Saturday, July 15, 2023, Members’ Tour of Native Plants Garden Area of The Rio Grande Nature Center State Park
A small group of our members were welcomed and given an in-depth tour of the area, maintained by volunteers, who are preserving several acres of native plant species. Much to our surprise, the three docents unlocked gates to an area not open to the general public, where we got to enjoy a wonderful, spring fed pond with fish and turtles. It turned into a delightful morning spent at this State Park in the middle of Albuquerque.
Saturday, June 3, 2023, Members’ Tour of Two Private Residential Gardens
Ann Harris Davidson gave us an in depth tour of the patios around her home and her xerically maintained acre of land in Four Hills Village. Her property is certified as both a National Wildlife Federation Habitat and an ABQ “Core Habitat” Backyard Refuge. Glenda Lorenz gave us our second tour that morning of her Four Hills garden, which is a hilly, treed half acre lot on which she and her husband Art have created multiple raised beds for flowers and small shrubs. Much effort is put into preventing their flowering garden from becoming a salad bar for hungry deer.
Saturday, March 11, 2023
The Xeric Garden Club hosted Max Bervig who spoke about Building Soil for Vegetable, Flower and Herb Production, including drought tolerant vegetable gardening, soil building and plant propagation. Max Bervig is the farm manager at
Saturday, July 9, 2022, Sunel Vanderwalt gave us a wonderful tour of her garden in Placitas.
Sunel has a certified wildlife habitat garden full of native and well adapted drought tolerant plants including a few from her
and her husband’s native country of South Africa. She also shared with us that during the pandemic they learned about and implemented concepts like imprinting, sheet flow spreader, how to build a one-rock dam and Zuni bowls to prevent erosion
on specific areas of the site. In addition to members enjoying a lovely garden, it was a very informative tour.
February 2022, Xeric's Certified Wildlife Habitat Garden:
The Xeric Garden Club’s demonstration wildlife habitat garden has undergone some major changes. The fencing has been realigned for security reasons for the entire Garden Center demonstration gardens, which dramatically changed the look of Xeric’s area. The xeric garden area that had been outside the fencing is now all within the perimeter fence. This fencing realignment was paid for by the Xeric Garden Club for the benefit of all member of the Garden Council.
A tree that had been outside the fencing is now inside of it. But unfortunately the tree was dying and needed to be cut down. But instead of cutting it down to the ground, a large portion of the trunk has been kept. Our Xeric group decided to have master chain saw tree artist Mark Chavez carve the trunk into a delightful tableau for visitors to the demonstration garden to enjoy. Our Xeric group is working on placing pavers around the tree so that visitors can walk all the way around the carved tree without damaging plantings and still enjoy viewing the work from 360 degrees.
Saturday, July 24, 2021, Santa Fe Botanical Garden Tour:
Our members enjoyed a beautiful morning at the Santa Fe Botanical gardens. The docent gave an excellent tour which included the new 3rd phase called the Piñon-Juniper Woodland area. After the tour the group had a delicious, relaxing lunch at the Museum Hill Cafe across the street from the Botanical Gardens. Everyone was so pleased to be able to partake in a wonderful garden tour this summer and eat lunch together afterwards!
Saturday, May 8, 2021, A Tour of Three Town-home Gardens:
Our Xeric group toured the gardens of Betsy Shaw, Barbara Shapiro and Frances Robertson. These three townhouse gardens are on the small side. However each is beautifully designed and maintained, giving our members wonderful, varied examples of what three enthusiastic Master Gardeners can do with lots of imagination and plantings that thrive in Albuquerque.
Saturday, July 11, 2020: Coordinated by Sandy Liakus, two groups of 5 members toured Oddie Brown’s Placitas garden separately for social distancing due to Covid-19 while everyone wore masks. Oddie shared principles of Zen gardening and was taught landscape design and maintenance by Yashiro Yamada, who was his football coach. Oddie’s rich life experiences greatly influence his interactions with nature, gardens and people. It was a beautiful day in Placitas and we thank Oddie for sharing his garden with our Xeric members during this challenging time.
Saturday, February 8, 2020: Dara Seville, Old World Medicinal Plants for Albuquerque Gardens.
Dara's presentation focused on healing herbs from the Old World including some of the most famous apothecary remedies.
She discussed growing conditions, harvesting, and medicinal uses. Dara is affiliated with Albuquerque Herbalism and
Yerba Mansa Project. She has a Masters Degree in Landscape Geography and Ecology Resource Management and has
also done fieldwork with the National Park Service.
Saturday, October 19, 2019:
Members toured the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve at La Cienega, a 35-acre nature preserve south of Santa Fe.
This rare natural cienega, or marsh in Spanish, hosts a bountiful diversity of plants and wildlife. The Preserve contains
three distinct plant communities or zones. They are: riparian/wetland, transitional, and dry uplands. After our docent led tour,
our group had lunch at the beautiful Blue Heron restaurant on the grounds of Sunrise Springs Resort. It was a fabulous
outing on a beautiful October day in NM.
Saturday, June 22, 2019: Tour of Wes Brittenham’s Garden
Wes Brittenham is Farm & Landscape Manager at Los Poblanos and before that a long time manager of Plants of the
Southwest. His garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat with pathways laid out years ago by dogs no longer with his family.
It features many native species as well as adaptive ones.
Saturday, September 8, 2018: Tour of Lu Lu Sage’s Garden
Lu Lu Sage’s eclectic xeric habitat where whimsical garden art and serious beekeeping cohabitate. The placement of
old metal bedframes and unused chairs provide trellises for plantings and her multiple bee houses provide nesting sites
for both honey and native bees amongst a very beautiful assortment of pollinator plants.
Saturday May 12, 2018: Docent Tour of the Eldorado Cactus Garden
A very small group of Xeric members got a fabulous tour of the wonderful demonstration garden in Eldorado. This jammed packed garden of cold hardy cacti was created to save the endangered Santa Fe cholla and is now maintained by a dedicated volunteer group of residents. It’s open and free to the public and is a highly drought tolerant garden for our high elevation, Southwest desert climate. Best times to visit are mid May to mid June when many of the plants are in full bloom.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
Aaron Lamb, manager of Santa Ana Garden Center presented Gardening, A Unique Art Form, gardening with low water, xeric native plants that do well in Albuquerque and are available at local garden centers and nurseries. He talked about groundcovers, low growers, medium and large perennials, trees, shrubs as well as cactus, agaves and yuccas; their characteristics, seasons of interest, bird, wildlife and pollinator habitat.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Debi Harrington and Betty Heisler instructed club members at a delightful Harvest Workshop; How to Make Chili Ristras
at the Albuquerque Garden Center.
Saturday, September 9, 2017
Club members toured Los Poblanos in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. We had two docents, Charles Marten who spoke
to us about the organic farm and the lavender fields and Kevin Shanks who took us through the lush gardens surrounding
the historic John Gaw Meem buildings. We also got to tour inside and view some of the beautiful interiors.
They gave us excellent information about the history of the property.
July 31 - August 4, 2017: Garden Guardians Summer Day Camp
The Xeric Garden Club’s education committee, chair Sally Vance and member Kathy Burnett organized the first annual
Garden Guardians Summer Day Camp for grades 1 through 6. Activities explored how to be a responsible guardian of the environment and was held at the Albuquerque Garden Center. The hard work of the team paid off with the children having
a wonderful week of activities and presentations.
June 10, 2017: West Side Garden Tour.
Club members toured fellow member gardens of Mary Filosi, Dennis/Janet Tani, and Joe Vanderburg/Beth Herschman
followed by a pleasant, wonderful and delicious pot luck lunch.
September 1, 2016: Albuquerque Garden Center Event.
August 20, Presentation; September 12, 2016, Guided Tour: Medicinal Herbs in the Garden.
Mary Deaguero spoke about medicinal plants and identified herbs that are xeric and beneficial to both humans and animals,
and grow well in Albuquerque.
July 16, 2016: Santa Fe Botanical Garden Tour.
The Xeric Garden Club toured the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens. We were welcomed to the gardens by their CEO Clayton Bass. Our terrific docent was Barb Goede who gave a wonderful tour and along with excellent information about the gardens, she spoke about the sculptures by Bill Barrett strategically placed throughout the grounds. Titled Visual Poetry his work here is his first major exhibition in a botanical setting. We then walked up to the Plaza and were seated at one large table for a delicious lunch at the Museum Hill Cafe.
The 2016 Education Committee:
The Xeric Garden Club of Albuquerque is dedicated to educating and providing information in xeric landscaping to children
and adults, to promote the conservation and effective use of water through xeric methods in a sharing friendly atmosphere.
This year the education committee has joined with the beekeepers of Albuquerque headed by Anita Amstutz working to have
our city declared a Bee City USA. The City Council voted on August 15th 2016 making all the hard work come to fruition.
Prior to that vote, our early August meeting was held at the Kiwanis Learning Garden at the New Mexico Museum of
Natural History and Science hosted by Cirrelda Snider-Bryan.
June 8, 2016: Elspeth Bobbs Garden Tour, Santa Fe.
On a beautiful Wednesday morning we had the privilege of touring Elspeth Bobbs four acres of gardens located off of
Canyon Road in Santa Fe. Our docent Connie Helms guided us through amazing garden “rooms” starting with the vegetable garden and ending with the newest addition adjacent to the art gallery facing Canyon Road.
March 19, 2016: Master composter John Zarola, Best Practices for Composting in Albuquerque.
His presentation about composting basics included the science, art, materials, methods and benefits of home composting.
February 20, 2016: Just Sprinklers presented The Mysteries of Irrigation Revealed.
January 16, 2016: Wes Brittenham, manager of Plants of the Southwest, presented
Designing Your Garden for Beauty and Wildlife.
“A lifetime of observing nature as a whole has given me insight on a holistic approach to landscape design and management. Habitat is a natural extension of any garden, whether intended or not. When designed with habitat in mind, you increase the beauty, diversity, and natural health of your garden or landscape”.
May 4, 2015: Curandera and Our Xeric Garden.
Dianne Rand, curandera gave a guided tour of the certified Wildlife Habitat Garden “Curandera and Our Xeric Garden”, emphasizing Southwest and Mexican folk healing and the plants used by the curanderos. Curanderos (literally translated as “healer” from Spanish) are respected members of the community where they have been practicing for the last 300-plus
years in New Mexico.
April 18, 2015: Tour of Parker Farm & Greenhouse.
Monika Parker, whose family owns the nursery and is a Xeric Garden Club member, gave us a tour of her numerous gardens;
front of house, allay, formal, evergreen, xeric, vegetable and fruit, and corral garden. The grounds also has an old windmill, large pond and a lovely certified wildlife habitat.
March 27, 2015: Xeric Habitat Garden Clean Up.
March 21, 2015: Presentation and Book Signing.
George Miller, “Landscaping with Plants Adapted to Three Eco Regions of Albuquerque”. George is a native plant
botanist, photographer and author. Interest in native-plant landscaping, or desert landscaping, and xeriscaping is growing,
as people look for water-saving and environmentally conscious ways to recreate the beauty of the Southwest in their
yards and gardens. Landscaping with Native Plants of the Southwest is considered an indispensable book on the subject.
February 21, 2015: Joran Viers, the city of Albuquerque’s urban forester, presented“The Plight of Urban Trees” at
Open Space Visitor Center. Joran has great concern for the way improper xeriscaping and other landscaping mistakes
have destroyed trees all over the city.
October 18, 2014: Master Gardener Margo Murdock presented “An Intellectual Approach to Lazy Gardening: Permaculture”. Margo is a past president of the Council that owns the Center and is currently the co-chair of the Garden Shop. She has been active in the Day Lily Society and helped install the Society’s garden on the Center’s grounds. She is past coordinator of the Albuquerque Area Master Gardeners, a member of the Native Plant Society, and a good friend of the Xeric Garden Club.
September 20, 2014: Santa Fe Tour.
1st Stop: Nate Downey’s permaculture garden.
Nate founded Santa Fe Permaculture in 1992. He showed us his gray water, cistern, and passive water-harvesting systems;
a complex pump system and a simple hand pump system; various mulches and succession plantings; integrated kids’ areas; bunny hutches; a chicken coop; compost piles; a fake lawn; and lots of edibles – in raised beds and sunken beds, annuals
2nd Stop: Randall Davey Audubon Center.
Randall Davey was an important part of the Santa Fe Art Colony, a skilled painter, print maker and sculptor. Docent
Joy Mandelbaum led our tour of the grounds surrounding Randall Davey’s house, a converted 1847 mill. Over the years the Master Gardeners have installed a native plant bed, a cactus garden, a pollinator garden, a wildlife garden and a meadow.
3rd Stop: Museum Hill Café and Botanical Garden at Museum Hill
At the Museum Hill Café, the members enjoyed delightful camaraderie and great tasting food.
The Botanical Garden is on 14 acres. A garden docent lead us through the Orchard Gardens, opened in July 2013, with a dry garden area, perennial borders, a section of fruit trees, a meadow garden, a shrub rose and lavender walk, and several ramadas.
June 21, 2014: Don and Pamela Michaelis’ garden.
On the first day of summer, members of the XGC were given a tour by Don and Pamela Michaelis of their beautifully
designed and maintained gardens. The front had a variety of xeric plants and there are raised garden beds in the back
with vegetable and flowers along with extraordinary sculptural art pieces throughout these landscaped spaces.
April 5, 2014: A tour of Suzy Andrego’s Spring bulb garden.
Suzy explained to the Xeric Garden Club members how to create a colorful early to late Spring bulb garden.
January 18, 2014: Hunter Ten Broeck of Waterwise Landscaping of New Mexico presented “Designing with Xeric Plants”.
Ten Broeck specializes in using native New Mexican and other high desert, drought tolerant plants, implementing water conservation techniques, texture, color and grading to create functional and aesthetically pleasing environments.
His presentation focused on xeric plants and the why and how to use them in your Albuquerque garden.
October 16, 2013: Open Garden New Members Gathering at the Home and Garden of Dianne Rand.
My garden started with bluegrass lawns, front and back in 1996. Half of the front was converted into a xeriscape area in 1998,
and the other half was replaced by a habitat area of xeric and native plants in 2010.
Over the past 15 years, the back yard has evolved into a small circle of lawn in the center with deep garden beds of xeric plants, herbs and native plants all around the edges, along with 2 mulberry trees, an Austrian pine and an apple tree. Lots of soil amendments and compost were added to the high alkaline soil. I have repeated plants that are happy here and let go of many who weren’t.
There is a 12 x 40 foot deck off the back of the house, where there are daily showings of lizards, hummingbirds, downy woodpeckers, finches, robins and other birds, as well as bees, butterflies and other insects. There are two other seating areas in the garden and paths that lead to them. I haven’t used pesticides and everything seems to take care of itself with a nice balance.
A special fairy garden was created as a resting place for fairies who worked hard all day to appreciate a beautiful quiet sanctuary at night. Next to the fairy garden is the gardener’s play house, an 8 x 12 foot cottage for naps, tea and meditation.
I spend hours in these gardens. They not only serve pollinators and wildlife, they feed my soul and make me very happy.
I am delighted when I can share these gardens with others. It is a joy to witness the retreat and renewal they offer, just by
being in the sacred space... and yes, it is true, gardening and being in nature is cheaper and more effective than therapy and without the side effects of drugs.
September 21, 2013: Visit to the High Desert community.
Presentation by Nancy Lindas
The High Desert Homeowners Association maintains 70 acres of irrigated landscape and portions of the 240 acres of open space within the 1067-acre community with over 2730 private residences.
The community honors low-impact design practices of water conservation, wildlife habitat restoration, material recycling and cultural endowment. This project changed water-conservation and landscape planting ordinances at city and state levels.
The landscape design produces an aesthetically pleasing landscape and streetscape, minimizes water use for irrigation, increases the habitat available to wildlife, and produces less pollen. The arroyos remain in their natural state to increase the wildlife habitat.
The Demo Garden – a 3/4 acre site created to highlight low-water use and permitted plants for homeowners. The garden is maintained by volunteers.
Lauda Miles Medara Memorial Park – nine acres of Open Space, with a storm water collection pond, artwork to describe the natural forces which created the High Desert landscape, and has 2 wildlife drinkers.
Water Kiva and Water Harvesting Garden – designed by Judith Phillips. The large grama grass sculpture overflow drains to city storm drains.
Michial M. Emery Bear Canyon Trailhead – Emery was an engineer who was largely responsible for the innovative way the arroyo system throughout High Desert was handled. As a result, many acres of land were left for native plants and animals to coexist within the community.
Presentation by Marcy Stahly
Marcy is a member of the High Desert community landscape committee, overseeing the 240 acres of open space and the 70 acres of irrigated landscaping. The committee is working on hiring a landscape architectural firm to create a new master plan.
This master plan will encompass all the entrances, streetscapes, medians, arroyos, sculpture gardens as well as open spaces.
It was noted that the original development plan mandated trees be transplanted rather then be cut down for the construction of homes. Unfortunately a number of these trees are not thriving and some are at risk of dying or already have died. Also with the original master plan, different developers of separate “villages” didn't always follow the guidelines.
However the High Desert Homeowners Association is working hard at keeping High Desert as a prime example of ecological development.
June 8, 2013: Visit to the Albuquerque Botanic Japanese Garden.
By Carolyn Lindberg
The tour of the Japanese Garden at the Rio Grande Botanic Garden was led by garden docent Deb Firstenburg. Club members were interested both in the symbolic significance of many garden features and particularly in many design ideas that could be incorporated into our own gardens. We found many ideas: the way plants were sited (often in patterns – irregular triangles of three or s-shaped configurations of five); the use of native materials; the emphasis on blending in with the garden’s environment; the planting in tiers (groundcovers, mid-level shrubs; and heights defined by trees); the layout of paths; and the placement of rocks. We also heard anecdotes about the installation of the garden, such as the time the master gardener – who came from Japan to oversee the process – determined that an existing Chinese pistache was oriented in the wrong direction and insisted the plant be dug up and turned 180 degrees. The tree went on to thrive in its new position. We learned a little about the history of gardens in Japan, particularly the evolution from an earlier “imperial” hill-and-pond style, meant for viewing by courtiers, to the shogunate style, which featured walk-through gardens meant for contemplation. We also discussed the nitty-gritty of plant selection both for cultural significance and for year-round beauty and interest.
By Dianne Rand
The Sasebo Japanese Garden in the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden is a blend of traditional Japanese garden elements with plants that are adapted for the desert. A few examples of desert/native plants that were used are Serviceberry, Big Toothed Maple, River Birch, Pinon Pine, Mexican Orange, Crape Myrtle, New Mexico Privet, Day Lilies, Weigelia and Bearberry.
These trees, shrubs and ground covers coupled with streams, large rocks and lanterns give the illusion of a traditional Japanese Garden. Longevity is the symbol for everything in Japan, seen in the garden through rocks, fish, turtle and trees sculpted to appear older. There is counter balance of hard and soft elements with: planting in irregular triangles of three, sweeping curves, and using what is indigenous to the area. Limestone, sandstone and granite boulders are mixed with benches carved from local cottonwood trees. “Still water” brings clarity of consciousness, where as “moving water” is harmonizing to visitors. A large koi pond is shaped like a heart. “A slowing garden” is exactly that, a winding path that encourages visitors to “slow down”. There is a balance of ephemeral and renewable, deciduous and evergreen, and male and female. A 13 level tower sits above the waterfall connecting heaven and earth. There are no signs, giving the illusion of being in nature, rather than a public garden. The design follows the principal of “less is more”. Japanese gardens are a place of Serenity; they are so restorative to human beings. Every element of the design is done with “Intention” to feed our soul and restore all of our senses.
June 3, 2013: Wildlife Habitat Garden Tour by Dianne Rand.
On Monday, June 3rd the Habitat Garden had its first docent tour open to the public. Leading the tour were Virginia Burris, designer of the Habitat Garden, and Dianne Rand, both members of the Xeric Garden Club. Virginia and Dianne welcomed twenty enthusiastic guests, all with avid interest about this project. The guests all seemed eager to learn about the purpose of a habitat garden, and some were looking for help in designing this type of garden in their own back yard. There were questions about native plants, how to plant them, how much water they required, and where to buy them.
The tour included pointing out the four requirements for this type of garden: food, shelter, water and a place to raise young.
Our garden also uses native plants to attract and increase the population of pollinators and other wildlife. While viewing the
lizard hills, we explained the importance of rock mulch or crusher fine around the hills for sure footing as they make their escape from the roadrunner, which did in fact visited the garden while we were there.
Our guests learned about the principles of creating a fly way, like a special airport runway for the delicate wings of the butterflies, using the prevailing wind patterns to help them in their landings. We also shared the principles of transition zone planting, from trees to shrubs to meadow, to allow birds and butterflies to pollinate, feed or drink from the three simple water sources that were provided. Birds use these stair steps to watch for predators. The dry stream bed also serves as a source of passive water harvesting.
Fall cleanup is quite different when using the habitat style of landscaping. Our guests learned the importance of leaving the plant material in place over the winter, as shelter and to increase beneficial insects and life in the soil. We talked about when
and how much to clean up in the garden. February/March is a good time to do this activity.
So many positive comments were heard from the guests on this tour:
“I learned so much.” “This was really inspiring.” “Where can we find more information?”
March 16, 2013: My Latest Adventure in Landscaping by Beth Herschman.
Backyard – center before: The entire yard was a mass of weeds and gravel. Color and mass was my main design objective.
I was also inspired by a friend to plant as many trees as possible in this space. In all, 11 new trees were added to the one tree that existed.
Backyard – center after: As planting trees was my highest priority, two afghan pines went into the upper level – one can be seen on the far right, immediately. In front of it, a New Mexico olive is in the center of the lower space and is flanked on the right by goldenrod. A Yucca elata is planted behind it. To the left and on the upper level, the “plant that ate the world” that is spilling over the edge and into the pots below is a desert four-o’clock. This plant far exceeded it’s planned space – I gave it three feet, but it took 5 to 6 feet. There are two prickly pears in this area – the giant, Opuntia engelmannii, and a smaller, spine-less (but with fearsome glockets) prickly pear that blooms pink. There is also an awesome native evening primrose that became quite large due to a fair amount of water being spread nearby, to water some other xeric plants and the iris bed which is in front of the area, but not shown.
Backyard – left after:
We extended the bed against the wall, added a pathway from the patio to the back gate, planted trees and perennials.
The blank area next to the house became a really exciting garden: We planted shrubs and succulents, and infilled with pots
of annuals and roses.
By 2013, the tree, shrubs and perennials had mostly taken over and filled in the area between the patio and the pathway.
In the picture are an Arizona Rosewood tree, underplanted with angelita daisies and chocolate flower. The front pot contains
a white rose, back pot has coreopsis and cannas and between the pots on the left is a turpentine bush. Up against the house on the right is a Lavender grosso, fronted by a Yucca baccata. Also in this bed, not in the picture are Parry’s agave, germander, Rocky Mountain penstemon, and thyme.