Best Actual Kingdom of Cactuses 2022 | The Phoenician Cactus Garden | Megalopolitan Life | Phoenix

In some ways, The Phoenician is like the modern-day equivalent of some medieval castle. It's near the base of a mountain in Scottsdale, and it's meant to cater to a particular tax bracket of locals and tourists alike. Luckily, you don't have to breach their walls with force, and everyone can access the whimsy of the resort's cactus garden. This slice of pristine nature isn't just home to 250 or so succulents and cactuses, but also chuckwallas, roadrunners, and other desert creatures. And whether you opt to traipse around yourself, or join the resident horticulturist for a guided tour, visiting the garden is a chance to explore a microcosm of our rich desert. It's a highly cultivated, mostly manufactured desert, but that doesn't mean it's any less compelling. And what better way to understand why people live here — or maybe why you'd want to make the move yourself — than by exploring the understated beauty and downright serenity that comes with accepting and embracing life in the arid Southwest. Plus, when you're done, just go back to the hotel for a swim or a mojito the size of your face.

The jackalope may be the best-loved mythical desert creature, with its long hare ears and antlers, but artist Christy Puetz has imagined something even more wonderfully weird. For an exhibit at The Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts, she showed the head and torso of a creature named Stanley with a trio of prickly pear pads forming a crown over its head, almost like a cactus halo suggesting the sanctity of desert wildlife. Her thoughtfully conceived and carefully crafted creature brought a delightful sense of whimsy while also suggesting the importance of respecting the plants and animals in our midst. And it made us want to run right home to see what we might be able to do with a jumbo pack of colorful seed beads.

Unless you've lived here for a lifetime, you probably still don't know the names of all the cactuses growing throughout the city. Nobody's going to quiz you, but if you're going to be an urban desert dweller, you might as well become something of a cactus connoisseur. Artist Jen Urso set out to map the locations of various cactuses growing in the city several years ago, and her latest cactus map shows you where to find more than 50 varieties, which means it's a great way to learn more about the urban desert terrain. The map, which she sells through her website, is a great tool for locals and visitors because it illustrates where to find a particular cactus while also providing basic info about each one. It's a plus that you can't plug the name of a cactus into your GPS and then have it spit out directions, because the whole point of using the map is to reignite your sense of adventure.

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