Many people see Santa Fe romantically from vacations or the media. It’s a marketing and tourism success, starting with the early 1900’s plaza area face-lift and gentrification since, but rarely very deep.
But how about Santa Fe from a horticultural standpoint? Past, present, and possible…via reality and place.
A tour through my landscape architect’s eyes; a prelude to my upcoming presentation at next month’s master gardener’s symposium. It’s more than Monet.
Nice hardscape and plant massing was designed. But instead of the habitual use of mesic exotics, how about a local sense-of-place via dry-region plantsmanship? Like using those exotic grasses as curiosities or as a last resort, and xeric native grasses as the overall bones and broad-brush strokes.
Most of the same people I’ve met over the decades, who rightfully extol local-everything, forget that when using plants. Many who go so far off the observably obvious, calling arid desert or even dry, semi-arid savanna (i.e. Santa Fe) as “prairie grassland”, somehow don’t use the native grasses they should admire. And if nurseries continue to make only exotics and invasives available, then there must be some serious business opportunities to do much better…not make excuses to keep the status quo.
It’s long past due to change all that.
It’s changing for the better, thanks to fresh blood in designers of varied ages and origins, working in Santa Fe. Old-guard isn’t always classic or old-age, nor is innovation the domain of the young or against design principles.