Outreach_Select Interpretive Gardens

Let us explain:

As a campus, we aim to use the landscape to preserve and promote respect for heritage and also to inspire and educate. We believe that as a land-grant institution, it is our duty to convey science-based practices and that we can do this through innovative approaches applied in planning, designing, constructing and maintaining the campus grounds. Ultimately, we aim to transform and improve the landscape to better support the UA Mission to “discover, educate, serve and inspire”. One way we achieve this is through the development of special educational garden spaces where important concepts are conveyed or "interpreted". These interpretive gardens are passively enriching the visitor experience or are being actively used for arboretum tree tours or for formal instruction in a wide variety of university courses beyond plant science! Here are select examples of interpretive gardens...



Bronze Interpretive Signage

In 2024, new interpretive signs were installed at a number of important landscape sites across campus to identify the location for its importance in the arboretum. Click here to view the map and photos of the new signs. 










The Resilience Garden:

This garden was inspired by plant characteristics that contribute to their resilience with the hope that visitors will consider the relevance of these practices in the human realm.  For more information on the garden, visit: https://arboretum.arizona.edu/student-projects/2023-resilience-garden







The Coral Reef Garden:

Toward the goal of enhancing the value of the campus grounds, the Campus Arboretum worked with nurseries and regional plant experts to design a garden using climate appropriate cacti and succulent plants that resemble a living coral reef. These inspiring oddities now adorn the planters surrounding the USS Arizona Memorial on the UA Mall drawing attention to this significant campus feature all while reducing use of water and labor in the landscape. For more information on the coral reef garden, visit:  https://arboretum.arizona.edu/student-projects/2019-uss-arizona-coral-reef






Taylor Botanical Plaza:

On January 31, 2005 Keith Taylor Sr and Gladys Eite Taylor would have been married 75 years. So on that date, the two College of Agriculture alumni were honored at a naming ceremony in Taylor Botanical Plaza, at the entrance to newly refurbished Herring Hall. The plaza embodies the Campus Arboretum commitment to integrate botanical education into the main campus landscape. It includes leaf impressions and bronze plaque embedded in the concrete representing significant plant taxonomic groups. For more information on the Taylor Family's tribute, visit: https://arboretum.arizona.edu/taylor-botanical-plaza-dedication






The Joseph Wood Krutch Garden:

When the University of Arizona was established, Dr. James Toumey, a botanist for the Agricultural Experiment Station, started a cactus display garden that, eventually became what we now know as the Joseph Wood Krutch (pronounced KROOCH) Garden. The Joseph Wood Krutch cactus garden still stands as a symbol of the University’s responsibility as a Land Grant Institute to encourage land stewardship by encouraging education and research which sustains our appreciation of and connection to connection our history, and responsibility to our diverse home in the Sonoran Desert. To learn more about this garden, visit: https://arboretum.arizona.edu/joseph-wood-krutch-garden You may also learn about this garden by participating in the Sonoran Native Plants Tour which features this garden. For information on tours, visit: https://arboretum.arizona.edu/tree_tours 



The Presidents' Pond:

On the corner of Park Avenue and 2nd Street, hidden in plain sight is the “President’s Pond” - where a water feature from the original University President’s Queen Anne style campus home has been preserved. The pond has historically been planted with palms and other lush-looking species to give the impression of an oasis. Turtles and blue herons have frequented the pond as have many students, faculty, staff, and community neighbors seeking a quiet spot for rejuvenation. Over time, intensive use of the space has taken a toll. Thanks to the support of generous donors, this beloved campus and community gathering spot has a new lease - a bronze interpretive plaque was installed, the patio was expanded and improved, mulched planting beds with trees and shrubs were installed around the perimeter and irrigation reconfigured to reduce damage to the hardscapes. We are delighted with the fresh feel of the space and will offer bench sponsorships to enhance the use of this campus gem in the 2023-2024 year. See photos here or visit the Giving Page to learn how you can support this project.



The Fragrance Garden:

Recent research* has identified more than 100 oils released from desert plants. These oils are released into the air when it rains, producing a complex and soothing fragrance desert dwellers love. As it turns out, many of the oils produced by desert plants are similar to those known by forest bathers to reduce stress and create a relaxed state for humans. With the goals of supporting the well being of campus students, faculty, staff and visitors during stressful times, the Campus Arboretum installed a garden full of fragrant plants near the Campus Health Center on the UArizona main campus. To learn more about the project, visit: https://arboretum.arizona.edu/student-projects/2023-fragrance-garden







The Mark Dimmitt Desert Plant Conservatory: 

Plants are fundamental to the function and health of all terrestrial ecosystems, however, humans have evolved to prioritize objects and phenomena that are atypical of plants, creating a sort of "plant blindness". This cognitive bias results in a dissconnect between humans and plants that threatens our ability to recognize the benefits and essential functions they provide in our world, and in a failure to care for them in such a way that they can thrive or survive. Desert plants have evolved toughness to many abiotic stresses and unusual forms that make them an ideal tool to treat plant blindness. Their unusual forms catch our attention, and their complex adaptations and responses to their environment inspire greater appreciation for the critical interactions occurring therein. With this is mind, the desert plant conservatory was imagined initially as a place designated for the display of a diverse collection of the most unusual desert plants available to us. 


The greenhouse collection supports undergraduate learning in horticulture and botany in many ways including opportunity to hone skills as public educators. At least once a year, students who have been trained, give a series of public tours in the desert plant conservatory. The experience reinforces plant sciences classroom learning and builds student skill in communicating science. Watch the events page for news of future conservatory tours. 


If you want to learn more about Mark and this collection of weird plants inspired by him, click here: https://arboretum.arizona.edu/mark-dimmitt-desert-plant-conservatory