Visit to Tucson Botanical Gardens, part 2

Tucson Botanical Gardens, which I visited as part of the recent Garden Writers Association symposium, is a surprisingly eclectic place. As I wrote in part 1 of my visit to TBG, the gardens house a wonderful collection of desert plants from all over the world, are home to seemingly hundreds of hummingbirds, look a little like central Texas in the lush, green shade gardens, and basically incandesce when all those cactus spines filter the low light of morning (and probably evening). But there’s more, as I’ll show you in this post.

How about this big, beautiful desert rose (Adenium obesum), an African native that some of you may know as a houseplant.

And look at this melted candle of a plant, totem pole cactus (Pachycereus schottii var. monstrosus). Bizarre, yes? And perfect for a monster garden!

Other oddballs include this baseball plant (Euphorbia obesa)…

…hairy old man cactus (Cephalocereus senilis)…

…and, my personal favorite, Mexican fence post cactus (Pachycereus marginatus).

Stapelia—like green zombie fingers

Squid-like aloes

The gardens are also accented with fun art pieces, like this agave made of perforated metal…

…and a number of colorful, mosaic benches. This one illustrates three types of cactus.

A children’s garden contains a sheltered “stable” with these life-size horses peeking out…

…as well as a big bee made of scrap metal…

…and a friendly scarecrow standing against a colorful, swooping accent wall.

Another tiered fountain is sure to attract birds…

…like this curve-billed thrasher who serenaded us all morning.

A charming planter filled with succulents adorns a low wall.

And this stone-faced lady graces a wall near the entrance to Nuestro Jardin.

Nuestro Jardin (translated as Our Garden) is a small, walled space that represents the modest Mexican-American gardens frequently found in Tucson. We have a lot of these in Austin too. Colorful motel-style chairs are surrounded by easy passalong plants.

And quirky yard art abounds, like this sink planted up with succulents and…ew, what IS that? It looks like an enormous, hairy-legged spider is crawling out of the sink basin—perfect for Halloween.

The garden did contain numerous skeleton art pieces, but these are not for Halloween but rather Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a loving tribute to family members who’ve passed away. This tradition is popular in Austin too.

A colorful Dia de los Muertos altar contains photos of departed family, festively painted skulls, and, traditionally, small gifts of the favorite foods of the departed.

But Day of the Dead isn’t until after Halloween, so I’ll leave you with this spooky predawn image from the botanical gardens. Boo!

For a look back at my first post about Tucson Botanical Gardens, click here. Up next: A candlelit tour of Tucson designer and author Scott Calhoun’s Zona Gardens.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

10 Responses

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Even the dried remains of the cactus are interesting in this garden. Loved the tour.

    I’m glad you enjoyed it, Lisa. —Pam

  2. Shirley says:

    Fun tour of these pretty gardens that represent their city so well.

    Parts of it did remind me of San Antonio and I liked all the colors and garden art too.

    Like you, I always enjoy seeing art in a garden, especially when it has a regional flair, as TBG’s did. —Pam

  3. This was my favorite garden there – so much packed so well into a small space. But for me, this botanic garden or Tucson remind me little of Austin, though you both have a culture turned onto horticulture. You were in spiky heaven and captured those plants perfectly. That baseball plant and the curve-bill thrasher – wow!

    Funny that you didn’t see a bit of Austin in the gardens. I sure did—not everywhere, of course, but glimpses here and there. I agree that the botanical garden was a highlight of the trip. —Pam

  4. Sally says:

    You mentioned trees and indeed pictured some in the background but never identified them. Please tell us about them.

    Sally, I’m not much of a note-taker when I tour gardens. If I photograph an interesting plant and there’s a plant label, I’ll snap it too to remind myself later. But I didn’t do that for any of the trees. I just enjoyed them. If you want info on the trees at the gardens, open the pdf at the bottom of their Tree Connections page. —Pam

  5. How cute you did a plant halloween post, Pam. You don’t miss a beat do you!? Really enjoyed this tour, and it got me more in the halloween spirit – thank you as always!

    Glad you enjoyed it, Heather! While I don’t have a specific Halloween post this year, I did manage to work a little eeriness in. —Pam

  6. Max Parker says:

    I think that the finger-ey looking plant is either a Stapelia (Orbea) variegata or a Stapelia gigantea. Great post!

    Right you are, Max. Stapelia—thanks! —Pam

  7. Max Parker says:

    Oh, and to complete the halloween theme, the Stapelia flowers smell like rotting meat, maybe it’s pollinated by zombies?

    Ha! —Pam

  8. Now this was fun! I particularly enjoyed the metal agave. Thanks!

    My pleasure, Marcia. —Pam

  9. Jason says:

    I really like the garden art, and the curved bill thrasher!

    His song was so distinctive, Jason. That’s why he caught my eye. —Pam

  10. That Adenium obesum is magnificent. I saw them in Niger, but never that big.

    An obesum obesum? ;-) —Pam