Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

Growing flowers in old-time Phoenix


As someone who loves flowers, and gardens in general, I've often wondered what Phoenix looked like back in Victorian days. But luckily I can see it anytime I want to, and not just in my imagination, at an historic ranch in my neighborhood.

That's the Sahuaro Ranch in the photo up there, and the rose gardens were originally planted at the turn of the century, as were many of the palm trees. And yes, of course there were crops planted as well, it was a working farm and ranch, after all. But what has always fascinated me the most were the flowers, specifically the rose garden.

Time-travel with me to a time when the word "desert" just meant a horrible place. Nowadays, of course, people admire the beauty of the desert, but in the 1890s, areas surrounding the Sahuaro Ranch were pretty desolate, and what I would call "miles and miles of kitty litter". And so, in addition to growing crops, people surrounded themselves with beauty, with flowers.

It must have been an amazing transformation. From mile after mile of dust, to arriving at the Sahuaro Ranch and seeing the rose garden. And just like today, the flowers were planted for beauty, to enrich the lives of the people who lived there.

No, of course, those aren't the same rose plants from way back then, but you can get a good feel of what they must have looked like. And no, they're weren't planted to be eaten, they were planted for beauty. They helped to create an oasis in the desert.

The Sahuaro Ranch is free and open to the public. It's just north of Glendale Community College, which is at 59th Avenue and Olive in Glendale, Arizona.

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