|Tucson Botanical Gardens|
I didn't know, and still don't know, the names of most of the plants I saw when I visited Tucson for the Garden Writers Association symposium. If someone asked what a plant was I could just shrug my shoulders or help them find a plant label. I called most of the plants by the generic names - "cactus", "succulent", "tree".
I joked at one of their local nurseries that the plants I saw were what we call "houseplants" here in the Midwest, though our houseplants don't get quite as large growing in containers inside as they do growing in desert gardens outside.
I wondered how often gardeners in Tucson get stuck by the cactus they tend. I could only imagine the pain if you were leaning over a planting of cactus and lost your balance, as gardeners sometimes do, and fell into the patch. Ouch. I have just a tiny patch of prickly pear cactus tucked into an out of the way spot in my garden but I have been stuck with those spines enough times to know that one has to be careful around cactus.
All kidding aside, I enjoyed seeing gardens in an environment that is so different from my own. I was intrigued how the gardeners in the desert planted gardens that were thriving in spite of the heat, in spite of the miniscule amounts of rain they receive.
In the Tucson Botanical Garden, I enjoyed the personal touches in the Barrio (Neighborhood) Gardens, which "honor the distinctive gardens and yards found in the Tucson Mexican-American neighborhoods, and the pride with which they were created".
|Wheelbarrow planting in the Barrio Gardens, Tucson Botanical Garden|
In one of the private gardens we visited, the sound of water amidst the cactus made me think about how precious water is in an environment as dry as Tucson.
|Water feature in a Tucson garden|
After awhile, I think every gardener visiting gardens filled with plants they don't recognize looks to find something they have in common with those gardeners.
I found that I have zinnias in common with Tucson gardeners. I always plant zinnias in my gardens because they attract butterflies.
|Zinnias in Benedictine Sisters Monastery Garden|
Throughout the long weekend of visiting gardens and talking to other gardeners, I was often asked "what do you think of the gardens of Tucson". I admire the gardeners who tend them. I think of what it must be like to garden in such a challenging environment and how in spite of the "dry heat" gardeners find ways to tend to plants and create environments that they can relax in and enjoy.
|Shade in a Tucson garden|
Regardless, seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling and walking through a garden, wherever it is, adds to our understanding of gardens and makes us better gardeners. Every garden touches a gardener's soul. For this reason alone, every garden is worth seeing.