Host Gardens

Desert Botanical Garden

Since 1939, the Desert Botanical Garden, nestled amid the buttes of Papago Park, has been home to one of the finest and most diverse collections of succulent plants, including rare, threatened, and endangered species from around the Southwest.

The Desert Botanical Garden sits on 145 acres and has more than 50,000 plants on display. The Living Collection contains over 21,000 accessioned plants representing 3,931 taxa in 139 plant families. The Garden’s living collections in the cactus and agave families are designated as United States National Collections by the North American Plant Collections Consortium, part of APGA.

The Desert Botanical Garden has five thematic trails that illustrate a variety of topics. The Garden’s Desert Discovery Trail showcases desert plants from around the world.

The Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Trail explores how desert plants are used for nourishment and tools. The Sonoran Desert Nature Trail illustrates the relationship between desert plants and animals. The Center for Desert Living Trail represents modern living in the desert. The Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Trail showcases desert wildflowers.

It is the only botanical garden in the world whose mission, from its early inception, is to focus solely on the conservation of desert plants and one of the few whose collections comprise a library, herbarium, living specimens, and rare and endangered plants.

Mrs. Gertrude Divine Webster, an environmentalist ahead of her time, in conjunction with a small group of Valley citizens, gathered in Papago Park to create a botanical garden whose precepts would encourage an understanding, appreciation, and promotion of the uniqueness of the world’s deserts, particularly the Sonoran Desert. They foresaw the Valley’s potential and unique identity, envisioning the need to conserve their beautiful desert environment. The Desert Botanical Garden continues to be a testament to their vision.



Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Boyce Thompson Arboretum is located in the heart of the Arizona Upland Division of the Sonoran Desert, just one hour east of Phoenix. Three miles of trails wind through 392 acres of plant exhibits and natural areas that integrate seamlessly within the striking volcanic rock formations that form the bones and backdrop of the Arboretum’s topography. Over 2,600 different taxa in 122 plant families are represented, with major plant exhibits that mimic plant communities from Australia, North and South America, southern Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, and other arid land regions of the world.

Founded in 1924 as the first 501(c)(3) in Arizona and opened to the public in 1929, Boyce Thompson Arboretum is the oldest and largest botanical garden in the state. Its mission is to instill in people an appreciation of plants through the fostering of educational, recreational, research, and conservation opportunities associated with arid land plants. With its Desert Legume Program, the Arboretum is one of three US organizations to have its seed bank conserved at the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway. The Arboretum has a well-stocked bookstore and gift shop, year-round plant sales, and a vibrant membership program. A wide range of educational workshops, tours, walks, and classes serve to bolster the admiration and understanding of desert plants and the natural world in which they grow. The unparalleled location at the foot of Picket Post Mountain attracts plant lovers, photographers, birders, and a wide range of nature enthusiasts who enjoy the Arboretum’s extensive arid land plant collections, without sacrificing a profound and ever-present feeling of wildness.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum is a place where the frantic pace of the world can be forgotten. There are wonders for the senses to experience throughout the year: the new life, color, and fragrances of spring; saguaro cactus blooms and yellow puddles of wind-blown palo verde flowers in May; the warm stillness of summertime; and the spectacular leaves of autumn. The Arboretum changes by the minute, and every minute is worth experiencing.

Click here to learn about the Partner Gardens: Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tohono Chul Park, and Tucson Botanical Gardens