The sun is hard at work in Santa Fe, coaxing bulbs to put out their colorful blossoms to sway in the spring breezes. We’ve had our final drift of snow, and day by day, the sun sticks around in the sky longer and longer. I say it’s time to take a leisurely tour to look around the colorful Santa Fe landscape and be assured the city is indeed in full bloom.
Capture the Colors at The Bishop’s Garden
The harbinger of spring in Santa Fe is the ubiquitous forsythia. The rich yellows of this hardy plant, followed swiftly by fragrant flowering fruit trees, call me to the Bishop’s Garden, designed by Bishop Lamy who built the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. A colorful real-life character, he is the famed subject of Willa Cather’s Santa Fe-centric novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop, a must-read for lovers of Santa Fe.
I love spending some quiet moments in our Cathedral before making a meditative circuit on the path under the beautiful blossoming trees. My next stop? A picnic on the Plaza, where the hanging baskets add color to the heart of our historic town.
Canyon Road, Painted in Mother Nature’s Hues
Any historic town deserves help sustaining special sites, and we’re fortunate the Historic Santa Fe Foundation is so firmly rooted in its commitment to preserving the gorgeous gardens at El Zaguan. Built in the 1840’s, the former Johnson family Canyon Road hacienda is named for its long interior hallway (the zaguan) and has served as an artists’ colony since the 1920’s when it was converted into a series of small apartments. The Foundation continues this tradition by offering one-year residencies to artists and writers whose work benefits from the serene surroundings.
Some of the trees in the small but lush garden are well over 100 years old, and I love to lean against their trunks and listen to leaves murmur as they did in years gone by. Stands of lilac, lavender, and roses perfume the air from spring to fall. The Santa Fe Master Gardener Association partners with the Foundation, ensuring that the garden is a water-wise oasis retaining its historic origins and beauty. Open Monday through Saturday, 9am to 5pm, the Master Gardeners are on-site and happy to plant-talk on Thursdays and Saturdays.
A 400-plus Year-old City Has a Gardening History
A town as old as ours is bound to count dedicated gardeners amongst its citizenry. The Santa Fe Garden Club relies on many dedicated members, who planted the sculpture garden at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and maintain and support gardens at the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts.
If you think Santa Fe is all sagebrush and cottonwoods, you’re in for a delightful surprise! Mid-April through mid-October, the Garden Club’s Pequeno Tours (pequeno means little) offer intimate tours of three stunning homes and gardens, with a knowledgeable, plant-loving Garden Club member as guide. The tours run frequently, and are a one of a kind experience. Come July, Santa Fe is a riot of color, and the Garden Club’s Behind Adobe Walls Home and Garden Tour is too. Two successive Tuesdays take flora fanatics to eight fantastic gardens, located in private estates and historical sites.
Santa Fe Plants for the Future with a New Botanical Garden
The magnificent museum complex on Museum Hill gained a new partner across the road when the Santa Fe Botanical Garden arose amid the junipers and piñon trees. Celebrating our region’s biodiversity and plant heritage, the Botanical Garden began in 1987 with the seed of an idea planted in the minds of local gardeners. By 1993, the 35-acre Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve opened adjacent to El Rancho de las Golondrinas and cultivated the desire for a city site to host native plants and educational events. In 2006, with 11 acres of land leased long-term from the city, planning began in earnest. With the first phase completed, the Garden opened its gates for year-round viewing in 2013. I'm excited about Origami in the Garden, a large-scale outdoor sculpture exhibition with creations from Santa Fe artist Kevin Box. Kevin’s work is on display until October 25th, and the self-guided cell phone tour ensures a fully enlightened experience whenever I visit.
Plans are laid for the next phase, showcasing plants used by local cultures throughout Santa Fe’s ancient past. Clustered around a central plaza, the newest plots will include plants traditionally used for healing, cooking, weaving, and dyeing, along with outdoor classrooms to host programs for the whole family.
Pick Some Pretty Posies at the Santa Farmers’ Market
Growing Southwest beauty differs from planting in the moist Midwest or coastal rain-belts. Be it food for the table or flowers for the soul, those who live by hands in the soil bring their harvest to the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Tuesdays and Saturdays. With spring’s arrival, the Market has moved back outside, and that means vendors are multiplying. Right now, I’m all about fresh greens to grace my plate, and beautiful bunches of flowers to make my dinner table festive only gets easier as spring turns to summer.
Make Yours a Colorful Journey to Santa Fe
A Colorful Journey … there’s more than one reason this phrase is the City Different’s calling card. The sun is painting long shadows to frame the bright hues tucked against adobe walls and lining garden walks all over town. I am nurturing the notion of adventures yet to come, but in the meantime, I invite you to share the blessings of colorful blossoms and leaves that whisper softly, “Come outdoors and celebrate spring’s return.”