During the 1930s, Phoenix had a population of 50,000, Scottsdale was merely a dot on a dusty road, and Papago Park was a distant destination. Their goal was to put the desert on display and preserve its native species. In 1939, their vision was realized when the Desert Botanical Garden opened to the public.
Like the saguaro, the Garden grew slowly during its formative years as the nation and state weathered the aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II. Arizona boomed as veterans settled in our state and more desert land was converted to homes and businesses. But the vision of Gertrude and Gustaf prevailed. Over the years, surely and steadily, the
Desert Botanical Garden became nationally recognized as a champion of plant conservation, a pioneer in the care and display of desert plants, an innovator in life-long education and a respected leader in Sonoran Desert research.