Kierland Commons Walkabout

Kierland Commons is a pleasant, mixed-use development in North Scottsdale, a few blocks walk from my peaceful summer condo residence. Its pleasant feel is based in large part on great landscape and hardscape elements for such a space in the desert.

.

Phoenix dactylifera at a key intersection, classic.

Kierland-Plnt Design1-SML

Plus, we’re in the Phoenix metro.  Like coincidences and analogous climates? Then, compare the climates of Scottsdale, US and Baghdad, Iraq. The latter only lacks a late summer monsoon.

.

Sensible shade, native and adapted species, and mostly southwestern or at least arid-region forms. No silly gesturing to dissimilar places.

I have no idea if the varied shade structures were part of the original design or added later, but my guess is the latter given some planters look to be suffering from shade.

Kierland-ShadeCanopy1-SML

There’s less climate / desert denial and more horticultural / design savvy seen here or in the Valley of the Sun than that place 6 hours NE. (into tucking temperature-hardy but thirsty plants into the most horridly hot spots under overhangs or against walls, then blaming their failure on “cold”)

Hence my guess; designers here tend to get plantsmanship and design principles.

Many people walking in the cool of the morning like me still choose the shady side, under a combination of built and grown shade.

Kierland-ShadeCanopy2-SML

Great shirts, by the way…little at Kierland for the guys.

Kierland-ShadeCanopy3-SML

See how this works…built and grown shading? Always a challenge in limited rooting areas and dense development patterns, but this met the challenge.

Kierland-ShadeCanopy4-SMLKierland_Tocaya Patio3-SML

.

I remember when Kierland was first being developed on a (long) past Mountain States’ landscape architect conference. Streets disecting Sonoran Desert with spare creosote bushes and palo verdes, or bladed land. There were even a few stands of Ericameria nauseosa on a nearby (former) arroyo, unusual at this low, 1400 foot elevation.

Now, it’s all built up and a great place to walk, only 2 blocks from my condo for the summer.

 

.

Their large container plantings are a mixed bag, but the thought was there. This is a good specimen of Texas Mountain Laurel / Dermatophyllum secundiflorum, which loves alkaline soils and limestone rock. It does well in the Valley.

Kierland-Plnt Design4-SML

Yet the bougainvilleas are sheared into submission and look like they will never grow overhead. Are there concerns of possible damage from their aggressive growth and weight on the shade canopies? If not, what a waste.

If the shade structures are able to support such woody vines, their walkways would be greatly complimented by carefully-pruned bougainvillea branches covered in brilliant flowers.

Kierland-Plnt Design5-SMLKierland-Plnt Design2-SML

This is not a problem as much as a proactive lesson to those not used to the desert’s high alkalinity in the water…calcium deposits from irrigated containers requires maintenance to avoid staining hardscape.

Kierland-Plnt Design3-SML

Good use of paving patterns here, again, from stencils or some sort of repeated formwork.

Kierland-Pave Design2-SMLKierland-Pave Design1-SML

.

I ate here finally, though the menu is a bit too SoCal for my tastes. But my carne asada tacos were well-prepared – healthy and tasty.

What drew me in? The care to provide an attractive landscape of part hardscape and part plantings, and here…SHADE from a ramada!

Kierland_Tocaya Patio1-SML

Some don’t like their random planting of too many spikes; I’m on the fence, but I tend to side with them. My 2 Bay Area sisters did like it, so perhaps regional differences or just my design snobbery!

I think everyone likes this fresh manner of tilework on the garden wall.

Kierland_Tocaya Patio2-SML

To me, this is refreshing with cool, coastal colors that contrast where I’m from in New Mexico (or Arizona), the dry land with most-every wall in beige or tan stucco.

Kierland_Tocaya Patio4-SML

Still good if I could adjust a few plants, though the Sticks on Fire / Euphorbia tirucalli seem too close.

And we know what happens, when the usual landscape maintenance crews in the Desert Southwest see overplanted landscapes, as they start to grow in…

.

7/8/19 weather:
105F / 76F / 0.00 or 41c / 24c / .00

Morning Anti-Rush Hour

In search of places to take morning walks before it gets too warm, or after dark, the Desert Botanical Garden is a good choice. Planning to go at least once weekly, I took advantage of my membership.

The light and shade were amazing, and as some of you know, that’s important to me.

DBG-Wall_AM Light_Desert Plants-SML

.

On my last visits, I missed this massing of lower Chihuahuan Desert native Candelilla / Euphorbia antisyphilitica (arid z 8a), with Bolivian native Caripari / Neoraimondia herzogiana Cardon / Pachycereus pringleii (arid z 9a). As usual in Phoenix these days, there’s Elephant Food / Portulacaria afra (dry z 9b) trailing over a wall.

DBG-Wall_Cardon_Candelilla-SML

Across the main walkway was this wall, which really uses graphics and embedded tiles well, providing grade retention and some sitting. Or at least a place to let your water bottle or camera bag to rest.

The agaves and Bunny Ears Cactus are “massed to great effect…”

DBG-Wall_Tile Desert Plants-SML

Speaking of massing, it’s Tamaulipan Shrubland native Queen victoria-reginae Agave victoria-reginae (z 8a). I must use that compact rosette plant like this, somewhere.

DBG-Agave_victoria_reginae_Mass-SML

.

Onto their Herb Garden area, the colored walls pulled me in. More reason for plant massing of Mediterranean native Dusty Miller / Centaurea cineraria (annual or z9b) and Chihuahuan Desert native Spineless Prickly Pear / Opuntia ellisiana (z 8a) with some randomness of the Cereus cacti (z 9b).

DBG-Herb_Garden_Desert Plants-SML

Inside the walls, more massing of gray Dusty Miller, green Trailing Rosemary / Rosmarinus officianalis ‘Prostrata’ (dry z 7b), and the purple buttons of Globe Amaranth / Gomphrena globosa ‘Firework‘ (z 8).

DBG-Herb Garden_Entry Plant Massing-SML

That potted Aloe adds structure like the wall does; without them, this would be less powerful and settled into the space.

DBG-Herb Garden_Gomphrena-SML

Artichoke in bloom and dancing is almost as striking as spikiness…

DBG-Herb Garden_Artichokes-SML

.

Finally, leaving after our walk, it’s southern Africa native Desert Rose / Adenium obesum (z 10a). It’s really a great container plant for the low desert, such as here in the Valley of the Sun.

Adenium_obesum-DBG-SMLAdenium_obesum-DBG_Flower-SML

The Desert Botanical Garden reveals so many more paths and planting areas, which I hope to explore during my months of living nearby.

Unlike some public gardens, the effective design of plant communities rules here. Also appealing is how most areas incorporate a variety of hardscape ideas with plantings from the Sonoran Desert, plus other arid and dry areas of the world that can survive in Phoenix.

That’s a plus among many other pluses.

.

6/6/19 weather:
101F / 77F / 0.00 or 38c / 25c / .00

FLW Found Objects

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Talliesen West, or at least the curator staff, makes use of found objects on the vast property in the right place. Maybe FLW did as a touch of whimsy, too.

Once you live in the desert, our own whimsy is kind of fun.

At least the non-venomous kind. But if that whimsy is placed outside, never, never bring it back inside. Never!

DSC_0065-SML

Perhaps it’s a southwestern desert thing, to embed rocks, keys, or jewels in poured concrete. But I like it.

.

This is what Loree might use in a spare dish on a layout table, if she were a teaching architect inviting her winter students into the layout room. Joints from the ever-vicious Cylindropuntia biglovii.

DSC_0084-SML

“This is going to hurt you more than it will hurt me, interns!”

.

A large Acoma pot behind the other pot. There was more than one Kachina doll around the house, which I had in my previous home’s decor by themselves.

DSC_0043-SML

.

Even a Mammilaria cactus growing out of a gritty wall gap, and it’s alive!

DSC_0018-SMLDSC_0019-SML

The docent was talking about it being an Ocotillo, so hopefully her FLW knowledge is tighter! Who knows?

.

Do you collect objects around your garden or wild areas, then incorporate them into your decor?

I must admit, I have some blue rocks from my area’s once-active volcano, but no ideas where to use them. Mostly no objects to salvage once I move back, just sand!