Wallace Desert Gardens, tucked away in the Sincuidados neighborhood off Pima Road in north Scottsdale, is gradually flowing back in time. Each day, as more plants are boxed and loaded on trucks for the 75- mile journey to the Arboretum, this 11-acre garden space is moving closer to its roots.
In a way, it is devolving to an earlier state, closing in on the way that H.B. Wallace found it twenty-five years ago when he purchased this property to begin planting his unique desert garden. New vistas have opened that haven’t been seen in a decade, and there is more empty space than plants, a strikingly different scene from the way the garden appeared in October 2014 when the agreement was signed to move all 6,000 of these plants to the Arboretum.
While this may seem a melancholy end to a successful quarter-century run for Wallace Desert Gardens, the collection—the plants that made the garden what it is—will live on at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. We are ready for them, and for the better part of the past two years, these plants have been coming our way.
The largest plants—trees, shrubs, boojum trees, yuccas, columnar cacti, 1,300 in all (so far)—have been dug, boxed, and transported by Native Resources International, Inc., a contractor with a strong track record of successfully moving mature desert plants. These boxed plants are staged in two different holding areas at the Arboretum, covering 3 acres of land.
Many of the smaller and manageable cacti and succulents are successfully transplanted by bare rooting, so most of these have been moved by our own staff and distributed in six different shade houses near the boxed tree holding areas. As of this writing, there are 2,900 of these plants currently “healing in,” ready to be planted.
Most of the collection will be planted in the new Wallace Garden exhibit, a relatively untamed and previously unplanted area along Queen Creek, south of the Demonstration Garden. It closely resembles the raw opportunity that Arboretum gardeners first found in the 1920s when they began planting along this same creek, just a few hundred yards upstream.
When will planting begin? Eight mature saguaros were planted late this summer and now line the new entrance road. A majestic crested saguaro was just lowered into place in front of the Carter House at the end of September. Now that the new irrigation system has been completed in the new Wallace Garden exhibit and cooler temperatures are at our doorstep, the first major plantings may begin as early as mid-November.
Although we have over 4,000 plants on hand, nearly 2,000 still need to transplanted and moved to the Arboretum by July 2107, and we have yet to raise enough funds to complete the last third of this project. Please make a contribution to www.gofundme.com/desertplantrescue or call Executive Director Mark Siegwarth at 520-609-7821 to inquire how you can help.