Many of us travel to various places in the United States to vacation, visiting national parks, family campgrounds, historical places, and/or places where we can hike or bike or enjoy swimming or sports. Some of us who are gardeners, though, like to camp in places where there is easy access to arboretums and botanical gardens, especially in areas that are unlike those in the area where we live. And so I discovered the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona.
One benefit of membership in McCrory Gardens is that membership has reciprocity at approximately 300 other gardens in the United States, and the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix is one of the gardens included in that reciprocity.
I was not prepared for the splendor of the giant saguaros, one of which is over 100 years old. The saguaros can be seen throughout the gardens, many of them as tall as those in the picture.
Part of the engaging exhibits in the garden this past February was more than 1,000 colorful animal sculptures that invaded the garden. These sculptures were titled Wild Rising by Cracking Art, and were placed in the garden to engage visitors to the garden to “discover messages of sustainability and conservation.” The animals included multiple colors of frogs, meerkats, rabbits, wolves, bears, snails, and birds. Learning always happens in the oddest of places. I did not know that the cactus family is among the five most threatened groups of living organisms.
The gardens are filled with all manner of cacti, as can be seen in the picture on the right. The map of the trails indicates that the space is divided into plants and people of the Sonoran Desert, which includes a section of Spanish gardens, grasslands, and native crop gardens, another section contains a desert herb garden. There is a cactus and succulent gallery, and the Desert Wildflower Loop Trail includes a butterfly garden, a hummingbird garden, a shade garden, and a bee garden.
Throughout the trails you can see the tall cacti growing outside the boundaries of the garden.
The variety of cacti and succulents was amazing, especially as I am trying to grow succulents at home; I now have ideas about what to get.
The visit was a wonderful reminder of the great diversity of flowering plants we have in our country as a result of the differing climates. South Dakota has two humidity indexes – West River and East River, and that diversity still produces many flowering plants and trees and a variety of vegetables as a result of our rainfall and snowfall. Arizona, particularly in the high desert of the Phoenix area, is very dry, except during the monsoon season and the occasional rain showers.
With the spring rains the wildflowers bloom, as do many of the cacti. Some of the flowers are delicate, some are larger, and all are very pretty. And then there are two imported South Dakota flowers who found each other visiting the Desert Botanical Gardens to enjoy the garden on the same day.