FIND YOUR NICHE: Native Plant Events
Sow, grow & identify: come learn about the Borderlands’ approach to growing native plants this Monsoon season. The BR nursery, part of the Madrean Archipelago Plant Propagation Center, works to spread locally-adaped native plants across our backyards & beyond. We are currently opening our doors to anyone interested in learning more about the native plants of our collective backyards. See flyer below for details.
One of our dreams at BR is to supply locally-sourced plant materials to anyone who needs them: from our beloved national parks to post-fire restoration to ranchers to local schools & parks, to the lazy (or even not-so-lazy) backyard gardener. The BR approach to growing locally adapted plants is unique in the nursery trade. Most plants available for purchase came from seed-growers & nurseries as far away as Texas or Idaho. These plants have been grown in agricultural settings, with reliable water-sources, often for generations. This can produce seeds whose genes are better adapted to agricultural methods in far away places: reliable water, different growing seasons, different pollinator populations, and cooler temperatures for example. This is a problem for restoration, for lazy gardeners who don’t want to water plants, for our local pollinators trying to keep up on a migration schedule, and for public agencies, like the National Park Service, who need plant materials that are adapted to local environmental conditions, weather patterns, and the needs of animals.
The native plants sold at other nurseries, from seeds that come from Idaho or Texas, are still wonderful options for a desert-adapted garden, but we can do better to meet the variety of plant materials needs. The Borderlands horticultural team harvests wild seeds and plant cuttings within the region, grows the plant materials, and replaces them back into nature – this is the definition of locally-sourced, locally-adapted materials.
So why is it so difficult to find locally-adapted plants? Native plants can be tricky and expensive to grow in large quantities: many species have evolved strategies to sprout, flower, and set seed during a variety of environmental conditions and staggered at different times throughout the growing season. With support of the Bureau of Land Management, Safford office, BR has experimented with nearly 100 species of native plants, searching for those “restoration rock-stars” who are easier to grow, like Three-Leaf Sumac (Rhus trilobata), and trying to crack the code on species that are crucial for conservation concerns, like Rush Milkweed (Asclepius subulata). We now have a nursery full of plants available to gardeners and for larger restoration projects. We collaborate with Coronado National Forest, Southeast Arizona National Parks, Sky Island Alliance and other non-profits, local ranchers, and others to get our plants back to the places they belong, to better support wildlife and increase the health and resiliency of our watershed.
This project needs you to sow, grow & identify! Come learn about our mission, our strategies, find out how to propagate you favorite native plant, encourage your neighbors to plant native, start your own nursery. There is lots of room for everyone in this work, and we are delighted to provide an opportunity for you to explore your niche this monsoon season.
*note, plant walk is Saturday, July 25.