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Cactus rescue heroes

Jeanette and Byron Hinton have a beautiful cactus garden.
Jeanette and Byron Hinton have a beautiful cactus garden.
copyright Jeanette Hinton

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Not all of them rescue kids and kittens, unless you believe that saving the environment is also saving some part of them. Meet Jeanette and Byron Hinton who work with the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society and the Green Valley Gardeners who rescue the native cactus wherever mining expansion or building developments will mow them down.

Jeanette Hinton is a fourth generation Tucsonan who began working for the Tucson public libraries while still in High School, then worked for the City of Tucson for thirty-five years before moving on to the Tucson Medical Center, and finally Carondolet Medical Center. She and Byron met while he was stationed at Davis Monthan Air Force Base. They lived in Tucson until their children were grown, and then moved to Green Valley.

Both Jeanette and Byron are members of the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society whose volunteers go out where the Silverbell Mine is planning to expand, and rescue and replant the native cactus, including saguaros. Other places they have rescued cactus and succulents include the Vail School, Oro Valley development and TEP expansion.

To help in this work, Byron and Jeanette bought a trailer and dolly to move larger cactus. When they discovered that leaning a saguaro against the post made a dent in the skin, Byron fashioned a longer, smooth metal scoop to hold them. In addition, he bought a generator and jack hammer to facilitate digging in the hard rocky ground found in many areas.

The Green Valley Gardeners are improving and caring for the Desert Meadows Park, which was a much neglected park before they accepted the challenge. In addition to the initial clean up and replanting, the group maintains the park in good condition.

Another recipient of rescued cactus and succulents is the Arid Garden, which maintains a demonstration garden of survivable plants in the southern Arizona Desert. Cactus and succulents have flowers of a variety of colors, usually in spring, but some bloom in the fall. Their ability to survive on little water and bright flowers make them a desirable member of a garden.

So you see, some heroes work to preserve native plant species so that their children and their children’s children will be able to observe and enjoy these amazing cactus.