A low water-use demonstration garden is now open to the public in the center courtyard of the Gila Community College campus. A gift to the people and communities of the Rim country, a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony was held at the garden Friday, Oct. 3.
Speakers included Dr. Barbara Ganz, president of GCC; Colin (Buzz) Walker, director of public works for the town of Payson; Ken Murphy, mayor of Payson; and Louise Wakem, Arizona Tree Council. Glen McCombs, president of the High Country Xeriscape Council of Arizona was master of ceremonies.
Partnering with GCC for the space and physical support, and the Town of Payson Water Department, for labor, materials and resources, the HCXCA was able to provide a garden for which the value far exceeds the actual amount of money spent to achieve the end result
Designed by members of the Xeriscape Council, the project focus is on realistic landscape design for the homeowner incorporating the use of native and other low water-use plants; water harvesting techniques; fire-wise and fire retardant plantings; wildlife habitat and control; and educational seminars and workshops.
Creating a sense of natural space and beauty, and proper maintenance and care of appropriate plants for the region, the garden will be open and accessible to the public at all times.
Plant identification and information signage, walkways and an information kiosk are incorporated in the garden. Informational brochures are available at the kiosk and offer interpretation of plant placement, water harvesting methods, and wildlife control.
At present more than three-dozen low water-use plants are growing in the garden, with more to come as the fall planting season approaches and plants become available.
As in the home landscape, a garden is never really finished. This demonstration garden will continue to provide a living laboratory, as members log the progress of plants, amount of water needed to sustain them, and evidence of wildlife in the area. The kiosk will provide new information as it becomes available, and displays of interest to water-conservation-minded gardeners when they visit.
The garden became a reality after two years of planning and grant applications submitted by the HCXCA resulted in a $16,000 matching funds grant from the Arizona Land Department and Community Tree Council. The grant was awarded the local Xeriscape Council in December of 2002, and work began on the garden Jan. 4, 2003. The $8,063 grant award required the Xeriscape Council to make an expenditure of $8,063, which was provided by volunteer labor, gifts in kind of labor and materials from local businesses, and cash outlay for incidentals.
Persons interested in learning more about the work of the High Country Xeriscape Council may contact HCXCA information officer Micky Solcz at (928) 474-6723 and check out the website at http:// www.xeriscapeaz.org.
The organization meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first Monday of every month at GCC, and is always willing to accept new members, who are interested in helping to educate the public on low water-use gardening.