Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tucson V- GWA Symposium- Botanical Gardens - What Makes an American Garden

The votes were tabulated by Readers Digest in 2005.  Americans elected The Tucson Botanical Gardens the  "The Best Secret Garden in America." Fueled by breakfast burritos courtesy of Fiskars,  I took a stroll with my fellow garden communicators through the 5 acre oasis in central Tucson with the objective to learn what captures the American gardening public's heart. What is it about this garden to which we instinctively relate.

Monarch Butterfly
Perhaps it is the American desire for freedom that drives the enchantment with butterflies. Or our love to root for the underdog. What appears more frail than a nectaring butterfly? What more inhospitable climate than the great Sonoran Desert? Leave it to the ingenuity of gardeners to understand how to create desire in wandering butterflies to settle down where we can enjoy them. 

Want butterflies? Plant flowers. Let them dance to the rhythm of seasonal breezes.  

Americans don't like to take ourselves too seriously. Jessica Reinhardt was a good sport about posing with the Monarch wings so that I don't have to show you how silly I look wearing them):- .

The shade of a pomegranate tree fills the role of the apple tree in warmer climates. 
We take the fruits of our labor seriously. Better known for our persistence,  our optimism equips us with the patience it takes to tend a sapling as it struggles to  reach its full potential as a factory of fruit and shade. 

We are naturally inquisitive. Since the Europeans got lost and ended up on our North American shores, we are a nation of explorers. I don't know what this cactus is, but its a happy discovery. So exotic- I have just the spot if California Cactus can source for me. 

We believe in the power of boldness. Such as the pomegranate- red wall embracing the water wall.  

We are a nation of contrasts. As a people, we are as cohesive as the background tile on the water wall. Yet because we embrace individuality, even when it seems this means we are celebrating fruits and nuts as literally as the relief tiles, we are not dull.  

'Bone Trooper" by Jana Imblum

We are a nation of immigrants, proud of our individual cultural roots. To celebrate the Mexican-American celebration of the Dia de los Muertos, the gardens sent out a call to local artists to create  life-sized dancing skeletons. 

'Quetzally Hernandez Corondo' dressed to dance with other dearly departed, by Camila Catrina.

As a continent wide nation, we are blessed to have pockets of artistic regionalism. Ceramic artist  Nina Borgia- Aberle is just one of the practitioners in the vibrant Tucson arts community.  

We are a nation built on the imagination of our people. Chris Kennedy Bubany celebrates everyday life through her decorative ceramic garden scene. 

Whatever our differences, when we walk through a garden, we are a nation of friends.

Whatever our family's stature in its country of origin, like this firethorn,  'Pyracantha coccinea' , in America, because this nation is exceptional, we have the potential to rise to barely imaginable heights . 

May God Bless the USA, all her gardeners and gardeners to be. 


  1. What a lovely post. The photo of the butterfly 'outfit' made me smile! I'd want to stand there all day, I think!! And my children DEFINITELY would!!


  2. Thank you for writing in from so far away! You could do a butterfly in your own garden for your girls.

    We captured a butterfly "birth" here this morning. The wings are drying. Hope to have it up soon!

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  4. Hi Lydia,

    Great PIX. You definitely saw more of the garden than I did!

    FYI, that's a stapelia, sometimes called starfish cactus, for obvious reasons.

  5. Thank you Joan for the cactus ID. I am cross-eyed from editing pictures):-

  6. An interesting garden, Lydia. I'd never heard of it before but it seems like a well-used 5 acres.

  7. Hi Nikki. This is definitely a garden to seek out again- when the light is lower in the sky):- The property is divided into 13 wonderful garden rooms. And a terrific gift shop that is calling me to return):-


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