The Tucson Botanical Garden began as a private home in the 1920’s. As the Porters built their garden, their goal was to create a cool oasis in the midst of the overwhelming heat of the desert. Most of the buildings that were part of their homestead are gone and their property is now in the middle of town, but the cool garden still remains. We visited this garden last January when this coolness was not welcome. The temperature was below freezing and the growing tips of the cactus were covered with styrofoam cups. The staff laid blankets over the bigger plants. We spent most of our time in the humid warmth of the butterfly house. The staff apologized for the look of the place and urged us to come back. We're glad we did.
Today was beautiful and the oasis of the garden had a zen feel. Since it is later in the spring some of the cactus and flowers are beginning to bloom. It was weird to see iris blooming, which for me is a June flower. The garden has many varieties of cactus that are not local. It is amazing how many fanciful shapes a cactus can take.
But what we enjoyed the most once again was the butterfly exhibit. The humidity of the orchid house is considerably higher than outside, so it took a while before our cameras stopped steaming up. The staff hatches these beautiful creatures a few at a time from October to April and stands guard at the doors of the orchid enclosure where the butterflies hang out to make sure a butterfly does not escape when a person leaves. They have added a frog collection to the mix. These colorful creatures were the size of a quarter and very shy, so it was a challenge to spot them. The butterflies flit from one blooming plant to another. The orchids were gorgeous, but the butterflies seemed to favor the other blossoms. We had to move carefully since it was just as likely that a butterfly was sitting on the ground as on a branch. The staff repeatedly rescued a moth the size of my hand that seemed to lack the energy to stay on the branches they planted it on.