Desert Botanical Garden

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The main entrance of the Desert Botanical Garden.

The Desert Botanical Garden is a 140 acres (57 ha) botanical garden located in Papago Park, at 1201 N. Galvin Parkway in Phoenix, central Arizona.

Founded by the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society in 1937[1] and established at this site in 1939, the garden now has more than 21,000 plants, in more than 4000 taxa, one-third of which are native to the area, including 139 species which are rare, threatened or endangered.

Of special note are the rich collections of agave (176 taxa) and cacti (10,350 plants in 1,350 taxa), especially the Opuntia sub-family. Plants from less extreme climate conditions are protected under shadehouses. It focuses on plants adapted to desert conditions, including an Australian collection, a Baja California collection and a South American collection. Several ecosystems are represented: a mesquite bosque, semidesert grassland, and upland chaparral.

The Desert Botanical Garden has been designated as a Phoenix Point of Pride.[2]


In the 1930s, a small group of local citizens became interested in conserving the fragile desert environment. One was Swedish botanist Gustaf Starck, who found like-minded residents by posting a sign, “Save the desert,” with an arrow pointing to his home. In 1936, they formed the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society (ACNFS) to sponsor a botanical garden to encourage an understanding, appreciation and promotion of the uniqueness of the world’s deserts, particularly the local Sonoran Desert.

Eventually Gertrude Webster, whose home encompassed all of what is today the neighborhood of Arcadia, joined the Society. She offered her encouragement, connections and financial support to establish the botanical garden in Papago Park.

She served as president of the Society’s first Board of Directors and Gustaf Starck, W. E. Walker, Rell Hasket, L. L. Kreigbaum, and Samuel Wilson were the five vice president. The latter also served as Treasurer. Paul G. Olsen was Secretary. In 1938, after much work by the ACNFS, the board hired the Garden’s first executive director, George Lindsay, who oversaw the first planting on the grounds. The Desert Botanical Garden opened in 1939 as a non-profit museum dedicated to research, education, conservation and display of desert plants.


Volunteers were essential in the Garden’s creation and development, when the staff was small and finances tight. These early supporters, including a few amateur botanists who donated their own plant collections, helped plan and execute plant sales, photography and art exhibits, and numerous public events.

Volunteers remain a Garden asset, sharing their time, talents and professional expertise. They work closely with staff to maintain the Garden’s status as a premier plant research institution and serve as members of the Board of Trustees, setting policy and governing the Garden.


Desert Botanical Garden
Desert Botanical Garden 
Different species of cacti on display in the Desert Botanical Garden of Phoenix. 
A rare cristate Saguaro cactus. 
Webster Auditorium
The Webster Auditorium building was constructed in 1939 and is located inside the compounds of the Desert Botanical Garden at 1201 N. Galvin Parkway in Phoenix, Arizona . Phoenix-Desert Botanical Garden-Webster In 1937, Gertrude Webster joined newly established Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society. She offered her encouragement, connections and financial support. Webster served as society’s first president and served in its board of directors. The auditorium is named after Gertrude Webster. On June 13, 1990, the National Park Service certified Webster Auditorium as a national historic site and on May 1, 1990, assigned it the reference number 9000823. 
Inside the historic Webster Auditorium located inside the compounds of the Desert Botanical Garden at 1201 Galvin Parkway. The auditorium was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on May 1, 1990, ref: 9000823. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Deborah A. Starr, "Desert Botanical Garden", Horticulture, March 1994:48-54.
  2. ^ "Phoenix Points of Pride". Retrieved October 18, 2006. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°27′47″N 111°56′38″W / 33.463°N 111.944°W / 33.463; -111.944