The joseph wood krutch garden florilegium

Last month we discussed The Sonoran Desert Florilegium, the recently established digital florilegium on our website. It is very exciting to finally establish this florilegium since it has been a major goal of ours from the onset of the Florilegium Program. Images will begin to be juried into the Florilegium in July, and we look forward to seeing the selected works on the website in August.

This month we would like to tell you about another exciting development. As a result of discussions with Tanya Quist, the Director of the U of A Campus Arboretum, and Veronica Reyes of Special Collections at the U of A Library, the Campus Arboretum has established the Joseph Wood Krutch Garden Florilegium. We will be working with the Campus Arboretum and botanical artists to create botanical works for this florilegium. The Joseph Wood Krutch Garden Florilegium is a more traditional florilegium than the digital Sonoran Desert Florilegium, as it will be a physical collection of art. Works that are juried into the Joseph Wood Krutch Garden Florilegium will be purchased by the Arboretum, accessioned, and permanently stored in Special Collections at the U of A Library. Special Collections will periodically exhibit the artwork at various venues on campus, and the collection will be available for loan for off-campus exhibits. The Campus Arboretum is responsible for raising funds to purchase the artwork, and the Sonoran Desert Florilegium Program will help recruit artists and assist the Campus Arboretum with fundraising efforts.

When the University of Arizona was established as a Land Grant Institute in 1891, Dr. James Toumey, a botanist for the Agricultural Experiment Station on campus, recognized the educational value of the native vegetation that evolved in the Sonoran desert over thousands of years. He started a cactus display garden at the University that is now known as the Joseph Wood Krutch Garden, named after the noted writer and naturalist. The Krutch Garden (pronounced KROOCH) is part of the University of Arizona Campus Arboretum, a living laboratory integrated into the main campus and dedicated to promoting stewardship and conservation of the hundreds of plant species collected and installed on the campus grounds throughout the University’s almost 125-year history.

The University’s cactus collection was originally located on the west side of Old Main in the late 1890s. At that time it consisted of over 600 species. In 1929 it was moved to the mall (east) side of Old Main and filled the area from Cherry Avenue to Old Main. The western part of the area was grassed over in the 1950s. In the 1970s, during a time of lush California-style landscaping on campus, the eastern part of the Mall was also converted to grass resulting in a central island with a cactus/succulent collection. In 1980 this island of desert plants was dedicated to Joseph Wood Krutch (whose personal papers are held by the U of A Library).

Over the years new species were added to the garden, and in 2004 it became part of the Alumni Plaza and was enlarged and planted with additional Sonoran Desert species. Members of the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society helped in planting cactus and succulents in the Krutch Garden and Alumni Plaza and in accessioning the plants in the Krutch Garden.

This collection of desert plants is the last remnant of the University’s oldest and most significant educational garden and perpetuates the legacy of Joseph Wood Krutch. The Joseph Wood Krutch Garden Florilegium will document the scientific and aesthetic value of the Garden’s native plant collection, which to date contains over 50 species of plants with additional plantings in progress.

The artwork for the Joseph Wood Krutch Garden Florilegium must be in color and prepared as a traditional botanical plate. A traditional botanical plate shows the habit (the overall appearance of the plant) and the individual structures of the plant that are important to identifying the species. These structures are usually enlarged with some shown in cross section or vertical section.

In February Tanya Quist met with members of the Southwestern Society of Botanical Artists (SWSBA) to discuss the Joseph Wood Krutch Garden Florilegium. During a tour of the garden, artists chose specific plant species and committed to creating botanical plates for those species. Works accepted into the Joseph Wood Krutch Garden Florilegium that portray plants of the Sonoran Desert will also become part of the digital Sonoran Desert Florilegium and displayed on our website. — Margaret Pope

Visit the Campus Arboretum’s website for more information about the Joseph Wood Krutch Garden Florilegium, including Artist Guidelines and a Plant List. The Gifts and Sponsorships page has information for anyone wanting to sponsor one of the artworks in the Florilegium.

A history of the Krutch Garden, including a complete inventory of the collection and a printable self-guided tour of the Garden, can also be found on the Campus Arboretum website.

The two botanical plates shown here are excellent examples of the type of work that will be accepted into the Joseph Wood Krutch Garden Florilegium. Please note that these plants are examples only and do not represent plants growing the Garden. The artist for both works, Susan Ashton, prepared the scientific illustrations for a handbook on rare and sensitive plants for Grand Canyon National Park. More information on the Grand Canyon project can be found on Susan's website.


This appeared in the May 2015 issue of The Desert Breeze, the monthly newsletter of the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society.