Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage Front Gardens, and 2 Back Gardens with Pools

Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage Front Gardens, and 2 Back Gardens with Pools

Marilyn Monroe in downtown Palm Springs, Calif

This is my 4th and final post about my trip to California last month. That should satisfy the Western reader who complained that I don’t cover gardens in California nearly enough. (I live in the East.)

I’d never been to Palm Springs, California and thought of it as the town where people like Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra go to retire and play golf. Which is true, and two of its main streets are named after those guys.  But then I heard about its Modernist Week every year celebrating stunning Mid-Century Modern homes, and the Palm Springs Film Festival, and how beautiful the place is – so I jumped on an invitation from old friends.

On my drive there from L.A. the land looked other-worldly to me, with palm trees, wind farms and nearby mountains. What planet was I on?

I arrive in Palm Springs where, as I did in Santa Monica, I hoped to cycle through the best residential neighborhoods, gawking at/photographing stunning homes and gardens that are so unlike anything back home.  I was sorry to discover that most residential neighborhoods in the area are walled- and gated-off, so off-limits to gawkers like me.  I followed my friends’ suggestion – an older, nongated one with large lots.

Then one quick search failed to turn up bikes for rent in the city (which I now see, upon second googling, are actually available), so I settled for a drive-through via the rented Chevy whose functions I never fully grasped.  (Running out of gas but unable to open the gas cap, I was rescued only by a how-to video on YouTube.)

 On my drive, I spotted just a few gardens that I was moved to photograph.

Central Palm Springs Homes and Front Gardens

I saw lots of homes like this – massive in square footage but spread out, all on one floor. Rocks, palm trees and succulents.

Here’s another typical planting, with more modern architecture. That’s a lot of driveway, huh?

After driving through block after block of beige homes and beige gardens, I stopped to admire this wall in Mexican burnt orange and tiles, with just a hint of more color on the other side. Forgetting that I was driving a car, not riding a bike, my stopping to gawk nearly caused an accident.  That’s what a sucker I am for color. 

For safety’s sake I resolved never to garden-gawk by car again.

Golfing Communities just outside Palm Springs

Newer, slightly less expensive housing continues to pop up nearby, like The Springs just seven miles away in Rancho Mirage, where I stayed.  This gives you a great view.

That’s where I learned that there are nongolf residential communities and golf ones. While The Springs is a “golf one”, centered on the handsomely landscaped clubhouse above, residents’ monthly fee doesn’t include golf – so only golfers pay for the golf course.

Here are some gardens I saw on my morning walk through the neighborhood.

Color – yay!

I love this look, including the stones as groundcover, though I’m afraid that plants like this wouldn’t give me enough to DO.  Or the ability to touch them without thick gloves.

I wonder if they put down landscape fabric under the stones, or if weeds just aren’t a problem here, where there’s just about 5 inches of rain yearly. No bark or wood chip mulch in sight, anywhere. More shades of grey and beige, very typical.

Total commitment to gravel, with daily raking?

Almost anywhere in the community you have views like this. Snow-capped – who knew?

The Promised Back Garden with Pool

Finally, this is my friends’ home, where I got to see inside the roughly 3,000-sf home, spread across one floor. 

The pool and hottub take up a lot of the open space, but who in their right mind would want to live in the desert without a pool? (Average high temperature in July – 108 degrees F.)

Pool and all, this green-loving Easterner fell for the back garden, with its blue tiles, furniture and accents, beautiful landscaping and that view of the mountains. 

So yes, I think I could adjust to life here, despite those summer temperatures. Hell, I have to get up predawn to garden in hot+humid Maryland, anyway.

You can spot the hottube here, center-left.

With plant-covered 8-foot-high walls seen in this pano view, neighbors can be quite close without losing privacy.

I love residential architecture that feature views of the garden, like Joe and Kevin’s home does. So unlike the beige sameness so dominant in the desert, the view here is of lush, colorful landscaping that’s actually touchable.

One More Back Garden – in the San Fernando Valley

And closer to Los Angeles, my nephew and his family have a similar back yard, probably typical of Southern California – mostly pool, hottub and hardscape. No fussing with lawn. And this time the privacy is provided by a tall hedge of something or other.

Again with the Shearing!

When I saw this shrub in my nephew’s yard – the work of their landscapers – I had a visceral urge to ruthlessly cut off all the dead plant parts and reveal its lovely structure. (I’m assuming it has one).  Sad to say, no pruning tools were available, so I’m left with a rant-worthy “before” photo.

Speaking of, the landscape seen in these last photos, around a retiree residence in Palm Springs, sports hundreds of bizarrely shaped shrubs. Sigh.

Look at what untrained laborers can do to some poor Bougainvilleas!

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