Desert Botanical Garden  

Desert Botanical Garden is a 140-acre (57 ha) botanical garden located in Papago Park at 1201 N. Galvin Parkway in Phoenix, Arizona. Founded by the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society in 1937 and established at this site in 1939, the garden now has more than 50,000 plants in more than 4,000 taxa, one-third of which are native to the area, including 379 rare species, threatened or endangered.

Of special note are the rich collections of agaves (4,026 plants in 248 taxa) and cacti (13,973 plants in 1,320 taxa), especially the Opuntia subfamily. Plants from less extreme climate conditions are protected under shade houses. It focuses on plants adapted to desert conditions, including an Australian collection, a Baja California collection, and a South American collection. Several ecosystems are represented: a mesquite bosque, semi-desert grassland, and upland chaparral.


In the 1930s, a small group of local citizens in Phoenix became interested in conserving the fragile desert environment. One was Swedish botanist Gustaf Starck, who found like-minded residents by posting a sign, “Save the desert,” with an arrow pointing to his home. In April 1934, they formed the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society (ACNFS) to sponsor a botanical garden to encourage an understanding, appreciation, and promotion of the uniqueness of the world’s deserts, particularly the local Sonoran Desert.

Eventually, Gertrude Webster, whose home encompassed all of what is today the neighborhood of Arcadia, joined the Society. She offered her encouragement, connections, and financial support to establish the botanical garden in Papago Park. Margaret Bell Douglas provided support as well, donating 1,500 specimens to the herbarium. A1 Bed Bug Exterminator

Webster served as president of the Society’s first Board of Directors, and Gustaf Starck, W. E. Walker, Rell Hasket, L. L. Kreighbaum, and Samuel Wilson were the five vice presidents. The latter also served as Treasurer. Paul G. Olsen was Secretary. In 1938, after much work by the ACNFS, the board hired the Garden’s first executive director, George Lindsay, who oversaw the first planting on the grounds. The Desert Botanical Garden opened in 1939 as a non-profit museum dedicated to research, education, conservation, and display of desert plants.

Education and Art

The Garden offers specialized tours, workshops, and lectures on desert landscaping and horticulture, nature art and photography, and health and wellness. The Garden has presented Spring and Fall open-air acoustic concert series, art exhibitions, and Las Noches de las Luminarias since 1978. The Luminarias Festival became a Southwestern Holiday tradition featuring live music by the flickering lights of 8000 hand-lit luminaria.

Address: 1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ

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