Ram's Head White Hollyhock and Little Hills (1935) Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe's garden is set to be reborn

But don't expect the lush flowers of her paintings to be blooming in this New Mexico plot

Did you know that the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum is planning a garden? The Albuquerque Journal reports "the Santa Fe Botanical Garden is cooperating with the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum to take cuttings and other means of propagating plants growing in the late artist's garden, with the eventual aim of transplanting them into the Museum Hill garden in Santa Fe."

O'Keeffe, who grew up in a dairy-farming family and maintained a strong appreciation of nature throughout her life, kept two homes in New Mexico. Her first was on the Ghost Ranch, a 21,000 acre property in north central New Mexico; she began spending summers there in 1934, inspired by the state's bare natural beauty. However, the artist also bought a dilapidated hacienda in the nearby hamlet of Abiquiu in 1945, having first seen the house fifteen years earlier.

“I was living and painting at Ghost Ranch,” she later recalled, “but I kept returning to Abiquiu to look around. The garden pleased me enormously.” Following a thorough restoration, O'Keeffe moved into the Abiquiu house in 1949, painting and tending to its garden, until her death, in 1986.


O'Keeffe in her Abiquiu garden, 1962, by Todd Webb
O'Keeffe in her Abiquiu garden, 1962, by Todd Webb

Now Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, plans to recreate O'Keeffe's garden , with the help of the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, which is assisting in the taking of cuttings and the transportation of plants from the artist's former home to the museum's plot.

Obviously, New Mexico is arid, so visitors to the garden, which should be open for the 130th anniversary of the artist's birth 2017, shouldn't expect to see the kind of lush blooms pictured in many of her paintings.


Abiquiu home, 1981, courtesy of Architectural Digest
Abiquiu home, 1981, courtesy of Architectural Digest

“There will be some overlap with the flowers she painted, but it’s not so much about the artwork as the actual garden she kept,” the museum's managing director Linda Milbourn says, adding that the garden consists of mostly woody plans, and some perennials. So, don’t expect a flower painting brought to life, but rather another more unusual insight into the creative powers of one of the greatest modernist artists.

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