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Desert Bouquet

February 27, 2011

Color spike

Our ongoing tour of SoCal succulent nurseries continued Saturday with a visit to Mariscal Cactus & Succulents in Desert Hot Springs, just across the freeway from Palm Springs. One of three locations (the other two are in Escondido and Fallbrook in San Diego county), this outpost of Mariscals has been open only since last December. Rain was falling in steady sheets when I woke at 5am … but by the time we set out for the nursery it had stopped, leaving heavy cloud cover and windy, frigid air. As we traveled down the 10 Freeway toward the desert, the clouds were spectacular, the surrounding mountains blindingly snowbound even at their lowest levels … and it was getting colder. By the time we reached the propellers of Palm Spring’s windmills, and the nursery itself, it was teeth-chatteringly cold. But, pulling into the parking lot I could feel that ol’ succulent excitement … and no matter the windchill, I had to explore what looked like a succulent paintbox under the clouds. Row upon row of juicy leaf  color was calling …

Desert paintbox

The only thing more riotous than the succulent color on display was the over-the-top cock-a-doodle-doo-ing of a gang of roosters at the caretaker’s house next door. This only added to the sense of giddy excitement I felt seeing all my succulent favorites in one place: the hot-hued, the cool-colored, the frilly, the trailing, the rosette-shaped, the flap-jacked, the blooming and the budding. Click twice on the pictures to share the excitement.

Downbeat tones

Some specimens were more low-key color-wise, and had an almost metallic tonality. Copper, pewter, lead, rusted iron, even concrete, share the same color palette as these plants; I wondered how these would look in my carved rock pots …

So shapely

Along with the succulent color story is the visual excitement provided by foliage of every description. Splayed, thrusting, tiered and tentacled, succulents run the shape gamut in ways I never tire of. I just wish I could have all of them … Oh, then there’s this:

D'oh'nt touch!

… Bart Simpson as mutant teddy bear. So cuddly, it’s hard to resist lifting him from his plastic pot … except you know you’d end up with a fistful of needles.


I love how the self-contained, yet geometrically complex, structures of certain succulents lend themselves to repetitive graphic displays. Whether baby cactus or echeveria rosette, seeing them arranged just so is a delight for the eye.

The roll-out

So, did I buy anything? Oh, yeah … here’s the haul. I limited myself to what I could load on the trolley but think I did pretty well, coming away with a sweet selection of old favorites and new loves.


Mariscal Cactus & Succulents’ out-of-the-way setting only adds to its charm … set between mountains on two sides and surrounded by sandy openness, it feels like a bouquet in the desert. By the time the final tally had been rung up, rain had begun falling and it was time for lunch. While Paul loaded the car I asked for directions to a nearby restaurant … happy to hear that a good Mexican place was just down the road. We needed fuel because we’d passed something amazing at a stone yard a short distance before the nursery, and wanted to check it out before returning to Riverside. Check back tomorrow for that post — it’ll be rockin’…

Mariscal Cactus & Succulents is located at 66085 Dillon Road, Desert Hot Springs. For further information, including hours and other locations, check their website here.







13 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2011 5:31 am

    What a great haul! I love how winter brings out the flowers or the more extreme coloration of a lot of succulents. Mariscal Cactus and Succulents…okay it’s on my list of places to visit, either in their desert spot or the ones closer to me in SD County. Thanks for the intro!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      February 28, 2011 5:33 am

      Hey, James, you’re welcome! I agree, winter’s light, often filtered through rain clouds, definitely enhances the colors of succulents and makes them more intense…

  2. Mrs. Monstera permalink
    February 28, 2011 9:26 am

    I’ve never heard of this place. I must visit soon! I miss all that rain already. 😦

    • reubix1 permalink*
      February 28, 2011 1:14 pm

      Wait, is the rain gone now? … I’m torn between missing it and saying hallelujah!

  3. mattisalomaki permalink
    February 28, 2011 3:38 pm

    Quite a haul, and gorgeous photos. Dr Seuss would be inspired both in form and color. Matti

    • reubix1 permalink*
      February 28, 2011 3:54 pm

      Thanks, Matti, ironically because I’d left my camera at home I had to resort to my iPhone for pics … Now I’m thinking …

  4. March 1, 2011 12:23 am

    So jealous looking at that haul, your garden is going to be looking GOOD for the tour!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 1, 2011 2:51 am

      Here’s hoping, Loree! I almost can’t wait for it to be over and done with so I can stop thinking about it

  5. J.E. Nelson permalink
    March 2, 2011 5:32 am

    I’m new to this blog. Have you already visited, and photographed, Tio’s Tacos on Mission Inn Blvd???

  6. AlgaRythums permalink
    October 5, 2011 10:40 pm

    Juicy leaf color?! hehe… I love it. Ooooh, the three rounds with the echeveria rosettes make me squeal with joy. I can’t decide which I love best.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 5, 2011 11:20 pm

      I couldn’t choose either, as you can tell by my haul …


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