PHOENIX, ARIZONA: Desert Botanical Gardens is a MUST SEE, located at 1201 N. Galvin Parkway just north of the Phoenix Zoo (take VanBuren Exit off Loop 202, or Priest Exit off I10 and followe the signs.) You could spend an hour or a full day at this “cactus wonderland.” Opened to the public in 1939, the gardens are the result of generosity and foresight of Gertrude Webster, whose vision was to provide a place to protect the natural plants of the Arizona desert which were fast disappearing, to establish plantings for students and botanists to study, and to create a noteworthy attraction.
Desert Botanical Gardens
The beautiful Botanical Gardens are perhaps the very best place to study and learn the names of various desert plants and to enjoy quiet beauty of nature in the heart of the city. The wide, flat brick and cement walways are inviting to physicaly challenged people, and the bike trails nearby lead cyclists to this haven of rest. Over 400 volunteers and horticulture aides help maintain the beauty of tthe carefully-planned gardens and serve as guides with regular tours at 11a.m. and 1 p.m. The Garden is open October to April from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and May to December from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The moderate admission price is $7.50 for adults ($6.50 over 60), $3.50 for children 5 – 12, free under 5. For more information call (480) 941-1255 or click here
Children will enjoy playing detective using the free clue sheet at the entrance. You can learn about the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, Australian, and African Deserts in the various designated areas that replicate the landscape of each. There is a small Oasis and a Chaparral (or high elevation desert) area also. You can learn about the Pima Indians and how they survived in the difficult climate and how the Spaniards influence changed their way of using the indigenous plants. Exhibits identify desert inhabitant animals and birds and the hands-on boards allow you to hear the calls of the various song birds.
From the hundreds of varieties of cacti and succulents we meandered through, we decided to really learn to identify about 10 species so that we could travel and hike through desert climes more knowledgeably. If your brain will take it all in, you could learn about anything you ever wanted to know about a desert here! The gift shop is excellent, and you can buy or ship cactus gardens for home. We selected several for a dish garden reminder of our wonderful visit. If you can plan your visit in February you can go to a different concert each Sunday from 11:30 – 1 in the Gardens. February 23 & 24 is the Community Festival Week-end 9a.m. – 5 p.m. with the Special Spring Exhibits opening in the Butterfly Pavilion with Dave Rogers’ Big Bug Sculptures, which will continue on exhibit until May 12.
When you are there you might notice that there are only a few sprinkler heads within the huge gardens, and you can learn how to plant your own enviornment friendly garden. Desert landscaping is a good choice for saving water! Ask for the information on how to do it. For more information on your garden you can call the Desert Botanical Gardens Plant Hotline at (480) 941-1255 Monday through Friday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Moutain Standard Time. (Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings Time).