Everyone needs a little help sometimes and our Utah team had the opportunity to help out the Horticulture Team at Red Butte Garden with spring gardening tasks.
At Gear.com we believe in giving back to our communities. We also believe in getting outside whenever possible, so when there was a break in the weather our Utah team busted out the gardening gloves and headed to Red Butte Garden to pull some weeds in preparation for the summer season.
Within the 100 acre property, Red Butte Garden supports 21 acres of botanical gardens, an arboretum and of course, the locally loved amphitheatre. The garden offers over five miles of hiking trails, classes for kids and adults of all ages and vibrant seasonal strolls to the public year round. Over the last decade the Red Butte horticulturists have expanded their focus to plant beyond the primary garden locations to grow the entrances to the Garden Visitor Center and Natural History Museum.
Our team worked alongside one group of the Garden’s horticulture team lead by Neal Dombrowski, who has been a Title Horticulturalist with the Garden for over seven years now and learned of the integrated pest management plan he has put in place to control the invasive and noxious weed species through mechanical (hand-pulling), cultural and chemical practices. He explained to our group the importance of maintaining a diverse and native plant and wildlife habitat and the ecosystems that rely on this diversity and his methods of using mechanical and cultural options before relying on chemical herbicide solutions when the aforementioned are not possible.
Neal’s passion is infectious as he tells us of his life path that lead him to this profession and the challenges he faced when first joining the Red Butte horticulture team. You can see the pride in his eyes as he recounts introducing a native beetle, known as a weevil, to the garden to control the toadflax weed - which he tells us is no longer haunting his dreams.
As he continues to educate our group on the ecosystems that rely on the native and diverse species we learn of the growth in native bee, butterfly and bird populations that have benefitted from their team’s efforts in planting native species and therefore creating rich wildlife habitats. “I think insects as a whole are more abundant with the diversity with the plant palette. We are a destination for migrating birds and butterflies and we actively allow habitat for all living things with our task practices,” Dombrowski said.
“A report conducted in 2016 resulted in 127 bee species identified of 173 species identified in the whole of Salt Lake County. RBG harbors 75% of all bees residing in the area and are pretty equal in regard to those found in the natural area and garden areas. The presence of a wide variety of flowering plant families appears to play a role in the richness of this area.”
Neal’s passion is echoed by his crew and his Assistance Title Horicultralist, Jamie Loewen shared her experience with us as well saying, “Red Butte Garden holds immeasurable value for the global and local community. The abundance of botanical variety in the garden not only creates aesthetic appeal but also serves as a sanctuary of biodiversity in an increasingly homogenized world of invasive species and damaged ecosystems. Its diverse habitats sustain important wildlife by providing food and shelter. And the undeniable beauty of the garden cultivates an appreciation for nature in its visitors that may not have been there before. We, who are lucky enough to work at the garden, have the great privilege to be stewards of our land and work towards greater goal of leading people back to nature.”
Loewen goes on by saying, “Whether by controlling aggressive flora taking over their habitat or restoring them into the wild, we do what we can for them and recognize the significance of even the smallest flower. To educate through classes, lectures and events like the plant sale are a wonderful opportunities to generate a dialogue with the people of Utah about the value of growing native plants in their own backyards. I believe that Red Butte and other botanical gardens like it, will be a powerful force in changing the hearts and minds of the community and nurturing a more compassionate relationship with our planet.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. The importance of balanced ecosystems are crucial to a healthy world and the horticulture team at Red Butte is focused on maintaining these systems so diverse species can continue to thrive and provide for all. The passion and knowledge these crews hold is infectious and inspiring. After volunteering with Neal’s crew, we have a new appreciation for the landscape in our Utah backyard and hope by sharing this story you find yourself wanting to explore and learn more about the Red Butte Garden, maybe even volunteering yourself. You can learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Red Butte Garden horticultural team by visiting: https://www.redbuttegarden.org/volunteer/