PO Box 2458, Tijeras NM 87059

Mountain Gardens--finding success with plants for the high desert and East Mountains of New Mexico

General Information

Every locale has its own unique growing conditions, and New Mexico is no exception. The southern part of the state has near sub-tropical temperatures; Albuquerque is mild enough to grow tender perennials like bougainvillea and Mediterranean natives like rosemary and lavender; Santa Fe, Taos and the mountain regions are colder with conditions similar to Colorado; all areas experience wide swings in day/night temperatures; 40° swings are common, but 70° happens too.
It would be difficult to stand anywhere in the state and not be in sight of a mountain range. From the farm, we get views (ok, not sweeping—you have to be standing in just the right spot...) of the Manzanos, the Sandias, the Sangre de Cristos, and South Mountain. We serve customers in four zones (see American Horticultural Society Heat Zone , and USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map).
Weather, micro-climate, soil, sun, water

Newcomers tend to see water as the most crucial factor in the success of their gardens, and it is important in this high desert environment, but neglect of other factors can doom a planting. Mulch, shade, and consideration of site may be the three elements that really spell success.
At our altitude, we don’t have as much atmospheric blanketing as the lowlands. Mulch helps shield delicate surface roots. It adds organic material to our alkaline, high pH soils. It holds moisture and cools the soil (cold soil in the spring can be warmed by pulling away mulch and/or using plastic). It keeps soil from being blown away in our often windy weather.
Having protection from sun and wind will save the lives of many plants, even ones that supposedly like full sun. Consider planting a canopy before you do any other landscaping. The shifting, dappled shade created by small leaved trees like honey locust is perfect over perennial beds. Pines offer good wind protection.

Gardeners can create microclimates that effectively move them into a different zone. House and garden walls, hedges, trees, and boulders can all act as wind barriers and heat sinks. Plants that otherwise would not survive can flourish in these microclimates. Choose plants carefully giving due consideration to your needs and abilities.