Executive Update For You from Christine Conte

August 25, 2021

Dear Tohono Chul Family,

Hasn’t this monsoon season been WONDERFUL?!

I cannot think of a more welcome gift, after a refreshing family vacation, than to return to billowing thunderclouds and cooling rains that quench the dusky landscape and transform it into the lush and verdant greens of a tropical forest.

Even this morning, with the monsoon season winding down, it was a joy to rise to a brilliantly hued sunrise and to walk Tohono Chul’s garden paths amidst clouds of fluttering lemon yellow and gold winged butterflies.

And again today, as in every letter I have written to you over these many months, my heart is filled with gratitude for the gifts you have provided.

Tohono Chul is here for all to enjoy because you never lost hope. Despite unprecedented challenges, we never stopped working together towards a brighter future. Your gifts have taken us through the long hot summer and with your support, Tohono Chul will continue to survive and thrive in the coming year and beyond.

But right now, here are a few highlights from behind-the-scenes:

  • Garden Bistro Chef Michael Montesano and Groundskeeper Hannah Hendryk are teaming up to deliver some delicious seasonal treats from the Ethnobotanical Garden. I recommend Michael’s unique suite of gelatos including Sugarcane Basil and Spiced Sweet Lime.

  • Barrel cactus (Ferocactus wizliseni and Fercocatus covillei) are in full bloom with bursts of bright yellow, orange, and red dotting the garden paths and desert loop trails. Head Groundskeeper Chris Kibler said even he hadn’t realized how many we had until this record-breaking monsoon season prompted these blooms.

  • The La Fuente Gift Shop entrance has a newly refurbished shade ramada. While the old one was still charming, it was showing its age and beginning the slide from charming to shabby.

  • A Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (Polioptila melanura), one of the smallest songbirds in our area, was spotted by staff and volunteers in the trees off the north gate of the Children’s Garden. Another staff member saw one along the South Loop Trail. Soon to be featured in our Birds in Our Backyard series, the Black-tailed Gnatcatcher can be seen and heard in this sneak preview: tohonochul.org/birds-in-our-backyard/#series-three

  • Sundays in the Garden concerts will return for the fall season beginning Sunday, October 10th, and for the first time since Tohono Chul had to close in March 2020 due to the pandemic. Because social distancing may not be possible in the Performance Garden and the pandemic is still with us, and because vaccination status is uneven among our guests, be prepared to don your mask in the seating area.

The generous $200K match challenge you met at the end of June is sustaining these attractions and much more as we move forward into early fall. I hope you will consider a gift, at whatever level, to ensure this community treasure can continue to provide solace and even—enchantment—this fall and throughout the year to come.

I look forward to seeing you in the gardens, on the paths, in the shops, and in the galleries. Thank you so very much for all you are doing to make Tohono Chul shine.

Warm Regards,

Christine Conte, PhD

Executive Director