Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter beauty

One of the highlights of our Easters when I was growing up was a trip to the Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul, Minnesota.  As children, wearing our new patent leather shoes and Easter bonnets, we looked forward to it. A family of eight, I'm sure my Dad was happy that a tour for all of us only cost a free-will donation.

One room of the large, beautiful greenhouse was dedicated to lilies. Another had a stream with lily pads and beautiful orchids, gardenia and tropical flowers. The exhibits changed with the seasons, but always featured plants in full bloom.

Aaah, the sweet fragrance from those fresh blooms. I can smell it yet.

Yesterday's Easter Sunday offered a similar treat when we toured the Boyce Thompson arboretum in Superior, Arizona, a pleasant half-hour drive for us.

What awaited us there was the true beauty of the desert: Trails of exquisite flowering cacti, and a greenhouse with rare species of endangered plants from all over the world. An Australian walkabout. A children's horticultural garden. A hummingbird and butterfly garden.

An afternoon of beauty and pure pleasure, with blue skies and a spring breeze offered another delightful Easter treasure.

Cactus flowers have a mild fragrance, but there were flowering bushes and trees as well. The breeze allowed their perfumes to waft through the trails and was most enjoyable.

This tangled cactus in the Chihuahuan desert is unique.

The children's garden for climbing, touching and smelling
is full of surprises to "tickle the senses."

The Australian walkabout

Over 300 species of cacti and succulents
are displayed throughout the gardens.

Prickly pear in bloom

I love tea roses. They have always been my favorite flower, especially white ones.

Roses were first developed and grown in Europe, I learned, and the tea rose originates from China.

This gorgeous tea rose tree grows in the arboretum's Heritage Rose Garden.  Yellow, pink, white and red roses perfumed the area around it.

We didn't think we had the stamina (sorry to say) for the rugged, higher trail climb. But it looked inviting and worth getting in shape for hiking. The trail follows the cliff side through the Upper Sonoran natural area.

Can you see the steps leading up to the trail?

Perhaps this will become a new tradition: an Easter visit to the arboretum, much like our traditional tour of the Como conservatory.

That's definitely worth the anticipation.