Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
There are many places we can see and learn about plants. Cacti and succulent lovers can choose from many world-class botanical gardens and arboreta in America that are well worth a visit. For the most part, these tend to be in the western areas of the country where the more tender species can be grown outdoors. Here are some of the more popular destinations.
When we mention cacti and succulent gardens, the first thing that comes to mind is Lotusland. This is probably the most famous California garden. Located in Santa Barbara, it was the creation of Ganna Walska, an opera singer. Her garden consists of thirty-seven acres. It is by no means limited to cacti and succulents, but it serves as a showplace for these plants. It includes formal features, such as parterres, as well as informal ones. In addition to the cacti and succulents, there are also collections of other rare plants, such as cycads. This garden is open to the public except during the winter months. Children must be ten years or older. It is necessary to make advance reservations, and is limited to guided tours.
Apart from Lotusland, the best known garden in California featuring cacti and succulents is probably the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino. Originally very small, the cactus/succulent collection now spreads to twelve acres. Among the plants are the night-blooming cereus, saguaro and the golden barrel cactus. Huntington is open year-round with the exception of holidays.
The Desert Botanical Garden is located in Phoenix, Arizona. It is open year-round. This garden does emphasize native species, but within its displays are found many drought-tolerant species from around the world. Visitors can also learn about useful native plants, such as the use of agave fiber for twine.
The Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum is located in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. This 325-acre facility emphasizes arid plants from all over the world, and was founded in 1930 by William Boyce Thompson. This arboretum features various kinds of cacti, such as the birthday cake cactus and the saguaro. Visitors can also see exotic species in the greenhouses on the
Disneyland and Disney World wouldn’t be the first places that come to mind when you think of cactus and succulent gardens. Yet, one shouldn’t be too hasty in dismissing them as mere tourist traps. In fact, the grounds are typically landscaped with succulents. In addition, these are also used for the many kinds of topiaries you will see when you visit.
In addition to these outdoor locations, one can see cacti and succulents in greenhouses at many botanical gardens throughout the country. The Cleveland Botanical Garden has a relatively new state-of-the-art greenhouse that was built to house its Madagascar Biome. This features both plants and animals from semi-arid areas, such as kalanchoes.