Park explores nature and green offerings - The Explorer: El Sol

Park explores nature and green offerings

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Posted: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 8:22 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Tohono Chul Park has an ongoing schedule of winter ecologically friendly classes and workshops. The park is located at 7366 N. Paseo del Norte, one stoplight west of the intersection at Oracle and Ina.

Call 742-6455, ext. 0, or visit www.tohonochulpark.org to reserve class and workshop space.

Classes include:

• Historic Hispanic and Barrio Gardens

Saturday, Jan. 8, 10 a.m., Education center #1

The early Hispanic residents of the Southwest created amazing gardens and courtyards using plants brought from the Old World and by trading favorite plants amongst themselves. The barrio garden was a treasure hidden from public view where traditional healing and cooking herbs, small shrines and shaded family gathering spots were important elements.

Historic barrio gardens and the traditional Mexican neighborhoods that supported them are all but gone now. In this last in a series of culturally-themed garden design classes, Shelly Ann Abbott, MLA, shares tips for creating a Tucson-inspired barrio garden that keeps the tradition alive.

Under discussion are a variety of barrio garden elements and a look at a new drought-tolerant plant palette that will compliment the old in order to conserve water resources and remain wildlife friendly.

The cost is $4 for members and $8 for the general public.

• Hands-On Landscape Design: Approaches for Desert Spaces

Saturday, Jan. 15, 10 a.m., Education center #1

According to award-winning landscape designer and author Scott Calhoun, desert gardens have some pretty distinctive qualities that move beyond basic landscape design. Beginning with discussions of minimalism and sense of place, there will be exercises in “seeing” the desert, responding to architecture and shape, and even numerology and repetition.

Finally, Calhoun offers tips on incorporating patios, rocks and plants into gardens as design elements.

Participants are asked to bring a drawing of a house and lot with measurements for work on a conceptual plan during the class.

The cost is $8 for members and $10 for the general public.

• Sandhill Snowbirds

Thursday, Jan. 20, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Each winter, thousands of sandhill cranes gather in the Sulphur Springs Valley of southeastern Arizona. Sedges — the name for a group of cranes — numbering as many as 20,000 individuals spend the night at Whitewater Draw, dispersing at dawn to feed on corn stubble and other waste grains in nearby agricultural fields and returning to Whitewater for a mid-day siesta.

On this daylong birding trip, guests are also on the lookout for waterfowl and land birds; the valley is a good spot for wintering raptors.

Cost includes transportation to and from Tohono Chul Park, guide services and boxed lunch. Also open to members of the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix.

The cost is $95 for members and $115 for the general public.

• Going Hands-On!

Creativity and Sonoran Seasons - Winter

Saturday, Jan. 22, 1-4 p.m., Education center #2

The Sonoran Desert displays its own brand of creativity as it moves through the annual round of its unique five seasons.

In this five-session workshop series – one class each season – this ever-changing and evolving desert is the model for the development of your own vocabulary of creativity, allowing each of us to engage with the process of art-making, celebrating our innate imagination.

Each interactive, hands-on session explores a variety of expressive arts from collage and movement, to poetry and journaling. No prior art experience or “talent” is necessary; the focus is on the process of art-making, not the end result. Some amazing side effects include stress reduction, energy stimulation, expanded awareness and just plain fun.

KathyAnne Whittemore, MA, Tohono Chul Park docent and holistic counselor trained in the creative and expressive arts, leads the exploration.

Each workshop builds on the previous, so your participation in the whole series is welcomed; however, each session can also be a stand-alone experience. All materials included.

The cost of a single session is $50 for members and $65 for the general public. The cost for all five sessions is $200 for members, $260 for the general public.

Future dates: March 6, May 7, July 9 and Oct. 9.

• Gardening Where We Live

Saturdays, Jan. 29 and Feb. 5, 9 a.m.-noon, Education center #1

One aspect of the mission of Tohono Chul Park is to model living with the desert; one means of fulfilling that mission is to demonstrate sustainable gardening where we live.

Gardening in Tucson is not quite like gardening anywhere else, and this popular two-part class is for newcomers to Arizona and newcomers to gardening. Greg Corman and Lynn Hassler (Gardening Insights) share their Tucson gardening experiences, from designing landscapes to growing plants in what can be a difficult environment for the uninitiated.

The cost is $16 for members and $20 for the general public.

• Birding 101

Tuesdays, Feb. 1, 8, 15, 22 and March 1, 10 a.m.-noon, Education center #2.

Birdwatching is a popular, eco-friendly outdoor activity, and southern Arizona is one of the world’s premier birding areas.

This course is designed for the novice, providing an overview of the habits and habitats of many of the common birds of southeastern Arizona. From bird identification to birding basics, noted birding expert and author Lynn Hassler covers binoculars, field guides and in-the-field nature studies as well as gardening for the birds.

Three classroom sessions will be interspersed with local field trips.

The cost is $69 for members and $79 for the general public.

• The Ammonite Gourd

Saturday, Feb. 19, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Education center #2

Gourd artist Sue Brogdon introduces intriguing spiral ammonites — 135-million-year-old fossilized sea squid from Madagascar — that make wonderful focal points when integrated into the body of a canteen gourd. Using natural or dyed pygmy date palm, students learn lashing techniques that marry fossil and gourd with artificial sinew, linen or upholstery thread.

Brogdon also focuses on blending water-based inks, oil sticks and paint to achieve special effect finishes on the gourd itself; shares a recipe for dyeing plant material; demonstrates encasing minerals in resin and using handmade paper to conceal the interior of the gourd. All materials are provided; students are asked to bring an apron, old towel and small utility bucket.

The cost is $80 for members and $95 for the general public.

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