Landscaping Ideas from the Desert Botanical Garden

Need garden design inspiration? Check out the gorgeous Desert Botanical Garden in Arizona.

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    The Desert Botanical Garden is a 50-acre gem in Phoenix. It's an excellent destination for gardeners who live in arid climates to discover plants that thrive in their area. Visit the garden and you'll be treated to sights of more than 100 rare and endangered species as well.

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    Play Up Shapes

    Aloes, agaves, and yuccas are some of the first plants gardeners turn to in desert gardens. But there's a wide variety of other species that offer texture and shape to fill your beds and borders with interest. Use upright spiky plants to contrast rounded plants like prickly pear and barrel cactus.

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    Aloe marlothii, a dramatic plant from South Africa, is just one of the many amazing succulents you'll see at the garden. The plant can grow 12 feet tall and bears a candelabra-style stem decked out in orange flowers in spring, summer, or fall. It's hardy in Zones 9-11.

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    Create Shade

    You'll probably appreciate a shaded garden getaway if you live in a hot-summer area. So be sure to include an arbor, pergola, or tree so you have a place to relax and escape the sun's rays.

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    Mix Shades of Green

    Sometimes all you need in your garden is a little green. Instead of going crazy with color, concentrate on soothing, cooling shades of green, from minty to claret and emerald.

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    Light Smartly

    Make your yard safer and highlight your favorite plants, structures, or garden art after dark with landscape lighting.

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    Accent with Art

    The Chihuly glass art exhibit in the Desert Botanic Garden offers amazing examples of how to incorporate art into the garden. For example, these chartreuse towers echo desert blooms.

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    Lady Finger Cactus

    Adding a delightful dose of color to the garden in spring, lady finger cactus (Echinocereus pentalophus) is an easy-care, low-growing variety. It's native to areas of the Southwestern United States and Mexico and is hardy in Zones 9-10.

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    Select for Fragrance

    Be sure to include plants with wonderfully scented flowers, such as gorgeous Echinopsis candicans, which grows 3 feet tall and creates 3-foot-wide clumps. It's hardy in Zones 9-10.

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    Try Luminaries

    Luminaries are a fun decoration when celebrating a special evening. Use them to line a pathway or place nonflammable types in beds and borders or around a patio.

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    Bring on the Butterflies

    The Desert Botanical Garden features many varieties that attract butterflies. Some are exotic and specific to the Southwest, but others, like this pink cosmos, grows in any region.

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    Don't Forget the Hummingbirds

    Include some plant varieties for the hummingbirds, too. Claret cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) shows off wonderful apricot, orange, or red flowers in spring and summer. It's also surprisingly hardy, thriving in Zones 6-10.

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    Select an Appropriate Mulch

    Gravel is a common weed-reducing mulch material in desert gardens because it doesn't hold moisture, which could cause some types of cacti and succulents to rot.

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    Look for Low-Care Wildflowers

    California poppy, penstemon, and salvia are three common wildflowers that thrive in most regions. They're a great choice for adding color to the landscape without increasing the amount of maintenance you have to do.

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    Echinopsis vatteri

    Add a splash of red to your garden using Echinopsis vatteri, an easy-growing cactus from South Africa. It's hardy in Zones 10-11.


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