Santa Fe Inspirations

– Posted in: Garden Adventures

Recently in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I saw outdoor design ideas that were clever, entertaining and a little quirky. (A little Albuquerque, too—more about that later.) Like this vignette at a Canyon Road gallery: a painting paired with annuals.

Don’t want to hang your outdoor oil painting on the wall? Prop it on an easel. Plunk some coleus nearby.

All this yard needs is an orange-flowering shrub.

This one’s for those of you who boo-hoo because you can’t grow bamboo. (Sorry.)

What every porch needs: a fainting couch. I’ll take that obsidian kitty, too.

No space? Do a flowerpot mural alongside your front door.

This is almost pretty enough to make me like petunias.

If you have a fondness for retro treasures, you’ll like this: a ladies’ bicycle dating to when women didn’t pedal in pants (pre-pedal-pushers)…and I’m guessing this not only because of the basket. I suspect the metal grill on the rear wheel is to keep a skirt from getting caught in the spokes.

Notice how the bike is Santa Fe’s iconic accent color: turquoise. The blue goes beautifully with tan, rust, warm sunset hues and adobe-brown. Also, the semiprecious stone, turquoise, is THE main component of the region’s jewelry. (More about that later, too.)

You see Ubiquitous Blue in wrought iron and cars (btw, on Canyon Road, this car-railing pairing probably was no coincidence)…

…on shutters and window mullions…

…verdigris horses subtly adorning front yards…

…and even mailboxes. Archways are another New Mexico icon. I count 19 repetitions of the form in this photo. How about you?

But really, nothing is as pretty against a tan wall as a morning-glory vine…

…except maybe Russian sage (Perovskia).

As for Albuquerque, it does have a quaint old-timey shopping district, too, but it’s not the same as Santa Fe’s Canyon Road.

As for turquoise jewelry and other shopper’s delights, head on over to my Facebook album, pardnah, for a corral-full of photos I shot downtown Santa Fe and at the annual Indian Market—which, btw, is not trinkets for sale but rather fine art priced in the thousands of dollars, sold by hundreds of Native American artists, and aswarm with collectors bedecked in semiprecious stones as big as dinner plates, who fly in from all over.

The collectors, that is.

Debra Lee Baldwin
Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified, all Timber Press bestsellers. Her goal is to enhance others' enjoyment and awareness of waterwise plants and gardens by showcasing the beauty and design potential of succulents via books, articles, newsletters, photos, videos, social media and more. Debra and husband Jeff live in the foothills north of San Diego. She grew up in Southern California on an avocado ranch, speaks conversational Spanish, and at age 18 graduated magna cum laude from USIU with a degree in English Literature. Her hobbies include thrifting, birding and watercolor painting. Debra's YouTube channel has had over 3,000,000 views.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin

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DAY September 18, 2011, 5:39 am

Don’t spoil the serenity of your garden with ugly plastic bird feeders or concrete bird baths bought at the garden center.
Shop instead at craft galleries for hand made “art” that will complement both nature and your exquisite taste. . .

-A bit of a self serving comment; I am a ceramic artist that sometimes makes outdoor art! 🙂

Hey, I’m with you! I think garden art should be original, or absent. — Debra

Debi September 18, 2011, 7:00 am

I love the Southwest! Your photos make my mouth water – wanna go back. The light, the smells, the colors – gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing!

Thank you, Debi. The light and the skies are exquisite. No wonder so many artists live there. — Debra

Dixie September 18, 2011, 9:56 am

Lovely! The cat sculpture was adorable. I like how colourful everything is as well.

I know. I wonder how much it weighs. Wish I’d tried to lift it and checked the price, too. — Debra

Patrick's Garden September 18, 2011, 2:35 pm

Thanks for the trip. It’s been years since I’ve been to Santa Fe. I love the top sculpture with the sun rays. Good call on a complementary orange fl0wer. Maybe one of the new orange coneflowers?

Great idea! In fact, anything that sizzles with hot color. — Debra

Michael September 18, 2011, 3:39 pm

Great photos and observations about the place I live. One other kind of garden you should know about are what might technically be called xeriscape, but are also just the natural landscape (subtly groomed or lightly edited) here where it is often dry (between summer thundershowers and winter snows). See a few examples among the photos at the website of a luxury vacation rental agency, Aqui Santa Fe, or at this great landscaping company in Albuquerque, Heads Up,

Thanks, Michael. Good to know about. I love the phrase “subtly groomed or lightly edited.” Begone, blasted petunias! — Debra

Susan Morrison September 18, 2011, 6:38 pm

All the photos are lovely, but my favorite is that flower pot mural! And that’s saying something, because I’m not generally a fan of murals.

It’s a clever idea, isn’t it? Adds a lot of character, and makes the setting inviting and memorable. Works well with the architecture, too. — Debra

Pam/Digging September 18, 2011, 11:11 pm

I enjoyed your pics, Debra. I love Santa Fe and used to go with my family every Thanksgiving. It would inevitably snow a light dusting each year and coat the tops of the adobe walls so beautifully. The city lights up the square with Christmas luminarias (farolitos) after Thanksgiving, and the sight is truly lovely.

Hi, Pam — You describe it so well, it’s like being there. What a wonderful way to make Thanksgivings memorable. It was so warm when I was there, it’s hard to imagine snow. How wonderful that Santa Fe truly has seasons (unlike much of the Southwest, including where I live). — Debra

Cathy September 19, 2011, 9:13 am

I love it all! I saw art in the form of a painting displayed outside in a garden for the first time over Labor Day weekend – I posted about in my post about our friends’ city garden. She has an eclectic collection of ceramic pieces, a painting, and a vintage mirror with potted plants.

Personally, I love cement and ceramic-ware in a garden, and some I buy, some I make. I’ll pass on the plastic pink flamingos, but we do love our concrete fountains and homemade hypertufa and concrete art pieces.

Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, but I share your taste and vision, no question about it!

I should tell you, we are going to build a series of hypertufa planters to house succulents – all your fault. Your posts proved too much of a temptation for us to not try!

Cathy, that’s terrific! I’d love to see them. I hope you do a post about them ;+) — Debra

Rebecca Sweet September 19, 2011, 10:05 am

I’m having a hard time getting past that very first photo – it’s just so darn gorgeous! The repetition of colors in the container and the painting are truly stunning. So glad you had such a great time, Debra!!

Thanks, Rebecca. So many talented artists, and the gallery owners do a great job of showing them off. I’m not quite ready to hang a lovely painting on the OUTSIDE of my house, though! — Debra

scottsdale outdoor fireplace September 23, 2011, 1:57 pm

Lots of great inspiration for my patio garden!

Happy to hear it! Love your website, btw. — Debra

Brooke Kroeger September 25, 2011, 7:56 am

I wanted to let you know your post was
so beautiful that it is featured on
WebGarden today. Our readers enjoy
getting ideas and inspiration. I hope
many will follow your blog after visiting.
Thanks for sharing your gardening talents!
~Brooke (CreativeCountryMom)
Here is the link to see your post….

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