Gardens of delight

Annual Garden and Home Tour opens the door to exquisite Taos living


This Saturday (Aug. 5), locals and visitors alike will have the chance to take a rare peek inside some of Taos’ most beautiful dwellings when Los Jardineros Garden Club of Taos presents its annual Garden and Home Tour. The homes will be receiving guests from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

This year’s four featured venues are the Rosarita Compound in town; the Historic New Mexico Hacienda and the Diamante del Salto, both in El Salto; and the Acequia Madre Oasis, off the Rim Road in Arroyo Seco.

Guests can visit the homes in any order. Sabroso Restaurant & Bar in Arroyo Seco and Common Fire on State Road 150 will be standing by with special quick lunches for tour guests to refresh themselves between venues.

Cat Hayden, Los Jardineros’ publicity chair, has been working with the tour for three years. “I never get tired of the high level of creativity that homeowners display with their gardens,” she said. “Water features, rock walls, each one is unique and beautiful. The four venues chosen are always very different from each other and from previous years. Last year, for instance, we had one where everything was xeriscaped and emphasized recycling – and another with lush gardens and fountains.”

Eclectic and colorful

Melissa Serfling, host at the first venue, the Rosarita Compound, is experienced in restoring and landscaping. Her properties are as eclectic and colorful as the offerings in her Red Cat Melissiana shop near Taos Plaza.

“I love turning older neglected homes with good bones and potential into something special, appealing and unique,” she said. “My downtown compound of four homes had been unmaintained long-term rentals for years and needed everything. The inspection report was 49 pages long.”

Serfling has transformed what she initially called “my fourplex from hell” into a wonderful downtown oasis. “I so enjoy showing tourgoers what can be done with some imagination, a lot of hard work and a spirit of creativity. I am a firm believer in shopping locally, and all building materials came from right here in Taos. My extensive art collection celebrates our amazing local Taos artists.”

History and family pride

The Historic New Mexico Hacienda in El Salto has been featured in the Enchanted Homes publication in The Taos News. It is renowned not only for its beauty, but also for its significance in history and family pride. The original structure, about 1,500 square feet, was built in 1914 with 18-inch-thick walls of handmade adobe bricks. Eleven children were born in the house in that first generation, and the home and ranch have remained in the same esteemed, hardworking family. Sheep have grazed on the site for more than 100 years, and the property now also hosts donkeys, pigs, ostriches and yaks.

The interior has high cathedral ceilings, with a rock wall fireplace made from green copper-oxide stones and marked with the family’s brand in wrought iron.

The house and property have never stopped evolving. Orchards of apple, cherry, pear and peach trees were planted in the 1920s. A seamless, organic addition was built onto the house in 1976. A gazebo was built for a family wedding in 1985. In 1997, a son of the family built a 40-foot covered bridge of Douglas fir, the only one of its kind in the state of New Mexico.

Outdoor feeling, but indoors

The third house, Diamante del Salto, is walking distance to the Historic New Mexico Hacienda. The owner traveled the world and served in the military before returning to El Salto with his wife and building his own sanctuary near the hacienda where he grew up. A horse sculpture by Gray Mercer greets visitors in the center of the circular drive. Mature perennial gardens surround the two-story home.

Cottonwoods provide much-appreciated shade in summer. The interior features antiques, heirloom furnishings and flags of the world collected during the owner’s travels. The home is designed to assimilate with nature so that a refreshing “outdoor” feeling informs the indoor spaces, with panoramic south-facing windows showcasing the unobstructed view.

Oasis on an acequia

The waters of the Acequia Madre (main irrigation ditch) tumble through the fourth venue, supporting substantial old growth and an extensive “live” landscape. Dogwood, arctic willow, irises and wild roses join plum, apricot and cottonwood trees, as well as ponderosa and piñón pines. The owner has been practicing her passion for landscaping here for nearly a decade. The interior, featuring beautiful stonework throughout, reflects the owner’s love of photography, antiques, textiles and pottery from around the globe.

Acequia Madre Oasis will also be home to a shaded outdoor boutique, with unique and whimsical garden items, fairy umbrellas and local artwork for sale. Proceeds from both ticket sales and boutique sales support the Los Jardineros Garden Club’s grants to nonprofit organizations in the community. Recent grants have assisted the Taos High School Forestry Program, the Fechin Food Forest, Las Cumbres Community Center’s Juvenile Detention gardening program and many more.

Local artists, including Pat Woodall, Leigh Gusterson, Richard Allan Nichols and others, will be out in the gardens with easels, painting and interacting with guests. Giovanna Paponetti and Ron Larimore will be painting in El Salto.

“I am excited to be invited as one of the participating artists,” said Paponetti. “There are absolutely breathtaking views at the hacienda that include farm animals and lovely orchards. I have several ideas for paintings that I would like to work on for the event. I am happy to be included in this very worthy fundraiser.”

“I am very much looking forward to painting at this beautiful El Salto home,” said Larimore. “They have wonderful views, and I’ve not seen their gardens this late in the summer. I also enjoy meeting people when I’m out painting.”

“Whether you live here full time or you’re visiting here, you’re going to come away with a sense of how creative people can be in their gardens,” said Hayden. “And there will always be some little feature that you might be inspired to incorporate in your own garden, wherever it is.”

Tickets to the tour are $25 each. Participants should be age 10 or older and no pets will be allowed. For more information or to purchase advance tickets, call (575) 751-7479. Visit