By Paul Weideman
This lovely and lively property on East Wildflower Drive is the creation of Tobi Wilde and Adam Steinberg, Glorious Earth Landscapes. Completed in December 2017, the project involved a dramatic change from the house’s former flat front yard and also solved a problem.
The owners, who inherited the house from their parents, didn’t enjoy the fact that clusters of 12-foot-tall juniper trees blocked their views to the north and to the Jemez Mountains in the west. The trees were subsequently cut down, leading to “extreme ire” from the neighbors and the local homeowner association, Steinberg said.
“They hired Tobi to design a solution for replacing them that would satisfy the HOA and not block their views. She lowered the tree planting area at the street for the largest trees and used the dirt from there to create the raised berm near the house to access the best views of Santa Fe Baldy and also provide some privacy for the house.”
The berm was carved into a variety of levels and areas studded with detailed dry-laid rockwork that were composed with flagstone, pavers, bricks, cobblestones, and pieces of moss rock. “There’s a theme in Tobi’s work with these mosaics,” he said as we walked through the landscaping that also boasts ornamental grasses, groundcovers, California poppies, blue flax, Gaillardia, catmint, Mexican hat, spirea, and piñons.
In one area, a loose circle of small rock benches surrounds a heart-shaped stone collage. “The owners have grandkids and one of the things they wanted was a place form them to play, and all of the paths do work with that,” Steinberg said.
“I wanted to do a walkway that went down to the heart,” Wilde said, “but the Blue Meanies [the homeowner’s association] said, ‘You can’t do that. You have to take that away.’” So instead, she and Steinberg did a more wandering pathway to the heart piece.
Asked about the process she uses to design a complex landscape like this, Wilde responded, “I come out here and I feel it. I get this feeling of it. I feel the view. I have to respect the power of the view, then I want to play with what I’m doing down here to amplify the view. When you’re on a flat place like it was, the view doesn’t get exalted. I absolutely wanted to raise it up, then I thought they need a little privacy, a feeling of embracement, then something you go down into because they have children, so I made it playful.”
That sense of whimsy also shows up in the decorations that her daughter, Rosey Crespo, painted on the gas meter next to the bottom of the driveway.
“Another potential client told us, ‘I think I get what you do,’” Steinberg said. “Most people’s back yards are so mundane and boring and whatever. But the reason we’re all here is the incredibleness of New Mexico, how gorgeous it is here, and you take all that and you pull it all in and you consolidate it into this concentrated beauty.”
Find out more at gloriousearthlandscapes.com.