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Touring The World's Gardens -- From Home: Part 2

By: Sandra Nelson; Images Sandy DeFoe


Welcome back to our virtual tour of some of the world’s outstanding --  and unusual  --  botanical gardens. For this trip, I thought we would start right here in the United States with a visit to a garden that is one of my personal favorites, the Desert Botanical Garden in  Phoenix, Arizona.


Desert Botanical Garden,  Phoenix, Arizona, United States 


desert botanical garden


What seems an impossibility, a world class botanical garden in the midst of a desert, becomes a reality at the Desert Botanical Garden within the city limits of Phoenix, Arizona. Over 8 decades ago, a group of Phoenix citizens banded together to preserve the delicate desert environment they loved. Today, thanks to their efforts, 140 acres of the awe-inspiring Sonoran Desert are home to over 4,000 species of living species in outdoor exhibits, including 400 + rare and endangered ones. The garden features slightly more than 2 miles of easily traversed trails, divided into five separate desert experiences ranging from a focus on the riotous blooms of spring wildflowers, to a walk among towering cacti or even one that highlights the plants used by  native peoples to enrich and sustain their daily lives. Not just a botanical garden, this living museum will delight all of the senses! 


Visit here:

Greenheart TreeWalk Rainforest Experience 


Greenheart TreeWalk

Let’s head north now to walk the innovative Greenheart TreeWalk in the canopy of a British Columbia rainforest as part of our tour of the University of British Columbia’s century old Botanical Garden. Designed to be impact free on the fragile environment, the walkway’s highlight is a viewing platform hanging 75 feet above the forest floor that gives a literal bird's eye view of the forest below. Of course, if exploring from above the garden is not your first choice, then perhaps a stroll through the Nitobe Memorial Garden and Tea House, the Alpine Garden or the Rainforest Garden sounds more appealing. Recognized as one of  the most authentic Japanese gardens and tea houses outside of Japan, the Nitobe Memorial Garden serves as a “bridge across the Pacific,” while the  Alpine and  Garry Oak Meadow and Woodland Gardens offer up rich and diverse species in highly sustainable landscapes.


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Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden


South Africa

A trip to Cape Town, South Africa is the next stop on our world garden tour. Unlike the other botanical gardens we’ve visited, Kirstenbosch’s mission is to “to promote, conserve and display the extraordinarily rich and diverse flora of Southern Africa.” It is filled with 7,000+ species of plants indigenous to southern Africa displayed in a variety of themed gardens. In one, Cycads share their space with life-sized dinosaurs and a pterosaur, as they did in eons past while in another a profusion of Protea show off their springtime beauty. Delightful scents fill the air in the Fragrance Garden as visitors are invited to “reach out and touch” the flowers and experience not only the beautiful colors but also the appealing textures. Hiking trails in the garden are suited to all abilities and lead you through miles of natural South African beauty.


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For our final two stops, we’re going to do a study in contrasts  --  the world’s most  northernmost botanical garden and the world’s most southernmost garden, each telling a fascinating story.


Arctic-Alpine Botanical Garden


Arctic Alpine Garden

Norway’s Arctic-Alpine Garden is a relatively new addition to the world’s botanical gardens. It was established in 1994 and boasts no gates, no entrance fees and no operating hours. Visitors are welcome to explore the grounds anytime throughout the year, but flowering is at its peak from early May through mid October and snow envelopes the ground during the winter months. The garden has 25 different collections, including traditional Norweigen herbs and perennials and Arctic plants from high altitude places around the world. The Himalayn, South American and African displays are especially noteworthy.Many of the displays highlight a single species.


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 Omora Ethnobotanical Park 



With a mission of strengthening the relationships among human beings, plants and the ecosystems they inhabit, Omora is an important part of the world’s conservation efforts as well as a unique botanical gem. Established in 2000, the park covers almost 1,000 acres of Navarino Island off the southwestern coast of Chile. 13 habitat types, mimicking those that are found on the islands south of Tierra del Fuego up to the alpine zones, are present in the park.  Views of the Robalo River peak through the trees along miles of interpretative trails. Visitors can learn about forests, peat bogs, wetlands and even an alpine heath. 


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