Chihuly in the Garden

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Chihuly Red Reeds in the Garden at Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden
Dale Chihuly works on display at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona illustrate the magic of a garden setting for his unique glass art

(Last updated December 2021)

Artist Dale Chihuly is an American glass sculptor, credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement. His works are unique in the field of blown glass. After receiving a Fulbright Fellowship in 1968, he worked at the Venini glass factory in Venice, where he observed the team approach to blowing glass, an approach critical to his work today. His works, which include delicate fluted bowls as well as vibrant, large-scale architectural pieces, are displayed in more than 200 hundred museum collections world-wide.

Several major exhibitions of his work are staged each year in cities around the world. Exhibitions often occur in gardens, a particularly apt setting for his work. Each exhibition is unique although it may contain pieces previously displayed elsewhere. Pieces are strategically placed, often fitting in so perfectly they seem specially designed for that spot.

In the fall/winter of 2013-2014, there was an exhibition at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. These photos from that exhibit give you a sense of what a Chihuly exhibit in a garden is like.

Chihuly in the Garden During the Day

Chihuly Blue Flori Sun in Desert Botanical Garden
Blue Flori Sun
Chihuly blue and white spiked sculpture at the Desert Botanical Garden
Red and orange Chihuly fireball type glass sculpture called "Summer" Sun" amid cacti in the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden
Summer Sun

The Chihuly sculptures were placed throughout the garden, sometimes providing a brilliant blast of colour amid the green hues of the desert flora, sometimes blending in so subtly with the landscape I didn’t immediately realize they weren’t growing there naturally.

Chihuly yellow sculpture between cacti at Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden
Citron and Yellow Flori
White tower of glass with bits of pink - Chihuly sculpture
White Tower
Chihuly sculpture - boat with red and yellow glass pieces and blue crystals in water beside it
Sonoran Boat and Blue Crystals
Chihuly Neodymium Reeds and Black Niijima Floats
Neodymium Reeds and Black Niijima Floats
Chihuly Polyvitro Chandelier
Polyvitro Chandelier

Chihuly works with four materials: glass, plastic, water, and ice. Polyvitro is the name he coined for a type of polymer his team created. He uses it for works that weigh less than glass.

Colourful balls of the Chihuly Poluvitro Chandelier
Polyvitro Chandelier Balls
Red and yellow swirls of glass on the Chihuly sculpture at the entrance to Desert Discovery Loop Trail at Phoenix Desrt Botanical Garden
Sculpture at entrance to Desert Discovery Loop Trail
Chihuly Erbium Pink Flori sculpture
Erbium Pink Flori
Chihuly "trees" at the entrance to the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden purchased these Chihuly “trees” at the end of the exhibition and they are now a permanent feature of the garden located at its entrance

Chihuly in the Garden at Night

Chihuly uses the way light works with glass. The colours may look different as you view the pieces from different angles of light. And the pieces take on a completely different effect when illuminated at night.

Chihuly icicle sculpture at night
Icicle Tower at night
Chihuly Summer Sun at night
Summer Sun at night
Chihuly reeds at night
Chihuly Citron and Yellow Flori at night
Citron and Yellow Flori at night
Chihuly tree sculptures in front of Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden illuminated at night
Entrance at night

Chihuly Garden Exhibitions

Although the exhibit showcased in this post occurred a number of years ago, a current exhibit Chihuly in the Desert features Chihuly works at both the Desert Botanical Garden and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. The exhibit runs from December 3, 2021 through June 19, 2022. Check Chihuly’s website to find out locations of other current and upcoming Chihuly exhibitions.

With over 55 acres under cultivation, over 50,000 plants displayed in outdoor exhibits and a variety of special events scheduled throughout the year, the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona is always a great place to visit.


Dale Chihuly works on display at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona illustrate the magic of a garden setting for his unique glass art #Chihuly #glassart #artinthegarden
Dale Chihuly works on display at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona illustrate the magic of a garden setting for his unique glass art #Chihuly #glassart #artinthegarden

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  1. Very beautiful! I think staring at something like that long enough would inspire me to write a story for the first time in ages, or at least a poem or two!

  2. In all the times I’ve been to Phoenix I have not visited this garden. The photos are stunningly beautiful. Thanks for sharing this with us. Makes me want to consider a special trip. LOL.

    Over from LinkedIn group BHB

  3. Those glass sculptures in the midst of the cacti are quite striking. I’ve a thing for glass, so this is really interesting to me and something I would make a point of seeing if I’m ever in the area.

  4. Thanks Steve, Patricia, Susan, and Jeri for the comments. The Desert Botanical Gardens are worth a visit any time you’re in Phoenix. But the Chihuly Exhibit makes them extra special.

  5. Last December, that very exhibit was at the Dallas Arboretum and had actually been extended from the fall months due to its extreme popularity! My mom and I went and the moment I saw your first picture, I knew it had to be the same exhibit! I have many of those same pictures but in a completely different environment. I revisited my photos and then looked again at yours. What fun to see the same Chihuly pieces evoking different feelings because of what’s around them. I love all of his work, no matter where I get to see it! One of my favs for sure!

  6. I’ve been a fan of his since seeing a PBS special on him a couple of years ago. I love that his work is on display like this. They look so natural and delicate. I wonder if they ever break? Thank you for the wonderful photography!

  7. Thanks for comments, Gabbi, Greg, Pamela, Oksana, and Meredith. It would be interesting to see the pieces in another environment. Now that I’ve seen them amid the cacti, it’s hard to imagine them somewhere else. I also wondered if they ever break.