Southwest trip day 8: Santa Fe, NM

Today we spent the entire day in Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico. My wife and I had visited Santa Fe 19 years ago and had very fond memories. The historic center is still the same; Santa Fe clearly has very stringent planning requirements because new buildings harmoniously fit in with the old. It is one of the best loved destinations in the Southwest, attracting millions of tourists (most of them seemed to be there today). The best way to explore the history downtown is on foot, and that’s exactly what we did.

But before we went downtown we stopped at Stone Forest, one of the premier manufacturers of natural stone garden décor (they also make stone kitchen and bathroom sinks and bathtubs). We have one of their granite lanterns and I’ve long been wanting to see more of their products. Fortunately, their showroom was right on our way so we didn’t have to go out of our way to find them.


8 ft. pagoda lantern ($2250 on their web site) and water basins

Looking at Stone Forest’s catalogs can give you sticker shock, but nothing hand-made of natural stone is cheap. But browsing (and drooling) is free, so I took my time walking through their demonstration garden. I didn’t meet a single soul, just a friendly black cat.


Various basins and sculptural barriers
8 ft. Katsuga lantern


Massive boulder fountain


Granite and basalt fountains


Wabi lantern and stone warrior

From Stone Forest it was only a 10-minute drive to St Francis Cathedral where we parked. I was glad to leave the car behind and set out on foot. Much less stressful and good exercise, too.

Here are some of the photos I took. Instead of adding lengthy explanations, I’ll provide captions and you can get more information from Google if you’re interested.


New Mexico Museum of Art


New Mexico Museum of Art


New Mexico Museum of Art


New Mexico Museum of Art


Worrell Gallery


Sena Plaza


City Hall


City Hall


City Hall


Typical street near the Plaza


Metal sculpture seen outside a gallery


Hotel La Fonda


Hotel La Fonda


First Presbyterian Church


Inn and Spa at Loretto


St Francis Cathedral


Inside St Francis Cathedral

Our next stop was pure self-indulgence for yours truly. Like so many U.S. plant lovers, I’ve been receiving the High Country Gardens catalog for many years. Santa Fe Greenhouses is their retail operating in Santa Fe (they also have a retail nursery in Albuquerque under the High Country Gardens label) and from their Facebook page I knew that they were having a big sale: 40-60% off on everything. This is billed as a “vacation sale;” the Santa Fe location is closing on August 26 and is supposed to reopen in March of 2012.


Santa Fe Greenhouses


Garden Center

The biggest attraction for me was the succulent greenhouse. The prices were great (significantly lower than on the High Country Gardens web site) and I was hoping to score a few good plants. Unfortunately, the selection was fairly small—they must have sold a lot of succulents already. But I still scored three agaves I didn’t have: Agave utahensis var. utahensis, Agave havardiana and Agave parry var. neomexicana. All are very cold hardy, not that it matters much in our climate.






Agave parry var. neomexicana


Agave utahensis var. utahensis


Eight of their greenhouses


Cold hardy cacti.
I was very happy to find a rare claret cup variety native to White Sands (Echinocereus triglochidiatus ‘White Sands’). It grows much taller than the species and is still super hardy.

Santa Fe Greenhouses also has a xeric display garden. I quickly walked through it but didn’t take many photos because the light was very harsh. Very few plants were labeled, and in general the garden looked like it needed some TLC.


Xeric display garden


Xeric display garden

As if that wasn’t enough, we made one more stop before heading back to our hotel in Espanola. In the New Mexico Handbook I’d read about a multi-acre store called Jackalope that sells everything from garden décor to folk art to pottery to jewelry. It turned out that it was right around the corner from Santa Fe Greenhouses.


Jackalope on Cerillos Road in Santa Fe

And Jackalope had even more things than I had expected, like these massive boulders.


Huge boulders with veins of a deep blue mineral

The veins of deep blue and turquoise minerals were truly stunning. I’ve never seen anything like it in our rock yards.


Here the veins were mostly turquoise—maybe it even is turquoise! There were no prices so I couldn’t tell you how much they were selling for.

I could post photos of dozens of items that caught my eye, but here are just a few.


I’ve always dreamed of having an antique hand-carved Mexican door. This one could have been mine for $3,000. The chair to the right of it was at least 8 ft. tall.


More wooden panels I wouldn’t mind having


Kiva ladders


Metal musicians. I’m partial to folk art like that but they weren’t cheap either—over $300 a piece—and most definitely wouldn’t have fit in our sedan!


In between the various buildings (I lost track of how many there were) was a huge selection of pottery

As you can see, today was a very eventful day and I’m dog tired. Tomorrow it’s off to Taos.


  1. Jackalope even has belly dancing on Saturday followed by the music on Sunday. Love the kival ladders. Bill

  2. I continue to enjoy your tour Gerhard keep 'em coming! So many gorgeous places to see, but must say the building of New Mexico Muesum of Art too my breath away, gorgeous and charming!

    1. The New Mexico Museum of Art was my favorite building in Santa Fe. We didn't go inside (not enough time) but the outside is stunning. This style of architecture is so organic, as if it's an extension of the earth itself.

  3. Wonderful vacation, thanks so much for sharing it!

  4. This truly is wonderful, I'm getting my SW fix without having to pack! Let's see this brings your plant count to what, 6? How much more room do you have?

  5. Lots of crazy cool stuff! Not sure how I feel about the boulders veined blue. I don't think they'd work in every garden, and that's rare to be said about a boulder, at least by me. Perhaps in person they're more impressive...

    Fun vacation!


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