On your next trip to Palm Springs, take a tour of the Moorten Botanical Garden. There’s something of interest for everyone with plants, glistening crystals, colorful rocks, ancient fossils, pioneer and gold mine relics. It’s a 1 acre family owned botanical garden specializing in cacti and other desert plants, located in Palm Springs, Riverside County, California. It is in the Colorado Desert ecosystem.
The Moorten family, all desert plant specialists, turned their residence estate into a living museum of desert lore. The Moorten Gardens were established in 1939 by Patricia and Chester “Cactus Slim” Moorten. The Moorten collected many of their own specimen plants from Baja California, mainland Mexico, and as far south as Guatemala. This private arboretum was created to share with everyone the beauty and extraordinary varieties of desert plants from around the world. Featuring desert trees and cacti from miniatures to giants.
It is a classic collection of more than 3,000 varieties of plants designed in concentrated habitats along a natural trail. Also, a special exhibition of quite rare plants. The Moorten’s Mediterranean style home, called “Cactus Castle” is in the Palm Grove Oasis, often described as haven of tranquility. The garden includes: examples of the desert cacti and other desert plants, grouped by geographic regions: Arizona-Sonoran Desert-Yuma Desert, Baja California Peninsula, California- High Desert-Mojave Desert and Low Desert-Colorado Desert-Yuha Desert, Colorado Plateau-Great Basin Desert, Sonora, Mexico-Gran Desierto de Altar, South Africa-Succulent Karoo, South America-Monte Desert-Patagonian Desert and the Texas-Chihuahuan Desert.
Outdoor collections include: Agaves, Bombax, Cereus, Cardoon and Boojum trees, “arborescent candelabra Euphorbia”, a two-story Pachypodium, thorned Caesalpinia and Bursera and over a dozen Aloes of southern Africa and Madagascar.
“Cactarium” greenhouse collections include: cacti and succulents, with caudiciform species exhibiting thickened root crowns, many species of Asclepiads Azecia, Gymnocalycium, Alstromeria, Euphorbia, and Ferocactus, plus two fine examples of Welwitschia mirabilis from Namibian desert.
The Moortens not only provided the desert landscaping for many of Palm Springs’ rich and famous homeowners, but were responsible for landscaping the route of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. During the 1950’s they were also called upon to create a desert setting for a new amusement park in Orange County that would be known the world over as Disneyland. Chester “Cactus Slim” Moorten was also one of the original Keystone Kops. He worked in numerous silent movies. He also started mining gold in what is now Joshua Tree National Park. Moorten’s Mill site is still an attraction there.
Located just outside downtown Palm Springs, the Moorten Botanical Garden is a perfect stop on your next Palm Springs vacation.