Fronds and ponds and the plains beyond
A beautiful, big wisteria plant caught the eye of Anne Hillerman when she was at work on the book Santa Fe Gardens with her husband, photographer Don Strel. “I was looking at it, and I saw something moving in the leaves. It was just about three feet away, I noticed two little black eyes looking at me.”
“It was a rattlesnake,” Strel told Pasatiempo. “Another interesting thing was when we were at Leonora Curtin [Wetland Preserve, in La Cienega]. I was photographing, and I looked up, surprised, to see a big snake swimming across the lake and two red-winged blackbirds fluttering over it and squawking at it.”
Santa Fe Gardens, published by Utah-based Gibbs Smith, is the newest book by Hillerman, eldest daughter of the late novelist Tony Hillerman. She schooled herself in deadline writing as a reporter and editor at The Santa Fe New Mexican (for 13 years) and the Albuquerque Journal North, and has written seven books. Her most recent, before Santa Fe Gardens, was last year’s Tony Hillerman’s Landscape: On the Road With Chee and Leaphorn. Strel, director of the Southwest Assignments photo agency since 1985, did the photographs for both of these books and has contributed to several other books and periodicals.
Hillerman got into the Gardens project about five years ago. “After Gibbs Smith bought Ancient City Press, they hired Ellen Kleiner, an editor who lives here in Santa Fe, to talk to local writers and come up with some book proposals,” Hillerman said. “She suggested Santa Fe gardens. I pointed out that there’s already the beautiful book Secret Gardens of Santa Fe that Rizzoli published in 1997, but she said not to worry, because that book came out a long time ago.”
Kleiner even suggested that Hillerman could revisit some of the gardens featured in the Rizzoli volume. She did that with a few, including the Ungerleider/Dillingham garden. This is one of the private gardens that