Desert Botanical Garden Celebrates 75 Years with Free Admission Day

The Desert Botanical Garden is celebrating 75 years this weekend with -- what else -- a garden party.

Since opening in the late 1930s, the 140-plus acre garden has been home to more than 50,000 plant displays and is no stranger to hosting a myriad of cultural events -- from ballets to benefit dinners and everything in between. As part its yearlong anniversary celebration, DBG is hosting a free admission day Saturday, September 28, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

See also: 30 Must-Attend Events in Metro Phoenix This Fall

Phoenicians can use this opportunity to tour the garden and explore their Sonoran Desert home. The day is a representation of what DBG strives to accomplish all year, says Bitsy Susich, the garden's media liaison. A few thousand people are expected to take advantage of the lack of admission price, coupled with relatively low temperatures (forecasts are hinting at a high of only 93 this weekend).

Expect more than DBG's regular tours: Saturday's event will include a variety of free activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., including behind-the-scenes tours and demonstrations designed to educate and inspire desert gardeners.

Hands-on demonstrations include two how-tos on growing your own vegetable garden, where aspiring green thumbs can take home their own seeds, tips for growing the best herbs. The class is first-come, first-served and has a 20-person limit, so get there early for the 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. presentations.

For those garden-goers with more particular questions, or if you just want to learn the difference between Palo Verde and Mesquite, volunteers will be on hand to answer questions and offer advice on how to get the best possible garden out of the upcoming growing season.

Conservation greenhouse tours (at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m.) offer an opportunity to see rare, endangered desert species and learn about conservation scientists' continued efforts to preserve and protect hundreds of these plants.

Home to an assortment of cacti and agave, DBG's herbarium hosts an impressive, comprehensive collection of some of the desert's most commonplace plants. The herbarium tours (at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.) give desert dwellers a chance to learn more about these plants that are, more often than not, in their very own backyards.

In addition to kicking off DBG's full-fledged fall season, the event doubles as opening weekend for the popular Mariposa Monarca Monarch Butterfly Exhibit. Now in its tenth year, the butterfly exhibit attracts upward of 1,000 visitors each weekend, Susich says. The unique environment, which is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and free for members and children under 3 year-round, offers a truly up close and personal look at the life cycle and migration patterns of monarchs.

Other activities include an open house for kids and parents, a treasure hunt, and a photomural featuring photographs from the Garden's lifetime. Visit www.dbg.org for more info.

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