Lately, upon arriving at the ESLT office each morning, I have been stopped in my tracks time and time again by the sight of our front yard. I just can’t help but pause for a few moments to admire the work that has been accomplished, and check in on the clumps of baby plants perched on their sturdy mounds of dirt. Just six months ago, our front yard at 250 N. Fowler St. was a lush, grass-covered drought-contributor; today, thanks to the hard work of so many, it’s a thriving Native Plant and Pollinator Demonstration Garden. I cannot help but feel joy every time I see this space. I know firsthand how much effort it took to bring about these results, and (if I may say so myself) they are simply beautiful!

As many of you probably know, ESLT began our  last year with funding support provided by Metabolic Studio. The Project connects our community to this special landscape by creating native plant and pollinator-friendly habitat in yards throughout the Eastern Sierra. Now in its second year, the Eastside Pollinator Garden Project has successfully certified over 55 gardens as pollinator habitat and given away over $2,225 in native plants.

The Eastside’s very first Certified Pollinator Garden, created by Margy Marshall, was one of numerous spaces that inspired the design of ESLT’s own garden this year.

As we kicked off the Project’s second year this spring, participants dove into learning more about building native plant gardens – and I did, too. Having zero experience in landscaping, I felt a little overwhelmed at our options when I was given the responsibility of leading ESLT’s efforts to build our very own pollinator garden. But the opportunity to bounce ideas off of other Project participants and learn alongside them was truly a gift. Each participant’s garden was unique, and each gave me an idea of what I could do with the area I had to work with at the ESLT office. Today, this space is now woven with inspiration from more than 55 gardens and gardeners.

I am in awe of how generous the ESLT staff members, Board members, and volunteers have been all summer long with their time, funds, and energy. So many mornings, I felt a palpable outpouring of love from ESLT supporters as they met to walk me through a design, lent out expensive equipment, or helped dig up two-foot root-lengths of Bermuda grass. Countless more volunteers assisted by answering my constant questions, correcting mistakes, and reviewing drafts of garden and plant layouts.

To each and every one of you who has lent your hands and expertise over the past several months to make ESLT’s new Native Plant and Pollinator Demonstration Garden come to life: Thank You!!! We are so grateful for your inspiration and hard work.

We are deeply thankful for the generosity of our grantors: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Mary DeDecker Botanical Grant, awarded through the California Native Plant Society – Bristlecone Chapter. Their financial support, coupled with their volunteer time, workshop presentations, plant donations, and the assistance they offered Eastside Pollinator Garden Project participants made this entire dream possible.

In addition, we’d like to recognize Chalfant Big Trees Farm and John Louth for their material contributions, and Bob and Kyra Waldron for making a donation during Lands & Legacy in support of this project.

A fantastic team of advisors helped guide us through the process, including: Roberta Lagomarsini, Laura Mogg, Joanne Parsons, Margaret Phelps, and Sue Weis (Master Gardeners of Inyo and Mono Counties); Katie Quinlan and Denise Waterbury (California Native Plant Society); Julie Fontaine (Trestles Environmental Corporation); John Louth (formerly of the US Forest Service); Jaime Pawelek (UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab); and Michelle Hunt (US Fish and Wildlife Service).

And we couldn’t have completed the project without the hard work of our dedicated volunteers, including: ESLT Board Vice-President Tony Taylor, John Louth, Paul Bedell, Claire Jellison, Erica Chapin, Kathy Varnam, Jeff Boone, Pete Pumphrey, Roberta Lagomarsini, Julie Fontaine, and the entire ESLT staff.

A space for beauty and reflection, this garden will also act as a classroom: it will provide an interactive setting for Bishop third graders as they come to the ESLT office each spring for their annual Sunflower Garden Project. In addition, we hope it will inspire new Eastside Pollinator Garden Project participants looking to create their own native plant and pollinator gardens. After taking part in our Pollinator Garden Project, one now-certified gardener, Kathy Forbes, shared with me, “I’ve learned so much about the environment, habitat, and relationship we humans have with the pollinators. I’ve lived here in the Sierra since February and it has been a pleasure learning how to exist with nature.” I cannot wait to see how our new garden grows and develops into a classroom where others like Kathy can come to learn.

The experience of creating ESLT’s Native Plant and Pollinator Demonstration Garden has taught me so much, and I look forward to sharing this knowledge with others. Like Bishop (and the entire Eastern Sierra) has been for me, I hope this garden becomes a place in which to play and grow.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to see our new Native Plant and Pollinator Demonstration Garden yet, please stop by for a visit. Even if the office is closed for the day, the garden is always open!