Boyce Thompson Arboretum

When we were at the Good Sam Rally we picked up some free passes for entrance into Arizona State Parks. The other day we decided to use one of them at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum for two reasons, the first one was we were told many of the plants were in bloom, the second reason was that it is the most expensive park to visit and we wanted to get our monies worth 🙂 Entrance into the park is $12.50 per person and our pass covered all four of us, so we saved $50.00!

View from the parking lot.

There is so much history I could share about this park, but I also have so many pictures to share, so I will give you a little history and a lot of pictures 🙂

Mining magnate Col. William Boyce Thompson founded the Arboretum in the 1920s. While serving as co-leader of a Red Cross mercy mission to Russia in 1917, Col. Thompson began to understand the importance of plants as a source for food, clothing, and shelter. At that point he decided to use his great wealth to improve the use of plant resources. The Arboretum is one of his legacies and encompasses 323 acres. The Arboretum is Arizona’s oldest and largest botanical garden and the first purely botanical institution in the inter-mountain states.

Treasure Flower

Paper Flower

Paper Flower with a bee 🙂

Barrel Cactus

There are over 2600 species of arid land plants from around the world growing at the Arboretum and I had to take pictures of most of them! The one thing that I did find frustrating was the lack signage on many of the plants, so you will have guess what they are because I have no idea what plants most of the flowers are from.


The trails are easy to navigate and the views are beautiful!


This building was the Drover’s cabin with a yard in behind.


And more beautiful views …


We came across Ayer Lake, which was created in 1925 to store water for irrigating the Arboretum gardens. It also serves as home for water plants and animals.

The clump of Palm Trees marks where the water flows into the lake.

We were surprised to come around a corner and see a house up on the hill.

Construction on the house, called Picket Post Mansion, began in 1923, took fourteen months to complete and cost around $20,000.   In 1928 Col. Thompson donated the house and surrounding property to the Arboretum. Picket Post Mansion was later sold in 1946 for $40,000 as it became a financial burden to the Arboretum. The house changed hands again due to the cost of maintaining it. On July 15, 2008, Arizona State Parks purchased the property to make the Arboretum whole once again. Although it is not open for the general public to walk through it is occasionally opened for tours at an additional cost.


The Clevenger House was home to Robert Clevenger and his family in the early 1900’s. The family made their living by truck farming Queen Creek. They left the area in the early 1920’s.

Col. Thompson purchased the house, and surrounding land, several years later and shortly after he purchased it he remodelled it into a playhouse for his grandchildren. The building is now used for drying and displaying herbs.

Aloe Wickensii

As we were ending our tour we came across Mr. Big … no not Mr. Big from Sex in the City:-)  Mr. Big is a Red Gum Eucalyptus tree, eight feet in diameter and over 100 feet tall. He was planted from a sapling in the spring of 1926.

Red Gum are extremely fast growing trees and put on six to ten feet of new growth in a year when young!

Yes the Arboretum is well worth a visit 🙂

Until next time …


One thought on “Boyce Thompson Arboretum

  1. I’ve never heard of this park before. What a gorgeous place to spend a day wandering… and nothing beats free!! I agree it’s annoying when places don’t tell you what you’re looking at, but when it comes to flowers, I’d never remember what the name was anyway. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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