Bringing to life the many wonders of the desert

Discover the Desert Botanical Garden, located in Phoenix, Arizona, and experience the diversity of this environment


Florence, Arizona, is centrally located at the junction of U.S. Highway 79 and Arizona Highway 287 just 97 kilometres from downtown Phoenix and 113 kilometres from Tucson.

Take a drive and check out the botanical exhibits at the Desert Botanical Garden, which first opened in 1939. It is located at 1201 North Galvin Parkway in Phoenix.

Arizona is well endowed with desert country in which travellers, RVers, snowbirds and other tourists can venture out and see all sorts of species of cacti as well as reptiles and other animals.

“From its inception, the Desert Botanical Garden has been focused on displaying desert plants from around the world,” said John Sallot, marketing director for the Desert Botanical Garden. “Our collection consists of more than 50,000 plants representing 1,200 different species. Many of our plants originate in remote areas of Mexico, Africa, Australia and Central America. They are here, in one place. Unless you travelled to these places, you would never see them."

Preservation and appreciation

The Desert Botanical Garden’s vision is to be the premier centre in the world for the display, study and understanding of desert plants and their environments. For more than 70 years, the Desert Botanical Garden has been teaching and inspiring people from the local community and around the world, providing research, exhibits and more designed to help us understand, protect and preserve the desert’s natural beauty.

“Visitors to the garden can learn about how historic people survived in the desert as well as how we can successfully live in the desert today,” said Sallot. “In addition, the garden has seasonal live butterfly exhibits, concerts and other events to continually engage the visitor.”

Come for the cacti

When you imagine a desert, what do you think of first? Maybe it's sand and heat, snakes or scorpions, or Gila monsters, but most likely it is cacti. Cacti are probably the most memorable characteristic of any desert. The heart of the desert holds such rare beauty that it is worth going to see for yourself.

When asked which cactus was his favourite, Sallot said it is the xoconostle cactus. The fruit of this cactus has a sour taste and is mainly used in salsas, but sometimes it can be used in candy and even syrup. Just when you thought cacti were only good to look at and steer clear of, due to their prickly spines, think again!

Many ways to connect

Spend some time at the Desert Botanical Garden connecting with the desert’s plant and animal species; you will likely experience its fullness in ways you never thought possible.

Sallot explained that what keeps both the locals and tourists coming back to the garden each year is hosting seasonal and festive holiday events full of fun for the entire family.

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