Sunday, May 31, 2015

Desert at its best

Having got rained off from our visit to the Huntington a couple of weeks ago, Jim and I decided to return Memorial weekend to see what we'd missed. In particular we wanted to see the desert garden which we had seen two years ago and you can read my previous blog here. This ten acre garden has been developing for over 100 years and is regarded as one of the finest desert gardens in the world. 

It features 5000+ carefully labelled species and cannot fail to enthuse any gardener about desert plants and landscape. Some of the 500+ barrel cactus originate from seed sown in 1915. Our last visit was in February when many of the aloes were in bloom but this later visit gave us wonderful color from numerous blooming cacti. I'm a convert! 
Agave americana 'Variegata' - common but just love the twisted leaves

Agave attenuata 'Boutin Blue'

Agave victoria-regina 'White Rhino'

Aloe vanbalenii (octopus aloe)

Beaucarnia recurvata

Climbing onion - not for the kitchen!

Caesalpinia cacaloco  - no desert animal would eat this!

Echinopsis hybrid

Name? A terrestrial bromeliad?


Lophocereus schottii - one of nature's ugly plants!

Notocactus warasii

Opuntia littoralis var austrocalifornica

Opuntia microdasys

Star of the show - Trichoceresus 'Apricot Glow' - I've got one on order!

X Echinobivia 'Watermelon'

Yucca rostrata

We did visit other parts of the garden and I'll share those with you next time but the desert garden was today's show stopper!


  1. Climbing Onion - new to me, and maybe my favorite plant you showed, though I like anything with boldness and spines.

    And you're now a convert? I wonder what you weren't into about desert plants before...unfamiliarity? Seeing them poorly used? I know some plant collections without a shred of design or how their desert plants work together with the space, and those would seem a turn-off.

    Fun trip!

    1. When I first came to this area I loved the luxuriant, colourful sub-tropicals - bougainvillea, lantana, hibiscus and so on. Most desert plantings were by comparison bland and dull using the same few succulents again and again. But in recent years, the choice of desert plants, even in places like Lowes has hugely increased. I also think designers have had to think in more adventurous ways to display them.

  2. Love seeing photos of that garden. Will hopefully make it there myself one day.