Botanical gardens are made for the study, culture, and exhibition of special plants. Here in Arizona, a trip to a botanical garden can provide a closer look into the natural beauty of the southwest. Each botanical garden has its own unique blend of desert plants that prove Arizona is made up of more than just cacti and palm trees. Here's a look at what you can expect to see on a trip to Arizona botanical gardens.
This 140-acre garden is home to some of the most diverse collections of desert plant life in the world. The garden includes over 4,000 species of plants - with everything from giant cacti to century plants. The Sybil B. Harrington Cactus & Succulent Gallery and the Ottosen Entry Garden are can't miss world-class exhibits. This stunning garden is located in Papago Park and holds classes, workshops and a rotating list of events throughout the year.
Founded in 1964, this botanical garden is a collection of 17 residentially scaled gardens. The 5.5 acres are full of different exhibitions each showcasing the beauty and tranquility of Tucson's desert. Exhibits include the Butterfly Greenhouse, Aloe Alley, Backyard Bird Garden, Cactus & Succulent Garden and a Children's Discovery Museum.
Named one of the world's great botanical gardens by Travel + Leisure Magazine, Tohono Chul is a 49-acre garden in the lush Sonoran Desert. The Santa Catalina Mountains surround the life in the garden, which includes palm trees, riparian habitats and hummingbirds. For further appreciation, visitors can gain insights into the gardens by going on a series of guided tours, attending lectures and workshops, and special events.
In 2001, the Carefree Desert Gardens were installed as a part of a beautification project. Since then, it's grown into a full-scale botanical garden and was opened for the public in 2011. This four-acre garden is open year-round and features a wide range of desert plants. Plants include a 65-foot boojum tree and the crested saguaro—a rare and abnormally grown cactus.
This is not only the oldest botanical garden in Arizona, but also the largest. Located off Highway 60 in Superior, this 323-acre botanical garden was developed in the 1920s by philanthropist Boyce Thompson. It's filled with species of the Sonoran Desert as well as South America, Australia and Africa. The garden includes a 1.5-mile trail, 3,200 different plants, and 800 cacti species.
This eight-acre neighborhood garden was established back in 1975 to preserve local plant and animal life. In 2006, the town of Fountain Hills began a restoration project on the garden. Today, this botanical garden is comprised of 29 Sonoran Desert plants and a half-mile hiking and educational trail.
This Flagstaff botanical garden is comprised of over 750 species of plants deep within the Coconino National Forest. The 200-acre arboretum is elevated at 7,150 feet and houses a blend of rare plant specimen native to the Colorado Plateau and northern Arizona. Though closed in the winter, the botanical gardens are bustling in the summer with people exploring the gardens, greenhouses and horticulture collections.
This small botanical garden is sprinkled throughout ASU's main campus in Tempe. In fact, the entire campus was dedicated as an arboretum by then school president Lattie Coor in 1990. Since then, it's grown to include over 300 species of trees, shrubs, flowers and other plants that are meticulously cared for and labeled. The gardens are open daily free of charge.
Rated by TripAdvisor as the top attraction in Tucson, the Desert Museum is so much more than just a botanical garden. It's also a natural history museum, zoo, art gallery and aquarium. However, the botanical garden is a sight to see. It includes 56,000 individual plants, 230 animal species, and over 1,200 species of plants native to the Sonoran Desert. Visitors can see the plants by walking some of the "Desert Loop Trail" on a tour through the desert landscape. In addition to being an attraction, the Desert Museum provides important research and conservation efforts towards the Sonoran Desert region.
The University of Arizona is home to hundreds of native trees and plants from every continent. Many trees found on campus are recognized as Great Trees of Arizona and the National Register of Big Trees for their sheer size. The campus also includes the Joseph Wood Krutch Garden, which includes ocotillo, hedgehog and senita cacti and other desert plants. The arboretum and surrounding gardens encourage research and preservation of the natural world.