GBFD Phoenix Botanic Garden

This sight welcomed us to the garden!

Something a bit different for GBFD this month.  The foliage in my garden hasn’t really changed significantly since December; maybe the foliage of some of the roses is a little redder, but that is all, so I thought I would write something about my trip to the US that I promised to do in an earlier post.

I was very fortunate to spend 3 weeks travelling from San Francisco to the North California Coast and then via the Sonoma Valley to Reno; then a flight to Phoenix and a New Year’s Day visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s summer house and the Botanic Garden in Phoenix before continuing to the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park and Chico.  A lot of travelling but it was all wonderful, I’ve never visited the States before and after this first experience I really hope to be able to visit again.

I will write about some of my impressions of Native plants in a future post but I think Cactus is a good subject for foliage day.  Firstly I should admit that cactus and succulents are not my favourite plants, I’m not someone who has a cactus sitting on their kitchen windowsill and to be honest I don’t really understand how anyone can love them!

However, the plantings in the Botanic Garden were fantastic.  For more than 70 years, the Desert Botanical Garden has been teaching and inspiring visitors from the local community and around the world, providing research, exhibits designed to help us understand, protect and preserve the desert’s natural beauty.

The Garden consists of the following areas Ottosen Entry Garden, Desert Discovery Loop Trail, Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail, Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail, Center for Desert Living Trail, Steele Herb Garden, Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop Trail, Sybil B. Harrington Cactus & Succulent Galleries and Berlin Agave Yucca Forest.

We visited all of the areas except for the Desert Wildflower loop as it was the wrong time of year for there to be any flowers.  Each loop showed with naturalistic plantings the different types of desert landscapes.  The day was very warm, I hadn’t realised it would be so hot and had to borrow a cotton top.

The textures, forms and colours above are every bit as satisfying as any garden I know.

The whole garden was brilliantly designed; there were glass cactus at the entrance giving an interesting welcome to the garden.

Glass Cactus

I found it fascinating that for almost every plant group that I am familiar with in my Mediterranean climate there was a desert plant or cactus that was similar.  The plant world is truly a miracle, plants to fill every niche and environment.

Tall, like trees, Organ Pipe Cactus

I was surprised by some of the colours, I had thought cactus were all more or less the same green, but not at all!

I really liked the purple colour of these

This cactus looks as good back lit as any grass!

The garden was open into the evening and because it was the Christmas season some of the plants were decorated with lights.  All the other lighting was well designed to throw light down where it was needed but not cause light pollution.

Some fun Artwork was placed around the garden.  These took the form of giant insects which amused the many children and adult visitors alike.

For me this garden proved “Right plant – right place” really works.  All the plants were healthy growing in the conditions they needed and because of this they were beautiful!  Also plants needing the same conditions usually look good together.  I believe that sometimes when I’m dissatisfied with a planting combination it is because the plants are from different climates or environments; even Mediterranean climate plants from different continents don’t actually always work well together.

Agave macroacantha


I have an area of my garden (separated from the rest of the garden) on very thin soil exposed to the South; I have been wondering what I could do with space.  Not too tender cactus might work and I do appreciate Agaves but maybe I am learning some new things and what I should do is plant Things from the dryer parts of the Mediterranean.

I do hope you will join Garden Bloggers Foliage Day and share what foliage is looking at its best in your garden or foliage you’ve seen and enjoyed elsewhere.  Please just leave a comment with the link to your post.  I know that Alberto at Altroverde has some lovely photos of hoar frost which I’m almost envious of, but I am actually quite happy that it isn’t quite that cold here.