Director of the Fort Stockton Historic Society (FSHS) Melba Montoya teamed up with member of the Pecos County Historical Commission (PCHC) Ross Harper to tackle the “Native Garden”, which is tucked behind the Old Hovey School. Once a well-maintained destination in town, the garden houses numerous native plants of the Trans-Pecos and attracts an array of birds and wildlife year round.
“The greatest thing about this garden is that a lot of the plants are still here. It may look rough, but it's all going to re-vegetate with time,” said Harper while admiring the lot.
With great help of volunteer work, Harper assisted with cleaning out the overgrown weeds and identifying the vast variety of plants. According to Harper, the garden's established plant habitation consists of Mexican buckeye, honey mesquite, screwbean mesquite, sotol-lechuguilla, yucca, creosote bush, ocotillo, catclaw mimosa, cholla, Spanish dagger, boquillas silverleaf, candelilla, barrel cactus, desert willow, and many other Trans-Pecos native plants.
“They came and cleaned up all the weeds and found all of the signs that are supposed be next to the plants. Some of the signs were actually buried in dirt and had to be dug up. This garden is still a work in progress, but it was so overgrown before. You could barely tell that it was here,” said Montoya.
Glancing at the many rusted signs she added, “We're in talks of getting new signs donated to the garden. This place has so much potential to be another great stop for our visitors and the community. It would be a shame not to take care of it and let it go to waste.”
Concurring with Montoya, Harper describes the garden as a “great representation of the region” and says much of the initial work was uprooting weeds in opposed to just mowing over them.
“It looks a lot better now, but it still needs work. It's a beautiful place to walk through when it's in bloom. There was once a walking trail that's barely visible now... You've got every type of native plant here. Every kind of yucca, every kind of mesquite, every kind of desert sage – it's got a lot to offer,” said Ross as he watched his small dog Pico chase lizards around the cacti.
The FSHS and PCHC are taking much interest in reviving the forgotten garden. With help, it could once again be a great place for walking, birding, and enjoying nature.
If you want to be involved with the project, contact Melba Montoya at the Annie Riggs Memorial Museum (432) 336- 2167.