Showing posts from February, 2011

My succulent haul from the Southland

Yesterday I was teasing you about this mystery plant that I brought home from our trip to the Southern California desert : Mystery plant in 5-gallon container… The way it was wrapped it could have been anything, but it is a beautiful specimen of a fishhook barrel cactus ( Ferocactus wislizenii ) native to Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Since it’s hardy to at least 15°F, it can spend winters outside in our climate as long as it is protected from the rain. Check out this site for some beautiful photos of its spines and flowers. As you can see in my photos, the spines lose their cinnamon color as they age and turn to a pinkish gray. …revealed to be fishhook barrel cactus ( Ferocactus wislizenii ) I realize the spines are pretty nasty looking but since they’re curved, they don’t really prick you unless you touch them from underneath. I do like the heavy armature on this cactus—it has attitude! This Arizona native has very impressive spines—they are rigid and sharp C

Teaser: plants I brought home from our SoCal desert trip

After being gone for a week, I had a lot of catching up to do today so I didn’t have time to write a post. But I’ll be back tomorrow with a post about the plants I brought home from our trip to the Southern California desert . Here’s a teaser: What could possible be in there??? Click here to find out.

Desert trip—day 5: Palm Desert to Davis

Spending the night in the wealthy community of Indian Wells paid off with the best motel breakfast we’d had on this trip. However, it didn’t take long for us to overdose on the endless display of conspicuous consumption evident everywhere: from the country clubs and gated communities to upscale shopping and dining. What depressed me the most, though, was the unbelievable amount of water wasted on expansive lawns, out-of-place plantings of flowering annuals, and enormous fountains found at the entrance of almost every hotel, country club, and shopping center. Don’t landscape designers realize that this is the desert , with an average annual rainfall of under 5 inches? While we did see great examples of xeric plantings around some commercial buildings, most of them are still stuck in the dark ages as far as climate-appropriate landscaping goes. Before we left the Palm Springs area, we made one last stop. A few weeks ago I’d come across a Craigslist post from a new succulent nursery in

Desert trip—day 4: Salton Sea to Palm Desert

This morning we left the small town of Calipatria, our home for the last two days, and headed up the western side of the Salton Sea to Palm Desert, one of the many affluent communities that form the urban sprawl around Palm Springs. Our destination here was the Living Desert . This zoo and botanical garden was founded in 1970 as a nature center to preserve a part of the local desert ecosystem from encroaching development. Since then, it has grown to 1,800 acres, 1,000 of which are in their natural state. In the early 1980s the scope of the organization’s preservation efforts was expanded to include endangered species from Africa. Agave planting in the Living Desert entrance plaza Unfortunately, the economic reality is such that it is impossible to attract a sufficient number of visitors to a place like the Living Desert without offering Disneyland-style attractions. I was dreading things like “Village WaTuTu”, an “authentic replica of a village found in northeast Africa” includi

Desert trip—day 3: Salton Sea

Day 3 was spent on and around the Salton Sea. The issues involving the Salton Sea are complex to say the least, so instead of trying to summarize them here, I’ll simply refer you to this site . From there you can click through to a number of other sites if you’re interested. This is the desert distilled to its essential elements: earth, sky, and water. However, unlike elsewhere in the desert, there is plenty of water, except that it’s saltier than the Pacific Ocean and hence of no use to humans. This bizarre and hostile environment offers little for tourists looking for National Park-type beauty—in fact, its fetid odor drives them away in a hurry. It’s not until you spend a little time here and try to understand the land and the people living here that you start to appreciate this unique place. North Shore, mid-afternoon A dream that never materialized—failed subdivision Motel in Niland Salvation Mountain has been called a masterpiece of folk art by some, a toxic d