Annual Visit to the Desert Botanical Garden – & class!

By | What's In Bloom | December 18, 2012 | One comment

I’m on my way to sit in my sister’s class as a guest at the Desert Landscape School at the Desert Botanical Garden.  Visitors to the Desert Botanical Garden are greeted by the permanent installation (which is properly labelled I might add) Chihuly the nature of glass, Dark Towers 2008.

The Entry Garden is nothing less than spectacular!  Featuring a portion of one of the world’s most impressive living collections of desert plants, in particular, the cactus and agave families.

Today’s class focused on agaves and yuccas.  The Desert Landscape School puts particular emphasis on plant biology & taxonomy – it was excellent!  A portion of the class included the proper division of pups from agave and their potting up, as Deb demonstrates here with her take-home Agave americana (Agave) pup.

Class also included a tour which included the Yucca & Agave Forest.  On the way we passed this amazing Yucca elata (Soap tree agave) specimen, whose branches commonly grow along the ground.

Agave ovatifolia (Whale’s tongue agave) is one of the more recent introductions to the DBG’s collections, now available commercially to all of us plant lovers.

Just as in our Toronto gardens we search for other great plant traits aside from flowers, so to do desert gardeners.  Agave colorata (Mescal Ceniza) shown here, demonstrates another trait for which agaves are grown, that being the imprint of leaf folds as agave leaves unfurl.

Geoffroea decorticates (Chanar, Chilean Palo Verde) is another such plant.  This small deciduous tree whose common name means green wood, has spectacular peeling bark.  A highly recommended yet underused tree in desert gardens, possibly due to its difficulty to find for purchase.

I don’t know whether you can tell from this photo, but these Kalanchoe thyrsiflora (Kalanchoe, Paddle plant, Flapjacks) are huge!  Available for sale in the DBG shop (sound familiar?) I’m not normally a fan, but these may have won me over.

Celebrating the holiday season in style, what landscape wouldn’t be complete without a Christmas Tree.  Here at the Desert Botanical Garden, a white poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, Christmas Tree plays a duo role, both greeting & bidding farewell to visitors.

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Sandra Pella about the author: Sandra Pella

Sandra Pella has worked as Head Gardener of the Toronto Botanical Garden since 2008. She holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario, and upon graduation worked in the financial sector until the pull of plants was too much to resist, whereupon she found herself at Janet Anderson Perennials (formerly JEA Perennials) as a horticultural technician. She has been the Perennial Manager at Summerhill Nursery & Floral followed by the Assistant Horticulturist at the TBG prior to its renovation. Sandra worked as a Gardener for two seasons with the City of Toronto as well as seasonal Gardener for the TBG prior to being named Head Gardener. She is self-taught in the field and thus greatly appreciated the experience a gardening internship in 2009 at Great Dixter in the UK brought to her. Sandra has a regular What’s In Bloom blog and is one of the spokespeople for the TBG.

  • nancy

    Amazing photos! You don’t mention where the Desert Botanical Garden is?? I’m assuming Arizona? California?

TORONTO BOTANICAL GARDEN, 777 Lawrence Avenue East, Toronto, ON CANADA | 416-397-1341 |