The initial challenge at the start of our recent camping and seed-collecting trip was setting up our tents in a sustained 40 mph wind. We arrived late, close to 5pm, and had just a few hours of daylight remaining. Without a decent windbreak for miles in any direction, erecting the tents was like unfurling a ship’s sail, and it took all five of us deckhands to wrestle each one into position. We staked the corners and then moved onto the complex arrangements of poles.The assembly is different for every tent, and even without the wind, it’s more of an intellectual exercise than a practical one. I’m sure tent engineers laugh until strawberry daiquiris shoot out their nostrils at the annual Christmas party when they watch hidden videos of people like us trying to figure them out. [Read more…]
Boyce Thompson Arboretum is not only the oldest and largest botanical garden in Arizona, it is the fourth oldest west of the Mississippi River. It’s spectacularly situated, drawing on hundreds of acres of borrowed scenery, courtesy of the surrounding Upland Sonoran Desert vegetation and mountains of Tonto National Forest. A travel guide, like Fodor’s, might correctly describe this part of the desert as “saguaro-studded,” and, indeed, it is.
Anyone who has traveled to Globe, or Roosevelt Lake, or the White Mountains of eastern Arizona, has passed the Arboretum, perhaps without even noticing. It’s easy to whiz by, particularly because much of the grounds lies below your car’s line of site along US Highway 60, and because many of our plants are hidden from view between two tall volcanic ridges. If you find yourself driving east through the historic mining town of Superior, you just passed the Arboretum about three miles back. [Read more…]
John Aho “Painting With Light” High-Power LED Night Shoot
Saturday Night, July 23 from 7:00 til 10:00 PM
$30 BTA members, $40 non-members
You may have photographed our suspension bridge, Clevenger House, Drover’s Wool Shed, the old Dodge Power Wagon, but here’s a chance to see them under a totally different light—literally—in the dark of night when familiar plants and scenery will be rendered a candy-colored rainbow of colors by custom-made, high-power LED light boxes strategically placed and arranged by Phoenix artist and luminary John Aho. Can’t quite picture how surreal these scenes can be? Here’s a preview a preview of photos from previous shoots.
The fee for this novel chance to experience the Arboretum in a whole different dimension is $30 for members and $40 for nonmembers. Have a credit card ready and call 520-689-2723 to reserve your spot.
When you sign up for the class, give your email address to the staff member who takes your call—and be sure to spell it out slowly to ensure that it is recorded correctly by our staff. Also, provide a cell phone or home phone so we can provide specific after hours meeting/parking instructions a few days ahead of the Saturday night shoot. If this class has filled when you call, make sure to leave your name, phone and email (again, please take a minute to spell it out so we have it right) and we’ll alert you to other shoots this summer and fall as new dates are added.
Are you still wondering if you’d enjoy one of these rare shoots? Preview our Nocturnal Painting With Light Photo Workshops on YouTube.
The fleur-de-lis—lily flower in English—ranks up there with the Nike swish, the peace sign, and the one-finger salute as one of the most iconic symbols of all time.
From the scepters of kings eight centuries ago to the uniform patch of the City of Louisville swat team, it’s difficult not to find it incorporated somewhere in any locale with even a petit morceau of French history. It gets scuffed, scraped, and crunched on the helmets of the New Orleans Saints. It’s in all four corners of the Quebec flag and one corner of the flag of Montreal. A slightly modified version has been sewn on the uniform of every Boy Scout since 1919. And mother-of-pearl inlays of the fleur-de-lis are a common ornament on the peg heads of older Gibson guitars, banjos, and mandolins, though the French connection is more tenuous here. [Read more…]
Among Arboretum horticultural specialists, Jeff Payne is our only Certified Arborist. We caught up with Jeff for five quick questions about his passion for trees, volunteerism, and a sneak preview of a few things he plans to point out on his next Tree Tour on Sunday, June15, 2014 at 8am.
Q: What did it take to attain your Certified Arborist credential?
A: Months of studying and completing a 5 week training course. During the training course sessions, I had to discipline myself and set aside at least 2-3 hours every night to study and about 6-8 hours during the weekends. The certification exam takes about 3.5 hours to complete. [Read more…]
Gonzalo called me over and said, “Hey, check this out.” He had lashed a cardboard box onto a thick saguaro rib with some bailing twine. It looked like what you would use to lower a stranded cat out of a tree, should the cat be so bold—or stupid—to step into the box.
“Becky and I are going to harvest some boojum seeds. She’ll cut and I’ll catch.”
The target plant was our newest and second largest boojum tree. It was acquired from a boojum grower in Tucson and transplanted to the Arboretum last November. It has done exceeding well in its new location, potentially producing a boxful of seeds—or so we were about to find out. [Read more…]
At the Arboretum’s recent Herb Festival, Patagonia textile artist and exhibitor Susan Corl demonstrated a technique of working with merino and angora wool called felting. She handed me one of her specialized felting needles and asked, “Can you feel the tiny barbs at the end?” I could, but only if I ran my finger nail over the stainless steel tip. It’s these barbs that allow the felting to work.
She uses these needles to plunge into a wad of wool with even more wool, closely mimicking the arm movements of a voodoo practitioner. But instead of doll in the form of a strongly disliked coworker, she was creating objects like sunflowers and cats’ play balls with dozens of varying colors. She even had a wooden case that unscrewed to show four holes that each held an individual felting needle, essentially quadrupling her production output with each reticulating movement of her wrist. [Read more…]
In days gone by, cutting the family Christmas tree was an annual affair. Dad and the kids went into the woods with an axe, the dog, and picked out the perfect tree. It was a picture post card moment full of snow laden branches and Pendleton shirts. The dog bounded through drifts, the kids pummeled each other with powdery snowballs, and faintly, off in the distance, tiny bells jingled. Dad pulled the tree back to the log cabin on a sled while mom readied steaming hot mugs of cocoa for everyone. You could almost feel Norman Rockwell’s brush against the canvas.
Our family wanted to harken back to these good ole days. We wanted the relive the age before rows of overpriced conifers would appear each December in rutted and muddy empty lots, starkly illuminated under sagging strings of 60-watt bulbs. Or, even worse, before we were tempted to buy one from some dismal corner in a Walmart Garden Center. We wanted to reach back to a time before commercial tree farms spent seven to ten years growing and methodically shearing a tree that would later command a $75 price tag. [Read more…]
Editor’s note: This article was originally printed in the February 2010 issue of the Newsletter for Members.
Spring wildflowers are notoriously localized and hard to quantify. Wildflower seasons are easier to describe, but both lend themselves to fanciful hyperbole, mainly because their emotional impact often overshadows the reality on the ground. There is morbid silence or low grumbling during poor wildflower years, but in great years, like 2001, it’s not unusual to hear a field botanist fawn over a hillside of Mexican goldpoppies with the same adjectives as a Grand Canyon visitor might use at his first look over the South Rim.
Emotional descriptors like “amazing” or “incredible” or even “mind-bending” don’t add up to much when appraising the last decade of wildflowers in the vicinity of Boyce Thompson Arboretum. For that, I had to sift through the detailed field notes that I’ve kept over the years, skip over the plethora of oohs and aahs, and try to drill down to the nitty gritty of what was actually observed. [Read more…]