Disappearing scrubland

violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

Hi there, Native Plant forum. I thought I'd run this by you to see if you had any comments or suggestions. I live in a new subdivision in New Mexico -- developer has razed the native Chihuahuan desert scrubland, and is building more houses. I'm very sad, not the least because my view will now be houses, and not greenery.

The first pic below shows my house, the wall, and the easement to the highway that is on my property. I plan to plant there on the other side of the wall in the easement.

The second pic is the scrubland I look out upon (on the other side of the highway) which I fear will soon be lost. It's mostly creosote, mesquite, desert willow (chilopsis linearis), sage, turpentine bush, and I don't know what else.

So, first question -- is there some real reason why none, or very, very few of my neighbors plant on the other side of their walls? There is a 25 foot utility easement (there are overhead electrical lines which you cannot see in the pic), but my subdivision rules specifically state we are encouraged to plant native plants in the easement. There are also people who ATV along that strip, which I don't think is technically legal, but whatever. But the strip from my wall to the wire fence is 15 feet or so, so I think there's room to plant.

Next, what to plant? I probably won't plant creosote (too hard to plant successfully, and too expensive) or mesquite (too tall). I was thinking of planting a couple of desert willows there, which are small desert trees, and some of the larger Texas rangers (leucophyllum).

I just feel bad that the land has been stripped, and want to replant some good things for the native fauna.

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texasranger2

Oh boy, I'm already on pins and needles waiting for more. If there is anything I love more than grasslands its scrublands. I love the pictures you posted. Please don't tell me this is disappearing.

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

I'm sad too (pics now posted). BTW, the area is overtaken by durn russian thistle, aka tumbleweeds. I hate them!


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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

Here are a couple more pics, just for you Texas ranger. The first shows my view from my yard over the wall.

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texasranger2

At least you can see over your invaders. We took a 100 mile drive Sunday. The trees on the prairies made me feel almost physically sick to look at them. It is noticeably worse every time we drive in any direction, miles and miles of dark green blotches composed of red cedar and several types of deciduous filling in to finally choke those out, it seems to extend past the horizon into infinity with only areas of grassland between them and those are going under the dreaded canopy of ugly invading trees. Baby cedars coming up in the unaffected grass areas is typical. We have had an exceptionally wet spring/early summer and all I could think about was how many tree seedlings are getting a good start along with an upsurge in mature tree growth, its depressing. During the recent drought at least the progress was slowed down and as bad as all the heat and fires were many trees went up like exploding matches and some areas got wiped out, at least temporarily, it looks like a loosing battle. The burned out areas are now filling back in with young trees, it looks hideous.

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

trees are bad?

no, I know what you mean. We could use a few more trees around here, though.

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texasranger2

The first thing that popped in my head is the reason people don't plant on the other side of the wall is they probably prefer nursery plants and watering issues would be a problem so they would not think of it in the first place or care that those plants are being razed. They would care about loosing the view but thats about all. In my experience 99.9% of the people around here look at what grows "wild out there" as composed of uninteresting weeds, that is, if they notice it at all & the response would be "who cares about that weedy stuff?". They would never consider using those plants as landscaping choices. I haven't run into a single person who has noticed the recent addition of native grasses planted in large masses downtown and around the government buildings as landscape plants. I might add its gorgeous, obviously well thought out and a lot of time & money has been spent doing it. I have asked several locals and so far, no one has noticed and they get that glazed bored look so I can tell they really aren't impressed. If there is something like a flowering rose bush, people will notice & ooh and aaw, but if its the surrounding plant life forget about it.

I find the miles of trees to be the equivalent of nothing to look at. Looking out at miles of boring green is as bad as it gets, all the subtle colors of the prairie are replaced by miles of monotony. By comparison a housing addition at least offers something with variety to look at and thats not saying very much. I'm just pretty bummed out right now after my drive Sunday.

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

I hear you. I think it's because I never gardened at all before and had to research and learn from scratch, and I really did want to be sensitive to the locale and be water wise and all that, especially since buying a house out there makes me feel complicit and guilty in the destruction. I haunted local nurseries (fortunately we have a few around here who do carry lots of native plants) and read for months before I planted anything.

I don't have ALL native plants in my garden (there are other posts here about the yard I made), but the majority of them are, or native adapted. I don't want things I have to water profusely, or things that will die in the cold. Conditions are so harsh here it just makes sense to me to plant things that will grow well. And so now, I notice. I notice all the plants being planted in the median strips and around people's homes that are native, and I can name many of them.

I'd rather have beneficial plants out there than trash, dirt and weeds. Nothing that will obscure too much of the view -- the desert willows don't get too large or dense, but should screen some of the housing development across the way. The mountains will still be there!

I'm sorry about your grassland!

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texasranger2

Giant Sacaton is a good big grass. I planted seeds I bought from Plants of the Southwest, they germinate easily and I grew the plants the first year when we had the terrible ongoing drought and the temps got as high as 114 consistently. They were still small but bloomed on year two and by year three looked like big established grasses, gorgeous when backlit in late afternoon sun. High Country Gardens sells a cultivar developed by Los Lunas and its a giant. It was too big for my landscape I found -- I bought 3 and had to take them out. I planted the unimproved variety the next year but the Los Lunas variety grows extremely fast if you want a visual screen to block the view quickly. Apache Plume gets fairly large too, those are easy to establish, they look good with grasses.

Great Basin Natives carries Mountain Mahogany among a few others so you might want to google them to take a look at the selection. He sells some tube sizes for fairly cheap and he's reliable to order from. They are slow growing but would add some dark green and they have those nice curly seed heads. I saw several in New Mexico and thought they make great landscaping plants for some dark green contrast, maybe they sell them locally there?

This is the Sacaton used as a hedge from the blog "I want a cup of tea". He has a good blog for desert plants.


http://kentonjseth.blogspot.com/2013_04_01_archive.html

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

oh, golly -- I saw that giant sacaton picture in the Plants of the Southwest catalog and thought, whoa, big! Good to know they do actually grow from seed fairly quickly-- I had wondered how long they would take. I'm a little afraid of grasses harboring rattlesnakes, though. Probably illogical, but hey -- snakes.

Apache plume is a possibility -- I have a couple in the yard and I really like them (which y'all said were too close together, but I wanted them that way to grow together as a mass to soften a corner.)

Also, I'm not going for a screen hiding a view at all -- sorry if that wasn't clear.

Thanks for the blog tip!

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texasranger2

Sacaton alkali is the short version. Its another very tough grass and also easy from seeds--Plants of the SW sells both. The giant sacaton is as tall as me (5'8"). Muhlenbergia rigens is another gorgeous grass, it thrives on heat and drought and looks like a huge fireworks explosion with stiff stalks covered in tightly formed seeds, they resemble those brown punks you light fireworks with only much longer. Even though its big its see-through but so is the Giant Sacaton. The tall height is mostly seed heads and you can see through them, the blades are much shorter, about half the height of the blooming plant and they start blooming in June & keep going all season into winter until cut back. All of them are very cold hardy.

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

thank you. I hadn't actually considered grasses there. I have some muhlenbergia Regal Mist inside my yard.

There are some young yucca elata growing out there wild, too -- may dig them up and reposition them.


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texasranger2

Another good choice is Ephedra. I have the native E. viridis and one thats non native ---E. equisetina that is very cold hardy and tough. The color is extremely blue which is why I had to have one. A friend picked one up for me at a nursery in Colorado, I called a place on his route and had them reserve it last fall, its already doubled in size. They are fairly commonly sold in the SW at local nurseries. Some type probably grows wild where you are. They get decorative cones. I first saw the blue non native one on the Miserable Gardener blog site. Thats another good desert plant blog.

[http://search.aol.com/aol/imageDetails?s_it=imageDetails&q=blue+ephedra&img=http%3A%2F%2Fst.houzz.com%2Fsimgs%2F4991691300574835_4-2127%2Fcontemporary-landscape.jpg&v_t=na&host=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.houzz.com%2Fphotos%2F1591470%2Fbluestem-joint-fir-Ephedra-equisetina-contemporary-landscape-denver&width=181&height=135&thumbUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fencrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtbn%3AANd9GcTbD4lCZ2oNd5pqO4OlXhMA_N5_rQdkCNvpAVohV0rTQSuDfxFf4-9EQODJ%3Ast.houzz.com%2Fsimgs%2F4991691300574835_4-2127%2Fcontemporary-landscape.jpg&b=image%3Fq%3Db%3DimageResultsBack%26oreq%3De69aba61e7274f8ea1ec2d8c8da949b1&imgHeight=480&imgWidth=640&imgTitle=bluestem+joint+fir+%28Ephedra&imgSize=154905&hostName=www.houzz.com](http://search.aol.com/aol/imageDetails?s_it=imageDetails&q=blue+ephedra&img=http://st.houzz.com/simgs/4991691300574835_4-2127/contemporary-landscape.jpg&v_t=na&host=https://www.houzz.com/photos/bluestem-joint-fir-ephedra-equisetina-contemporary-landscape-denver-phvw-vp~1591470?q=tbn%253AANd9GcTbD4lCZ2oNd5pqO4OlXhMA_N5_rQdkCNvpAVohV0rTQSuDfxFf4-9EQODJ%253Ast.houzz.com%252Fsimgs%252F4991691300574835_4-2127%252Fcontemporary-landscape.jpg&b=image%253Fq&oreq=e69aba61e7274f8ea1ec2d8c8da949b1&imgHeight=480&imgWidth=640&imgTitle=bluestem%252Bjoint%252Bfir%252B(Ephedra&imgSize=154905&hostName=www.houzz.com)

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texasranger2

Gee, is that link address long enough for you?

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

ha, yes. And yes, I like the ephedra, "mormon tea" -- it's medicinal, and stays nice and green and grows along the freeway here. I haven't been able to find it locally so far. They sell something similar which is identified as "senna" but I don't think it's native.

I so appreciate this dialog, texasranger2.

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texasranger2

The US native varieties don't have much ephedrine in them but you can make a popular tea with them, I haven't tried it but read it tastes good. The E. equisetina is from Mongolia and it contains significant amounts of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine which are good for bronchitis, asthma and hay fever. I don't think I'd want to self medicate with it but health food stores sell it and E. sinica as a medicinal herb. I got an E. viridis plant several years ago from Great Basin Natives, its very large now but the blue one is bigger and definitely taller already.

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jadeite(6/7)

I'm late to this thread, but as I live at the north end of the Chihuahuan desert, on the northeast edge of Albuquerque, I had to respond. Violet, keep in mind that I'm 200 miles north and 2000 feet higher in elevation than you are. Some of my suggestions might not work for you.

First, the reason your neighbors haven't planted is probably because they're just not interested. We're one of the very few who have tried to do something on our property beyond putting in a couple of trees. This is a tough area for landscaping. We have an acre in the foothills of the Sandias. Over the past 3 years we've been taking out the weeds - tumbleweeds, silver nightshade, thistles, white horehound - and planting perennials, grasses and shrubs. It's slow going, given the intense sunlight, drought conditions, lousy soil and critters. We have pack rats, deer and rabbits who graze on anything we have planted.

Stuff that grows everywhere are yucca and cactus. I'm sure you have these. Agaves are also common, as is chamisa, senecio, bladderpod, scorpion weed, wild gaura, Bigelow asters. I haven't identified much of what grows wild, but I leave most of the stuff that grows naturally, only taking out the ones that I really dislike or which seed everywhere.

Some things we planted have worked, others haven't. Shrubs/small trees that seem to be working are: desert willow, desert bird of paradise, New Mexico olive or privet (forestiera neomexicana, NOT ligustrum), Chinese pistache, fernbush (chamaebatiaria millefolium), golden currant (ribes aureum), three-leaf sumac (rhus trilobata). vitex, indigo bush (amorpha fruticosa), lead plant (amorpha canescens), mountain mahogany, cliffrose, dasylirion wheeleri and d. texanum, sulphur flower (eriogonum umbellatum), black dalea. We have had these at least 2 growing seasons which counts as success. Jury is still out on desert holly, low-gro sumac, amsonia hubrichtii, Tatarian maple, artemisia tridentata, buddleia marrubifolia, leucophyllum all planted this year.

Tough perennials include: Russian sage, red yucca, globe mallow, bush morning glory, chocolate flower, desert four o'clock, catmint Wheeler's Low, all kinds of salvias - greggii, dorrii, darcyi, chamaedry, pachyphylla, nemerosa, plus many hybrids - sundrops (calylophus hartwegii), flameflower (talinum calycinum), asclepias tuberosa and a. speciosa, lavenders (many kinds), artemisias (many kinds), yarrow, zauschneria.

I'll stop here because this is already too long. You probably noticed some of my plants are not native. I don't care about being pure, I'll plant whatever works for the climate, soil and my eye.

Tex has suggested good grasses. I can add to her list if you want. Feel free to PM me if you have questions.

Cheryl

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

Thank you, Cheryl, I appreciate responses! I agree that people just don't care, although I really don't get it. This area on the other side of my wall is tough, in part because it's not easy access -- you have to either climb over the wall (and back over again), or walk all the way around which is about . . . half a mile round trip? Not that easy for me. I can get someone to help plant there, and put a hose over the wall, but certainly anything I put there needs to be very low maintenance after establishment.

Also, there's the issue of the easement and utilities. I looked again at my declaration of covenants, the homeowners' handbook, and the easement document with the electric company itself; there's an underground line easement, plus there are huge poles with overhead electrical lines (which were put in place after I bought the property -- boy did I dodge the bullet on that one); but I'm satisfied that it's okay planting there as long as a) they don't get too big or tall; and b) I understand the electric company could remove them if plants were in their way.

There's also the risk that the stupid ATVers would rip things up, but screw them -- there's no easement for that.

So, I do have some of the plants you mentioned Cheryl -- yucca elata, salvia greggi, black dalea, vitex. But my property is a tiny 1/8 of an acre, so I don't want to over-collect. I think the main things I'm thinking about, besides the appropriateness of the plants, are spacing and design, and the view.

Inside my yard I have a palo verde right in the middle -- so I'm thinking two desert willows on either side--on the outside, which would help block the view of the newly built houses across the way. Then, I would need something in the middle on the other side of the palo verde (I know this is hard to imagine just from my words); bigish, but not too big. Maybe a fernbush would do, but I can't find any in my local nurseries. That leaves me with fillers in the gaps. Will try to post a diagram.

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

So here's a couple of pics illustrating what I have to work with. This may be more of a design dilemma, but I think the landscape forum people are tired of me posting pics of my yard!


This is sort of a diagram looking north over my wall to the highway and beyond. Over the wall is where I need to plant. I'm pretty much decided on two desert willows where the circles are -- just need to figure out what else to plant. Something in the middle, opposite my palo verde, and . . . ?

And this is from inside my yard, where I'm planning to put the desert willows on the other side of the wall, on either side of the palo verde, to help block some of the view of the houses. That thin strip of green you can just barely see along the top of the wall is what I'm afraid will disappear. BTW, my palo verde has exploded this spring and summer, and is now twice as big as this pic, which was taken in April.


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texasranger2

An easy to find and grow plant I'm really liking is yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii). I grew two from seed 3 years ago but this year has been the payoff. Its a 'see-through' multi-stemed tree-like plant and both of mine have bloomed unceasingly since June. They are now about 6 ft tall with multiple green stems. Its listed as zone 8 but its actually good to zone 6 because there are some growing in Stillwater Oklahoma that have been there for years according to Bustani's. I get lots of comments on them.

A tough Texas native is Agarita. Its very spiny so the electrical pole people may not like you for it but it blooms yellow in spring and gets red berries in fall. It can reach 8ft.

A very ornamental yucca I really like is Yucca rostrata 'Sapphire Skies'. The leaves are flexible, not sharp on the tips, and it is gorgeous when the wind blows, I like to just sit and watch the leaves move because I haven't ever seen anything quite like it. I have one growing as a focal plant in a corner of my courtyard, its 5ft tall now & has a nice fat trunk since I trimmed off the bottom leaves in spring with a gorgeous blue top. I bought it at a local nursery, not cheap but definitely worth the cost.

Jaedite, I'm jealous of your low-gro sumac. I almost ordered it from HCG and then didn't. Now its 'out of stock' so I'm kicking myself. The 3-leaf sumac's I planted last year are finally coming around, they were 3" seedlings last year & are now about a ft tall, growing well and forming new stems. The Desert Holly is one-----slow-----growing-----plant. Mine isn't exactly showing much change either but the flood didn't it get so thats one good thing. Salvia dorrii didn't make it. I lost several plants in that flood & a lot of Texans had the same.

http://search.aol.com/aol/imageDetails?s_it=imageDetails&q=yucca+rostrata+blue&img=http%3A%2F%2Fyourplantinfo.com%2Fi%2F295%2F270%2Fassets%2Fimg%2Fimages%2Fgallery%2F107550.jpg&v_t=na&host=http%3A%2F%2Fyourplantinfo.com%2Fgallery%2Fsucculent%2Fsapphire-skies-beaked-blue-yucca&width=168&height=154&thumbUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fencrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtbn%3AANd9GcSjRWi85mn9Gc94RMeJD5X6axv6KEJlO3YZvhWJGr-JyxDG8ldjP5yVX6vq%3Ayourplantinfo.com%2Fi%2F295%2F270%2Fassets%2Fimg%2Fimages%2Fgallery%2F107550.jpg&b=image%3Fq%3Dy%3DimageResultsBack%26oreq%3D4fb0ecb6cb2d4613b4a817ecdba1cde3&imgHeight=270&imgWidth=295&imgTitle=Skies+Beaked+Blue+Yucca&imgSize=23168&hostName=yourplantinfo.com

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

so glad I can "talk" to y'all who are knowledgeable about these plants. We have some good nurserymen in my area, but even most of the Master Gardeners around here seem focused on tomatoes and roses, etc.

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texasranger2

violet, that sounds typical, I don't think you can buy Little Bluestem around here in prairie country anywhere but the online nursery's can't keep it in stock, its sells out fast & its not cheap either. I am so happy with the lil' blu this year which I spent so much time transplanting and buying last year. Most are powder blue and standing straight up, very ornamental (in my eyes anyway). I just potted up 40 more plants and plan to clear a mixed planting area and plant it all in a continuous bank of bluestem on top of a dry high area.

Jaedite, the Prairie Blues is mint blue green compared to the bluer, powder blue of the taller 'Los Lunas' I bought from HCG. I planted an area of each sort and they are close together up front and I like the variation between the two, fortunately the shorter Prairie Blues is in front of the 'Los Lunas'. With all the rain the bloom stalks of Los Lunas are now up to my waist & very stiff, maybe it just gets that tall anyway? The unknown types I started from seeds I collected at the History Museum are even taller, almost up to my neck but the same color.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I think some prickly pears would give those motorized freaks something to think about. Some of the cylindropuntias will give you some height too, so you can enjoy them also from inside your yard..

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

No prickly pears. I think they're hard to control if they overgrow. Plus, snakes

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jadeite(6/7)

I also grew caesalpinia gilliesii from seed. It grows wild in Albuquerque which is not Z8, so I think Z7 or even Z6 is right. My biggest seedling, started in spring last year, is almost 4' tall, about to flower. There are several kinds of bird of paradise - see this link:

http://designinginthedesert.blogspot.com/2009/06/will-real-mexican-bird-of-paradise.html

Scroll down to see pictures of the yellow species. In Z8 you can probably grow the red BOP, c. pulcherrima which people here grow in containers. If anyone around you has a BOP, ask if you can have a couple of seed pods in fall and start the seeds next spring. It grows quickly and should flower the following year.

Violet, I think you have plenty of good choices. It depends on what colors you want and what effect you're after. If you want a spare desert landscape, you could plant agaves, yucca, sotol, with some red yucca for color. All of that will do well in desert heat with only minimal maintenance the first season. If you want more color and a more full look, you could do BOP, agastaches, Russian sage with ornamental grasses (OGs). That's just one example. There are lots of options.

I put in the sumac, both three-leaf and low-gro, for fall color. Buckwheat brush (erigeron umbellatum) is also a deep burgundy in fall. Any of these, together with the dalea you already have, and OGs will look good from September to November, maybe longer in your zone.

None of these should obstruct your view. Fernbush is supposed to get to 6', but I suspect that's with regular watering. I haven't seen it anywhere near this size in my area. It's evergreen, tough as old boots and lightly fragrant, really no downside. I planted 1 gal containers last year. They're now about 3-4' high and across and have put out their first flowers. I watered last year, cut back sharply this year, and they're doing fine.

Tex, my grasses are nowhere near as tall as yours, probably because you get more rain. The bluestem that grows wild here is barely 18" tall. My new bluestem plants are about 4" high now, from seed I started last year. Ravenna (Tex's favorite) is about a foot. My giant sacaton is not so giant after 2 years, perhaps 10" tall. My deergrass, named because deer can shelter under it, is maybe 3-4" high, barely high enough to shelter a rat. The tallest grass I have is Karl Foerster which is about 4' tall but skinny. None of my grasses is more than 2 years old, so they may leap next year, assuming they survive. Some pennisetums do well here, Karley Rose looked gorgeous last fall from small plants I got from Santa Rosa in the spring. I added more this year, plus several Hamelns. Muhly lindheimeri does well, also m. riverchonii and m. capillaris.

Cheryl


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texasranger2

Even though we got that much rain. like the biblical flood, we don't get that much rain here, if that makes sense. We are usually lucky to get an inch total in July, thats a good year. Everything is so overgrown this year its scary. 21" in 3 weeks was some sort of Oklahoma Ecologically Altering Event. The Gulf Muhly is as big as deer grass (rigens) and thats BIG. Its also blooming, things are so abnormal this year.

Jadeite I can't believe you do good with Karly Rose and your native grasses are still that small. Karly was thirsty when I grew it. So was Karl. The reason I got rid of both was Karly was badly behaved and looked all dried out when it got dry (maybe it was the heat?) and Karl was just punk and did badly. I see Karl around the city but he hated me for some reason. Even worse was the other Feather Reed kind, that Korean one that blooms pink. I couldn't do enough watering to make those happy in summer. They came out year #1. Karl died in slow motion. Karly got the shovel, all 6 of them

There's some kind of pink yucca up the street that way bigger than most. The bloom stems are real tall too, these ones would clear that wall easy. If you have deer I read they are considered a real treat like ice cream.

voilet, do you have deer around there or just armadillos. lizards & snakes? Outside the wall, the critters may do you in. Jadeite is an EXPERT on hungry critters.

Spineless opuntia are very sculptural (see photo). I have two kinds and they are mint green, you can pet them, they never stick you because they are 100% bald. A snake couldn't hide under unseen it if it tried.

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jadeite(6/7)

I don't know why the native grasses are so stunted on our property. I'm sure irrigation has something to do with it. Plants of the Southwest has a giant sacaton that is over 6' tall, and I see deergrass that is already 4' high and just starting to put out flowering stems, but these are all in places where they water regularly. Mine were watered during their first year, then just sparingly after that. Of course we also have all the critters who crop everything to the ground during the dry season which runs October to June.

I'm mystified at why Karl F and Karley don't do well for you. KF is planted all over the city. If it's watered regularly it can top 5'. Mine is about 4' with pretty seed heads like a bunch of masai spears. Last year Karley was about 5', a huge fountain of muted rose plumes. We don't have rain in the fall, so it stayed tall and graceful. I had to move it, it was too big for the bed. It survived the move but it may take a year to settle down. I have Korean feather reed too, also Avalanche and Eldorado. All seem to be surviving which counts as success here. They're about 2' (Avalanche and Korean fr, both from last year), and 1' (Eldorado, this year). Nothing is watered heavily.

All of these are doing better than the natives which mostly are barely above the ground. I have Mexican feather grass and New Mexican feather grass which are 2-3', very striking, but they're the exceptions. The big joke is ricegrass. I have 3 from PoSW, planted last year, which are little tufts about 4" tall. But with the higher rain this year, ricegrass has sprung up everywhere, looking a million times better than my PoSW sprouts. And the best of all is the clump growing in a crack in the road, a gorgeous spray of bright green and silver.

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

so many great plants to look for -- in the fall. Isn't it funny sometimes that your carefully planted nursery specimens are outshown by ones "growing in a crack in the road."

That yucca rostrata sapphire skies looks marvelous! May have to find a place for that one. We do have lots of caesalpinias here -- both red and yellow. In fact, they're overused, but they do grow well. Love the combination of the red (orange?) birds of paradise with the purple of the lecophyllums.

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texasranger2

Its not native but rosemary will take a lot of abuse and difficult conditions. I like them because they bloom in winter and fit in visually with a desert type of landscape. The front shrub in the picture I posted in the above post is rosemary, the upright kind. The ground cover types really spread out big and wide. One plant easily forms a six foot mound in a couple years. Mine attracted bees all winter but unfortunately died last year, now I have no spare room for a plant that size. They root into the surrounding ground as they grow so its easy to start new plants by taking rooted cuttings, the shrub types root very easily too in a couple weeks.

Another possibility is Dalea Greggii. It forms a huge low growing mat of silver that roots as it spreads ever wider. Mine is eating the sidewalk this year and covers an area about 8ft wide from a single start. It also blooms in winter.

When it comes to flower power, nothing beats Desert Marigolds (Baileya). They like sand and if your soil is sandy you will have gorgeous yellow all season no matter how dry it is. They really hate too much water. Seeds are sold commercially, I purchased mine from Plants of the Southwest many years ago and wouldn't be without them. They naturalize quite nicely.

Desert Marigold

Dalea greggii with Flame Acanthus

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

ugh, I've had zero success with rosemary.

BTW, I read that essay by Stephen Jay Gould someone posted --very interesting. We don't know as much as we think we do about evolution.

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

Current thinking is 2 more DM Palo Verdes (because I decided the desert willows would grow too big); apache plume, and possibly the echinacea if I can find one.

I was thinking of sowing some seeds in the fall in those ditches which are currently filled with russian thistle. Don't know if that would be successful, but seeds are cheap, so maybe worth a try.

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

so, bought some seeds from Plants of the Southwest to try to plant in the ditch area: four wing saltbush, broom dalea, and wild plum. Don't know if it will work, but as I said, seeds are pretty cheap.

still planning to put two more Desert Museum Palo Verdes against the wall there -- probably with apache plume, and a Morman Tea or something else green in the middle

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jadeite(6/7)

Good luck with the seeds. FWIW I've had good luck with some ornamental grasses from seed: Indian grass (sorghastrum nutans), muhly capillaris, muhly lindheimeri, erianthus ravennae, pennisetum orientale.

I've also grown some perennials: Maximilian sunflowers, salvia greggii, flame flower (talinum calycinum), flame acanthus (anisacanthus quadrifius). Once you establish a few of these, you may get volunteers later. I had volunteer salvias, chocolate flower and flame acanthus after a year or two. My flame flower seeds came from Texasranger, so these should spread after a while too.

I don't know what nurseries in your area have for sale. Right now Albuquerque nurseries are discounting a lot of their stock. I have found a lot of bargains this way, but a fairly high rate of failure too.

If you have a lot of thistle, you might want to get rid of these or they will out-compete your new plants. We dig up noxious weeds all season. If we didn't our whole property would be a mass of tumbleweed, thistle, nightshade and other junk.

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

weeds being cleared today! Hope I can find the plants I want

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violetwest(8a Chihuahuan Desert)

Planted: Two Desert Museum Palo Verdes, two apache plumes, and a single creosote in the middle. And then it rained! Very auspicious!

Hope the creosote takes, but am doubtful.

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