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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Audubon Creating New Pollinator Garden

In early April, the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado-Audubon Center at Central Ave. and the Salt River in South Phoenix, will host its first Migration Celebration. The event will commemorate the opening of the Center’s new Pollinator Garden.

The Sonoran Desert is located along the migration route between Mexico and Canada and is an integral part of the ecosystems along the route, providing a key stopping point to many pollinators– insects, birds and other wildlife that pollinate various forms of vegetation during their travels, which helps create the Sonoran Desert’s various forms of vegetation, including crops.

“As we clear lands, it gets harder and harder for such pollinators to find places to find food along the way,” said Cathy Wise, education director at the center.

The center hopes to not only provide a place for pollinators, but also to create a garden for the local community to learn about how they can plant the right types of vegetation in their gardens.

“Our objective,” said Victor Vidales, education chair of Audubon Arizona’s board of directors and owner of Re/Max New Heights Realty, “is to connect with the local community with a pollinator garden where staff can teach local residents and visitors about sustainable land stewardship.”

As an education source for the local community, Audubon provides a number of free resources, and the garden will be another important way for locals to connect. Garden plants will be labeled and center visitors can learn about the types of animals the various plants attract.

The garden has recently undergone the first stages of planting. Under the direction of ASU faculty and plant expert, Julie Stromberg, graduate student Lane Butler, Tucson landscape designer and sculptor, Greg Corman of Gardening Insights, and the center’s Cathy Wise, the garden is beginning to take shape. Local Eagle Scout candidate Jackson Murphy is coordinating the planting efforts. Arizona businesses such as Mountain States Nursery in Litchfield and Desert Survivors in Tucson are providing plants and local volunteers and experts are clearing and planting.

In mid-January of this year, the team began work on phase one. They cleared space and planted a variety of flora to attract pollinators like the Monarch and the Blue Pygmy butterflies, different types of hummingbirds, white doves, bats and important insects such as ground nesting bees. Together, these species help to keep Arizona’s deserts thriving.

Phase one of the garden covers the land east of the center where the Demonstration Garden is scheduled for completion the first week of April, in time for the Center’s Migration Celebration. The area includes the Honeywell Ephemeral Stream and, once the center secures funds, it will also host a series of child-friendly, butterfly sculptures designed by sculptor, Tom Coffin.

Phase two is planned for the area north of the Center between the Arizona Game and Fish Department Wetlands and the Salt River, and should be completed in October of 2011. A team of volunteers from Wells Fargo has already been out to lay top dressing among the winding paths in preparation for future planting. The center is awaiting word on a grant to further support phase two.

In attracting these species to their garden, Audubon staff and volunteers hope to provide a rich resource for local children and families, students of life sciences, experts and gardeners interested in studying the pollinators, monitoring their behavior and learning more about the plants and animals that shape the Arizona landscape.

Situated in the Rio Salado Habitat, which boasts 600 acres and more than 15 miles of hiking and biking along the Salt River, the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado-Audubon Center, which opened in October of 2009, already hosts a number of community resources, including the Hummingbird Garden, winding paths that skirt the Salt River, family and child-friendly programs, beautiful space for meetings and events, a specialized library, after-school programs and classes and workshops. The Center, located at 3131 S. Central Avenue, is open free Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

The Center’s free Migration Celebration is scheduled for April 9th from 9 a.m. –3 p.m. Local residents are invited to attend to enjoy the garden and learn from experts about the best vegetation for Arizona’s pollinators. In addition, local nurseries will offer pollinator-friendly plants on-site for sale.

For more information about the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado-Audubon Center visit online at az.audubon.org or call the Center at 602-468-6470.


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