Los Jardineros Taos Garden and Home Tour: inspiration for landscaped beauty

By Cindy Brown
For the Taos News
Posted 7/11/19

Los Jardineros Garden Club of Taos is celebrating its 70th anniversary of beautifying Taos by holding it's annual Garden and Home Tour on Saturday (Aug. 3). The tour is …

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Los Jardineros Taos Garden and Home Tour: inspiration for landscaped beauty

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Los Jardineros Garden Club of Taos is celebrating its 70th anniversary of beautifying Taos by holding it's annual Garden and Home Tour on Saturday (Aug. 3). The tour is a chance to see how Taos residents have used hardscape (structures such as fountains, benches or gazebos that are incorporated into a landscape), water features and hardy plants to create magical spaces in their gardens. In addition to the tour of four gardens and homes, the event includes a boutique with unique garden pieces and the chance to see artists painting in the gardens.

This year's tour features gardens that have been lovingly built by their owners sometimes over a period of many years. For the aspiring gardener, there will be plenty to see that may inspire ideas for their own garden.

All of the proceeds from the event go to beautifying the town and funding grants for schools and other organizations that are preserving the gardening traditions of Taos.

Taos Garden and Home Tour

The first Saturday in August every year, Los Jardineros hold the Taos Garden and Home Tour. "This year there are four homes on the tour, all located on the north side of town," says Cat Hayden, publicity chair for Los Jardineros. "Every one is a distinctly different garden, but each shows how careful planning can help make the most of our short growing season."

Hayden explains that two of the locations feature rock gardens that use-drought tolerant plants. The gardens take into account their microclimates and make the best use of their location. "The gardens are beautifully laid out to frame vistas, especially to the west," says Hayden.

One of the properties was a bed-and-breakfast and is now used as a family gathering spot. The boutique will be held here and will feature metal garden décor with birds and flowers, along with pottery, cards by local artists, unique fabric creations by Terrie Mangat and other handcrafted garden-related items.

There will be artists painting in each garden. Hayden says that there are many people who return year after year for the tour and that one of the big draws is getting to see artists working. "It's a chance to talk to the artists and learn from them while they paint," says Hayden. Each year more than 500 people attend the tour, coming from all over the United States and Europe.

Blueberry Hills gardens

The tour features two homes in the Blueberry Hill area this year, one set down low in a valley and the other high up on a ridge - each taking advantage of their open views. Hayden explains that these homeowners have done most of the work a little at a time, adding a new part of to the garden each year.

At the home of Teppie Woolley, people will have the chance to see a photo of the garden when it began 30 years ago. Then, there was one small raised planting bed. Today, there are many colorful blooming planting areas artfully woven in among flagstone paths and water features. This garden is an inspiration for those who might be looking for just one idea that will be the beginning of their own beautiful garden.

Around a planted fountain area, there are delphinium bursting with pinks and blues. A coyote sculpture in bronze by Star Liana York adorns the rock wall near the water. Shaded seating areas nearby provide relaxing spots to stop and enjoy the colors and sounds of the front garden.

In the back of the house, paths in different textures wander among the garden beds which are in full bloom. Whimsical metal sculpture and painted stepping-stones add a light touch to beds that have unusual plants like "Red Bird in a Tree."

Most of Woolley's plant starts have been purchased locally. Lilacs, a dwarf apple and an apricot tree provide shade. She is developing a monarch sanctuary garden that includes milkweed - the only thing the hatching monarch larvae will eat. (Find out more at monarchbutterflygarden.net.)

Unique in this garden is an elegant small shed with a gravel floor and carefully arranged tools near areas for potting plants. On display are some of Woolley's own watercolor paintings. There is also an open ramada that is protected from the west wind and full of colorful Mexican accents. Water from the roof is captured and distributed to the nearby plants.

"The Garden and Home Tour is a great chance to see the secret gardens behind adobe walls," says Woolley. "It takes a long time to build a garden. I've done it gradually over the years. A lot of it is trial and error. I'm always experimenting with something new." For years she has attended the tour and come away with ideas. This year, she wanted to return the favor and invite people to see her garden. The homeowners on the tour are usually members of Los Jardineros and make their homes available on a completely volunteer basis, so that all funds raised go for community grants.

At a nearby home on the tour, the garden features raised beds with penstemons in brilliant reds and oranges. One large area is devoted to wildflowers that flourish despite getting little water and sometimes being impacted by the west wind. For the past four and a half years, the homeowners have experimented with different plants to create a garden with walkways bursting with plants in bloom. A shade structure looks west to take advantage of sunset skies. Grape arbors are already heavy with grapes and a cherry tree that has never produced fruit is showing promise of a good harvest.

Through trial and error, the owners have transformed the land around their home to be inviting and fragrant. Their bird feeders were visited by a family of orioles this year and a flock of quail has been regular visitors in the past. By the time of the garden tour, Shasta daisies, coneflowers and black-eyed Susans should be in full bloom.

Grants and good works

All ticket sale proceeds and money made at the boutique go toward beautification projects and horticultural education for Taos and the surrounding county. Last year Los Jardineros distributed more than $15,000 to four nonprofits. Recent grants have been made to the Taos Center for the Arts, the Fechin House garden and Taos Integrated School of the Arts. A drip line for the new park in Questa was also funded.

All the funds stay in Taos County to help preserve agricultural traditions. The grants help grow flowers and gardens that feed the community like the one at Taos High School for the culinary program.

Los Jardineros is known for starting the program of hanging baskets that beautify downtown Taos. The program has been taken over by the Town of Taos so that the baskets continue to flourish each year.

The results of Los Jardineros grants will be celebrated at two upcoming events:

- Friday (July 12) at 10 a.m. - ribbon-cutting to celebrate the renovation of Gusdorf Park. Los Jardineros made a grant to Youth Heartline to plant shrubs and trees watered with drip lines in the park. Taos Community Foundation brought together groups to rebuild gazebos and sidewalks, along with installing new playground equipment.

- Wednesday (July 24) at 3 p.m. - celebration of repaired and restuccoed wall in front of the Taos Community Foundation, 115 La Posta Road. Los Jardineros funds made this renovation possible. Mayor Dan Barrone will join Los Jardineros for a ribbon-cutting.

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