Thorns, Moorten's, March 2012

Thorns, Moorten's, March 2012, by Lissa Heineman

My favorite stop on our California desert vacation was the strange and wonderful little Moorten Botanical Garden “in the heart of Palm Springs”. Between the golf courses and the ill-advised decision to try to coax palm trees out of their desert oasis canyons (they take a lot of water – per capita use here is 540 gallons per person per day), Palm Springs has some problems. But Moorten’s left me willing to forgive a great deal.

It’s probably less than an acre spread out around the old Moorten family house, and since the 1930s Chester “Cactus Slim” Moorten, his wife, Patricia Moorten, and their heirs have offered up a delightful three quarters of an acre of cactus and desert plants, for a small fee that is very much worth it.

Lissa’s late sister Ginnie, who lived up the road in Morongo Valley, first took L to Moorten’s some years ago, but I’d never been. We love cactus, so when we were plotting out our journey around the Salton Sea and nearby points, Lissa added Moorten’s to the itinerary.

A maze-like path winds through the tiny property, hand-lettered signs tell you what you’re looking at, and if you’re there at the right time of year, a Costa’s hummingbird sits on the postcard rack, right above a postcard of a hummingbird. Really.

Full slide show of L’s Moorten’s pictures is here.