The desert had it's own bleak beauty under clear skies the first weekend in March. I love the drive across the desert to Palm Springs, with flocks of silvery windmills langorously whirling their blades in the breezes channeling through the hills down into the desert.
So why are people still planting lawns, geraniums and petunias in that arid climate? It's as if the snow birds are trying to recreate their gardens at home rather than appreciating the desert around them...I was heartened to see that several new develoments, and some of the older ones, are moving toward more naturalistic, dry gardens. And why wouldn't they, with all those dramatic succulents and cacti to choose from? Here's a gorgeous succulent composition in a window box along a commercial strip in Palm Springs:
I met my first boojum tree (Fouquieria columnaris) at the Living Desert, which must surely be a model for zoos everywhere with its emphasis on conservation of native flora and fauna, as well as those from similar climates around the world.
Boojums are ancient trees made famous by Lewis Carroll in "The Hunting of the Snark". Native to the Sonoran Desert in Baja, these weird trees can tower to 80 feet. The largest specimens are 500-600 years old, and keep their upside-down shape for all those centuries...
While Palm Desert's setting against snow-dusted hills is stunning, and the blast of sunshine will help me make it through the last weeks of winter, after a few days the sunshine seems harsh, and I was happy to come home to the misty Northwest.
Here are a few more sights from the Living Desert; the cultivated garden outside the shop offers a sharp contrast to the mostly naturalistic landscape;