Huntington Desert Garden, December 2020: agaves and other New World buddies

Last week, I showed you what was blooming in the Old World section of the Huntington Desert Garden when I visited on December 31, 2020. This post continues where the Old World section converges with the New World section. 

While there is a general geographic separation between Old World (upper garden) and New World (lower garden), you'll see the occasional overlap, like aloes growing next to cactus. Purists may object to that, but as a fusion gardener, I'm totally on board—after all, it's exactly what I do at home.

The major changes currently happening in the Desert Garden, including the construction of a new entrance and new paths, are largely confined to the upper end. There's little evidence of construction in the lower portion.

I don't often include people in my photos, but I'm making a point in this post to show how few visitors there were. As I mentioned earlier, the Huntington requires advance reservations and has a strict capacity limit to make social distancing easier. There were a few times during my visit when I couldn't see anybody else. Granted, that was in areas with taller vegetation where visibility is limited, but still.

I have a conflicted relationship with ruffled echeverias, but I enjoy looking at the occasional specimen—in somebody else's garden

Masked visitor taking a photo. Keeping my fingers crossed that on my next visit, nobody will have to wear a mask.

Yeah, I took a photo of this view, too

And a wider angle perspective. To me, this is the definition of spectacular.

The apple green agaves are Agave chazaroi

Hechtia glauca

Hechtia lanata

Agave oteroi (right) and lots of cactus

Bird's nest cactus (Thelocactus rinconensis)

Agave bovicornuta surrounded by golden barrels (Echinocactus grusonii)

Hechtia huamelulaensis (left) and Astrophytum ornatum (right) 

Hechtia huamelulaensis, my current hechtia crush

Ferocactus robustus

Deuterocohnia brevifolia (left)

Another jaw-dropping view

Golden barrels (Echinocactus grusonii) on the right

Beautiful contrast of color, size, and texture

Agave ovatifolia and Cleistocactus strausii

Caesalpinia cacalaco

Mammillaria compressa

Mammillaria compressa

Golden barrel wonderland

Ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)

Agave mitis var. albidior

Dunno what it is, but it looks great growing at the base of this rock. Sometimes the simplest combinations are the most effective.

Agave datylio var. vexans

Agave datylio var. vexans

Agave parryi var. truncata

Agave franzosinii

Agave franzosinii

Agave impressa

Hechtia stenopetala

Agave applanata

Flowering Fouquieria diguettii, a Mexican relative of the ocotillo

Puyas reigning supreme in their corner of the Desert Garden 

Maintenance (aka bushwhacking, possibly involving freshly sharpened machetes) has exposed the dense mass of stems of these puyas

No other people in this corner of the lower garden!

Agave americana 'Marginata'

Agave mapisaga var. lisa (guessing)

Agave potatorum with particularly twisted terminal spines

More Agave potatorum with twisted spines

Close-up of twisted terminal spines and mammillate leaf margins

Agave schidigera

No idea what they are, but they make a great combo

Agave victoriae-reginae

This is arguably the most photographed area of the Desert Garden. It's easy to see why!

Over the years, it seems the golden barrels (Echinocactus grusonii) have multiplied while the number of agaves (Agave parryi var. truncata) has decreased as the mature specimens flower and die

I vote for planting more truncatas!

Yep, this is a pretty special spot

Agave 'Blue Flame'

My favorite agave pairing at the Huntington. The end.

I have never been able to get a definitive ID of this agave, but I believe it's Agave mapisaga var. lisa

Dragon tree (Dracaena draco)... the perfect foil for cactus, and agaves, and yuccas

And finally a spectacular carpet of echeverias

Whenever I visit the Huntington, I leave full of inspiration, joy, and energy. And I usually sleep very well the night after because my brain worked so hard processing the flood of visual stimuli.   


See all posts about the Huntington

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  1. I suppose it should be no surprise that you and I were drawn to many of the same vignettes. And yes... more Agave parryi please!!!

  2. Almost like being there! Thanks for sharing your visit.

  3. Gorgeous photos. Love the photo of the Agave mapisaga lisa and the bench. The contrast really shows how huge that agave is. I am hoping to visit sometime in the next year. Fingers crossed.

  4. Thank you for all the golden barrel photos especially! So many beautiful specimens died here in Phoenix with the record summer heat. So sad! Now, with our climate so hot, they definitely need to be in part shade in the afternoons. But even many of those died from high heat especially overnight! Love your tours of so many wonderful gardens, Gerhard!

  5. So many fantastic photographs. I'm drown to the bulbous trunks of the ponytail palm (#23), and the mystery trunk in photo 29 next to Agave franzosinii: I see the foot of a giant prehistoric elephant...

  6. Stunning! We so need to go here once travel is possible again. Was just watching an episode of Around the world.... where Monty Don visited Huntington the other day.


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