Nature's Beauty at the Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum

view at Boyce-Thompson Southwestern Arboretum     view at Boyce-Thompson Southwestern Arboretum     


          view at Boyce-Thompson Southwestern Arboretum      view at Boyce-Thompson Southwestern Arboretum

Facts About Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum

Smith Interpretive Center

Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum is ''the American Southwest's oldest and most spectacularly situated botanical garden''. So begins the introduction in the small informative booklet you are given when you become a member. Any nature lover will agree, it is spectacularly situated.

''Sixty miles east of Phoenix, in the shadow of Picketpost Mountain and straddling Queen Creek Canyon, the Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum displays, studies and perserves a unique assemblage of plants from the worlds arid and semi-arid regions.

This 350 acre institution is much more than an arboretum. It is actually a ''living museum'' of desert plants which displays a rich, diverse collection of shrubs, annuals, perennials, ephemerals and succulents as well as trees. Over 3000 water-efficent species from all continents are represented here in cultivated and natural plant communites.''

It all began as the vision of a mining magnate named Colonel William B. Thompson back in the 1920's. He hoped to ''instill in people an appreciation of plants through the experimental cultivations of drought-tolerant species to promote the wise use of arid lands''.

'Turks Cap' Cactus

The arboretum has gardens, lots of them! There's the Cactus Garden, Taylor Family Desert Legume Garden, Wing Memorial Garden, and the Demonstation Garden. Each has its own particular focus. The Smith Interpretive Center also houses two greenhouses for cold sensitive cacti. Some of the oddest shaped cacti can be seen there. For walking, there's the Australian Walkabout, which is like being in Australia, the High Trail, from whose vistas you can look down on a 'panoramic view of Queen Creek and the canyon area', filled with native vegetation of the Upland subdivision of the Sonoran Desert, and there's always the Main Trail, which is densly filled with various kinds of trees, conifers, bushes and tropical-looking palms.

Pomagranates . . .


The Main Trail boasts such exotic things as Old Word pistachio, olive, common myrtle (okay, maybe this isn't 'exotic'), pomegranate and date palms lining the pathway. Anywhere in the arboretum is a treat for all the senses, as the fragrances alone will entice you. Fragrant lilacs, pungent euclyptus, and other trees and flowers bless your olfactory glands if you take the time to take a deep breath.

© Joan Ann Lansberry, This page updated October 14, 2012
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