Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Two Gardens

Wedding Bells are soon to ring for my friend, Francesca.  She will marry Ralph and move into a Pueblo style house they have purchased in Placitas, New Mexico, a bedroom community of the Albuquerque area. 

I am working on a design for her entrance patio, currently looking like this...
The former owner is clearly not a gardener.
 This is from a photo included in the appraisal.  Not sure what the former owner intended for these concrete paving stones, but ever the environmentalist (and cheap as well!), I will somehow use them in the new design or recycle them through Craig's list.

Some things I know...Ralph would like a little bit of grass, and must have roses.
Francesca might like a vegetable and herb garden.

  The design issues....
1.  No shade, so we will probably plant a shade tree.
2.  Poor soil - a dump truck of compost from Soilutions?
3.  Need to address irrigation
4.  Awkward placement of power pole and meters (how expensive to move?) Or 
    could we establish a different path to front door with a strong focal point to   
    move  the eye away from this?  Trellis or large potted plant in front of the
    power pole to disguise it?
5.  Unknown elevation...need to find out gardening zone.
6.  Do the new owners want seating and or a dining area in this area or just a 
7.  Do they want to introduce some curves in the design or stick with straight 
8.  Water feature?  Do we keep that very modern concrete block fountain seen at the right of the photo?
9.  Fire pit, chimenea or corner fireplace?
10. Budget constraints?
11.  Need to identify orientation to the sun and what existing plants will stay...think that is a desert willow on the right side of the photo.
12.  Do Ralph and Francesca like a riot of color or a more restrained color palette?

We need to get this space looking more finished by the date of the wedding shower, because Francesca's friends may hold the shower at this location, so we will need to borrow pots of flowers, move the pavers, and perhaps install some of the hardscapes...gravel or mulch temporarily until we can decide on a suitable grass?  Ralph, would you be happy with buffalo grass?

Here are some inspiration photos...


Linear softened by round rocks

Or a combination of straight and curvy?

I lean towards curvy myself, straight lines are a little too formal and modern for me, but, of course, this will not be my garden!  Francesca and Ralph which do you like?

More pretty courtyards....
Photo Via
 Can't wait to get out to Placitas to answer some of the above questions, take measurements and see where the water spigots are located.

Here is a list of plants we might be safe we will assume hardiness zone 6b although in this protected courtyard we might be able to get away with zone 7 for some plants.  Because Placitas' water supply is limited at best, we will choose drought tolerant varieties to begin with and then perhaps add a few things that might need a bit more water as we see how well the water sippers do and how much water it takes to maintain them.

1. Hollyhocks-typical along adobe walls in New Mexico

2. Salvia (Meadow Sage)
Image via High Country Gardens

3. Yellow yarrow.  Other colors are also available and beautiful.
4. Butterfly bush - comes in many colors and is very drought tolerant once established.  As you might guess, it attracts a host of both butterflies and bees.
Image via

5. Agastache or Hummingbird Mint.  Fabulous sunset colors, very drought tolerant with a licorice scent.
Image Via High Country Gardens

6. California poppies (best grown from seed)  Adds lots of color at a small price and comes back year after year from re-seeding itself.
Image Via

7. Jupiter's Beard (Centranthus ruber Coccineus)
   A personal favorite of mine, I am transplanting some from my garden.
8. Succulents that will spread- even grocery stores carry an interesting variety of these beauties.  Great for low water gardens.
9. Groundcovers (wonderful for conserving water once established) Some possible choices....Ceratostigma plumbaginoides-Hardy Plumbago, Cotula Tiffindell Gold -Creeping Gold Buttons, 
10. Autumn Sage blooms in the fall but it is beautiful year round.
Sedum when first blooming

Transitioning as fall deepens

 By October    Image Via

 And of course, we cannot do without penstemons and lavenders!
       Penstemon digitalish Husker Red is a beauty with its gorgeous foliage...

But to be honest, I have never met a penstemon I did not love!


This is not the only project on the drawing board. In my next post we will look at renovations to a very established Nob Hill garden.

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