BULLHEAD CITY – The Colorado River Historical Society (CRHS) is packing eight historical vignettes showcasing native plants into the 7,500+ sq. ft. Educational Garden between the CRHS Museum and the Little Red Schoolhouse, located at 1239 Hwy. 95.
Entering the Gardens from the existing CRHS Museum, which is worth its own tour, the eye sweeps left and up toward the anchor of the garden. “The Cactus Garden is a raised area with boulders brought from Rotary Park and highlighted with native plants,” said Laurie Thompson, Board Member and Archivist of the Colorado River Historical Society.
“We wanted to start with the prehistoric,” said Thompson, so a dinosaur footprint and a petrified wood are features of the Dinosaur Garden among more native plants.
Recognizing the importance of Native Americans who made Mohave Valley home, the Indian Hut features an open shelter with plantings of creosote, Screwbean Mesquite, Arrow Weed and other native plants.
A covered wagon that the museum already owns, and made an appearance in the Boombox Parade, will anchor the Pioneer Area. “Likely more about ranching and farming,” said Thompson.
The children’s area has tables for activities and is located next to the back wall of the Little Red Schoolhouse. Thompson is looking for a local muralist to create a backdrop on the Little Red Schoolhouse that is adjacent to the children’s area; plans must be submitted to Bullhead City since the mural will be placed on the building they own.
Across from the children’s area is a spacious amphitheater. “Home Depot donated almost all the building supplies for the amphitheater as well as all the irrigation,” said Thompson. The backdrop that the audience faces is another view of the elevated Cactus Garden, and of native desert willows.
With a nod to one of the region’s first industries, a mining area will potentially host a place where kids can practice sluicing and panning for ores and crystals.
“I’m working with Star Nursery on the plants as well as David Heath, Parks Superintendent for Bullhead City and additional input from local Master Gardener clubs. There’s a detailed list of native plants that will be used to guide decisions about species that will be represented,” said Thompson. Trees around the garden include Cottonwoods, Desert Willows, Honey Mesquite and Fan Palms.
A number of partners are stepping up with in-kind participation, from businesses to school groups. The Mohave High School ROTC is helping to install the irrigation that is being donated by Home Depot. Students from The Academy of Building Industries of Fort Mohave are also providing labor.
Each garden area will include a storyboard to give information and background on what visitors are looking at. “Storyboard sponsorships are available, although four out of the eight are sold,” said Thompson. “At only $1,000 each, that should be a no-brainer for some people.”
Seven levels of membership, from an individual at $15 per year to Platinum at $1,000 per year, also support the Educational Garden and ongoing operating expenses. All memberships come with free admission to other area museums, 10% discount on retail items and a monthly newsletter. Business memberships ($100 per year), and above also receive invitations to special events and sponsor’s name on the Patron Board within the museum.
Stay tuned for the Grand Opening of the Gardens. Thompson is expecting an opening date in early spring. “We have a lot more stories that we want to tell,” she said.
In addition to Thompson, board members are Karole Finkelstein (President), Ralph Patterson (Vice President), Brenda Warnecka (Secretary), Carla Lucas (Treasurer) and at-large members Robbie Adams, Denise Atwater-Vallon and Jim Lucas. Reach out to Laurie Thompson and the Colorado River Historical Society at 928-754-3399 or CRHSMuseum@outlook.com.