Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Native Plants: Finally a Part of Desert Landscaping

Beautifully Simple
Perfect for the Southwest
Oblivious to its Environment
This Design is hopefully a thing of the Past












I recently returned from the American Southwest and was pleased to discover that the era of the lawn and lush landscape has faded. As little as twenty years ago, residential neighborhoods in the arid southwest were landscaped primarily with lawns and water guzzling plants. 


Formality within
the Context of a Desert Garden

In the mid-twentieth century, Americans were fixated on having the picture perfect green lawn, no matter what the local climate. Today, you find desert landscaping and see very little grass. Southwestern gardeners have replaced grass with cacti, succulents, and sand. This trend toward eco-friendly landscapes means gardens work with the environment and can grow without supplemental water.


Mimicking Nature
in the Garden













As a landscape architecture student, I would sometimes include native plants as part of an overall landscape design, only to see these specimens replaced with "client friendly" plants (eg. hibiscus, ferns, willows, and other thirsty plants). That was thirty years ago. These days, people are more receptive to native plants and designs that work with nature. In an age of climate change skeptics and "drill, baby, drill" demagogues, it's gratifying to see Americans moving toward a sustainable world right in their own gardens.

Lush Plantings
that are Drought Tolerant

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