Hidden Taos treasures revealed in Garden Tour


“In 1949, Taos resident Mrs. Don Secrest called a meeting of interested people to discuss starting a garden club. Thirty-five people attended.” So reads the beginning of the “History of Los Jardineros” on the group’s website.

Sixty-seven years later, Los Jardineros Garden Club of Taos is still going strong. The club will host its annual Garden and Home Tour this Saturday (July 30) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“It’s a labor of love, serious planning and months of volunteer hours,” said publicist Cat Hayden.

The 2016 tour will showcase four Taos properties, each with unique style, artwork and landscaping.

“I think what makes this year’s tour so special is the variety of homes and venues,” said Club President Judy Weinrobe. “A lovingly renovated adobe; an historical territorial with interesting casitas; a modern, eco-friendly home with mountain views; and a beautiful home/gallery/sculpture garden setting — this tour represents an example of all types of Taos homes. So no matter your style, you will find inspiration on this tour.”

The first venue is called “The Territorial.” The two-story adobe main house was built in 1875 on land acquired by Santiago Martinez in 1864 for the price of “5 pesos and a cow.” An original chicken coop on the property has been developed into a light-filled two-bedroom apartment. There are also two small casitas, colorfully hand painted by artist Jim Wagner. Pathways between the structures wind through lush gardens.

“The Territorial is a truly unique Taos property,” said caretaker Melissa Serfling. “It has a perfect downtown location and a wonderful sense of Taos history. I am the caretaker and landscaper and feel very fortunate to be part of this special place. The entire property has been lovingly restored, and the park-like grounds are nothing short of amazing. So many Taoseños know the property and always wonder about the big territorial by the church with all the rocking chairs. Now is a perfect opportunity to see it all on the Garden and Home Tour.”

Second on the tour is “The Compound.” The adobe home’s original structure is more than 100 years old and has seen years of thoughtful expansions and renovations. The property is enclosed within adobe walls and coyote fencing. The home and art studios are set within an oasis of gardens and shade trees.

Said the property’s owner, “When entering the space, one feels the embrace of peace and vibrant energy. That is the feeling that ignites creativity.”

“The Eco House” is next, a more modern take on Taos design. It is an Energy 5+-compliant home with nine south-facing Trombe walls. (Trombe is a passive-solar design system, in which walls are constructed to absorb heat during sunny winter daylight hours and then slowly release it into the house at night.)

The entire property was designed by Karlis Viceps of Solar Plans, LLC. The homeowners worked with the designer to ensure that the home was sustainable and saved water. Gray-water and rain-catchment systems are used to irrigate the xeric landscape.

Said the owners, “Our philosophy is not that you ‘own’ a home, but that we wanted to build the home and utilize the land in an environmentally responsible way, and hopefully the house will be enjoyed by our successors.”

“Lumina” is the final stop on this year’s tour. The house, which is now primarily an art gallery, was designed by Nan Lipsett and Karen Kornbaugh in the 1950s. Many of the home’s kiva fireplaces were created by famed builder Carmen Velarde. The Río Lucero runs through Lumina’s gardens, which center around a waterfall and pond fed by an artesian spring. There are more than 300 trees on the property, creating a calm, shaded backdrop for the tea house and sculpture garden.

“I have worked endlessly respecting Nan Lipsett’s vision for a beautiful space to show the best art in New Mexico,” said the current owner. “This garden belongs to Taos. It will always belong to every visitor, every artist and every child. It is meant to be shared and loved by all.”

The 2016 tour poster features Leigh Gusterson’s “Pollinators,” an original painting. Gusterson will be on-site painting in the garden at The Territorial. Other artists will be at work with easels in all of the venues.

Volunteers will be on hand at each location to assist with parking, and docents will be available to answer guests’ questions about the gardens, artwork and history of the homes.

Tickets may be picked up at a will-call table at the first venue, located at 214 Don Fernando (off Camino de la Placita, next to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church). The properties may be visited in any order. Tickets include a map/brochure with directions, suggestions and details. Parking is generally a short walk from the venues, with limited parking next to the homes for those with mobility challenges.