Posts Tagged ‘Boyce Thompson Arboretum’

Wildlife at the Arboretum

November 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Because of the season, we missed some of the more exotic wildlife at the Arboretum:  no rattlesnakes, scorpions, or bobcats.  But we did see quite a few, many of which are in this (our last) Arboretum album.

The ringtailed cat is nocturnal and shy, we’re lucky to have seen one.  Actually a member of the raccoon family, this is the State Mammal of Arizona.  Lots of lizards, but also the more rare collared lizard.  Rabbits and squirrels.

Lots of birds.  Cardinals, buzzards (that make the arboretum their home), gila woodpeckers, curved bill thrushes, and many more.  Many varieties of hummingbirds.

Finally the Tarantula Hawk, a feared wasp whose sting is considered the most painful in the world.  And we caught 3 of them eating a large beetle.


Cacti at the Arboretum

November 8, 2011 1 comment

The large saguaro cactus, with it’s large uplifted arms, is an icon of the southwest.  But the variety of cacti in the desert is astounding.  Below is a picture album of just a few of the huge assortment of cacti growing at the Arboretum.


Desert flowers at BTA

November 1, 2011 Leave a comment

While the dominant flower season here at Boyce Thompson Arboretum is spring, the huge variety of plants in the arboretum means there are flowers blooming most any time of the year. Here are some of the desert flowers I photographed during the month we have been here.  Note that there will be a separate album of cactus flowers, which will follow shortly.

More night photography

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment

We had some very interesting photographers for another night photo shoot.  Two were forensic photographers, meaning they took the pictures at murder and accident scenes.  Maybe not my cup of tea (one bragged he has shot over 600 bodies), but they used some interesting techniques using simple pen lights to take photos.  Once you understand this method, you can highlight specific portions of a scene.

So below are several images.  Three were shot using the colored flood light apporach, two were done using only a simple small pen light and long exposures,and finally two more traditional flash pictures of a ring tailed cat.  These animals are elusive, so I was lucky to get these shots.  This cat is also the Arizona State Mammal.

Drover shed and wind mill using colored flood lights

Wind mill with stars in the background

Colored lights highlight the Clevinger house

Garden gate, using only a small pen light as a light source

Using a flash light to highlight body contours

Ring tailed cat in a tree (they eat berries)

Another shot of the cat

Picket Post Mansion

October 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Back in the 1920’s, wealthy industrialist Boyce Thompson fell in love with Arizona.  Of course, owning a silver and copper mine in the area didn’t hurt, either.  In any case, he built a mansion in one of the nearby valleys.  The house took five years, and over a million dollars to build.  The grounds were extensively manicured, and desert plants from around the world graced the grounds.    Mr. Thompson spent large amounts of money to establish what became known as the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  The grounds were donated to the state in the late 1920’s, and is now an Arizona State Park.

After his death, the house sat idle, and in 1946 was sold to a third party.  It served briefly as a bed and breakfast, but eventually sat empty again.  It was sold to the State Park in 2008, which currently maintains the building.  It is known as the Picket Post Mansion (because of the mountain behind it) as well as Castle on the Rocks.  For only the second time, it will be opened to the public this weekend.

Since we are volunteers at the Park, we had a chance to view the Mansion before it opened to the public.  The house, and grounds, are quite spectacular.  We wish we could have seen it during it’s glory days in the late 1920’s.

East entrance to the house. The bridge leads from the house to the tower (now gone) where Boyce Thompson liked to site and relax.

Main (front) entrance

The Arboretum (west) side

The view into the Arboretum

The ball room, with stained glass doors to the balcony

One of the many bedrooms

Master bathroom with heart shaped tub

Another of the bedrooms

Still more bedrooms

A finely detailed sink and cabinet

The large stove in the main kitchen

Cactus blossoms

October 2, 2011 1 comment

We tend to think of cactus as green prickly things.  But they also have very colorful and unique blooms.  The actual blooming period is short, leaving little time to admire them.  Fortunately, here at the Arboretum, there is a huge variety of plants, from different continents.  As a result, there are usually blooms to enjoy.

Here are some pictures taken on an afternoon walk.  The varieties of cacti are amazing.

Some cacti change color, instead of blooming.

Here, the whole plant changes color

Not all cacti are prickly....

Blossom buds on a barrel cactus

Strange looking cacti blooms

This cactus has a real flowering blossom

Almost looks like a fancy ice cream treat

Plain, yet colorful in itself

More unusual blossoms

This is so symmetrical

Another barrel cactus

Not all cacti are green....



Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Introduction

September 27, 2011 1 comment

Boyce Thompson was a school dropout who made it big on Wall Street and Arizona mining  in the 1920’s.  He fell in love with this area and built a winter house on 300+ acres.  After his death, this became an Arizona State Park, maintained in conjunction with the University of Arizona.  Now, it is the biggest Arboretum in the US, and host desert life from around the world.

There are different hikes through different vegetation.  There are zones for different world regions (Australia and Africa, for example) as well as plant types (herb gardens, Eucalyptus trees, legumes etc.).  There are hummingbird, dragonfly and butterfly areas, and much more.  I hope we can visit all of them while we are here.

We will be volunteering here for 6 weeks.  Our jobs will be to work in the visitor center, where we will collect money, pass out maps, and prove information to visitors.  In order to do this, we will be learning all about the area.  This is something we enjoy, and Romola and I are looking forward to learning about desert plants.

In any case, it will be quite a change from the Northwest!  So today, we took our first hike along the many trails through the Arboretum.  Below are some pictures showing our first impressions.  I’m sure many more blogs will follow with specifics about animal and plant life.

A choice parking spot on the Arboretum grounds.

Our first sunset in the Arboretum. Right from our motorhome door!

A view from the parking lot

Prickly pear cacti are in abundance

This may be the desert, but there is lots of color

Cactus of all kinds

Even green plants can have color

A Boojum tree, this one is young....

And this is a full grown Boojum tree.

Ayer lake, water source for the Arboretum

Looking down into Queens Valley

We are in the desert, and these signs are for real....

Not a rattler, but we gave this 6ft Racer Snake a wide berth

Desert plant life