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Back from the Garden Writers Symposium in Tucson

flora at the Tucson airport

The moment I was out the door of the airport terminal it was clear Arizona flora differs from that of Pennsylvania. This is the median across from the platform where I caught my ride to the hotel.

As a member of the Garden Writers Association, I was fortunate to have attended this year’s annual symposium in Tucson, Arizona. The trip was a terrific break from central Pennsylvania. Being used to lush, green farmland, I was excited to visit a city in the desert.

A day at the symposium includes the option to attend as many as three seminars from a selection of nine, and to tour area gardens. There might also be social events such as dancing or karaoke, and there’s unscheduled time when attendees can get together for meals, drinks, and conversation.

A great perk of attending is that garden industry businesses set up booths on a show floor where attendees can see new garden products and talk with people who are experts about them. Better still: many of those “vendors” pack free samples, and attendees can take home the latest plants, tools, pest repellents, soils, and fertilizers.

Scenes from Tucson

This post is to share scenes from my trip to the Symposium. I’ll try to follow up soon with a roundup of the products I saw on the show floor.

a path to guest rooms at Tucson La Paloma

The front desk clerk at the hotel sent me outside to find my room; something I thought only happened at budget hotels. Then again, the hallway to my room at a luxury hotel had never before looked like this one.

shared balcony in front of guest rooms at Tucson La Paloma

I might have exaggerated to call the path in the previous photo the hotel’s “hallway.” I had to cross a bridge over ornamental plantings to reach this balcony that provided access to my room. At certain times of day (and night), the light and shadows begged to be photographed.

decorative cacti along a path at Tucson La Paloma

Cacti grew all over the hotel grounds; it was hard to choose one photograph to represent them.

view from the balcony at Tucson La Paloma

From a balcony overlooking the swimming area, I looked across at building D – the one that held my room for the weekend. What we call mountains in Pennsylvania would be foothills to Arizona mountains.

night at the swimming area at Tucson La Paloma

It’s hard to do the hotel’s pool area justice with a single photograph. At night, there were fire rings, poolside service, Jacuzzi activity, and even a swimmer or two. I particularly enjoyed the desert plants distributed along the poolside paths.

cactus in the swimming area at Tucson La Paloma

Thankfully, cacti in the swimming areas attracted light fixtures so it was unlikely people would skewer toes on cactus spines.

sugarcane sorghum at Native Seeds SEARCH

The first stop of the one tour I was able to enjoy was at Native Seeds SEARCH, a seed bank in Tucson. I loved seeing food crops planted among a boulder field, and other plantings on desert land with a simple drip irrigation system. I’d never seen sorghum plants and was impressed at how much they look like corn. Click this link to find more about the Native Seeds SEARCH visit.

desert garden in Tucson

Our tour visited a private residence surrounded by the owner’s work of love. This was a garden begging us to settle into lawn chairs and watch the plants grow.

purple desert flower

The colors and textures of this plant were sublime.

Benedictine Sisters Monastery in Tucson

The tour I enjoyed ended at the Benedictine Sisters Monastery, a classic building with a generous garden. My favorite components of the garden were a vegetable patch mulched with carpeting and an orange grove in the shadow of towering palms.

Striking palm tree at the Benedictine Sisters Monastery in Tucson

Here’s one of the towering palms at the Benedictine Sisters Monastery. Finches were flitting among the orange fruits which I can only guess might have been dates.

Aerial view of Chicago at night

From Tucson to Newark, NJ by plane involved a lengthy stopover in Los Angeles and a flight path over Chicago. This was the view as we passed over the east side of the city.


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2 Responses to “Back from the Garden Writers Symposium in Tucson”

  • Did not make the show due to work obligations. Thank you for the post, I experienced the event through your words and photos.

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    Robert – I’m sorry you couldn’t make it and I wish I could do a better job of telling the story. Unfortunately, I focused so much on the flora and environs that I shot very few people photos. Next time around, people are gonna have to duck if they don’t want to get shot. Lest anyone take that the wrong way, by “shot” I mean “photographed.”

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