We’re now on the edge of the Desert Terrace Garden, one of several exhibits completed in recent years. While larger in scale than a typical residential project would be, it still showcases many ideas that homeowners could replicate in their own gardens: stacked-stone walls and matching raised planters as well as a wide variety of succulents from both the Old and New World that look great together.
The planting areas on the west side of the Desert Terrace Garden are dominated by a line of palo verdes. While ‘Desert Museum’ is still the gold standard for palo verde trees in cultivation, I noticed that the palo verdes planted here are a cultivar of the Sonoran palo verde (Parkinsonia praecox) named ‘AZT’. ‘AZT’ stands for Arid Zone Trees, the Queen Creek, AZ nursery that introduced this selection to the trade. What sets ‘AZT’ apart from the species are better cold hardiness (to 18°F), a lacy canopy, and a vigorous root system.
If I didn’t already have three palo verdes (two ‘Desert Museum’ and one ‘Sonoran Emerald’), I would seriously consider ‘AZT’. I really like its larger, rounder leaves.
Parkinsonia praecox ‘AZT’
Parkinsonia praecox ‘AZT’ leaves
The Desert Terrace Garden features mass plantings of quite a few succulents. Here are some examples. Bear in mind these were planted less than two years ago so they’ll need some more time to fill in.
Agave guiengola growing under Parkinsonia praecox ‘AZT’
Parkinsonia praecox ‘AZT’, Dioon edule, and Dyckia ‘Burgundy Ice’
The yellow “bags” (rigid plastic, actually) contain the candles that are hand-lit every night in December for the DBG’s Noches de las Luminarias celebration
I also noticed some really nice potted succulents in the Desert Terrace Garden. They look fantastic against the stacked-stone hardscape.
Banana yucca (Yucca baccata)
This Boojum tree (Fouquieria columnaris) is a recent addition. According to the sign below, it’s the largest in the garden at 37 feet. There are eight new Boojum trees in this area.
Adjacent to the Desert Terrace Garden is the Jan and Tom Lewis Desert Portal (also less than two years old):
Straight ahead is the Desert Discovery Loop Trail.
Diamond cholla (Cylindropuntia ramosissima)
One of the side trails off the Desert Discovery Loop Trail is the Center for Desert Living Trail, which leads to several demonstration gardens (including the Herb Garden and the Edible Garden). The following photos were taken in front of Archer House, the structure you see in the next photo. It’s right at the intersection of the Desert Discovery Loop Trail and the Center for Desert Living Trail.
I don’t recall seeing this gabion before but I like it!
Yellow-flowering spotted emu bush (Eremophila maculata) as a bonsai
Dioon edule and Gonialoe variegata
Scalloped-edge agaves (Agave potatorum?) with Agave parryi in the background
What a great place to relax for a spell
Back on the main loop trail, I was surprised to find a brand-new exhibit: the Heritage Garden.
According to the Saguaro Initiative, the DBG’s roadmap for the future:
The Heritage Garden incorporates two unique and dynamic areas: the Contemplation Garden, nestled among the oldest plantings in the Garden, and the Cardon Plaza, featuring views of the Garden’s popular giant cardons, planted in 1939. Both areas will provide a dramatic reminder of the vision and legacy of our founders, Gertrude Divine Webster and Gustav Starck.
The living collections that are part of the historical displays are the foundation of our 75 year history. New plantings, combined with the historic displays, will exemplify the Garden’s message about stewardship and preservation.
Juvenile boojum tree (Fouquieria columnaris) and barrel cactus (Ferocactus sp.)
And this is the Cardon Plaza.
LEFT: Organ pipe cactus (Stenocereus thurberi) RIGHT: Cardon (Pachycereus pringlei)
Palo blanco (Mariosousa willardiana)
Palo blanco (Mariosousa willardiana)
Pereskia bahiensis, a primitive cactus from Brazil that bears much more resemblance to a woody shrub than a cactus
Now we’re on the Ullman Terrace, home of the Patio Café. This is one of my favorite places in the garden to take a break. There are comfortable chairs to sit in, and when it’s cold they turn on the propane heaters.
My one and only bird photo from the DBG
Take a closer look at the next photo. See the spheres and wires on the ground?
In part 3, we’ll complete our tour of the DBG.