by David Salman

Placitas community garden.
Garden at the Placitas Community Library.

Last May 2010, I designed and installed a new garden in front of the Placitas Community Library. The garden was the last component of this remarkable project for the village of Placitas, New Mexico. This little town northeast of Albuquerque in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, designed and built this wonderful library and community center with money gathered from donations and through the efforts of a group of dedicated volunteers.

I was invited to donate the garden in the front of the building. So, as you can see a year later, the garden is well on its way toward beautifying the grounds and educating the people and children of Placitas. As part of the project’s focus on reading and education, the garden has a map showing photos and names (Latin and common) of the plants used in the garden.

Boutaloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'
Boutaloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'

Because the other landscaping around the building used only native plants, I decided to do the same. With one exception; I can’t design a garden without lavender! This fragrant Mediterranean herb might as well be a native plant in New Mexico because it grows so well in our tough, alkaline soils and harsh climate. Lavender is also appropriate because I wanted to use plants that attract hummingbirds and other pollinators such as honeybees, native bees and butterflies.

With a high elevation location, southern exposure, terrible soil and nearly continuous wind, this garden needed tough, durable plants. I also chose to use many plants that would reseed themselves to help give the garden a more natural look over time. The garden is mulched with crushed gravel for low maintenance and to encourage reseeding. And speaking of maintenance, the local Master Gardeners and I had a great training session last fall in the garden’s care and maintenance. So hopefully for many years to come, this garden will be a beautiful symbol of the community spirit that built this wonderful place to gather and learn.

 
  1. Pink and White Penstemon mexicali Red Rocks, Penstemon mexicali Red Rocks, Red Rocks Hybrid Beardtongue

    Penstemon Red Rocks (Beardtongue) is a superb hybrid variety that blooms most of the summer with large rose-pink flowers. The plants are vigorous and have attractive glossy green fol...

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    Red Rocks Penstemon Red Rocks Hybrid Beardtongue Penstemon mexicali Red Rocks
    Sale Price I Save 10%
    $10.99 Sale $9.89
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Penstemon Red Rocks (Beardtongue) is a superb hybrid variety that blooms most of the summer with large rose-pink flowers. The plants are vigorous and have attractive glossy green foliage. A 1999 Plant Select winner. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).
  2. Worry-Free Bee Balm Collection

    The Worry-Free Bee Balm Collection features three native perennial favorites to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. These Monarda are easy-to-grow, deer and rabbit resistant, and d...

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    Worry-Free Bee Balm Collection Worry-Free Bee Balm Collection (Monarda)
    Sale Price I Save 10%
    $102.99 Sale $92.69
    Per Collection of 6
    The Worry-Free Bee Balm Collection features three native perennial favorites to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. These Monarda are easy-to-grow, deer and rabbit resistant, and developed for disease resistance. Red, raspberry, and lavender-pink flowers add texture and color to your garden, and will naturalize over time. Glossy, aromatic foliage will look great all season. Collection of six plants.
  3. Zauschneria latifolia Woody's Peach Surprise Close Up

    Zauschneria latifolia Woody‚s Peach Surprise is a low-growing form of Fire Chalice flowering with light, peach-pink flowers, an unusual color in this genus of orange and scarle...

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    Woody's Peach Surprise Hummingbird Trumpet (Zauschneria) Woody's Peach Surprise Hummingbird Trumpet (Fire Chalice) Zauschneria latifolia Woody's Peach Surprise
    Sale Price I Save 10%
    $12.99 Sale $11.69
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Zauschneria latifolia Woody's Peach Surprise is a low-growing form of Fire Chalice flowering with light, peach-pink flowers, an unusual color in this genus of orange and scarlet bloomers. This perennial colors the garden in late summer and early fall.
  4. Western Native Penstemon Collection

    Our Western Native Penstemon Collection will brighten your garden with jewel-toned blooms from mid-spring to early summer. A favorite of hummingbirds, Penstemons are low-maintenance ...

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    Western Native Penstemon Collection Western Native Penstemon Collection
    Sale Price I Save 10%
    $138.99 Sale $125.09
    Per Collection of 12
    Our Western Native Penstemon Collection will brighten your garden with jewel-toned blooms from mid-spring to early summer. A favorite of hummingbirds, Penstemons are low-maintenance native wildflowers with abundant blooms, and these four native cultivars are favorites for Western gardens. They’re deer and rabbit resistant, and love hot, dry growing conditions, so they’re an easy-to-grow addition to rock gardens and challenging sunny sites that need a pop of color to attract pollinators. Collection of 12 plants.