Birds and gar­dens

Pasatiempo - - ART IN RE­VIEW -

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.

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