Gardening in the desert isn't an easy proposition, even with the greenest of thumbs. The good folks at Mesquite Valley have been growing things here for a long time, and they're a splendid source of information for what will and won't work, what needs to be planted when, and what needs to be added or subtracted from your environment's diet. Mesquite Valley's highly evolved xeriscape garden is a pleasure to visit, and the staff will teach you enough to make one of your own and put the necessary accoutrements in your hands.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Harlow's Nursery, 5620 E. Pima St. A familiar haunt of serious Tucson gardeners, Harlow's is a place to inspire even the blackest-thumbed amateur, with its winding paths that lead over hobbity footbridges through thickets of bougainvillea and bamboo forests. Although the nursery's knowledgeable denizens keep it well stocked with hundreds of plant species and varieties, the rose department is particularly superb, hands-down the best in town. Why go near a box store when such wonders are so close at hand?