I would have never imagined that in a hot and dry city like Phoenix it would be possible to find such a beautiful place as the Desert Botanical Garden. When I first arrived here I heard about it and decided to take a look. I was so fascinated by the place, that I became a member and have visited it a bunch of times ever since.
The Desert Botanical Garden is located just 15 minutes away from downtown Phoenix, in an complex called Papago Park, where you can also find the Phoenix Zoo. It is open daily from 8 am to 8 pm for the general public and from 7 am Wednesdays and Sundays for members only. Admission is $22 for adults and discounts are offered to seniors, students and children. Also, it is free to visit the second Tuesday of the month from 8 am to 4 pm.
The garden is mostly outdoors with the exception of a couple of exhibitions. It is divided in different sections that are accessible by trails. It features 2 loops of trails dedicated to the Sonoran Desert, with all the beautiful and exotic cactus brightening up the landscape. On one of the trails there is a spot where, with the help of the timer in your camera, you can take a picture behind a sign that reads “Greetings from the Desert Botanical Garden”. You can see mine here from when a couple of friends from Mexico came to visit. In the other trail, the ecosystems of the desert are represented as well as some features of the native people of the area.
The garden is very educational and kids friendly. All the plants have labels with their scientific and common names and their place of origin. There are also signs all over the place with interesting information regarding vegetation, animals, ecosystems and plant families. Most of them are interactive, they require you to open and close a door, smell, touch or even pick an answer from a sign quiz.
The Center for Desert Living Trail has information posted on how to grow your own plants in a sustainable way while living in the desert. It also features a herb and an edible garden. However, what definitely makes the highlight of this section is the cacti decorated beautiful sundial, certainly a must see.
During the month of December, the Garden closes early for the general public in order to host an event called Las Noches de las Luminarias. It is held at night and each time there are artists performing music throughout the garden. The plants are lightened up with tons of Christmas lights creating a magical atmosphere. They offer food and beverages along the trails for an extra cost and you can also decide to have dinner at one of the restaurants or purchase the buffet. I’ve attended the Luminarias event twice already and it has been a lot of fun. The Spanish guitar players and the hand bell ensembles were my favorite performers of the night last year. Also, in combination with the Chihuly exhibition that is being held in the Garden, the views were spectacular.
Dale Chihuly, a blown glass sculptor famous for his pieces all around the world, has made of the Desert Botanical Garden one of the multiple houses for his art. A permanent display at the entrance of the Garden is proof of that. Additionally, from November 2013 until May 2014, there is a temporary exhibition of his pieces strategically placed across the garden that embellish the view and perfectly blend with the nature. Photography classes, screen projections and lectures on the exhibit are part of this 6 months long special event.
If you are visiting Phoenix or live here and you are looking for something to do, a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden is totally worth it, specially this time of the year before the hot weather arrives.
All photos are owned by Sandra unless otherwise noted.