2023 - Resilience Garden

Promoting Human and Environmental Resilience

Central in the development of arboretum programs is the goal of connecting people with plants. The project supports the arboretum mission as it aims to connect people with the healing benefits of nature (albeit urban nature) and to communicate lessons in plant science that embody principles of resilience. In so doing, this garden educates, and empower environmental stewardship while also nourishing the human spirit.


This garden is rooted in science. The development of this garden stems from research at the Desert Legume Program (DELEP), where promising tree species in the legume family were assessed for their potential to thrive in our arid climte.  Eight tree species proven to perform in extreme climates, were salvaged and brought to this site in 2020. (See  https://arboretum.arizona.edu/research/desert-legume-tree-rescue) . Thereafter, students in Environmental Science designed and installed water harvesting basins, scientists in Natural Resources installed sensors to assess water infiltration/basin performance, and Plant Sciences students selected, designed, and installed the understory plants to highlight inspiring botanical lessons. In recognition that plants, people and environmental resilience are interconnected, this garden aims to integrate all three. As visitors to the garden read messages of inspiration, and learn how plants embody principles of resilience, we hope the human spirit will be renewed and the human mind filled with wonder and curiosity. Inasmuch as this happens, this garden will educate, and empower environmental stewardship while also nourishing the human spirit.


What is Resilience?

"The power or ability of a material to return to its original form, position, etc.,

after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity."



Resilience usually results from a sustained effort to build our capacity for flexibility and adaptation in the face of challenge. Desert plants are great models of resilience. Since they have evolved over thousands of year in response to stress, that they not only withstand it but also thrive beyond it. 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.  As you walk around the garden, consider the lessons in resilience plants can teach you. Using the camera app on your mobile device, and scan the QR code on the sign to learn more about strategies plants use to boost their resilience. Alternatively, click below on the headings or sign icons. 



Contribute.                                                         Find Your Tribe.               


Shine On!                                                                                                You Belong.                                        













Build Your Community.                                                                                               Go With The Flow.












Breathe.                                                                                                          Be Present.












Perfect As You Are.                                                                                          Tomorrow Is A New Day.








All work was accomplished with support from university operations staff in Planning Design and Construction and Facilities Management, donor funding, student and volunteer engagement. Special thanks to Horticulture Unlimited, Inc for their exceptional professionalism and efficiency with installation of plants and irrigation allowing timely completion of the project by May 2023. Students in PLS497A Urban Horticulture Workshop assisted with all phases of the project and in the creation of interpretive content on the web and on signage throughout the garden. 










Students Enrolled in PLS 497A Urban Horticulture Workshop Spring 2023, who assisted with the creation of the resilience garden. (Left to Right). Iza Barrandey, B.S. Sustainable Plant Systems, Class of 2023; Jack Stanis, B. S. Natural Resources, Class of 2025;  Annalisa Roig, B.S. Natural Resources; Brody Fisher, Geography, Class of 2023; Justyne Gonzales, Plant Sciences, Class of 2024. 


May, 2023