Water vs. Rock and Sand

Our monsoon season was late in starting, but it’s now in full force. Our plants are sporting fresh leaves, new flowers, and storm water flashes down arroyos to seep into the soil. Mornings are cool.

Picacho is the isolated, volcanic mountain north of my neighborhood, topping out at 4,959 feet elevation – a mere 1000 feet above the river.

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Past the low, gravelly hills there’s a canyon. The action of water can be seen, then skirting around the rock “dam” until it finds a gap to keep flowing to the Rio Grande.

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Bluish or cool gray rocks in sections of the canyon look like volcanic ash or tuff to me, but I’ve never found any information on that.

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Good scour action there.

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More scour action from a recent storm, including a lone Rhus microphylla growing out of the rock outcropping. And a gallery of Chilopsis linearis on the far bank of Picacho Arroyo. Burrowing Owl habitat…

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Back to the house, so I can get ready for work. As the burrowing owls sound out to announce another day.

7/28/17 weather: 95 / 67 / 0.00

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Seen While Driving in My Area

Though Las Cruces is spread out, I sometimes take my camera to record different standout landscape designs I drive by.

This is in front of a small office complex with a restaurant; the people developing this complex mentioned all the trees and yuccas volunteered, since the swale catches extra stormwater.

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Chilopsis linearis is the tree, with Yucca elata, a few Atriplex, and Larrea growing in-between. Occasionally, the trees are pruned up.

But oddly, the trees are progressively smaller to the right, which is downhill and where more stormwater should flow into.

I’m surprised to lease out and sell remaining lots and offices, that this same effect wasn’t carried to the other frontages including passive water harvesting. Not to mention some entry monumentation with stronger plantings.

But my former field is an afterthought once again.

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Up the road, this planting has always caught my eye. A split rail fence using railroad ties, with a loose hedge of Opuntia ellisiana planted to grow through it, is quite effective. The architecture of a token tile roof and rock wall not so much…

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The evening light on a warmish June evening is a sight to behold. Agave neomexicana is so common but so fitting, more than I ever realized 10 years ago while wrapping up the design.

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You won’t find too much on my posts like this about oleanders, stunted crepe myrtles, lollipop-shaped ash and pears, or lantanas. But one should agree that what’s common in the Las Cruces area is significantly more native, adapted, or appropriate than what’s common where I lived 21+ years on my last blog.

That’s often with an overall, effective design, too – crucial on releasing a place from horticultural repression.

7/17/17 weather: 94 / 65 / 0.55

Soft and Sharp Again

Visiting past projects brings back memories, including why I placed certain plants or other features and sometimes before I learned another lesson.

The sky was still moody, though all chance of rain and the morning cold blew away.

After a too-long Saturday meeting with a prospective client, it was Picacho Mountain before a satisfying grilled dinner at home:

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the Agave neomexicana clump and ocotillo contrasts chartreuse Prosopis torreyana, even after the original wildflowers thinned and then vanished
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looking back towards the main road
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a solo Echinocereus horizonthalonius was added to the original Sophora x ‘Silver Peso’ and the Nolina texana greenei

The latter almost echoed in shape by the round, bluish pincushions of Dasylirion wheeleri across the street. Almost…

Seeing these photos as I write, we’ve had an unusual surge of humid winds off the Gulf, more the feel and scent of another place and time. This weather change really changes the way these ordinary plants look to me.

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the only Leucophyllum zygophyllum plants not butchered in their medians

I’m still figuring out why some areas of Purple Threeawn are left and others not.

The development here seems to not have a plan of action on what’s maintained or not, what can remain or get pulled out, and where. Some grasses were in the seed mix, some not – at least 50% should remain, not the 10-20% that are left or missed.

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an unusual form of Opuntia macrocentra
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see if you can spot another purple oddball Opuntia macrocentra from my plan

The occasional agaves on the sides, which I wish were parkways, so that’s what I wrongly call them. I wanted simple, gracious walkways down each street, too.

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Penstemon superbus

My guess is even with the optimal gritty soil habitat for penstemons, the maintenance directive and implementation here missed these volunteers. Where intentional from my design, most are long-gone.

Penstemons are no match for xeriphobia, overwatering, or Roundup!

And I would say those are no match for having one’s desert eyes on. Thanks for that term, Scott in Tucson.

4/12/17 weather: 87 / 63 / .0