Arizona day 2—Tucson: Tohono Chul Park, Bach’s Cactus Nursery, Greg Starr, Tucson Mountain Park, Saguaro National Park

Day 2 of my Arizona trip started at 8:00am with a visit to Tohono Chul Park, a 49-acre nature preserve in a northern suburb of Tucson. Aside from two bird watchers, I was the only visitor, at least at the beginning.

Tohono Chul isn’t a botanical garden per se, but there was plenty to keep me busy for a couple of hours. I’ll have a separate post in a week or two so I’ll limit myself to a few teaser photos.




Tohono Chul also has a nursery that was much bigger than I’d expected. In addition to the small souvenir-size cacti you typically find in a gift shop, their nursery carries everything from shrubs to trees in 15-gallon pots.


Tohono Chul nursery

My next stop was at Bach’s Cactus Nursery. Located on a 10-acre lot not far from Tohono Chul Park, it is the third largest cactus nursery in the country, according to a friendly employee I talked to. This is the place Tucson homeowners and landscapers would go to buy landscape-size specimens. They even had a fenced-in plot with hundreds of saguaros planted in the ground, ready to be dug up as needed.

Here are some teaser photos; a detailed post will follow.





Aloe dichotoma starting to flower; the rocks in the foreground are petrified wood (yes, they are for sale)

My third stop was at the house of agave expert Greg Starr on the west side of Tucson. Greg is the author of Timberpress’s recently published book Agaves: Living Sculptures for Landscapes and Containers. I had contacted him a few weeks ago, and he was gracious enough to let me come by. Greg is the nicest guy—extremely knowledgeable, eager to share, and very easy to talk to. I had a great time looking at the stunning agaves he has in the ground as well as the hundreds upon hundreds of plants on tables and in greenhouses, ready to be sold through his online nursery and at presentations and special events he attends.

Here are a few photos to whet your appetite; more to follow soon.


Agave guadalajarana


Agave ovatifolia


Agave ovatifolia

131202_StarrNurseryTucson_Agave-Sharkskin- -Burnt-Burgundy_003

Agave ‘Sharkskin’ and Agave ‘Burnt Burgundy’


Agave parryi (Huntington Clone) and Yucca rostrata

Since I was on the west side already, I decided to make the scenic drive through Tucson Mountain Park and on to the Western Unit of Saguaro National Park. There is so much to see, you want to pull over every few hundred feet; unfortunately the road is narrow and curvy, so that’s not an option. Fortunately, Saguaro National Park has several interpretive trails right off the main road that let you get up close and personal with the flora.





Tomorrow morning I’ll be on the west side again, re-visiting the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.


Arizona 2013 trip index


  1. You are killing me!! All that and you met Greg Starr too? You are my super hero Gerhard.

  2. Amazing, really stunning pics (and plants!) Gerhard. And to meet Greg Starr, cool!!

    1. I even remembered to bring my copy of Greg's agave book so he could sign it, LOL.

  3. Beautiful! I don't think I'd be able to visit a faraway nursery unless I had the ability to bring home lots of plants. "Just looking" would be too difficult.

  4. Incredible visits to such a beautiful climate so different from mine. So, did you buy any plants?

    1. Yes, I did. Several agaves, a yucca, a dudleya and a new Manfreda x Agave sobria cross.

  5. Thanks for the photos. Brings back great memories of living in Tucson in the late 80s.

    1. I thought of you yesterday. I was going to have dinner at Mi Nidito but they're closed on Mondays and Tuesdays--and I'm leaving for Phoenix tomorrow.

  6. Wow you are having a blast aren't you! I wish I was there!


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