I justified this trip to see two landscapes I designed, and one I'm starting. Clovis NM = 3:45 hours E, on the shortest route to Austin TX:
The owners saw no need for my construction observation involvement, so their general contractor did it; some parts per plan (this fine), others not. I must no longer accept clients who might do that. Fall re-visit?
And the last of this architecture at the NM-TX border visitor's center. But no shortage of these plants further SE, actually.
Thompson Yucca / Yucca thompsoniana among badly shaped shrubs.
Texas. W of Lubbock...really flat and real farms. Not pseudo-sustainably flooded lavender fields, free-range organic yaks, or hybrid eco-Volvos.
And wind generators galore, while getting greener!
Even greener and hillier, nearing Llano.
That's yah-no in NM and laah-no in Texas. Me = 2 hours out + a smile!
11+ hours - made it! And a very kind someone greeted me with a warm barely-baked cookie, the night-before-the-garden-tour dessert. As my other friend Augie looks on, almost done for the night. As I get ready to dig in.
1st stop / garden #5 - Daphne, knowing this was the first of many photos she couldn't escape, smiled back at me. She drove both of us to each garden.
An effective, cool understory planting shaded by existing oaks of various species. That can't be done under surface-rooted mulberry, [tr]ash, cottonwood, willow, siberian elm, etc. Nope.
Back to real trees - here, that includes Shumard Oak, Texas Red or Spanish Oak, and Escarpment Live Oak:
Nice flagstone color mixing that leads along a cobbled and planted swale. The rear pool area had good deck and railing work, including built-in seating. Hard to pull off in a visual or lifespan manner in full sun, or just about anywhere in the desert. Works here, though.
2nd stop / garden #4 - a more exposed, upland site, some great stone work, accents, and lines punctuate this garden...but what a huge piece of property! Only part of it has been developed, landscape-wise:
The front really grabbed me, and Pam seemed to enjoy it, too!
A rare sighting of Daphne texana 'Sans-Augiei', camera in hand:
A rare sighting of Daphne texana 'Sans-Augiei', camera in hand:
Good plant massing, and limestone stepping stones relate back to the site. Don't use boulders not from the geology your project is on...and don't date girls who do, or work for clients who want you to.
The morning chill lifted into a perfect 75-80F range by noon, and hammocks under live oaks such as here are tempting. But we resisted.
The front entry, a good blend of lines, rock, plant accents. Rugged beauty:
3rd stop / garden #6 - this is a habitat garden, or I should say property, with a small landscape footprint and some serious area. Ever gone hiking and still managed to stay near or on your property? That's here.
This photo does little justice to one steep driveway, and I'm used to that with some gnarly driveways in the Abq foothills. Glad neither place gets much snow.
Their front porch area looked nicely-laid out, plus green and serene. It perhaps lacked a sculpture plant...all it might take is a specimen agave or cactus w/ some dahlberg daisy or four-nerve daisy, in a nice container?
Opposite their front porch, I didn't take a photo of the kind of water feature all too common in Abq. As we proceeded down into the steep, natural area of this site, it was even more evident that front porch's constructed faux-waterfall was unnecessary, but a simple and small fountain viewed from their porch would have been quite effective, tying into the addition of a few structure plants in pots. I liked this garden and open space, though, and the actual human-made garden areas took up a very small footprint compared to conventional gardens, and others on this tour - more on this place in a future post.
"Oh, can't you see that big green tree, with the water running free, and it's waiting there for you and me?....."
In a number of ways, the juniper - oak savanna and woodland of the Texas Hill Country resembles the wetter E sides of New Mexico's central mountain chain. But theirs' is a greater species diversity, since their climate is warmer and wetter.
Contrary to a chunk of Outside Magazine's readership, the earth's cradle of life is not gray rock on the alpine tundra in NW Wyoming. Try the wet tropics...middle school earth and life sciences verify that.
But I digress. Were not tropical, but in the uplands of sub-humid prairie. The home we started at is up on that ridge:
So serene. Where I mountain bike in summer 10 miles away from home, when it's too hot in Abq, resembles this. Just a different juniper species, but some of the same wildflowers and limestone rock.
At least a 200' elevation drop down to the creek - and that cool, clear water!
4th stop / garden #3 - into more traditional suburban neighborhoods, with less undulating topography and smaller lot sizes:
A mix of lawn and planting borders that blend desert region and prairie region plants. I need to study my other photos of it, so more later, to gather my thoughts on it's effectiveness here.
I must always remind myself that lawns in Austin - 28-32" annual average precipitation - are far more appropriate for groundcover than they are in desertic Albuquerque - 6-9" AAP - especially with less thirsty species such as zoysia, bermuda or buffalograss.
Perfect, smaller space and outdoor room. Nice shade ramada, more intricate a design than most in the desert region:
Me by a Quercus [muhlenbergii], of course. Proof I was there:
Asymmetrical balance and naturalistic, some lawn plushness and much non-lawn lushness.
Pam spying a potted agave, with Catherine. Imagine that!
The view in towards the house and the rear patio. The very kind landscape designer's manner of dress even picked up on colors used here! And a burnt-orange pot. Goes with the territory.....
And the view out to preserved open space. Borrowed views are so very important!
Done, as we skipped the Wildflower Center...next Austin visit?
And my tour compadres L to R - Renee, Cat, Pam, Jenny, and Daphne. Nice, smart, like-minded and fun folks to tour with:
In the future, my plan is to post some items on each garden, in more detail compared to this fly-over trip. What I appreciated on this particular garden tour, is that it showed gardens in a variety of scales, costs and settings. This is important for the public, as many are unnecessarily scared off by things like 5/6 of the gardens I saw in the Phoenix garden tour last month.
Though, any of these gardens still cost more than putting down an entire yard of gravel on weed fabric, at least initially.
Pam took us by a landscape architect's home to peek at his garden. Great details throughout, like plant ledges formed by rock bars:
As usual, I also took in some sights solo, and enroute somewhere else. The croissant was really good at La Boite:
I returned again Monday AM, since resistance was futile. But before that, I wound my way up to hike at Wild Basin.
Nice development entry in hardscape and planting layout...structured naturalistic, all hardy. No token gestures to some place more like Hudson Bay or Yellowknife, like back in "Burque":
This deer might have some great garden visit stories, too:
Almost there...but this simple and attractive plant massing with more hardy plants beckoned my memory card. Red Yucca, Feathergrass, and Gulf Muhley. I gave in:
May the hike begin...arrived for 90 minutes at Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve. Great information on it here and here. Wilderness means no mountain biking, etc, but here it also means no dogs or horseback riding.
Serious drought-damage is evident on many junipers, grass stands, etc. At least Abq is supposed to look this way:
Like where I often hike, Wild Basin is really close to a busy roadway and population, yet still remote. But much greener, with denser vegetation, compared to Albuquerque's arid, western side of the Sandia Mtns:
Just a bit greener and denser than the semi-arid, eastern side of the Sandias. Though our East Mountain areas contain no waterfalls like this, at least to my knowledge:
Maybe I hiked for 2 miles, but only 100-150 feet in elevation change? I hiked all but the "Yaupon Trail", since I had to see Pam and David Penick's botanical paradise, then get back for dinner. Fun!
Many interesting scenes here since my earlier and only other visit to Pam's home, in 9/2010. But this live oak, the lighting, the chairs colors and shapes complimenting the pool's really grabbed me...maybe the shot here?
Monday morning, I observed the crew from Central Texas Gardener at a lush home garden in NW Austin, at least as I would consider it. Linda is on the right, the narrating voice heard on broadcasts - here:
I got some work in, as well as missed a few people I hoped to meet. Though I did talk with a couple via e-mail and phone. But I gained seeing this...more of this and a few other landscapes of interest in the future:
The last evening of my trip, walking and checking out how the 2 trees / each house could have been arranged and used more effectively...less crowding, more widespread shade. At least they were all appropriate native trees! (2) each front yard...
Nice live oaks and split-rail / rock fencing, heading back Tuesday AM, nearing Driftwood and Dripping Springs TX:
What a contrast to last spring - between Fredericksburg and I-10:
Even some bluebonnets stayed in bloom for me. With just enough mild, wet weather, they are just hanging on:
About the western end of the sub-humid prairie and woods of the hill country - near Junction TX:
Some large live oaks mixed in with smaller ones, just W of Sonora TX:
Now, it is definitely drier on semi-arid steppe and mesquite flats, just E of Ozona TX:
Seeing even more dead junipers and thinner plant cover, but still not desert, nearing the Pecos valley W of Ozona TX:
Many of the Texas Sotol plants here on its western range are dead or dying:
Looking familiar in Fort Stockton TX...back in the Chihuahuan Desert. An effective, simple planting of tough Ocotillo, Desert Willow, and Desert Candle. More on this another time:
Really familiar, the overused-in-Albuquerque Desert Willow...but quite the flower for the desert!
I think the 2nd statement is working, at least to the east:
Desert Willow and Desert Candle, both massed. Simple, durable:
The first larger mountains appearing W of Fort Stockton TX. Getting closer to my home, though I wish I could have stayed longer on my trip:
Site inventory and measurements In El Paso. 3-1/2 hours from the house, and very likely a great project to work on. And that cobalt-blue sky of the high desert!
A good end to a great trip. Even though I missed Austin's live music (I was sure I would experience that), and I didn't even get any BBQ (so unlike me)...but that just means I will be back to experience those.
For a while, I didn't even miss the desert. With great weather and company, some work and some recreation, I couldn't ask for more!
Well, maybe I could ask for less driving?