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Our Garden in the NM Mountains

We've come a long way from the barren, post-construction wasteland of dirt we had a few years ago. Actually, it was even worse than it sounds. Dirt had to be hauled in and it was full of thorny weeds that spread everywhere.

We've (okay, just my husband and his tractor) worked hard and our yard looks better than it ever has. Sexy Nerd is a landscaping pro! You know, in addition to being a beer brewer, Corvette restorer, woodworker, grill master, mechanical engineer, and installer of tile, wallpaper murals, and little cuts of wood that I insist he glue to our ceiling (photo below). I think I'll keep him around.

Sandia Park, NM

Our Sandia Park, NM garden improves every year. I can't wait to see what everything looks like in 2023! Surprisingly, our plants have only had a minor impact on our water usage. Through supplementation with rain barrels, choosing native and drought-tolerant plants, and by locating plants so that they are out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day, our water bill actually has not increased from our pre-garden days.

Speaking of (writing of?) rain barrels, they're not quite as easy to maintain as we'd expected. A few kept developing small leaks and we weren't sure why...until we caught Olive and Bernadette nibbling on them. Unfortunately, dogs aren't the only ones who enjoy our rain barrels - one by our greenhouse keeps getting knocked over by a bear! Yogi wants a sip of water and I'm happy to provide it, but does he have to dump the entire 55 gallons of water down the hill, creating a flooded, muddy mess? He's smarter than the average bear and I'd prefer he simply swipe my pic-a-nic basket.

Come on in and take a virtual tour of our Sandia Park, NM garden:
Crow spitter
These are the only ravens I encourage. Sometimes I have to run outside, arms flailing, because several are circling over Biscuit! She just stands there in the sun, looking up and smiling at them.

New Mexico Blogger
Notice how you can see our backyard from our front yard? This drove our builder nuts. We were trying to stay within our budget but kept insisting on an elaborate floorplan with this impractical foyer as the centerpiece. He kept drawing us pictures of simple, square floorplans that we could afford and we would smile and nod, then stretch his sketch out in wild directions. John at Panorama Homes is a good sport.

Flowering cactus
We found flowering cactus on our property and relocated them to our front yard.

Cactus with yellow flowers
One of Sexy Nerd's nicknames is Cactus Derek. It suits him, as he thinks nothing of scooping up a small claret cup (with his bare hands!) while we're walking our 13 acres and slipping it into his pocket to plant in a more visible spot. He has also had success splitting his favorite cactus into additional plants.

Ketchup & Mustard rose
My favorite plant in our front yard is this Ketchup & Mustard floribunda rose. I enjoy the red and yellow flowers, though I think the thing I like best about it is the funny name.

Sun protection
I'd like to be able to tell you I was dolled up while photographing our yard for this blog post, like in the earlier photo with our yellow front doors. Sometimes though, it's sunny and you can't be bothered to apply sunscreen, so you just cover up with an enormous, fluffy purple scarf in the middle of June and hope your neighbors don't think you're crazy.

Porch decor
Here are those little cuts of wood Sexy Nerd glued to our ceiling. I should have moved the plastic watering can out of this shot, but I'm lazy. It's entirely possible I was overheating beneath my fluffy purple scarf.

Ceiling ideas
Here's a better photo of our foyer ceiling. So much for this being a gardening post! I think I'll put that light on a dimmer. Can you still see it when you look away from your screen? I need to add a warning to this blog post: Caution, May Burn Your Retinas.

Also, I just noticed the green dots at the top of the photo and don't know what they are. It seems we have a ghost.

Brick fire pit
Our backyard has the same yellow doors as our front yard. I mentioned previously that our garden is very waterwise, but forgot all about our lush, green lawn. That thing requires a TON of water. Living in the desert, it's shameful, really.

Artificial grass that looks real
Just kidding - it's fake grass.

Dog sisters
In addition to saving water, this is much easier to maintain when you have 3 dogs. Olive and Bernadette approve. (Biscuit disapproves, but she's a grouchy ol' chihuahua who hates everything.)

Sunny Knockout roses
Our "lawn" is lined with Sunny Knockout roses. They started as $6 sticks and have doubled in size each year. We had similar roses in the backyard of our old house and they grew to be 7 feet tall without any care at all. I hope these do the same.

Roses with a strong scent
We also have Cherry Parfait roses, which smell amazing. When choosing plants for our backyard, my requirement was that everything needed to have a strong, pleasant scent. It sounds romantic, stepping onto the back patio and smelling the roses before you even see them, but my motivation was about as unromantic as possible. It was to mask the dog stink. Thankfully, my plan worked.

Cherry Parfait roses
These rose bushes started as twigs 2 years ago and are now approaching the bottom of Sexy Nerd's office window. They're not the only things in our yard that have grown...

Dog then and now
Olive has gone from a purse puppy to a chonker! (Not garden-related, but I'm too proud of a dog mama to exclude her.)

Cute photos
She's in the garden, so this photo counts. Actually, she's a bit of a garden pest. Olive has discovered that Sunny Knockout roses and Cherry Parfait roses are tasty.

Arabesque tile
It's not great for our yard, but it's preferred to her trying to get into our outdoor kitchen. Here she is hoping to lick the inside of the pizza oven.

Let's see...dogs and bears so far. You know what's another garden pest out here in the East Mountains? It's probably not one you'd guess:
Landscaping and pets
Our landscaping has created a paradise for lizards and toads, which keeps these girls entertained. The lizards are too fast for them to catch and they don't bother the toads, which resemble big, jumping balls of mud. Actually, Bernadette sometimes gets excited and gives the toads kisses. I suppose if I was a toad and a dog ran up and licked me, it would bother me.

NM wildlife
Deer also enjoy our yard, despite there being tags on the plants that say 'Deer Resistant.' Deer can't read.

Purple salvia and chipmunks
There's usually a cute bunny, squirrel, or chipmunk to watch as we enjoy our coffee each morning. They're super considerate and only eat the weeds! Well, sometimes they'll finish with a flower for dessert, but they're too adorable to get mad at.
We watched a mouse nibbling outside our window once. It was just a teensie thing surrounded by a mass of colorful sedum and it was the cutest sight ever, almost like a cartoon. "What harm can that little mouse cause?" we asked, beaming at his big, pink ears and long, fuzzy tail. He looked so happy. The sedum died shortly after. Despite the plant spreading several feet out, our darling visitor had chewed right through the stem that connected the huge sedum to its roots.
Growing sage in New Mexico
We stuck a dry stick of sage outside our kitchen window. It spread and jumped to 6 feet tall in what seemed like days.
Best sunrise photo
Fortunately, the sage doesn't block our view of the sunrise.

How to attract hummingbirds
Our garden attracts many bees and hummingbirds. Sometimes they think our yellow doors are gigantic flowers and end up on the wrong side, like this fellow. Here are some excerpts from his adventure:

"Oh no! A hummingbird has flown into the house and now cannot find his way back outside. He's at the tall, non-opening windows above the kitchen cabinets and is chirping frantically and breaking my heart. How can I help him?"

"I've opened the 4 yellow doors wide and am trying to chase him back outside with a broom, which is difficult because he's way the heck up in the air and the broom isn't long enough to get near him. This is probably for the best because accidentally smacking him with a broom is the opposite of helping. He flies from chandelier to chandelier and when he's finally almost outside, he flies all the way back into the kitchen while I curse at him. We've done this several times."

"While trying to coax this hummingbird back outside, another flew in the house. Luckily it had enough common sense to fly back outside, unlike this stubborn ding dong."

"He couldn't find his way out, but when he was tired he started flying up for a few moments and then back down to rest. I had a box with a towel waiting for him on one of his landings and moved him outside. Olive is the nicest dog in the world - she went up to him on the living room window sill (I'd thought he was still at the high kitchen windows!) and gave him a sniff, then walked away."

Backyard bouquet
Landscaping experts recommend limiting your plant choices to a main color and an accent color and sticking to it. I prefer to buy whatever I think is pretty because I love color - the more, the merrier! They all combine to create a harmonious bouquet.

East Mountains
Our plan is to keep the rest of our property natural. Pinons and junipers are beautiful without help.

Well, maybe not the pollen-spewing junipers. Ah-choo!

Double rainbow

Enjoy this post? Here are more articles about our home in the beautiful New Mexico mountains: