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Discovering High Desert Beauty

Joshua Tree

Mohave Desert, Southern California

Mohave Desert living surprises new residents, especially the ones who have never lived in such arid weather or terrain covered with cacti and Yucca plants. Scorching hot and dry summer days, rattlesnakes, and dirt are typically expected. What else could there be? It’s just a hot, dry desert. Right? Maybe to some who haven’t stayed long enough to discover more. But to others, the area grows on you as you begin to notice its beauty like the author who comically describes the High Desert in “Living in the High Desert.”

Joshua Tree

High Desert Joshua Tree

Mohave Desert Joshua Tree

Photo by Greg Horn

One of the first things noticeable in the High Desert is the Joshua tree. It is the largest of the Yucca. Different than most trees, its trunk doesn’t have rings that grow annually. Joshua trees can live over 500 years. Their pointed leaves are sharp. If you get one stuck in your foot, it hurts worse than a needle.


Growing a garden in the desert seems like a daunting task, but it is possible. Flower, vegetable, and herb gardens all can grow well in the High Desert.

Pink Cactus Flower

My Garden Pink Cactus Flower

Cacti flowers

My Chain Cholla Cactus Flowers

Bright pink and green is vivid where there are cacti which, surprisingly, produce beautiful colorful blooms. It seems amazing that the prickly native plants can produce the gorgeous flowers. California Poppies, easy to grow in the Mohave Desert, show off their orange beauties. Pinching off a few twigs of this plant and sprinkling them around the yard is about all you have to do to multiply this plant in your yard.

Growing poppies in Southern California

California Poppies with Raindrops

Growing a garden is possible in this hot and dry region, but it does take determination. Drought and triple digit weather can cause complications. Cities enforce a watering schedule of certain days that you can’t water, extreme heat and lack of water makes tomatoes crack, and some vegetables won’t make it. However, those hindrances don’t stop the High Desert gardener from trying.

Strawberries have grown in my garden for the first time this year. Popping the itty bitty berries in my mouth is a treat I enjoy when I’m gathering tomatoes or beans.

Four types of tomatoes were planted, two of them in my square-foot garden and two near the strawberries and a grapevine. The tomatoes stayed green so long that I wondered if they would ever turn red. Finally, they did – and tons more grew and ripened. I gave baskets of tomatoes away.

Growing tomatoes in the High Desert

High Desert Organic Tomatoes


My favorite herbs that grow exceptionally well are lavender, rosemary, basil, and mint. Watching hummingbirds drink the nectar from each lavender blossom is a highlight of growing the herbs close to the kitchen window. Catching that on camera is quite challenging, though. Every time I grab my phone camera, the hummingbirds fly to the window and hover for a moment as if to tease me and say, “Catch me if you can.” One day I hope to be waiting and quick to snap the perfect picture.


Lavender in an Herb Garden

Desert Sunsets

One of the prettiest sights in the High Desert is shadows on the mountains during sunset. Sometimes the sun shines so that the shadows make the mountains look purple. Natural Mohave Desert beauty.

Mohave Desert Sunset

High Desert Sunset


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