One never thinks of the desert as a place where you would enjoy or even find a botanical garden, well The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix awaits. Not only is the garden full of surprises, it has information along each trail about the plants you are seeing, and how they grow and thrive in such an unforgiving climate. Don’t trust my word for it, click the link and take the virtual tour! https://www.dbg.org/
Cactus Agave and Aloe
The garden sits in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. The Saguaro, my favorite because of its size, is only found in the Sonoran Desert and can live as long as 200 years. Check out the birds that have made a comfortable home inside or on top by looking closely at the pictures below, I was able to catch a few birds in action. Based on what I have read, breaking open a cactus in times of need is not a good idea, especially if you are already dehydrated, no, you will not find a secret source of water, but you just might get really sick.
Yes Flowers! I was amazed to see several cactus flowering. As a lover of roses, I must say I favored the vibrancy of the Desert Rose for its variation of pink hues.
Pima and Apache Dwellings
Travel back in time and see the traditional dwellings of the Apache and Akimel O’odham also known as Pima or “river people” constructed with mesquite, cottonwood, willow bark, agave rope and yucca leaves. The huts surprisingly were very cool inside and completely protected from the sun. Explore the garden that leads to an oasis as you leave.
Snacks and Serenity
At the end of the day head over to Gertrude’s Cafe for a light lunch. First of all the staff is absolutely excellent. The waiters didn’t blink at the fact that sweat was literally pouring off of me, pouring so much so that I unwillingly I entered a wet t-shirt contest. Dry heat my ass! They seated us, provided crayons for Solie, had water on the table before we asked, and returned with a list of favorites and daily specials. The chickpea soup was packed with flavor and very filling without being heavy on the stomach. The club, that one usually orders for the bacon, was delicious but the star was hands down the grilled bread and aioli that dressed each slice. Our waiter (i forgot his name due to my brain fighting off mild heat stroke symptoms) suggested a shortcut home since it was close to rush hour. Yes I left him a big tip! That is service premium customer service!
I was however disappointed in the gift shop, I found the items extremely overpriced and most of them I saw in Scottsdale for less than half the price. Save your money if you have a few days left in Phoenix and hit up the old town shopping district for trinkets and treats. And don’e even think about buying the prickly pear licorice or a t shirt, go to Walgreen’s and tell them Nyri sent you!
Summary, Survival Suggestions and Parent Recommendations
First and foremost I want to say that the cashier the day of my visit was rude and tried to make a spectacle of a service veteran. The garden is free to active duty military and AAA members, for all others the price for entrance is 24.00. OK, no problem at all, but the cashier had an attitude that she was presented a military ID card from a 24 year retired veteran. Now let me take a minute to get on my soap box. Service members make no money, as a veteran myself I know this. Military members deserve and appreciate the discounts when provided, so usually they hand over an ID card when entering any business establishment because most places provide free entry or a discount as respect for those who sacrifice as a service to their country. Not only was she rude, but her tone was sarcastic. Everyone may not support service members, or agree with their assigned mission, but as humans, it is never OK to be rude when you are providing a service that another is paying for. Simply say no, we only provide active duty discounts and keep the transaction moving with a smile.
As with anywhere in Phoenix at this time of the year hydration is critical. Make sure you have water, and make use of the shelter on the different trails and in the garden. You will see water stations to refill your bottles but it is not cold, so bring a YETI full of ice so that you can add water to it. Keep the kids covered as much as possible and make them wear a hat if they are not in a stroller. If their little faces become flushed, it is time to go and seek out some AC so they can cool off. The garden opens at 7 am so go early if possible or later in the evening to avoid the hottest part of the day.
For parents of children with disabilities, the botanical gardens can accommodate any child including those who are wheelchair bound because the trail is smooth on all paths. All children visiting should be monitored carefully because cactus while beautiful, can be dangerous. Children by nature are explorers and love to touch things that look “different” keep them on the trail, it is a safe distance from the prickles. Do not have them turn around to take pictures, they can easily step back and fall. In my excitement I almost hugged a Saguaro and we all know how that would have ended. My point is, this is a great summer adventure for any child but be safe, don’t keep children inside because you are worried about them being accepted or if their behavior bothers others, they are perfect as they are, get out with them, make a few adjustments based on their needs and explore!
Don’t be Unnerved by others, I don’t see parents of children who misbehave and act inappropriately worrying about them, so why should you! Explore with caution and be safe !