Monday, March 04, 2013

Sere Simplicity

There's much to be said for simplicity. Especially if it's still livable, offering serenity and stimulation.

Does this Marfa house's street-side landscape work? What is its effect? Or what else does it need?
From the dark gray, asphalt street. Spineless Prickly Pear / Opuntia ellisiana and a lone Thompson Yucca / Yucca rostrata.

All plants are used often in Albuquerque, but not in such a minimalist fashion. Usually in too busy of a fashion, preferably with some "companion" plants that need to be 3 Merriam Life Zones cooler and wetter. But not in Marfa, and that's refreshing.

Also refreshing, is that this more contemporary theme is not plagued with overcrowded plants. I see that often.

No doubt about it, that's a raw home site, with the power lines and simple house. The constraints of space, including those overhead utilities, are important and part of the context, so I didn't crop them out. But to me, it still seems to lack something.

Or maybe it is too monochromatic on the grays?

I'm not sure. This angle shows something more interesting to me. Maybe that's the view this front landscape was planned for - similar to how I would plan a streetscape or frontage, to be viewed from vehicle speeds?

I'm interested in what you think - anyone? Anyone?

(I just realized that this is my 500th post)



30 comments:

  1. LOVE THE MODERN LINES AND SIMPLICITY! HATE The grey...all grey.....eek! I think a purple wall like yours or a cobalt blue one would create a whole different look. :) Those two colors would still be pleasing to the grey house and the grey pebbles....and would be an inexpensive fix.

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    1. Good assessment on the layout, but not the monochromatic effect. Cobalt blue wall might be nice, given the foreground and house, even tho Marfa (& Abq) sky is that.

      Bad news - realtor, after saying hi, I think his next statement was to repaint the purple wall so it has much more mass appeal.

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    2. YIKES! Really? Let me guess...paint it beige? EEK! BORING! What about your yellow wall?????

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    3. Probably, but I have some other ideas, if I choose to embark on that. This city's landscape mindset makes it "All-blah-quirky" in reality. The yellow wall (and pot) - hmmm, he didn't make a note. In fact, he hardly even noticed the landscape!

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    4. Seriously?!?! Is he known to be good? I would want someone excited about the DESIGNER LANDSCAPE so he/she would sell it as a HUGE asset....

      I mean, OMG....did not notice? How is that possible!? Man I hope someone cool buys your place and keeps it as is!

      Hey....decided on a city yet? Perhaps SA where you could have a gal work for you for SUPER cheap and love every minute of it?

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    5. The realtor is well-known for being good at selling, but few here or *any* realtors get gardens, unless it's a fake waterfall and a lawn w/ lollipop trees. They salivate over that. But I hope to get a buyer who gets it - would like to pass it to good or better hands! (it could happen)

      City - SA and esp. ATX seem "loved to death", but still candidates. That could be nice, Xs! Though if I move there, I may even go work for the right-someone else?

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  2. Yay for post #500!

    I love spare modern design but this just does nothing for me. There is no balance and the repetition is off. I think they should have suck to just a single kind of plant, or repeated the yucca a couple more times. And yes a color to the wall would help.

    (p.s...you don't have to listen to the realtor! Keep it purple!!!)

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    1. Those are great comments and ideas, and either would be an improvement, not to mention the wall. Hearing you say what you said about the wall, I think I just might repaint it the pre-sun-faded bold purple:-)))))

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  3. Monochrome can be a beautiful design choice but this is more camouflage than design. Too dark. Monochrome works best with different shades in the range. Amazing how the opuntia goes very gray in this setting.

    Agree they need to fix the balance. One kind of plant.

    Can you wait for feedback before painting the wall?

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    1. Camoflauge - exactly, and I noticed those cacti looking odd there, too. I think it's tempting to see what happens first, before painting that wall...to me, the new owner could always paint (or in Abq fashion, spend more $ and stucco it brown).

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  4. When I look at it, I want to see color color color. The color could be in wall art, very colorful wall art. I am not a fan of grey but it is a good background for color. Hmm, did I mention color? lol I am just a color person.

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    1. I like the wall art idea, and I wonder how that might work in a contemporary or industrial motif? Not that planting climbing roses or something flowering along the entire wall inside to add color on top, might not hurt, either!

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    2. You could use a theme for the wall art depending on what they like.....flowers, birds animals or if industrial, whatever they manufacture could tell the story.
      Please us know and see the final result.

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    3. 3-D would be fun also.

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    4. Looks like a sketching opportunity, though I might try it on the computer program I have called SketchUp, since this is simple and boxy enough to put in? I'll have to play with this one once I get a few paying designs done - I like the 3-D idea, even if it's simple relief? Should be a contemporary treatment idea in my head, somewhere!

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  5. Need some contrast, either textural or color. Also something more vertical, it's so horizontal. The yucca in the middle looks so "ball in the box".
    Move the middle cati in the right group into a triangulated grouping, and add a stong texture and sized plant such as Apache plume or rabbit bush behind it. Maybe a legume leafed tree shrub on the left such as Huisache or Mesquite, not sure about the power lines however. Hesparaloe for bloom color? Maybe some color to blend with the tile roof next door.

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    1. I wonder if the yucca was meant to be the vertical, but stay under the overhead utilities? Not sure on moving a cactus to achieve the modern lines, but the apache plume or chamisa might be the trick in there...same with adding a low, leguminous tree...mesquite probably to large, huisache not cold hardy there, but how about Goldenball Leadtree / Leucanea retusa - it's nice and small (12'-15' max)?

      Picking up on the neighbor's roof color - great idea!

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  6. Paint that wall! I'd go with a deep red to play off those tunas. I also would move the Yucca rostrata so that it's not situated right in the center. It needs some asymmetry.

    Interesting to hear that your house is on the market. Where are you moving to? There's always room for another garden blogger and passionate gardener in Austin.

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    1. I think you and Greggo have it right on something red for the tunas and the neighbor's roof...liven it up w/ deep red on the stucco wall portion. Asymmetric additions good. And inside that wall, a swath of red yuccas surrounding...ta-da...a stock tank fountain. That would tie in w/ the gray gravel and block wall portion, and create sound against the wall's inside.

      You're too kind (and ATX is still in contention), but can the Mopac or any other street there handle even 1 more car?

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    2. Just "Mopac," no "the" -- now you're talking like a local.

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  7. Balance, and movement, balance and movement. Your eye keeps zeroing in on that yucca, nothing to keep you eye moving. The prickly pears on the right are all the same size, the ones on the left look like mistakes. There is another prickly pear at the far left of the picture, against the rear wall. So maybe there was a plan, or maybe the owner got them all on sale.

    The fix - loose the yucca, replace the small prickly pears with larger ones, and add paint color. What color is a good question. Add a wavy strip of a grayed-down red (compliment to the prickly pear green) on the wall behind the prickly pears. That would be an attention getter.

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    1. Thanks for visiting!

      Very good points on balance / movement - there is little of that there, partly since the left cacti look to be a later planting that hasn't matured in with the others on the right. Tree yuccas are funny, in that in nature, they always have their trunks anchored by desert shrubs or grasses, but in landscapes people leave those out. The yucca must go, the wall get painted. I may need to sketch this one, as mentioned above, once I finish my paying work!!

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  8. Some color would make it pop! Congrats on 500 posts, Sir David!

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    1. I agree - that gray is overkill - on everything it touches! Thanks, Lady Liza!

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  9. I would never install anything to be observed from a car. The second picture demonstrates why. In the first, the distance and perspective, not to mention if one was moving in the vehicle of preference, looks too spaced. The second photo, allows to enjoy, color, textures, contrast in a rather normal way.

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    1. For a home, I probably wouldn't design for car views, either. That was the only thing I could come up to explain it, though maybe it is just trying to hard to be modern? (yes, too spaced)

      Thanks for visiting - I haven't seen a blog post from you in a while!

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  10. So maybe I'm the only person who doesn't mind all the gray. Image how much the optunia blossoms would pop against that wall.

    I would like to change the plantings - maybe replace one or two of the optunias with purple ones (all season color + asymmetry) and add something more feathery and tall (small tree) on one end, and some red yuccas in the corner.

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    1. You make much sense, though, including adding those other plants. As a designer, I could do something with any of the suggestions, and yours' work from a high desert perspective...purple cacti would compensate for lack of winter blooms, like the low desert would have.

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  11. Catching up on your blog. I seem to have missed this one.

    So, what's all this about you selling your house, and moving to you don't know where? I hope all is ok with you.

    As for the wall...I agree with Pam. Paint the wall. Too much gray...the wall and gravel are too much the same. Then, the grayish cacti blend in too much.
    I always think of those tunas as a reddish purple. Haven't had any ripe ones here, though. The deer eat them, before they get there.
    But, maybe a color that would complement them. And, move that yucca to the left.
    OK...that's my two cents.
    Take care.

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    1. I almost forgot about this post, too, after the hike! Thanks for asking, just time to move to somewhere more like-minded (and sell house, etc). It's bittersweet, as I'm such a homebody, not to mention having my little garden and all I'm next to.

      Wall - that cactus looks green against tan, purple, or other odd colors I'm into...that gray wall really makes everything gloomy. I like your ideas on color and plants...here, it's squirrels...they get that maroon juice on everything. I think some people try too hard being modern and minimalist.

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