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Arizona Columbine Garden Club


The Sonoran Seed Collaborative, a native plant project dedicated to restoring our desert parks and preserves with native plant species, was born from the GCA Partners for Plants (P4P) habitat restoration program offered to interested GCA garden clubs. With a $6,000 grant from GCA in 2018, a botanist was hired to guide the club in achieving its mission “to monitor and protect rare, endangered plants, to propagate and replant native plants and to remove invasive plants.” Arizona Columbine partnered with Central Arizona Conservative Alliance, Strategic Habitat Enhancements, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix City Parks Department, Tovrea Carraro Society and Friends of Tonto National Forest to form the Sonoran Seed Collaborative and achieve this goal.

The focus was to grow a specific group of native plants, reap the seeds, and plant them along the hiking trails and surrounding areas at the Piestewa Peak trailhead. The Collaborative was given a plot on the grounds of Tovrea Castle in Phoenix for our seed production. Columbine members cleared the ground, prepared the soil and planted the seedlings of 4 native plant species, desert marigold, senna, sweetbush and desert lavender in 2018.

For two years the plants were nurtured, watered weekly and eventually, seeds were collected from the native plants by Columbine members. Records were kept and harvests were tallied. With our CAZCA partners, Columbine members participated in the Buffelgrass Blues project where invasive buffelgrass was identified and tagged with blue chalk paint along the summit trail at Piestewa Peak. The City of Phoenix Parks Department then began to remove the invasive species along the trail.

Meanwhile, with our CAZCA partners, we were able to participate in a restoration project where we planted native plants along the nature trail at Papago Park, another city park in Phoenix. Our garden club donated the funds to purchase 80 native plants, then members worked together to plant them.

Native seeds from our plants at the Tovrea Castle site were collected for three years. Through CAZCA and Desert Botanical Garden, a seed repository was created to save the seeds for future use. After the third year of growing and harvesting, Columbine members met to make over 1100 seed balls with guidance from our botanist Carianne Funicelli of Strategic Habitat Enhancements using the collected seeds from our Tovrea plot. The culmination of the three-year Columbine Partners for Plants and Sonoran Seed Collaboration project was the seedball toss in the Fall of 2021 at Piestewa Peak Park along the hiking trail where the invasive buffelgrass had previously been removed.

Beyond our GCA grant project, the exciting outcome of the joint partnership with the Sonoran Seed Collaborative was the Sonoran Seed Summit hosted by Arizona Columbine Garden Club in the spring of 2022.

Learn more about the Collaborative

Prepping our plot for planting

Planting seedlings

Weeding and weekly collection of seeds

Identifying the invasive buffelgrass

Another big workday at Tovrea

Planting native plants along the Papago Park Nature Trail

Making seed balls

Seedball toss at Piestewa Peak Park Hiking Trail

The culmination of the Sonoran Seed Collaborative effort. Columbine members, our CAZA partners and our botanist from Strategic Habitat Enhancements finish the seedball toss.

Arizona Columbine Garden Club

Founded in 1946. Member of Garden Club of America since 1989.

The purpose of the Arizona Columbine Garden Club is to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening, aid in the protection of native trees, plants and shrubs, and restore, improve and protect the quality of the environment through programs and action in the fields of conservation, civic improvement and education.

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