A Tidewater Gardener called for posts on what we see walking, in "Winter Walk-Off 2012 - here; Danger Garden added her take - here. In true form, I combine both, though our winter seems over except a few blips!
Below is an inventory of native plants in my neighborhood's front yards, on a gloomy but mild 3/7/2012. I listed each plant in order of type, then by visually estimating how common each is. (my own property, rear or side yards, or less attractive yards, were not included)
trees + skyline accents
Palm or Faxon Yucca / Yucca faxoniana or Y. carnerosana:
Desert Willow / Chilopsis linearis:
Apache Plume (see above under Ocotillo) / Fallugia paradoxa
Chamisa / Ericameria nauseosa:
Ceniza or Texas Ranger / Leucophyllum spp.:
Turpentine Bush / Ericameria laricifolia
Mariola / Parthenium incanum
Red Yucca / Hesperaloe parviflora:
Blue Sotol or Desert Spoon:
Banana Yucca or Datil:
Thompson Yucca / Yucca thompsoniana:
Brownspine Prickly Pear
Desert or Engelmann Prickly Pear:
Claret Cup Cactus / Echinocereus triglochidiatus
Spiny Hedgehog Cactus / Echinocereus coccineus
Rainbow Cactus / Echinocereus dasycanthus:
Texas Sotol / Dasylirion texanum
Bunny Ears Prickly Pear / Opuntia microdasys:
Comanche Prickly Pear / Opuntia camanchica
Golden-Flowered Agave / Agave chrysantha:
Artichoke Agave / Agave parryi var. truncata
Santa Rita Prickly Pear
groundcovers + herbaceous plants
Mexican Feathergrass or Threadgrass / Nasella tenuissima:
Chocolate Flower / Berlandiera lyrata
Wright's Verbena / Verbena wrightii
Black Dalea / Dalea frutescens
In addition, about half the homes do not have one native plant used in their landscapes, and one home is without even one plant in the ground - that one happens to be across the street from me. Yuck!
Some may wonder about some details of the home landscapes, including "why???", or the budgets.
I can help - I live in the above neighborhood, and we had our house constructed in 1998 by the same builder who built many homes here from 1994 - 2003. We read the paperwork, including standard and upgraded features, and we wrote the checks. This is rather typical landscaping for other builders' and other front yards around Abq, for homes ranging from $150K - $250K, and up to at least $400K. Such plant densities are common since lawns became used less in the mid-90's.
$900 was alotted by the builder towards landscaping each small front yard; they hired a production landscape contractor to install that work, covering the bare minimums of:
+ gravel cover, rock accents (most really unattractive), and weed fabric
+ (1) specimen plant
+ (2-3) small plants
+ no grading or irrigation
Just doubling that money would have paid for subtle grade changes with passive water harvesting, and some more plantings - that would have made each more appealing than what you see. And not cut into the builder's profit except pennies. One could pay the same contractor for upgrades to that $900 out-of-pocket (larger trees, patio walls, more plants, irrigation, etc), though few did.
(as an LA with a concience, I think of such possibilities, even if that would require a totally different culture, sophistication and mindset in Al-blah-quirky, or that the Land of Entrapment has)
Also, very few people have added anything to their landscapes from the original owner, whether 2nd, 3rd, or 4th owners of said homes. Let alone have any hired or were willing to hire a professional designer to take the builder basics into something far better. Albuquerqueans spend their money on new cars, the insides of their houses (then buying a new house in a few years, doing it all over), vacations, eating out for dinner often, shopping at the mall, dogs they don't take care of, and other things like that - not outdoor living space, like people do in Tucson or some other SW region towns. No matter the income level.
To adapt Gov. Lew Wallace quote about NM and TX to horticulture. "Poor Albuquerque - so far from heaven, so close to Santa Fe."
But that's what I saw, walking each block. Did I mention desert willows, palm yuccas, ocotillos, sotols, red yuccas, and loads of rock? Just in case:
Bold = locally-native species straddling the Chihuahuan Desert and the Arizona-New Mexico Mountains, within 75 miles and 1000' in elevation
Italic = ecoregionally-native species to the above, but beyond my locale or elevation.