A sofa-shaped adobe bench is the inviting centerpiece of the meditation garden.
Born in England "with a trowel in my hand," as she puts it, Susan Blevins honed her horticultural skills in the Alban hills near Rome after moving to Italy in 1965. Then, a decade ago, she moved to northern New Mexico and began creating a landscape around her restored adobe house (circa 1830) in Ranchos de Taos. Here, Blevins has designed a suite of intimate garden rooms, decorated them with eclectic plants and furnishings, and linked them with archways and paths.
Blevins uses blue as the unifying color because it works so well with the apricot-colored walls of her house. Adobe walls also enclose many of the garden rooms. The walls, which absorb solar heat by day and release it at night, allow her to push the planting envelope here at an elevation of 7,000 feet (Taos is located in Sunset climate zone 2b). Blevins can't resist growing many of the frost-tender Mediterranean plants she came to love in Italy, including agapanthus, bougainvillea, lemon, oleander, and rosemary, which she keeps in containers and brings indoors during the cold, snowy winters.
Stroll through three rooms
Step into the sunken meditation garden, where an adobe banco, or bench, is fringed by California poppies growing between flagstones. Fitted with a single mattress, the sofa-shaped bench is heaped with Middle Eastern pillows. Blevins likes to sit here, sipping a glass of wine while dangling her other hand in the pool behind and listening to the soothing splash of waterfalls. This garden is landscaped with a variety of deciduous and evergreen shrubs and trees, including aspen, Colorado blue spruce, crabapple, lilac, juniper, rose, and viburnum.