A   S A N T A   F E   L E G E N D

1920 - 2019

"My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece,"declared Claude Monet

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...

 It was my great pleasure, a few years ago, to meet Elspeth and photograph her amazing garden. And it is with great sadness that we bid this extraordinary garden visionary farewell.


ROSES  over 100 varieties...








 standing watch over an underground wine cellar.


planted in a lush quarter-acre, organic vegetable garden
next to her house...


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, a 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...

 Q.  What is your first memory of a garden?

 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.

Q. Besides your own, what is your favorite garden?

A. There is a very famous garden, not far from Stanford, well worth visiting called Fioli. But my favorite garden  is Sissinghurst Castle Garden in England.

Q. If you could share your garden with anyone in the world, who would that be?

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...

Q. What is your favorite spot in the garden?

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.

Q. What is the most important element in creating a lovely garden?

A. Dream


  1. I enjoyed seeing her garden the first time you wrote about it. And her. I'm so sorry to hear that she has moved on to God's Garden. What will happen to her place now?

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