Adobe walls, secret gardens, history & art in Santa Fe


Our western road trip earlier this month took us through Santa Fe, New Mexico, one of the oldest cities in the U.S. and the oldest capital city in the country (dating to 1607). The compact historic district is a walkable several blocks of terracotta-colored adobe and adobe-style buildings, beautiful old churches, art galleries, restaurants, and tiny gardens half-hidden behind walls, like this frothy courtyard of Russian sage I spotted outside a realtor’s office.


Simply lovely


A trio of agaves in speckled white pots stood in place of a foundation hedge.


I got up early to explore one morning, when only the early walkers and runners were about.


After the shops opened, we strolled around town and window-shopped. A carved angel cloaked with real dollar bills caught my eye in one window. What does it mean?


My daughter and I did some actual shopping under the arcade of the Palace of the Governors, where Native American jewelry makers display necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings. I bought a pair of inlay earrings, and my daughter chose a turquoise necklace.


Here’s Doris from Kewa Pueblo, who made the jewelry we bought.


Around the block is the colorful Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.


Across the street stands the rose-windowed Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, its Romanesque architecture contrasting with the adobe buildings around it.


On the church plaza, a bronze Kateri Tekakwitha, “a Catholic American Indian who became known as the Lily of the Mohawks,” sculpted by Estella Loretto, clasps faded offerings of corn and roses.


A closer look


Tall bronze doors depict scenes from the church’s long history.


Inside, arches and glowing light and stained glass


Next we explored the grande-dame La Fonda hotel. Every detail, down to a green-painted bench and Our Lady of Guadalupe mosaic in a hall niche, is lovely.


We’d spotted this from the street below: a rooftop patio garden, with long-necked sunflowers standing tall against stuccoed walls.


A tiered fountain in one corner has been converted into a flower planter.


After an enchilada lunch outdoors on the colorful patio of The Shed…


…we passed a bear holding his arms out for a hug, surrounded by a riot of wood-shaving flowers.


A pretty street garden outside Worrell Gallery stopped me in my tracks when I caught the sweet scent of these blazing yellow flowers.


I darted inside to ask the salesperson what they were, and she knew! But then I forgot. Anyone know the ID? Update: It’s Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius), which is unfortunately invasive in parts of the U.S. Thanks for the ID, Allison and Barbara.


In the afternoon, my daughter and I explored dozens of art galleries on Canyon Road, and I discovered a new favorite artist: New Mexico sculptor (and one-time Austinite) Kevin Box, who makes stunning origami creations out of bronze and stainless steel. This one is a visual pun of the game rock-paper-scissors.


We admired several of his works, including these origami cranes, at Selby Fleetwood Gallery, where a shady garden out back made a perfect display space.


Kevin’s origami horses — marvelous!


When we were too tired to walk anymore, my husband picked us up, and we drove around the neighborhoods, admiring the organically shaped adobe or stucco walls that shelter many homes, like this one just off Canyon Road. That peek-a-boo stick screen in the door offers a glimpse of…what? A garden courtyard?


I kept saying, Stop!, and my obliging husband would pull over so I could snap a photo.


This one, my favorite, is classic Santa Fe with that rosy-tan stucco wall and turquoise door.


An extra window is nice too.


This one has a fortress-like doorway roofed with small boulders and spiny prickly pear!


I love this tiny house, with its turquoise door, warm stucco walls, and cloak of what looks like Virginia creeper.


It must be electric when it turns red in the fall.


After the grandeur of the St. Francis Cathedral earlier in the day, we stopped that evening by humble San Miguel Chapel. Said to be the oldest church in America, the adobe-walled mission was built in the early 1600s. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the interior, as it had closed for the day.


A visit to Santa Fe wouldn’t be complete without a stroll through the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which includes 140 of her oil paintings and hundreds of watercolors and drawings. Standing before her monumental flowers, like Bella Donna (aka datura), a nature lover can’t help feeling moved.


Ghost Ranch Landscape, a scene we’d go looking for the next day.


Although our Santa Fe visit was brief, it was filled with beautiful moments.


Chile ristra

I’ll carry it around in my head and my heart, as I do every visit, for a long time to come.

For a look back at my visit to Santa Fe Botanical Garden, click here. Up next: the big-sky grandeur of Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

South Texans, come see me at the 2nd annual Planta Nativa festival in McAllen, Texas, on Saturday, October 22. I’ll be delivering the keynote talk, “Local Heroes: Designing with Native Plants for Water-Saving Gardens,” that evening. Tickets go on sale soon at Quinta Mazatlan. I hope to see you there!

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Hot child in the city: August Foliage Follow-Up


Surely August will be our last worst month here in central Texas. It can’t possibly remain blisteringly hot and humid through September, can it?


Yes, it can, and it probably will, but that’s why I love agaves, yuccas, prickly pear, and other tough plants. They breeze through a Texas summer looking as cool as an Austinite floating in spring-fed Barton Springs Pool. Here’s one of my current favorites, Agave applanata ‘Cream Spike’ (formerly Agave parryi ‘Cream Spike’), a pup given to me last fall by Bob Beyer of the blog Central Texas Gardening. Just look at those cream-and-lime-striped leaves and tidy, red teeth lining each crimson-spined leaf.


Agave x leopoldii is also a fine small agave for a sunny deck or patio. It needs some winter protection, but its coppery summer coloration — a little stressed from heat and drought — is especially lovely.


Out front, in the Berkeley sedge (Carex divulsa) lawn, lemony ‘Margaritaville’ yucca easily withstands summer’s heat.


For the first time, I’m experimenting with keeping tillandias — aka air plants — outside during the warm months. I’ve managed to keep the big one on the left alive indoors for a couple of years, and I’d hate to lose it. But they look so perfect in my new Tentacle Pots that I decided to take the chance. I hope they don’t burn up in Austin’s summer heat! They’re in filtered shade, and I’m misting them with distilled water once a week.


Since today is Foliage Follow-Up — a celebration of great foliage — let’s venture outside my own garden for a moment. I spotted this honor guard of ‘Will Fleming’ yaupon hollies at the “castle” house in South Austin. Its narrow, upright form and tidy, evergreen leaves make ‘Will Fleming’ a great screening plant for a tight space, or a striking vertical accent.


At the same house, in the hell strip outside a limestone wall, a zigzagging row of large, silver-blue agaves is eye-catching too — like campfires with tongues of blue flame. Atop the wall, prickly pear finds a crevice home. None of these plants minds the heat or the Death Star, and they make architectural additions to the summer garden.

This is my August post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is going on in your garden this month? Please join me in giving foliage its due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I’d appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it. I look forward to seeing your foliage faves.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Summer color that stands up to the Death Star


As the Death Star sizzles for weeks on end — 100 degrees F and no rain in sight — it might seem as if all the garden can do is endure. But no! Plants that put on their best show in the heat of summer, even a Central Texas summer, abound. Here are a few I’m enjoying right now, starting with ‘Colorado’ waterlily. Sure, it’s growing in water, so why wouldn’t it enjoy summer? Still, all you need is a large tub or a stock tank to have one of your own.


Delicate-seeming candy lily (x Pardancanda norrisii) saves its flowering for midsummer too. While the tiny, freckled blossoms lack a waterlily’s showiness, they’re a sweet discovery on a hot day.


Dependable plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) is a summer favorite. Mine is a dark-blue variety that I prefer to the more common sky blue, but they’re all summer performers.


Structural plants like agaves and yuccas are unfazed by triple-digit heat. But have you tried dainty, speckled ‘Bloodspot’ mangave? (Click the link to see the beautiful foliage.) In summer, a mature plant sends up a bloom spike with pale-yellow flowers that lasts for a couple of weeks.


Firecracker fern (Russelia equisetiformis) fights fire with fire, its arching stems erupting in a cascade of tubular, crimson flowers all summer. Even better, in my opinion, is round-leaf firecracker fern (Russelia rotundifolia), pictured here, which takes more shade. This one lights up a grocery store parking lot in my neighborhood. It’s traffic stopping!


A few weeks ago we enjoyed a rare summer rain, and the rain lilies (Zephryanthes ‘Labuffarosea’) burst into grateful bloom.


A while back I experimented with planting rain lily bulbs in a hanging planter, and they lived but didn’t thrive. So recently I pulled everything out and replanted, in the process finding that the bulbs had multiplied threefold. I separated them, laid them in a cardboard box on an outdoor table, and then forgot about them for a week. Meanwhile, it rained, and this happened.


Yes, they bloomed without even being in the ground. Aren’t bulbs amazing little energy capsules? ‘Labuffarosea’ rain lilies will bloom several times throughout the summer, whenever we get a rain shower. As a bonus their leaves, like monkey grass, are evergreen in our climate.


Of course, even without our summer-loving plants to provide color, there’s always the evening sky.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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