A few weeks ago Steve and I took a quick trip down to lovely Palm Springs to check out…well, Palm Springs! But while we were there, we visited a lot of gardening sites that inspired me, and I thought I’d bring back a few lessons for all of you. (And a surprise!) First of all, summer is “off” season in Palm Springs. Why? Because it is HOT. It hit 109 while we were there, and just a week or so ago, while the West baked, 2013 set a new record of 122 degrees in Palm Springs! So oasis it might be, but it is NOT a hospitable place to garden! But garden they do, and they do it well, if not in the same style as most of the country. Palm Springs desert gardening ideas can be reinvented for any garden style.  Here is what we learned from the gardeners of Palm Springs, and I hope it inspires you to take on you next garden challenge with a little more stick to-itiveness. Yep, I know that’s not a word…




desert landscaping


What Desert Gardening Can Teach All Gardeners


Lesson One:

Desert plants can be beautiful. No, they aren’t the English gardens of lushness, or a Japanese garden full of water and greenery. But they are some of the most interesting plants you will ever find, if you take the time to really look at them. They are scientific marvels to boot, everything about them designed to face those temperature extremes, wind and drought. Most of us might not usually have the chance to enjoy palms, cacti, succulents and other desert plants anywhere other than the exotic section of the local nursery. Trust me, in their native space, they shine.

Lesson Two:

No excuses. If you think your garden issues are rough, tough it out. Palm Springs manages to garden in one of the most inhospitable places in the country, and they do it with style. And I mean the kind of high style the celebs crave, if evidenced by the number of celebrity homes there. So the next time your rocky soil or rainy summers may you think that’s the reason your garden isn’t performing, think differently. No matter what holds you back, find a way around it. The trick? Choose plants suited to your site, then make the most of them. Simple as that.

Lesson Three:

Mid-century modern style has become hot all around the country, and not just in interior design. Don’t believe me? Check out theses articles on mid-century gardens…

Garden Design


So if you have a mid-century home that you just think of as “old”… lucky you! Start celebrating the treasure you have!

Palm Springs gardeners do it the best, and I love it! Visiting a new place allowed me to open my mind to the desert gardening style, and that’s what we all should learn to do. Look for the beauty in nature (as in life) wherever we can find it, because its always right there.

Lesson Four:

Texture is everything! Take a look at these photos that we took while we were there, and you will see there is very little color. But there is plenty of texture, form and design. We can all take a lesson from the bones of these gardens.

Lesson Five:

When the best thing that ever happened to you slips a ring on your finger and proposes at Sinatra’s fav PS restaurant on a gorgeous summer night, you say yes. Quickly. So I did.


desert landscaping

desert landscaping

desert landscaping

desert landscaping

desert landscaping
We hope you enjoyed opening up your gardening mind and learning about Palm Springs desert gardening! If you want to know about our other Palm Springs garden adventures, see our posts on our Desert Garden Moller’s Nursery Visit and Grow a Cactus Garden – Our Visit to Moorten Botanical Gardens. (Fun Fact: One of them has another romantic ending!) Also visit our post on Cool DIY Indoor Cactus Gardens!
All Photos by Steve Bates.


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