Birds and gardens
Best Plants for New Mexico Gardens and Landscapes, Revised and Expanded Edition by Baker H. Morrow
More comprehensive is Best Plants for New Mexico Gardens and Landscapes, Revised and Expanded Edition, by Baker H. Morrow (University of New Mexico Press, 2016). It is less lavish in its presentation, never veering in the direction of “garden porn” (which Phillips does, a bit). Morrow, a professor of landscape architecture at UNM, instead offers what you might consider a catalog of horticultural plant selections for a variety of areas within New Mexico. His purview is obviously more circumscribed than Phillips’ generalized “Southwest,” but even so, what is ideal for Alamogordo may not be suitable for Chama. In the preface reprinted here from the book’s first edition (1995), he observes: “Although a careful study of the trees, shrubs, ground covers, and smaller plants used throughout the state turns up a number of species that seem to thrive everywhere, we must be cautious. New Mexico ranges in altitude from a bit over 3000 feet (915 m) near Carlsbad to just over 13,000 feet (3965 m) at Mount Wheeler near Taos. In precipitation, the range is from 7 inches (175 mm) a year in the White Sands to over 30 inches (750 mm) in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.” And so on.
The book is geared toward practical landscaping and gardening, including a number of lists of “best plants” for this or that situation (patio trees, hedges, windbreaks), which is useful. Individual plant listings are accompanied by photographs that are more utilitarian than elegant, but they serve their purpose. Baker has updated the volume to reflect changes in trends and plant availability of the past two decades, to bring botanical names in line with current practice, and to upgrade some photographs that weren’t looking so great. The lion’s share of the book — and this is what makes it unique — is given over to chapters addressing the specific garden considerations for 30 cities and towns in New Mexico plus Durango and Trinidad in Colorado and El Paso/Ciudad Juárez in Texas/ Mexico. (Gotta be nice to our neighbors.) For each of these, Morrow offers an appreciative discussion of its gardening history and its general landscaping characteristics before providing a clearly organized outline of what grows well there. You find your town, you check your list of recommended plants, you look them up in the plant catalog earlier in the book, and you are well on your way to a successful garden.