Many of Santa Fe’s neighborhoods boast an admirable variety of front-yard treatments, speaking to the individuality of the owners, and, it would seem, to the idea that these were not the results of production homebuilding. But in fact, residents of the communities developed by Allen Stamm between 1939 and 1980 have been as creative with their street faces as anyone living in more impromptu neighborhoods.
One recent example is at 1004 Osage Avenue in the Stamm-developed Casa Alegre subdivision. The street wall, created by Tobi Wilde and Adam Steinberg of Glorious Earth Landscapes, is a festive conglomeration of materials, including railroad ties, recycled concrete, broken sections of the previous front walk, chimney tile, and boulders: dark gray rock from the Caja Del Rio landfill, blue granite quarried in the Cerrillos Hills, and red scoria from La Bajada.
“I did it all,” Wilde said. “The owner [Tim Schreck] told me he wanted a wall and I said I can’t just do an ordinary wall. This is flamboyant.”
The courtyard area inside the street wall contains walks and patterns — surrounding a large atom symbol — bordered with colorful, recycled, broken glass. “I don’t like using gravel. It’s a gravel universe, man. I don’t like anything boring,” Wilde said.
Paths wrap around to the back yard, where Glorious Earth Landscapes fashioned a pair of large features: a sunken fire pit and a built-up rock sculpture with an integral fountain.
The water feature is an eruption of rock, the water issuing from a distinctive rock slab the owner wanted Wilde to incorporate, then running down pieces of roof tile that Steinberg bought at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
“Everything is very thought-out and playful. I wanted something beyond ordinary for the water feature. I designed the shape and form, and Adam is adept at building them.”
Landscaping plants include black-eyed susan, butterfly bush, hollyhocks, donkey spurge, and iris from the owner’s mother’s garden in Ohio, as well as desert willow and Arizona cypress that will grow up and ultimately provide separation from the neighbors in back.
For the fire-pit feature, Wilde and Steinberg created a ring of rock seats, again recycling concrete pavers that were here previously, and artful panels of stone mosaics.
“It sort of just bursts out of me,” said Wilde, who punctuated her descriptions with avowals of her healing abilitites and references to “Ozymandius, the king of kings.”
An alumna of Carnegie Tech and Ivy School of Professional Arts in Pittsburgh, she previously had Café Oasis, 526 Galisteo Street, and Wild Things antique clothing on Garfield Street for 25 years. “After I broke up with Richard [Kurtz, her former husband] I was so depressed and Adam called me one day and said, ‘You have to see a project I just did.’ It was so awful. It was not my thing. And he said he would pay me to come up with an idea. That was about 10 years ago.”
The landscaping around Café Oasis, which opened in 1993 and closed in 2005, was another example of her elaborate but naturalistic design sense. So is the monumental rock/water/light feature in front of Camel Rock Casino, which the pair came up with a few years ago, when Steinberg’s company was known as Indigo Spirit Landscapes.
This spring, the two are looking forward to a residential project in White Rock and a landscaping remodel at a new apartment complex in south Santa Fe.
For more information about the Wilde-Steinberg business, call 989-1388 or visit the website www.gloriousearthlandscapes.com.