Low Down

Water runs downhill, so look to the right side of this photo. The planted and naturalized areas offer proof.

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Another person just told me how “it’s not a good idea to plant in ponding areas and drainage swales.” Like this:

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I bet my person would find that acceptable, if only the weeds were herbicided. It’s even a historic plaza on El Camino Real.

As a designer who values enduring aspects of history or nature, that basin would be much better with native arroyo trees filling in and softening all the gravel plaza area behind it. Human and wildlife habitat.

These basins in my decade-old design were perfect for the latter, on the right side of the first photo and now below.

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Prosopis pubescens L, Celtis reticulata R / distant, some grasses and Atriplex canescens

I’m not sure all the grasses specified and installed in the pond bottoms made it, but some did. Most of the unirrigated native trees made it.

Xeric trees were specified, typical of settings getting deluged then staying dry, yet the deluge elevates soil moisture enough for long-term tree growth…similar to what’s observed in many of our arroyos.

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Trees were planted from smaller sizes than is regional convention. No irrigation was used in the basin, except DriWater or water truck applications the first year. That same idea was used in other basins in the same development, with similar success.

Soil: sandy loam or gravelly sand, which allows water and roots to develop deeply.

6/14/17 weather: 100 / 60 / 0.00

My Winter Walk-Off: Las Cruces, 2017

I’m late!

This Las Cruces spring may have begun in January. We shared neighboring El Paso’s warmest December-February in over 100 years of records. 2 weeks actually felt like winter, 2 days here and there – little winter to walk off.

Here’s what I saw on my block Saturday 3/18/2017, 84F and no humidity:

But how about this backdrop of floating mountains…every day I drive to work.

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A good example of Pueblo Revival architecture, and her metal work of our town’s three cross symbol is a contemporary take on tradition.

My neighborhood is mostly retired midwesterners of a different cloth than the retirees in my former ABQ hood. The plants speak loudly.

My spread-out neighborhood was developed in the 1980’s on desert sand hills immediately above the fertile Rio Grande Valley, where chiles, pecans, onions, and cotton rule. Though Las Cruces is the 2nd largest town in New Mexico, outside downtown and the Mesilla Plaza it is of a rural to suburban scale.

Always with those jagged Organ Mountains, which often resemble a western movie backdrop.

Fouquieria splendens is about to burst forth with red blooms.

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In my travels the consistently tallest and fullest Ocotillo grow between about 2000-4500 feet in the high deserts. Like here.

Onward –

There are less palms in my neighborhood than many, though there are still plenty. The ever-tough Washingtonia filifera are the most common.

Among the vernacular rock walls in town, some are mortared a little better. Definitely not the craftsmanship here to emulate the amazing dry stack walls typical in, say, New England. But this dry-look mortared garden wall isn’t shabby.

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Less fettered by brown stucco and Pueblo Revival styles than where I lived in ABQ, there are some good Desert Contemporary designs here.

Even if a bit neglected.

FYI – this neighborhood, like many others in this price range in my region of the US, have NO walkability. Every day I see residents walking along the curbs, in competition with speeding contractor trucks, drivers texting, and so on.

Any sidewalks are usually just the frontage of 1 or 2 houses, in hopes of more.

Good thing my neighbors are alert, though most are 60+ years old. I also enjoy that the majority are friendly and sophisticated, and it’s only 10 minutes of rural driving to work.

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The last few houses…

Imagine this contemporary Pueblo style house, but with plantings used well.

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The circle of vegetation was retained for my neighbors and I, plus our cluster mailbox. The house I’m renting has the white garage door, and the small mountain behind me is 4900’+ Picacho Mountain. I smile each time I see it.

Before the summer monsoon rains made the access road off limits to my Toyota Corolla, I hiked up it many times.

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That’s as close as you get to my house, which has no garden anyway!

Here’s a link to others’ winter walk-offs and Les’ blog post, which I missed. but he might not be doing a winter walk-off post?

Reductionism

In many commercial and home landscapes the rest of us design – without a lofty budget, horticulturists to maintain, not enough or too much irrigation, and other limitations – some design elements remain in spite.

Why not learn what those are? Then, before finishing the design, go back and edit it down to what’s necessary.

I hear this technique called reductionism, and anyone can do it.

the Dion’s architect provided me colors and finishes for building and roofing…

As this project was installed just over 6 months ago, and it’s been summer since the end of May, there are more plantings than obvious in the foreground on the slope and basin…just wait until next May.

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Yucca pallida, in drivers’ eye-level raised planters, colored walls…

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Yes, that Antoine de Saint-Exupery, of The Little Prince.

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Steve Martino’s term, “walls and weeds”…

An ordinary waste space of a drive-through lane; just add some thought.

After all, people sit in their air conditioned cars and trucks, idling in these lanes for several minutes, so why not a garden for them?

more room, more morning sun, same Y. pallida…and an overstory of a single Yucca faxoniana…brown wall for a backdrop…
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flowering OK too, in the right place

We’ll see how long that mass of Orange Globemallow / Sphaeralcea munroiana lasts, or is tolerated, since it doesn’t yet have pop-culture appeal.

I figured since various, local globemallows grow in waste spaces against curbs or paving in sand and clay, no matter how hot, this South Valley spot might feel like home. Just in a prettied-up design version!

But that’s reduced, too. What can you reduce, to make even better?