By SARAH FLOWER
June is recognized as “National Pollinators Month” which encourages planting native pollinator gardens and nectar producing plants. The town of Pagosa Springs is observing their own Native Plant week by celebrating the opening of their newest Habitat Hero Garden. KSUT’s Sarah Flower spoke to a community naturalist about the project.
Sarah Flower 00:00
Over 400 native plants of more than 40 species are being housed at the geothermal greenhouse partnership site in downtown Pagosa Springs. The plants at the Habitat Hero Garden were put into the ground last summer during the thick of the pandemic, and the delayed ribbon cutting ceremony takes place tomorrow at the site along the San Juan Riverwalk. Keith Bruno is a community naturalist and educator at Audubon Rockies and serves as a board member of the GGP. Bruno says a demonstration garden like this gives community members and visitors a chance to make their own gardens more ecologically sound and provides options for better landscaping during an extreme drought.
Keith Bruno 00:43
The whole intention is to make it easier so plants that are still going to be beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, but require less water, less inputs, you know, less fertilizers, less need for pesticide and herbicide applications. So really a garden that should require less of your time and expertise but actually provide more of an ecological connectivity piece for the bird, the migrant birds and the migrant pollinators, etc. moving through there.
Sarah Flower 01:08
Bruno says that collaboration with several organizations throughout the town was a key component in helping the grant funded project move forward together.
Keith Bruno 01:17
This is a great program. I’m really excited about this collaboration because not only did we work with the town of Pagosa Springs, directly, they helped to link us up with the Southwest Conservation Corps crew who came down and built a garden fence. Now these are local high school students, but also with folks from the Mountain High Garden Club, the Weiminuche Audubon Society chapter, the GGP and folks coming out and saying, hey, you know, I’m interested in this.
Sarah Flower 01:43
In fact, about 70 socially distanced volunteers logged over 130 hours of work to create this garden. Examples of native plants that are also pollinators include rabbit bush sticky geraniums, sideout grass, native blanket flower just to name a few. And Bruno says that every bit of native plant habitat adds up to big change for both the pollinators and for the birds.
Keith Bruno 02:09
So when you’re thinking about your garden for birds, make sure you’re offering you know food, make sure you’re offering nesting habitat. So you know, different ground covers all the way up to trees, and make sure you’re providing berries, nuts, insects, and then protection. So all those kinds of pieces come together to offer birds, something that looks like where they want to hang out. And that’s the important part.
Sarah Flower 02:37
As the hero garden started almost a year ago, Bruno says that about 90% of the vegetation that was planted has survived thus far. For tomorrow’s ribbon cutting ceremony, Don Volger, mayor of the town of Pagosa Springs is expected to read a proclamation honoring Native Plant week. Reporting for KSUT News, I’m Sarah Flower.