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Among The Trees

Boyce Thompson Arboretum explores nature, history, and more.

It is a sunny but temperate day when we walked the paths of Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and everyone and their dog is exploring the many pathways and gardens with a spring in their step. The trees tower above you with their leafy heads swaying gently. Nearby children run along in the dappled sunlight, posing for photos or pointing out a butterfly. This is the oldest and largest botanical institution in Arizona and in the Southwest. It all began with a mining engineer by the name of William Boyce Thompson, who had made his fortune in copper, and was fascinated with landscaping.

In 1924 he began a Plant Institute which became the 'living museum' that is the arboretum today. In addition to a lake, a greenhouse, and a gift shop, there are many trails and exhibits that display a vast and impressive collection of plant species. In the children's garden, for example, you will find a colorful mosaic and a maze. In addition, there is a dedicated cactus garden and a rose garden that has antique varieties that date back to the 1800's. The Pollinator garden attracts colorful butterflies, while hummingbirds chase each other around the flowering bushes. Something is always in bloom during each season, bringing new sights and scents. Bird lovers will spy the signature red feathers of a cardinal among other wildlife that visit the arboretum each year. 

The Arboretum mingles the beauty of nature with education and plenty of history too. At the herb garden, you will learn of the useful and medicinal benefits of the various plants.  Or discover the history of the Clevenger House which belonged to a homesteading family in the early 20th century. Whether you wander the long and winding trails or stay within a single exhibit, you can easily spend a whole day here. If you prefer, guided tours are available as well as workshops on planting and even art classes. Even better, you can enjoy Tai Chi or Yoga within the garden grounds, combining the beauty and fresh air with an invigorating workout for both the body and mind. The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is a true gem to explore and experience nature.