Wandering around the Hondo Iris Farm
The owner and resident gardener, Alice Seely, has assembled an impressive collection of “bearded Iris”, noteworthy because of their long flowing beards, and fantastic variations in color. One section of the farm contains prize winning varieties, hybridized since 1990; another section is filled with “antique irises” planted at the turn of the century in the Hondo Valley. Alice, a native Santa Fean who moved to Hondo 10 years ago, also brought with her a number of the “Old Santa Fe Irises” that have grown along the Northern New Mexico “acequias” for centuries.
At the Iris farm you can wander through the rows of exotic Iris plants, sit on a bench in a small wooded area, cross a bridge over a 150 year old irrigation ditch, walk up a landscaped birm, and enter a gallery filled with paintings, sculpture, jewelry and artisans handiwork from places as remote as Bulgaria, Africa, Russia, and Kashmere. In the process you can sip a soft drink, and visit with the Alice and “pick her brain” about the many plants in the garden.. During your visit, your only task is to enjoy yourself and experience the beauty of the Hondo Valley.
If you wish to bring your lunch, you can sit at one of the picnic tables located throughout the garden or sit on the “hummingbird” porch and observe the fascinating dance of hummingbirds as they approach their feeders.
There is no admission charge and no obligation to purchase anything.
The Iris Farm sells its Iris in two ways. They can be ordered in advance for delivery in July and August, or there are potted Iris available for the taking immediately.
The Gallery, a recent 1100 square foot addition to a revitalized100 year old Adobe building, is divided into two sections.
The entrance section is filled with pewter jewelry designed by Alice, and fabricated in her “factory” down the road, where she works with 7 employees, filling orders for over 500 museum gift shops, galleries, and national parks around the country: including the Smithsonian, the Grand Canyon National Parks, the Denver Art Museum, The Detroit Art Museum, The Museum of New Mexico, and the Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque.
The hallmarks of her “Urban Fetishes” pewter jewelry line are her pins, packaged in matchbooks, with writing on the back of the packaging. Customers purchase these pins both for their original designs and because they find Alice’s writing, interesting and inspirational Alice also fabricates bracelets, fancy earrings and necklaces, all of which retail for less than $75.00. In addition, Seely has supplemented her jewelry line with a set of historic New Mexico retablos inspired by art from New Mexico churches and homes. (Her “Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe” easel was recently listed as a best seller in the Marshall Field’s catalog.)
Alice has deliberately kept her jewelry off the market in Southern New Mexico, with an eye to starting her own store where she could sell to locals at discount prices, without fear of unfairly competing with other stores in the area.
Prior to starting her jewelry business, Alice made her living as a painter and clay sculpture artist and showed her work in a number of galleries in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Michigan, New York, and Florida. The main section of the gallery is now furnished with her paintings and sculpture, along with the work of other “selected” artisans from around the world. (Alice finds these artists at the many trade shows she travels to in marketing her jewelry. Many of whom are now her friends.)
Her international crafts include a line of contemporary bowls, vases, and cups made in a Bulgarian village; museum quality baskets and Kuba cloth made in Africa, wall hangings and pillow coverings, hand embroidered in Kashmere, some with traditional Navajo weaving designs, others with the designs of modern artists such as Klimpt, Miro, and Kandinsky. Alice recently began showing a line of reasonably priced, beaded burnt velvet jackets that are “so stunning she has a hard time keeping them in stock.” Indeed, the gallery has become as much a place for women to shop for interesting and exotic clothing as it is a place to meander and admire colorful folk art objects from around the world.
Rounding out the international collection, is a large selection of finely woven baskets from Pakistan and China.
If you are in the area, please come visit. Hint, the garden is most beautiful in the morning and late afternoon (swsss
The Hondo Iris Farm is located on Highway 70, at mile marker 284, marked by a blue sign alongside the highway. The phone number is 575.653.4062. Alice’s website is www.aliceseely.com.
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