The January thaw is over; it is snowing again; the temperature is below freezing. I think its time for something warming. It is time to recall my visit to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. My son and his family live in Arizona, so when we visited their beautiful home, my son (who knows his mother well) arranged a trip to the botanical gardens, so that I could get my 'flower fix.' Yes, it is very different from my English cottage garden, but majestically beautiful. From the 50 feet tall saguaro cactus (above) to the tiny desert marigold, the Desert Botanical Garden has more than 2,000 species of desert plants from around he world. Here are some of my favorites ...
|Agave Plants in the Boulder Garden|
|Creosote Bush Larrea tridentata|
The creosote bush is so named because the plant smells like creosote after the rain.
I wish the flowers on the pincushion cactus were in bloom during our visit. They have a very short bloom-time and we just missed it.
|Pincushion Cactus Mammillaria sp.|
A gila woodpecker made a hole in the side of a saguaro cactus -- he moved too quickly to allow me to take his picture, but I love the shape of the hole ...
|Gila Woodpecker's Nest|
The Arizona ground squirrel appears much cuter than our gray squirrel, I think. They are called ground squirrels because they burrow in loose soil, often under mesquite trees and creosote bushes. To my amazement, they are extremely active even in very hot weather. (Rather like my youngest grandson - he is in the picture at the end.)
|Round-Tailed Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus tereticaudus)|
We saw some very prettily-marked lizards, but I am unable to identify any of the species.
|Lizard (species unknown)|
The beautiful brittlebrush is an evergreen shrub that grows to 5 feet. It has daisy-like flowers that bloom throughout the year following rains. I was not aware that it rained before we arrived, but the brittlebrush blooms were joyous.
|Brittlebrush Encelia Farinosa|
The Garden includes plants from deserts all around the world. The baja fairy duster is a shrub that is a native of Mexico. The red stamens on its blossoms give it its name ...
|Baja Fairy Duster Calliandra californica|
We saw some magnificent organ pipe cacti. They grow to a height of 20 feet.
|Organ Pipe Cactus Stenocereus thurberi|
Unfortunately, I failed to record the names of all the plants we saw ...
|Are these the blooms of the century plant?|
As my friends know, I am very fond of English hedgehogs, so you can imagine I was fascinated by a plant called Engelmann's Hedgehog. It is named for the botanist and physician George Engelmann, and is indeed quite hedgehog-like. Again we missed its beautiful blooms.
|Hedgehog Cactus Echinocereus engelmanni|
I guess vegetable gardens look similar the world over. The fenced-in garden here, with its rectangular beds are a case in point. Unfortunately, I didn't get a close up picture that shows which vegetables were planted.
The Desert Botanical Garden has a butterfly garden and a bee garden. There were carpets of flowers in both, and we saw many pollinators.
|Blackfoot daisies predominate on this carpet of flowers|
Throughout the Garden are stunning sculptures that surprised us on the various Garden trails. They were created by artist Dale Chihuly who revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement. Yes, his exciting sculptures are made of glass! He is renowned for his ambitious architectural installations around the world.
|Three Chihuly sculptures at the entrance to the Gardens.|
On a recent visit to my home, my son was amazed to see that I grow prickly pear in my Pennsylvania garden. It reliably returns to life after the harshest of winters and blooms in the middle of June.
|Prickly Pear Cactus Opuntia spp.|
My prickly pear is located at the end of a cottage garden border. As you can see by the buds in the picture below, it can bear more than 50 blooms. It is one small connection to my Arizona family.
|My grandson making flour in the children's activity area|
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