Friday, April 20, 2012


Saturday 4/14, before noon - the Sunscape class' tour of the adjacent Chihuahuan Desert Garden, at the University of Texas at El Paso. Sunny, serene, a nice breeze, and well into the mild 70's:

Curator John White, AKA Juan Blanco, describing some of the plants:

Back inside, this speaker to finish, then my turn!  

Glad to be inside, as the weather changed. The dust storm along the incoming cold front got ugly. Blowing anything un-mortared or chained to the ground, under 100 pounds in weight, it seemed.

Sunday 4/15 - like the dust storm never happened. Cooler, but nicer. From my temporary crash pad on the border, courtesy of friends:

Literally, on the border. Mexico / Chihuahua (L), US / NM (R): 

A recent addition to Robert Ardovino's fine restaurant and banquet facility, Ardovino's Desert Crossing. And Yellow Hesperaloe / H. parviflora 'Yellow', with Bush Morning Glory / Convolvulus cneorum:

And the patio outside the swanky Mecca Lounge. Of Jennifer Barr's / Desert Elements design (Robert is Jenn's husband): 

A chilly, but sunny and pleasant day. On the way to my hike, I always spot a nice tidbit of architecture and planting:

French Lavender understory to Honey Mesquite, and a stone driveway / wall in front of a Tuscan-esque home. It works!

(as opposed to "Tuscan" in Abq, complete with all the non-native and non-Mediterranean plants, in unappealing arrangements, that the owner and land-scraper can dream of...i.e. aspen, photinia, maiden grass, spruce, potentilla, blue avena...)

And finishing the hike...that view! The nearer lights are in El Paso; in the distance, huge Ciudad Juarez:

Torrey Yucca, Ocotillo, and Lechuguilla look great in silhouette. Probably how I look to a mountain lion...another hike at dusk.

Monday 4/16, after breakfast - warming up, the serene side of April. I've liked this home landscape since it started going in:
Another of Jenn's design. Some existing elements were retained (the Cenizo shrubs, forming the informal hedge in front of the house, the mature cypress trees). Some new was added, such as the young Texas Red Oak, gray Powis Castle Sage, Red Yucca, Damianita, etc. More on a future post:  

What type of moods do you see in the desert setting?

Is it different than your spring?

And how do you think the landscapes can stand up to the desert, and still look good and appropriate to the architecture?

Great things to ponder. The "whys".


  1. The many moods of the desert always appeal to me. I find the colors very soothing and peaceful. Although, I find equal joy in the riotous color that our spring holds...I just may be easy to please!

    1. Me too, but I've only seen your spring live 1x! This would have been the weekend to visit...Willie statue unveiled, Old Settlers this weekend, perfect weather, BBQ, bluebonnets, oaks, .....:-)

  2. I like the different moods, of the desert. Especially when the light turns the mountain to that dusty blue.
    As displayed by that dust storm, the desert mood can change in a hurry.
    But, you can't beat the Texas Hill Country, in spring. Guess I'm plopped down in the right place.

    That fence on the border....ugh Now THAT is bad desert design! Sorry...some people think it is needed. But, it is so ugly! IMHO

    Have a great weekend.

    1. I like that too...when I am safe inside, free from the tooth cleaning! You are right, it looks like heaven where you are, or at least what I think it looks oaks, green grass, bluebonnets!

      I agree w/ you on the ugly border fence. How to symbolize something our gov't will not address properly, and we get to pay for it...

  3. Juan Blanco! haha John is such a character! Definitely miss seeing him around.

    It took me a while to like the desert but the more I started to explore, the more I was amazed. The desert is an amazing place. To me it is kind of a metaphor for life. The desert can be so harsh but it keeps on going. There are times of misery(hot/dusty) but there are also times of absolute beauty. That is something unique to the desert and is what I have really come to love about it.

    1. When I call John, I often say, "this is David not-so-blanco"! Juan Blanco knows his stuff about plants, natives to fruit trees, and so nice.

      I was that way, more and more. And coming from the perspective of drier California deserts, the Chihuahuan is lusher in many ways, and the desert grassland unique, too.

  4. I love the coloring of desert plants. This might sound oversimplified, but they just compliment one another in a unique way. Many of the great designs we see up here are about contrast but so much of the desert scape seems to be complimentary. I think that's what adds to the soothing aspect. I love it!

    1. That is a great point...while we have contrast and laser-beam light / shadows, the complimentary nature and soft colors are important too. Sometimes I forget that.

  5. "Is it different to your spring?" you ask. Most certainly! I returned to the UK in mid March to an unseasonal and quite exceptional mini heatwave but it didn't last! For the last three weeks it has been cold and wet. This last week it has rained every day and the forecast for the next ten days is RAIN! And this is at the same time as the UK is imposing drought regulations and hosepipe bans due to low reservoir stocks. I have always thought that growing plants is easy but its dealing with the weather (and people) that can be difficult!

    1. Yes, you literally went from the frying pan to the refrigerator! Hopefully your drought regulations will be eased with some good, soaking rains.

      Seems like all aspects of horticulture, especially the nurseries, are similar to weather-dependent!

      The only people I've met who think weather is peripheral to what we do are some local landscape architects. And you can imagine what those ones create...

  6. Hi David,
    Great entries! I really enjoy the photographs and the warm colours of the desert.
    Always a pleasure when I get a moment to read your Blog.
    Keep up the good work.

    1. Thank you for visiting! I am behind on some blog visits, so your's is next. I've missed you on Twitter, but I hope you are too busy to spend much time there.

      I will and you do the same.


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