A Trek Through The Living Desert

Palm Springs California

This past Monday my sister (Daisy Mom) took me and my family to a very special place at the base of the desert mountains.  Beautiful gardens, plant collections from around the world and wild animals were on display for all to see at “The Living Desert”.

Palm Springs California

Palm Springs California, Teddy Bear Cholla, Ocotillo and the yellow flowers of Brittlebush grace the desert.

The Palm Springs area  is located in the midst of the California desert.  One of the first things that you notice about this area is that it is surrounded by tall, snow covered mountains.  It is a wonderful example of how mountains block much of the rain from entering the desert.

Palm Springs California

My nephews, niece and children were all ready for a fun day.

We were still in the parking lot when I knew that I was in trouble….I felt pulled in so many different directions by the beautiful and unusual plants that I saw.

Palm Springs California

Saliva coccinea

In general, flowering plants are what I am drawn to and there were so many to look at.  Countless flowering plants were enjoying the warmer then normal temperatures of the upper 70’s.

tiny purple flowers

The tiny purple flowers of Trailing Indigo Bush (Dalea greggii), contrast nicely with the gray-green foliage of this groundcover.

Beautiful trees were also in flower…

Weeping Wattle

Australian native, Weeping Wattle (Acacia saligna) is covered with golden puffball flowers.

Parry's Penstemon

Flowering Parry’s Penstemon (Penstemon parryi)

Yellow Columbine

 Yellow Columbine benefits from the water from this stone fountain.

My son, two daughters

 My son, two daughters and niece stop by the pond to see the tadpoles.

Mexican Honeysuckle

  One of my favorite flowering plants that grows well in light shade, Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera).


 Salvia (I haven’t looked this one up yet)


 Another Penstemon  Did I mention already that I love Penstemons?

tiny purple flowers

 This low-growing shrub is absolutely covered in tiny purple flowers.

Are you tired yet?

Today’s portion of our tour is almost over…

African Daisies

 I love these African Daisies with their orange petals and purple center.

Palm Springs California

 I have a preference for plants that produce plumes of flowers, such as this Coral Fountain (Russelia equisetiformis).

I mentioned yesterday that I took over 500 pictures of our visit and I did promise not to make you sit through all of them.  But I do have a few more to show you.  So our next visit together will focus on some of the unusual plants that we saw.  

There were many smaller paths that led off from the main path and there were always surprises around the bend – usually spectacular vistas along with some unusual plants.  More about that next time…. 

Palm Springs California

  My daughter, heading down a path – not sure what she will find at the end.

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to view some of the beauty of this special place.

I have left one of my favorite pictures for you to view in preparation for tomorrow’s post of unusual plants.

Palm Springs California

Now, I am off to the dentist….

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
23 replies
  1. Muhammad khabbab
    Muhammad khabbab says:

    ah another lovely post from a climate i love growing in. I am sure you must have had lots of fun excitingly capturing these plants.perhaps penstemon were the best in this post so was trailing indigo bush flowers.

  2. noel
    noel says:

    wow, wow, wow, i loved that tour…boy was that hot or what…time for a lemonade break!

    noelle, i really enjoyed that tour and all those beautiful plants, i love penstemons also but that rusellia is a real stunner!

  3. Edith Hope
    Edith Hope says:

    Dear Noelle, I am simply amazed, as always when looking at and reading your postings, at the wonderful scenery all around you and the wide variety of beautiful plants growing in desert conditions.

    I particularly loved the Salvias you featured.

    I do hope that the visit to the dentist passed without incident.

  4. Catherine@AGardenerinProgress
    Catherine@AGardenerinProgress says:

    I just loved this post! Now I want to take a trip there just to see this place, not to mention it looks so warm. I love Penstemons too!
    You have such a beautiful group of kids between the two of you. I bet they had a lot of fun too.

  5. Martha Z
    Martha Z says:

    I'll have to remember about this place next time we are in the area in Spring. I'm not going to tire of these beautiful shots, bring 'em on!

  6. Kyna
    Kyna says:

    Love the Penstemon!! And such beautiful pictures of all the kids 😀

    Hope it wasn't a nasty trip to the dentist…O_O

  7. Christine B.
    Christine B. says:

    Two items: one, the penstemons you are able to grow just turn me green with envy, and two, what a dreadful way to finish off a post…the dentist! My teeth hurt just thinking of it. OK, three items: the gumdrop shaped cacti in the last pic were really cute. Can a plant be cute?

    Christine in Alaska

  8. Ami
    Ami says:

    Noelle: Love the tour! All the plants are just beautiful. I especially loved that yellow columbine 🙂 Your last picture is real making me looking forward to the next post. Oh, BTW, noticed one of kids (not sure if she is your daughter or niece) holding the flat stanley. She must be doing the flat Stanley project. My sons went through the same, and we even took the Stanley to China 🙂

  9. debsgarden
    debsgarden says:

    The flowers are all beautiful and help me appreciate the special part of the world you live in. But my favorite photo was of the children at the pond! you have a lovely family.

  10. azplantlady
    azplantlady says:


    I'm so glad you enjoyed the pictures. Jim noticed the water feature by the columbine and wondered if it was the same place we saw the bathing hummingbird and it was. Ami, you have a good eye to have noticed the "Flat Stanley". He is now off to Washington DC.

    The dentist went fine today….I only had my teeth cleaned and they found no problems, thank goodness :^)

  11. Darla
    Darla says:

    Some wonderful photos here, the children look like they were ready to do some exploring. Looking forward to learning more about the desert and it's plants.

  12. Bernie
    Bernie says:

    Great place … I loved just about every flowering beauty in your post. Of course I adore wattles… but that dark blue salvia was stunning as well. This is a place worthy of many, many visits.

  13. Bunga
    Bunga says:

    flower plants really beautiful, maybe because the mountains of soil nutrients is still very good. as well as plant varieties that are still very much.
    You are very lucky, my friend

  14. Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    I'm torn as to which is my favorite! Your opening photo is definitely a winner…the colors are so vivid! I also enjoyed the penstemon. Your coral fountain looks like my firecracker plant. Love this one! I also am partial to the shrub with the silvery fluff and purple flowers. Nice combo! I can't blame you for over 500 pics…it seems you restrained yourself considering the beauty of this place!

  15. bloominrs
    bloominrs says:

    I really enjoyed this tour. Those first and last shots are so gorgeous! It looks like there's so much to see. I can see why you spent 5 hours.

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