Plant Network

Unfinished designs and an out-of-town conference aren’t a good idea.

I’m at the APGA Native Plants Symposium in Austin, which also coincides with South by Southwest, which would also be enjoyable to take in – music, tech or film included. But the array of like-minded, bright people I’ve interacted with is more worth it than words describe.

leaving the desert, a moisture-laden sky rapidly developed

A major climate division lies at that location, running from just west of south, then northward into the great plains; it divides the dry and high Chihuahuan Desert to the west, and the lower and more humid country to the east and south. The Pecos River is near that change.

green, freshly-washed Austin…temporary irrigation at a mini-mart
stop #1 – scout plants for the annual UTEP sale
dealing with paperwork, we missed many areas including this…Yucca treculeana in bloom, oaks in boxes
conference stop #1 – residence…Dasylirion texanum, Nolina lindheimeriana, Muhlenbergia lindheimeri…Ferdinand Lindheimer got around
Environmental Survey Consulting did the design and implementation here…David Mahler R explaining the project, partner Judy Walther L in jean jacket
broad view towards front, then more intimate spaces
conference stop #2 – Wild Basin Preserve, to see the natural context of Hill Country native plants
natural, sub-humid prairie and woodland within a booming city…Nolina texana on rocky ground in front
conference stop #3 – Wildflower Center reception, executive director Susan Rieff welcoming all

This is quite a great, small conference group, too. I’ve not attended a conference like this, so I’m figuring it out and soaking it in.

a balmy, moist evening on the front terrace, live oaks and other natives starring in the show

Something I’m not used to seeing in less sophisticated places than Austin – natives are actually key in everything at this series of gardens, not marginalized.

Same with the residence we visited prior; exceptional.

It is beyond amazing, and one would be well-served taking people here you’re trying to convince to see for themselves, even clients, if you are able.

even all-native table settings

Drought or Spring?

Spring has arrived, but it isn’t the verdant one many get. Add to that years of drought, some studies showing it’s actually a return to typical after 3 wet decades.

We call it Spring though things are dying – Bill Callahan, Austin TX

From the day of my mountain bike ride, 3/10/2015 –

remember this house? spring – ocotillos, sotols, a juniper, ephedras and various cacti are all A-OK
spring – little maintenance, but they added some pots
drought – Dasylirion texanum worse than D. wheeleri

It’s from places with at least 2X the yearly precipitation and more humidity.

mountain biking time – Señor Correcaminos greeted me

Roadrunners aren’t usually shy; this one ran when I got close. A teen?

drought – Opuntia valida
drought – dead Juniperus monosperma…spring – warm-season grasses
drought – about 1/3 dead woody growth…I’m out of breath, too
drought – evergreen Cercocarpus breviflorus, Quercus turbinella

I wasn’t even in my zone, but I still made the most difficult climb on the loop ride – with some stops and mishaps.

drought – dead Cylindropuntia imbricata, 50% dead Bouteloua eriopoda
now the good part…a curvy roller coaster, only minor hazards

Perhaps if more LA’s got out in the natural areas on the edges of town, they might embrace place, be less uppity, and design better? Like neglected landscapes in town, one sees what looks good in drought.

fitness like this = work + fun
you’re welcome, ABQ

I miss only a few things about Albuquerque, and my house of 15 years is in the past. Each drive through, I grin seeing the same plants massed, which I did 20 years ago. Plants thiving decades before I or their “creative class” arrived :-)

And I stay in touch with friends, though not enough.

Do you ever see what grows in the wild, or lasts in your area’s gardens, with little help? I hope so, whether the old friends are people or plants.

A Garden’s Teen Years

A garden goes through it’s awkward teen years right after it’s terrible twos. I think that’s when everything is soon to be revealed as incredible, or to fall apart.

But that beats the fate of all too many landscapes, merely designed to live for today. It’s best to have fun and thrive for the long-term. Part of why I embrace place and local native plants from my ecoregion and elevation. That’s staying power.

Photos from Albuquerque at the 2 year old Robertson Residence, 7/18/14 –

a small space, yet eclectic among a trace of simplicity…about to fill in some more…


gray velvet and orange of Buddleia marrubifolia, massive adobe, and powder-blue Agave neomexicana, intended to surprise behind the higher planting…
in front, more powdery blue but shade-loving Yucca pallida, Rhaphiolepis umbellata ‘Blueberry Muffin’…

It’s all made intimate by an original tree, Piñon / Pinus edulis. Some shade isn’t bad in that part of town, either.

plants on ledges – Agave bracteosa among Zinnia grandiflora, and much more…

Ledges are made of rock outcroppings in the wilds of the desert and nearby mountains. This time, it’s working with the same-old exposed aggegrate concrete, there long before my design, but departing from the original planting, into something more regional and textural.

There’s enough plantings, so the rabbit-ravaged cosmos used as a “seasonal wow” by Bill’s bell sculpture are not too noticeable. At least to me.

Bill shifted a couple plants with his metate, and voila!

Looking good as intended! The drip irrigation tubing needs more pinning down and additional gravel mulch on top, though. Twos and teens…

off to a few more places, golden containers of golden Thymophylla tenuiloba, green Nolina texana

The background Chilopsis linearis is a graceful but structural native symbol of the Chihuahuan Desert, even if overused at the expense of other native trees.

Shooting into the setting sun, with such a tough native plant scene, is part of what makes better xeriscape less zero. Even between two and teen!