Locals and visitors alike will have the chance to take a rare peek inside some of Taos' most beautiful dwellings and art galleries when Los Jardineros Garden Club of Taos presents its annual Taos Garden & Home Tour Saturday (Aug. 4) from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
This year's four featured venues are the "Art Alive at The Taos Art Museum at Fechin House" on Paseo del Pueblo Norte in town, the "Dahlia Delight" off Millicent Rogers Road in El Prado, the "Charming Old Taos Adobe" in Ranchos de Taos, and the "Art and Garden Serenity" in the Weimer area off Paseo del Cañon East, according to a press release. Guests can visit the homes and museum in any order.
Tour publicist Cat Hayden has been working with the tour for five years and said she is amazed at the level of creativity displayed by homeowners who combine their passion for art and gardening.
"From water features to rock gardens, antiques to bronze metal sculptures, flashes of annual and perennial color to neutral shades of native grasses, these homes and gardens are a labor of love that provide sanctuaries of peace and tranquility. I always come away inspired with ideas for my own small gardens," Hayden said in a prepared statement.
Art Alive at The Taos Art Museum at Fechin House
"We are thrilled to feature one of our Taos historic jewels, The Taos Art Museum at Fechin House," Hayden said in the statement.
The museum is housed at the studio and home of renowned Russian artist Nicolai Fechin. The two-level adobe building is a masterpiece blending of Russian, Native American and Spanish motifs, with a permanent collection by the Taos Society of Artists.
With the help of a Garden Club civic grant, the gardens have been newly refurbished, adding a water feature. "We are thrilled to bring the 'Art Alive' floral design show to the Fechin House for the tour," Hayden said. Over 12 local floral design artists will create live floral arrangements, each inspired by a painting from the permanent collection.
Tricia and Eric Stammberger's home in El Prado was built in the 1940s as a farmer's home and is believed to have been a goat farm. When the couple purchased it in 2004, they consulted an architect to capture mountain views from inside the house, according to the release.
The plan came back with every room changed. "I liked this funky little place just the way it was and, besides, we live outside in the summer," Tricia Stammberger states. After initial thoughts of "we might as well build a new house," minimal changes were made to build the back portal, and later improve the front portal.
A carport was converted into the living room and in 1980, the master bedroom, bath and laundry room wing were added. A barn and a chicken coop still exist on the property. In recent years, a fox family made their home under the chicken coop, Hayden said.
Stammberger started a summer project in 2004 weeding an old vegetable garden in a raised bed. "It only produced a sore back," she stated. By 2006, local gardener Jerry Schwartz was recommended to help her for a few weeks to determine what would work best.
Schwartz, along with his crew, never left. While there was never a master plan, year by year, the garden grew from barren land to what you see today. Spinach, lettuce, carrots, peppers, squash, cucumbers, cabbage and garlic are still cultivated.
A dahlia garden containing over 1,200 bulbs is planted every spring, dug up, divided, stored and replanted every year.
"They are some of the only flowers that survive our hottest summer heat and bloom mid-to-late summer until the first frost," Eric Stammberger adds. A "shade" garden, viewed from the back portal, is Eric Stammberger's favorite.
Bright perennials line the courtyard wall and pathways. Hostas are added every year. Tricia Stammberger acquires lilies from the state of Maine every year at the Philadelphia Flower Show.
Over 60 pots containing annuals are located throughout the property. A three-tiered herb spiral, used in countries where land and water is scarce, showcases different herbs.
Some of the larger areas of the property have been developed into wildflower gardens with drought-tolerant native plants and grasses. "I wanted a prairie feel in this area," comments Tricia Stammberger. She chose grasses for their height, color and texture.
The Stammbergers host a number of events in their many gardens. It is not unusual to see umbrellas scattered throughout the gardens, not for rain, but for the plein air artists.
Always a favorite among tour guests is the Garden Club "boutique", selling unique hand-crafted garden items, local artists' cards, books and more. The boutique will be located on the front portal of the Stammberger home, the release states.
Charming Old Taos Adobe
A charming old Taos adobe located in Ranchos de Taos is a true delight. Owner Melissa Serfling said in the release, "This is a wonderful home lovingly enhanced by me through the years I have owned it."
The original home is now the second bedroom. Over 200 years ago, a family of nine lived in this one room.
The home was added onto through the years in typical Taos fashion. Most recently, the home was purchased by Garden Club friend Serfling, who has restored it inside and out in her renowned eclectic Taos style, using found objects, Southwest tiles, antiques and a selection of local artwork to brighten the walls.
Original features were preserved, such as the 46-viga ceiling and uniquely carved wooden doors. A pueblo-style fireplace is in each room with brick and pine floors throughout.
"The home is furnished with my antiques and treasures from my favorite local consignment store. Of course my sense of whimsy is on display inside and out. This last winter I added decorative tile features throughout the home. I welcome any photos inside or out." Serfling said she enjoys sharing her creative style with all tourgoers.
The enclosed courtyard garden is a good example of a true xeriscape garden. This space was planted in the 1960s by a member of Los Jardineros Garden Club and has existed with only nature's rainwater for almost 60 years. With increasingly hot summers and dry winters this is a style of great interest to all of us.
"I love this home and everything I have done here. I believe tourgoers on August 4th will enjoy it too," she adds.
Art and Garden Serenity
This contemporary home, thoughtfully remodeled in recent years, has been a labor of love to create the owners' "forever" home in Taos, the release states. Collaborating with local craftsmen, designers and landscapers and, using their own creative spirit, the results are impressive.
"When we first purchased the home six years ago, we found a stone with the word 'Forever' inscribed on it," said the Spadys. "We contacted previous homeowners, but no one claimed it as theirs. We felt it was a welcome sign meant for us. We had extensive gardens in our home in Kentucky, and we looked forward to creating new gardens in our new home in Taos."
The owners worked closely with local gardener Jerry Schwartz to design a series of gardens that completely encircle the home.
The front entrance is enclosed and features a large stone water feature and beautiful plantings, including smoke tree, asters, and geraniums.
The serenity garden off the living room includes a rock pond with a water cascade that provides a tranquil place to nap and read. It features an orange and cream color scheme with penstemon, blue fescue, poppies, delphinium, a red Japanese maple, smoke bush and dwarf butterfly shrubs.
The entertainment garden features a circular portal covering a lovely alfresco dining area and ceramics from the Spadys' travels to Florence Italy. In this larger garden you will find roses, fire pokers, delphinium, penstemons, hydrangeas, geraniums, pink honeysuckle and poppies, along with a hot tub off the master suite.
The view from the master bath, in the back of the home, overlooks a field of lavender inspired by the Spadys' travels to Provence, France. There is a footpath surrounding the entire home that is planted in gardens of dahlias, roses, penstemon, lilies, delphinium, snapdragons, ninebarks and potentilla.
Art lovers will also love touring inside the home. Artists whose work is hanging there include (Governor Award artist) Jim Vogel, Tony Abeyta, Jerry Jordan and Robert Lavadie, who created the altar piece at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Asisi in Santa Fe.
Because Angie Spady writes children's books, she was especially interested in collecting art from storytellers, including Helen Codero and Juanita du Bray. Many of the fabrics used throughout the house also were inspired by or collected during the couple's travels.
Artists in the Garden
Once again, local renowned artists will be working at each garden venue, including the 2018 poster artist, Tracy Turner Sheppard.
"Our local artists enjoy working the garden and home tour and interacting with visitors," Hayden said. "They provide a personal and up-close perspective of painting while answering questions. It's been a delightful and mutually enjoyable experience."
The garden club hopes to surpass last year's total of over 525 attendees, many visiting from out of state. "All proceeds from the tour's ticket sales provide grant monies to educational, government and nonprofit organizations for horticultural education or beautification projects within Taos County," Hayden said.
Information regarding the grant application process and a list of 2017 grant recipients can be found on the club's website GardenClubofTaos.org. The 2019 grant recipients will be announced at the club's annual meeting in October.
Tickets to the tour are $25 each, and include venue directions. Participants should be age 10 or older, and no pets are allowed. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (575) 770-0243.