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Top 5 Best Public Gardens In Arizona

The Arizona desert is home to some of the country’s most unique and beautiful gardens. In fact, several public gardens are among the major visitor attractions in the state. Feel free to share any of your favorites in the comments section below this post. Here are my top 5:

1) Desert Botanical Gardens

A clear winner! These amazing landscapes attract tourists from around the world and include mystical combinations of over 50,000 displays of desert wildflowers and vegetation on 65 cultivated acres. That collection includes 139 rare or endangered plant varieties. Several featured exhibits have interactive elements, such as live music concerts in Spring and a night walk/wine tasting, Las Noches de las Luminarias, in Winter. Check out the Desert Botanical Gardens website. Here is a picture from the gardens:

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2) The Farm at South Mountain / Maya’s Farm

The Farm at South Mountain is a Phoenix treasure known for its serene atmosphere and delicious lunch menu with fresh ingredients. Their in-house gardener, Maya Dailey, was named Arizona’s top “green thumb” in 2009 for her excellence in designing and tending the 7-acre spread reserved for food production. She supports the Small Farm Movement concept that promotes reducing global interdependence by growing locally in decentralized communities. To that effect, her garden/farm grows beets, radishes, carrots, spring onions, arugula, rainbow chard, baby collards, dill, mint and many other herbs and vegetables. Maya sells her produce throughout the valley, where it brightens plates in restaurants, homes and farmers’ markets. Check out The Farm at South Mountain / Maya’s Farm website. Here are some pictures of the gardens:

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3) The Simple Farm in Scottsdale

A true urban farm, this location mixes raised bed gardens and edible landscaping on 3 acres in the heart of North Scottsdale. The space is operated by local couple Lylah and Michael Ledner, who perform free tours and act as gracious hosts to all visitors. The combination of gentle livestock and broadly appealing vegetables make this public garden the perfect destination for parents and children. Carrots, squash, beans, fruit trees, nuts and many other popular varieties adorn the grounds. The real value of this project is the use of organic gardening methods and the production of fresh, healthy food. The Ledners produce excellent goats milk and other products that are sold and used throughout the East Valley. Check out The Simple Farm website. Here are some pictures of the gardens:

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4) The Arboretum at Flagstaff

This facility consists of 25 cultivated acres (out of 200), including a spectacular solar green house. Self-guided tours and professional tours are available. The classes offered at this location are some of the best in Arizona for learning about plants with the gardeners who grew them. From the site: “The Arboretum encompasses horticultural collections, rare plant specimens, historic buildings, and a nature trail through the Ponderosa pine forest. A research and environmental education center, the Arboretum is home to 2,500 species of plants in greenhouses, gardens, and natural habitats.” Check out The Arboretum at Flagstaff website.

5) Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Nestled in the heart of Tucson, this exhibition is the 11th most-visited private attraction in Arizona. The museum is set apart from others by its active production of scientific research that promotes understanding of traditional Sonoran biodiversity. There are around 2 miles of paths leading through 300 animal species and 1,200 plant varieties set up to exhibit natural Sonoran themes. One great experience from the museum is participating in the saguaro fruit harvest at the end of June. Check out the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum website.

BONUS! #6) Tucson Botanical Gardens

A mandatory stop for any tourists travelling through Tucson who appreciate the beauty of the native desert landscape. The 5 acres include historical gardens with olive, myrtle and dwarf citrus. A large zen garden and cacti gardens are also showcased. This garden attraction stands out for its boutique, dedicated exhibits. For example, there is a vermiculture activity featuring earthworms and an ongoing “tree connection” program that increases visitors’ understanding of the tree ecosystem. Check out the Tucson Botanical Gardens website.

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