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

As many of you probably know, ESLT began ourEastside Pollinator Garden Projectlast year with funding support provided by Metabolic Studio. The Projectconnectsour community tothis special landscapebycreating native plant and pollinator-friendly habitat in yardsthroughout the Eastern Sierra. Now in itssecond year, the Eastside Pollinator Garden Project has successfully certified over 55 gardens as pollinator habitat and given away over $2,225 in native plants.

Our first certified gardener, Margy Marshall.

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 moreabout buildingnative plant gardens – and I did,too. Having zero experience in landscaping, I felt a little overwhelmed at ouroptions when I was given the responsibility of leading ESLT’s efforts to build our very own pollinator garden. Butthe opportunityto bounce ideas off of other Project participants and learn alongside them wastruly agift. Each participant’s garden was unique,and each gave me an idea of what I could do with the areaI had to work withat the ESLT office. Today, this space is now woven with inspiration frommore than 55 gardens and gardeners.

I am in awe of how generous theESLT staff members, Board members, and volunteers have been all summer longwith their time, funds, and energy. So many mornings, I felta palpableoutpouring of love fromESLTsupportersas they met to walk me through a design, lent out expensive equipment, or helped dig up two-foot root-lengths of Bermuda grass. Countlessmore volunteers assistedby 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. Theirfinancial support, coupled with their volunteertime, workshop presentations, plant donations, and theassistance they offered Eastside Pollinator Garden Projectparticipants made this entire dream possible.

In addition, we’d like to recognize Chalfant Big Trees Farm and John Louth for their materialcontributions, and Bob and Kyra Waldron for making a donationduring Lands & Legacy in support of thisproject.

A fantastic team of advisorshelped 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); andMichelle 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 entireESLT staff.

Here, Sara leads a learning activity to teach a group of third graders about how bees and butterflies are keeping the Eastern Sierra blooming.

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 springfor their annual Sunflower Garden Project. In addition, we hope it will inspirenew Eastside Pollinator Garden Projectparticipants lookingto create their own native plant and pollinator gardens. After taking part in ourPollinator 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 newgarden grows and develops into a classroom where others like Kathy can come tolearn.

IMG_0642The experience of creatingESLT’sNative Plant and Pollinator Demonstration Garden hastaught me so much, and I look forward to sharingthis 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 anopportunity to see our new Native Plant and Pollinator Demonstration Garden yet, please stopby for a visit. Even if the office is closed for the day, the gardenis always open!