2021 #6 A Very Talavera Garden

Subdivision: Mustang Mesa
Address: 63 Palomino Road
Owners: Lisa and Jud Fink
Garden Type or Features:  New Xeric Landscaping in and out of courtyards planted by owner of courtyards, Televera pottery, views

The following artists will be at this garden:

  • Jim Holley – 9am – Noon
  • Rebecca Nolda – 1pm – 4pm

Description:  After Jim Madueña built their home in 2017, Lisa and Jud’s next step was to have the yard landscaped, both for appearance and to reduce the dust carried by the frequent winds up on Wild Horse Mesa. Jim recommended the late Guillermo Arriola. Guillermo’s meticulous planning and hard work (sometimes on his hands and knees by the light of a headlamp after sunset) resulted in a beautiful landscape of rock “riverbeds” and sandstone “bridges,” with plants intermingled throughout. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of what would live through desert summers and winters and mesa winds. Every plant he installed survived, without a single exception. The garden as it is today is in part a tribute to him (though subsequent mistakes are entirely the fault of the owners!). His quiet intelligence, his kindness, and most of all his smile are greatly missed.

The one factor in this garden that Guillermo had not encountered before to such an extent was the wild horses, who walk (and graze) through the lots on Wild Horse Mesa on a near-daily basis. This has led to a quest, not quite ended, for plants that will not only survive the climate, but will be distasteful though not harmful to our equine friends. Other requirements (a splash of color here and there; plants that will not demand a lot of care) are also in play. In all these respects, the owners are finding that the wild desert landscape and the local native plants have much to teach them.

When Guillermo was installing the landscaping, his crew was Young Guns Yard Control, under the leadership of Antonio Dominguez. As the owners expanded on the original plan, Antonio and Young Guns were the natural choice. Their work has created a lovely setting for the brightly colored Talavera pottery Lisa so enjoys, as upon coming to Placitas she discovered that shopping for Talavera was among her natural talents.

In order to have a garden that does not take a great deal of care, the plants inside and immediately outside the front and back courtyards are watered by a drip irrigation system, metered by a controller that takes the local weather into account. For the same reason, the soil has not been amended.

The landscape has a “special feature” that does not look particularly special, but is close to the owners’ hearts. In the back courtyard there is a small buffalo grass “lawn” perhaps twelve feet in diameter. This began as plugs; in its first year, it looked rather like the “before” picture in a Hair Club for Men advertisement. But it has now filled in, and just as the owners hoped, their senior Chocolate Lab, Sugar, enjoys lazing about on it in all seasons of the year. Lisa, Jud, and Sugar welcome you, and hope the garden brings you the same sense of peace and happiness it provides them.