I'm in love with desert gardens. The incredible shapes, colors and survival methods of the diverse plant types that make their home in the harsh and arid conditions of the desert, are always surprising and impressive. That "biology of survival" added to the rigors of designing an appealing and interesting garden, seems a design challenge of the highest order to me. That's why I love the Huntington Desert Garden in Pasadena. It is a magnificant example of both: great garden design and a great desert garden. It's one of my favorite places in the world.
Another desert garden, that I'd like to visit some time, is the Ruth Bancroft garden in Walnut Creek. This garden is described as a "preeminent demonstration of the art of garden design. Working primarily with the dramatic forms of her beloved succulents, Mrs. Bancroft has created bold and varied compositions in which the colors, textures, and patterns of foliage provide a setting for the sparkle of floral color." Sign me up for some of that!
And later this month, I'm going to visit the gardens of the late Madame Ganna Walska at Lotusland in Santa Barbara, which boasts of a great cactus and succulent garden (among many other types including a blue garden!) on the 37 acre estate. I'm so excited, I can hardly wait!
In between the rare chances to see real desert gardens up close and personal, I have just found a great resource to satisfy my love for desert gardens. diane's baja desert garden blog is a wonderful chronicle of the beauty and challenge of growing a garden in a place that has had only 1.5 inches of rain in the last 2 years. The site features beautiful photography of the strange and wonderful plants in her garden, as well all the birds and animals that live in or around it. Her garden is a testament to designing within the very harsh conditions of the desert, resulting in the creation of a place of unique and magical beauty.