2016 Garden #6 – Placitas Community Library Garden

From the seed of an idea, a native-plants paradise has emerged. Surrounding the Placitas Community Library, a bounty of shrubs, wildflowers and water-hardy trees provide inspiration and contemplation—hallmarks of the reading life. All this from a few community members who thought the still-under-construction library in 2009 deserved something other than “a standard urban library landscape.”

Bill Dunmire, a member of the library’s board of directors at the time, spoke those words soon after becoming chairman of the brand-new Landscaping Committee. Working with Gail DellaPella, one of the key designers of the library, he helped hatch a plan for a demonstration garden that would help Placitas residents learn about soil and water conservation, wildlife habitat, and the value of native plants.  Other volunteers embraced the effort, and the garden grew beyond the library’s entrance, encompassing spaces to the south and east, including a lovely labyrinth conceived by community members and built in the spring of 2014.

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Placitas Community Library Garden

Nearly every plant in the gardens is native to New Mexico, many of them to Placitas. See a list of them below and study the interpretive panels in the gardens. These plants thrive thanks to an underground drip system augmented by a roof-water harvesting system. We also endeavor to include permaculture techniques that encourage working with nature, not against it. Notice, for example, how the landscaped areas blend into the natural landscape. Also look below to view the list of wild plants that Bill Dunmire and Michael Crofoot documented on those spaces.

Placitas Community Library Garden

Placitas Community Library Garden

Take a seat on the bench in the east garden and look for bluebirds, butterflies and more in this Certified Wildlife Habitat. Walk the labyrinth and calm your mind. Sniff the chocolate flowers and find out how they got their nickname.  Volunteers maintain the garden, often in monthly work sessions that include laughter and friendship.

Placitas Community Library Labyrinth

On May 3, 2014, members of the Placitas community responded to the library’s invitation to celebrate its birthday—by bringing rocks.  And not just any old rock. These rocks, carried one by one by people young, old, and in-between, formed the outlines of a seven-circuit labyrinth just east of the parking area. This addition to the library’s garden was a long-sought dream of supporters who wanted to give the community a place to gather—individually or in groups—to celebrate, to meditate, and to heal. As lovers of books, we believe that a meditative mind enhances the experience of reading, and we encourage everyone to join us on the path.


For centuries, people around the globe have sought both solace and inspiration through labyrinths of many shapes and designs. The winding paths serve as metaphors for our individual journeys through life—moving toward a goal, then away from it, heading one direction, then another. Our design includes numerous loop-backs to encourage changes in consciousness, as well as a touch of whimsy.  How does it work? Begin by focusing on your breathing and the feel of your feet on the earth as you enter the labyrinth’s opening. Some people chant a mantra, say a series of prayers, sing, hum, or seek absolute silence. Maintaining a slow pace, follow the path toward its center. When you arrive, take a few deep breaths, do some stretches, or sit on the bench and contemplate the scenery. Repeat the path in reverse. If you encounter other walkers, gently step to the side to let them pass with minimal interruption.  That’s it. Other than this: Please leave the path as you found it for others to enjoy.

Placitas Community Library Landscape Plant List

Common name

Botanical name

Location

Category

Chinese Pistache

Pistacia cinensis

Library Entrance

Tree

Desert Willow

Chilopsis linearis

South & West Side

Tree

Netleaf Hackberry

Celtis reticulate

East Side

Tree

New Mexico Olive

Forestiera neomexicana

High Country Garden & West Side

Tree

New Mexico Olive

Forestiera neomexicana

South East Corner

Tree

Pinon Pine

Pinus edulis

South & East Side

Tree

Wavyleaf Oak

Quercus pauciloba

East Side

Tree

Banana Yucca

Yucca baccata

South Side & PCL Sign

Succulent

Havard’s Century Plant

Agave havardiana

High Country Garden

Succulent

Narrowleaf yucca

Yucca glauca

South Side

Succulent

Yellow Texas Yucca

Hesperaloe parviflora

High Country Garden

Succulent

Apache Plume

Fallugia paradoxa

South & East Side

Shrub

Beargrass

Nolina texana

South & East Side

Shrub

Chamisa

Ericameria nauseosa

South & East Side

Shrub

Dwarf Chamisa

Chrysothamnus depressus

South & West Side

Shrub

Four-wing Saltbush

Atriplex canescens

East Side

Shrub

Fringed Sage

Artemisia frigida

South & West Side

Shrub

Hairy Mountain Mahogany

Cercocarpus montanus

High Country Garden

Shrub

Longflower Rabbitbrush

Ericameria depressus

South Side

Shrub

Needle Leaf Mt. Mahogany

Cercocarpus intricatus

High Country Garden

Shrub

Three-leaf Sumac

Rhus trilobata

South & East Side

Shrub

Three-leaf Sumac

Rhus trilobata

South & East Side, PCL Sign

Shrub

Blue Grama Grass

Bouteloua gracilis

West Side & East Side

Grass

Blue Grama Grass

Bouteloua gracilis

High Country Garden

Grass

Indian Ricegrass

Oryzopsis hymenoides

East Side

Grass

Little Bluestem

Schizachryium scoparium

High Country Garden

Grass

Muhly Grass

Muhlenbergia hybrid

High Country Garden

Grass

Sand Dropseed

Sporobolus cryptandus

West Side & East Side

Grass

‘Raspberry Delight’ Sage

Salvia hybrid

High Country Garden

Flowering Perennial

‘Vera’ English Lavender

Lavandula angustifolia

High Country Garden

Flowering Perennial

Ava’s Hummingbird Mint

Agastache hybrid

High Country Garden

Flowering Perennial

Blackfoot Daisy

Melampodium leucanthum

East Side

Flowering Perennial

Blue Flax

Linum lewisii

High Country Garden

Flowering Perennial

Chocolate Fower

Berlandiera lyrata

East Side

Flowering Perennial

Desert Marigold

Baileya multiradiata

South East Corner

Flowering Perennial

Desert Mule Ears

Wyethia scabra

Library Entrance & West Side

Flowering Perennial

Eaton’s Penstemon

Penstemon eatonii

West Side & East Side

Flowering Perennial

Evening Primrose

Oenothera fremontii

High Country Garden

Flowering Perennial

Fame Flower

Phemeranthus calycinum

High Country Garden

Flowering Perennial

Firewheel

Gaillardia aristata

South East Corner

Flowering Perennial

Globemallow

Sphaeralcea sp.

South Side

Flowering Perennial

Hartweg Evening Primrose

Calylophus hartwigii

Library Entrance & East Side

Flowering Perennial

Licorice Mint Hyssop

Agastache rupestris

High Country Garden

Flowering Perennial

Maximilian Sunflower

Helianthus maximiliana

High Country Garden

Flowering Perennial

Maximilian Sunflower

Helianthus maximiliana

South East Corner

Flowering Perennial

Perky Sue

Hymenoxys scaposa

High Country Garden & East Side

Flowering Perennial

Pineleaf Beardtongue

Penstemon pinifolius

High Country Garden

Flowering Perennial

Prairie Coneflower

Ratibida columnifera

South East Corner

Flowering Perennial

Rocky Mountain Penstemon

Penstemon strictus

South East Corner

Flowering Perennial

Rocky Mountain Zinnia

Zinnia grandiflora

High Country Garden

Flowering Perennial

Common name

Botanical name

Location

Category

Sand Penstemon

Penstemon ambiguous

West Side

Flowering Perennial

Scarlet Bugler

Penstemon barbatus

West Side

Flowering Perennial

Scarlet Bugler

Penstemon barbatus

South East Corner

Flowering Perennial

Scarlet Gilia

Ipomopsis aggregate

West Side

Flowering Perennial

Stemless Evening-primrose

Oenothera caespitosa

South East Corner

Flowering Perennial

Yerba Mansa

Anemopsis californica

Library Entrance

Flowering Perennial

Engelman prickly pear

Opuntia engelmanii

South Side

Cactus

PLANT SPECIES RECORDED ON THE PLACITAS COMMUNITY LIBRARY
                      LAND SURVEY*
  BY WILLIAM W. DUNMIRE AND MICHAEL CROFOOT 2012 & 2013

Trees
Juniperus monosperma
Pinus edulis
Quercus turbinella
Quercus undulata

Shrubs, Half-shrubs
One-seed juniper
Piñon pine
Shrub live oak
Wavyleaf oak
Artemisia filifolia
Artemisia bigelovii
Atriplex canescens
Berberis fremontii
Brickellia californica
Chrysothamnus nauseosus Rubber rabbitbrush Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus Sticky rabbitbrush
Dalea formosa
Ephedra viridis
Fallugia paradoxa
Gutierrezia sarothrae
Lycium pallidum
Nolina microcarpa
Opuntia imbricata
Rhus trilobata
Yucca baccata
Yucca glauca

Grasses, Grasslike Plants
Andropogon gerardii
Andropogon scoparius
Bouteloua curtipendula
Bouteloua eriopoda
Bouteloua gracilis
Bouteloua hirsuta
Bromus tectorum
Muhlenbergia porteri
Muhlenbergia torreyi
Oryzopsis hymenoides
Sitanion hystrix
Pleuraphis jamesii
Sporobolus contractus
Sporobolus cryptandrus
Stipa neomexicana
Feather indigobush
Joint-fir
Apache plume
Broom snakeweed
Wolfberry
Beargrass
Cane cholla
Threeleaf sumac
Banana yucca
Narrowleaf yucca
Big bluestem
Little bluestem
Side-oats grama
Black grama
Blue grama
Hairy grama
Cheatgrass**
Bush muhly
Ring muhly
Indian ricegrass
Bottlebrush squirreltail
Galleta
Spike dropseed
Sand dropseed
New Mexico feathergrass
Sand sagebrush
Bigelow sagebrush
Fourwing saltbush
Fremont barberry
California brickelbush
Astragalus mollissimus
Berlandiera lyrata
Castilleja integra
Chrysopsis villosa
Cirsium ochocentrum
Coryphantha vivipara
Woolly locoweed
Chocolate Flower
Southwestern paintbrush
Golden aster
Santa Fe thistle
Plains pincushion var. arizonica
Dyssodia acerosa
Echinocereus fendleri
Echinocereus triglochidiatus Claret cup cactus
Eriogonum jamesii
Euphorbia fendleri
Gaura parviflora
Gilia rigidula
Haplopappus gracilis
Hedyotis rubra
Helianthus petiolaris
Lygodesmia juncea
Machaeranthera linearis Purple aster
Melampodium leucanthum
Mirabilis multiflora
Opuntia phaeacantha
Penstemon fendleri
Petalostemum candidum
Physalis hederaefolia
Salsoa kali
Senecio douglasii var. longilobus
Plains blackfoot
Four-o’clock
Prickly pear
Beardtongue
White prairie clover
Groundcherry
Russian thistle**
Threadleaf groundsel
Senecio multicapitatus
Solanum elaeagnifolium
Solanum triflorum
Thelesperma megapotamicum Indian tea Verbesina encelioides Crownbeard cactus
Needleleaf dogweed
Fendler’s hedgehog cactus
Antelope-sage
Spurge
Gaura
Stiffleaf gilia
Goldenweed
Bluet
Prairie sunflower
Stiff skeleton plant
Groundsel
Horse-nettle
Cutleaf nightshade

* The survey was conducted between fall 2012 and fall
2013 on the four acres of undeveloped land assigned to
the library (north and east of the library).

**Introduced species