First Time at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

The next day all eight of us left early for the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  I learned about this place from reading other people’s blogs, and although it wasn’t as good as the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum we liked it a lot and felt at $12.50 it was very reasonably priced.  The trails are a bit convoluted, so we made Kat our navigator, and Lee was totally in the zone taking pictures.  Most of these flower pictures are his and he was using our macro lens (which I am always too lazy to pull out) to great effect.  The Arboretum started as a rich man’s private garden and grew into a large complex, which was eventually donated to the state.  We see this phenomena quite frequently in our travels and I always enjoy these types of gardens because they are a combination of plants and sculpture. 

What sets the Boyd Thompson apart are it’s location (it is surrounded by beautiful hills and rocky walls which become part of the scenery) and the collection of plants from arid regions around the world.  In particular I liked the Australian outback setting, and it was cool to see plants from there.  Kat, who is originally from England, has traveled extensively and it was neat talking to her about Australia, New Zealand, etc as we walked along.  I also really liked the cactus garden.  I was prepared to be unimpressed, we are surrounded by cactus everywhere here, after all, but the types and arrangements of the cactus were beyond anything I have ever seen and it was clear that particular care was taken with this garden layout.   I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.  This is a small sampling of what we saw, and I highly recommend trying it out if you are in this area.  Just go early, because it did get very hot around noon. We both took lots of pictures, because the place was incredibly photogenic, and we’re trying to make up for two months worth of gate-guarding posts. Plus, Lee’s mom loves flowers and all things green and growing!

Kat trying to navigate us herd cats.




From left: Deb, Cori, Kat, and Bert.  That’s a good looking group!

Lee was in the creative zone. Greg said later when he’s taking pictures we say “Hi” at the beginning of the walk and then talk to him at the end, which made me laugh because it’s so true. Kat did make sure with all the twists and turns we kept him in sight, so we didn’t lose him, which was not always easy!

Love this pic of Lee’s with the shadows

Lee’s pic

He took some amazing closeups of flowers

This was one of my favorites


Lee loves this one with a before and after of the same flower.

I liked this sculpture a lot

I actually took this one with the long lens and liked the way it turned out

This sign made me laugh. What a great way to keep people on the path

Deb and I both liked these flowers. They are stiff to the touch and feel like heavy stock paper

Walking close to the canyon walls was very cool.

At the top of one of the trails the views were great.

Lots of lizards on the trails. Lee got this shot with his phone, the lizard was very patient while he crept up really close to get it.

This wall was hand built and really beautiful

This was a man-made pond which helps support the ecosystem.

My favorite was the cactus garden

Prickly pears!



Love when they grown in half circles like this

Another One of my favorites




I got a pic of a new bird the Phainopepla in the cactus garden

And I spotted this caterpillar and Lee got a close-up for me


They had a beautiful legacy rose garden



















This is another before and after set that Lee loved.



Although it was hot they had several places to stop along the way for some shade. This was my favorite.

I really liked it and they open early in the morning for folks (like us) who want to beat the heat.  Plus I was glad our schedules gave us time to do something with Bert and Kat.  They are seeing family in the area, Cori and Steve are working, and we all have overlapping travel schedules, so finding a day and time to hang out with all 8 of us was a little challenging. Steve actually took a vacation day to make it work, which was very nice of him!  After the arboretum, Bert and Kat went to see Bert’s niece, and the rest of us came back to the campground.  Cori and I planned a surprise party for Deb for her (REDACTED)th birthday, which is next week, so we decorated, baked and iced a cake, and surprised her when she came over for happy hour.  It’s nice when people are together for their birthdays and we decided this was definitely close enough!

Since everything in the landscape here has thorns we were limited on our decorating options

Chocolate with chocolate icing. Deb’s favorite. It was a joint effort, I baked it and Cori frosted and decorated it.

Deb was a good sport about wearing her tiara

Although the dogs (Hurley on left and Hobie on right) were not big fans

Cori walking out the cake

Note to self, do not buy candles at the dollar store! Deb just thought it was funny. Love that about her.

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8 thoughts on “First Time at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

  1. I think every gal should have a tiara on her birthday. 🙂 I love the macro shots of the desert flowers, really beautiful. After all your hard work over the last few months, it’s so good to see you relaxing with good friends. Take care!

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