When first researching “things to do” in Phoenix, one of the attractions that kept coming up on every website I visited was the Desert Botanical Gardens. I have to confess that I am not a huge fan of wandering around flower gardens, but everything I read about it indicated it was a worthwhile place to visit. Making it a bit more interesting for me was the fact that while we were in town the DBG was featuring the remarkable glass work of Dale Chihuly and that his work was integrated throughout the 140 acre site. If you’re not familiar with the name Dale Chihuly (and I wasn’t), he is credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the perception of the glass medium from a mere craft to fine art. His work can be found in more than 200 museum collections around the world, and if you have ever visited or stayed at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, his work is featured throughout the hotel – most notably on the lobby ceiling.
The park itself is somewhat of a local “institution” and has been open since 1939. We were told by a couple of local residents that we needed to get there early in the morning or we might not be able to get in. They weren’t kidding, as we found out that many people pre-book tickets in advance and there are only a limited number of visitors allowed on the grounds at any one time. We were fortunate enough to be able to purchase walk-up tickets, and upon entering the grounds, the first thing we saw was one of the Chihuly creations.
At first, it took us aback, as they seemed so out of place, almost in conflict with the natural beauty of the gardens themselves. However, the more we walked around and encountered the different colours, shapes and sizes of his glass work, the more they seemed to seamlessly blend into the surroundings. Here are just a handful of some of the colourful pieces strategically placed throughout the grounds.
While the Chihuly in the Garden exhibit was a featured reason to visit, the more than 50,000 species of desert plants were very beautiful in their own right. As I had mentioned in an earlier blog-post, we were also very fortunate that the timing of our visit happened to fall in line with the two to three week period that many of the desert plants were in bloom. The pictures we took of just a random sampling of cacti, show many more colours than the basic greeny-brown tones you’d expect to find.
There were even examples of Apache living scattered throughout the Botanical gardens, including how they planted and cultivated crops; how and where they stored them; and of course, some of the dwellings that they lived in.
You won’t be surprised to find out that my absolute favorite part of the visit was seeing several different types of Hummingbirds dancing with the flowers, tree-buds, and various feeders that had been strategically hung for their benefit.
I also have to say that the Butterfly Exhibit captured my interest far more than I expected it to, and the extra $3 we had to pay (over and above the gate admission) to enter their domain was well worth it.
If you are in the Phoenix area, the Desert Botanical Gardens are well worth a visit.