The Robert and Catherine Wilson botanical garden celebrates 50th anniversary
On May 5, the Robert and Catherine Wilson Botanical Garden celebrated its 50th Anniversary. In 1962, Robert and Catherine Wilson established the first collections of plants in what was then known as the Las Cruces Tropical Botanical Garden. The initial aim of the garden was to sell native and non-native tropical plants. In 1973, the Wilsons decided to sell the garden to the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) for administration and management purposes. OTS also acquired some forested properties for the purposes of protection, research and training. In 1987, OTS recognized and dedicated the Garden to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson for the collection of plants they had built, and for their contribution to tropical horticulture. The collection of plants protected here is world renowned, and the subject of study by a variety of visitors (researchers, naturalists, students). What began fifty years ago in an open pasture is today an expansive collection of plants that, at the same time, has protected important populations of animals -especially birds – which represent the other great attraction of Las Cruces.
Various commemorative activities were held to celebrate this important date for the garden, which included the participation of many neighbors and friends of the Botanical Garden. A plaque and the planting of a new palm species for the Garden collections marked the opening of the celebrations. In an “open house” setting, the Garden showed its nurseries, some specimens from the Luis Diego Gómez Herbarium, and the most interesting books from the Don Stone Library. Other interesting exhibits were the many historical photographs of different aspects of the history of the Garden, and a collection of plant fossils and roots, all provided by neighbors. Station personnel presented talks on the history of the Garden, on the efforts to use native plants as ornamentals, and the effects of exotic plants on the native ecology. A final presentation was given on the construction of gardens from and ecological point of view. Many artists and craftsmen showed their products and held workshops to show how reusable waste can be transformed into beautiful products. Volunteers and friends helped with the guided walks, games, and leisure activities for children and adults alike. The closing of the celebration was a social gathering that included friends, collaborators, and Garden personnel, all of whom historically have demonstrated their support and dedication to the development and growth of this beautiful place. Everyone who participated in the gala event enjoyed dinner and danced to the rhythms of live music until very late into the night.