~Friday, February 11, 2022~
Enjoyed easing into the day with a breakfast of homemade banana muffins, an oat milk mocha for me and a cup of cocoa for Jeff. He’d love to have his favorite Chai Tea Latte but we just haven’t found a homemade version that’s as good as Peet’s. Any suggestions?
We chose to nix the trip to the International Wildlife Museum and head over to the Tucson Botanical Gardens instead, right in the heart of Tucson. We were going to investigate the gardens the other day, but we had Sadie and they understandably don’t allow pets. If you are ever in the Tucson area, you must check out this tranquil gem. And if our endorsement isn’t enough, the Canadian Tourism Council and Reader’s Digest have named it one of the Top 10 Gardens in the country. We were amazed at how well-loved, and well-maintained the grounds were.
For the past 40 years, volunteers have done such a great job continuing the vision Bernice and Rutger Porter intended, not just from an aesthetic point of view, but an educational one.
The botanical garden was formerly the Porter home, where together they raised 3 children and over the years, expanded the home and planted the garden surrounding it. In the 30’s, they ran a nursery on the property. After Rutger passed away, Bernice began inviting clubs, organizations and visitors to the property and continued that until her death in 1983. In fact, the original portion of the adobe home is now devoted to the garden’s gift shop. There is also a small cafe, Edna’s Eatery for refreshing drinks and light fare. They even offer classes and host rotating art exhibits as well as special events and garden weddings.
On the 5.5 acre property, there are 17 specialty gardens (the Zen Garden, the Barrio Garden, the Kitchen Garden and Children’s Garden to name a few). But during the months of October thru May, the magical butterfly exhibit is
worth a visit all on its own. The Cox Butterfly & Orchid Pavilion inside a toasty greenhouse, was such a delight as we saw many butterflies eating fruits like oranges and bananas while others took a rest on us or on a lovely orchid nearby. My shoes proved to be a good resting spot for a few of them. Our docent emphasized that they are not a breeding farm (which requires a special license), and that the butterflies in this exhibit are brought here to live out their short lifespan (2-4 weeks). It depends on which breed and what plants they feed on that determines their life expectancy. The majority of their life from egg to caterpillar to pupa to butterfly is actually in the pupa stage (chrysalis). It was nice to have a guide to re-introduce the 4 life stages of the butterfly since our last visit on the topic was about 50 years ago. If it hadn't been so warm in the pavilion, I could have watched them all day.
The many mature trees created a pleasant experience with their welcome shade for many of the plants and us. The paths introduce you to something new around every turn. Enhancing the well-manicured gardens are many glass and steel sculptures and my favorite….dozens of mosaic garden benches
either dedicated to the garden or to someone who loved gardens. Apparently, there is even a resident tortoise named Nora who we were unable to spot. We think she was sleeping in her second home, other than the one on her back. All in all, there was something so peaceful and calming about our visit. But it also reinvigorated our passion for gardening as we were taking plenty of photos and notes today for whenever, wherever the next house allows a parterre. If we lived here, I would volunteer in a heartbeat.
We took a peek in the quaint gift shop which is always a bit dangerous for me…...unique items of jewelry, clothing, ceramics and windchimes. Luckily we didn’t do too much damage as we found just 2 items…… a leather bracelet for each of us. We’ve been on the hunt for these for quite some time since our previous one’s broke. Jeff found a simple black leather strapped bracelet while mine had a few more embellishments, but in crimson.
After 3 hours of touring the botanical garden, hydration was imperative. Barrio Brewing Company fit the bill and is Arizona’s oldest and first 100% employee-owned brewery as of 2020. They have a nice horseshoe shaped bar and outside patio. We chose the outside patio to share a large pretzel with beer cheese sauce and 2 beers….Jeff a Hazy IPA and me the Blonde Pilsner.
We stopped to get a few groceries on the way home to try out a new taco recipe. Tacos with roasted peppers blended down to a spicy sauce, grille🔎🔎🔎🔎d chicken for Jeff, beans, avocado salsa and cheese on grilled tortillas. Delicious!! Watched a little bit of the Canada/U.S. Men’s Hockey game with the U.S. winning the preliminary round. Go Team USA!!!