Monday, January 21, 2013

Rugged Elegance

I was returning from a Thanksgiving weekend trip, and I took a break in El Paso, taking photos for someone. I spied this front landscape, which I forgot about the first time I saw it perhaps 3 years ago?

All locally or ecoregional-native plants and year-round interest. Photos taken 11/25/2012.
My first view of it. So much for "xeriscape is not rocks and cactus (yuccas)", or "native plants don't go with this style of house." Great bones, perhaps waiting to get some jewelry! And a better driveway, of course.
A more head-on view. Do you see what it might be lacking? Or is it even lacking?

The front door across the narrow circular drive planting. Anything missing?

To me, it only requires some softening or possibly some rearranging. Maybe more formalizing, working with the wall massing and anchoring the corners better. A follow-up post with sketches may be in order.

This front landscape was created to welcome all without a drinking problem, except the live oaks and trumpet vines over the gate, with only succulent desert accent plants.

This is rugged elegance that speaks of a desert oasis, or at least the start of one.

24 comments:

  1. I could happily live there. That is such a beautiful planting. I like how it still retains a sense of lushness. I could imagine some epic date palms in the mix with a bougainvillaea. But that would be the zone 10 version of that place. Very Mediterranean!

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    1. I know...I can taste the tapas, or are they tacos? Bougainvilleas there are used as root-hardy perennials, and many came back after that 2/11 freeze. But in San Diego...oooh!

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  2. I like that, it's a great landscape for El Paso. Just add a few native grasses to pick up the wind similar to your place.

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    1. It really is, and most of that looks similar here. Very tough...just needs more soft!

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  3. I would love to see your ideas and sketches for this place!

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    1. Thanks...I think it will happen! Too bad not boned up on doing it on my PC via SketchUp...

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  4. Ooooooo, I love all those photos, I really miss a Prosopis interspersed with cactus-Agave landscape. I get warmer just thinking about coming home. Especially to the desert. Mum was in Ocotillo at my sister and brother in-law's house and said not one of those bogus wind energy turbines was moving the whole weekend. They've destroyed so much of the landscape there for nothing, and it looks exactly as ugly as western end of Palm Springs and Coachella Valley.

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    1. I agree. Getting closer to your trip...looks like a good rainmaker for the entire desert, not too cold next week. Need 1-2" for any spring wildflowers... thanks to strong monsoon in '12, Calif looks best. Except the wind turbines!

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  5. Looking at that from a Phoenix, Az perspective - it looks great.

    Would love to see your sketches/follow-up.

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    1. Yeah...a good start. I guess we have some votes for some sketchin'.

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  6. I like those first two views. Maybe some softening with grasses.
    But, it has some round and some spiky. And, the rock has a design to it...not just dumped, like we sometimes get here.

    I'll be interested to see what you add.

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    1. True...and the rock, I've learned much on *how* to specify and use rock mulches, and El Paso and Tucson very good at that. Mix 2-3 sizes of same type, etc. Maybe a post on inorganic vs. organic mulch use... 3 votes for sketches; you're on!

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  7. make that 4 votes for a sketch now! ;)
    I really love it as is...it is making a big statement keeping it only desert plants ...restraint...I really like that.

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    1. Now, to get my day job / payin' work done...first! Yes, a big statement. Imagine it with some softening and icing?

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  8. Check this Miami Elegance.......http://www.sugargreengardens.com/portfolio-miami-landscaping-design/doral-hammocks/

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    1. Jaja! Actually, still some nice in those examples!

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  9. I love it! Some more than others. I like the landscap infront of the house more than the wall. If no exspense...I would give that driveway some texture, and not sure what I would do with the gate, I know the pots are not right, they need something? And the big light I would change.
    Can't wait to see what you would do.

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    1. The large light struck me as odd, while I like from courtyard wall and gate. Seems too much spiky...did I say that?

      Me too - just too swamped for at least another week, or more.

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  10. I'll agree with some of your other commenters in liking the first view. And then there's the issue of the white rocks, which I don't really understand. In the end it could be a major lack of contrast, rocks against rocks, or, like one of your photos, gray or pale glaucous leaves against white. Don't you think some sort of foil, maybe something darker, would make the landscape more inviting on a day so bright and hot you have to squint?

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    1. I too see the need for softening, massing and unifying. Yes, too bright and harsh...

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  11. This could work in Denver, too. Quite gorgeous. The yuccas are perfectly hardy here. Only needs a bluegrass lawn ......
    Seriously, though, the white rocks are perfect; could use a bunch of leucophyllums or creosote bush or both to add some non-spiky contrast. Well, not contrast, just more plants.

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    1. Yes, and even the live oaks might become some big Cercocarpus ledifolius like at your house? Yeah - more plants, but I think delete some of the yucca clumps...they overdo themselves, and cancel out the effect they could have.

      Stay tuned, even if it's a few months down the road...

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  12. Some tweaking, but overall the plantings are appropriate to the home and to the climate. I like it a lot. A bit of colorful tile as accents on the walls might be nice, too.

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    1. Yes - I can't wait until I make progress on my paying work, to do some sketching here. That house is ubiquitous from Calif to TX, but plants and some hardscape (and tile work) could make unique for each.

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