The Desert Botanical Garden was founded by a group of volunteers in 1937. The founders were known as the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society. Established on the current site at Papago Park, located at 1201 N. Galvin Parkway in Phoenix, Arizona, the Desert Botanical Garden is now the home to more than 21,000 plants spread across 140 acres.
The founders began as a small group of locals in 1930 who saw the need to preserve the fragile environment of the desert. Today the garden tends to 139 species that are either threatened or endangered as part of its expansive collection. The focus of the Desert Botanical Garden is of course acclimated plants, plants from less extreme conditions are sheltered under shade houses.
At the entrance you are greeted by Chihuly glass sculptures.
The Desert Botanical Garden includes an Australian, South American, and Baja California Collections. With an enormous collection of agave and cacti the Garden features 5 main loop trails for visitors to explore, each with a special focus. The Trails include Desert Discovery, Plants and People of Sonoran Desert, Sonoran Desert Nature Loop, Center for Desert Living Trail, and the Desert Wildflower Trail. Each trail provides a unique perceptive on the plants and eco-systems of the desert, including the edible plants of the desert.
Jun Kaneko Untitled Head 2004
Jun Kaneko Untitled Heads 2014
Jun Kaneko Untitled Head 2012
Jun Kaneko Untitled Six Tanukis 2012-2014
The Desert Botanical Garden is the Southwest’s largest Botanical Garden and offers visitors extensive hours for exploration. Only closed three days a year, seasonal hours range from 12 hours a day from October through April, and 13 Hours a day from May through September. There are posted early closure date to accommodate the unique events that are hosted at the Garden.
A schedule of guided tours is available, and botanist are on hand throughout the garden to answer questions and help on self-guided explorations. Visit the Shilling Library, dedicated to Desert Research and housing over 9,000 books and 500 journal titles concerning native plants of the desert region. Included in your admission to the Garden is a tour of the Hazel Hare Center for Plant Science, a behind the scenes look at the horticultural practices and research to maintain endangered species and all the plants of the garden. This is a 45-minute tour that includes a visit to the 5300 square foot automated greenhouse used to grow and maintain the desert species that you see throughout your visit.
The Desert Botanical Garden hosts dedicated events throughout the year, check the schedule before your visit to see if one of these exciting events is taking place. Events include Art, Sculpture and Photography Exhibitions showcasing the collections of selected artists.
Seasonal Special Events include, Music in The Garden, a concert series that runs throughout the spring and spans musical tastes, including R&B, Jazz, Folk, Blues, Native American, Latin, and Piano performances. Shows sell out, so be sure to buy your tickets when you see a Performance that interests you.
Other special attractions throughout the year at The Desert Botanical Garden include, The Butterfly Exhibit, with hundreds of native butterflies, Desert Night Cinema, silver screen classic under the desert night sky, Ballet Arizona Eroica, special Ballet Productions exclusive to the Garden, Flashlight Tours, explore the Garden in the dead of the night, The Electric Desert, a phenomenal light and sound show throughout the trails of the Garden. A Premiere Special Event and Fundraiser is Dinner on The Desert, this once a year event offers you the chance to contribute to the Garden while enjoying a fabulous dinner as the desert sun sets and the stars come alive.
Although Dinner on The Desert is a once a year event, just inside the entrance to The Desert Botanical Garden is Gertrude’s. Named after Mrs. Gertrude Divine Webster, an original founder of the Garden and an environmentalist way ahead of her time. Gertrude’s offers a Patio dining experience in an oasis setting and a formal indoor dining room and bar.
Featuring locally sourced ingredients from Arizona Growers and Producers, Gertrude’s offers an Americancentric cuisine with international overtones and cooking styles. Enjoy a light lunch, libations or snacks on the garden patio or a full four course dinner in the more formal dining room. Gertrude’s focus is on quality food, accented with fresh herbs grown on the patio, uniquely cooked and presented for your culinary enjoyment.
Appetizers include Green Chile Hummus, Stuffed Frybread and Smoked and Fried Tofu. Salads range from Vegan Spring Greens, to a smoked Salmon Salad. Entrees at Gertrude’s are an experience combing America Favorites with International accents. Entrees include Korean Friend Chicken, Flat Iron Steak, Shrimp and Grits, Wild Boar in Green Chile and the Vegan Favorite Red Chile Risotto. Classic Kid’s Menu is also available.
Michelle Jacob is the General Manager at Gertrude’s
We enjoyed a lovely breakfast on the patio.
Breakfast Green Chile Boar-rito
Ricotta Donut Holes
The Bar at Gertrude’s sources Arizona Wines and Beers along with selections from around the world with a truly eclectic exclusive cocktail selection. Mushroom Manhattan, features mushroom infused whisky, Fernet Valet, Mushroom Tincture, Ver Jus and Az Figgy bitters, turning a classic Manhattan into a Garden wonder at Gertrude’s. Other Signature Cocktails include Tombstone Tea, Cactus Cosmo, and the favorite Garden ‘Rita.
You can enjoy Gertrude’s as part of your visit to the Desert Botanical Garden or make a reservation just to experience this fine dining in a unique setting.
Story by Daniel Dachille and Laine Page.
Some photos courtesy Desert Botanical Garden