Spring Gardens in the Southwest

It has been a beautiful spring in the Southwest and my Mesa, AZ garden. I’ve been outside, planting, mulching, pruning, and resting in the garden. I haven’t been able to stay inside and write about my far-flung garden travels. I tell myself I’ll only be outside for 5 minutes, and then the hours fly by. Its been wonderful. In just a few weeks, we will be traveling to London for the Chelsea Flower Show and from there to Ireland to visit gardens, and somewhere along the way in Ireland, we will visit our 1001st garden. 

A silver lining

Yet, rethinking this stay-at-home time, I enjoyed the gardens nearby. The Mesa College Rose Garden is so close (I taught there for over 30 years.) One Sunday morning (no problem parking then), I wandered through the over 8,000 rosebushes. The roses were in full bloom. The roses are grouped by color and labeled by name and variety. A person can quickly develop a list of “Ooh, I want that one.” Here is just a sampling of some that caught my eye.

I think these are my favorites

I joined a behind-the-scenes tour of the Desert Botanical Garden arranged by the American Horticultural Society. Eight of us led by the head gardener and specialty horticulturalists toured  greenhouses of special collections.  Major construction projects, especially for research are underway at the DBG.

Greenhouse collections

It was impressive to see the collections of various agave species (at least 270 varieties,) aloe collections, and heritage collections the garden specializes in.

Chihuly sculptures in Desert Botanical Garden entrance

Last summer’s extreme heat generated new research projects to discover what plant species are threatened or thriving in this uncharted territory.

Desert Marigolds

Spring in the desert has a yellow season when palo verde trees flower, acacia trees are covered with yellow balls, and the desert flowers are yellow on creosote, brittle, and desert marigolds. Everything flowering seems to be yellow. It is a brief and spectacular show. The white flowers of the saguaros come later, but for several weeks, the desert is a reflection of the sun everywhere you look. We hiked through Usury Mountain Regional Park one early morning and enjoyed the desert gold.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Miami, AZ, is celebrating its centennial this year. A little higher in elevation than my garden, it still has a collection of regional plants. Its website describes it as follows:

“With the addition of the Wallace Desert Garden, Boyce Thompson Arboretum (BTA) now holds collections of desert plants from the United States, Mexico, Australia, Madagascar, India, China, Japan, Israel, South America, the Middle East, Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Arabian Peninsula—all told 4,025 taxa and 20,000 plants within 135 acres of gardens. Situated on 372 acres of scenic upland Sonoran Desert with nearly five miles of trails, BTA is Arizona’s oldest and largest botanical garden.” 

We’re members of the garden and have visited it many times.

Every step is taken with caution

Once, we had an exciting encounter with a rattlesnake, but fortunately, not on this trip.

A view of the yucca forest

The yucca forest was in bloom.

Brief but beautiful cactus flowers

The cacti were in flower.

Agave stalks were rising, and aloes were showing off their candelabra blooms.

Aloe’s in flower

We enjoyed a picnic lunch in the shade. 

We went to the Maricopa Flower and Garden Show, where we met local flower farmers and florists from our community. There were floral displays, a designer competition, floral demonstrations, and seemingly endless home improvement displays in another area.

Details of arrangements, Flowers Have Powers, from Bene Vivendo

This event was the first time the floral industry was featured. I sat in on a floral arrangement demonstration by Brent from AZ Flower Market. He made three specialty arrangements, and at the end, there was a raffle, and I was a lucky winner.

It was a spectacular bouquet!

We visited the AZ Garden phenomenon Angela of Growing in the Garden. Angela seems to be able to grow anything! She grows it, studies it, and makes instructional YouTube videos, sharing her discoveries. Her garden is in a suburban lot, in her backyard, and fruit trees are winding along the driveway. She works extensively with raised beds as a researcher, teacher, and passionate gardener. You can see her on her YouTube channel and blog. Beware, you may get a new raised bed system for your garden. I did.

It has been a spectacular spring to visit gardens, and I didn’t pack a suitcase. 

Candelabra Aloe

PS, If you want to see the list of gardens I’ve visited in North America, or Over the Seas, or New Zealand, or Australia, just click on the links.  

6 thoughts on “Spring Gardens in the Southwest”

  1. Beautiful and your presentation shines the glory on the plants so nicely, Linda. Thank you. Happy trails ahead.

  2. Great photography, you really captured the beauty of plants and the rich colors of the dessert. thanks for sharing

  3. It has been a beautiful spring, hasn’t it?! Great post, look forward to seeing what you share from your upcoming travels.

  4. Our beautiful desert in spring! I love it so much. I have done quite a few of the activities you have done this spring. With the late winter rains, it was a banner year for sure! I enjoyed this post so much!

  5. You always take the most beautiful pictures. I enjoy reading about your trips and it sounds like you have more coming up. Thank you

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