The Sierra Vista Area Gardener's Club (SVAGC) was founded in May 1991 by three people with an avid interest in high desert gardening and a desire to meet others with the same interest and share information and gardening techniques. The Club continues today with over forty members from novice to expert gardeners. Some of the members have taken the Cochise County Master Gardener course as well.
Meetings are held monthly the third Thursday of each month starting at 1PM in the large meeting room of the Constable's Office in the old County Complex in Sierra Vista, AZ. The old County Complex is located at 4001 E. Foothills Drive. Take Highway 92 to Foothills Drive and turn east. Turn left into the first driveway and head toward the building with a flagpole in front. Parking is located in front of the building. There is a handicap ramp located to the far right of the main entrance stairs.
Monthly meetings include a social period and featured speaker. Additionally, there is also a quarterly business meeting held. Refreshments are served.
Guests are welcome to try out a meeting before making the decision to join. Members hold garden tours of their yards and also visit other gardens throughout southeastern Arizona. There is also a spring fling, a fall harvest dinner, and a holiday party each year. Community projects include the collection of seeds, which are distributed at community events and in participation at the Earth Day event at the Sierra Vista Farmer's Market. The club has also donated books to the library, helped landscape at the Veteran's Cemetery, donated trees to the University of Arizona South and collected food for the local Salvation Army.
George Nesdahl brought the first meeting of the Sierra Vista Area Garden Club to order the third Thursday of May, 1991. George acted as President for several months until he became too ill with cancer to continue. Pearl O'Neill was elected President in July 1992, with Yvonne Jingle as Vice President. The Historian position began in 1993.
The first Newsletter was hot off the press in July, 1999. Several people submitted ideas for the title of the newsletter and after a club vote, it became known as "Over the Garden Gate".
Club social activities included tours of many Garden centers and points of interest, several herb walks with local experts, Hawk Nature Center, Coronado National Monument, Arizona Cactus & Succulent Research Center in Bisbee, Beatty's Apple orchard up in Miller Canyon, the City Compost facility, Desert Dragon Healing Center in Benson, Ramsey Canyon Preserve, Fisher Nursery of exotic house plants and Bonita Farms in Wilcox, Pedro House and River, Kazaam Nature Center and Jerry Ambrose Gourds in Patagonia. One must not forget the many tours of member's yards and gardens over the years!
Projects we have participated in include Garden Therapy at Prestige Assisted Living, Sierra Vista's Adopt a Wash program and Plant a Tree with donated trees from the Arbor Day Foundation at the new Coronado Elementary School. We also donated and planted trees and plants for local Habitat for Humanity homes. The club participated in gourd workshops and had pruning workshops with former county extension agent, Rob Call. In spring, the club had a seed table at the High on the Desert Conference. Summer events included a club yard sale and a picnic/potluck in June at Veterans Park. Maintenance projects included landscape care at Karchner Caverns, cleaning weeds from gardens at the Folklore Preserve in Ramsey Canyon and pulling weeds at Ramsey Canyon Preserve. One of our main projects and fundraisers has always been our twice yearly plant sales.
The objectives of the Sierra Vista Area Gardeners Club are:
Because we are located in the middle of the Sky Islands region of the Southwest, our climate is unique. At an average elevation of 4,700 ft, we have a four season climate. Our area is also encircled by several mountain ranges, including the Huachuca Mountains, Whetstones, Mules, Sierra Madre and Dragoons. Weather ranges from very dry, desert conditions in parts of spring and fall to winter rains and a summer monsoon period. Our average rainfall is 15 inches per year, although the mountains receive more. There can be freezing temperatures some winter nights and we see snow occasionally. Summer temperatures can get as high as the low hundreds in June. However, even then we cool down in the evenings and early mornings are a great time to be out in the garden! After our monsoon season starts, the high temperatures moderate. Native plants in our area range from pungent salvias and mesquite trees in the lower valley to the oaks and plains grasses of the foothills up to the pines and agaves of the mountains.