TREK: A Love Affair with the Sonoran Desert (Photo Essay)
On a recent trip to AZ, I ventured out to a place I had not visited in my many years of annual trips: The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. There are over 200 botanical gardens and arboretums (botanical gardens devoted to trees) in North America, most of them located in or near urban areas.
What do botanical gardens actually do?
Botanical gardens collect, cultivate and display a large variety of plant species. Some demonstrate native plant ecosystems while others may offer a glimpse of historical gardens. Each garden has its defined purpose and unique history. In addition to conducting horticultural and plant research, many offer tours, educational programs and related art classes (on my visit there were watercolor artists painting scenes in the garden). Some gardens rent out their space for special events.
While I prefer the natural and quiet landscape found in our public lands, my plant nerdy-ness wants to identify and learn about new plants that I encounter…it’s an affliction that keeps my hikes short and my companions limited! In my home region, I always take a field guide (or two) out on hikes, identifying my way through blooming wild flowers, leaf shapes, fleshy fruits, popping seeds and bark texture. But when I don’t know the plants of a place and have limited time, I find botanical gardens a great way to spend a day meeting new plants that are clearly identified and sometimes include some unique information.
Here in the PNW it's been a LONG winter with lots of moisture and grayness everywhere. This photo essay is filled with the sturdy plants that have adapted to the harsh, sunny Sonoran desert. I included what I know about the plants. Enjoy!
Author: Sue Kusch
Sue Kusch, a former community college instructor and academic advisor, incorporates her experiential wisdom, expertise and science-based research garnered from her three decades of growing vegetables, fruit and herbs into her educational writing about plants and how people use them. In addition to her BA in Social Sciences and Masters in Education, she completed the Master Gardener training in 2011 and two permaculture courses in 2001 and 2014. She has studied medicinal and nutritional uses of herbs including studies at Herbmentor.com and East West School of Planetary Herbology since 1997. An avid reader, lover of historical and folkloric information, and a promising storyteller, Sue writes about the intersection of plants and people at www.plantsnpeople.com.
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