I saw a lot of amazing plants on the desert trip, some with fascinating stories and critical ethnobotanic ties to the region. Yet, with so many to choose from and so many photographs far better than these, even I find it a little bit odd that I chose to begin with one so tiny and insignificant.
I suppose my affection for this plant has something to do with how I found it.
We are still on our desert road trip. Yesterday we drove through Joshua Tree National Park, down a road that took us through a box canyon with some crazy terrain, and then down along the east coast of the Salton Sea. I was surprised to see a lot of agriculture out there in the middle of the desert. Needless to say it was an incredibly varied trip. Unfortunately, we have left the relatively cool temperatures in Joshua Tree and are back in the land of hot, hot, hot. Hot. HOT. If you ever find yourself driving through the desert during a summer heatwave, I highly suggest purchasing a $2 spray bottle with which to mist your face. Cools you down quickly.
We arrived in Phoenix, Arizona on the hottest day of the year. We got a car at the airport and hightailed it to the Desert Botanical Garden where a day that started out unbearably hot got worse. And worse. Few people were in the garden that day, except us, the crazy Canadians.
The trip to Rancho la Puerta begins and ends at the San Diego airport. This was my first time to Southern California, and since it turned out to be cheaper (due to the New Year travel rush) to stay a few days in San Diego than fly home straight away, we took advantage to enjoy a bonus day and a half in the city.
Having now had a chance to see first hand what gardening is like in Southern California, I can say with authority that I would move there in a heartbeat to enjoy that luscious, long-season growing. I spent the last few minutes before we had to head to the airport running from one neglected front yard citrus tree to the next screaming (mostly on the inside), “Dear god, look at all of these oranges!”
If it were not for the state of traffic and poor public transportation options, I would be cranking up the Zeppelin and packing my bags right now. I can’t live in a car dependent city, never mind the fact that my stomach was in my throat every time we got on the road. Since I’m being honest, the earthquakes freak me out a bit, too.
This garden was the first I saw when we arrived at our hotel. You’ll recognize the large clumps of blooming bird of paradise (Strelitzia). It seems to grow like a weed here and I noticed that it was a public garden planting favourite. But the real show-stopper, the plant that I could almost leave my bike-riding, public transportation utopia for is the giant Dr. Suess-like Fox Tail Agave (Agave attenuata).
My god, that is the most phenomenal agave I have ever seen in my life! Alas, I try my best to keep my little collection of potted agaves healthy, but what I wouldn’t give to grow a massive cluster like this.
There are several benefits to living and gardening in a southern climate, but it’s the promise of a killer agave garden that gets to me most.
Torrey Pines State Reserve (Beach)
I am writing this from a rocking chair in the San Diego airport, where I am winding down from just over a day in the city. We rented a car here in San Diego, a transportation method I would have preferred not to have made, as we are new drivers and navigating the streets here is panic inducing. Still, had we not rented a car, we would not have been able to see the beautiful beaches and vistas that we were able to enjoy. And since we made it out alive, I consider it to have been a success, even if I require another week in the desert to bring back the blissful, relaxed feeling I seemed to have left behind at the Mexican border.
Click on each image to see them larger.
Cabrillo National Monument, Tide Pools (This was the highlight and the spot I would most recommend. Exploring tide pools so full of ocean wildlife was a childhood dream come true!)
From Soledad Cross (We ended up here by making a wrong turn. It was worth the detour for the beautiful vistas. One of the 6 times we got lost in San Diego!)
From Cabrillo National Monument
How to Make Panoramic Images Like These:
All of these panoramics were taken with an iPhone 3GS. Some are 360 degrees and others are less. The process couldn’t be simpler and takes just a few minutes. I literally stand in one place and take lots of pictures from all around me, including everything at my feet. Try to overlap the content a little bit to avoid the black gaps you can see in some of my images. I tend to take between 12 and 30 images per scene.
I use an app called AutoStitch to assemble the images into one large scene. It costs $1.99. I find it helpful to assemble the images as I go, as it can be confusing to separate the images intended for each scene later on.
Tomorrow I will post all of the panoramics I took in the desert portion of my trip.