Arboretum Sale Features Classes, Speakers


Harvest time? Well, it depends on where you are.

Throughout much of the Sonoran Desert the onset of fall marks planting time. October can be an ideal month to plant herbs and sow wildflower seeds, according to Catherine "The Herb Lady" Crowley, who volunteers at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Learn more at the annual Fall Plant Sale fund-raising campaign, which will have an extra-large assortment of plants, trees, herbs, cacti and flowers available for autumn landscaping.


The delicacy of a butterfly resting on an equally delicate cluster of flowers might be considered an unusual find in the Sonoran Desert surroundings of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

Informal classes and lectures during the plant sale are scheduled for visitors to hone their gardening and horticulture skills, with presentations on:

  • Herbs and cuisine on the opening weekend
  • Cacti and agaves the second weekend.

Special guest lecturers include Scottsdale author Mary Irish, UA's Desert Legume Program Director Matt Johnson and popular Tucson naturalist Pinau Merlin.

A special "Arizona 101" four-hour class is planned for Sunday, Oct. 22 designed to teach the basics about life and landscaping in harmony with the Sonoran Desert. October weather offers a prime reason to visit, and Fall Plant Sale gives added incentive with a huge array of fragrant herbs, colorful flowers, shrubs and trees appropriate for landscaping around Pima, Pinal, Maricopa and Gila counties.

Agaves and Cacti Rule

Oct. 14 and Oct. 15

Oct. 14 -- 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

9 a.m. to 10 a.m.: Visitors are invited to an informal Q-and-A with horticulture author Mary Irish. She will be at the Visitor Center to answer your thorniest gardening questions (and sign copies of her books, too) for the first hour.

10 a.m. to 11 a.m.: Mary Irish shares her infectious enthusiasm for agaves and cacti on a guided tour through the arboretum gardens.

11 a.m. and 1 p.m.: Pinal County Master Gardening Program's Joe Friend demonstrates the care and propagation of agaves and succulents.

Oct. 15 -- 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.: University of Arizona author Matt Johnson will guide visitors through the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and South American desert collections and discuss cacti and succulent adaptations -- and varieties perfect for landscaping throughout Pima, Maricopa, Gila and Pinal Counties.

Landscaping, Irrigation and More

Oct. 21 and Oct. 22

Oct. 21 -- 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.: "Basic Irrigation 101" with Pinal Master Gardener Volunteer Tom McDonald (owner of Smiling Dog Landscaping in Gold Canyon), who will explain and demystify installing your own water-efficient irrigation.

Oct. 21 -- 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Tucson Author Pinau Merlin returns to the arboretum to lead her own singular "Desert Holes" walking tour to find desert denizens and teach visitors about their various dens. This is a rare opportunity to explore the arboretum trails alongside one of Arizona's premiere naturalists and environmental authors.

The Fall Plant Sale raises funds for the Boyce Thompson Arboretum programs. Admission fees are required of the general public, even if the purpose of your visit through Oct. 22 is simply to buy plants. Annual memberships begin at $45 for a couple or $60 for a family; these include a year's access, guest passes, and 20-percent off plant and book purchases through Oct. 22.


Where: The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is near Highway 60 milepost 223 as you approach the town of Superior, a drive of about 45 minutes due east of Mesa.

When: Fall/Winter hours at the arboretum are daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except Dec. 25). Fall Plant Sale continues daily through Oct. 22. Additional guided tours and special events are on weekend days.

Admission: $7.50 adult admission ($3 ages 5-12) to enter the grounds, even if the visit is simply to buy plants during the Fall Plant Sale.

For more information: A recorded message gives directions and event information at (520) 689.2811; for other details visit the award-winning Web site

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