gardening made easy

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best plants for NM gardens book cover
new mexico gardening

by Patricia L. Garcia

work with the land, not against it, for a lush New Mexican garden

Whoever came up with the phrase “work smarter, not harder” must have been a gardener.

After reading the second edition of Best Plants for New Mexico Gardens and Landscapes Keyed to Cities and Regions in New Mexico and Adjacent Areas, Revised and Expanded Edition, I’m convinced it was coined by author Baker H. Morrow.

Morrow’s thesis is this: A lush, productive garden is possible in any part of New Mexico, you just have to work with the land you have, not against it. That means choosing plants that require the least amount of resources for the area.

“Plants in t he far south do not feel at home in the far north, and northern species do not like many hot southern locales,” Morrow says in the book. “…In short, it is good to remember that a place as geographically diverse as New Mexico has many differing kinds of natives.”

The book covers all the gardening bases, starting with soil. Can we just talk about soil for a minute here? The right soil is the key to any garden or landscape, whether ornamental or veggie-producing, and Morrow writes at length on the importance of amending your soil if needed and how to balance a highly acidic soil. I know this all sounds really nerdy, but please don’t skip this part. You’ll be rewarded with a highly productive garden. There’s also some important information about setting up irrigation, which will help you to properly hydrate your plants without going overboard.

For new gardeners and those who have been gardening for years, this book highlights the right plants for Albuquerque and Santa Fe gardens, as well as for gardens throughout the whole state. Morrow has tips for choosing the right plants for your garden, from making sure your have varying heights to the right texture to finding plants that can add whimsy and nostalgia, as well as landscape design ideas. The book’s plant selection chapter is divided into easy-to-understand sections, down to which type of oak tree works for certain areas.

Morrow’s book doesn’t merely offer suggestions on what looks pretty in the yard—it’s a blueprint for how to create a gorgeous, productive landscape that works for your yard, no matter if you’re in the high desert or the high plains of New Mexico.