unleash such things correctly the first time on loads of “paying projects”!

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the mountain that used to be my workout hike

Looking back on the original development on Anthem Road, sunset! The Sophora there and on nearby plantings are barely blooming, just a little higher…maybe 4200′?

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the orange is ongoing water main work

Looking more closely, I only wish I could bottle up the fragrance for you of each Sophora x ‘Sierra Silver’.  But I did sacrifice life and limb on these bloom close-ups versus a rather territorial carpenter bee.