Plants Of The Southwest

For a lovely look that will thrive year round, learn about the plants of the southwest.

Southwestern type homes, the Pueblo, Spanish, and territorial colonial adaptations of architecture as well as the ranch type home, can have distinctive plantings about them. Usually these can be brilliant in color, strong in lines, and tend somewhat toward what is called indigenous or native. Among these are the flowers introduced to the Southwest long ago from Mexico and other regions.

Cacti, in their many shapes and varieties, head the list for newcomers who are intrigued by these strange plants on their arrival. For the same reason, yucca and chamisa are popular.

Cottonwood trees, any flowering or fruiting trees, the Russian olive, weeping willow, and tamarisk or salt cedar, seem "made" for the adobe colors and our pueblo lines.

Red-twigged dogwood, photinia, pampas grass, Spanish broom, mahonia, forsythia, rambling and shrub type roses, poinciana or bird-of-paradise, grape and trumpet vines, santolina, succulents, cosmos, hollyhocks, geraniums, castor beans, and pyracantha, combine easily with the distinct Southwestern architecture. All ground covers and most annuals and perenials may be added to the list.

Most of the native architecture should be surrounded by landscaping with natural effects. Formal planting has no place in Pueblo architecture or about a ranch style house, since the designs themselves are rustic and natural.

In New Mexico, Santa Fe and Taos gardeners have been most successful in planting not only in keeping with their homes and their own plan of living, but in extending their planning to include the unique historic atmosphere of their communities.

Since New Mexico and the Southwest are so vivid with what nature has given us, color about the native type house is imperative against our brilliant skies, fleecy white clouds, the blue of our mountains, and the purple shadows of mesa land.

Color in wintertime is introduced into the garden with the bark of shrubs and the less formal evergreens. Sometimes the structure of shrubs and trees presents lacy and interesting patterns of branches, trunks, and twigs that contrast against the Southwestern skies. Spirea and forsythia bushes, generous with blooms in the spring, retain qualities of attractive lines and stem colors through the entire winter.

Nearly every native type house should have a little patch of flowers to connect the landscape directly to the house. Hollyhocks and zinnias do this very well.

Keeping in mind that trees give shade, when planting near the window on the east or west side of the house, plant the trees somewhat to the north to hold back the intense rays of an August sun, since the sun is farther to the north during those hot summer months.

Remember that the flat house in the Southwest do not require the large trees that could easily overshadow the house itself. Consider your neighbors too. Often trees are planted with no thought that too much shade will extend to your neighbor's garden and obstruct his view as well.

Big trees will also send out big roots to steal into your neighbor's garden and sap the plant food put there for his prize rose bed, or his perennial borders.

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