Garden Photo of the Day

GPOD on the Road: Two Arizona Gardens

Beautiful scenes from the desert

botanical garden full of cacti

Carol is taking us on the road today to warm, dry, Arizona.

I thought I’d join in and share some photos I took while on the road recently. I traveled from Philadelphia to Phoenix and had the opportunity to visit the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix as well as the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior. I’m afraid I won’t be much help with plant IDs since Southwestern plants are not my area of expertise, but I thought your readers my be inspired by the images.

The Desert Botanical Garden was featuring an exhibit by Dale Chihuly that was quite magical in the evening when I visited. The Boyce Thompson Arboretum was amazing too—very naturalistic and expansive.

botanical garden full of cactiThe iconic saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea, Zones 9–11) is one of the largest cactus species, reaching over 40 feet tall, and it lives longer than 150 years. These are at the Desert Botanical Garden.

patio looking out on a desert gardenDesert gardens don’t have to be austere. With the right plant choices even a very dry garden can be lush and green looking.

large white and gold glass sculpture in the gardenA stunning Dale Chihuly glass sculpture in the Desert Botanical Garden

tall skinny desert plantA crazy-looking plant in the garden—any desert garden experts know what this might be?

cactus with mutation growth on topThis saguaro cactus has a monstrose growth, which is a chance mutation that changes the growth of the cactus and produces this unusual crested form on the top.

illuminated red glass sculptureA Chihuly glass sculpture lit up at night creates a dramatic display.

container display with succulentsThe rest of the photos are from the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, including this beautiful succulent display.

desert garden with large rock formations in the backgroundThe arboretum includes views of beautiful natural features and some of the iconic rock formations of the area.

aloe plant with orange red flowersI think this is Aloe ferox (Zones 9–11) or a related species or hybrid.

rock formations and cactiStunning rock formations

small creek running through desert landscapeWater makes a ribbon of green through the desert and carves fantastic forms out of the rocks.


Have a garden you’d like to share?

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View Comments


  1. garden1953 03/25/2022

    Beautiful! I had no idea aloe bloomed like that!

  2. alicefleurkens 03/25/2022

    Being from Ontario, it was such a treat to see all the Arizona gardens. the cacti everywhere in the gardens and growing wild in the rocks. The Aloe and the scenery is beautiful. Alice

  3. user-1103304004 03/25/2022

    I live in Superior a few miles from the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. I never tire of the beauty there or of the surrounding area. The plants and landscape are dramatic yet lush and quite a surprise for a lot of people who expect the desert to be a dry and barren place. It’s a very rewarding place to garden and coming from back east years ago, it’s fun to learn about a completely different plant palette. Oh, and the weird plant that was wondered what it was in the photo - it’s a Boojum ( Fouquieria columnararis) from Baja California. I hope all gardeners have a chance to come here and experience the desert. I love it. Michelle

  4. User avater
    simplesue 03/25/2022

    An amazing another world, and all in the USA.
    Those cacti are like natural sculpture!
    Thanks for sharing your photos!
    I'm curious how so much Chihuly Glass, with each piece estimated to cost $50,000 - $80,000. get in so many public gardens and conservatories?
    Pittsburgh's Phipps Conservatory is jammed full of it

    1. User avater
      simplesue 03/25/2022

      If only so much money was donated to the "mission of plants"...

  5. sheila_schultz 03/25/2022

    The DBG is truly an amazing Botanic Garden showing the distinct beauty of desert plants. I haven't been to Boyce yet, but I hear it is extraordinary. Yes, gardening in AZ is unlike anywhere else. I started gardening in the Chicago area, then learned the beauty of gardening in Denver. We have been in Tucson almost 4 years now and gardening here has been my greatest challenge. Beauty comes in so many forms and here, less can certainly be more. It is definitely the survival of the fittest.

  6. btucker9675 03/25/2022

    Years ago there was a Chihuly glass installation at the NY Botanical Gardens and it was stunning. Maybe the extra people who might go to see it and therefore pay the entrance fee make it worth the gardens' paying to host the exhibit? I'm assuming most gardens don't actually own the glass? Thank you for sharing these stunning photos - that aloe in bloom looks like an art installation, too!

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