"Antiques Roadshow" Spotlight Garden’s Natural Treasures | Desert Botanical Garden


By: Lynn Trimble

More than 3,000 people came to Desert Botanical Garden last April to experience “Antiques Roadshow,” which rolled into Phoenix for the first stop on its 2019 tour. With up to 8 million people watching “Antiques Roadshow” on their local PBS stations, the Garden was thrilled to be included
in the opportunity.

“It WAS great exposure for the Garden,” says Ken Schutz, the Garden’s Dr. William Huizingh
Executive Director. “We were honored to be asked.”  

“Antiques Roadshow” first reached out about the tour in February 2018. Years before, they had filmed a segment about botanical prints at the Garden. But filming three episodes for the show’s 24th season took the logistics and collaboration to a whole new level, giving the Garden a chance to showcase its expansive trails and outdoor exhibits.

The show held a random drawing for people who wanted to get tickets. Typically, ticketed guests
can bring two objects for appraisal, but only a few of those appraisals wind up on television.

They filmed throughout the Garden on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. “Antiques Roadshow” actually arrived on Sunday, and the Garden closed that Monday as well for the massive undertaking of staging multiple appraisal stations and accommodating thousands of people and their treasures.

“The production crew was about 70 people notincluding appraisers or volunteers,” recalls Ali Reese, who works with special events at the Garden and helped with logistics for the “Antiques Roadshow” visit. 

“The event extended across the entire North end of the Garden and multiple areas were utilized for
filming,” explains Reese. Objects were appraised in particular areas set up for different categories.

Several Garden staff members and volunteers who worked during the taping were thrilled to learn that they could bring in objects for appraisal. Lois Flynn, a longtime fan of “Antiques Roadshow,” was among them.

Decades ago, she purchased a kilim rug while living in Turkey. She was told it was a matrimonial rug, which would have been part of a bride’s dowry.

“I wasn’t that curious about the value,” Lois says.
“I just wanted to know if the story I’d been told was likely to be true.”

It was, the appraiser told her. And the rug could be worth $3,000—if she has it restored.



Marcia Flynn asked them to appraise a pair of small white gloves once worn by a P.T. Barnum performer called General Tom Thumb, which have been in her husband’s family for six generations.

“They were appraised more than $1,000, but we’re planning to keep them in the family,” she says. Marcia hopes the appraisal will air, because a 2017 film titled “The Greatest Showman” has revived interest in Tom Thumb.

The final episode will air April 13, 2022.

Turns out, there’s another reason to tune in. “Antiques Roadshow” also went behind the scenes,
so people who watch will get to see parts of the Garden that aren’t open to the public.

Reese says, “Our venue also provided a rich sense of place and a setting whose own breadth of history and natural treasures will be showcased in the final episodes airing this season.”