Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix

I'm a sucker for a curved path.
When I travel, I try to visit the local botanical gardens, and I definitely wanted to see what the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona would have to offer. The location was very convenient, too, right next to Papago Park.

As my friend and I were approaching the botanical gardens, I noticed some glass sculptures, and I said, "I wonder if those are Chihuly." I thought they may be because the Atlanta Botanical Gardens in my home state of Georgia have Chihuly glass sculptures. Well, sure enough, that is who created them. Loved how different the design was—all sharp and prickly—compared with the curviness of the sculptures in Atlanta.*

Chihuly glass art at Desert Botanical Gardens
Love how they catch the light.
The cardon cactus is the largest variety in the world. Where these were located in the park, and because of their height—I'm guessing about 30 feet—made it a bit hard to stand far enough back to get all of it in the frame, along with the obligatory sun flare. You knew it was coming, didn't you?

Cardon cactus with sun flare at Desert Botanical Gardens
Perfect sun flare and cardon cactus.
The variety of cacti was really impressive—in every shape imaginable—balls, snakes, and even one that looked like it had hair (old man of the Andes), but I believe my favorite was the crested saguaro cactus, which is apparently quite rare. These were also quite tall at probably 20 feet, but the very top was what made it so interesting.

Crested saguaro cactus at Desert Botanical Gardens
Possibly a genetic mutation, but quite beautiful.
While we were taking a break and having a snack at some outdoor tables, we were being stalked by various critters wanting us to share. The first to approach us was what I thought was a chipmunk but with coarser and grayer fur. Turns out they are in the same family, but are called Harris's Antelope Squirrel. And I thought for sure there would be no squirrels out West. These are about half the size of the Georgia squirrels and a bit cuter if I do say so myself.

Harris's Antelope Squirrel at Desert Botanical Gardens
Still looking for a snack.
There was to be a full moon that night, and we were staying for the Bruce Monro: Sonoran Light event. I had hoped to capture the full moon somewhere scenic in the gardens, but it was a bit hard to know exactly where would be the best location—even with the use of an ephemeris app.

We settled on a particular area where we would be able to see two of the light exhibits at once. Unfortunately, there were lovely, I'm kidding of course, power lines in front of the moon. Those need to be buried pronto! Try to take care of that before my next visit, will 'ya?

Bruce Monro Sonoran light exhibit at Desert Botanical Gardens
I'm thinking that Bruce had to drink a lot of water to create this exhibit.
The light show was really pretty, although there were lots of people meandering in and around the exhibit, so it was hard to get a shot without someone in the frame. But we were also looking behind us at the sunset that was putting on quite a show. So I didn't get a great moon shot, but the sunset made up for it. My friend tells me they have sunsets like this every night. Really? Every night? Sign me up.

Cacti and sunset at Desert Botanical Gardens
Cacti standing proud before the setting sun.
These gardens were absolutely beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the cacti that they have, and seeing the Bruce Monro light show was a nice bonus.

Update May 13: There is a new Chihuly exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, and it looks like there are spiky and curvy sculptures—I'm adding this to my list of must sees!

Next stop: Butterfly Wonderland

What's your favorite part of the Desert Botanical Gardens?
Have you been to the new Chihuly exhibit in Atlanta? 


  1. This was a fun day! I'm so glad you came to visit. Absolutely love the photos you captured!

    1. Thanks for having me. I had so much fun, too!