Landscape designer Jim Martinez has been creating water-wise, environmentally friendly gardens in Dallas and Marfa for more than 30 years. Surrounded by mountains, at an elevation of almost 5,000 feet, the Marfa plateau is subject to extreme temperature variations. “In winter, it can be 60 degrees in the day and drop to 15 at night,” Martinez says. “Selecting plants that are adapted to these conditions is the key to success.”
Start by repotting plants in larger containers (first in 4-inch containers, eventually moving up to one gallon as they grow) full of a fast-draining cactus-and-succulent mix with a bit of organic loam. Skip fertilizer. Shade outdoor spring and summer bloomers from heat but provide at least four hours of daily sun. Protect summer-dormant plants from summer rain.
Shrouded in Chinese elms, majestic Canary pines, and a sapote tree, the Kuntz and Rask property (see The Path Less Taken Photo Gallery) is lightly sun-dappled throughout the day, creating an ideal space for shade-loving plants—unique for sunny Los Angles.
See also: Supporting Your Roots
All gardeners set out to grow healthy plants, but they also face a stubborn barrier, a curtain beyond which eyesight ends and mystery begins: the surface of the soil. Below, plants root in darkness, and our ministrations above ground only sometimes seem to determine whether our charges will go belly up or thrive.
Tillandsias, or air plants, come in a seemingly endless range of shapes and colors—here's our slide show of 10 of our favorites.