Structure + Fluff : Pairing up Creosote and Cholla

Structure + Fluff : Pairing up Creosote and Cholla


Welcome to a new segment on the ol’ blog.  With”Structure + Fluff” we’ll look at plants that compliment each other nicely because of their form.  Your typical well-structured plant, otherwise  called an “architectural” or “accent” plant, is one that has an easily discerned shape or outline with noticeable edges.  The fluff is everything that is soft, roundy, and lacking clearly defined edges.  I’m sure there are plenty of things that also fall in the no-man’s-land middle.


Most nice landscapes (and a lot of the natural areas around Tucson) have a good mix of both, which leads to really interesting compositions.  There are also plenty of gardens that are purely structural that look fantastic – they have a deliberate and artful quality that is hard to beat.  An example would be solely planting things like barrel cactus, agaves, prickly pear, giant hesperaloe, and others that have the same architectural appearance.  Conversely, it’s hard to get away with a landscape here that is all fluff.  While we have some nice shrubs and perennial flowers, most of them go in and out of dormancy based on rain, heat and cold.  The perennial borders of the Midwest are beautiful, but we have a much more fun and unique landscape style available to us.  Plus, you’ll use less water and have much lower maintenance. BINGO.



 Beautiful Structure + Fluff Garden – Check out some writing about it.


So for some specific ideas on matching structure and fluff, this semi-regular bit will show examples from both nature and designed landscapes.  The first up is staghorn cholla and our old friend creosote, found in a loving embrace at Greasewood Park (love that place – tons of trails for short jaunts in the desert).  Creosote: attracts tons of native bees, smells great in the rain (and other times too, just less pronounced), has delicate yellow flowers, and gets beautiful silvery bark as it grows older.  Staghorn cholla:  flesh changes from green/blue to red/purple throughout the year, has incredible (like sci-fi style) flowers, grows into an elegant vase-shape, and keeps the dogs out of your garden (after they become familiar with the spines once – mean but not that mean).


Try it on for size, I think you’ll be happy with the outcome.

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