The Placitas Community Library Gardens
From the seed of an idea, a native-plants paradise has emerged. Surrounding the Placitas Community Library, a bounty of shrubs, wildflowers and water-hardy trees provide inspiration and contemplation—hallmarks of the reading life. All this from a few community members who thought the still-under-construction library in 2009 deserved something other than “a standard urban library landscape.”
Bill Dunmire, a member of the library’s board of directors at the time, spoke those words soon after becoming chairman of the brand-new Landscaping Committee. Working with Gail DellaPella, one of the key designers of the library, he helped hatch a plan for a demonstration garden that would help Placitas residents learn about soil and water conservation, wildlife habitat, and the value of native plants. Other volunteers embraced the effort, and the garden grew beyond the library’s entrance, encompassing spaces to the south and east, including a lovely labyrinth conceived by community members and built in the spring of 2014 (see below).
Nearly every plant in the gardens is native to New Mexico, many of them to Placitas. See a list of them here and study the interpretive panels in the gardens. These plants thrive thanks to an underground drip system augmented by a roof-water harvesting system. We also endeavor to include permaculture techniques that encourage working with nature, not against it. Notice, for example, how the landscaped areas blend into the natural landscape. Click here to view the list of wild plants that Bill Dunmire and Michael Crofoot documented on those spaces.
Take a seat on the bench in the east garden and look for bluebirds, butterflies and more in this Certified Wildlife Habitat. Walk the labyrinth and calm your mind. Sniff the chocolate flowers and find out how they got their nickname.
Volunteers maintain the garden, often in monthly work sessions that include laughter and friendship. As of 2017, you can contact Rebecca Pulford and/or Dan Anderson with questions. (Master Gardeners: Earn volunteer hours!)
For an aerial view of the labyrinth, see our YouTube video of the Dedication Ceremony held March 22, 2015: http://youtu.be/NMwGsDw2VFI
On May 3, 2014, members of the Placitas community responded to the library’s invitation to celebrate its birthday—by bringing rocks. And not just any old rock. These rocks, carried one by one by people young, old, and in-between, formed the outlines of a seven-circuit labyrinth just east of the parking area. This addition to the library’s garden was a long-sought dream of supporters who wanted to give the community a place to gather—individually or in groups—to celebrate, to meditate, and to heal. As lovers of books, we believe that a meditative mind enhances the experience of reading, and we encourage everyone to join us on the path.
For centuries, people around the globe have sought both solace and inspiration through labyrinths of many shapes and designs. The winding paths serve as metaphors for our individual journeys through life—moving toward a goal, then away from it, heading one direction, then another. Our design includes numerous loop-backs to encourage changes in consciousness, as well as a touch of whimsy.
How does it work? Begin by focusing on your breathing and the feel of your feet on the earth as you enter the labyrinth’s opening. Some people chant a mantra, say a series of prayers, sing, hum, or seek absolute silence. Maintaining a slow pace, follow the path toward its center. When you arrive, take a few deep breaths, do some stretches, or sit on the bench and contemplate the scenery. Repeat the path in reverse. If you encounter other walkers, gently step to the side to let them pass with minimal interruption.
That’s it. Other than this: Please leave the path as you found it for others to enjoy.