OPEN DAILY 7 A.M. - 8 P.M|6 A.M. FOR MEMBERS WED. & SUN.

In 1939, a small group of passionate local citizens saw the need to conserve the beautiful desert environment. One was Swedish botanist Gustaf Starck, who found like-minded residents by posting a sign that read “Save the Desert.”

 

With the support of social influencers of the time such as Gertrude Divine Webster, the Garden’s presence grew. Nearly eight decades later, thanks to leadership and investments from many individuals, Desert Botanical Garden has blossomed from a dream into a living museum.

Historical Timeline

See how the Garden has grown during its history into a compelling attraction and desert conservation pioneer.

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1939

The Garden opens its doors to the public.

1942

World War II brings most Garden activity to a halt. Arizona State Teachers College, now Arizona State University, provides administrative oversight while volunteers work to sustain the fragile collections on site.

Historical photo of Gertrude Webster - The Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix, AZ

1947

Gertrude Webster dies leaving her estate to support the Garden.

1952

Archer House is built and named in honor of Lou Ella Archer, a founding member who contributed time and talent to early fund drives.

1957

Under W. Taylor Marshall's leadership, the Garden’s collections increase from 1,000 specimens at the end of World War II to more than 18,000 specimens.

1961

The visitor center and gift shop are added.

1963

Galvin Parkway opens and provides direct access to the public.

1970

The new library is built to house a valuable donation of rare books and prints.

1977

The Docent Program is established as part of the Education Department to provide guided and informative tours.

1979

Luminarias welcomed 600 guests for the very first Las Noches de las Luminaries.

1983

The American Association of Museums accredits the Garden. Only 24 gardens have earned this distinction.

1985

Desert Botanical Garden becomes a charter member of the Center for Plant Conservation—a consortium of botanical gardens devoted to preserving rare flora of the United States.

1988

Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Trail opens.

1992

The Garden secures a National Science Foundation grant to expand and upgrade the trail system.

2002

Garden completes a $17 million expansion, which includes a new entry and admissions area, gift shop, Dorrance Hall, a 400-seat reception hall and gallery, the Nina Mason Pulliam Research and Horticulture Center.

2008

$17.8 million campaign transforms old Cactus and Succulent Houses into Sybil. B Harrington Cactus and Succulent Galleries and opens Ottosen Entry Garden.

2009

Joy and Howard Berlin Agave Yucca Forest opens.

2010

Center for Desert Living Trail is refurbished.

2013

The Garden celebrates its 75th anniversary and launches The Saguaro Initiative, a fundraising campaign to invest in the future of the Garden.

2014

The Central Arizona Conservation Alliance is formed to study, protect and promote the Valley’s mountain park preserves.

2015

The Virginia G. Piper Desert Terrace Garden and the Lewis Desert Portal open.

2017

New Butterfly Exhibit and Hazel Hare Center for Plant Science open.

Partial funding provided by Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture through appropriations from the Phoenix City Council.
CLOSING AT 4 p.m. FOR SPECIAL EVENTS | OCT. 2-5, 7-8, 10-11 | LAST ADMISSION ON THESE DATES IS 3 p.m.