Thousands of plants move to Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Wallace Desert Garden

The Wallace Desert Garden opened as an extension of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and showcases a collection of several thousand plants. The arboretum is located on Route 60, an hour-long drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

H.B Wallace

Henry Browne (H.B.) Wallace was born in 1915 to the acclaimed Wallace family. H.B studied genetics and graduated from Iowa State College in 1938. During World War II, H.B served in the U.S Navy while his grandfather and father both served as U.S Secretary of Agriculture. H.B’s father, Henry A. Wallace, served as the 33rd vice president of the United States under Franklin D. Roosevelt. H.B is known for breeding the ideal egg-laying chicken and starting Hy-Line Poultry Farms. After moving to Arizona, H.B developed an 11-acre garden that featured some 9,000 desert plants in Scottsdale

The Process

The original garden was located on Wallace’s personal property, but a gated community grew around it. “There was really no way of supporting it,” Nemeth said. “His estate and foundation board decided that it needed to be saved and moved.”

“[It was a process] trying to figure out how to move them, how to plant them, when should we transplant them (depending on the weather), and some of these plants from Africa and South America, we didn’t really know them that well,” said Lynne Nemeth, Executive Director of Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

Native Resources International assisted with the 5-year long move and help transport almost 6,000 plants to their new home. Nemeth said the Wallace Desert Garden introduced 800 new species to the arboretum with a 92% survival rate on the big boxed plants.


The main trail is wheelchair accessible. The trail is one-way.

Masks are required upon entry in common areas and in situations with less than six feet of space between people.

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In this segment:

Lee Brownson, executive director of the Wallace Desert Garden

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