Thursday, December 31, 2015

Yuma Conservation Garden, 12/27/2015

The Yuma Conservation Garden is a Sonoran Desert botanical garden and natural habitat located near the Yuma Fairgrounds. The mission of the YCG is: "To provide environmental education encouraging stewardship of our natural resources." We had driven by it on numerous occasions without realizing it was there. If you are interested in visiting, turn into the large fairgrounds parking lot and park at the west end. The entrance can be found there through an opening in the fence that forms the perimeter of the garden.

There is no entrance fee (although we did purchase a Guide to the Gardens for $3 and donated some more). After passing through the entrance, a map of the area is displayed. As noted, the garden is open November through April on Saturdays and Sundays only. 

We followed the trails, marked by stones, through the garden. 

Fishhook barrel cactus. These cacti always face south, so if you are confused about where you are when hiking in the desert, these come in very handy. 

A wide variety of Sonoran Desert plant species can be seen along the trails. Many of these plants are found nowhere else in the world. Some are only found in specific regions of the Sonoran Desert. Having grown up in lush forests of Pennsylvania and North Carolina, I find these desert plants fascinating!

Here are some spiky closeups. 

There are several picnic areas with beautiful large mesquite trees. They provide homes for small animals and birds and the bean pods are a high protein source of food for coyotes, badgers, and early humans, too. The mesquite is four times as stable and twice as strong as oak. Wow!  

This is the habitat for desert tortoises at YCG. Of course, they were hibernating and will not be active until the temperature is consistently around 80 degrees. 

Some of my favorites: Various prickly pear varieties, saguaro, ocotillo, and huge cholla.

Footprints in the sand...

These California fan palm trees are the only palms that are native to Arizona. All other palm trees in the state are transplants (and they can be seen everywhere) The California fan palms are found in the southwestern corner of the state. 

This man-made pond was created to provide a riparian habitat in the garden. It's a lovely oasis in the Sonoran desert terrain. 

We enjoyed pausing at some benches scattered around the pond to enjoy the serenity of the setting and the beauty of the waterfowl.

There is also an extensive antique farm machinery on display in two sections of the garden.

We only saw one other family at the garden when we visited on a Sunday afternoon. For those that enjoy learning about the vegetation in a given region, this place is a fabulous location to learn about the Sonoran Desert. I very much appreciate the efforts of those that have created and now maintain this garden. For additional information, please see their website.

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