UA Employees Get Discounts at Boyce Thompson Arboretum Fall Plant Sale

UA Employees Get Discounts at Boyce Thompson Arboretum Fall Plant Sale

By Jeff HarrisonUniversity Communications
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An agave. (Photo by Susan Strom)
An agave. (Photo by Susan Strom)
Shoppers browse for plants at Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
Shoppers browse for plants at Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
Queen butterfly. (Photo by Susan Strom)
Queen butterfly. (Photo by Susan Strom)

The annual Boyce Thompson Arboretum Fall Plant Sale, which begins Saturday, offers 16 days of lectures, tours, special guests and – above all – drought-tolerant plants that are readily adaptable for the desert Southwest.

During the sale, the $7.50 per person admission fee is waived for UA employees with their CatCards, and includes a 20 percent discount on plant sales.

October's warm autumn days are an especially popular time for gardening. The arboretum has experts on desert gardening, and on topics ranging from edible desert plants to flowering shrubs, trees, perennials and bonsai.

"Fall is the best season for planting, particularly for trees and shrubs that will spend the cooler fall and early winter days establishing strong root systems while the soil temperatures are still relatively warm, ready to take on the heat in the spring and summer," said Kim Stone, a horticulture specialist at the arboretum.

"This time of year also can be perfect for a great show of flowering perennials until the first possibility of light frosts arrives around Thanksgiving."

Some unique plants from Tucson plantsmen Gene Joseph of Plants for the Southwest and Greg Starr of Starr Nursery will be available, including the Kissho Kan agave and the Blue Glow agave.

Stone also said it is a good time of year to plant hardy succulents and cacti. The arboretum has trees and shrubs in sizes ranging from 1 gallon to 15 gallons, and staff will be available to help visitors pick them out and even to help load them for the trip home.

"We also have hundreds of plants that we propagate ourselves, many of which come from seed and cuttings from the collections of drought-tolerant plants growing in our many exhibits and gardens that come from Australia, South Africa and other arid land regions around the world.

"When you buy one of our aboretum-grown plants, you'll take some of the arboretum home with you," Stone said.

New this year at the plant sale is the "All-In-One Hummingbird and Butterfly Garden." The arboretum's nursery staff has put together collections of salvia, buddleia, penstemon and other drought-tolerant plants geared to appeal to hummingbirds and butterflies. The staff has done the research and chosen the plants, so visitors can drive home with their own ready-made hummingbird and butterfly garden.

Weekends in particular during the Fall Plant Sale offer opportunities to meet arboretum horticultural staff and volunteers from the UA Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program, who will have the answers to questions about gardening, horticulture, landscaping and plant care.

The sale runs through Oct. 25. Special events include:

"For The Love of Bonsai" – Oct. 14 and Oct. 21
Learn the history of this intricate art form, see colorful photos and get started on a bonsai kit with arboretum staffer, master gardener and bonsai enthusiast Preston Cox. Desert trees such as acacias and mesquites as well as many types of succulents make excellent bonsai plants. The Oct. 14 lecture is included with daily admission. The Oct. 21 workshop is $25 for arboretum members and $32.50 for nonmembers. Participants will complete the workshop with a potted bonsai of their own. Spaces are limited. Call 520-689-2723 to enroll and prepay for the workshop.

"Tom's Top Ten Guided Landscaping Walking Tours"
Aspiring author and landscape expert Tom McDonald, owner of Smiling Dog Landscapes, located near Phoenix, is a popular guest at the arboretum's annual plant sale fundraisers. McDonald, a Gold Canyon resident, returns this fall to lead walking tours to point out "Tom's Top 10" plants and trees for desert landscaping. He'll explain why plants you see in the arboretum's Demonstration Garden are among his favorite desert-adapted, colorful, charismatic species for Pinal and Maricopa county landscaping. The author will also explain basic irrigation and water-saving concepts and answer questions. Bring along photos or blueprints of your yard; Tom will be happy to offer one-on-one advice following his walk. Check the Web site or call for exact times and dates.

"Plants-of-the-Bible" – Oct. 17, 1:30 p.m.
On this guided walking tour, Mesa resident and biblical scholar David Oberpriller will point out palms, figs, olives, pomegranates and other plants mentioned in the Bible and share his knowledge of Bible botany. This two-hour tour proceeds at an easy pace along wheelchair- and walker-accessible paths.

"Tree Tour with Terry Mikel" – Oct. 18 and Nov. 15, 1:30 p.m.
Mikel, a recently retired UA horticulturist with a lifetime of knowledge to share, will lead an insightful, leisurely, and often humorous, walk through the arboretum's extensive collection of trees from arid land regions throughout the world.

Butterfly Walk – Oct. 24, 9:30-11 a.m.
Learn to identify common species of butterflies and learn about the colorful insects' life cycles on a two-hour walk through the demonstration and hummingbird-butterfly gardens with arboretum volunteer and photographer Adriane Grimaldi.

Butterfly Gardening Presentation – Oct. 24, 1-2:30 p.m. in the Smith Building Lecture Room
Adriane Grimaldi will offer a 90-minute slideshow and lecture about butterfly gardening.

Sonoran Desert Lecture and Tour – Oct. 24 and 25
On the final weekend of the Fall Plant Sale, Scottsdale author and nature photographer Gerald Rosenthal will offer two lectures about plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert. The Oct. 24 event is a one-hour lecture indoors. The next day is a guided walking tour on the arboretum grounds. Rosenthal has spent the past 12 years exploring, studying and recording images in the Sonoran Desert. He will sign copies of his books, including "Sonoran Desert Life: Understanding, Insights and Enjoyment."

For complete details, visit the arboretum's Web site or call 520-689-2723.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum is located at Highway 60 milepost 223 near the historic copper mining town of Superior, just 45 miles due east of Mesa or about 90 minutes' drive northeast of Tucson via Oracle Road to Highway 79 north to Highway 60 east. Daily hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information about tours or events, call 520-689-2811. To check with staff about the availability of specific plants, call 520-689-2723. Become a fan of BTA on Facebook to receive updates about events.

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