SIERRA VISTA — Part of what makes Sierra Vista and Cochise County unique is the wildlife and plants that call the area home.
Despite being only three hours from Phoenix and and an hour and a half from Tucson, plants that thrive in those areas don’t always have the same luck in the high desert. In an effort to help avid gardeners in the area, the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension is hosting Petey Mesquitey to talk and sing about the importance of native plants.
MaryAnn Capehart, water wise community coordinator for the UA Cooperative Extension, said they decided to bring Mesquitey back this year because of how popular his talk was last year.
“He sings, tell stories and talk about his plants,” she said.
Mesquitey is a long-time grower and nature lover from the area. He shares his passion for plants at the local farmers markets throughout the seasons and he used to have a podcast on the radio in Tucson.
“He’s an entertaining speaker,” Capehart said. “His point of view is very holistic so he sees how they fit in a high-desert environment.”
One of the reasons the cooperative extension has regular talks about native plants is because of the benefits they have to the environment and the conservation methods they can lead to. By having more native plants in gardens, the local wildlife benefits because they know they can eat it, sleep in it and nest in them. Native plants don’t need a lot of water, which helps with conservation of the limited resource across the county.
“It’s nice for folks to have options for species of native plants,” Capehart said. “The community is very excited about native plants and the box stores have a good variety for them, but we want to provide more options.”
Capehart added that she wants the community to see these talks as a “tool” that can be used to help start a new habit.
“I want them to have a tool for seeing the beauty of our natural habitat,” she said. “From appreciation comes conservation.”