2017 Garden #6

Garden #6 – The Cacti & Iris Garden – Darlene and David Dean


Darlene and David purchased this property nine years ago.   They spent the first year remodeling the home to meet their taste in interior design.  Since then they added defined planting areas and other landscape touches while maintaining existing plants.  They gradually achieved an exterior design of pleasing proportion.  As with all avid gardeners the list of desirable landscape projects continue to grow.


The owners worked with what nature provided in the landscape.  They transplanted native varieties of cacti and grasses with varying shapes and textures to provide visual interest to the planting beds located on the southeast side of the property.   Follow the stone pathways and learn about the different cacti species and native grasses as labeled.

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They planted cacti and irises in abundance in garden beds on the north-west side of the home among naturalized desert willows, red yucca, and New Mexico bird of paradise.   The iris bed flowering should be in its prime for the garden tour.  Enjoy the panoramic view of the far west mesas and the Jemez mountain area from this  side of the property.  The owners converted an existing concrete water fall to a series of raised planting beds to save on water loss.  They shut off the fountain water, filled in the surfaces with amended soil, and planted flowers and perennial plants, now irrigated by an automated drip system.


The front courtyard (facing the street) is defined by an outer brick pathway bordered by a stone wall supporting the upper terrace ground.   The terrace ground is planted with cacti, pinon pines, grasses, and herbs, and is decorated with clay pot shards.   The tall stucco-surfaced wall sections, located near the street, anchor the far south view of the Sandia mountain, and draw attention away from the street.

A mature Chinese pistache tree to the right of the front home entrance offers abundant shade in the summer and beautiful leaf color in the fall.  A crab apple, New Mexico privet, barberry bushes and colorful pots and the wicker seating area define the front walk and porch.

Cactus & Succulents frequently seen in Placitas gardens

Common Name Botanical Name
Tree Cholla (Walkingstick Cholla) Cylindropuntia imbricata
Bailey’s Hedgehog Echinocereus baileyi syn E. reichenbachii v. baileyi
New Mexico Rainbow Cactus Echinocereus chloranthus
Brownspine Hedgehog Cactus Echinocereus chloranthus v cylindricus `corellii’ syn Echinocereus viridiflorus v corellii
Black Spine Claret Cup Echinocereus coccineus
Spiny Hedgehog Cactus (scarlet hedgehog) Echinocereus coccineus
Texas Rainbow Cactus Echinocereus dasyacanthus
Oklahoma or Lace Hedgehog Echinocereus reichenbachii
Strawberry Hedgehog (Fendler Hedgehog) Echinocereus fendleri
Claret Cup Echinocereus triglochidiatus
White Sands Claret Cup Echinocereus triglochidiatus v gonacanthus ‘White Sands Strain’
Clustering Snowball Escobaria orcuttii
Clustering Pin Cushions (Beehive Cactus) Escobaria vivipara syn Coryphantha vivipara
Pincushion Cactus Escobaria vivipara v radiosa
Behive cactus (spiny star) Escobaria vivipara var neomexicana
Devil’s Club Cholla (Daggerspine Cholla) Grusonia clavata (alt Opuntia clavata)
Baby Rita Prickly Pear Optuntia basilaris x O. santa-rita
Grizzly Bear Prickly Pear Optuntia erinacea syn Opuntia polyacantha var. hystricina
Starvation Prickly Pear Optuntia polyacantha
Spineless Prickly Pear Opuntia ellisiana / cacanapa
Desert or Engelmann Prickly Pear Opuntia engelmannii
Cow’s Tounge Prickley Pear Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis
Blackspine Prickly Pear (Purple Prickly Pear) Opuntia macrocentra syn Opuntia violacea var. macrocentra
Tulip Prickly Pear Opuntia phaeacantha
Mountain Ball Cactus Pediocactus simpsonii
Harvard Agave (Harvard Century Plant) Agave havardiana
Parry’s / Mescal Agave Agave parryi/ neomexicana
Texas Sotol Dasylirion texanum
Blue Sotol / Desert Spoon Dasylirion wheeleri
Ocotillo Fouquieria splendens
Red Flowering Yucca Hesperaloe parviflora
Yellow Flowering Yucca Hesperaloe parviflora
Banana Yucca (Datil) Yucca baccata
Soaptree Yucca (Palmilla) Yucca elata
Great Plains Yucca (Soapweed) Yucca glauca
New Mexico Yucca Yucca neomexicana
Torrey Yucca Yucca torreyi