NMSU ACES college to assemble botanical garden


NMSU Photo

Plan for NMSU Botanical Garden (Designed by Rachel Gioannini) Courtesy Photo.

The New Mexico State University College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences has received a grant to design and assemble the only botanical garden in New Mexico within 100 miles.

The grant, from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust to The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, allowed ACES to have $5,000 for the irrigation equipment needed for the botanical garden.

The whole project was started and continues to be run by professor of horticulture within the department of plant and environmental science, Chris Cramer. Cramer said the types of plants that will be in the botanical garden will be placed there to see “how attractive they are to pollinators.”  

“Part of the garden is actually going to be planted with plants that we’re going to evaluate to see how attractive they are to pollinators…There are actually four areas of the garden [where] we’ll plant plants and be able to evaluate those plants, but there will be space in between those that we’re going to add additional plants,” Cramer said.

The students in the ACES college will be assembling the garden and installing a drip irrigation system. The focus on pollinators, like bees and other insects, will not only be for further research at the ACES college, but so that crops being grown in the area can be grown and sold more effectively, since pollinators prefer to interact with different types of plants instead of just one. Cramer knows this due to his experience with an onion breeding program he continues to work on.

“We actually rent beehives, and enclose them in a confined space. But [the bees] don’t really like foraging off of just one plant species, they like to go to a lot of different species, so it’s really hard on the bees,” Cramer said.  

Rachel Gioannini, assistant professor of horticulture in the department of plant and environmental sciences, is also working on the project. Among other things, she has designed the landscape of the more than two acres of garden.

“When I was hired in fall of 2018, [Cramer] got me involved in doing the landscape design for the research plots and the area around it as well, to make it into a space the public could enjoy, not just a research garden,” Gioannini said.

Gionnanini opted for a is a unique paisley shape for the research plots as opposed to the standard square shape so as to be more “aesthetically pleasing” to the public.

“Often, research plots are simply squares and not designed to be aesthetically pleasing. I disliked the idea of square plots in a garden that was also to be used as a public space, so I designed the research plots as paisley shapes. They are exactly the same, to address the needs for accurate science, while also being beautiful,” Gionnanini said. 

With the botanical garden being open to the public, Cramer said the garden may influence community members to plant more plants themselves.

“We’re hoping that the general public from Las Cruces will go there to see some of the plant material that’s growing and they may decide ‘Hey, that’d be great, I’d like to have that in my yard’,” he said.  

The botanical garden will be located along East College Avenue in between I-10 and the parking lot for the Las Cruces Convention Center.

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