Fabulous Gardens in Tucson, Arizona
Garden Design's self-guided day trip to three Tucson-area gardens.
Tucson is known for its dramatic beauty, spectacular cacti, and mild climate while its notable dark night skies make it one of the best cities in the United States for stargazing. It is also the wettest desert in the country resulting in a very specific microclimate that is quite different from other Arizona cities such as Phoenix.
Our local garden expert, Monica Hemingway, recommends three of her favorite gardens that thrive in this environment that can easily be visited in a single day. But, she also encourages you to stay overnight in order to visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, especially as the drive over the mountains offers truly spectacular views.
For this day trip though, begin at Tohono Chul, a park-like setting with nature trails and themed gardens. Since this garden is mostly exposed, it is best to visit in the cooler morning hours before continuing on to the Pima Master Gardener Public Demonstration Gardens. Here you will find encouragement, inspiration, and practical advice to help you grow plants in this challenging desert climate. For the final stop of the day, head to the shady paths of the Tucson Botanical Gardens, where a variety of gardens, take-home landscaping ideas, and an excellent café will perfectly round out your trip.
Spring and fall are often considered the best times of year to visit, with the gardens being more dormant in winter and summer.