City of Portales dedicates garden to former employee

By Ashley Lee: PNT Staff Writer

The city of Portales is hoping to honor a long-time employee while promoting water conservation with the dedication of new landscaping at city hall.

Last Friday city officials and employees dedicated the new xeriscape garden at city hall in memory of Dan Swopes, who died in 2005.

“Dan had worked for the water department for 27 years and eventually became the utilities superintendent. He was always looking for ways to save water, He took his job very seriously. ” said Shirley Swopes.

“It was Dan’s concern every summer to make sure that there was enough water for everyone,” said Portales City Clerk Joan Martinez Terry.

“The girls and I were very appreciative, it is a great honor and legacy for our girls. They will always be reminded of what kind of father they had,” said Swopes.

The xeriscape garden in front of city hall is made from rock and plants that require small amounts of water. When it rains the water from the roof is collected in a tank on the side of the building and then the water collected is used to water the new garden. Tom Howell director of the public works department explained that the existing sprinkler system was left there and city employees took care of the tank and the hook up of the whole system.

“This spring and summer the garden was really beautiful,” said Martinez Terry.

According to city officials, Garden Source put in the landscaping for the xeriscape garden.

“The plants in the garden were chosen because they are native to New Mexico, and do well in this climate,” said Curt Jaynes owner of Garden Source.

The city would like to encourage people to xeriscape their yards to conserve water explained Joan Martinez Terry. The city has pamphlets available for those who are interested.

Low water-using plants, color, and heartiness are all things you should look into when trying to xeriscape explained Jaynes. Design, height, width, and placement are all important elements when designing one of these yards, Jaynes added, if you plant something you need to know how large it will get. The brochures suggest taking a three-year time period to transform your yard.