Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tohono Chul Park

Where Nature, Art & Culture Connect!
Nestled between Oracle Road and La Cañada lies a 40 acre oasis. An outdoor museum dedicated to preserving and showcasing the vegetation of the Sonoran Desert; a sanctuary for birds and other desert inhabitants in a more natural state. Bobcats, coyotes, javelina, rattlesnakes and more traverse the dry washes in this area and if you are lucky, you might just see one. No cages or pens, nature is free to roam anywhere with-in this Eco friendly environment....... so have your cameras ready. Unfortunately, we only saw bunny rabbits and birds this trip.
Donald with Raleigh, our docent today
By day this is a pretty quite place. Sounds of birds and rustling bushes are the basic sounds you will hear. If you are lucky to arrive in time for the docent tour, you will truly appreciate and learn about all the adapted plants that have survived and flourished in the desert.

As you arrive, and before your start on the walking paths, there is a Park Tea Room where they serve breakfast for the early explorers, and lunch for us later arrivals.With their focus on native plants, there are greenhouses where you can purchase plants for your own home garden and plenty of green thumbed experts that will gladly give advise on how to maintain what you have or suggest something you might add. Donald spends a lot of time talking with these folks while I take the pictures of the plants and try to remember all the names. Of course, buying a book in the gift shop helps too. a huge grove of Prickly Pear Cactus

Teddy Bear Cholla
One big Agave......
Throughout the park their are Ramadas to rest the weary soles (of your feet) and take shade. Did you ever guess where the "Ramada Inn" got their name? Well, in the Southwest it's an open or semi-enclosed shelter roofed with brush or branches, designed especially to provide shade. Throughout the park you can find these, mostly made out of the spines of fallen Saguaro cactus.
An Exhibit House showcases the art, reflecting the rich legacy of the Southwest Indian, Mexican and Cowboy traditions.(pottery, rugs and paintings.)The Desert Discovery Education Center hosts an ongoing schedule of lectures. classes and workshops for all ages. The Wells Fargo Foyer Gallery puts the spotlight on the park's permanent collections, and most important, restrooms........
Certainly, it's a place that will beckon you back many times to visit, so it's best if you become a member, and we did. Although we've been here a number of times, mostly for lunch with Lena & Steve over the years, we look forward to going back many times over the winter months, especially now that we are members, and we plan on sharing with visitors too. And, did I tell you, they have the best prickly pear lemonade in town. (A whole other blog.)
Hummingbirds are everywhere, but too fast to catch with my camera, so I settled for a few finches. (Ok Dawn, what is there Latin name?)


dAwN said...

Howdee..I love that place! Wish I was there and out of this blasted cold...oh well..maybe next winter..
Latin names..ha..I have no clue.
But those are Lesser Goldfinches.

i think the latin is Goldinchious lesserous :)

Ada May & Donald Roberts @ Amelia Payson House B&B said...

Dawn.....I knew you would reconize those cuties....I wish you were here too, but enjoy your holidays with your family in CT.