On Sunday afternoon, February 25th, 2018, a group of hearty volunteers gathered at the South Texas Border Chapter of Texas Master Naturalist's meeting site at St. George Orthodox Church Hall in Pharr. Serving as naturalist educators and volunteers in the Rio Grande Valley, the group was determined to transform the barren soil behind the church hall into a place where life would flourish. The soil was more like concrete than a living place fit to nourish life. With the addition of compost, mulch, water and considerable muscle power, the challenging process began.
By the end of that single afternoon, dozens of native species and well-adapted plants, including many which act as either host or nectar plants to pollinators, were planted, watered, and mulched. A pathway was created through one side of the garden. Using branches from an invasive tree which had recently been cut down, the pathway was edged with logs and covered with mulch. Old clay roofing tiles were re-purposed along the edge of other sections of the garden. Volunteers wrote the name of each plant on markers to help identify the species planted. There was hope.
We provided habitat, food and shelter for butterflies, moths, bees and other local and migratory pollinators. Like most Texans, these native plants are hardy and determined to thrive. The very first week after the STBC-TMN Pollinator Garden was planted, monarchs were spotted feeding and ovipositing. Soon thereafter, the first monarch caterpillar instars were documented as well. Plant it and they will come!
Check out what species have be recorded there and contribute your own on our iNaturalist Project page. Observations made on the church grounds and surrounding properties automatically show up in this project's statistics.
The garden makes a great place to practice using iNaturalist so you will be familiar with it if you participate in Citizen Science BioBlitzes the chapter encourages participation in. Our new ongoing project has recorded almost 200 species and growing. Before our meetings, or if you are doing watering or maintenance at the garden site, feel free to check out the garden behind the church hall. The area "map" of the site includes the church property, from Sam Houston over to Flag Street, back to the alleyway behind the church, and over to the furthers edge of the funeral home's property next door.