The climate is Mediterranean, and while some of the plants in the landscaped gardens are not native to the area (like rosemary), they have all been chosen because they suit the climate. Lawn areas are kept to a minimum.
Water is a precious resource in a climate of little rainfall, and so many water-saving techniques are used, such as drip irrigation and copious application of mulch.In the 1980s, a grey-water reclamation system was installed to collect the water used in the guest cabins. That water is now used to water the gardens during the hottest part of the summer.
Fertilizer needs are met by using compost created on-site, weeding is done by hand and the only herbicide used is insecticidal soap when necessary. (More information about Ranch landscaping practices is here.)Within walking distance is a 6 acre organic farm called Rancho Tres Estrellas, where most of the produce served at the Ranch dining hall is grown.
The farm includes orchards and intensively planted vegetable and herb beds. It’s all presided over by head gardener, Salvador Tinajero, who has worked there since the age of 19. You won’t find a more more passionate or better informed organic gardener anywhere.
We met Salvador after an early morning breakfast hike from the Ranch to the organic farm. It’s a pleasant walk through rolling native chaparral, and you work up an appetite for breakfast served at the Ranch cooking school, La Cocina que Canta. The morning we went, we were all bundled up because there had been a touch of frost overnight.
(More information about the organic farm that serves the Ranch is here.)
Here are more pictures of the landscape at Rancho La Puerta: