Desert spoon adds a native accent

Lending a sculptural touch

Mary Irish

Landscape architect Stephen Grede chose a native plant with powerful symmetrical shape--desert spoon, or sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri)--to accentuate the gently curving path in Carol Gordon's Tucson garden. This evergreen shrub reaches 3 feet tall with an equal spread, forming clumps of spiky blue-green foliage with tiny curved teeth along the margins of the leaves and spoon-shaped bases where they meet the trunk.

Native to southern Arizona and New Mexico, desert spoon grows best in Sunset climate zones 10-13. The plant demands excellent drainage, displaying its best form in full sun or light shade. Fall is a good time to set out nursery plants from 1- or 5-gallon containers.

In Gordon's garden, Grede used decomposed granite for the path and edged it with Salt River rock. The stones also serve as a mulch around the plants, holding moisture in the ground and preventing soil erosion in windy weather. The plantings and path were installed by Oasis Gardens Landscape, of Tucson.

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