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Desert Botanical Garden

Mom and me in the Desert Botanical Garden

Look at all the green in the desert. Mom says "You can't call it beautiful but it's definitely interesting."

We went around the trail backwards, starting at the Desert Wildflower Trail. Yep, little flowers. Along the trail we saw flowers living between rocks in the Boulder Garden. The blissful Shade Garden was several degrees cooler than the desert. Didn't notice any bees in the Bee Garden.

Mom hoped to see a hummingbird at the Hummingbird Garden. Okay, as we were turning to go, I spotted one flitting about in a flowering tree! The trail map says that Anna's Hummingbird is active all year and is frequently seen. Tho, truthfully, I don't see how you could identify species of such a tiny, fast thing. ha. And finally the Butterfly Garden had loads of little butterflies wandering around... tho not to be confused with the Butterfly Pavilion I'll be talking about soon.

Our next trail lead to the Vegetable & Herb Garden. We were interested in the Rosemary and the peppers and the other plants I've never heard of before. But then we were mobbed by children, out on a field trip. Bah.

We stopped off at the Cafe for some lunch where we enjoyed some quiet time eating some vegetarian club sandwiches. Not bad, really, and I'm usually just happy that they provide for us weird vegetarians.

Mom was interested in the Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Trail. Me, I just wonder what kind of stupid people would actually live here without air conditioning! ;)

Critter sightings along all the trails:

· Round-Tailed Ground Squirrels. Tiny, fat little things. We were only a few feet away from the first one we met. She was so round I wondered if she was pregnant! But I'm sure they get good food in the Garden, too.

· A fleeting glimpse of a Gambel's Quail

· We saw another hummingbird as we were going to lunch!

· I loved the lizards most of all. There are Western Whiptail Lizards and Desert Spiny Lizards. They are very different looking and easy to tell apart.

· Also saw a couple Gila Woodpeckers and Cactus Wrens sitting at the top of cacti.

A view of Camelback Mountain from the Garden

Off Site: The Desert Botanical Garden Web Site

The Butterfly Pavilion

Just Incredible. The building is long, made of bare supports, no real walls or ceiling, with a kind of nylon mesh to keep everyone inside but also letting in sunshine and fresh air. You have to go through a room first, not an air lock, but a butterfly lock!

Pretty butterfly!

And then you're inside. There are flowering plants and trees along both sides and islands in the middle. And butterflies Everywhere. Loads of them. It's just so amazing. And then you walk over to some flowers and look at individual butterflies. There are so many, there are dozens just right in front of you. Wow.

Zebra Longwing, Heliconius charitonius

This is the most common butterfly in the Pavilion.

Zebra Longwing!

Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae

I noticed right away that there were orange slices set out on little stands. There weren't too many people inside the Pavilion so I was free to ask one of the workers about that. They said that the oranges provide nectar for the butterflies. I said, "Because there aren't enough flowers in here?!" "That's right," she replied, "There aren't enough flowers for all the butterflies in the Pavilion. There are also some sponges out where the butterflies can get other nutrients."

And that's a Gulf Fritillary butterfly sitting on one of those sponges.

There was a little rock pool, with gold fish swimming. And also, a mist would spray from hoses in the ceiling. Not sure if that was to cool things down like a swamp cooler, or to add humidity.

Pipevine Swallowtail, Dattus philenor

A beautiful blue butterfly, hiding in plain sight! It's a Pipevine Swallowtail.

There was a big yellow butterfly, I think an Orange-barred Giant Sulfur, flying back and forth at the peak of the ceiling. It was definitely trying to get some exercise. I wonder what the butterflies think about being trapped in this room.


As we got down to the other end of the Pavilion, there was a guy releasing brand new butterflies. He would reach into his box, and then there would be a butterfly sitting on his finger. Give it a little flick and the butterfly would go flying off.

I asked if the butterflies laid eggs in the Pavilion. "Not very often." So where do you get your butterflies? "They come out of their chrysalides in the Emergence Chamber," he waves in the general direction of a building outside the Pavilion. But where do they come from? "Ah, we get both butterflies and chrysalides from a place in Florida." okay, now I am satisified with the answer!

Mom and me

Mom is the caterpillar and I'm the butterfly! Aren't we beautiful!

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