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4/30/2014 6:00:00 AM
In the Gardens: In danger of losing saguaro to disease
QUARTZSITE, Ariz. ó One of the saddest things for Celia Gardensí founders is to see cacti, trees or other plants get sick or die. This is especially true of the huge cacti since they canít always be replaced.
QUARTZSITE, Ariz. ó One of the saddest things for Celia Gardensí founders is to see cacti, trees or other plants get sick or die. This is especially true of the huge cacti since they canít always be replaced.
Joanne Winer
QUARTZSITE TIMES

QUARTZSITE, Ariz. - One of the saddest things for Celia Gardens' founders is to see cacti, trees or other plants get sick or die. This is especially true of the huge cacti since they can't always be replaced.

Just this past week, an arm on one of the biggest and most beautiful saguaros fell off after stricken with a bacterial disease. The Gardens' founders and volunteers have worked hard every day since it happened to find out how to save the saguaro or at least its huge skeleton.

Every saguaro in the Gardens has been planted there since the beginning. The cacti in the Gardens were donated and moved in by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rangers from the Yuma office. When the creation of the Gardens started in 1995, it was slow going at first, but then BLM got involved, and the place started receiving all kinds of cacti, trees, and other materials from BLM. What a great gift. The first huge saguaro was planted by hand and without any special equipment. That cactus has sat on a hill overlooking the amphitheater for more than 16 years.

Helge, from Yuma, is a cacti expert and used to own a nursery, was the one contacted by Gary Rowell from BLM to bring this huge giant in from an area of the desert near a mine site that was in the way of the road they were building. The Gardens was thrilled to get it, and the founders met him at the gardens and together they spent hours digging a hole. Helge then placed the giant cactus into the hole with a special hoist on the back of his truck specially made to transport saguaros and other big cacti and trees. Most of the other saguaros that are now planted in the "Hero" area of the Gardens were also planted by Helge and those cacti continue to be healthy.

This first saguaro is between 30-40 feet tall and is buried at least 4-6 feet into the side of the hill. It has stood there for all these years growing arms and becoming nesting places for many birds. It is so tall it can be seen from the road, and has been such a majestic feature in the Gardens and has often received remarks from visitors about how "special" the giant cactus is.

The Gardens founder got word last week that the majestic saguaro cactus had contracted bacteria necrosis, something that is only found in saguaros, and is usually fatal to the cactus.

Since then, the founder has worked to get all the information possible about how to treat this bacteria and see if there is any way to save this beautiful giant.  If the cactus cannot be saved, the Gardens hopes to at least save the skeleton, so it can still be seen in all its splendor.

This has been heartbreaking for the Gardens, and they pray that something can be done before having to cut it down.


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