Thursday, January 22, 2015

Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona: Part 2 (2014 edition)

Part 1 of this three-part series on the Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) in Phoenix, AZ ended at the Desert Portal, the fat red dot on the trail map below (borrowed from the DBG web site).

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Trail map © 2015 Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ

Let’s walk on to the Center for Desert Living Trail, the purple trail that takes offs to the right. In the words of the DBG, “this trail showcases ideas and strategies that demonstrate useful, sustainable and harmonious ways to work with nature in the desert environment.”

I think of this section as a residential demonstration garden—things you can do and plants you can plant as a homeowner in a desert climate. There’s also an herb garden and an edible garden; they didn’t look all that attractive in late December so I didn’t photograph them.

Following are a few snippets of things I found interesting in this corner of the garden. There’ll be more photos in my upcoming “agaves at the DBG” post.

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Aloe marlothii in Chinese pot

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Agaves and santolinas

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Yucca rostrata

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Agave ovatifolia

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LEFT: Agave americana   RIGHT: Metal statue (forgot to write down the name of the piece or artist)

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Golden barrel sun dial

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Aloidendron ‘Hercules’

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Bougainvillea spectabilis

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Slipper plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus) with some cristate (crested) growth

Now we’re back on the Desert Discovery Loop Trail, approaching the Webster Center. This is where we find several impressive specimens of cardon (Pachycereus pringlei), the signature cactus of the Baja California peninsula. The cardon and the saguaro look somewhat similar, but the cardon grows both faster and taller than the saguaro. In fact, the cardon is one of the tallest cactus species in the world.

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Cardon (Pachycereus pringlei)

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Cardon (Pachycereus pringlei)

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Cardon (Pachycereus pringlei)

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Cardon (Pachycereus pringlei)

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Luminaria bags

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Agave parryi

Now we’ll make a quick detour up to the Webster Center, through the Patio CafĂ© onto the Ullman Terrace and then back down to the main trail. The Ullman Terrace has magnificent Agave franzosinii; they’ll be featured in the separate agave post.

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Aloidendron ‘Hercules’ at the Webster Center

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Palo blanco (Mariosousa willardiana, formerly Acacia willardiana)

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Texas ebony (Ebenopsis ebano)

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Giant Agave franzosinii, Ullman Terrace

The next detour we take is up the Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail. It climbs for a little ways to a spot where you have great views of the surrounding mountains and desert. These are the best vistas in the entire garden.

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You don’t want to get caught in this cactus tangle!

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Prickly pear and ocotillo

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Cardon (Pachycereus pringlei)

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Organ pipe cactus (Stenocereus thurberi)

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Organ pipe cactus (Stenocereus thurberi) and creosote bush (Larrea tridentata)

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Senita (Pachycereus schottii)

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Senita (Pachycereus schottii)

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Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) and palo verde (Parkinsonia sp.)

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In case you’d been wondering!

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Bees get thirsty, too

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If I lived in the desert, I’d have a ramada like this one! What a view!

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Saguaro and Papago Buttes

Back on the main Desert Discovery Loop Trail, we continue on towards—and then take—the Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Trail. From a plant perspective, this isn’t the most interesting section of the garden, but I enjoyed looking at the interpretive displays explaining how the native peoples used the land and its resources.

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Ramada made from logs and ocotillos

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Yes, there’s water in the desert. Huachuca water umbel (Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva) in the small pond in the Desert Oasis along the Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail.

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Ocotillo fence in the Native Crop Garden

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Some critter thought this prickly pear was a tasty crop

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Mesquite forest

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Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphillitica), looking like a miniature version of the slipper plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus). In fact, the two are related, with Pedilanthus macrocarpus often included in the genus Euphorbia as Euphorbia lomelii.

Leaving the Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail behind, we get to my favorite sections of the garden: the Agave Yucca Forest (to be covered in a separate agave post), the Cactus and Succulent Galleries, and the trails inside the perimeter of the Desert Discovery Loop Trail.

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This contraption reflects light from an uplight below, preventing it from polluting the night sky

Those will be our destinations in part 3 of this series.

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5 comments:

  1. Such a huge place, there's so much to see and explore! And fascinating to know the symbiosis between the Palo Verde tree and Saguaro.

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    Replies
    1. And the garden is constantly evolving. If I lived in Phoenix, I'd be a volunteer!

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  2. Thanks for another adventure. Wow! you really do get around. Loving all your posts Gerhard.

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    Replies
    1. So many places to go, so much to see. I love being on the road.

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  3. I avoided the "center for home gardening" at MBG for years, but it's really great -- this one seems to be quite nice too. They're so instructive, I'm glad to see you didn't shy away as I did.

    Also, bee careful when getting a drink there! :)

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