The nursery is located outside the town of Desert Hot Springs on a road that seems to go on forever. Not far away, there's a field of wind turbines that seems to be bigger every time I visit (wind power is big business here). In early March, there was still snow on the mountains, which added a picture-postcard beauty.
Mariscal doesn't have a parking lot per se; you simply park outside the chain-link fence. While they're open to the public, they're clearly a wholesale nursery, catering primarily to landscaping professionals.
This isn't the kind of nursery you go to if you're not sure what you want or if you need a lot of hand-holding. But if you love the thrill of walking through aisle upon aisle of succulents, not knowing what you might find next, then this place is for you.
While Mariscal has a selection of smaller plants, most are in 5- or 15-gallon pots or 24-inch wooden boxes--instant impact in your garden if you have the space and $$$.
Virtually nothing is labeled. As I said, this is not a pretty retail nursery with a high staff-to-customer ratio. Either you're able to identify what you want or you find a nursery employee. They're busy doing their own work but will help if you ask them. Otherwise they leave you be, which I truly appreciate.
There are lots of droolworthy plants. As I was walking around, I was playing out my favorite scenario in my head, pretending I had just bought a place nearby with a couple of acres of bare dirt. My mission now was to fill them with whatever plants I wanted, money being no object. That, my friends, is the definition of gardening freedom!
|LEFT: Agave geminiflora RIGHT: A bit of a head-scratcher for me, but possibly Agave ellemeetiana|
|Agave 'Blue Glow' (front), Agave bovicornuta (middle), Pachycereus marginatus (back)|
|Mexican fence post (Pachycereus marginatus) on the left, cardon (Pachycereus pringlei) on the right|
|Silver torch (Cleistocactus strausii)|
|Argentine golden saguaro (Trichocereus terscheckii), not related to the "real" saguaro|
While Mariscal doesn't have a huge selection of aloes, what they did have looked happy and healthy. And many were in bloom.
My plant crush on this trip was Aloe vaombe, a stunning tree aloe from Madagascar. Look at this beauty:
I love the deeply channeled leaves and the hue they take on when stressed.
They also had Aloe ferox with distinctly blue leaves. Usually they're much greener. Maybe these were hybrids? Again, no labels.
|Sticks on fire (Euphorbia tirucalli) and crown of thorns (Euphorbia milii)|
|Aloe 'Blue Elf' and teddy bear cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii)|
|Teddy bear cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii) and 'Old Mexico' prickly pear (Opuntia gomei 'Old Mexico')|
|Baby Mexican fence post cactus (Pachycereus marginatus)|
|I really liked this arrangement, especially the flowering crassula next to the Indian corn cob cactus (Euphorbia mammillaris forma variegata, i.e. not a cactus at all)|
The abundant winter rains this year have been a boon to all plants, including--especially!--weeds. The nursery guy I talked to admitted that they were having a hard time getting the weeds under control. You'll see why in these photos:
Getting dense clumps of weeds out of pots filled with prickly cactus cannot be fun!
One final photo from the back corner of the nursery. Golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) continues to be the most popular cactus in landscaping. Mariscal had a large number of them in different sizes:
Living in an area where nurseries at best carry a small selection of cactus and succulents tucked away in a corner, I'm still blown away by what you can find at a specialty succulent nursery like Mariscal!
Index: Trip to Palm Springs, March 2017