When most people think of Arizona they think of the desert, and rightly so because we sit smack dab in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. But what most people don’t know is that the native desert is rapidly disappearing.
In the late 1800s, a series of canals brought water to the desert. Arizona became an agricultural area. With irrigation, many crops like cotton and lettuce could be grown easily. Some crops had the benefit of two growing seasons which made them lucrative for the farmers. They also found that citruses like grapefruit, lemons, oranges, and melons like cantaloupe and honeydew, would grow easily.
In places like Phoenix, Tucson, and Casa Grande millions of acres of native desert land were plowed under for farms and citrus groves. It stayed that way until post-war America discovered they like warm weather and sunshine. Again, millions of acres of land were plowed under, this time replaced with houses made of stucco and orange tiled roofs.
As the population grew, commercial nurseries brought in plants from California, Florida, and South America and non-native plants began to dominate the landscape. Fortunately, some preservationists saw the necessity to protect the native flora. The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix is one such place that has become a museum of living things.
The Garden not only protects and cultivates native plant species it has become a home for the birds, bees, and butterflies that thrive on the natural flowers and cactus in the garden.
The Desert Botanical Garden has become a cultural center that promotes education through its Desert Landscape School and library. The Garden also hosts public and private events like art exhibits, concerts, weddings, and fundraisers. They also host an annual plant sale that offers property owners a chance to purchase and plant environmentally friendly native species instead of commercial non-native plantings.
Looking for a great place to stop for a drink or a fine meal? The Garden also is home to Gertrude’s Restaurant a fine dining establishment that features fresh seasonal menus that celebrate Arizona’s growers and producers.
So, if you are visiting the Phoenix area, why not stop in at the Desert Botanical Garden? I think you will be impressed with how lovely a native Arizona landscape can look.
Want more information? Visit the Desert Botanical Garden