DIG-IT at Quinta Mazatlan with Wildlife Gardening Classes for 2016

A New Year means making some fun and simple resolutions like gardening in your yard to provide homes for wildlife.  Sign-up now for the Backyard Habitat Steward program on Tuesdays, February 2nd to March 8th, six fun hands-on classes from 9 to noon!  Each week, the best experts in the valley will provide their expertise for your garden.

Quinta Mazatlan begins the series on February 2nd with an introduction to Valley Ecology and a native tree tour by horticulturalist Silvia Barr.  On February 9th Drew Bennie will speak on Rainwater Harvesting, and Ed Kuprel, Edinburg Urban Forester, will demonstrate tree planting and maintenance.  How to attract birds and butterflies to your wildlife garden is important information provided by Carol Goolsby and John Brush on February 16th.  The 23rd brings Mike Heep and his native plants, for sale to enhance your yard.  The duo of Allen Williams and Joe Zuniga will cover landscaping design and tools on March 1st.   Closing the series on March 8th is Ken King author of Plants of Deep South Texas and Delilah Martinez with the City of McAllen Recycling Center.

Please contact Carol Goolsby at Quinta Mazatlan, (956) 681-3370 to reserve your seat in this wildlife gardening class. The $60 fee covers your program binder and other materials.  For more information please visit http://www.quintamazatlan.com.

Backyard Habitat 2015 (FALL flyer)

Backyard Habitat Steward 2016 (jpeg)


Planta Nativa Celebration

Douglas Tallamy

Planta Nativa Celebration featuring Nationally Renowned Author Dr. Douglas Tallamy at Quinta Mazatlan.

The celebration of our natural heritage will take place at Planta Nativa on Friday evening, October 23rd from 6:30 to 9:30 at Quinta Mazatlan. Along with tacos, tapas, beer, wine, and art guest will thoroughly enjoy a presentation by Dr. Douglas Tallamy on the giant LED movie screen outdoors titled “Creating Living Landscapes”.

The evening begins with the McAllen Chamber Border Buttermilk Reception while viewing the UTRGV Science Poster Presentation by Agroecology Students in the Grand Hall. In the Art Gallery artist Jessica Monroe opens her newest exhibit titled Arte Nativo for view and purchase.

At 8:00 pm, Douglas Tallamy presents “Creating Living Landscapes” outdoors. As development and subsequent habitat destruction accelerate, there are increasing pressure on wildlife populations. But there is an important and simple step toward reversing this alarming trend: Everyone with access to a patch of earth can make a significant contribution toward sustaining biodiversity.

There is an unbreakable link between native plant species and native wildlife- native insects cannot or will not, eat alien plants. When native plants disappear, the insects disappear, impoverishing the food source for birds and other animals. In many parts of the world, habitat destruction has been so extensive that local wildlife is in crisis and may be headed toward extinction.

Participate in a special evening of “Bringing Nature Home” as it has sparked a national conversation about the link between healthy local ecosystems and human well-being. Douglas will also be available for a book signing reception. The Planta Nativa tickets are $15.00 and can be purchased in advance at Quinta Mazatlan. For more information please call 956-681-3370 or visit www.quintamazatlan.com


Written by Carol GoolsbyBird Walk 2013-04-23 Scarlet Tanager John Brush
My friend….take my hand.  Walk through the gates of Quinta Mazatlan with me.  I want to give you a Valentine’s gift.

It starts with a stroll into the woods, where the peaceful sounds of water dripping through a pebbly creek and songbirds in the understory will cleanse your heart, wash your stress away…and settle deep in your soul.  Sit here with me on this boulder and let the water’s babble hypnotize you into happiness!  (FEEL…your first gift.)

Along the walk I will pick for you a dozen stems of red and pink Scarlet Sage flowers…mixed with sweetly-scented Whitebrush brooms, yellow Wedelias, and a bright red Heartleaf Hibiscus flower.  Here, my dear.  I hope this bouquet will remind you that life here in South Texas…is truly unique and beautiful.

Scarlet sage leaf

Now close your eyes…hold my hand….and follow me.  NO!  DON’T LOOK ….just smell.  The yellow puff blossoms of the Huisache trees are spritzing oils through the air that rivals the manufactured scents of expensive bottled perfumes.  Just lean your neck back….and breathe it in.  (SMELL…your second gift.)

Now come and sit down with me over here….in this nook by the amphitheater.  Would you like a forest treat?  Take this mesquite bean, snap it in half, and enjoy sweetness while I prepare you a plate of crepes.  I made them from mesquite flour, filled them with delicious Prickly Pear jam, and topped them with fresh cream.  Grab some of those oregano leaves off that bush over there, and pick a few of those orange granjeno berries, and sprinkle them over the top.  These are the local flavors from OUR woods!   (TASTE…your third gift.)

WOW…LOOK!  How symbolic! Do you see that beautiful red-colored bird?  It’s a vermilion flycatcher!  And over there ….is a bright red-feathered cardinal!  It’s nature’s own way of splashing RED into our lives on Valentine’s Day!  (SEE…your fourth gift.)

Bird Walk 2013-06-22 Northern Cardinal John Brush

Finally, I want you to come to “Ebony Grove” with me.  Check out how magnificent this giant old Rio Grande Ash tree is….was…only a stump now still standing?   I can’t even imagine a time in this Valley when trees so huge hugged this land!    It must have been felled decades ago when our forests were cleared as our city grew.   Look at the thickness of the “heartwood” in its core!  I count…35…40….45  tree rings!!!  Imagine the forces over that span of time that must have tried to knock this tree down–hurricanes, freezes, droughts, and winds.   It takes a strength imbedded deep within for something to last year after year.  There are people all over this town banding together next month to raise money to help re-forest this vacant lot into an “Ebony Grove”.  I cling to a hope that maybe through their generosity, we will see trees like this four decades from now.  This land WILL be reclaimed in time by nature!  This forest and its animals WILL be able to spread.   And its heartwood…will always endure.

(This last gift you must seek within yourself.  It  comes not from me…but from the heart of our forest.)

Happy Valentine’s Week!

The Land is Borrowed from our Children

By Colleen Hook

Bob Simpson & Jane Kittleman

There is a great thoughtful insight about the environment as follows: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. The author is unknown!  Some say it is a Native American Proverb.  The saying has been used by many leaders in the environmental movement and encapsulates the wisdom of previous centuries.

I recently asked Bob Simpson for his favorite proverb, and he mentioned the above saying. Bob Simpson has just been named the 2014 Conservation Hero in the Rio Grande Valley by the Advisory Board at Quinta Mazatlan.  Mr. Simpson will be recognized at the annual celebratory fundraiser, Moon over Mazatlan, on the evening of March 20th, 2014, tickets are available now at 956-681-3370.   Bob is an exceptional conservationist working with many organizations to preserve and enhance our remaining native habitat.  A partner in the firm of Boultinghouse Simpson Gates Architects, Bob’s leadership has benefited many organizations including Quinta Mazatlan, Valley Land Fund, First Presbyterian Church, Museum of South Texas History, McAllen South Rotary, Coastal Conservation Association of Texas, McAllen Chamber of Commerce and more.  Bob is such a humble and quiet giver, and tirelessly gives to so many.


At Quinta Mazatlan, Bob is helping to design “Ebony Grove” on a four acre tract of land. With the support of community individuals and businesses, our plans include the reforestation of the land, palapas, a wildlife pond, trails and interpretive signage.  This year’s Moon over Mazatlan fundraiser will go towards the creation of a large wildlife pond at Ebony Grove.

The wisdom of the saying is so evident today.  Not only have we borrowed the land from our children, but we are also giving them little opportunity to enjoy it.  Sadly in the last two decades, children have moved indoors.  The average child spends as few as 30 minutes outdoors each day, and more than seven hours indoors each day in front of some size electronic screen.  Our children are missing something essential to their health, development, happiness and heritage:  their connection to the natural world.

What our Valley Conservation Heroes have in common, like Bob Simpson (2014) and Jane Kittleman (2013), is that they enjoy outdoor hobbies such as bird watching, wildlife photography, fishing and more.  They love the great outdoors and thus work to protect and enhance it.  I have had the privilege of learning from Bob and Jane and I can say nature makes one nicer, enhances social interactions, value for the community and creates close relationships.

Quinta Mazatlan works to enrich people’s lives by sharing knowledge about birds, plants and stewardship of South Texas.  The nature center recently calculated how many hours children spent in outdoor programs at Quinta Mazatlan this past year.  We calculated over 6,200 kids participated in outdoor science driven programs– OVER 20,000 HOURS OF KIDS- IN-NATURE.

Let’s work to keep growing the number of KID-IN-NATURE HOURS!

Invest in creating natural parks for children and adults to enjoy in the city! It is our responsibility to return the land better than we found it, as well as teach the next generation the value of the land and the experiences it provides!  The time to act is now!

You can learn more about Moon Over Mazatlan here. The RSVP/Sponsorship form is here. We hope to see you all out for this special event!