What’s in Bloom: Braving the Low Desert Sun (Yeah Right!) …

By | What's In Bloom | Tags: , | February 7, 2014 | 2 comments

… to see Chihuly in the Garden for my annual winter trip to the Desert Botanical Garden with Deborah.  This photo is a closeup of Sapphire Star (2010) by artist Dale Chihuly, installed in 2013.

Sand&Deb Entry Chihuly

As you pass through the entry gate, the first of many surprises greets you. Here Chihuly’s Sapphire Star (2010) greets visitors. Installed in 2013, the exhibit runs until May 18, 2014. Let me just say it is spectacular.

Blue 'Medusa' Chihuly

Blue Fiori Sun (2013) sits above a dry wall with Fouquieria splendens (ocotillo) in the background, left; and Euphorbia rigida (gopher plant) in the foreground, left.

Red&Yellow Chihuly

I didn’t get all the proper names of the Chihuly installations, but this one—and a few others—reminded Deb and I of Medusa. Red and yellow blown glass on a single tall post, two of which line the entry to the choice of trails beyond.  

Chihuly Polyvitro Chandelier

I took a close-up of Chihuly’s Polyvitro Chandelier (2006) in the Succulent Gallery.

Chihuly Polyvitro Chandelier 2006

Is it a skyscraper? No, it’s Chihuly’s Polyvitro Chandelier (2006). Even before we were standing next to it, I was laughing and wanted to have my picture taken with it (sorry, not included).

Red Chihuly w Deb

But I did get Deb to pose for me next to this beast—fantastic orange, red and yellow twisting blown glass attached to a red post, nestled in with the cactus and agave.

Red Chihuly on a stick

There she blows! You gotta have some fun, right? Whether you luv ‘em or otherwise, all these creations by Chihuly made us laugh. And when I checked, everyone around us was having just as much fun with them. Isn’t that what vacations, and gardens, are for?

Yellow& Black Chihuly Ball

There are glass balls on the ground amongst the plants as well. This yellow and black ball by Chihuly caught my eye.

Chihuly purple spikes reeds

These tall slender spikes, or “reeds” as they’re called, are discovered throughout the garden in a multitude of colours, from purple to yellow, green, black and white and red.

Chihuly Red Reeds

The red of Chihuly’s Red Reeds is especially vibrant amongst the opuntia and saguaro.

Yellow Herons 2007

Chihuly Yellow Herons (2007) is especially vibrant in the garden. Although I could go on and on…

Chihuly Pink&White w lavender reeds

…OK last one! Pink and white featured with reeds are all Chihuly. Forgive me for not knowing all the proper titles but wow! What a show. It’s been awhile since I’ve updated my blog, so how about some desert plants now?

Ferocactus wislizeni

The fruit of this Ferocactus wislizeni (fishhook barrel cactus) were so beautiful I had to take a closeup. It’s located in the Entry Garden, near the Chihuly Sapphire Star (2010).

Ferocactus latispinus

Ferocactus latispinus (Devil’s tongue) is a species of barrel cactus native to the southern United States and central Mexico.

Opuntia basilaris

Opuntia basilaris (Beavertail pricklypear) is native to the southwest United States. It almost puts our native-Ontario opuntia to shame, almost.

Opuntia polyacantha var. erinaceae

Opuntia polyacantha var. erinaceae (Grizzly bear pricklypear) has long flowing spines, which sometimes completely cover the flat, medium-sized pads.

Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis

Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis (Cow tongue pricklypear) is critically imperilled in its native range, as noted on the Desert Botanical Garden’s label for this cactus.

Yucca rigida

Yucca rigida (Blue yucca) is tree-like with long blue-grey blades. Stunning.

Yucca faxoniana

Last time I visited the Desert Botanical Garden, these three Yucca faxoniana (Faxon yucca) were sporting spectacular flower spikes.

Yucca elata

This Yucca elata (soaptree yucca) was reaching up into that bright blue sky that followed me everywhere in the low desert. The weather was as warm (hot some days) there as it was cold here. I might add, though, that it was easily a minimum of six degrees centigrade above average winter temperatures.

Stay tuned for agaves next week.

Ocotillo Reaching for that Blue Sky

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo) reaching for that blue sky.

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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.

  • trishca

    Gorgeous photos Sandra! Makes me want to take a trip and see them for myself.

  • mac

    Your pictures are great! We got to see Chihuly at the DBG both during the day and at night this year. In case you want them, here are the names of the installations in your pics:

    Photo 4: The pair of “Medusa” is called “Yellow Asymmetrical Tower (2005)”.

    Photo 7-8: The “fantastic orange” is “Summer Sun (2010)”.

    Photo 9: The “balls on the ground” is part of “Black Niijima Floats (2013)”.

    Photo 10: The “tall slender spikes” is called “Neodymium Reeds (2013)”. All reed installations (including “Red Reeds” in photo 11) were created in 2013.

    Photo 13: The “pink and white” installation comprises both “White Tower (1997)” and “Erbium Pink Fiori (2013)”.

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