Why do people settle in Santa Fe?
For John Gaw Meem, the now famous New Mexico architect, the journey started in Brazil. He was born in 1894 to American Episcopalian missionary parents. As a young man, he returned to the U.S. and lived in New York. While working there, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and prescribed the dry high desert climate of Santa Fe.
Once here in 1924, Meem was completely captivated by the traditional adobe structures that expressed the Native Pueblo and Spanish colonial architecture. For the next 60 years, he dedicated his life to building and renovating hundreds of buildings in Northern New Mexico in these styles – churches, homes, university and government facilities.
Countering International Modernism in favor of Regionalism, he created a fresh new interpretation of Native Pueblo and Spanish Colonial architectural traditions. La Fonda Hotel, the Santa Fe Indian School and Santa Fe Plaza are just a few of his famous projects.
In 1957 Santa Fe adopted the Historical Zoning Ordinance for the “old quarter” that required adherence to the Pueblo Revival ,the Spanish Colonial and Territorial styles Meem had championed his whole career. John Gaw Meem’s aesthetic vision gives Santa Fe its character and appeal as the City Different.
In 1990 Ron Sebesta Realty purchased 323 acres, divided them into 85 lots, and filed the Declaration of Restrictive Covenants (DRC) to establish The Ridges. These Covenants describe the styles of architecture acceptable in The Ridges as “Santa Fe” style, “Territorial Style”, “Mexican” and “Traditional Pueblo” styles and “Traditional Spanish Moorish” style (DRC 9.02). John Gaw Meem’s vision inspires not only the architecture of Santa Fe but also of The Ridges.
When a third of the lots were sold the developer ceded the oversight of approving construction and adherence to the DRC to an Architectural Control Committee (ACC) appointed by the newly-formed Ridges Landowners Association.(RLA).
Today, residents Debra Hagey, an experienced real estate agent and chair of the ACC, Gerry Fornell, a career building design consultant, and Carol Albrecht, a retired NM licensed general contractor, home builder & interior designer serve on the Architectural Control Committee. They offer their time and professional experience as a valuable service to their neighbors.
Guided by the Architectural Policies in the DRC and ACC Guidelines (see website) and as well as by the state, county, and insurance providers’ regulations, they, among other duties, review and approve blueprints for new construction including the kinds of materials and stucco colors used. They oversee any later additions, structures and outdoor improvements. Realtors attest to the fact that strongly enforced HOA covenants increase the appeal and property values in a development such as The Ridges.
Each of us has reviewed and agreed to these very same Restrictive Covenants (also posted on the website) as a condition to closing the purchase our property and have pledged to abide by them out of respect for our neighbors.
I sincerely believe the beauty and appeal of Native Pueblo and Spanish Southwestern architecture, as well as faithful adherence to our Covenants, is one of the major attractions for settling here in The Ridges.
President of the RLA Board
Pine bark beetles are small insects, generally black, hard-shelled and approximately 5 millimeters in length – about the size of of piece of cooked rice. Bark beetles tunnel under the bark, cutting off the tree’s supply of food and water needed to survive. Bark beetles can kill a tree in as little as two to four weeks during warmer months.
Several years of winter drought and warmer temperatures have resulted in our lovely piñons being moisture-stressed and vulnerable to attack by these dreaded beetles. These beetles have a high reproductive capacity and under optimal conditions can produce up to four generations per year! Even healthy trees can be invaded very quickly when “mass attacked” by large numbers of bark beetles. There was a terrible infestation here in the Ridges back in the early 2000s. It was reported that one landowner lost 100 trees on their property that year.
Hopefully we will have a wet, wet summer but nature does have her own agenda. How to detect pine bark beetle you ask? Look at the bark and notice if there are reddish-brown pitch tubes – these 1/2-3/4 inch blobs of sap on the outside of the bark are a sign that the beetles have successfully overtaken the tree. Also, look on the tops of branches for tiny piles of sawdust. These are after all, boring insects. Needles on dying piñon begin to turn a reddish-brown and usually start changing color at the top of the tree and then the color moves down.
Once bark beetles have fully infested a tree, little can be done to save it. Because they reside in the protected part beneath the bark, it is difficult to control them. Bark beetle infested limbs should always be pruned and disposed of and the entire tree may need to be removed if the damage is too extensive. Should you decide to keep the wood for firewood it’s necessary to cover it with plastic for several weeks to kill the beetles. It’s very important to have the dead tree removed because once the beetles kill a tree they move quickly to the surrounding trees. Dead trees need to be removed because they are a fire hazard as well. The sooner a dead tree is removed the better. There are no effective systemic pesticide treatments that will kill pine bark beetle larvae once they’re inside the tree. Pesticide treatments are limited to only protecting trees from becoming infested not killing them once they’re inside the tree. There are many systemic treatments on the market that prevent beetle infestation. However, doing this yourself is very time and work intensive.
There are numerous companies that spray for these pests. Late fall and early spring are the best times to prune and spray. It’s important, however, to make sure that they are licensed to use the proper treatment because spraying for bark beetle requires a particular license. It’s also important to schedule your spray in the morning since the wind tends to get stronger as the day goes on. Remove all pet bowls, bird feeders, water bowls, and close all windows during and after the spray for one hour.
If you have questions or would like more information about this you may e-mail Kathy and/or Randy at email@example.com.
Thank you, Roc and Carol Curry!
Our roads are a major concern for all residents of The Ridges; caring for them takes the vast majority of our HOA fees. Deciding how to proceed with maintaining them affects the safety, property value and beauty of all our homes. Here are the facts to consider as we move ahead.
On Tuesday, May 4th from 10 am till 4 pm, Dr John Formby, PhD from the New Mexico Forestry Division will in the Ridges. He is a Forest Health Specialist/Entomologist. From 10 till 11 he will be our guest on a Zoom call to talk about the infestation of the Bark Beetle and to answer your questions. He will be available until 4pm to inspect the properties of residents’ who request a visit as a free service from the NM Forestry Division. The Zoom meeting information is included here and will also e-mailed to all residents. If you want to schedule a visit with Dr Formby contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Open the attached PDF Document published by the Forest service entitled BARK BEETLE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.
Robert Curry is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting with Dr John Formby .
Join Zoom Meeting on May 4th at 10AM
Meeting ID: 891 6149 3254
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As we know, all our Ridges neighbors are special, but do you know what makes each person a stand-out? Try to match the names with the occupation, honor or curiosity listed below. How many do you know?
Hello neighbors –
Thank you for your many good comments regarding our preview issue of The Views. We invited submissions from our talented residents and Brigitte Phillips came through with a timely article and stunning photos about beautifying your own little corner of the world. This talented gardener and photographer offers some tips for those of us aspiring to garden at our arid 7000 feet. Kathy Kubes authored the piece on preserving our treasured piñons. She outlines some simple but essential steps to keep our lovely piñons safe. This month we also feature, in Meet Your Neighbors, a conversation with Matt and Tamara Smith and their daughter Amaya. They built a new house in The Ridges two years ago. We also meet new neighbor Dennis McQuillan who has an exciting project underway to benefit all of us in The Ridges.
And do take a look at Who’s Who? See if you can match the Ridges’ residents with their special achievements. (And send me, email@example.com, attn:Views, your suggestions for next time). And of course, Ridges President Roc Curry brings us more up-to-date info on our ever-developing roads situation, and Sue Egan covers the HOA board meeting. Thanks as always to West Cooper and Patricia Corres for their invaluable services.
We always welcome your questions, and suggestions.
Everyone loves their car when they drive it off the dealer’s lot — but want to know who STILL loves their car – after it’s been totaled – and the owner has walked away without serious injury? Then you want to chat with Matthew Smith. Matt is the claims representative with Geico Insurance for northern New Mexico and he’s seen it all, from fender benders on up. He’s the guy who goes out to look over the cars, boats, and motorcycles that have been wrecked or otherwise damaged. Not only does he have to stay up to date on today’s latest electronic – and very expensive – automobile features in order to give accurate claims estimates, he also has to sometimes play detective if he suspects fraudulent claims. Matthew and his wife Tamara and their 13-year-old daughter, Amaya, moved into their home on Principe de Paz about two years ago. It took about a year to build and was a total family venture. Tamara’s brother was the builder and every one in the family took part in making their vision a reality. “There’s a lot of Smith labor in this house,” says Matt.
Tamara speaks with quiet pride of all the oversized interior doors that she stained, although she quickly acknowledges that Matt stained the grand entry door. Even Amaya got in on the action — selecting the tile and designing the fun tile “rug” in her bathroom and the brightly painted wall in her bedroom.
Tamara says, “That’s the only real pop of color in the house.” Tamara chose sophisticated neutrals for the other finishes. Teenaged Amaya says she loved getting a close up view as their own family home grew from drawings on paper to a real house over the months of construction, even though she knows it meant a lot of work, stress, and endless decision-making for her parents. With their home complete, Matt, who grew up in south Texas, says he can’t believe he’s now buying rocks for landscaping along with the dozens of trees he’s planted.
The Smiths, like all of us, have had life disrupted by Covid over the past year. Matt was quarantined for a couple of months but is now back out in the field – and glad of it. He says he still takes precautions to keep his family safe. Tamara is a business analyst in the IT department of the NM Department of Taxation and Revenue. She thinks working from home has been easiest on her. In fact, she’s in no hurry to go back to office life. Amaya, a seventh grader at the El Dorado Community School, has adapted to online learning, although of course she misses being in school with her friends. Fortunately, she plays many sports and takes part in theater, so she’s still had some social life, “With my mask on!” she adds. And not one to waste time, Amaya taught herself to walk on her hands while we were all in lock-down!
The Smiths, including Amaya, each answered with one word when asked what they like best about their life in The Ridges, “Quiet.”
When you meet our new Ridges neighbor Dennis McQuillan you MAY meet the recently retired Chief Science Coordinator for the New Mexico Environment Department OR you might meet the fiddle player for the popular folk dance group, the Santa Fe Mega Band. His band has performed for the past five years at Santa Fe Fiesta, before Covid closed it down. They hope to soon resume their gigs twice a month at the Odd Fellows hall on Cerillos Road. While they specialize in Celtic folk music they also like to play northern New Mexican and Spanish fiddle music, and even Israeli, Scandinavian and American Blue Grass folk music.“As long as you can dance to it,” says Dennis. To be honest, you may meet Dennis under any one of several other personas: mountain biker, hiker, dad or gardener. He is a man of many interests and talents.
He purchased the former home of Karen and John Erickson in December of 2020. Dennis says he had learned his lesson after missing out on a couple of other quick-selling homes. Dennis toured the South Hijo de Dios home as soon as it came on the market and tendered his successful offer within 24 hours. No regrets.
Dennis had his wish list firmly in hand – more space than the home he was renting in Rancho Viejo, acreage of piñon and junipers, views and fireplaces. Check, check, check and check. His Ridges home fit him perfectly.
Dennis has not left his 43 year career in geology and environmental science completely behind; he’s currently launching a training and consulting business. He plans to offer continuing education credits for professionals as well as advise businesses and agencies with environmental issues.
And in his ‘spare’ time Dennis has examined his new neighborhood. He’s in the final stages of preparing a report on water sources, usage and quality in The Ridges. Watch this space! We’re planning to have a summary of the McQuillan report to share with you in our next newsletter. And even sooner Dennis is planning to conduct one or two walking tours in the area, explaining our fascinating topography and geology. We will try to publicize those opportunities with email blasts so all Ridges neighbors can learn more, and participate.
Dennis grew up on the east coast, came to the University of New Mexico at age 18, and never left. “I had frequently visited my uncle who worked at the labs at Los Alamos and I just really liked the area.”
Lucky Dennis and lucky us too – to have this accomplished new neighbor, ready to generously share his knowledge with us.
Life, as we have known it has changed immeasurably during the past year of pandemic, and yet—Nature, continues unabated while gardening remains America’s favorite pass-time, especially now, as close to 80% of Americans garden. It is early spring and the time to consider how your garden will grow is now. The choices are many including a completely “natural” garden with native shrubs and wildflowers; an ornamental, dryland, xeric/drought tolerant garden; or gardening primarily in containers and even straw bales.
We are most fortunate to live in The Ridges, where our near views are quite green as a result of the wonderful junipers (Juniperus monosperma) and piñon pines (Pinus edulis) as well as many other shrubs and wildflowers.
The Ridges is located in USDA hardiness zone 6b at 7,000 feet and thus, we have a short growing season. It is wise to remember that the last frost date in Santa Fe is 20 May. While it may be a bit early to obtain plants from garden centers, many plants can be seeded indoors in March, April and beyond.
The average annual rainfall is less than 15” in Santa Fe. According to the United States Drought Monitor the Santa Fe, NM region currently is suffering from “extreme/ exceptional drought.” https:/droughtmonitor.unl.edu/. Therefore, it is important to choose plant materials wisely and apply no-till, dryland/xeric gardening techniques. The key is always to choose the right plant for the right place, planted at the right time.
Water is the source of all life on earth. The best and most economical form of watering is via drip irrigation which can reduce water use by up to 90%. Rainwater collection/harvesting is optimal. Greywater use (water recycling) is also an excellent way to water gardens. Unfortunately, the U. S. only recycles 1% of its water, while conversely, arid Israel recycles 86%. Regardless, there are countless trees, plants, and herbs that flourish in no-till dryland or xeric gardens. After all, desert-dwelling, native peoples worldwide have sustained themselves via drylands gardening for thousands of years. In general, once established, plants should be watered once a week while established shrubs and trees can be watered once or twice a month. Forming water basins at the base of plants and trees keeps water from running off.
While the best time to prune most trees and shrubs is late fall or winter, what can and should be done early in the season is pruning of shrubs and some (late flowering) trees as well as preparing beds and planters with compost, soil amendments and mulch. The best time to prune our precious, low-maintenance, drought-tolerant piñon pines is in winter or early spring before new growth begins. Partially cutting back the
candles on piñon pines will promote bushy growth. Be very careful about removing the growth point at the tip of a piñon because doing so will cause the branch to die. Birds, chipmunks, squirrels, black bears, mule deer rely on piñon nuts for food. First, rub sterilize your pruning shears and saws with bleach or rubbing alcohol. Shrubs, such as chamisas or roses can be pruned more severely than can trees. As in tailoring or carpentry—“measure twice, cut once.” Take a look at your shrub or tree and carefully assess its structure and how you wish it to look after pruning when it fills in. Start with removing any dead or crossing branches. Be aware that on trees, once a major branch is removed it will not regrow. Never remove more than 10% of any tree at one time in spring.
Water loss via evaporation, transpiration, run-off and deep percolation is an issue worldwide, not just in drylands. Mulching with organic matter: Compost, straw, leaf litter, pulled weeds, shredded (not colored) paper, etc. is critical and also improves soil fertility. Living mulches, such as squash vines, are also most beneficial.
DROUGHT TOLERANT EDIBLE PLANTS
Many ornamental, culinary, and medicinal herbs work well in xeric gardens including oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, thyme, tarragon, lemon verbena, garlic chives, onion chives, lovage, borage, calendula, dandelion, savory, artemisia, bay, baptisia, catmint, fennel, germander, white horehound, sweet marjoram, Mexican oregano, santolina, yarrow, echinacea, costmary. Most all have beautiful blooms and are lovely in the ground among ornamental plants, the veggie garden or in containers. Once established, most herbs will need very little water.
Drought and semi-drought resistant fruits & vegetables: (This list is by no means exhaustive!)
Apricot, fig, grape, mulberry, plum, walnut.
Arugula, asparagus, cabbage, chard, corn (sweet & seed), beans (all types pole & dry beans), beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, chiles, cucumber, eggplant, endive, garlic, jicama, okra, onions, numerous melons, leeks, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, spinach, squash (summer & winter), sweet potato, tomatillo, turnips.
Tomatoes, the most popular of vegetables/fruits, can be grown in heat and with minimal irrigation once established: Most cherries like Sweet 100, yellow pear, etc.; the Greek heritage “Santorini” cherry is considered fully drought tolerant in humid climates. Try early & heat resistant varieties like Early Girl, Marvel Striped, Romas) Cherokee Purple, Beef Steak, Black Krim.
Heat or Hot Set Tomatoes: BHN 216, Florasette, Florida 91, Heatwave II, Solar
Fire, Summer Set, Sunchaser, Sun Leaper, Sunmaster, Sun Pride, Talladega.
Heirloom Tomatoes: Arkansas Traveler, Eva Purple Ball, Hazelfield Farm, Homestead 24, Illinois Beauty, Neptune, Ozark Pink, Stupice, Tropic.
Ornamentals, including many roses, that will thrive in New Mexico exist by the thousands. Trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, cacti/succulents, desert accents, turf & ornamental grasses, ground covers and vines are included in this extensive, Interactive Website: “…In an effort to instruct New Mexicans in the art of using outdoor water more efficiently, the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer, in collaboration with the US Bureau of Reclamation, is providing an expert-recommended list of low-water-use, native or adaptive plants that thrive in our climate and save water….” http://wuc.ose.state.nm.us/Plants/
Do try your hand at dry-land/xeric gardening for physical and mental health; for the environment; more fun than going to the gym with the added bonus of blooms and produce.
For additional, specific information or if you have questions please check the resources box or contact me.
Brigitte Philipp, MLA
Brigitte Philipp, MLA
The Ridges, Santa Fe
Resident Landscape Architect
Neighborhood source of free, sustainable gardening information. Often has seeds and plants to share.
A Guide to Native Plants for the Santa Fe Landscape (Santa Fe Master Gardeners Assoc)
New Mexico’s Enchanted Xeriscape Guide
Santa Fe Botanical Garden (Museum Hill)
FREE Mulch (not composted)
Compost Available at the Wastewater Treatment Plant
Eldorado Composting (Instructions on how to compost)
High Country Gardens Native, drought tolerant plants & wildflower seeds. https://www.highcountrygardens.com/
Victory Seeds Offering rare, open-pollinated, non-GMO, non-hybrid, heirloom seeds.
Fruition Seeds An excellent seed company. They provide terrific info via a newsletter.
Tomato Fest Everything tomatoes including heirlooms, dwarfs & drought tolerants.
Seed Savers Exchange https://www.seedsavers.org/
Home Grown New Mexico HGNM produces events that educate and promote the awareness of nutritious, home grown food.
Permaculture Design New Mexico Listing Permaculture practitioners in NM and many other resources. https://www.permaculturedesignmagazine.com/new-mexico
The National Gardening Association NGA Features online gardening courses, a terrific newsletter, along with robust guides for gardening with a variety of fruits and vegetables. https://garden.org/
Farmers’ Almanac Time-tested and generations approved, the Farmers’ Almanac is a compendium of knowledge on weather, gardening, cooking, home remedies, managing your household, preserving the earth, and more. https:// www.farmersalmanac.com/