By TAYLOR JONES
Tucson Botanical Gardens offers a refreshing chance to escape studying, homework and the stress of being a student.
The gardens’ mission promotes appropriate use of plants and water in a desert environment through education and demonstration.
Its shaded pathways radiate a strong sense of community, with benches dedicated to family members and loved ones.
One top attraction is the Cox Butterfly and Orchid Pavilion, which is open October through May. After weekly shipments of pupae emerge in a chrysalis exhibit, they are transferred to a greenhouse filled with hundreds of butterflies.
The facility also displays seasonal plants that attract migratory butterfly species, and showcases many different types of gardens.
I learned a lot from the herb garden, and from the displays of medicinal and culinary plants.
Visitors can view many aloe species during a walk along Aloe Alley, while the Prehistoric Garden’s petrified wood and living fossil plants give a feel for what Tucson looked like millions of years ago.
A Children’s Discovery Garden entertains youngsters with sculptures of pollinators and life-size bees and butterflies.
Children are also infatuated with the Gardens Gift Shop. The shop sells garden-inspired items ranging from tools to perfume to toys. Among the unique items offered for sale are small plant groupings called horticultural therapy beds that are raised and maintained by people with disabilities.
I could also smell a delicious lunch coming from the newly renovated dining area. The Café Botanica is open daily from 8 a.m-2 p.m.
Tucson Botanical Gardens strives to be recognized as the best small public garden in America. In my opinion, they are well on their way to exceeding that goal.