(Photo by: Meygan)
As I began the designing process, with a list of flowers, and a rough estimate of the space and shape for the garden, I had to pick specific places for each plant depending on the size of the plant, the amount of sun needed, and color. To get some ideas, I went to the Botanical Gardens in downtown Albuquerque on a warm Saturday afternoon for a few hours, where they have rose gardens, native plant gardens, a tropical flower house, a desert plant house, and small planters with flowers all along the grass field. I came up with the idea of a trellis as an entrance to the garden from the west side of the area from the small fruit tree orchard (hopefully!) from a trellis with roses climbing up the side.
I chose three types of climbing or vine plants: Trumpet Vine, Datura, and Blue Morning Glories. To create the color scheme and avoid too many plants of the same color near each other, I decided that the trumpet vine would be the best for the trellis. Mirroring the other garden, designed by Gabi Velez, the trumpet vines will climb up one side and a climbing plant of her choice on the other side. As for the other vine plants, i decided to make borders for the gardens. On the West side of my garden, to create a border, the Datura will climb on a short metal fence and on the North Side, the Blue Morning Glories will grow on the metal, border fence. The inside border is lined with Mexican Evening Primroses and California Poppies. This will create a border all the way around the garden to avoid students from stepping on the plants.
The next challenge was to create divisions for the amount of sun needed. With the possibility of an orchard on the West side, during the later hours of the afternoon and evening, the West most section will be shaded. There are no plants in the garden that need full shade, but there are a few that need partial shade. The West section is for flowers and plants that need the least amount if sun. The center section is for plants can be shaded, but also thrive in the sun. The plants that need some shade are shaded by larger plants East of them to insure that they get some shade in the mornings. The North East section was reserved for the plants that won’t thrive in shade. These plants need full sun and that is perfect for hot summer days in Albuquerque. By making the West side full of partial sun needing plants, it also works with the overall shape of the garden. With inspiration from the Botanical Gardens, Gabi and I chose to make curved gardens that mirrored each other with the trellis in the middle of the curves with a table with some chairs. The curved gardens are welcoming. As the sun moves across the sky, the plants that are towards the West more get the sun last.
The next challenge was to place the flowers in places that were good for their height, but also avoiding difficulties with other flowers need for sun. Most of the taller plants were placed in front of plants that were taller than them or plants that needed more shade. To provide a little shade in the mornings, I placed taller plants East of the partial sun flowers. For example, I placed the 8 to 10 foot tall Vitex plant East of the Mexican Marigolds that need some shade. At noon, when the sun is highest, the marigolds can get some sun. Another example of height placement is with the Russian Sage and the Common Sunflowers. I placed the Russian Sage in between the two sections of Common Sunflowers because the large height of the Russian Sage won’t interfere with the taller sunflowers. Plants that are small and need sun were placed towards the Eastern part of the full sun section, such as the Pincushion Cactus and the Mexican Evening Primrose border. Every plant was placed where they would receive the amount of sun that they needed.
To create an aesthetic and beautiful garden, I wanted to make as much color pop throughout the entire area. With all of the other requirements for the garden, this was the hardest process. I had to make an effective and functional garden, while making it look pretty to look at. I strategically placed the flowers for functionality and beauty. For example, I spread the amount of red and orange flowers throughout the garden because red and orange were the most prominent colors. I made sure to put complimentary colors near each other as well, like putting purple flowers near yellow flowers or red flowers near plants with lots of green. The overall view of the garden is a good mix of color and plant style, which will appeal to the pollinators, especially the ones that look for color like hummingbirds and butterflies. By spreading out the colors, the pollinators will have to travel across the garden and this will also help with the pollinating process.
The designing of the garden was challenging. It required a lot of precise measurements, detailed descriptions of the flowers, and a lot of creativity. To top off all of the designs, we have decided to add the idea of small mailbox-like containers with plant information cards. this will be extremely helpful in her medicinal herb and plant garden, but it will also educate people on pollinators and what the native plants are like. Gabi and I decided to mirror each others’ gardens to make the area seem welcoming and pleasant for the students and teachers that may use our “Desert Oasis Garden”. Our designs are not the final design choice, but we hope they will add some creative ideas to the work in progress.