Public Gardens & Parks
Our top recommendations for must-see gardens in and around Tucson, AZ
Tucson Botanical Garden
2150 N Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85712-3199
This oasis in the heart of Tucson features seventeen specialty gardens, including the Barrio Garden, Zen Garden and Cactus & Succulent Garden landscaped with unusual rocks from the Harrison Yocum collection. Tropical butterflies from around the world are featured in the Cox Butterfly & Orchid Pavilion which is open October 1st - May 31st. Experience seasonal art exhibits, The Gardens Gift Shop, year-round tours, delicious lunch at Cafe Botanica, and an outdoor garden railway. The Gardens is closed 5 days a year; Thanksgiving, Dec. 24 & 25, Jan. 1, and July 4.
Tohono Chul Park
7366 N Paseo Del Norte, Tucson, AZ 85704
Named “One of the World’s Ten Best Botanical Gardens” by Travel + Leisure Magazine, Tohono Chul is set on 49 acres of lush Sonoran desert. Themed botanical gardens, classrooms, a garden center, exhibition spaces, gift shops featuring work by local artists, and the Bistro (with regionally-inspired food), make this a must-see destination. The grounds are open from 8am - 5pm daily (shops and galleries open at 9am). Closed New Year's Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, & Christmas Day.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
2021 N Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ 85743
Don't let the word "museum" fool you. Most of the museum is comprised of gardens and animal displays set on 21 acres. The Desert Museum's gardens showcase the vibrant ecosystems and variety of biotic communities found within the Sonoran Desert region. You will see 1,200 different types of plants with 56,000 individual specimens planted on the grounds.
Pima Master Gardener Public Demonstration Gardens
4210 N Campbell Ave, Tucson, AZ 85719-1109
This is one of my favorite places to get inspiration and how-to information to use in my own garden. The Master Gardeners maintain a range of different gardens, including everything from edibles to cacti, roses, and containers. The Habitat Garden is a CertifiedWildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation and there's an official All-American Selections Display Garden that grows plants from seeds that have won the All American Selection Award.
Free tours begin at 9:00 am every Wednesday and Saturday from February - December, (No tour on October 5th) at the Extension Office. You can also do a self-guided tour. No reservations needed.
Gene C. Reid Park: Cele Peterson Rose Garden
900 South Randolph Way, Tucson, AZ 85716
The Reid Park Rose Garden boasts more than 800 rose plants, covering more than 100 species. A layout plan, available free at the garden, indicates the location of the various rose species in the garden and lists the best rose varieties for our desert climate. The garden also contains a large gazebo and is very popular for weddings, birthday parties and other special events by reservation. The Rose Garden is always a special place to visit, but the most impressive display of roses in bloom occurs each March-April and October-November. Open daily sunrise to sunset.
Yume Japanese Gardens
2130 N Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85712-3102
Covering three-quarters of an acre in central Tucson, Yume is made up of six distinct garden areas, each demonstrating a traditional vision of Japanese landscape. There's a museum with permanent and temporary exhibits of beautiful Japanese art and handicrafts, a gift shop with objects imported from Japan, and an art gallery with photography, paintings, ceramics, and sculpture. Throughout the year, the garden presents classes and workshops in Japanese calligraphy, flower arranging, and other popular arts. They also hold tea ceremonies, traditional seasonal festivals, and performances of treasured Japanese music, song, plays, and dance.
4210 N Campbell Ave, Tucson, AZ 85719-1109
Mission Garden is a living agricultural museum of Sonoran Desert-adapted heritage fruit-trees, traditional local heirloom crops and edible native plants. It's a non-profit, volunteer-based educational organization whose primary mission is to preserve, transmit and revive the region’s rich agricultural heritage by growing garden plots representative of more than 4000 years of continuous cultivation in the Tucson Basin.
Most people (even long-time Tucson residents!) don't know that the U of A main campus, covering roughly 400 acres of landscaped spaces, is also an official arboretum. The Campus Arboretum is a member of the American Public Garden Association, charged with preserving and enhancing its collection of trees from arid and semi-arid climates around the world. In 2010, it was also designated a Tree Campus USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation. There are guided tours offered from September to May, as well as self-guided tours, of the trees, edible landscapes, medicinal plants, and native Sonoran plants found throughout the campus.
University of Arizona Insect Collection - Insect identification
University of Arizona Herbarium - Identification of native and naturalized plants of the southwestern US and northwestern Mexico
Not exactly in town but a reasonable drive from Tucson are:
Community Gardens of Tucson - Growing community through gardening
Community Gardens of Tucson has 3’ x 20’ garden plots available at 20 different sites throughout the Tucson community. Some of the gardens have accessible and raised bed plots. If you are interested in joining, check out the locations map and then contact the site coordinator for that garden.