Thursday, August 19, 2010

Santa Fe Chronicles - Return to Cool Ranch

I wrote about the gardens at Cool Ranch with some wistfulness last year; it had just gone on the market, and I wondered if I was seeing one of my favorite projects for the last time. So I was glad to hear that my sister's beautiful house was sold to really nice people, who loved what we had done AND were happy for us to come and visit!

They've made some great changes to the landscape, like building a courtyard around the front entrance that gives some separation from the motor court/garage area, and another nice outdoor room.

I love the gentle curves and the iron gate that is light but strong. The turquoise pots add a welcome splash of color.

We should probably call this Bailey's courtyard, because it was added largely for her benefit; small dogs and cats are not a good match for the local coyotes, so a protected outdoor spot is important; especially for a pet that is very anxious to explore!

Beautiful flagstone work on the patio, and a graceful extension of the planting beds.

I loved seeing this large bronze Buddha placed so thoughtfully, framed by gnarled branches of wild juniper.

In their third summer all the perennials have reached a nice maturity, and have naturalized a bit as well. Russian Sage (Perovskia) is all over Santa Fe right now, growing in the dryest spots. Agastache is a perfect companion plant for it, and with Buddleia form the backbone of many a late-summer garden here.

There is a low wall separating cultivated space from the natural terrain beyond, but that line is becoming very blurry!

 The growing season is fairly short at this altitude: June is wildflowers and flowering trees, July and August are summer, September and October can see the first snows.

 And of course, I had to visit the labyrinth, which still looks amazing 3 years after installation. The center planting of Agastache and Thyme could not be more perfect.

The saplings of 2007 are filling out nicely; I was able to talk to the owners a bit about how to prune in order to frame key views.

 Native Pinon pines make a great backdrop.

 A meditation bell stands to one side.

The center of the garden remains open, in keeping with our intention to mimic the natural terrain of the desert beyond, with its clearings of seasonal wildflowers. There are few formal paths.

In the desert plants are found in harmonious communities, and are often clustered around rocks; this same idea gives Cool Ranch interesting structure even when it is covered with snow.

A bubbling boulder water feature from Santa Fe Stone offers a cooling welcome near the front door, and we have come full circle. My earlier post gives more of the story behind the creation of the gardens at Cool Ranch and shows how it has changed. Thanks for joining me!


  1. Love it, Laura! So peaceful. It's wonderful when new homeowners are so open.

  2. It has grown even more beautiful. How wonderful you were able to go see your work.

  3. Thanks everyone. It was strange to visit a home I had spent so much time in...the only awkward moment came when I went to the refrigerator to get everyone more wine...oops!

  4. I remember last year's post and how much I loved the labyrinth. Glad you could visit and see how things have progressed and the changes the new owners have made that compliment your design!

  5. Absolutely magnificent, Laura. I too remember last year's post and am really taken with the maturation of this gorgeous desert landscape. BRAVO!

  6. Hard to imagine a better outcome for that perilous moment when a garden changes hands. Happy for you, Laura! And thanks for the link to the making of this garden. Wonderful ideas here.

  7. Wow! that landscape is divine and the addition of the Buddha gives it that zen feel. Just lovely.

  8. I'm late to visit this post, but it's just beautiful. I really love these desert gardens. You did a spectacular job with the labyrinth, especially.

  9. You have an incredible eye and blog...thank you for sharing the beauty of Santa Fe~

    please come visit my blog, you may enjoy the nature postings...

    Peace~The Flower Spy

  10. Extremely fabulous. I really love these beautiful desert gardens. I am feeling very great to see this spectacular Creative Garden Design Ideas and Suggestions. Very good concept to enhance the beauty of your garden landscape. I thank to you for your beautiful post.
    garden design sydney

  11. I adore the labyrinth. The cobbles that you found are beautiful and the agastache in the center just sets it off. Bravo!

    I am designing a labyrinth with a custom mediation bench in the center.