Friday, November 16, 2012

Foliage Follow-Up - 11/2012

Another foliage follow-up has begun - thanks, Pam / Digging.

It's now late fall here, sharing a couple hard freezes and a few more lighter frosts with most of the state. But Albuquerque is better off than places N, W or no complaints. Even the habitual mesic plants get a brief pass for their color.

Step on-board!
Leaving a recent meeting in El Paso, I spied what's left of one of my designs, but looking
good - Torrey Yucca / Y. torreyi, softened by clumps of Giant Sacaton / Sporobulus
. That reminds me of a place I've only seen photos of - Otero Mesa.

Center-striped Agave / A. lophantha behind it, since our nurseries don't seem to think
native Lechuguilla / A. lechuguilla is worthy of stocking. An OK substitute, but.....

Back to my house, 250 miles due north.

Winter Jasmine / Jasminum nudiflorum even changes color, though the green stems remain until the February blooms.
And my lopsided Zoyate or Beaked Yucca / Y. rostrata. Stunning every morning as I walk outside to sip a coffee or nosh on some goodies. And that view...never tired of it in 14+ years.

Of course Desert or Engelmann Prickly Pear / Opuntia engelmannii really has such
divine architecture, it's even better used well - see my last post. Its evergreen pads
seem to dance about, with a blueish hue to deal with our hyper-sun.

And loads of cochineal on these plants.

At the same Journal Center office as the above cactus planting, is this double row of another
ubiquitous Abq symbol - Blue Sotol / Dasylirion wheeleri. Too close together, but I'll forgive
that for now...this composition of shimmering, blue-green pincushions looks great with the
concrete walls and window repetition.

And notice the solo orange Desert Globemallow / S. ambigua or coccinea in front?

Looking out from the same office parking lot...the golden is Arizona Ash (or the Modesto cultivar), the brown is Sycamore, the reds are various crabapples and pears, and even a few cottonwoods thrown in. All HOG plants, but pretty at the present, since this area waters the tar out of everything.

A reminder to anyone reading this - please know that I do not endorse high water-use plants, including their extensive use, on most sites in desert towns like Abq - including this one built 30 years ago.

Arizona Ash is a local native, once lining the Rio Grande floodplain, from below Santa Fe and Española to the Big Bend, and westward  into southern and central California along other river drainages. Note the word floodplain. An attractive golden color against our skies.

And the distant Sandia Mountains as a rain shower clears. 

This Arizona Ash is in a heavily-watered, asinine expanse of bluegrass lawn. But one area of lawn was replaced with the usual gravel, clumps of 3 gulf muhleys, and an odd number of something else but unadapted to Abq - all plants spaced too far apart, tree roots disturbed, and voila - stress! Perfect for ash borers to  take over. Not a floodplain.

Back to reality - Firecracker Penstemon / P. eatonii priming itself to flower like crazy next
late March or April. People who love trees with drinking problems kill these all the time.

Mine are 5+ years old and reseed; I posted on them - here. (at end of post, click image to enlarge)

What I see when I actually water - an establishing pup of Big Bend Agave / A. havardiana
(front L), Texas Rainbow / E. dasyacanthus ssp. dasyacanthus (L), Beargrass / Nolina 
texana (rear center), and the latter flanked by Mariola / Parthenium incanum.

A Texas Honey Mesquite / Prosopis glandulosa over the planting, as a clouding-up
sky and another foothill view rule overhead.

Honey mesquites can turn golden, though these are mostly frozen leaves about to fall
off. But still nice against our sky!

Another look at the Beargrass I see mid-day, most days, into the blinding sun.

Since this is Pam's idea on foliage and form, I must include the dreaded purple-now-lavender
wall. The original color was called "Bottom Out", renamed "Purple Pride" - available at
Dunn-Edwards in the desert states.

Oops - foliage. Focus! Deergrass / Muhlenbergia rigens with loads of ripe seed (uh oh), Silver
behind that, and just for Pam, another Big Bend Agave way in back L. And that view...

Happy, potted Boxwood plants that Southern Living gave me to try out; I like their lush, deep green. Amazing when people in places like El Paso or Abq, with our laser beam sun, learn to place these in 50-100% shade...they like it here, then!

Another view of 2 photos up, from my front door. It's not tough living in this house, to sip coffee and see this so many mornings, even though these lots are too close for many. I'm very blessed to see my soft and sharp foliage plantings mature.

Pam's always in the way of my pictures! (since I'm hopelessly trying to glean how she does it) 

Thanks Pam, for helping turn people onto foliage and form. You can visit her post and others - here!

What foliage is at it's architectural-best in your garden right now?


  1. I am always amazed at Albq. The way it butts up against those mountains is really neat. I imagine there are so many microclimates there. I really enjoyed the drive north up the valley to it last time I made a road trip through New Mexico.

    1. Abq is near where everything starts to change - each mountain slope has a warm and a cold microclimate, and a few are not where one expects them. And we have different actual climate zones - 2 in the city, and several colder / wetter zones to the top of the Sandias, or points N-W-E.

  2. Albuquerque is cool...kind of a microcosm of the states varied climate zones and varied weather conditions. Love the fall colors.

    1. Thanks - the mountain top has a good chunk of the Rocky Mtn influence, and the lowlands a good chunk of the southern desert. Could make for interesting landscapes for and of each zone!

  3. Of course, the Muhlenbergia is my hands-down favorite...but I'm thrilled that people DO use Sporobulus's practically unheard of out here.

    1. I'll post on Sporobulus soon...S. wrightii and S. airoides...even saw the latter in Austin at the Ten Eyck Res! I've gotten used to my narrow Muhlenbergia growing out of the bedrock, never developing the billowy, round form I see elsewhere (where not on the mountain side!).

  4. Fabulous pictures, as always!

    "waters the tar out of everything" had me laughing with that one. Also this is the second time you've recently mentioned the "dreaded purple-now-lavender wall"...does that mean others have asked about it too? I'm not the only one who wondered why purple? (btw just for the record I've come to love it and would be very sad to see it painted over).

    1. Gracias, dangerous one. Overwatering - glad you liked that, as it still makes me wonder! The wall - a few, esp Pam, call it "lavender". I've repainted it the same color every 3 years, since the sun really fades it; it's time to be more saturated again; the yellow pots and yellow wall also need a repainting. Not to worry, just a fresh coat of the same! (so glad it's grown on you:-)

  5. Your garden is looking gorgeous despite the cold! I love that sotol mass planting know that though! and that grass looks gorgeous under the yucca. BEAUTIFUL DAVID! Oh and Pam's hair looks gorgeous too. :)

    1. Thanks - that sotol planting might hold up if they can stop irrigating, but that species can get 7'+ wide and 9' tall here when trunks form...might do that anyway? Grasses and yuccas a classic!

  6. Ah, there I am in one of your many David-lurking-behind-Pam pics. And thanks, Heather, for the hair compliment! ;-) I cracked up over your "not a floodplain" comment. Arizona ashes are not favorites here in Austin either -- overplanted in the 70s by developers who wanted a fast-growing tree, and now they're all dying off at the same time, leaving entire neighborhoods treeless. Monoculture, bad!

    1. It was the only lurk-behind-Pam pic that came out, but I have many of someone else out your way... Floodplain - once had a woman mad at me taking my NPSNM field trip group by AZ Ash in the wild, pointing out what was by the water & what was on the dry hillside...your points, and more!

  7. those yuccas, that blue sky ... it speaks the language of my heart!!!!