Tuesday, March 8, 2016

12/31/15: Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, AZ (part 2)

In part 1 of this post I showed you about half of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. I should mention that you could easily spend an entire day there and not see everything. Most people I observed seem to treat it as a glorified outdoor gym: logging a few thousand steps in a brisk hour without paying much attention to all the wonderful things there are to see.

I’m just the opposite. It sometimes takes me 30 minutes to walk a few hundred feet. Call me a desert tortoise. I’m not claiming my way is superior, but sometimes it pays off to stop and smell the roses—even if the roses are prickly cactus. You know what I’m sayin’.

Anyway, let’s continue now at the edge of the Cactus and Succulent Garden. According to the BTA web site, it’s home to 300 species. My first reaction was, that’s not that much, but once you begin to list them (dare you!), it’s actually quite a lot.

But before we look at some of the spectacular specimens, let’s talk about the backdrop. It’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous. What you see there just an arm’s reach away is Picketpost Mountain, a wonderland of rocks and saguaros. Some day I’ll have enough time to explore it. For now, I have to make do with these photos.

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Dried agave flow spike

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Another dried agave flow spike towering over a tree-sized opuntia

Died and gone to heaven? No, but close.

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Golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii)

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I’m not a fan of “pineappling” agaves, but I can see why they did it here

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Agaves are stunning even after they’ve died

Ayer Lake is a man-made reservoir that supplies the BTA with irrigation water. This is where I usually turn around. Some day I’ll continue on to see what’s beyond the lake, but I simply didn’t have the time on this trip.

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Adjacent to Ayer Lake is the Baja California section. My favorite feature here is this stand of totem pole cactus (Lophocereus schottii forma mostruosa). They were adorned with black nursery pots. No, it’s not a fashion statement, it’s a simple but effective way to protect the growing tips against temperatures below freezing. (Elsewhere they use Santa hats, Styrofoam cups or dog food bags.)

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Totem pole cactus (Lophocereus schottii forma mostruosa)

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Totem pole cactus (Lophocereus schottii forma mostruosa)

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Totem pole cactus (Lophocereus schottii forma mostruosa)

But the biggest draw in this spot is a Boojum tree (Fouquieria columnaris). I don’t know how old it is, but it’s been here a for a long time. You can spot it from quite a distance.

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Boojum tree (Fouquieria columnaris)

The Cactus & Succulent Garden has so many wonderful plants, my photos are only the tip of the iceberg. Although that’s probably not a good metaphor for a place that bakes in the desert sun all summer long.

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Agave gigatensis, named after the Sierra de la Giganta in Baja California, Mexico, not because it’s a particularly massive species (it’s large alright, but not the size of a small car like others)

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Agave gigatensis close-up

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Agave lophantha

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Another view of Picketpost Mountain

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More golden barrels

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Agave americana

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Cactus wonderland

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I loved this side trail that goes off toward Picketpost Mountain

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Trichocereus terscheckii, commonly known as cardón grande or the Argentine saguaro

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Trichocereus terscheckii

If I whetted your appetite and you want to see more of Boyce Thompson Arboretum, check out my previous posts from 2013.

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12 comments:

  1. Ay ay ay, Gerhard, what wonderful photos - the rocks, the hills, the saguaros... I want to move in and have breakfast outside every morning, enjoying those views.

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    1. Arizona is truly blessed with scenic beauty. And the Boyce Thompson Arboretum is smack dab in the middle of it all.

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  2. A lovely sunny start to my otherwise grey dreary day. Thank you. I just wished I had a big screen monitor so I felt surrounded by these beauties.

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    1. Same here! It's been gray and cold all day--the polar opposite of last week (pre-storm).

      Writing this post was torture because all I wanted to do was jump in the car and go back.

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  3. The backdrop, the plants, just stunning!!

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    Replies
    1. And very few people on top of that! The fact that it was New Year's Eve probably helped.

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  4. Wonderful photo essay Gerhard..thanks for taking us along !

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    Replies
    1. Anytime :-)

      Are you raring to go on a road trip now?

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  5. Beautiful! The pattern on that Agave gigatensis is especially gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!

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