It’s hard to believe there’s a botanical garden tucked away in central Tucson just south of Grant Road. But once you leave the parking area and go through the front doors, you’re in for a gardening surprise. There you’ll find herb gardens, a tropical forest-filled greenhouse, xeriscape methods, a wildflower garden, and so much more. You’ll have to visit several times during the year to really appreciate all the colors and variety offered at Tucson’s Botanical Gardens.
There are approximately 15 unique park areas included in the Tucson Botanical Gardens which are open to the public with special events and educational programs available. There are historical gardens, herb gardens, cactus & Succulent gardens, and on and on, all to capture your eye and interest.
Special events sponsored by the Botanical Gardens like the spring Home Garden Tour or the December Luminaria Nights will keep you entertained while giving you plenty of new gardening ideas. The spring and the fall plant sale will help you to find new desert-adapted plants for your home garden.
The Tucson Botanical Gardens is true of the Old Pueblos treasures. Founded in 1968, the Botanicals Gardens has quickly become one of Tucson’s favorites. Established on the estate of Bernice and Rutger Porter, the site was doubled to five acres in 1975. Originally leased for twenty-five years in 1974, the property was deeded by the City to the non-profit organization that facilitates the Botanical Gardens in 1985. The City also provided the Gardens with public restrooms, an iris garden, and a tropical greenhouse in the same year.
The Botanical Gardens have been growing ever since. These exhibits are equally as informative, as they are beautiful. The Native American Crops Garden was added in 1986, and in 1988 a low water use exhibit, the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden began showing Tucsonans the beauty and ease of healthy desert landscaping. This commitment to entertaining and highly useful education drives 100,000 visitors to the Botanical Gardens yearly. There are several services offered by the Gardens both yearly and seasonally. Every Wednesday the Gardeners of Tucson host an informative plant clinic, and the Tucson Organic Gardeners have helped to create the Home Compost Demonstration Site. There are 60-70 classes and workshops offered annually on a variety of horticultural and desert environmental concerns.
Some of the things to be found at the Tucson Botanical Gardens include:
- Herb Garden
- Tropical Forest Exhibit
- Sensory Garden
- Cactus and Succulent Garden
- Xeriscape Demonstration Garden
- Native American Crops Garden
- Butterfly Garden
- Wildflower Garden
- Back Yard Bird Garden
- Nuestro Jardín
- Iris Garden
- Shade Garden
- Children’s Discovery Garden
The Botanical Garden is involved with the community in a number of interesting manners, one of them is with the Horticultural Therapy Program. This program has been in place for two decades and offers the healing benefits of working with plants to people in community-based programs, nursing homes, hospitals, and assisted living facilities throughout Tucson and Pima County. Working with the plants, and doing nature-related activities enables those with disabilities an experience that affords them a greater sense of competence, enhances sensory stimulation, improved motor skills, and a great way to socialize with others while being a benefit to not only themselves but the community.
- Location: 2150 N Alvernon Way, Tucson, Arizona 85712
- Phone: 520-326-9686
- Admission: $7 for adults and admission for children 4 12 is $3. Children 3 and younger are free.
There are self-guided tours that may be taken anytime during public hours. Look for the interactive touch carts staffed by docents in various garden locations. Themed carts such as desert birds, saguaros, cacti and succulents, and ethnobotany are equipped with hands-on props that can be handled by visitors.
Wheelchairs are available on a first-come basis. Please inquire at the Gift Shop.
If you are new to the Tucson area or are planning to start a garden it will be well worth your time to visit the Botanical Gardens and learn about the unique requirements to grow plants in the desert area.
The Gardens ask that you stay on the paths, do not climb on the trees, walls, sculptures or fountains, do not collect any plants or plant materials. There is no smoking at the Gardens. Pets are not allowed except for service animals. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PET IN YOUR VEHICLE, IT IS WAY TOO HOT AND THEY WILL NOT SURVIVE!!
If you want to take pictures you can use the Gardens as a location for your shoot for a fee. Snapping pictures for your personal enjoyment is allowed.