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GCA / Desert Botanical Garden Partnership Advances Studies of Arid Landscapes


February 07, 2023

2022 Desert Studies Scholar explores native Sonoran Desert plants

The Garden Club of America, in collaboration with the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, has promoted advanced studies of desert areas since 2006. With increasing global desertification, the GCA’s commitment to the specific concerns of arid landscapes is significant.

Over 30 scholars have received field study funding since the inception of The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies. 2022 Desert Studies Scholar Erin Forstner, a Landscape Architecture undergraduate at Arizona State University, completed a summer internship at Desert Botanical Garden. “Working at the Desert Botanical Garden,” said Forstner, “I was able to explore the plant care, maintenance, and background of not only native Sonoran Desert plants, but also plant species from around the globe.” 

Partnering with experts in native pollinators, landscape design, and horticulture, Forstner’s internship included experimenting with planting in a vertical wall and researching the effects of different intensities of sunlight. In addition, she trimmed tree canopies and helped design a community garden in Phoenix that utilized both pollinator and edible plants in an educational and accessible public space.

The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies allows college juniors or seniors and graduate students to pursue horticulture, conservation, botany, environmental science, and landscape design field studies relating to the arid landscape. Past Desert Studies Award recipients have researched planning and design for sustainability, rainwater harvesting, Southwest biocrusts, desert insects, and fire-resistant desert plants. The GCA Scholarship Committee and the Desert Botanical Garden will begin the selection process for 2023 awards in the next few weeks.



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