Focal Points

Focal point is a design principle I learned as a college sophomore, but lost in designs while fielding an array of requests and deadlines.

Landscaping is much about focal points.

Pick a great place to be or just sit, then plan what you’ll look at.

PicachoMtn-EntryAnth01a_2017-06-12-SML

I spaced the Dasylirion wheeleri into Picacho Mountain just so they would do what the three with flower stalks are doing – interrupting the sky. Focal points even work when driving.

PicachoMtn-EntryAnth01b_2017-06-12-SML
Nolina greenei, Sophora x ‘Sierra Silver’, and Larrea tridentata

That was another view of the same development entry, with more evergreens playing off the Dasylirion on the left. But mostly a non-focal point of clumped desert plants, except the ocotillos.

Passing the entry island and leaving Picacho Mountain, another focal point you miss while entering the same development. It faces you only while exiting.

PicachoMtn-EntryAnth02_2017-06-12-SML
Yucca faxoniana and a mass of Nolina greenei

Inside the development, one has to look at an island in each cul-de-sac, with no irrigation and native plants.

PicachoMtn-EntryAnth03_2017-06-12-SML
Fouquieria splendens, gray Leucophyllum zygophyllum ‘Cimarron’, and Ungnadia speciosa

Another cul-de-sac.

PicachoMtn-EntryAnth04_2017-06-12-SML
another Fouquieria splendens for height, Leucophyllum zygophyllum ‘Cimarron’ for fill, and Ferocactus wislizenii for pop

Do ever step back from your overall design, only to add in focal points and then work off of those?

6/12/17 weather: 96 / 65 / 0

Advertisements

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.

PicachoMtn_AnthemN02_2017-03-12-SML
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.

PicachoMtn_AnthemN01_2017-03-12-SML
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.

PicachoMtn_AnthemS01_2017-03-12-SML
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.

PicachoMtn_CalleVigas01_2017-03-12-SML
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”!

PicachoMtn_CalleVigas02_2017-03-12-SML
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′?

PicachoMtn_AnthemN03_2017-03-12-SML
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.

 

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.

RobRes-Front02_2014-07-18-SML
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!