Friday, October 12, 2012

Front Landscape Find

On the way back to Abq, I cut through Socorro to get nearer the mountain slopes in the area, covered with fields of golden wildflowers. Though unkempt, this landscape had me do a double-take, for some existing plants that are striking and uber-hardy.

Always nice to get side-tracked! Photos taken 10/4/12.
Normally the tree choices clue me in if a place is even worth it. But the bounty of Mescal Agave / Agave neomexicana, with assorted low cacti and some volunteer golden wildflowers got me to stop.

And trees - (1) always tough Arizona Cypress / Cupressus arizonica ssp. glabra L, (2) Pinon / Pinus edulis C, and (1) Ponderosa Pine R. The first two thriving, the last hanging in there. Just like the same in Abq.


Brownspine Prickly Pear / Opuntia phaecantha as a groundcover, Spiny Golden Aster / Machaerantha spinosa volunteering 











Another view of the Brownspine Prickly Pear and Mescal Agave, with numerous pups to be relocated, and a splash of golden Desert Marigold / Baileya multiradiata that seeded in, just like back home.

Definitely needs weeding and removal of the vertical timbers; they detract.

But that's one healthy Pinon tree! and that blue sky...yes, 250 miles of cobalt blue, high desert skies on that drive.
Looks like Plains Prickly Pear / Opuntia cymochila
Finally, the view north. Again, healthy pinons and some plants that need moving.

I wonder what else needs to be added here? My initial thoughts to make this space sing:
1) widen the walk 2X, change to flagstone or crushed granite; create a patio in front of the adobe buttresses
2) create broad water harvesting swale(s) or basin(s) in the open areas, instead of draining it to the street
3) move the agaves to accommodate the new walk
4) add low, evergreen shrubs and a sculptural native tree at the patio in one of the basins or swales
5) fill in flowering plants like lantanas, more desert marigolds, damianitas, globemallows
6) line one side of the new front walk with a long mass of flowering plants, surrounding the agaves there
7) unify the front, by weaving a mass of clumping Bush Muhley or Alkali Sacaton in the basins / swales

What do you think?

16 comments:

  1. 2)
    I like the idea of decorative gravel not only as an effective and colourful mulch, but also as a form of slowing water down down those heavy downpours so that almost everything soaks into the earth and no runoff flows over the sidewalk into the streets.

    Possible water harvesting from roof runoffs and other areas somehow to be channeled to those Pinyons which have a higher water requirement than those agaves and prickly pears.

    4) I'd try some sort of Manzanitas or even if you can find a low growing form of Sugarbush (Rhus ovata) although I doubt such a one has been found or created(see Monsanto - kidding) Manzanitas have to have mycorrhizal inoculum. Like Arbutus they have no root hairs like other plants and therefore rely on fungal mycelia. I failed for ages trying to establish them until I found the right mix from Mike Amaranthus.

    5)
    I like Lantanas and globemallows. Surprisingly I imagine most don't take globemallows seriously, but once established take care of themselves. If one naturalizes, I always left it alone as an added bonus.

    I would imagine that you could remove the gravel from the surface and create mini-swales and berms and then cover them over again with the gravel with some added fresh gravel. Thank God for leave blowers for maintenance of gravel. I never see them here. Everything is always wet and blowing or moving anything almost impossible.

    BTW, my wife just reminded me it's time to bring the slug eaten prickly pear that we got in Tenerife back inside if we want it to live. We're already getting frosts. not that that will necessarily kill the cacti, but why leave it out.

    -

    ReplyDelete
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    1. #2 - exactly, and allows more percolation into root zones. #4 - not sure those sugarbushes exist...yet. But manzanitas and Rhaphs can work. #5 - those wildflowers are underrated in Abq, but not AZ.

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  2. They speak our language.

    I would have stopped too.

    XO T

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    Replies
    1. Very true - I need to figure out their language. My photos don't do it justice, but you can see thru that.

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  3. I like your ideas.

    This looks like it has great potential. But, it's a bit haphazard and flat. Some berms, with the same plantings 'arranged', would look better.
    And, the front of the house needs something. Your patio sounds like a good answer.

    Did you leave your card?

    So....I can't help myself....Hook 'em Horns!
    sorry....

    Have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should leave my card next time! Your comments very true, esp. flat!
      Horns - next time...

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  4. I love this house! I have never been to New Mexico so not sure of the native stuff there except from what I learn from you. I love all your ideas. The only thing that gets me on this is that it is coniferous city....but again, my sense of place there is non-existent and maybe that is all that would make it near the mountains there? Could a Palo Verde tree or two work....or a desert Willow or two work here? Maybe flanking your patio or on each side of your new walk by the street? Break up all those conifers. Then again...maybe it is too cold there. I do love this house and property...all those agaves ROCK!

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    1. All of your plant ideas would work, except way to cold in Socorro, even Las Cruces, for Palo Verde. Maybe a sketch is in order...

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  5. There is so much to love here! Of course I see plenty of open space where a few more plants could easy be placed. And I love your idea of a patio out front, the world would be a better place with more sidewalk neighborly interaction.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Exactly...too much in the way of voids. And not enough interaction w/ neighbors.

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  6. Definitely needs some warm colors with gray foliage. Pineleaf penstemon, ocotillo,agastache, and definetly some muhly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All but the pineleaf penstemon work well on most warm exposures in central NM. Good plant ideas!

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  7. Just love Opuntia phaecantha - saw it in Berkeley Botanics a few weeks ago. Such an architectural plant and the purple fruits are fabulous.

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    1. Yes, architectural yet under-valued in favor of big O. engelmannii or O. violaceae (not hardy in central NM)

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  8. I know what I like about it, feels like it is far out of town. Kinda of a cabin feel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That feeling of remoteness is something I had not thought of...may be the conifers and street setback?

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