GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2009 show6
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Show #6/1506
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum


Blending A beautiful Resort Into The Environment
Brian reports that when this property was designed 27 years ago it was a question of BLENDING A BEAUTIFUL RESORT INTO AND KEEPING IT IN HARMONY WITH THE ENVIRONMENT. They wanted it all to blend, to be seen as one. That was paramount in their thought process then and now. This beautiful resort is based at the foothills of the Catalina Mountains, one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in Arizona. At the resort they're at 3,300 feet elevation, the top of the mountain is 9,500 feet. So there is great diversity in plant material. The walkway within the resort has existed for 25 years. As they look at it they are always thinking: How do we enhance it, how do we bring out the natural beauty?

Click here for more info

Agave
No desert museum would be complete without Agave parviflora Agave. It is a striking plant. GEORGE LIKES AGAVES FOR MANY REASONS. In part, they're economically valuable to humans. Humans have been using Agaves for food, beverage and fiber for thousands of years.

Click here for more info

Cactus
George likes Agaves but LIKES CACTUS EVEN BETTER. Cactus are exciting plants, they're curious. Cactus regardless of shape are somewhat similar. Their flowers are similar, they have a waxy cuticle on their skin to inhibit water loss and their leaves are modified into spines. But they do have a lot of different shapes and forms. There are at least 5 major growth forms. Small globular plants, like Mammillarias are one. There are barrel shaped Cacti, Barrel Cactus. There are Prickly Pears with their flat pads, tree-like Chollas, then giant columnars like Saguaros and Organ Pipes.

Click here for more info

Pollination Gardens - Hummingbirds
Bees are a major pollinators of Cactus flowers. To learn more about pollination the guys next visit the pollination gardens. George LIKES HUMMINGBIRDS. To him the word that best describes them is charismatic. Their heart beats something like 1,200 times a minute and their wings in some species beat 80 times per second. To attract hummingbirds plant tubular flowers in the red, yellow or orange spectrum. Many of these plants have adapted or changed over the years so that hummingbirds are the only pollinators for them. Most have co-evolved together, the flowers and the birds.

Click here for more info

Hummingbird Feeder Recipes
There is some controversy. Should one put a hummingbird feeder in your yard or not? George would go with as many flowers as possible but the fact is hummingbirds need up to a 1,000 flowers per day for their energy requirements. If one wants supplemental feeding, it is something to look into. The recipe for sugar and water is a concern because if too much sugar it could dehydrate them. It must be the proper mix. For more information, check out the links section about recipes for hummingbird feeders.

Click here for more info

Butterflies
BUTTERFLIES ARE ANOTHER GARDEN FAVORITE. That is probably because of the - double your pleasure aspect. One gets beautiful butterflies, but also a lot of great looking plants because it takes pretty flowers to attract adult butterflies. But there are 2 groups of plants that a gardener must raise to have a lot of butterflies. One needs the larval food plants but with them one must tolerate the chewing of the caterpillars which are needed to hatch out pupae which turn into adult butterflies that then come to your beautiful flowering plants. Thus the caterpillars aren't all bad, one must tolerate them. Let them chew on their plants.

Click here for more info

Moths As Pollinators
George has a moth garden in a raised garden bed. Richard is confused, when he thinks of moths he thinks of holes in his sweater. BUT MOTHS ARE A GREAT GROUP OF POLLINATORS. There are many more moths in Arizona than butterflies. And they do most of their work at night, they're nocturnal. Thus sitting on a patio in the evening in Tucson if one has nocturnal opening flowers, moths will come to them. It's a fine way to spend an evening. To attract moths utilize yellow or white, light colored flowers that are fragrant. They have found here that members of the evening primrose family are favorites of moths but also of rabbits. Having a raised bed helps keep the flowers here.

Click here for more info

Bats
Another nocturnal critter is the bat. Different people have different feelings about bats. George admires and respects bats. They're an important animal. In this area nectar feeding BATS ARE POLLINATORS OF SEVERAL PLANTS. The columnar Cacti and the Agaves are pollinated by them. When the bat is feeding on the nectar within, they're transferring pollen, which is important in the desert. Bats also pollinate economic crops. Many tropical fruits are pollinated by bats, thus many fruits are the creation of bats.

Click here for more info

Convergent Evolution
A TOPIC THAT IS CLOSE TO GEORGE'S HEART IS CONVERGENT EVOLUTION. Convergent evolution is the end product of plants and animals adapting to environmental stresses by modifying their body forms to meet those stresses. The point is that regardless of where a plant is from they are going to pretty much change the same if subjected to the same stresses.

Click here for more info

 

LINKS:

Garden Smart Plant List

Loews Ventana Canyon Resort

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Hummingbird Food: How to Make Hummingbird Food; Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

Plant of the Week


Complete transcript of the show.

Show #6/1506
For over 1/2 a century the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has enchanted millions of visitors with their exhibits of plants and animals in an astonishingly natural setting. It is a wonderful setting for a gardening show.

Tucson has been described as the greenest of deserts. It offers clear skies, fresh air, fantastic sunsets and stunning indigenous plants. Importantly, Tucson does a great job of emphasizing all of these. Brian Johnson, the managing director of a beautiful Tucson resort that emphasizes the natural environment, joins GardenSMART for this Episode.

Brian reports that when this property was designed 27 years ago it was a question of BLENDING A BEAUTIFUL RESORT INTO AND KEEPING IT IN HARMONY WITH THE ENVIRONMENT. They wanted it all to blend, to be seen as one. That was paramount in their thought process then and now. This beautiful resort is based at the foothills of the Catalina Mountains, one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in Arizona. At the resort they're at 3,300 feet elevation, the top of the mountain is 9,500 feet. So there is great diversity in plant material. The walkway within the resort has existed for 25 years. As they look at it they are always thinking: How do we enhance it, how do we bring out the natural beauty? They decided to partner with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and asked them to help identify plants and identify invertebrates, the animals. Their charge - make it fun and make it educational. They came up with beautiful signage, provided the names, cute descriptions, something that would educate visitors, something that would draw them in and say -"Wow, I never knew that, that's really cool." Education can be fun and is fun.

Loews and Ventana Canyon don't believe one can blend in with the environment by moving things out just to put a building in. So they went to great expense to move many of the Saguaros, some of which are 200-300 years old. All told they transplanted 2,500 cacti.

There is a waterfall on the property which many believe is the center of the property. In the last run-through, just before they started construction, the owners took a helicopter ride over the property. This happened in August, just after a monsoon, thus the water was flowing which allowed them to discover a 100 foot waterfall they never before knew existed on this property. So they moved the footprint of the hotel to make the waterfall the center point.

Brian is proud of what they've accomplished at this beautiful resort and recommends we visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) to learn even more about the plants of the area. ASDM is located in a natural setting. They profile the plants, animals and minerals of the Sonora desert. And it has a beautiful 50 mile vista. He also recommends we spend some time with George Montgomery the Curator.

George is the Curator of Botany. He takes care of the horticulture at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and has been here for 30 years. George went to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and got a degree in Zoology. His knowledge of animals and care of animals led him to jobs in zoos. He first came here as an animal keeper. The opportunity presented itself to move into the botany department which allowed George to fulfill his passion to grow and learn more about the native plants of the region. George is a member of the Native Plant Society, a member of the Association of Zoological Horticulture of which he is a former board member and currently a professional member of the organization. This group represents the horticulturists who work in the zoos across the world. It's a small organization but an important one. It has 400 members but is helpful in creating the learning experience for the zoo visitor.

This park is particularly interesting. It is situated on about 20 acres but is surrounded by a huge park. There are 600 species of native plants in the surrounding park and over 1,300 species of plants in this park for the visitors to see. And here one finds not only plants, but animals as well. The wildlife is diverse. They have many mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates that visitors can encounter while visiting. The natural setting lends itself to its own beauty throughout the gardens at the Museum. They've enhanced the vegetation to fit the message for a richer experience for the visitor. By simply embellishing the area a little, it provides a very powerful message in a natural setting.
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George and Richard start the tour. No desert museum would be complete without Agave parviflora Agave. It is a striking plant. GEORGE LIKES AGAVES FOR MANY REASONS. In part, they're economically valuable to humans. Humans have been using Agaves for food, beverage and fiber for thousands of years. For food - The heart of the Agave, the stalk and base of the leaves, as it's getting ready to flower produces sugars. Native people have cut off the leaves, roasted the heart in a pit, then used that for food for a long time. For beverage - Tequila and Mescal are beverages that are brewed, then distilled from the heart of the Agave. Fiber - Some of the most important fibers come from Agaves. Sisal fiber is a huge industry in many parts of the world.

Agaves can reproduce in 3 different ways: 1. Sexually through pollination. Seeds are formed inside the fruit, as in most plants. 2. They also produce root offsets, as the plant is maturing, new pups are growing at the base of the plant. And the 3rd almost unique way, on the flowering stalk of some species, plantlets, called aerial bovilles, will form. That is the stalk that we see that is so tall. The stalk grows very fast and can get anywhere from 5 to 25 feet tall. The flowers are on the top and that is where pollinators are found.
Top

George likes Agaves but LIKES CACTUS EVEN BETTER. Cactus are exciting plants, they're curious. Cactus regardless of shape are somewhat similar. Their flowers are similar, they have a waxy cuticle on their skin to inhibit water loss and their leaves are modified into spines. But they do have a lot of different shapes and forms. There are at least 5 major growth forms. Small globular plants, like Mammillarias are one. There are barrel shaped Cacti, Barrel Cactus. There are Prickly Pears with their flat pads, tree-like Chollas, then giant columnars like Saguaros and Organ Pipes.

The small globular cacti, the Mammillarias genus is globular and anywhere from 1/2 an inch in size up to a few inches tall. They can be solitary or multi-stemmed.

The Ferocactus Barrel Cactus are bigger in size than the globular plants and may range up to 6 feet tall in some barrels and most are extremely spiny. Native squirrels can eat their fruit and once they break into the plant birds will eat the seeds out of the fruit.

Many people eat Opuntia Prickly Pear, the flat plant. The Prickly Pear pad, especially the new growth, is used for foods and called Nopal.

The tree forms Cylindropuntia fulgid Chollas are another. The flower buds of Chollas have been used by native people as a snack food for a long time. The big columnar cacti are beautiful and some edible.

The giant cacti, Carnegiea gigantea Saguaros have a flower, the state flower. Again, it's fruit is an edible food source. Frequently woodpeckers will dig into Saguaros, nest there, then subsequently other birds will utilize those holes. In fact, up to 20 species of birds will nest in the holes of the Saguaros.

The cactus family is an amazing group of plants. They're diverse and beautiful.
Top

Bees are a major pollinators of Cactus flowers. To learn more about pollination the guys next visit the pollination gardens. George LIKES HUMMINGBIRDS. To him the word that best describes them is charismatic. Their heart beats something like 1,200 times a minute and their wings in some species beat 80 times per second. To attract hummingbirds plant tubular flowers in the red, yellow or orange spectrum. Many of these plants have adapted or changed over the years so that hummingbirds are the only pollinators for them. Most have co-evolved together, the flowers and the birds. George points out several plants ideal for Hummingbirds - Lobelia inflata Lobelias, Anisacanthus wrightii Hummingbird Bush, Justica candicans, Justicia californica Chuparosa, Aquilegia vulgaris Columbine. In this space they also have Aloe barbadensis Aloe. It is an old world plant, pollinated by a Sunbird in the old world, but they have the same long, tubular flower, thus utilized by the hummingbird.
Top

There is some controversy. Should one put a hummingbird feeder in your yard or not? George would go with as many flowers as possible but the fact is hummingbirds need up to a 1,000 flowers per day for their energy requirements. If one wants supplemental feeding, it is something to look into. The recipe for sugar and water is a concern because if too much sugar it could dehydrate them. It must be the proper mix. For more information check out the link section for recipes for hummingbird feeders.
Top

BUTTERFLIES ARE ANOTHER GARDEN FAVORITE. That is probably because of the - double your pleasure aspect. One gets beautiful butterflies, but also a lot of great looking plants because it takes pretty flowers to attract adult butterflies. But there are 2 groups of plants that a gardener must raise to have a lot of butterflies. One needs the larval food plants but with them one must tolerate the chewing of the caterpillars which are needed to hatch out pupae which turn into adult butterflies that then come to your beautiful flowering plants. Thus the caterpillars aren't all bad, one must tolerate them. Let them chew on their plants.

The nectar producing plants cross a broad range that offer interest from early in the year throughout the summer. Sonchus oleraceus Thistles are one of the early flowers. Lantana camara lantana is a fantastic nectar flower, Lantana is native to the Southern Sonora Desert region. There is white Lantana which is used throughout the country. Color-wise purple, pink, white and yellow are good choices for butterflies. Tithonia fruiticosa Mexican Sunflower Bush is one of George's favorites.

Always be careful using pesticides in a garden that attracts butterflies. Insecticides kill insects. If you want butterflies, minimize the use of insecticides, use it at specific times of the year only, but absolutely minimize the use of insecticides. A narrow window or don't use it at all, is Richard's philosophy.
Top

George has a moth garden in a raised garden bed. Richard is confused, when he thinks of moths he thinks of holes in his sweater. BUT MOTHS ARE A GREAT GROUP OF POLLINATORS. There are many more moths in Arizona than butterflies. And they do most of their work at night, they're nocturnal. Thus sitting on a patio in the evening in Tucson if one has nocturnal opening flowers, moths will come to them. It's a fine way to spend an evening. To attract moths utilize yellow or white, light colored flowers that are fragrant. They have found here that members of the evening primrose family are favorites of moths but also of rabbits. Having a raised bed helps keep the flowers here. Rabbits won't actually jump up to the raised bed. In the back, where it's not raised, there is a fence. The flowers cover it up, thus it's not visible but it keeps rabbits away. A raised bed is an excellent way to keep rabbits out of your garden.
Top

Another nocturnal critter is the bat. Different people have different feelings about bats. George admires and respects bats. They're an important animal. In this area nectar feeding BATS ARE POLLINATORS OF SEVERAL PLANTS. The columnar Cacti and the Agaves are pollinated by them. When the bat is feeding on the nectar within, they're transferring pollen, which is important in the desert. Bats also pollinate economic crops. Many tropical fruits are pollinated by bats, thus many fruits are the creation of bats.

Many bats are insect eaters. Which means they're economically important in controlling mosquitoes as well as other insects in cities and farms.

One would attract insect eating bats by putting up bat houses or shelters for them. One would attract nectar-feeding bats by growing Agaves or some of the columnar Cacti. The bottom line on bats is they're great animals and need to be respected.
Top

A TOPIC THAT IS CLOSE TO GEORGE'S HEART IS CONVERGENT EVOLUTION. Convergent evolution is the end product of plants and animals adapting to environmental stresses by modifying their body forms to meet those stresses. The point is that regardless of where a plant is from they are going to pretty much change the same if subjected to the same stresses. One can see this in animals. Several mammals have evolved with similar body forms. The giant anteater of South America, the Aardvark of Africa, the Panflion of the China region; all have similar body forms. They're short, stout, have elongated proboscis or noses, toothless and long sticky tongues, with giant digging front claws, so they can tear into ant hills and get their food.

And, it happens in plants as well. The guys look at plants that look almost identical but they grew up in totally different parts of the world. They have very similar structures, very similar aspects. They both have an upright growth form and multi-armed spination on the edges of the pleats. The Euphorbia canariensis Canary Island Spurge is from the Canary Islands, and is old world. The Pachycereus gatesii is a Mexican plant. It has the same body form and a prime example of convergent evolution. Upon closer examination the accordion-like structure that goes in and out seems to be an adaptive way or convergent evolution aspect of water storage. As the plants take up water, the pleats will swell and allow water storage in the tissues. As water is drawn away due to the metabolic processes the accordion pleats close up and the plant looks more dehydrated. Plants can be thousands of miles away from each other, on different continents, and still the plants will adapt in the same way. Richard notices 3 plants, one from Mexico, one the southwest U.S. the other from Madagascar, yet all are very similar. All 3 are multi trunk, shrubby plants that have heavy spination. They have adapted to stress similarly, they're drought deciduous and drop their leaves when the water in the soil is gone.

What does this mean for the serious gardener? The above plant examples show us plants from our region as well as plants from different parts of the world. Growing a native plant is an easy way to garden, a native plant will grow well in its native environment. In addition, using non-native plant material from a similar environment will grow well with a minimal amount of care. So, start off with natives, if that doesn't work go with a plant that grew up in a similar growing condition. By following this method, one can increase their plant choices.

George's advice for gardeners is simple: Have a minimal impact on the land. First, use natives. Appreciate native plants, learn to appreciate their beauty. The Ocotillo is an example. It's in flower now. The flower is bright red and stunning. It may not have as much impact as a bunch of flowers, but it's more sensible and much more sustainable. Secondly, minimize chemical consumption. Natives will help with that. And another strategy is to minimize the amount of turf you use. One sees quite a bid of turf minimization in Tucson. Other ground covers can be attractive and a lot less dependent on chemicals and water. Try these ideas, implementing them isn't as difficult as one might imagine. And the rewards are many.

Richard thanks George. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a wonderful experience. George has done a great job here.
Top

LINKS:

Garden Smart Plant List

Loews Ventana Canyon Resort

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Hummingbird Food: How to Make Hummingbird Food; Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

Plant of the Week

   
 
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By Kate Karam, Monrovia

There's really no better time to visit the great public gardens than spring into summer, but why not get off the horticultural highway and see a few lesser known gardens, too! Dotting the country are some truly remarkable places that you may not have heard of but that you need to see. Read more...


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