FloraFEST returns to the Chihuahua Desert Garden

Claudia Flores, Contributor

FloraFEST is the largest plant sale of its kind in the region, and a fundraising event for the maintenance and operation of the Chihuahua Desert Garden on campus. This is a 23-year-old tradition, where shoppers enjoy a large variety of native and desert-adapted plants to take home and start their own personalized garden.

Kaye Mullins, education curator at the Centennial Museum, is in charge of coordinating the plant sale and recruiting people to volunteer and make this event a successful one.

“We have a huge variety of plants that are native to the area and those that have been adapted like shrubs, trees and everyone’s favorites, the flowers,” Mullins said.

From desert marigolds to sages, FloraFEST offers about 3,000 different plant species. Most of the plants at the event are not available at local nurseries or retailers.

“One of our most popular variety of flowers is the chocolate daisy, and, believe it or not, it really smells like cocoa,” Mullins said.

Living in a desert region, it is hard to find plants and flowers that bloom in the dry area and instead of purchasing the typical cactus, FloraFEST gives El Paso the opportunity to learn about the different plant varieties that are well adapted to the region.

According to Mullins, the event draws close to 2,500 people coming through during the two-day plant sale.

“It’s wonderful to see when they open the gates for people to come in and all you can see is the whole place covered in pink, purple, red and so many different colors,” Mullins said.

With almost 3,000 plant varieties at the FloraFEST, local master gardeners will be at the event for people to come by and learn about the plants they are purchasing.

“We have plant-pros all four hours and an information center in the middle of everything, there are people with a name tag that says ‘Provider,’ and those people can tell you what kind of plant works best for you,” Mullins said. “We will also have people from the El Paso Native Plant Society and other expertise at the event, so don’t hesitate to ask questions if you don’t know the plants.”

FloraFEST will take place on April 29 and 30, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the plaza between the Undergraduate Learning Center  and the Centennial Museum on campus.