Garden Tour Proves Desert Doesn't Have to Be Drab

Color accents tour of six Palm Springs homes with desert landscape



The Palm Springs backyard of Nikki Stone and her husband, Chris Andersen, offers a variety of color changes from the desert plants.

Michelle Roe

Nikki Stone isn’t sure what she will see next in her back yard.

She and her husband, Chris Andersen, installed a desert landscape at their Palm Springs home that is not only wise with water but continues to amaze them with its appearance.

“We love the fantastic variety of desert plants,” Stone said. “Just when you think they will ‘look’ a certain way, they surprise you. All green one day, red the next and wow a fantastic ‘flower’ on top of the plant; how cool is that!”

The couple’s home will be one of six Palm Springs stops during the Desert Horticultural Society of the Coachella Valley’s (DHSCV) eighth annual Desert Garden Tour from 1-4 p.m. Sunday (April 14) showcasing native desert gardens.

Open to the public, registered guests will have a unique and up-close opportunity to explore desert garden retreats that go against common ideas associated with desert landscapes.

“We want to go against the perception that the desert is an arid place that is unfriendly to gardening,” said Mary Brent Wehrli, president of the Desert Horticultural Society. “We want to show people that desert gardens can be colorful year round and that there is an alternative to grass, gravel, and cactus.” 

Desert landscape impressions could seem boring, uninviting, or even bone dry. With miles of sand and rock on the horizon, it’s hard to envision a desert environment that doesn’t include hot temperatures and an abundance of prickly cactus.

To combat this stereotype, the DHSCV has made it its mission to promote the beauty and sustainability of desert gardens. Since its inception in 2005, DHSCV has assembled local garden enthusiasts, landscape professionals, industry experts and conservationists to encourage “native” gardening that can assist the environment by helping to protect natural wildlife as well as conserve water.

Volunteers work to provide outreach programs, education, and awareness to the public. The group strives to get the message out that desert gardens can also be beautiful, but it’s challenging.

“Many of the significant native gardens here in the Valley are shrouded behind private walls,” Wehrli said. “If you can’t see a beautiful example of a fine desert garden, it is tough to be inspired to do it yourself”.

The Desert Garden Tour takes participants behind those walls,  giving the exclusive one-day tour a kind of “treasure hunt” . 

Registered participants will be given a map to each garden location as they embark on a self-guided tour. The map will be their “key” to discovering hidden garden treasures including water features, succulents, flowering perennials, shrubs, and garden art that make for fabulous desert garden impressions.

“Each garden is a little bit different” Wehrli said, “and is special in an exquisite way.“

Register for the Desert Garden Tour online at www.DesertHorticulturalSociety.org. On-site registration will be held the day of the event (April 14) at Wellness Park, southwest corner of Via Miraleste and Tachevah, in Palm Springs.

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