Night-blooming cereus

Tohono Chul Park is expecting a bloom window for the night-blooming cereus somewhere between June 27 and July 3, subject to the whims of the plants, said plant curator Russ Buhrow.

Randy Metcalf/The Explorer

It’s hot, buds are forming, and the watch for blossoms on the night-blooming cereus is now serious business at Tohono Chul Park, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte.

On one night between the end of May and late July, the park opens to the public for a once-a-year tour of mass blooms. Russ Buhrow, Tohono Chul Park’s curator of plants, has a suspicion that the Queen of the Night – the regal night-blooming cereus Peniocereus greggii – will encourage plant lovers to start their 4th of July celebrations early.

“We are now expecting bloom night somewhere between June 27 and July 3, subject to the whims of the plants,” Buhrow wrote in his weekly update on June 23.

To access updates, visit or call the bloom hotline at 742-6455, ext. 915.

When the night arrives, the Paseo del Norte park is open from 6 p.m. until midnight for one night only. Buhrow talks about the “Queen” at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the Performance Garden. Docents and staff will assist people on the trail and answer questions. The Queen of the Night is in abundance as Tohono Chul Park is home to the nation’s largest collection.

On that same night, visitors can:

• Learn more about the cereus on the park’s grounds and see a time-lapse video of a night-blooming cereus on the park’s Cereus Stories page.

• Participate in a raffle to win a Queen of the Night, or purchase them from the Tohono Chul Park greenhouse.

• Purchase an item from a line of Desert Queen Bath and Body products, imbued with the flower’s fragrance.

Admission to the special event is free to park members and children under 12. Non-member admission is $5. Refreshments will be available.

In 2010, the park opened Friday, July 16 from 6 p.m. until midnight. More than 1,200 Tucsonans and out-of-towners, including one woman who drove from Albuquerque the afternoon before, attended.

Can’t attend the special “grand opening” event? Tohono Chul Park offers a variety of other activities during the summer.

Winner of the prestigious Lumie Award in 2009, the exhibit program at Tohono Chul presents visual stories linking the nature, culture and arts of the Southwest. Working with regional artists, the park displays vibrant works of art in a diverse array of thematic group exhibits, with shows changing every eight weeks. The charming adobe Exhibit House, built as a private home in 1937, provides a fine environment for visitors to view Southwestern artworks.

The latest entry is a timely one. Monsoon features creative paintings, textiles, photography and mixed media interpretations. It draws on works in the park’s permanent collections that bring attention to Tucson’s celebration of the rainy season in the arid Sonoran Desert that brings relief during the hot, dry months of summer. Rain birds, clouds, lightning, and water animals like frogs and dragonflies are featured on painted designs on pottery, embroidered figures on garments, and woven symbols on basketry.

Another exhibition is coming to an end in the park’s Gallery. Picturing Tucson: Cell Phone Photography will close July 12.

It depicts Tucson through the eyes of photographers that captured the images on their cell phone camera. Sent via email by the photographers and printed by Tohono Chul Park for display in its Exhibit House gallery, the park has presented 205 images unframed and montage style, making Picturing Tucson a fun and exciting way to experience the city through the eyes of its residents.

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