By Mary Jo Bitman
In October of 1998, a group of creative, enthusiastic and caring women had their first meeting of the Gold Canyon Garden Club. The stated purpose of the Club was, “to encourage interest in all phases of home gardening and to promote civic beautification and a conservation of natural resources.” These goals remain the same today and many charter members of that 1998 meeting remain active as well.
Shortly thereafter, the Club become affiliated with the Arizona Federation of Garden Clubs and the National Garden Clubs.
In 1999, Pinal County Supervisor Sandie Smith asked the Club to become involved in the coordination and building of the planned Dinosaur Park adjacent to the Gold Canyon Elementary School. Charter members were able to secure donated land to erect a butterfly garden through the support and generosity of the business and residential community and the local and County governments. This ‘labor of love’ could not have succeeded without the ‘sweat equity’ of the business and local communities and the members as well.
At present, the garden has over 50 varieties of native and desert adapted plants which attract over 400 species of butterflies each year. Thus, the Garden is among 33,000 national sites certified by the National Wildlife Federation as an official Backaryd Wildlife Habitat Site supporting biological diversity and wildlife.
To date, the Club has 45 members from all over the country. One of the benefits of membership is the knowledge gained to successfully garden in the desert. Field trips to such Arizona highlights as Olive Mill, the Phoenix Zoo gardens and the Boyce-Thompson Arboretum are a wonderful fringe benefit. Monthly meetings with such a caring, fun and dedicated group of men and women has resulted in many hours of enjoyment, as well as lasting friendships.