About SFBG

/About SFBG
About SFBG 2018-07-02T10:12:43+00:00

The Garden’s Mission

The Santa Fe Botanical Garden celebrates, cultivates and conserves the rich botanical heritage and biodiversity of our region. In partnership with nature, we demonstrate our commitment through education, community service, presentation of the arts, and the sustainable management of our nature preserve and public garden.


It began in 1987 as a vision of a small group of local gardeners, botanists and environmentally oriented citizens to establish a botanical garden in Santa Fe.  This garden has become a valuable resource to our area through educational programs and service to the community.

  • Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve Their vision grew, and in 1993 the Santa Fe Botanical Garden entered into a long-term lease with the trustees of El Rancho de las Golondrinas for the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve. This 35-acre site with its spring fed pond and remarkable diversity of plants and wildlife quickly became the focus of much of the organization’s educational programming. Dedicated volunteers spent countless hours removing exotic and invasive plants, restoring the habitat through revegetation and ensuring that the pond remain a healthy environment for riparian plants, birds and invertebrates.
  • Santa Fe Botanical Garden at Museum Hill In December 2006 eleven acres of land were acquired on a long-term lease from the City of Santa Fe for the development of a botanical garden at Museum Hill. Nationally recognized landscape architect W. Gary Smith was hired to create a master plan for the new garden. Following an intensive review process, the master plan was approved by the City of Santa Fe in 2011. Additional acreage was leased from the City of Santa Fe and the State of New Mexico bringing the total to 14 acres in 2013. Phase 1, the Orchard Gardens, opened in July 2013 attracting 18,000 visitors during the first six months of operations.  Phase 2 of the garden, Ojos y Manos: Eyes and Hands, opened in the Fall of 2016 and explores ethnobotany through hands-on experiences and observation .
  • Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve The 1,350-acre Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve was acquired by the Santa Fe Botanical Garden in 2001. After assuming stewardship, volunteers and staff worked to make the Preserve accessible to visitors through the addition of a network of trails and a visitors’ kiosk.  The County of Santa Fe purchased the land in 2007.  Santa Fe Botanical Garden managed and provided programming for the Preserve until 2015, when County Open Space took over management.

Strategic Plan: Vision 2020

Long term goals and objects for 2015 through 2020. Download and view here >

Letter from Clayton Bass, President & CEO

 July 2018

Dear Botanical Garden Supporters,

Now that summer has come to northern New Mexico, it is a good time to reflect upon the Santa Fe Botanical Garden’s (SFBG) education program offerings across our city. During the 2017/18 school year the Garden placed an emphasis on providing fun, engaging, and educational programming for the youngest members of our community.

SFBG is pleased to announce the completion of the first year of the Stephen and Jane Hochberg Early Childhood Program implemented at three sites, Nye Early Learning Center, Tesuque Elementary School, and the School for the Deaf. Garden educators specializing in early childhood learning worked in 14 classrooms and engaged 113 students. Each school had at least fifteen visits from a Garden educator, took field trips to the Botanical Garden at Museum Hill or the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve, and received free memberships for their families. Topics for learning included winter habitats and survival of animals and insects, creating bird nesting materials and feeders, observation of owls and other bird species, an exploration of bees and worms, growing seeds, and sensory walks in nature. Many thanks to Jane and Stephen Hochberg for their generous gift that allowed this project to take root and encourages children to embark on a personal journey to discover nature.

Now completing its third year is Garden Sprouts, our free early childhood literacy, science, and art program. In 2017, with growing demand from the community, Sprouts served more than 900 children and adults, a dramatic increase since its first year in 2015 when the program served over 300 participants. Every Friday morning at the Garden, come rain or shine, toddlers and their families explore our environment through great books and engaging hands-on activities. The Garden deeply appreciates the ongoing generosity of Garden Sprouts sponsor Joyce Melander Smith for her steadfast support of this vital program for young children and their families. Also, thanks to Lydia Lopez, our early childhood garden educator, and her team of volunteers for their dedication to helping young children get to know and love the natural world.

Reflecting on 2017, the Botanical Garden engaged more than 13,000 youth contacts and over 1,200 adults through varied programs offered at both SFBG sites and across the community in public and private schools. Each year the Santa Fe Botanical Garden continues to raise the bar and provide leadership in Santa Fe for its educational programs. In May, 2018 the Santa Fe Botanical Garden was one of only six institutions in North America to receive the Design Excellence Aware for interpretation from the American Alliance of Museums. It is such an honor for the Garden’s team of educators to be recognized for the Garden’s interpretive plan within Ojos y Manos: Eyes and Hands Garden. Congratulations and thanks to Mollie Parsons, Education Director, and her fine team of educators and volunteers for this tremendous accomplishment. You make us proud!

Recently the Botanical Garden family lost one of its long-serving, loyal members. Nora Hillier passed away last month, after serving on the Board of Directors for six years. During that time Nora was an enthusiastic ambassador for the Garden, worked diligently on various Board committees, and served on the Museum Hill Campaign Committee to secure funds to construct phases one and two of the Garden. Nora’s smile and effervescent personality will be missed by all who considered her a friend and colleague. Currently we are gathering funds to purchase a bench in memory of Nora to be placed in the Garden’s new phase, Piñon-Juniper Woodland. Contact Rebecca Jensen, Development Director, at rebecca@santafebotanicalgarden.org if you would like to support this effort to remember a dear friend of the Garden. Gifts of all sizes are important and appreciated.

Two major events in the Botanical Garden are just around the corner that you will not want to miss. Tickets are on sale now for Shakespeare in the Garden: A Midsummer Night’s Dream for both the opening night kick off and performance, and for tickets to the other fourteen evenings. This year’s production will be directed by Santa Fe native, Rachel Kelly, and features an amazing cast of actors selected from auditions in New York and Santa Fe. Ticket sales are very strong, so don’t wait to secure your seats for an evening of magic and wonder in the Botanical Garden.

The Garden’s other not to miss event is the Equinox Celebration on September 22. Tickets can be purchased here for this amazing dinner, dancing, auction and fun with friends, both old and new. This new event is the Garden’s major fundraiser to support its educational mission within our community, and replaces the Solstice event held previously in June each year. Tickets are moving briskly, so don’t delay. The new Equinox event allows Garden supporters to purchase a table of eight at a reduced rate. More details about both events can be found on the Garden’s website at the two links above. However, if there are questions, don’t hesitate to contact the office at 505-471-9103. Thanks in advance for supporting the Botanical Garden through these exciting events.

In closing, I want to thank and send best wishes to Sarah Spearman who recently accepted a new position elsewhere. Sarah contributed greatly to building the Garden’s brand and raising awareness of our two locations in Santa Fe. Good luck and keep in touch!

Many thanks for your interest and support of the Botanical Garden!

Clayton Bass, President and CEO


Santa Fe Botanical Garden is a proud member of the American Public Gardens Association, American Alliance of Museums, American Horticultural Society, Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, Sentinel Plant Network, and Museum Hill Partners.



Santa Fe Botanical Garden

Museum of Spanish Colonial Art

Museum of International Folk Art

Museum of New Mexico Foundation

International Folk Art Market/Santa Fe

The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian

Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

National Park Service

Santa Fe Community Educators Network