We found the cactus gardens yesterday at the ethle m chocolate factory, of all places. What an amazing oasis (both literally and figuratively) in the middle of the Las Vegas desert. Beautifully designed, the gardens featured a wide variety of cactus, all of which were just beginning to bloom. One week later, and the display would have been spectacular, but lucky for us, some of them had just started to show their amazing flowers. It's amazing that such beauty is possible from such strange and forbidding plants in an environment that seems downright unihabitable. But if this garden is any indication, the desert conditions are anything but uninhabitable. During our visit we saw a number of birds including a tiny yellow headed verdin, a scraggly, long tailed grackle and a nesting mourning dove, as well as a desert jack rabbit a short distance away.
What blew me away the most about the garden though, was the surprising color palette of the plants themselves. Lavendar and dusty magenta cactii with pale yet vibrant yellow flowers. Icy, grey blue cactii with brilliant magenta and orange blooms. Pale green cactii with electric chartruese buds and peach hued blossoms. High contrasts of paleness against punctuations of screaming exhuberance. Dramatic, inspirational and surprising. It was a great small adventure to say the least!