Beginning in the early 1970s, O’Keeffe began hiring Lopez’s brothers to help Suazo with the garden; later, they’d be hired full-time and taught how to care for the garden to the artist’s liking. Decades later, in 2006, when the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum took over the Abiquiú property and decided to bring the garden back to its former glory, the Lopez family was essential to the process.
“They had the knowledge,” Lopez explained, referring to her brothers Margarito, who is now the gardener, and Belarmino, who is the construction and maintenance specialist. “Of course there’s always new ways of doing things, but we also want to maintain some of the old history of how things were done when Georgia O’Keeffe was at her house, to maintain the authenticity and her aesthetic. It’s a very contemplative place.” That history includes watering the plants through the original flood irrigation system, where the area is flooded “almost like a rice paddy,” Lopez explained, so that even the deepest soil absorbs the moisture.