AZ Gardening

Back in my own little garden I have been working steadily to prepare for the intense heat of summer.  One lucky bit of gardening is sharing geraniums with my friend Josephine.  She and husband Steve have a wonderful mountain retreat north of Happy Jack, AZ.  This is the second year that I have loaded up a truck full of my favorite peppermint twist geraniums and moved them up to her high altitude garden.  Fortunately deer aren’t particularly fond of this plant and Josephine enjoys my geraniums for several months.  The plants appreciate the cooler temperatures.  In October I bring them back to the low desert for another growing season. This trip, after we delivered the plants we continued on to Winslow to spend a night at the La Posada resort and gardens.

 

“Mary Coulter was hired by the Fred Harvey Company in 1903 to design fine hotels, restaurants, and gift shops along the Santa Fe Railway.  She became America’s most influential woman designers.  . . . This was her favorite project, the only time she was allowed to design everything from the buildings to the gardens.” (laposada.org) Her design was to create an oasis in the high plateau  of AZ to greet the guests arriving  by the Santa Fe railroad.  LaPosada opened in 1930 and the full extent of her garden plans never materialized.

Since 1997 Allan Affeldt has been working to restore the original vision of Mary Coulter in the hotel and gardens.  The hotel is magnificent.  The gardens which were never completed in the 1930’s are now  surrounding the hotel and enhancing the hacienda architecture .  A cooling grove of old cottonwood trees to the west of the building is a perfect place to sit and watch the trains rolling by.  A croquet lawn is at the ready for anyone who remembers the charm and the strategy of the game. A rose garden and fruit tree orchard were placed in the back of the hotel to provide guests with a relaxing place to experience both flowers and fragrance.

The sunken garden is the jewel of all the  gardens.  Protected from the drying hot wind by walls on all sides. A hollowed out log of petrified wood  creates a fountain which spills on into the garden.  A lush patch of lawn is surrounded by a 3 tiered garden with perennials, annuals and roses.  Hollyhocks and yarrow were in bloom during our visit. A bright green cottonwood rises above the wall at the end of the garden. In the morning coffee and a newspaper is a perfect way to enjoy the the morning.

Beautiful iron garden gates designed and built by John Suttman illustrate how the essentials of a garden may serve as works of art to be enjoyed everyday.

Alan Affeldt, his wife, artist Tina Mion, & Daniel Lutzick have been working continually to restore and preserve a rare architectural treasure since 1997.  The hotel, the Turquoise Room Restaurant  and the gardens are an incredible gem combining the best of the Southwest, innovative architecture, and total dedication to preserving this piece of history.

 

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