Desert Botanical Garden

A simple message can gather people together with the same advocacy which makes a dream into reality. The simple message "Save the desert" posted by Gustaf Starck, a Swedish Botanist, led to the establishment of the Desert Botanical Garden. Starck wrote the message in a sign post that pointed towards his house. It indicated an invitation to the local citizens who agrees with his advocacy. His effort resulted to the creation of the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society. The society aims a sponsorship of a botanical garden that will promote the world’s deserts, specifically the Sonoran Desert. The society found its new home in Papago Park when their new member Gertrude Webster offered her financial support and encouragement in the improvement of the botanical garden.

Desert Botanical Garden features more than 50,000 plant displays in its 145 acres of land. There are different tours showcasing different exhibits and activities including the Desert Discovery Trail, Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Trail, Birds of the Southwest Tour, Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Trail and Flashlight Tour. Maxine & Jonathan Marshall Butterfly Pavillon features different species of North American butterflies especially during spring and fall.

Desert Discovery Trail is the Botanical Garden’s main trail showcasing different desert plants found from the different parts of the world. The garden also has loop trails where exhibits such as Berlin Agave Yucca Forest and Sybil B. Harrington Cactus and Succulent Galleries are located. Guests will learn about the biology of the desert plants as well as the adaptability of the plants to survive in the harsh environment.

Prepare yourself in the longest trail in the Botanical Garden as The Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Trail takes its guests to a 1.5 hour tour. This trail focuses in the relationship between the people and the plants through the representation of five different habitats including Desert, Chaparral, Desert Oasis, Semi-desert Grassland and Mesquite Bosque. Guests will fully understand how the people utilize the desert plants for their food, medicine, construction supply and fiber.

Birds of the Southwest Tour is created to teach the guests about the interaction between the birds and the desert plants. There are so many bird species that hum along the one-hour tour including Anna’s Hummingbird, Cactus Wren, Curved-billed Thrasher and Western Screech Owl.

Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop Trail features the best wild flowers during the springtime as it blooms with vibrant colors. This one-hour tour is available from March to May where guests can see Penstemon, Desert Lupine, Mexican poppies and many more.

Flashlight Tour allows guests to stroll at night to see the night plants and animals including the night-blooming flowers, owls, nighthawks fly and critters such scorpions and snakes. This tour is available from May to September.

There are other tours and activities that guests can enjoy including Photographic Safari, Desert Dish Garden Activity, Afternoon Tea in the Garden, Taste of the Southwest Cooking Demo, Native Cultures and Plants of the Southwest and Music in the Garden Concert series.