September’s Equinox

I took this at last week’s farm market. That’s Daniel Carmona of Cerro Vista Farm, up near Questa. These flowers are all so typical of fall, a season that’s only a couple of days away as I write (Fall Equinox on the 22nd). I bought some great broccoli from his booth. I tried growing my own the first season I was here (3 summers ago now) and had to battle the cabbage moths for what little I was able to harvest. That ended my attempts. Easier to just buy it from Daniel.

There’s more variety of flowers in this shot of Kathy Moen’s booth. She has zinnias, cosmos and gladiolas, among other things. Her farm is near the Hwy. 68 down from Taos to Espanola, somewhere about half way. So she has a lower elevation advantage when that first night of freezing temperatures arrives here in Taos at 7,000  feet. I talked to a friend on the phone last week in Ketchum, Idaho, and he reported that they were going to have their first frosty night and he had picked all his marigolds and some tender garden fruits and vegetables. I’m happy to be gardening here in Taos where we can hope for a longer season. Gotta watch the weather news for low temps ahead though, starting about now.

I didn’t keep track of whose grapes these were at the farm market last week but I had to take a photo. Nothing says fall like picking grapes. Fifteen years ago I might have been doing just that this time of year. I was living in Sonoma County, California, on a spacious property next to a large vineyard. There were also some old vines on our place and some years those of us living there (and friends) came together in an effort to pick all the grapes and press them into juice. Not every year, mind you, could we muster the will. It was a big commitment of time and energy, but the reward of fresh juice was the payoff. Made for great sensory memories. We also did apples some years I recall.

Which brings me to the topic of Chamisa. It’s a plant very much like the wild sage that is indigenous here and they tend to grow in the same places. But sage never has a showy blooming period like Chamisa. She waits for late summer/early fall and throws up a yellow that is a joy to see. This clump was photographed along Maestas Road, the one I live on, but it could have been taken about anywhere along a road these days.

And where there’s Chamisa you’ll likely see these small purple daisy-like wild flowers. They’re called “purple asters.” If you wanted an area of wildflowers near your house this would be a good time to add the seeds to your mix. These were blooming near my driveway. Also you could consider getting a garden version of the same plant at the nursery in the spring. I had a neighbor in Ketchum, Idaho, who had large plants that also bloomed in the fall with purple flowers that looked similar. Just when other flowers are starting to fade they make a great fall show of color.

An heirloom tomato from Living Light Farm



Taos Splendor–September

It all comes together now as we approach the fall season. Everyone’s gardens have been nurtured by the monsoon rains and the temperatures moderated by the clouds most days. The fruits of nature are bursting forth, be they coming from orchards, wild bushes, home garden plots or local vegetable farms. I love this photo from the farm market last Saturday, illustrating the originality of nature when it comes to tomato varieties.

These necklaces of marigolds look at home decorating a special place or shrine and will  show up again for Day of the Dead altars and memorials in early November. Whatever your vision this way of using marigolds for sacred decoration feels so right here in Taos. The photo shows the booth of Cosmos Farm run by Barbara and Larry in Dixon. They are newcomers to the Saturday market, but seem to be ahead of the crowd when it comes to success with lots of marigolds. I did pretty well last year and did some marigold stringing of my own. We’ll see what comes of this year’s plants. They are definitely blooming now, but I’m not sure about quantity.

One plant that has exceeded my expectations is lemon cucumber. I planted a couple of seedlings from the nursery and they have produced copiously for my salads.

This is Chris, both a new, and a noticeably young, farmer at the market this summer. As you can see from his sign, he’s also farming in Talpa, the area when I live. He says he learned what he knows about growing here from Jeff at Talpa Farms, who lives up the road from his place. Both of these farm locations have access to acequia water, which is remarkable for its purity and adds something special to their produce.

I want to help spread the word about the new art supply store in Taos. If you haven’t already done so stop in and introduce yourself to the owners, a nice couple. They have a handy location along Ranchitos on your right just past the Harwood (if you’re coming from the south end). Sculptures from Melissa Serfling’s Red Cat Antiques, across the street on Dona Luz, add to the artful ambience of the location.

About this time of year I have plenty of Cosmos and branching sunflowers around my place. At this point (their third summer) they’re pretty good at seeding themselves. Seems they like everything about the Taos climate and I favor them for their wild and casual look.  I’m also am fond of zinnias and marigolds. They seem to demand a bit more intention on my part, but are good for cutting whereas Cosmos are not.

I recently painted 6 new small (8X8″) flower paintings for the Gallerie Corazon in Santa Fe. I notice I’m enjoying working with the flowers on the small size panel. The owner of the gallery had a vision about 6 months ago of having a display of a grid of 16 of the 8X8- size flowers. I think I might be getting closer to that number, which originally seemed high.

I’ll end with a photo of my favorite, a white poppy.