Walking the rails at Santa Fe Railyard Park and Farmers’ Market – Digging

October 17, 2022

Back to Santa Fe! During our stay in late August, we hit the farmers’ market at The Railyard one morning. A tree-studded green space caught David’s eye on the way over, so we stopped to check it out. We found ourselves in Railyard Park, where train tracks in a former railyard define boldly linear planting beds and paths. There’s even a roundhouse-esque space. What was this, I wondered? A ground-level High Line — a Low Line?

Railyard Park

Train tracks and wheels remind park-goers of the site’s history

Railyard Park is part of a 13-acre industrial redevelopment project completed in 2008, built as a new gathering space for residents outside of tourist-clogged downtown. Today, ironically, its restaurants, shops, and green spaces may be equally popular with tourists. The old railyard had long been derelict, although active rail lines for commuters and adventurers remain to this day. Read more about the park’s contemporary design concept and somewhat contentious design process in an interesting 2010 article in Landscape Architecture magazine.

Wide promenade-like paths run between rail lines, flanked by shrubs, trees, and flowering perennials. Chunky wooden benches (some rotted, unfortunately) resembling railroad ties reinforce the history of the place.

Most of the plants appear to be solid, waterwise choices for Santa Fe’s dry climate, like agaves and grasses.

Grama grass in bloom

Caryopteris maybe?

Small trees — crabapples, I think — were laden with rosy fruits at the end of summer.

Yuccas clustered like spiny sea urchins

Long concrete paving strips zigzag across rail-defined paths and beds, offering access to surrounding roads.

Apache plume’s pink powder-puff flowers

A circular, roundhouse-esque space occupies one side of the park, surrounded by an airy ramada and bisected by a boardwalk path. I like the railyard reference of the design, but the landscaping here has not been well maintained. The central circular bed is weedy on one side and empty on the other. Vines that should be climbing the ramada to provide shade are MIA.

There were a couple of posts smothered in white-flowering vines, and one vine had made it to the top. I wonder what happened to the rest.

A lacy view

The yellows of late summer

We didn’t see the whole park — in fact I missed the park’s 400-year-old acequia, which I regret — but I enjoyed walking the rails and seeing the plants growing there.

A trumpet vine-swagged ramada provides a little shade as you head to the farmers’ market.

In the main plaza, a wooden water tower doubles as a shady gazebo.

Santa Fe Farmers’ Market

The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market was bustling with shoppers that Tuesday morning. (The market is also open on Saturdays from 8 am to 1 pm.)

We bought a loaf of bread and tasty fruit, but these dried chile pepper wreaths with pinecones and dried flowers stopped me in my tracks. So beautiful!

Bundled flowers and baskets were also pretty.

Glowing zinnias and cosmos

And tomatoes and sunflowers

The Santa Fe Railyard is a fun departure from traditional attractions on the Plaza. If you go, be sure to give Tomasita’s restaurant a try. We ate there twice, we liked it so much! Next time I think I’ll take a train ride too.

Up next: An exploration of ancient cliff dwellings at Bandelier, plus Valles Caldera National Preserve. For a look back at the famous adobe church in Ranchos de Taos and soaring bridge over the Rio Grande Gorge, click here.

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Digging Deeper

The Oct. 20th Garden Spark talk “Black Flora” by author Teresa Speight is on sale now, and you’re invited! Teri will be sharing stories of pioneering Black florists, floral activists, and flower farmers doing incredible work across the U.S. Her profiles of these unstoppable creatives in Black Flora are uplifting and inspiring; check out my book review for more info. Come join us and meet Teri at her talk and book signing. Seating is limited, and tickets must be purchased in advance.

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. You can find this year’s speaker lineup here.

All material © 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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