Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Desert Botanical Garden, Part One


Here we are, finally. I think I’ve put off posting about this particular garden visit because this place is so important to me and I wanted to do it justice. I first visited the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden in 2002 and fell in love. It’s not an exaggeration to say I left that day forever changed, at least in how I looked at plants.
When I returned in 2006 on a visit with my husband it was just as magical, I loved getting to show him such an “important to me” place.
Our visit last October was my third, and in between 2006 and 2011 I’ve been to many other public gardens (The Huntington, Lotusland, Berkeley Botanical Garden, Ruth Bancroft) and several interesting nurseries. Could it hold up to the inevitable comparisons? The answer is yes. I wasn’t as awe-struck this time through, but it was still magical…such a plethora of amazing plants. If you can visit you should, really.
We were there early to beat the heat, like 8:30 am early. Those of you who know me are appropriately shocked I’m sure. An advantage being we were practically alone in the garden for hours. I took so many pictures! Where I can (or remember to) add a plant identification I will, the rest will just be “plant porn.” To keep your eyes from glazing over I’m breaking this one into two days worth of pictures, so there will be more tomorrow!

You’ve been looking at photos of the area just outside the admission gate where “The Desert Towers” (glass sculptures created by Dale Chihuly just for the Desert Botanical Garden) are mixed in with some of some fabulous plants. You probably know my feelings about art in the garden, but I really liked these. It probably helps that they are my favorite color and look so spectacular with the plants.

Now we are inside the garden…and speaking of “art”… we visited during the Big Bugs exhibition. There were 11 bugs around the garden, for the most part I was able to ignore them, but some (like this Praying Mantis) were unavoidable.

Calliandra californica (Baja Fairy Duster)

Opuntia ramosissima

The aptly named Octopus Cactus…

Agave attenuata

Agave pelona (Bald Agave)

Echinocactus grusonii (Golden Barrel Cactus)

One of these is not such a Barrel anymore…

Wow, since 1939!

Sunburn protection?

Guaiacum angustifolium

Spotting an Agave bloom spike still gives me a thrill…

Which might be why I love their logo so much?

This was their herb garden, probably meant as a teaching space. Of course I loved the stock tanks!

I could use a rusty arbor like this, smaller of course.

There’s that logo again…

Agave cerulata

As you can see I didn’t tire of watching the birds on top of the Cactus…

Fouquieria columnaris (Boojum Tree)

Agave macrocantha (Big-spined Agave)

See the stalk coming up out of the plant in the very center of this photo?

This is what was at the end of it!

And speaking of end, this is the end of Part One, more spiky plant fun tomorrow!

32 comments:

  1. Together with the Huntington and Lotusland, this is in the top 3 of must-see gardens for me. From your photos, I can say that I would probably never want to leave. Paradise for a succulent lover, and your photos do it justice. Can't wait for part 2.

    The Agave attenuata was a big surprise. It didn't think it would be able to take the heat. I assume it's in shade most of the day?

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    1. Gerhard you're so close (well, closer than me) to both the Huntington and Lotusland I'm surprised that you haven't been.

      You're right, that the A. attenuata are in the shade most of the day. Between the huge trees and the raised bed I doubt much direct sun hits them.

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    2. I can't believe it myself. We were going to spend a week in Santa Barbara this summer and I was going to do Lotusland then. But just last weekend we decided the girls were old enough (11+13) for a good old American road trip so that's what we'll do. Some combination of northern Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah.

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    3. Well that sounds like fun! Have decided to forgo your trip to Portland?

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  2. I totally live in the wrong part of the country. All my gardens would look like that. I would have to name it Danger Garden II......Great pics, now I have to put that on my bucket list of gardens to visit.

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    1. You and me both! What are we doing in Oregon???

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  3. Wow! What an amazing place! That cactus with the orange flower and the rust-colored snake-like things rising out of it is pretty cool. Love the rusty arbor, and the Calliandra flower. Baja Fairy Duster has to be one of the best common names I've seen. Is that an agave flower spike at the end, with the yellow flowers?

    And your close-up photo of the bird lifting its beak up to the sky sitting in the middle of the cactus is a very good photo, worthy of entry into a photo contest.

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    1. You're right! They do look like snakes...and yes I believe it is an Agave flower. That's the problem with waiting 7 mos to edit and post your pictures...details fade. I didn't have a name plate picture to put with it and I wasn't certain so that's why I didn't call it such.

      Thanks for the photo compliment...the blue sky makes everything look good!

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  4. OH my! That is absolutely one of the most spectacular looking places I have ever seen. Something to add to my list of dream gardens.

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    1. You would be in heaven...it's wonderfully laid out with specimen beds and naturalistic areas.

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  5. I can definitely see it's influence on you...LOVE that rusty arbor...would love to recreate that as well...of course, on an even SMALLER scale ;-)

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    1. Look how convenient that it's built in two pieces! One for me and one for you!

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  6. What a beautiful place, a great setting for these plants. Thanks for the excellent tour and lovely photos. Those golden barrels look great massed, I should find a place for that.

    I saw a fairy duster at The Antique Rose Emporium. They have a sale starting tomorrow. Maybe I'll go back...

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    1. Oh yes...massed Golden Barrels are fabulous. They look to me like mother nature just rolled them out like huge croquet balls.

      A sale! Please take pictures...

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  7. DROOLING!!! DAH ROO LING!! Of course the cacti are awesome, but I agree that rusty arbor is really striking. I would love to mix that rusty metal with your orange one in my garden.

    Here is an agave spike for you, too! (http://cactguy.tumblr.com/post/23645823062/finally-got-back-to-that-blooming-agave-from-last) I took it last night.

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    1. Oh that's a lovely spike..and an all around excellent photo!

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  8. Bah I was afraid that sculpture was Chihuly...now I have to admit to liking one of his pieces. ::sigh:: I just can't dislike anything that is that spiky and that color!

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    1. Ah that's exactly how I felt!

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  9. Stunning Loree, absolutely stunning! I can clearly see why this place is special to you and has changed your views on plants after visiting. The specimens are beautiful and the planting well composed, complemented by the art installations (especially those glass sculptures!). Another place I've added to 'must see very soon' list!

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    1. Oh you guys would love it....simply love it!

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  10. So much to love in this post, Loree! That Agave macrocantha (Big-spined Agave) appeals to my rosette fetish, the Chihuly sculpture is perfect there, that gorgeous yellow agave flower, all those towering, flowering spiny cacti, even the logo (I agree, it's great!).

    Do I see a Stapelia flower in the 4th photo from the bottom? And I can't help wondering how the birds avoid getting glochids in their tushies...

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    1. Good I'd on the Stapelia Jane, and I agree about the birds! Same for the crazy Javalina that eat Opuntia....

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  11. Your photos really capture the colors of the desert air and the plants. Those A. attenuata are beautiful with the wall behind them, and I love the cactus' subtle color changes in your bird-on-cactus shots.
    It's nice that the art glass pieces slip into the planting area and aren't made of those riotous Chihuly colors that overshadow everything.

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    1. Thank you for the compliments Maggie. It was nice that even though it was a sunny day it wasn't overpoweringly so and the colors could stil show up.

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  13. Ooh, thanks for mentioning the Berkeley Botanical Garden and Ruth Bancroft garden--I have a CA road trip in the works and think I might be able to work in stops to those ones.

    Lotusland and The Desert Botanical will be for another year!

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    1. You are in for a HUGE treat with those two gardens!

      BTW I'm working on a new page with links to all my garden visits. I'll post about it next week

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  14. Love the gardens and I like the Chihuly's!

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    1. These sculpture seem to be a crowd favorite! (you've got great taste)

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  15. tus after a year's worth of volunteering and educational units. Thanks again, loved your pics.

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    1. You were a volunteer? That must have been such fun!

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  16. Wow, the light this day was pure magic.

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