One of the best kept secrets in Pima County--until now, that is--is the Pima County Native Plant Nursery., opens a new window
Well before PCPL's Seed Library, opens a new window was established as a community resource, promoting the stewardship of the plant resources in our lovely pueblo, there was another group of Pima County employees hard at work to protect the unique flora of our Sonoran Desert home. Inspired by a desire to help mitigate the impacts of urban development projects on our native plant populations and to ensure that regionally adapted, native plant species were available for replanting after completion of public works projects, these County employees proposed the creation of the Native Plant Program, from which the wonderful Pima County Native Plant Nursery eventually grew!
Recently, I had an opportunity to visit the Native Plant Nursery and the charismatic coordinator of the nursery, Jessie Byrd and her two staff members, Nicole and Amy. The nursery is adjacent to the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society’s Prickly Park , opens a new windowon Tucson’s Westside and sits protectively nestled among Desert Broom, Saguaro, native Mesquites, and Blue Palo Verde; it’s lovely. I planned my visit in late spring which fortuitously coincided with the spectacle of cactus bloom season here in the Sonoran Desert, so I was already smitten with the fruits of their labors well before I took my tour of the nursery!
The nursery is arranged in sections of rows, many uncovered to the elements. This helps, fortify the desert plants against the climatic shifts between the summer heat and winter chill, preparing them for a life of weather extremes. Jessie and her crew are masters at nurturing desert life. From resurrecting rescued & distressed cactus parts, to starting plants from seed (even saguaro!), these nursery mavens have the green touch.
One of the coolest plants they were in the process of propagating, was the deceptively inconspicuous Peniocereus greggii, also known as La Reina de la Noche. This scraggly, stick-like cactus goes unnoticed for most of the year. But for one night only, around midsummer, her heady, starburst blooms make their showy nighttime appearance. I love to think that through the work of the Native Plant Nursery, these desert sirens will set roots in more public spaces for folks and critters alike to discover and marvel at.
Another way the Native Plant Nursery is helping spread desert flora love is by sharing seeds of many native pollinator-friendly species with the Seed Library community. You can now find seeds for desert-hearty species such as Indian Mallow (Abutilon palmeri, opens a new window), Gregg’s Mist (Conoclinium Greggii, opens a new window) Snapdragon vine (Maurandella antirrhiniflora, opens a new window) and more, in the drawers of the Main Library’s Seed Library. Incorporating native, desert-hardy annuals and perennials is a wonderful way we gardeners can help create the biologically diverse landscapes that benefit our pollinator friends and in turn, our home gardens. So let's start sowing!
What you need to know:
- Pima County Native Plant Nursery (PCNPN) seeds are only available at the Joel D Valdez Main Library--look for specially marked drawers in the seed catalog
- PCNPN seeds cannot be reserved online
- Seeds need to be checked out with your library card and count towards the overall 10 packet per month check-out limit
- Interested in learning more about growing native, check-out these books: Landscaping With Native Plants of the Southwest, Gardening in the Desert, and Food Plants of the Sonoran Desert
Thanks for helping Pima County plant good seeds!
~Justine & the PCPL Seed Library crew