Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix Features More Than Just Cactus

by PeggyHazelwood

When you think of a botanical garden, you may envision lush greenery, blooming flowers, and bright colorful flowers. Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden has some of that plus cactus.

History of the Desert Botanical Garden

Barrel Cactus with Flowers

In the mid-1930s, Gustaf Starck, a Swedish botanist began recruiting other desert lovers to conserve the desert environment of the Arizona Sonoran Desert. This group of Phoenix citizens formed the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society to develop a botanical garden. In 1939, Gertrude Divine Webster, a wealthy Arcadia resident, lent her financial support and helped found the Desert Botanical Garden in southeast Phoenix, Arizona.

Desert Botanical Garden Mission

Aloe Vera Plants with Pink Flowers

The mission of the Desert Botanical Garden, according to the Sonoran Quarterly, the official magazine of the Garden, follows:

The Garden's commitment to the community is to advanced excellence in education, research, exhibition, and conservation of desert plants of the world with emphasis on the Southwestern United States. We will ensure that the Garden is always a compelling attraction that brings to life the many wonders of the desert.

Wildlife at the Phoenix Botanical Garden

Lizard on a rock at the GardenThe wildlife at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden is surprising. The typical desert lizards can be seen while walking on the paths around the Garden. Small lizards like this one who was sunbathing on a rock can be seen if you keep your eyes open.

Larger lizards like this guy also make their home at desert botanical gardens. These are rarer but can be seen too.

Gila monster

Have you ever visited a desert botanical garden?

More Wildlife at the Garden

Ground squirrel under a yucca plantThis ground squirrel was scurrying about on a recent visit to the Desert Botanical Garden. He was out in the open, but when we approached, he ran and tried to hide. I think the shadows made him think he was invisible. He blended in to the rocks and sand very well and if you didn't know he was there, it would have been easy to miss him.

This little guy is a chipmunk, I think. His stripes help him stand out a little more. He too took refuge near a plant, but he chose a cactus. Just don't get too close!

Chipmunk, ground squirrel, not sure

Zebra Butterfly Bag

Photographed at the Desert Botanical Garden Butterfly House
Ad Zazzle

Birds at the Garden

A pigeon enjoying the fountainThis pigeon was enjoying the small fountain at the entrance of the Desert Botanical Garden. Several fountains are scattered throughout the garden and offer a place for birds and animals to cool off and get a sip of water. It's almost always hot in the desert, after all.

This bird was perched high on a saguaro cactus. I was taking a picture of the blooms but saw that the bird was posing too. Bird on a saguaro cactus

Bags and Buttons -- Photographs from the Desert Botanical Garden

Phoenix, Arizona

The What, When, and Where of the Desert Botanical Garden

The Garden offers a chance to see cactus that bloom at different times of day, as well as desert wildflowers.Malachite butterfly at the Butterfly House

The Garden is open year round from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. It opens at 6 a.m. on Sundays and Wednesdays for members.

The Desert Botanical Garden is a located at 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, Arizona 85008 in Papago Park.

The Garden has special exhibits throughout the year like the Butterfly House exhibit in the spring and the Monarch Butterflies in the Fall.


 Audio tours are available free for members or for a small fee with a one-day visitor's pass.

Check ParkGrades for reviews of the Desert Botanical Garden or reviews of another botanical garden you want to visit.

Family enjoying an audio tour

Park Grades is also great for finding parks, beaches, and museums across the United States and parts of Canada.

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Updated: 06/02/2013, PeggyHazelwood
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RuthCox on 08/22/2014

I've not visited a desert botanical garden but I lived in ABQ, New Mexico for a short while and saw plenty of the desert delights of nature.

paperfacets on 12/02/2013

I am planting cactus on a very large slope. I love the plants.

PeggyHazelwood on 07/06/2013

Maybe it is more lush since it's tended so well.

WriterArtist on 07/04/2013

This desert botanical garden does not look like a desert at all. There is so much vegetation in form of cactus and wild life.

BrendaReeves on 04/28/2013

As a native Californian, I've seen lots of desert. I'm thinking of moving to Phoenix. I'd love to talk to you about it sometime.

frankbeswick on 04/23/2013

Beautiful. As a non-American without much money to travel I am unlikely to see this garden for myself, but I love gardens and your photos bring it to me.

Mira on 08/11/2012

Oh, I love butterfly houses! How great that this botanical garden has one of those too. And cacti that bloom at different times of the day? You mean every day? I know next to nothing about cacti :-) I love the way you captured the various animals that make the garden their home. :))

Tolovaj on 05/13/2012

I have never been in a desert, but i have seen scenes from desert couple of days after rain when everything was not only blooming, it was really explosion of beauty. I believe botanical garden can be something similar, maybe not so intensive and without waiting for the rain...
Lovely photos, thanks!

lakeerieartists on 06/15/2011

I have actually visited this garden although it was a long time ago. It was during a rare time in Arizona that it had recently rained in the desert and the flowers were blooming everywhere. Gorgeous pics. :) Phoenix is one of my favorite places.

Jewelsofawe on 06/05/2011

I've never visited a garden in the desert, but being born and raised in Southern CA I went to places like Vegas, Arizona and Palm Spring a number of times and saw lots of desert. Cool pictures!

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