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Dale Chihuly is known for his grand scale glass sculptures. Chihuly: The Nature of Glass is his first installation entirely within a desert garden environment.

Desert Botanical Garden — Chihuly Meets Cacti

Set amid the buttes of Papago Park, the Desert Botanical Garden is a spectacular place… full of dramatic vistas of distant mountains, labyrinth trails and up close views of the surrounding desert. The juxtaposition of Chihuly's innovative glass sculptures with cacti and succulents was a stroke of genius. Throughout the day both the glass and desert transform with the light and at night the garden is nothing short of magical.

(Note: You can click on most photos on this page and the next for a larger view.)

At the entrance to the Desert Botanical Garden, Sherry fell in love with the agave-inspired pieces titled Desert Wildflower Towers. Done in scintillating tones of chartreuse and spring green they were perhaps the most naturalistic of all the glass sculptures.

The Sun, which greets visitors as they enter the Garden, is Chihuly’s signature sculpture. Created in 2006, it is never assembled the same way twice. Shipped to the exhibit site in pieces, each installation is put together at the destination and in a way that responds to its environment.

An up close and personal view of The Sun.

Amber Cattails among the cacti appear as glass flames shooting up from the desert floor.

The Amber Cattails looked like they were being blown by a breeze.

Each sculpture was composed of many artistically curved pieces of glass.

Float Boat was one of two boat motifs installed in the garden.

We learned that the cardón is the world's largest cactus…they can reach 70 feet high and weigh up to 25 tons. These very slow growing plants are also extremely long-lived, and many specimens live well over 300 years.

Even without the gleaming glass sculptures, the garden is filled with a diversity of form, texture and color.

The gardens wildflowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Danny patiently waited to capture these hummingbirds “refueling” in the flower beds located at the Patio Café where we did some refueling ourselves.

The garden has thematic trails that illustrate various topics. We enjoyed discovering how Sonoran Desert plants have been used for food, fiber, medicine and other cultural purposes.

The Ruby Fiddleheads seem as organic, as otherworldly and as breathtaking as the natural desert plants they sit among.

Close up of the Ruby Fiddleheads.


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Glass is the most magical of all materials. It transmits light in a special way ... I'm pleased that my art appeals to so many people of all ages.

— Dale Chihuly —