Executive Update For You from Christine Conte

February 23, 2021

Dear Tohono Chul Family,

Some Valentine’s gifts are meant to be shared. This glorious one is shared with you—our family of donors, board members, members, volunteers, and friends—because it truly is your gift.

My last letter brought thanks, and the celebratory news that you met the matching gift challenge made by a generous donor in October of 2020 who pledged a gift of $200,000 to sustain Tohono Chul through the winter if we could equal that amount by the end of the year.

Today, as daylight hours begin to lengthen and the pandemic begins to loosen its grip, I am delighted to announce that your demonstration of love for Tohono has inspired another anonymous admirer to step up with the promise of a $200,000 gift if we can match that amount before the end of June!

Never before has Tohono Chul’s future been more endangered than it has been during this global pandemic. While it is clear that 2021 will continue to place obstacles in our path, the outpouring of love and generosity through the success of these matching gift challenges is proof that this place—a gift to the community that so many depend on for comfort, joy, and lifelong learning—will endure.

Here’s what’s going on right now, thanks to you:

  • Penstemon Garden is blossoming with early spring color, but wherever you wander you’ll see plants greening up and leafing out in response to a few decent rainfalls. A number of different Penstemon species already in bloom include the trustworthy Penstemon parryi as well as Penstemons eatoniibacchariflorusclutei, and clevelandii. Wildflowers are also filling the space here: Western Wallflowers, Twistflower, Bluebells, and Lupine are all blooming.

  • Annual Members’ Reception video with behind-the-scenes views and news of the work you’ve made possible was posted on Saturday, February 13th. You can still view this fun and educational presentation on our website: tohonochul.org/members-reception

  • Brand new signs grace the Saguaro Discovery Trail, replacing the old ones that were almost too faded to read—made possible by a gift from a caring docent.

  • Just in time for Valentine’s Day, and a bit early for returning migratory species, another docent spotted a pair of White-winged Doves flying towards the heart of the gardens. Listen for their distinctive “hooo-hooo-ho-hooo” or “who-cooks-for-you” cadenced calls. As a part of a courtship display, the male raises its tail and quickly fans it open and shut, flashing a black and white pattern like a coquette from another era snapping a fan open and closed. Unlike male Anna’s hummingbirds, these guys are in it for the long haul, sharing in incubating the eggs and feeding their young. The young have only two weeks before they leave the nest, but like some human teenagers, they continue to show up for feeding by their parents for some time thereafter.

  • Those adorable Round-tailed Ground Squirrels are beginning to wake up and shake off their long winter naps promising to try the patience of our gardeners once again.

  • The Admissions window is now open for members making it easier to visit this spring. If you are a member you no longer need to reserve tickets online to take advantage of your free entry membership benefit and you can redeem your guest passes too!

  • Spring Plant Sale preparations are underway and will kick off with the Members’ Preview sale on March 17th. Garden and propagation specialists are gathering more than 1,200 species of cacti, succulents, shrubs, trees, and flowers for you.

  • Watch for the upcoming Sonoran Spring Sale of specially curated treats. Offered in April this year, this online shopping experience will help offset revenue losses from the annual gala event we were forced to cancel due to the pandemic.

Tohono Chul is open because of you and for you. There’s no other reason why.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We WILL sustain this beautiful desert oasis. We WILL come through this together—stronger, wiser, and more vibrant than ever.

I look forward to seeing you soon—in the gardens, the galleries, on the trails, and on the Garden Bistro patio—seeing you and thanking each and every one of you for all your help.

Warm Regards,

Christine Conte, PhD

Executive Director