In 2017, I set out to find a property with meandering gardens. As soon as I saw the circa 1900s adobe farmhouse in the North Valley in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I was smitten. The house had an immediate feeling of having a soul.
The place had so much character (a 1900s adobe hacienda with worn wooden beams and beautiful saltillo tile floors, stained-glass windows and five fireplaces, a casita, a gun shop, chicken coop horse stables, a lily pond and an aviary) that I knew my creative spirit could thrive in this setting.
As soon as I saw the half-acre empty lot at the back of the property, where donkeys and horses were living, I knew that it would be my lavender field. My husband, Joe Ornelas, and I set about planting, with the idea to turn the charming A-frame barn in front of it into a place for my little lavender space and the casita next to it into our farm shop.
I named the estate Jo’s Farms, after my mother, Josephine, who loved the scent of lavender as much as I do, and began putting my plans into effect.
Jo’s Farms is an extension of the Lisa Fontanarosa Collection (www.lisafontanarosa.com), the business I started in 1997 to showcase the works of artists from around the world.
Because the soil in what would become the lavender field was compacted by horse and donkey hooves, the ground had to be laser-leveled before I could put the first 450 French Grosso and Provence lavender plants into the ground.
In the lavender field, surrounded by chickens strutting and clucking, giant, old cottonwood trees, a cosmos meadow and flower and herb beds, I find new inspiration.
The smell of fresh lavender is a meditative perfume. It, and its colorful blooms, make me happy.
I love to wander in my lavender field cutting fresh bundles of buds for my table and hanging them everywhere in my house.
Now, I’m excited to be sharing with you the linen lavender bags and the other artist-made treasures I’ve collected from my trips to France.