December Culture Pass Spotlight:
Boyce Thompson Arboretum
Tucked away along US 60 just west of Superior lies the Boyce Thompson Arboretum – the largest and oldest botanical garden in Arizona. Founded by Col. William Boyce Thompson in 1924 as a research facility for desert plants, the Arboretum spans nearly 400 acres in an area along Queen Creek and houses nearly 3900 different species of desert flora from around the world.
During the month of December, most Arizonans are not thinking about fall colors, but that is what draws the most visitors to Boyce Thompson Arboretum during this time. Interested visitors can visit their website at btarboretum.org, their Facebook or Instagram (@btarboretum), or subscribe to their newsletter to get real-time updates on fall color developments throughout the park.
For a native Phoenician like me, I appreciated the experience of walking through the calming groves and awe-inspiring vistas of the Arboretum just one hour away from the hustle and bustle of the Phoenix Metro Area. Having long been disenchanted with the weather here, it was refreshing to be surrounded by the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, and to be reminded of why we live here.
Aside from an incredible respite from the city, the Arboretum also actively works to conserve plant species that are endangered or threatened with extinction. In fact, nearly 10% of all species housed in the Arboretum fall into this category. Conservation of these plants is vital to the survival of our planet: “Plant species are at risk from habitat loss due to urban and agricultural development, over-collection, and of course, climate change,” as the Arboretum puts it. Their research is not just relegated to the Sonoran Desert either, with their collection containing plants from other arid climates such as the Australian Desert, Chihuahuan Desert, and South America.
Educating their visitors is paramount to the Arboretum’s efforts as well, offering school field trips, guides to the flora and fauna in the park (birding!), a Demonstration Garden showcasing water-efficient landscaping, and a Children’s garden which has many pollinator-friendly plants. As a birder myself, being able to see and hear many types of birds I had never seen before added another layer to my experience while wandering the Arboretum.
The Arboretum is open May through September, Monday through Sunday, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and October through April from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Tuesdays from June to September. The last admission is one hour before closing daily, and it is closed on July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
Culture Passes for the Boyce Thompson Arboretum are available at all program member libraries throughout Arizona. To find a library near you that hosts the Culture Pass program, visit https://act1az.org/culture-pass.
http://btarboretum.org | 37615 E Arboretum Way, Superior, AZ 85173 | 520.689.2723