Tour shows gardens, accessibility to Zen

Herman and Shelly Haase stand in their accessibility garden in Placitas. A sidewalk ramp and raised garden beds make gardening easy for Herman.
(Amy Byres/ Rio Rancho Observer)

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Eight homeowners in the village of Placitas are preparing to share their diverse gardens with the public as a part of the fourth annual Placitas Garden Tour next Sunday, Sept. 8.

Placitas Garden Tour Inc. welcomes guests from all over to come and “discover the secret gardens of Placitas” by visiting eight gardens, engaging with homeowners and Sandoval County Master Gardeners, and watching local artists paint “en plein air,” or in open air, in each of the gardens.

Placitas Community Library will host the Plein Air Art Gallery, where artists’ work will be for sale, and will be the site for garden tour education, exhibits and refreshments. Tom Neiman, a certified arborist and Master Gardener, will present proper tree planting and maintenance techniques at the library.

Each garden in the tour has a distinct theme, giving each one a unique atmosphere and feel.

Suzanne Maxwell and John Kail, owners of the Small Potatoes Garden, employ permaculture by practicing sustainability and giving back to the Earth as part of the design of their garden.

This garden features active solar panels on a sun tracker, a geodesic solar greenhouse, composting and gardens for growing artichokes, figs, apples, red lettuce and a variety of other wild edible plants.

Maxwell said the purpose of her garden is to make a smaller carbon footprint and to give back to the Earth. She also said the importance of planting for the seasons and letting things grow as they would in nature are incorporated in her garden.

The garden is called the Small Potatoes garden because, Maxwell said, she’s tried every year but can’t get potatoes to grow.

Oddie and Juanita Brown’s Zen Garden shows the art and philosophy of Zen design. Oddie, an artist and a landscape designer, was trained and influenced by Yashiro Yamada, his high school football coach.

His low-maintenance garden includes a cascading waterfall and pond, which took him three months to build. Oddie said it’s interactive, with intentionally broken twigs and scattered debris.

Herman Haase and his wife, Shelly, built a sidewalk ramp to an area with raised garden beds accessible at wheelchair height after Herman believed he would be confined to a wheelchair due to a disability.

Haase is no longer confined to a wheelchair. He enjoys tending to his edible garden of tomatoes, parsley, kale and more, and cooking with fresh ingredients.

He said the most appealing part of gardening is being able to be outdoors with his disability. For him, gardening is a fun activity and it makes him feel good to produce something.

“Landscaping is a legacy,” Haase said.

Shelly tends to the rest of the Haases’ 360-degree garden surrounding the home.

Tickets and more information are at placitasgardentour.com.

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