It could be called Tucson’s secret garden.

An extravaganza of floral color, verdant vines and fragrant herbs is tucked away — unknown to many Tucsonans — on the grounds of the University of Arizona and Pima County Cooperative Extension site along North Campbell Avenue.

Cultivated and maintained by master gardeners working with the extension, the colorful, calming garden is open to the public at no charge.

“We call this the best-kept horticultural secret in Tucson,” said master gardener Paul Ellis.

Ellis said the garden area is made up of 14 so-called demonstration gardens focusing on a wide range of themes. Among them are a Color Garden, Shelter Garden, Cottage Garden, Tea Garden and Raised-Bed Edible Garden.

“We’ve expanded greatly over the past few years,” Ellis said. “We have an All-American Garden where we test seeds. There is a Habitat Garden certified by the National Wildlife Federation. There is a Pollinator Garden … and a Small Space Garden geared to people who don’t have much space to work with.”

Mary Ann Albano, another master gardener at the site, said of the 14 gardens: “People like them all.”

“Our mission is to teach gardening here in Southern Arizona,” Albano said. “It’s fun. Gardeners love to talk about what they do.”

Free guided tours of the gardens, at 4210 N. Campbell Ave., are held at 9 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at