This is a private garden located in north Scottsdale. A visit to the garden is by appointment only, as the garden is located in the gated community of Sincuidados. I contacted Lee Brownson, the executive director, and made arrangements to visit last Friday morning.
It was one of those perfect desert mornings as we wound our way through the twisting roads of this neighborhood to reach the garden. All the houses are of Santa Fe or territorial style architecture, barely visible throughout the native, desert sensitive landscape. It was a surprise to find that we were 2400' above sea level. We had climbed steadily from the desert floor of Phoenix at 1000'
Crested saguaro exhibiting monstrose condition.
Lee met us at the house and took us into his office where he showed us a map of the Wallace property. A total of 12 acres are under cultivation. This property is all about the cactus and desert plants from many parts of the world and I was barely aware at any point in time that there was a house on the property. In fact there are two houses; the Wallace home and a guest house.
The house and gardens, built in the 1980s, were once the home of H B and Jocelyn Wallace. In 1993 the gardens were placed under the protection of the The Wallace Desert Garden Foundation, a non profit organization funded by an endowment and donations to the garden. Mr Wallace died in 2005 but his wife still has a life interest in the property.
When H B Wallace and Jocelyn retired to the desert southwest it wasn't long before they fell in love with desert plants and so began the collection of over 2500 species of cactus and desert dwelling plants. The Wallaces also became interested in the Desert Legume Program, founded by the University of Arizona, and their garden has an important and valuable collection of desert legumes.
Although the area under cultivation is 12 acres, a small area of the garden, which contains his collection of more prized plants, is walled to protect the plants from javelina and rabbits.
Wallace designed a 6000 sq. ft desert pavilion. It was originally meant to protect many of the tender cactus he brought from other parts of the world. However, over time many of these plants have become adapted to the conditions of the area and survive on other parts of the property. The roof consists of louvered slats which can be opened according to the weather and the side walls can also be opened.
It was a bonus to find this Stenocereus stellatus blooming.
Even the Stapelia hirsute was in flower. I was particularly excited to see this flower, as last year Annie gave me some cuttings of this plant. I got down on my knees to smell the flower which has an odor of rotting flesh which attracts flies.
This model of a dinosaur might seem a little out of place in a desert garden. It was a gift from Mrs W to her husband.
This interesting large shrub caught my eye and I would have guessed it was a holly of some kind. I was wrong it was an shrub live oak Quercus turbinella.
Wallace was very proud of his boojum, Fouquieria columnar, forest. A collection of fourteen trees that were grown from seed brought from the Baja peninsular. The plants were installed in the garden about 15 years ago and have taken well to their new home. Dormant during the summer these trees leaf out following winter rains. In their natural habitat water from fogs drips down the trunk and waters the ground around the plant.
It is inevitable that at some point a plant will die from old age or unfavorable conditions and this stump of the Ficus indica shows just how woody a cactus can become.
Santa rita opuntia with agave.
A small flowering tree the Texas Olive, Cordia boissieri. Sometimes known as the Wild Olive or Mexican Olive ( Anacahuita) has soft grey-green leaves and white flowers highly attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. It is not related to other olives but is named so for the yellow to purple fruits which are similar to olives. It is a member of the borage family.
We spent and enjoyable 2 hours touring the grounds and I am indebted to Lee for giving us this private and informative tour of a spectacular garden. Garden lovers, who happen to find themselves in the Scottsdale area should make a special point of visiting this garden.