While all of us who live in
the desert southwest and California hope that coming winters
will give us above-normal precipitation, there is evidence
that previous desert dwellers, the Anasazi people, faced
By looking at tree rings, researchers
have discovered that there was a major drought in the
Southwest between 1125 and 1180 – that’s 55 years! Again, in
the following century, a drought came and, this time, the
Anasazi destroyed their kivas, abandoned their pueblos and
left the area.
The prospect of a decades-long drought is real. Consider
this when you design and plant a desert garden.
Cactus and Succulents are the ultimate drought-tolerant
plants, but we confess they have never been of great
interest to us until a recent visit to the Huntington
Botanic Gardening San Marino, California.
The Desert Garden section of
this Botanic Garden is guaranteed to inspire a love of
succulents and their prickly cousins, cactus. And what a joy
– almost every single plant is clearly identified on an
easily readable label.
As important as the individual
specimens are, the overall design of the
HuntingtonDesert Garden is spectacular. For
one thing, they have not planted one specimen here, another
there. The plants are massed in groups to create dramatic,
dense borders and mini-gardens along winding paths beneath
pines and mesquites.
We have added a new page to the Hot
Gardens website to show you how beautiful a
cactus and succulent garden can be. Visit our new page,
then visit the Huntington Botanic Gardens in person or
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Unlike other trees, palms do best when planted in warm
weather. They love warm soil around their roots. Of course,
a newly planted palm, like any transplant, needs additional
watering until it is established. Another note about the
Huntington Botanic Garden: they have huge
section devoted to Palm trees right next to the Desert
Some of these
palms will thrive in the desert, others will not. Be
sure to check with your local nursery about which palms do
best in your area. (Then after you have seen the palms and
cactus, go to the Huntington Tea Room for a traditional
There is a new
hybrid of the Cape Honeysuckle
in nurseries this year with a light yellow blossom. This
South African native vine blooms beautifully for months on
end and is probably one of the best climbers for the desert.
It needs support so plant it adjacent to your arbor or
pergola; it is too vigorous a grower for a simple short
Go to our
Newsletter for June 2003