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Best Urban Garden

Tucson Botanical Gardens
2150 N. Alvernon Way

READERS' PICK: In addition to demonstrating in miniature just how lush and inviting our native and desert-adapted flora can be, the Tucson Botanical Gardens are the site for some of the city's most cherished annual events: spring's Día de San Juan sunrise service, October's Chile Fiesta, and the winter holiday Luminaria Nights celebration. The rest of the year, TBG's shady mesquite groves, demonstration gardens, greenhouses, docent-guided tours (such as the popular "Early-Morning Birdwalk"), and programs for kids, gardeners, botanical craftspeople and interested tourists make this one of the most colorful places to visit--in every sense of the word. For hours and event information, call 326-9686.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Tohono Chul Park, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte, is a great desert refuge right in the middle of the northern part of the city. Once a private residence, its 37 acres were gifted to present and future generations of desert dwellers, in the form of this non-profit park dedicated to the preservation of and education about our irreplacable desert habitat. In addition to its endless walking paths, the park offers guided tours, xeriscaping tips, various desert-themed workshops and lectures, plant sales, outdoor concerts, and its delightful tea room, art gallery and gift shop. (See also: Best High Tea, page 102; and Best Outdoor Café Seating, page 100.) Due to their careful tending, Tohono Chul offers the best bet, even in dry years, to see the full range of desert wildflowers in the spring.

CLUE IN: The Community Gardens of Tucson, 3003 S. Country Club Road, are a true urban garden. Individuals chip in to cover the cost of water, and in return they get a plot to do with as they please. The resulting garden reflects the diversity of gardeners: compulsive types with tidy edges and not a leaf out of place; imperialists spreading into the adjacent unimproved soil; vegetable fanatics and flower fiends; permaculturists and Miracle Growers. There's a compost pile and a place to hide in the shade. Julie Conrad, the garden's godmother, rounded up an enthusiastic crew of volunteers and a back hoe to break up the caliche and dig in organic matter, accomplishing in a few weeks what would take an individual gardener years. Garden members share expertise, seeds, and congenial company. Call 795-1273 for information.

Case History

1997 Winner: Tucson Botanical Gardens
1996 Winner: Tucson Botanical Gardens
1995 Winner: Tucson Botanical Gardens

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