Tucson Botanical Gardens in November

November 12, 2012 |

Beautiful butterflies and twinkling luminaria lights grace the Tucson Botanical Gardens this November in Tucson.

Luminaria Nights, now in its 26th year, is “one of the nicest events in the city,” says TBG’s Darlene Buhrow, Director of Marketing, Communications, and Gallery.  The Botanical Gardens opens between 5:30 and 8 pm on December 7, 8, and 9 for Luminaria Nights. The Gardens are decorated with luminarias, small paper lanterns traditional in the American Southwest.

As visitors wander along luminaria-lit walkways, they come upon numerous musical groups.  Just a few of the many scheduled musical offerings are Irish, Balkan, bluegrass, and klezmer music, a string quartet, and also mandolin, flute, and recorder music. There are several choral groups that will perform.  Food vendors will be available, too.

“There’s music at all times in the Gardens,” says Buhrow.  I like the music. It really gets you in a festive spirit.”  Santa Claus will be in attendance in Porter Hall for the children, and each department in the Garden will have its own decorated Christmas tree. Buhrow describes a tree that she helped to decorate last year. The “tree” was actually an agave stalk decorated with devil’s claws, buckeye pods, and pyracantha berries.

“There are lots of families that come to Luminaria Nights,” says Buhrow. “We get a variety of people from babies to 102 years old.”  Between 1,000 and 2,000 attend each night. The Gardens provides parking at a nearby church and shuttles to take visitors between parking and the Gardens.  Purchasing tickets ahead of time at the gift shop or on-line leads to $1 off the admission fee.

Butterfly Magic is a daytime event at Tucson Botanical Gardens which actually began in October and goes into April, 2013. Visitors enter a greenhouse habitat with tropical plants, including orchids in full bloom, where they can see living butterflies from eleven countries flying freely or resting in the warm, humid environment.

The butterflies begin life as caterpillars hatched from eggs at butterfly farms around the world. When the caterpillars begin their metamorphosis, they enter into a pupa stage known as a chrysalis. The chrysalises of various butterfly species are shipped to Tucson Botanical Gardens where they are housed in a climate-controlled room until the butterflies are ready to emerge. Visitors can see the chrysalises through a large glass window. When the butterflies emerge, they are transferred to the tropical greenhouse.

“Opening the box is always a surprise, “says Buhrow, “because we never know what we are going to get. The chrysalises are sent to us according to availability.” Butterfly varieties rotate throughout the seven-month exhibit as newcomers arrive.

Buhrow says Butterfly Magic is especially popular among school children. “The kindergarteners through third graders are mesmerized with the butterflies. Older children ask a lot of scientific questions about butterfly anatomy, life cycle, and eating habits.” TBG provides teachers with a curriculum for the students.

What is the most popular among the visitors?  “The most popular of all is the blue morpho.”  No need to explain why. This little beauty shows off intense blue wings as it flies by, causing children to point and adults to grab their cameras.  Also popular is a moth, the Atlas moth with a 7 to 8 inch wingspread.

This year Botanical Gardens’ members get into the butterfly exhibit for free – no extra fee is required. Visitors to Tucson Botanical Gardens can see the butterflies now through April. More information is at www.tucsonbotanical.org

Category: Arts, Community