Monday, March 29, 2010

Desert Beauties

The Desert Botanical Garden has become a favorite stop every time I visit my daughter in the Phoenix area. Last year I was fortunate to visit it twice while it hosted an exhibit of Chihuly artwork, which you can see here and here. It's no wonder then that I had a momentary feeling of deja vu as I entered the Garden and saw the familiar sparkling yellow-green towers of glass still marking the entrance. However, a sign nearby explained that the Garden is sponsoring a fundraiser in hopes of raising enough money to keep this Chihuly work as a permanent fixture at the DBG. I can't blame them for wanting to keep such a dramatic piece; it's a dazzling eye-catcher as one enters the garden.

This year the work of another artist was featured in various parts of the garden. Large sculptures by Native American sculptor Allan Houser included many abstract pieces such as this one, "When Friends Meet."

Other pieces were more traditional such as this one, "Spirit of the Mountains." While it's hard to top Chihuly in the garden, in my humble opinion, having another noteworthy exhibit of art
added something new once again to my visit here.

Having visited the garden several times now, I feel pretty comfortable in identifying many of the plants, at least by genus name, if not the specific variety. Agaves are one of my favorites, although I still confuse some varieties with aloes.

A favorite bloomer is the Baja Fairy Duster.

The iconic saguaros, the prickly pears, and other cacti and succulents are the main feature of the garden and have become familiar sights.

As are the yuccas, which look their best in full bloom.

And another familiar sight . . . Mr. Squirrel is every bit as at home
in a desert setting as he is in my front yard.

But there is always something new to be learned here and something not noticed on previous trips. Although I've seen the Organ Pipe Cactus before, the red hues on this Stenocereus thurberi were something I'd never seen before.

On one of last year's posts about the DBG, I included a photo of this tree, but couldn't identify it. This year I found the tag for this unusual plant--it's a Boojum Tree, a member of the Ocotilla family.

It was a little early yet for the blooms on the cacti, as seen on this prickly pear
with buds not quite ready to open.

But some of the mammilaria were already bursting with some spring color.

However, it was perfect timing for the wildflower garden,
the first time I had seen it in full bloom.

Mounds of desert marigolds appeared at every turn.

They obviously thrive in the hot desert sun.

One of my favorite color combinations, pink and purple, showed up in these Arroyo Lupines Lupinus succulentus and Parry's Penstemons Penstemon parryi.

I wasn't the only one enjoying the colors of the wildflowers on this early spring day.

One of the things I like about the DBG, and I suppose it's true of most Botanic Gardens, is that all the plants are clearly labeled. However, labels aren't placed beside each individual specimen. I never did find a label for this shrub, but it reminds me of Noelle's Valentine shrub--am I right, Noelle?

Nor could I find the label for these pretty blue wildflowers.

Outside the wildflower garden, these striking orange flowers appeared
in many plantings next to succulents and cacti.

After much hunting, I finally found the label--Coral aloe, Aloe striata. Isn't this an interesting plant? I've never seen such colorful and dramatic blooms on a succulent before.

The garden was crowded on this Thursday afternoon with many visitors on spring break. But resident bees seemed unfazed by all the hubbub. This picture made me laugh because I had spent some time the day before shooting photo after photo of bees swarming around a flowering plum tree near my daughter's home, only to discover later I had nothing but blurs of motion in every photo. I took this close-up of a pretty potted French lavender, not even realizing until I downloaded it that there was a bee on the plant. A good example of photographic serendipity:)

If you are ever in the Phoenix area I highly recommend stopping by the Desert Botanic Garden for a visit. This is one public garden that has something interesting to see all year long. Just a word of advice, however: if you visit here between mid-March and early November, I suggest going in the morning and taking along sunscreen. I had to respect the time schedules of my "chauffeurs," so I went at noon and then discovered too late that I had left my sunscreen in my other purse. In spite of a mild sunburn, though, the trip to the DBG was well worth it!


  1. Hi Rose, I visited this garden years ago and loved it! You've shown a lot of beautiful variety in your pictures.

  2. Hello Rose and welcome home. It looks like you had a great time. Beautiful flowers and photos, and that first shot is quite stunning. I do love the Agaves and especially the blue-green colors. I had to smile: looking at your desert photos next to your birds and the snow. Have a wonderful week and I hope all your snow is gone.

  3. HI Rose, love the Native American statue. Those desert plants look so exotic to me. I lived in southern Wyoming for a while but didn't really see many plants like those.

  4. That fairy duster is way cool. All I can think when I look at the desert marigolds is they shine like the sun.

  5. Hi Rose.....I am not going to comment at this time, as for some reason I cannot see any of your photographs. I have tried this and that, without success. Shall pop back at some point and try again......

  6. Ermmm... I'm unable to see any of the photos! Thinking it to be browser issue, I tried G Chrome in vain. Guess Google has some server issues. :(

  7. Blogger is playing up and I cannot access many of your photos. I will try again later. I have had the same problem on a few blogs but it usually rights itself.
    The bee on the lavender was lovely.
    Strange how some disappear and others don't!

    Nuts in May

  8. I can't think of anything better then seeing these desert beauties when it's still chilly and cold in Illinois! I loved visiting the Tucson area, but we missed all the wildflowers...Someday i will see them, until then your post is a perfect place to view them...gail

  9. What a stunning place to visit!! It is all so different than what we have east of the Mississippi isn't it? Wonderful photos. I found the reddish hue on the cactus unusual too...though it could be as common as dirt. Those gorgeous plants are certainly not my forte!

  10. I adore those yellow-green Chihulies--I almost thought they were plants at first glance. Also love the Baja Fairy Duster (of course, LOL) and so much else of what you showed. I will visit that garden one day!

  11. I love, love! alpines. Not so here as the winter is too cold! :(

  12. Hello Rose,

    What beautiful pictures of your trip to the garden. AND you are right - it is a Valentine shrub! I need to get out there before it gets too warm soon :-)

  13. I can see why you like to go to the garden again and again. There is always something new. I really like the native american art. It goes perfectly in this setting. I wonder if that tree is native or does it come from another country? My little agave is about to bloom. I will post a photo when it opens. It is a much smaller version of the one you pictured.

  14. I think it is really neat that the last times you have visited there has been an artist exhibit. How neat!

    I'm not a big fan of cacti but there really are some pretty colors in your pics Rose.

  15. What a lovely garden that is so in touch with the regional flora...and the wildflower garden was beautiful!

  16. So beautiful, Rose. I remember when you went last year. Loved the Bee photo. So funny how we try so hard to get a shot, only to fail, and then manage to get it without trying.

    Could the little blue wildflowers be Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophilia menziesii)? I have them growing from a wildflower mix I got from the Wildseed Farm.

  17. Came back to see your lovely photos. Great selection.

    Nuts in May

  18. Hi Rose....sorry for the delay, but I am at last reading your delightful post.

    The gardens are very unusual and unlike anything that I have seen here. The glass sculptures to add something without a doubt. The colours fit in perfectly with a desert gardening theme.

    I love the wildflowers, especially desert marigolds. BUT, of course, my dear Rose, the best photograph has to be your bee. How could you not have seen her when you took the photograph!! Shame on you.

  19. So much life in the Desert! And here I thought it was nothing but sand and cactus :-) I can see why it is a must visit...

  20. Cyndy, There is a surprising amount of variety of blooms at the DBG, isn't there?

    Di, I hadn't thought about the contrast between my post and the sidebar:) Yes, the snow has been gone a long time; in fact, it's been beautiful here.

    Marnie, My only experience with Wyoming was a long drive through the southern part this summer--I don't think much of anything grows there, except cattle:)

    Tina, I love the fairy duster, too.

    Chandramouli, Something strange was going on with Blogger for a few hours on Monday, because I had problems, too.

    Gail, I enjoy just seeing the very different scenes of the desert.

    Janet, I don't grow cacti either, but I enjoy seeing them at the Garden, especially the very old ones.

    Monica, Used my Chicago Botanic membership to get in free--that really was a deal!

    Dawn, Hope the cold leaves you soon!

    Noelle, Thanks for this! After seeing yours, I thought this was the same shrub--it really is pretty.

    Lisa, I haven't seen this tree anywhere else; the tag says it's native to northern Mexico and Baja Cal.

    Susi, I never liked cacti that much before, but the DBG has helped me to really appreciate them.

    Rose, This was the first time I had seen the wildflowers in bloom--so glad I got to see them!

  21. Jenny, I've heard of Baby blue eyes before; I'll have to check them out online to see if that's what they were. Thanks!

    Cheryl, I must have had my bee blinders on:) I tried so hard to take a photo of one on the pretty pink plum blossoms, but none of them turned out. I don't know how you manage to get such good ones all the time!

    Maggie, Thanks for coming back--Blogger was acting strange on Monday.

    Skeeter, The desert is a very different landscape to me; the DBG has given me a different perspective on it.

  22. I love the DBG and your pictures brought back a lot of good memories! The Boojum tree is a particular favorite of mine, being named for a Lewis Carroll character. There's one at Garfield Park.

    I hope I can get back to AZ next spring - the desert is awe-inspiring.

  23. I just love the desert gardens, a far cry from the kind of plants we grow here on Whidbey Island.

  24. Oh I would just love to go to that place. And lucky you to see it when the wildflowers were going crazy! I love those aloe blooms. My small aloe plant blooms but the blooms are also small. :-) Thanks for the trip.
    p.s. I left you a comment on my blog about growing agaves in your part of the country.

  25. Wow, I want to go back to Arizona! I was just there in a novel. If you haven’t read Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli do. It’s YA but would appeal to all ages. Saguaros and the desert feature. Lovely, lovely photos!

  26. Love that bee photo too! And the lavender is such a lovely shade of well....lavender. LOL!

    If I ever get back to Arizona, I will certainly make a trip to the desert gardens. Your pics are just so beautiful.

    Thanks for taking us along.

  27. Rose, I had no idea there would be so much blooming in Phoenix. Love that fairy duster: it's more orange in color than the variety I've grown. I concur with Morning Glories that the wildflower is Baby Blue Eyes. I want to grow those next year.

  28. Reading about Allan Houser for the next post, I found your blog and was able to answer one of your question: "about the pretty blue flowers..." the darkest ones are called "desert blue bells."


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