Texture is so timely, as it is dormant season #2 in Albuquerque - summer. It's usually wasteful in effort, time / money, and water resources to pretend we are somewhere cool and/or wet enough to carry out past garden mindsets. But it's always more informed and successful to embrace what looks great without flowers or an addiction to irrigation; a garden that reflects the power of it's place.
Good use of texture holds a space together when foliage and flowers cannot.
Rough is an acquired taste to many where I live, especially the desert phobe. But once people become savvy with where they are, to include this vital element in the garden, they rarely go back. Unless they go back to where their hearts long. I wish.
The ubiquitous stuccoed block wall, and bold foliage say all; rough-on-rough, as it contrasts in color...blue-green vs. a reddish-brown. The imprints on the leaves from other leaves, before they all unfolded. That particular agave is not perfectly Agave scabra nor Agave salmiana...I think it is some funky cross between the two. But regardless, how about those hooked spines? Rough!
Soft is what most everyone craves, even the roughest among us. But without the rough, soft is mostly powerless. Yin and yang.
In a Jimmy Zabriskie design, related species do the exact same thing in El Paso as in the natural example in Albuquerque, above.
I was unable to explore some other textural elements, such as fuzziness or smoothness, as those go too much into floral aspects, which I chose to leave out, for now. It borders on infernal outside, and I want you to get the full effect!
Light is something the southwest has - somewhere between too much, and almost-too-much; rarely is there not enough light. To me, sunlight softens plants and hardscape early and late in the day, and this can be used to great effect with well-placed spots to use equally well-placed edges and plants.
Please ignore those flowers, as it was a March photo, the end of our dormant season #1 - winter. But you know that!
Shadows are probably not texture, but to me, they are where one can pause to see texture.
Shadows make every form within it hard to read from being out in the blinding sunlight. Yet they beckon one to come into their presence, to feel cool and see more. This time of year, this aspect of texture is saving the best for last. I think it means rest.
When I was designing the exterior of this building at UNLV in Sin City, the design team at my office at the time, Dekker Perich Sabatini, kept discussing the intense light.
Las Vegas is lower elevation and slightly further north than Abq; it's extra dust due to being even more arid than here, and denser lower elevation air holds more dust - all of that scatters light. As the sunniest major US city, that's a great deal of light to scatter.
Rock salt finish concrete was used, with Davis "San Diego Buff" integral color added - is pitted a texture? Sandstone from nearby rock formations was used for low seat and garden walls, as well as bands to break up the concrete expanse, obviously a sandy texture. And this allows one to see the now-dormant Desert Marigold catch light against the smooth wall shadow.
A view from the front door...the sandy texture appears again, due to decomposed granite I specified to serve as both mulch and walking areas. Only soft Deergrass plants and the walls on different radii define where a person can go.
Considering summer starts there as early as mid-April, and might not end until mid-October, that encompasses a few months of the fall and spring semesters, and the entire summer semester.
One wall in the shade, other in the sun, mimicking canyon walls that inspired this to me.
Feathery, but young, Western Honey Mesquite / Prosopis torreyana growing upward and outward, in the shallow water harvesting basins - sure to extend the shade near the building. That's it for me. Stay cool, always discovering what grabs you!
Please visit my fellow "Knights of the Roundtable" this month, to see their thoughts on texture!