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The Gardens of Tucson

(For other online garden tours, see the listing at the bottom of this page.) 

prickly pear cactus, cholla Prickly pear cactus with red fruits, cholla and other native plants are typically found in the Tucson garden style. The annual average rainfall of 12" is usually enough for the plants -- no additional watering required.

There is a distinctive Tucson Garden style -- at least in the older, more established neighborhoods. It is, quite simply, native plant gardening at it purest. Many homes have been sited on the land to take up the floor space they need and little more. The landscapes around the homes have been left in their natural states with Palo verde trees (Cercidium), prickly pears (Opuntia), creosote bushes (Larrea tridentata), ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), and other no-maintenance native plants growing where and as they will. No vast spreads of water-guzzling green lawn in sight!

tucson botanic garden herb garden Herbs grow in one of the historic gardens at the Tucson Botanical Garden. This top of this ramada has been painted cobalt blue to match the tiles. There are many other ramadas of various styles throughout the gardens.

In the Tucson Botanical Garden there are also cactus and succulent gardens, a butterfly garden -- an enclosure that actually has butterflies in it -- a backyard bird garden, a xeriscape garden, a children's garden, and many more. The ramadas -- essentially covered patios -- are especially inspiring.

tucson botanic garden childrens garden Brilliant color on the walls in the Tucson Botanical Garden children's garden contrasts with the subtle greens, grays and browns of the native plants.

Tucson is also home to Tohono Chul, another park filled with native plants and demonstration gardens. At 50 acres, Tohono Chul is much larger than the Tucson Botanical Garden.

horned lizard statue tohono chul A gigantic statue of a horned lizard holds a place of honor in the Tohono Chul demonstration gardens.

Tohono Chul park offers visitors winding trails through native vegetation, demonstration gardens that make great use of tile, an ethnobotanical garden, a riparian garden and a splendid art gallery. We saw quilt-art and art glass exhibitions there. There is a small entry fee and a charming tea room for lunch.

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tucson arizona desert scene Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) and creosote bushes dominate the landscape on the drive to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Saguaro and Ocotillo are two signature plants of the Sonoran desert.

On day two of your garden tour, head out to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum adjacent to the Saguaro National Park West outside of Tucson. Within the 21 acres that compose the museum grounds you will see a natural history museum, a subterreanean earth sciences museum, a botanical garden, a zoo with animals in their natural environments, a hummingbird enclosure and a separate aviary -- both of which you can enter. There are also miles of trails with spectacular views. There is an entry fee and 4 restaurants on the grounds.

Take these Hot Gardens online botanical garden tours, too:    

Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Garden  - Arcadia
Huntington Gardens Desert Garden - near Pasadena 
Descanso Gardens - near Pasadena 
Arlington Garden - in Pasadena
Getty Villa Gardens - Malibu
South Coast Botanic Garden - southwest Los Angeles  
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden - Claremont, California
Santa Barbara Gardens - Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden  - Santa Barbara, California
Tucson Public Gardens  - Tucson, Arizona
Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden  - Phoenix, Arizona
Balboa Park Gardens - San Diego, California
Tropical Garden in the Dominican Republic
Shore Acres Gardens - Coos Bay Oregon
San Luis Obispo Creek Park - San Luis Obispo, California
Japanese Garden - Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California
Japanese Garden - Long Beach, California
San Gabriel Mission - near Los Angeles
San Fernando Mission - Los Angeles
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Our 9 Most Popular Hot Gardens Newsletters: 

1.  Flowering plants that reliably bloom in scorching mid-summer heat.

2.  Australian plants and trees that grow well in hot, dry climates.

3.  Weather-proofing palms for winter; cold weather palm trees.

4.  A white garden for night time viewing.

5.  Topiary can be easy to create and add charm to your garden.

6.  Techniques to combat death by heat exhaustion of plants in pots.

7.  Cactus as security barriers for your property.

8.  South African aloes for brilliant late winter color in your garden.

9.  Frugal gardening tips to save you money.

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