Leaving Roosevelt Lake, we headed southeast to Globe, Arizona for breakfast at a typical small town cafe. That is to say, everyone in the place knew everyone else. Except us. Didn’t matter. Everyone was either friendly or uninterested and no one got shot.

After downing our tasty scrambled eggs and bacon and some awful coffee, we were off to Scottsdale along Highway 60.

As we drove through Superior, AZ, a town busily occupied with flattening the surrounding hills in search of copper ore, Mary Anne pointed out that our route would take us by the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Having no reason to rush back to the condo, we decided to have a look.

Boy, they don’t make it easy! There’s no signage on Highway 60 to indicate the Arboretum exists. To reach it, you have to make a U-turn across the divided highway, then turn onto an unmarked, twisty country road and drive a mile or so. Then Voila!, there is a rather excellent site with five miles of pathways and exotic plants from some of the world’s hot places in addition to Arizona natives.

Here’s what we saw, or at least some things I found interesting. We begin with Mary Anne contemplating a large agave.

I had not seen a cactus with red spines before, not while hiking, not in the gardens in Phoenix. A little investigation tells me that there are many varieties with red spines.

We passed a conservatory and went in to have a look at the many smaller plants on display.

Since it was just before Halloween, I dubbed these “Ghost cactus” because they remind me of the classic “ghost in a bedsheet”.

And this, of course, is the famous “Penis cactus”. According to me, anyway.

I found this species interesting because you don’t see many types of cactus with leaves.

From a distance, this plant sort of looks like it’s dying. If you zoom in, you’ll find that it’s leaves are multi-colored and quite attractive.

Faithful readers will know that I bear a grudge against the Jumping Cholla cactus. It’s a low, untrustworthy species that will attack a helping hand (mine) and would probably vote for Trump if allowed.

This is its better behaved relative, the Chain-fruit Cholla. This is the largest of the Cholla and can reach fifteen feet in height. The name comes from the way the “branches” grow in segments that can easily detach to form new plants.

If you look around, you will notice that a lot of kinds of cactus flower and fruit in a ring. The teeny pincushion cactus I showed you at the Tonto Memorial had one red fruit, but was probably on its way to producing a ring.

This is what I liked about Boyce Thompson, pathways that wander through an interesting variety of flora. It’s not just “cactus all the time”.

Gotta love the Boojum trees!

Now you know how the Prickly Pear cactus got its name. The fruit is edible and makes a fine jam. The juice can add to a tasty Margarita.

Not a great photo, but notice the bird nest nestled amongst the thorns. A safe place for baby birds, I should think.

At the far end of the property lies a small pond fed by a smaller stream. Various waterfowl call it home. They are identified by a set of rather nice tiles.

As we circled back to the Aboretum entrance, our path began to seem less like a garden walk and more like a desert hike.

Not sure whether this house is outside the Arboretum’s boundary or whether it belonged to the family. Either way, a whole lot of wall-building was involved.

At the end of our three-ish mile walk, Mary Anne admires one of the few bits of statuary in the garden.


  1. I’m glad you broke your promise. A wonderful collection of photos! Thank you for taking the time to share them.

  2. I have been enjoying your posts from Arizona. Who knew there were so many different varieties of cactus!
    Cheers & Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. “I love cacti in the springtime, I love cacti in the fall . . . ”
    And what of that statue? Was that St. Columba about to let one of
    those pesky snakes take it in the jaw? Do snakes have jaws, one ponders?
    Do they get TMJ? I think that would be TMI!

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