Meander through Desert Botanical Garden, and you’ll find many relaxing locations that prompt reflection and a great sense of calmness. One such place is the Fine Family Contemplation Garden, which opened February 2016 as a part of a comprehensive renovation to the Garden’s historic displays in the Kitchell Family Heritage Garden.
The Garden is grateful to Trustee Rebecca Ailes-Fine, Peter Fine and family friends for their investment in The Saguaro Initiative which helped create this beautiful space.
The Heritage Garden was identified as a key space in the Garden’s Core Trail Master Plan, which was published in October 2011. No other place in the Garden is better suited to tell the story of stewardship and passion for the desert and desert plants – the core of the its mission since its inception in 1939. Early photographs from the 1940s show this space newly planted with small cactus and dirt paths delineated with rock borders that are still present on today.
Throughout the development of the Core Trail Master Plan and exhibit planning for the Heritage Garden, the Contemplation Garden space remained a significant element – presenting an opportunity to provide a restful space for visitors to reflect in the heart of the Garden. Local landscape architects Floor Associates were selected to bring the design to fruition. They drew upon their own memories as longtime Garden members to balance existing historic elements with the introduction of new aesthetically-pleasing forms and materials.
The resulting design is a multisensory space and treasured spot for first-time visitors and members alike. The circular shape is flanked with seating on either side and completed by a large, reflective water feature mirroring the image of the surrounding cactus on the surface. It’s also a favorite of the birds, too, who are often found perched on the edge snagging a sip of water.
Visit during the day to walk the meditative labyrinth shaped in tapestry-like swirls of terrazzo, or closer to sunset to catch a perfect view of the Papago butte as the glow of the sun transforms the sky to the west.
No matter what time you prefer to visit, enjoy a few minutes of peace to reconnect with nature.