Desert Botanical Garden

In southern Arizona, the cities of  Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale encircle an area of the Sonoran Desert known as Papago Park.  Within the Park , surrounded by red sandstone geological formations, is the Desert Botanical Garden.

I visited the Garden last week and was delighted by the setting of the 50 acre garden.  It’s collection includes over 20,000 plants, 139 of them being rare, endangered or threatened desert plant species from around the world.  For someone who was born and raised in the Great Lakes area, such as myself,  the desert landscape is quite a contrast.

View from the Desert Botanical Garden
A red sandstone butte in the distance

One of the things that caught my eye was the large number of different agave and aloe plants that were planted along the walkways. I did not have time to study all of the sometimes subtle characteristics of each specie.

Part of the desert plant collection
Walkways and handrails make it east to get around

Speaking of walkways, all of the major walkways are paved and are easy to negotiate.  There’s also plenty of architectural features as well as artistic sculptures  to keep  non-botanists from getting their eyes glazed over from the desert landscape.

Structures in the Desert Garden
Arched Structures and sculpture add visual interest

The arched structures have an assortment of desert plants that you can view close up, ranging from the relatively common Saguaro and Prickly Pear Cactus…

Plants under the Arched Structures
The arched structures provide a feeling of enclosed space.

…to the more exotic looking Creeping Devil Cactus…

Creeping Devil
They look like they're about to come after you!

…and Cristata Cactus:

Cristata Cactus
The shy Cristata Cactus huddle together

You can enter the Desert Botanical Garden for free if you are a member of The U of M Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, otherwise adult entry fee was $15 per adult when I visited Arizona last week.