More Garden Visits

We went to the Desert Botanical Garden 2 times in a week, and more since. Here’s what I saw, mostly unlabeled…

The 6/9/18 visit was toasty, but the paved path up to the ramada and views over the valley were impressive, though any breeze was a no-show.

But near the start of walking, this jewel:

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Curry Plant / Helichrysum angustifolium, an early xeriscape mainstay in ABQ, which I had no idea would grow in the low desert…

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This is about my favorite spot and combo at the garden…

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Yerba mansa / Anemopsis californica below an agave; minty, medicinal, waxy, fresh

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One can’t get enough shots of Camelback Mountain.

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That green swath of Gulf Muhly / Muhlenbergia capillaris makes this area.

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The 6/15/18 visit was cooler, though still 7F warmer than Scottsdale, but the breeze was delicious. Phoenicians showed up more than previous visits so far this summer, with many parking spaces filled. Previous visits this summer resembled a ghost town.

Nothing like spring visits, where it’s a major Canada and Midwest fest!

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Natives Western Cottonwood / Populus fremontii, sitting boulders, and some scattered Deergrass / Muhlenbergia rigens…simple, gracious, relaxed. I’ve seen some nice regional plantings probably inspired by this spot.

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O’Odham shelter and garden shelter…

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Desert Grassland, the blending of Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts at their extremes…

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Foothills chaparral, again where Sonoran and chaparral meet

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Jojoba / Simmondsia chinensis

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Tall guy…

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Two / too serious women…

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Who wouldn’t enjoy walking to parking spaces under a gentle shade canopy of Parkinsonia?

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Even Saturday evening, on the 6/22/19 flashlight tour. At 8 pm it was 98F with no comfort, while at 8 am it was 84F.

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A Parry Penstemon / Penstemon parryi that had to flower 3 months late…

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Cardon / Pachycereus pringlei

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Last Sunday’s visit on 6/29/18 though hot early (91F at 7 am), had some amazing light and a few moments of breeze. We just wandered the central loop walkway, without going off to the side much.

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Bunny Ears Prickly Pear / Opuntia microdasys used as a groundcover, and massing instead of random chaos…all uniquely bueno!

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Did I say light? Let there be a flood of warm light, before it becomes a Sonoran laser beam sun.

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Barrels imitating pots, and vice-versa

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I have no clue how many firms have designed sections of the Desert Botanical Garden, but it seems more than other gardens I’ve visited. Even the Denver Botanic Gardens, which has hired some different designers and horticulturists for specific areas.

It was time for a light breakfast and a cup of good joe, to reward myself from trying but failing to capture a covey of Gambel’s Quail earlier. And AC!

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6/30/19 weather:
109F / 83F / 0.00 or 43c / 28c / .00

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Morning Anti-Rush Hour

In search of places to take morning walks before it gets too warm, or after dark, the Desert Botanical Garden is a good choice. Planning to go at least once weekly, I took advantage of my membership.

The light and shade were amazing, and as some of you know, that’s important to me.

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On my last visits, I missed this massing of lower Chihuahuan Desert native Candelilla / Euphorbia antisyphilitica (arid z 8a), with Bolivian native Caripari / Neoraimondia herzogiana Cardon / Pachycereus pringleii (arid z 9a). As usual in Phoenix these days, there’s Elephant Food / Portulacaria afra (dry z 9b) trailing over a wall.

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Across the main walkway was this wall, which really uses graphics and embedded tiles well, providing grade retention and some sitting. Or at least a place to let your water bottle or camera bag to rest.

The agaves and Bunny Ears Cactus are “massed to great effect…”

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Speaking of massing, it’s Tamaulipan Shrubland native Queen victoria-reginae Agave victoria-reginae (z 8a). I must use that compact rosette plant like this, somewhere.

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Onto their Herb Garden area, the colored walls pulled me in. More reason for plant massing of Mediterranean native Dusty Miller / Centaurea cineraria (annual or z9b) and Chihuahuan Desert native Spineless Prickly Pear / Opuntia ellisiana (z 8a) with some randomness of the Cereus cacti (z 9b).

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Inside the walls, more massing of gray Dusty Miller, green Trailing Rosemary / Rosmarinus officianalis ‘Prostrata’ (dry z 7b), and the purple buttons of Globe Amaranth / Gomphrena globosa ‘Firework‘ (z 8).

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That potted Aloe adds structure like the wall does; without them, this would be less powerful and settled into the space.

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Artichoke in bloom and dancing is almost as striking as spikiness…

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Finally, leaving after our walk, it’s southern Africa native Desert Rose / Adenium obesum (z 10a). It’s really a great container plant for the low desert, such as here in the Valley of the Sun.

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The Desert Botanical Garden reveals so many more paths and planting areas, which I hope to explore during my months of living nearby.

Unlike some public gardens, the effective design of plant communities rules here. Also appealing is how most areas incorporate a variety of hardscape ideas with plantings from the Sonoran Desert, plus other arid and dry areas of the world that can survive in Phoenix.

That’s a plus among many other pluses.

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6/6/19 weather:
101F / 77F / 0.00 or 38c / 25c / .00

Intensity

“When a landscape uses too many cactus and related plants, the effect is often lost and is usually harsh and uninviting.” – paraphrase, author / activist / plant gatekeeper

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Or this:

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I’m glad those with regional inspiration and design skill didn’t abide by such a mindset. Their desert eyes are on. Probably with SPF 50 on their exposed skin.

That scene at the Desert Botanical Garden is Sonoran, except the Yucca rostrata on the far right.

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If you’re in the southwest desert, but a cooler zone, you can create much of that magic and drama. I already know what I would substitute to get that effect and the next bit of drama in Las Cruces or El Paso, Albuquerque, and even a bit outside that region, up in Santa Fe.

Such effects can be pulled off easily and adapted on the coasts, and even without most of the succulent forms in the central great plains or more northerly intermountain areas.

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Just 1 aisle over, this came into view. I’ve not been here in late light to notice before, but after framing out the valley girls v. 2019, it’s serious green plant drama.

This amount of Opuntia still works, because of the linear and rectilinear forms.

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In this garden, there’s scale. Many public botanical gardens have money and scale, anyway.

But it’s who does what with all that.

There’s intellect in design, which combines function and form, then layers in local biology, whimsy, order, repetition, scale, and all those other classic design principles. It’s really quite the arsenal to choose from.

“Be bold and great things will happen to you.” – yes!

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4/30/19 weather:
84F / 59F / 0.04 or 29c / 15c / .10