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A horticulturist in a plant nursery is much like a kid in a candy store, which can be VERY dangerous…..
This is where I found myself a couple of weeks ago after spending the day walking through the beautiful gardens of “The Living Desert“.  
The gardens themselves, were absolutely spectacular and I posted about the beautiful flowers and the strange and unusual plants earlier.  Well, we were on our way out after 4 hours of walking around the gardens when I saw their plant nursery.
Well, one look at the glazed expression on my face, caused my family to find the closest bench to sit on because they knew it would be a while before they would see me again.
Agave attenuata
I particularly love visiting nurseries that are connected to botanical gardens because you can usually find plants that are hard to find elsewhere.  
 
Unlike some of the big box stores, you will not find plants that are not suited to that particular area offered up for sale.  This is a huge pet peeve of mine which I will cover in a later post.
  Coral Aloe (Aloe striata)
The quality of the plants cannot be matched anywhere else either.
 An assortment of Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), in different sizes offered for sale. 
The nursery staff was assisting a couple of new desert residents in making their choices and were very helpful and knowledgeable.  Unfortunately, this is also not often the case in big box stores.
Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis)
I was quite overwhelmed at the selection that was available and I could have spent hours just looking and making choices, but my family was waiting patiently for me and so I tried my best to hurry.   
Somehow, I got out of there with only 3 plants….2 Gaura lindheimeri ‘Siskiyou Pink’ and 1 Chaparral Sage (Salvia clevelandii).  
 
It is a miracle that I came away with so few plants…..

One the most frequent comments that I receive from readers is that some of the plants that grow in the desert are so strange and unusual.  This is especially true for those of us who are not desert natives.  

Although I have lived here in the desert for over 24 years, I still find many of the plants unique and strange to my eyes.  

As promised, this is a continuation of our visit to “The Living Desert” in Palm Desert, California.  Yesterday we looked at many of the beautiful flowering plants.  Today, I thought we would focus on some of the unusual yet beautiful plants that we saw.
While we were walking, my sister (Daisy Mom) asked me if I knew what all the plants were.  The horticulturist in me would have loved to have said yes, but that would have been a lie.  Many of the plants we saw were collected from dry regions from around the world, including parts of Africa.  
The truth is is that you do not need to know a plant’s name to be able to enjoy it’s beauty, like the one above.
Kokerboom (Aloe dichotoma)
Would you believe that the plant above is an aloe?
Here is a beautiful aloe flower that we encountered.

Mexican Blue Fan Palm (Brahea armata)
This is a slow growing palm and this is a very tall specimen.  My nephew is 6 ft. tall.
My nephew (Monkey Boy) was a great companion.  Many times when I went to venture off of the main path, he offered to come along with me and was always excited about what strange plants we would find.   How many teenage boys would offer to hang out with their aunt?  I am truly blessed.
 
A collection of various kinds of columnar cacti that are native to Baja California were very interesting to see.
The cacti in the middle looks like the tentacles of a squid reaching out to catch something.
Brightly colored barrel cactus.
My son idolizes his older cousin Mr. Green Jeans.
I enjoy spending time with my oldest nephew, Mr. Green Jeans, who also loves to take photographs as much as I do.  We were constantly walking behind everyone because we were so busy taking pictures of the beauty surrounding us.
 Beavertail Prickly Pear (Opuntia basilaris) starting to form flower buds.
In April they produce beautiful magenta flowers. 
A Boojum Tree (Fouquieria columnaris)
The Boojum tree is closely related to the Ocotillo, which is not a type of cactus as many people believe.
    Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens)
This beautiful specimen of an Ocotillo towered above my husband and son.  This time of year, Ocotillo are leafing out and beginning to produce their orange colored flowers. 
California Fan Palms (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palms, not surprisingly are native to this area of the desert.  They had very old and beautiful palms that dwarfed my nephew and daughter as they walked by.
 
Not surprisingly, there are those plants that you would do well to keep your distance from.
 My nephew (Monkey Boy) and my daughter taking a break.
I realize that it may look as if my daughter has a rattlesnake around her neck….and she does.  But, she didn’t pick it up out of the desert…it is a plastic one.  She has an affinity for toy snakes.  We are not sure why, but I am happy to give her all of the toy snakes she wants if it keeps her from wanting a real one.
   Chainfruit Cholla
We had a wonderful day.  I believe that my sister thought that we would spend 2 – 3 hours walking around.  But it was 5 hours before we finally headed back to our cars.  The fault lies with me….I had such a great time enjoying all of the beautiful plants and taking 500+ pictures.  My entire family was so patient and understanding, although next time I may need to bring my own car so I can stay late.
 Soon, I will post about what we saw up above and was easily missed if we had just kept our eyes to the ground.

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”.

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.
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.
 
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.
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…
   Australian native, Weeping Wattle (Acacia saligna) is covered with golden puffball flowers.
Flowering Parry’s Penstemon (Penstemon parryi)
 Yellow Columbine benefits from the water from this stone fountain.
My son, two daughters and niece stop by the pond to see the tadpoles.
 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?
This low-growing shrub is absolutely covered in tiny purple flowers.
Are you tired yet? 
Today’s portion of our tour is almost over…
 
I love these African Daisies with their orange petals and purple center.

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…. 
 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.
 
 Now, I am off to the dentist….
  
 

We returned late last night from our visit to “The Refuge”.  The California desert was beautiful.  We enjoyed warm weather and the wildflowers blooming in the desert.

We visited “The Living Desert”, which has collections of both plants and animals that thrive in dry climates all over the world.  I had a wonderful time and took over 500 photos.  But don’t worry, I won’t make you sit through all of them 😉

I do want to show you some of my favorite pictures of our trip…..we spotted a hummingbird taking a bath.  Now, I have seen countless hummingbirds and always pause to observe their beauty and antics.  

But I have never seen one taking a bath…

Can you see her?
 She was oblivious to the crowd who had gathered to watch her and I couldn’t believe how close we were able to get.
I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I do.
Now, I’m off to the kennel to pick up the dog, grocery shop and all the other normal things that make up my life.  But in my mind, I will still be walking among the beautiful gardens of “The Living Desert”.