"My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece,"
declared Claude Monet.
And if you've ever had the pleasure of walking in Elspeth Grant Bobbs' magical Santa Fe garden - then you would declare it
her beautiful masterpiece. Abundance and beauty everywhere...
ROSES - over 100 varieties...
standing watch over an underground wine cellar.
planted in a lush quarter-acre, organic vegetable garden
next to her house...
AND A MINIATURE RAILROAD...
Replete with a charming bench and statuary...
This is Elspeth Bobbs LA QUERENCIA - a beautiful Spanish word that translates to "THE BELOVED".
Elspeth invited me into her meandering 4.3 acre garden and I admit - it was love at first sight - for the lyrical garden and the amazing ELSPETH BOBBS, who was named a Santa Fe Living Treasure in 1984.
At age 96 - she just celebrated her birthday - Elspeth may be slowing down physically, but mentally her whirling dervish of a mind is still conjuring up garden designs; and she takes daily walks, inspecting her roses.
Originally from England, she moved to San Francisco with her parents (Mother/British & Father/American) at the beginning of World War II. She had congenital deafness and her parents feared for her because she couldn't hear the air raid sirens.
She visited Santa Fe for the first time around 1943, and for several years would seesaw back and forth between New Mexico and her home in Carmel, California.
Eventually, she and her beloved husband, Howard Bobbs - an artist and builder - moved to Santa Fe and in 1967 they bought 4.3 acres of land consisting of dilapidated buildings, a corral for burros, an old orchard, and hoards of creeping/climbing, nasty bindweed - a gardener's worst nightmare. They turned their considerable talents to transforming the acreage into a lovely estate. After Howard passed away in 1984, Elspeth took to gardening and thirty-something years and fifty or so mini theme gardens later, she's still going at it.
A diminutive Fairy Village is tucked around a crab apple tree trunk, only visible if you know it's there because Elspeth trained the branches (with stone weights) to weep downwards, hiding this treasure ...
Each garden is delightful and holds charming surprises - there is a knot , Japanese, Medieval, rainbow bridge, funky shway, zodiac, railway garden...and so on. During a drought in 2001, Elspeth had the front yard dug up and with the help of Artist, Hillary Riggs, created both a labyrinth and fractal spiral with a poetry wall. No water needed, and these clever installations provide lessons in math, evolution and literature.
So many charming moments to capture in this lovely place...
And, lovely flowers...and vegetables...and a few questions for Elspeth...
A. My mother's garden in Wichambreux, England where I grew up. I must have been five or six...I remember I was often sent out to call her in for dinner as she was out digging weeds.
A. There is a very famous garden, not far from Stanford, well worth visiting called Fioli. But my favorite garden is Sissinghurst in England.
A. My mother. I don't know how she would have felt about it, but I think she would have been very grateful that I was so happy...
A. I like everything about the whole garden, very much my creation. But the roses, I see every day and think - Oh what lovely roses.
Thank you Connie Helms - Elspeth's assistant - for taking me on a stroll through the property and telling me all the
wonderful stories about the special gardens.