desert garden

Hi
2 years ago we bought a house in Alamogordo, NM. Or backyard has a lot of lawn and requires a lot of watering. Since we want to conserve water we are planing some kind of desert garden. So we are looking for somebody who can help us with planing. I assume, that we have to start to recondition the soil but we don't know how. We also need some advice which plants or shrubs we can use so that we have a nice garden through out the year. Thanks for any tip or address
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Georg Himmeroeder wrote:

Try your county extension agent and your water utility they should have lots of information on water wise gardening.
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Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8
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I used to live in El Paso, TX and though my house had a lawn, desert landscaping was very popular and many houses had a variety of cacti, yuccas, and ocotillos surrounded by the red rock gravel common to the area (almost every house also had walls made from the same rock).
As a kid I was fascinated by the local flora and managed to collect almost every cactus from the region and had the most awesome garden in my backyard as well as around my mailbox. Other plants native to the El Paso (Chihuahuan) desert include something called a "bird of paradise" (but not to be confused with a tropical plant of the same name); also, there were desert willows with pretty fragrant flowers as well as palo verde trees which have green photosynthetic bark and yellow flowers. Ocotillos are also common, very bizarre-looking things with maybe 5-10 tall vertical branches with very tiny waxy leaves and bark and thorns. Yuccas abound, similar to Joshua Trees except they have only one head. Also several species of agave which have nasty points that can actually penetrate soles of shoes. And I'm not sure if century plants are native to the region, but they do grow very well there.
You can have a very attractive yard using just the local Chihuahuan desert plants, there really is a very good variety including the ones I mentioned above plus all sorts of cacti. A popular ground cover was the non-native "ice plant," a succulent with small fleshy leaves and pretty flowers that is hardy, grows fast, covers the ground attractively and does not require much water. But make sure non-native species can survive in the local conditions, please do not even try to incorporate a Sonoran (Arizona) desert cactus like saguaro into your landscape, or if you do it must be in a pot and brought inside for the winter or it will die a miserable death as each successive winter freeze damages it.
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The "Bird of Paradise" you are referring to is native to Antigua and the botanical name is Caesalpinia pulcherrima. I have two varieties. The more common red to orange, and a yellow. They are breathtaking. I believe I have seeds for the former if anyone is interested.
Victoria
On Sun, 22 May 2005 05:26:49 GMT, "refs unpersons rewrite fullwise"

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