Behind adobe walls and coyote fences: touring Santa Fe homes and gardens

Santa Fe is a town where homes and gardens are often hidden behind adobe walls and coyote fences hiding them from the eyes of the casual passersby. I discovered in my real estate days that people love to see how others live. A small industry of home and garden tours has arisen in Santa Fe; many are fund raisers for worthy causes. All are popular and attract locals and visitors to peek beyond those walls and fences. Most of the tours are self guided with docents, designers or realtors at each home. Almost all of the tours have admission charges. Check the tours’ websites for dates, tickets and other information.

Here’s a chronological list of home and garden tours offered annually in The City Different.

The Art of Home Tour, begun in 2008, is part of ARTsmart’s popular ARTFeast, an annual event always held the last weekend of February. ARTsmart’s mission is to raise funds to support art programs in Santa Fe schools. The free home tour, held on Saturday and Sunday afternoon from 1 to 4pm, is underwritten and presented by Santa Fe Properties, a local real estate firm. The tour showcases an eclectic mix of homes on the market at the time. As the weekends theme is art, each Santa Fe Properties’ Realtor teams up with a local gallery who stages the home with their art. All the gallery art is for sale and a portion of any sales made during the home tour go to ARTsmart. Maps for the tour are available on ARTsmart’s website or at the Santa Fe Properties office at 1000 Paseo de Pera

Santa Fe garden tours

Art of Home Tour: The Pottery House, based on a design by Frank Lloyd Wright  photo/courtesy David Fries

Historic Santa Fe Foundation offers a Mother’s Day Historic House Tour on the 2nd Sunday in May, each year. The tour, which began in the 1960s, usually includes four historic homes that are privately owned or owned and maintained by the Foundation. The group’s mission is to “own, preserve and protect historic properties and resources of Santa Fe and its environs and to provide historic preservation education.” They own eight properties including El Zaguán on Canyon Road. This historic house, dating to 1850 is the site of both the Foundation’s offices and an artist in residence program they run. Many of their other properties have tenants, often artists who agree to open their homes for the annual tour (if the house is on it), The tours are held from 1 to 4 pm. There’s a nominal admission charge.

Santa Fe home tours

One of the homes on the 2011 Mother’s Day Historic House Tour, photo/Steve Collins

The Santa Fe Botanical Garden formed in 1987 didn’t have a garden; it had a dream to connect one. Now, twenty-five years later, that dream is about to come true on Museum Hill land they leased from the City of Santa Fe on. The Santa Fe Botanical Garden Tour began in 1996 as a fund raiser for the group. There are two different tours each year. The first one takes place the first Sunday afternoon in June and the other on the second Sunday. Both are from 1 to 4pm.  A highlight of the tour is the gourmet catered picnic lunch on the first Sunday. The event added in 2009 is held in a beautiful Santa Fe garden on the first Sunday is from 11:30am to 1pm. There is an admission charge for the tours and an additional fee for lunch. Early bird discounts are offered on tickets purchased before May 1st. You can purchase tickets in advance at Tickets Santa Fe online or via phone (505) 988-1234. You can also buy them at the first garden you tour on the day of the event. If you want your garden to be included on a tour, contact Santa Fe Botanical Garden. They are always looking for gardens to put on future tours. The group is a non-profit; proceeds from the tours and other events go to support their mission.

The group maintains two other properties that are open to the public, the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve and the Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve.

Santa Fe homes photo/courtesy Santa Fe Botanical Garden

Purple Clematis and day lilies, Santa Fe Botanical Garden tour, photo/courtesy Santa Fe Botanical Garden

Behind Adobe Walls, the oldest home and garden tour in town, has been delighting garden lovers since the late 1930s. The organized tour, presented by the Santa Fe Garden Club, is always on the last two Tuesdays in July. Each week there’s a different tour, each featuring  four homes and their gardens. Tour participants board a luxury coach for the over four hour tour (it runs from 12:30 to 4:45pm). A Garden Club member accompanies each group as the guide for the afternoon’s adventure. Proceeds from the tours go to local non-profit horticultural and conservation groups throughout New Mexico. Tour participants can opt to attend an optional prix fixed lunch prior to the tour. Reservations are highly recommended as space is limited and they sell out.

The Garden Club also offers Pequeno Tours by pre-arrangement to groups of up to 29 from mid-April to mid-October. Up to three homes are visited on the three to four hour tour. For information on either Behind Adobe Walls or the Pequeno Tours or for reservations contact Westwind Travel at 800-283-0122 or 505-984-0022 or e mail [email protected].

Santa Fe homes A garden from the Behind Adobe Walls tour  photo courtesy Santa Fe Garden Club

From the 2009 Behind Adobe Walls Tour, photo/courtesy Santa Fe Garden Club

Hacienda Parade of Homes was started in 1992 by the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association. Always held the weekend preceding and the weekend of Indian Market, the tour showcases work of association members offering a combination of new homes, fairly new homes and total home renovations. The tour will offer around 20 homes, some furnished, some not, scattered all over the area. Homes tend to be higher end, but they almost always have an entry from Homewise, a non-profit builder specializing in affordable homes.

Ticket holders get a map of homes on the tour and tickets are good throughout the entire event. Participants can take their time and tour at their convenience. On the Thursday before Indian Market, there’s a free Twilight Tour of selected homes from 4 to 9pm.

The tour is open Friday through Sunday from 11am to 6pm on both weekends. If you want to see what homes are on the tour, Hacienda Magazine the tours publication is available around town in late July. A flip version can be found on their website. You can get a copy mailed by calling 505-982-1774. There is an admission charge. Tickets can be bought at any of the homes on the tour, or in advance at the Lensic Performing Arts Center or at Tickets Santa Fe online or at (505) 988-1234. Tickets are good for both weekends.

Santa Fe homes Hacienda Toru photo/ Katie Johnson, courtesy SF Home Builders Association

A stunning kitchen from the Hacienda tour, photo/Katie Johnson, courtesy SF Home Builders Association

The Design Santa Fe Home and Garden Tour began in 2006 as a part of the city-sponsored Santa Fe Design Week. After the city withdrew sponsorship, a group of local interior designers banded together to create Design Santa Fe. The home and garden tour is one of Design Santa Fe’s event’s most popular events. The homes chosen for the tour are selected from projects submitted for consideration by local interior designers. A committee visits each entry and evaluates the homes to make sure they meet the  standards set for the tour. Although architects are encouraged to submit entries, the ultimate criteria for homes chosen are their interior décor and not the architecture. Tour attendees can meet the designers, get ideas and discuss prospective projects with them. Design Santa Fe is a non-profit group. Proceeds from ticket sales go to fund one local and one international charity each year.

Santa Fe home tours

From the Design Santa Fe Home Tour, photo/Steve Collins

What is your favorite Santa Fe homes or garden tour?

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10 Responses to “Behind adobe walls and coyote fences: touring Santa Fe homes and gardens”

  1. Traveling Ted
    May 11, 2012 at 4:20 am #

    What a gorgeous home.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..An osprey surveys the inhospitable Pitch Lake in TrinidadMy Profile

  2. Karen
    May 11, 2012 at 5:50 am #

    There are some truly gorgeous homes and gardens in Santa Fe! And even more opportunities to peek at gardens: Canyon Road’s historic El Zaguán and even the demonstration gardens at some of the local plant nurseries are mighty fine!

    I can’t wait for the new botanic garden out at Museum Hill–construction begins next month. Hard hat tours: http://www.santafebotanicalgarden.org/visit-us/museum-hill-garden/

    • Billie Frank
      May 11, 2012 at 6:47 am #

      People who buy tickets to the Botanic Garden tour this year ($35- with two-tour discount available) have the option for a guided tour of the Museum Hill site. We were there when they broke ground for the historic bridge they got from Las Vegas and Steve went back and got a few photos after it was in.

  3. Charles Higgins
    May 13, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    What a neat collection of homes / photos..well done..

    Cheers..

  4. Jeff Titelius
    May 14, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    Wow…what a great post and I love the Pottery House!! Extraordinary!!! Great pics Steve!!!
    Jeff Titelius recently posted..Guided Canal Boat Tour Through the Historic City of AmsterdamMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      May 15, 2012 at 6:31 am #

      Thanks, Jeff. All the tours yield great treasures- homes and gardens that normally are unavailable to the public. The Pottery House was definitely a star. While, as it was built after Wright’s death and the plans had to be adapted and it cannot be credited as being designed by him, you see his vision and signature touches throughout the house. We’re so glad we were able to see it.

  5. Christine
    May 15, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

    Oh my gosh. I clicked on the Home button. WOW!! I have a book called Behind Adobe Walls. Oh I would travel back to NM in a heart beat just to take this tour!!!! I still have time. I should start looking at my options to getting over there.

    Thanks again. I love looking at your site on my lunch hour and after work. (no internet at home)

    Christine
    Tucson, AZ

    • Billie Frank
      May 15, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

      Hold on to that book! It’s out of print. Come visit! Thanks for being a loyal Santa Fe Travelers’ fan. Hope you subscribe.

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