Thursday, October 28, 2010


Sometimes you think it's not possible in the desert or it's something out of the ordinary....but yet there it is..... a random critter that lives in your garden.  While I was watering, a praying mantis flew out of the plants.  I think these bugs are really cool and they almost seem catlike in nature. 

Speaking of cats, a lizard ran into our home the other night and I wished it luck as the 5 cats began their hunt.  I tried to save it but the little guy would have none of it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Black Plague of Roses Part 2

Several weeks ago I wrote about black canes on my roses...possibly canker?  Well I trimmed them back, moved the water hose, and did a little  fertilizing.  Today I went to look and see where they were at...and here is the pic I have of the rose garden.  The left side reports healthy growth while the right side, which had the very black canes, is showing very little growth.  I am going to give it some more time, but my diagnosis of the right side is this....they had less sun and a lot of water causing the canker.  My solution is to pull them if they still are having issues by December and replace them with new roses in January.  At that point, I will keep the water hoses off of all roses and water them by hand.  I think they were overwatered so we'll see what happens in December....stay tuned for the 3rd and final part of the descanso roses:)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Outdoor Wedding Theme

One of the things that I love most about being outdoors is the way a garden can be transformed into a beautiful event.  Last year at a friend's wedding, we went to a local Tucson hotel at Speedway and Wilmot for the reception.  I was impressed at how they had  changed a pool area into something very special.

When speaking about themes in a previous posting, these pics had come to mind from last year.  An outsider of our desert may wonder how all this is possible.....with a bit of knowledge on plants and spacing, anything is possible....anything.  That's why Arizona is such an incredible place to garden....this is what locals would call the "Arizona Room".  During this time of year when temps go down, it is very popular to eat outside at restaurants or at your own home.

One of the things I liked most was how they used a chimenea to warm up the area at night and also how they used Chinese lanterns to add a glow around the tables.  It created a very intimate setting and transported people to a magical place.  Lighting and plantings were key to this recpetion's success.
I'm not there yet to create holiday or special themes in our gardens, but I keep these images stored for down the road.  I'll show more postings like this one from several key Tucson places that have captured the outdoor magic of gardens.  Until next time, Happy Gardening!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Texan Issues in the Garden

A while back, I posted something on Texas Root Rot killing my beautiful Chinese Elm over a year ago.  During my research, I found several suitable replacement trees for that area that were resistant to root rot. If you have had Texas Root Rot, you know that you cannot plant any trees that are susceptible to this disease again in that area.  It's just a natural fact here in Arizona that the fungus lives.  It's not everywhere, but it exists.  I've met a lot of people that have had this happen.  The tree will be beautiful one moment and in the next, the leaves will be dried and curled....they won't fall....they'll just hang on the tree.  At this point, the tree has suffocated and died.  The good news is that there are plants that will grow in these spots that have Texas Root Rot....and one of them is the Texas Ebony tree.  How appropriate!  Texas Ebony for Texas Root Rot:)  The elm was green and beautiful and it crushed me when she died. But from my research, I found that Texas Ebony, which is underused here in Tucson, was a perfect fit for that very green spot in my garden. Two cons about the's slow growing and it is thorny.  The pros are that it is so green and xeric that it's just plain ol' surprising that it can grow in the dry hot desert.....but it does.  It's from the legume family which means that it will add nitrogen back into the soil and that is a good thing for your other plants. Two plants I recommend for xeric gardeners, from Texas of course:), are the mountain laurel and texan ebony.
For more information on Texas Root Rot and suggested plants for these infected areas click on the link below for more information....
Cotton root rot, caused by the fungus Phymatotrichum omnivorum, also is known by several other names such as Phymatotrichum root rot, Texas root rot and Ozonium root rot. It is one of the most destructive plant diseases and attacks more than 2,000 species. However, either the fungus infects but does not kill monocotyledonous plants (grasses, etc.), or these plants are all highly resistant. In Texas (and Arizona), the disease is economically important in cotton, alfalfa, ornamental plants, and fruit, nut and shade trees. The fungus is prevalent in calcareous clay loam soils with a pH range of 7.0 to 8.5 and in areas with high summer temperatures. Therefore, the disease is limited to the southwestern United States.
Phymatotrichum root rot has been reported in Texas counties from the Red River to the Rio Grande and from Tom Green County to the Neches River.
Disease Symptoms
Disease symptoms are most likely to occur from June through September when soil temperatures reach 28oC (82oF). The first symptoms are slight yellowing or bronzing of leaves followed by wilting. Plants die suddenly after the first symptoms of wilting. Leaves remain firmly attached to the plant. Affected plants die suddenly, often after excellent growth. Large trees and shrubs may die more slowly.

Usually roots are invaded extensively by the fungus by the time plants have wilted. When roots are pulled from the soil, root bark is decayed and brownish, and wooly strands of the fungus frequently are apparent on the root surface. Affected plants pull from the soil with little effort.
Under moist conditions, sporemats sometimes appear on the soil surface. These mats, 2 to 16 inches in diameter, are first snow-white and cottony and later tan and powdery. On large roots and tubers, there are numerous small, cushion-like sclerotia or resting bodies about the size of a pinhead. At first they are light tan but later appear dark and warty.
The fungus generally invades new areas by continually slow growth through the soil from plant to plant. Occasionally, it spreads more rapidly on the roots of infected transplanted plants. The fungus can survive in the soil for many years, and often it is found as deep in the soil as roots penetrate. Affected areas often appear as circular areas of dead plants in fields of infected crops. These areas gradually enlarge in subsequent years as the fungus grows through the soil from plant to plant. Infested areas as may increase 5 to 30 feet per year.
Hyphae and strands. The fungus produces root-like strands (rhizomorphs) that grow through the soil until they contact the descending plant roots. Strands surround a root and grow toward the soil surface. Immediately below the surface, the fungus proliferates around the hypocotyl, producing a cottony, mycelial growth. Below this mycelium, the bark is destroyed, and the fungus fills the vascular tissue of the plant. Following death of the plant, sclerotia form in the strands
Plant barriers. This technique consists of planting resistant species around an infected area. These barriers either exclude or limit the spread of the pathogen. This technique assumes that the barrier plant does not harbor the pathogen in its root system. Make ornamental plantings of cotton root rot-susceptible species with isolated plants or groups of plants rather than in continuous rows as hedges. When the disease occurs in an ornamental planting, replace diseased plants with resistant species.
Fertilizer applications. To reduce root rot, apply fertilizers high in certain nitrogen forms. When nitrogen is applied as ammonia in a manner to fumigate as much soil as possible, research shows a reduced incidence of root rot.
In some cases, valuable ornamental plants and orchard trees have been treated successfully even after root rot infection has taken place. First prune the tree (or shrub) back and build a circular ridge (equal in diameter to the top of the plant) of soil some distance from the trunk. Work 1 pound of ammonium sulfate into the soil for each 100 square feet of surface within this ridge. Fill the area within the ridge with water to a depth of about 4 inches. Repeat the treatment and watering after 5 to 10 days. Do not apply more than two treatments in the same season. Following this treatment, water frequently to prevent drought injury. Acidifying the soil with sulfur around susceptible trees or shrubs may help delay or prevent root rot infection in areas where the disease is prevalent.
Resistant varieties. Development of resistant plants using conventional breeding concepts, has been difficult due to the pathogen's wide host range. However, the following list of woody and herbaceous plants has shown resistance or tolerance to cotton root rot and should be considered by the homeowner where the disease is prevalent. The hardiness zone is given for each woody plant listed. Check the map to determine the zone in which you wish to use the plant. Use any plant with that zone number or a lower number. Plants with a higher zone number usually will not be hardy in that area. Check the list for size and foliage type to aid you in selecting the plants best suited for your particular purpose.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rocky Point

Things are rough right now for our friends in Mexico.  They're caught in a drug war that is crossing into the border towns of the US.  A lot of innocent people are dying all over and it is a sad fact that currently, I personally think it's too dangerous as an American to travel there.  Those of you who follow this blog regularly know how much I love this country, but from the Tucson perspective, it has gotten too dangerous with kidnappings and shootings.  There is a city that most Tucsonans love to visit besides San Diego and that is Rocky Point or Puerto Peñasco.
It is a place for us to escape and enjoy the beautiful waters of the Sea of Cortez.  Unfortuneatly, Mexican tourism has taken a major hit this year with the increase of kidnappings and killings of Mexican and Americans alike.  A recent example is the killing of an American man on Falcon lake near the Texas/Mexican border.  Mexican pirates shot and killed him while he was on his jet ski.  The wife called the police but by the time they had arrived, he was already dead.  The Mexican authorities sent an investigator to search for the killers only to be killed himself.  His head was sent to the local authorities as a warning to stay away.  This is a sad reality right now between our Mexican friends and the US. The peaceful city of Rocky Point has also recently had some issues and attacks by night which now is warning travellers to drive during the daytime hours.
Only 4 hours away from Tucson, this city lets you escape to the ocean where you can watch dolphins jump around the waters and allow you to lazily read a book off your beach porch.  This is why it is a tragedy for all because Mexico has lost a lot of tourism.  The drug war has been ongoing over the past several years with the violence slowly increasing all over the border.  I went to Mexico last year, but for the first time in the history of my travels to Mexico, I actually don't feel it's safe to go and visit the country this year. We were going to travel the Southern loop near Chiapas, but the border between Guatemala and Mexico is having the same issues that are happening here in Tucson.
People still go however and if you do, make sure you travel by day and always with a group of people.  Lock your doors and keep your belongings secure at all times.

Rocky Point and her sister village south, San Carlos, are extremely charming places to just relax....  Personally I am a huge San Carlos fan.

San Carlos, Mexico

As you can see by the pictures, this is a beautiful place to hopefully soon our friends in Sonora will have a decrease in violence down the road because it is an incredible place to visit.....furthermore, it is the southernmost part of the Sonoran desert which has a different group of plants that only grow in that region. We have one of the most incredible lush deserts of the's definitely a must see.  Happy and safe journeys!


Bouganvillea is a wonderful plant. However if it is planted carelessly like here by people's doors, it can scar you for life....literally.  These two plants were here when I moved onto this property 3 years ago.  Anyone who works with this plant knows how thorny it is and how it can really scratch you up.  It also has a natural spreading habit.  I do like how these plants frame this stucco building....and if there is one thing that makes stucco stand out, it's bouganvillea.  For that reason, I do not want to remove these dangerous bushes.  For the first year, I cut them down to the ground, but they came back stronger, bushier, and thornier than ever.  There are blood stains to prove it.  During times of pruning, it is not uncommon for passerbys to hear me cursing under my breath at the idiot who planted these on the property....everytime you prune a branch off...several more thornier ones grow what do you do to combat the issue?......shape with wire!

Rule 1....wear gloves.  You'll still get scratched and stuck but you'll minimize the bodily damage.  The picture above is bouganvillea restrained with wire.  Begin by wiring close branches together and then onto the major branches.  Wire more with twisty ties so that in case one branch lets go because of a wind storm etc, you'll have others there to prevent the branches from flying out and lashing their victims. I learned that lesson the hard way.  These plants are also anchored to the building at three levels....low, medium, and high. There is an actual anchor screwed into the building that will hold these plants in place.  That was probably the trickiest for me, but once you have the main branches anchored, the rest will all easily tie together and create a beautiful green column that won't poke anyone's eyes out.  This procedure also works with bamboo or any type of bushy plant.  The rule of thumb with bouganvillea is to plant it away from walkways or where people pass by because of the nasty thorns on the branches.  It can be dangerous so have people spot you when working at the higher levels.  When shaped or structured, bouganvillea will make a striking addition to your garden.....Here are some pointers on growing this plant.....sun, sun, sun if you want those beautiful leaves so plant in FULL sun.  It's best if they are planted near a ramada style building or against strong wiring.  Once established, this plant will rarely need watering. In fact, I don't water this plant at all.  Here is a fascinating regional fact.  In Tucson, this plant will, normally, lose its' leaves during winter while in Phoenix, this plant thrives and blooms all year round.  This heat loving plant can be seen everywhere along the interstate of Phoenix and in the gardens around this hot city.  Phoenix is hell and plants have to be tough to live there.  I may not be a fan of this city but I am jealous about two things that grow very well there .....bouganvillea and banana plants.  Banana plants here have to be protected from the frost and WIND.  However, back to my point....if you are moving to Phoenix or live there, I would highly recommend bouganvillea somewhere around your house away from is definitely a xeric plant once established.  Until next time, Happy Gardening!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Persimmons Update

In the beginning of this blog back in March, I had a posting titled, "The Persimmons Mystery" and I borrowed a pretty pic from the internet because this plant is a complete mystery to me.  It was offered at our nursery for winter plantings and so I tried it out.  I've been impressed by the simple beauty of this tree.  It has grown slowly and produced only 1 fruit....the one you are looking is currently not ready to eat. It will turn an orangish/red color in November and be the last remaining thing on this deciduous plant before it turns completely bare. People love to use this word when writing about this plant...."astringent."  It has performed well during the summer heat and I am very glad to have it in the landscape.  I'm not sure what this fruit will taste like, but a final pic will be taken in November for your viewing pleasure along with my impressions of the flavor.  The fruit just turned this yellow color.  There are not many surprises anymore in life so this is something to look forward to next month:)

This week has been an incredibly busy time period for me.  I am currently working on my Day of the Dead projects with my students for an art display plus I had a SMART Board and some new furniture put into my room. As with anything, you have to bust your tookus off to get these things for your students because no one hands them over for free, but my room is now perfection.  Therefore, the blogging took a break just as things do when they get busy.  I am working currently on a lot of interesting posts that will be upcoming this week and into next.  This blogging is not only a record and journal of our grounds here at El Presidio but for me a fascinating look into the amount of things gardeners have to do besides just rake the leaves or blow the dirt off the's so much more.  Tomorrow's blog will be on shaping certain plants and appropriately titled, "Shaping:)

Monday, October 18, 2010


Taken on the way to Sierra Vista

Ever talk to people who are non-gardeners and yet they love your landscape?  You start going into the details and their eyes glaze over?  This happens to me all the time because gardening is really exciting stuff....well not for everyone.  This is why I had to join the Botanical Gardens and meet other people who were passionate about gardening.  It has been a wonderful way to connect with people here and some are even more crazy about plants than I am.....I didn't think that was possible, but I don't think they get to play outside because of their work, live so far out that they are disconnected from everyone, or maybe they don't have a yard to play the only time they get to do this is at the gardens.  I have to say that, my gardening happens on a regular least everyday.    

The theme in this posting is the blue sky...something which Arizona has plenty of:)
The purpose of this blog today is to talk about interpretation as it is suggested in the title. One of the things that I'm learning about while becoming a docent is how to speak to people who care a lot, a little, or not at all about plants, wildlife, and gardens. I have to admit that it's not easy at all.  As a teacher, I have the skills to present and I'm great at it....but in languages:)  Not plants.  I found this class to be a real challenge as I went through the materials.  With Spanish, I know the ins and outs....the struggles, the laughs, the easy parts....I know the language inside out....and when I speak, I guide my kiddos wherever they need to be....that's how easy my job has was my passion and today, it's still there, but it's modified and much different than how I felt when I first started the job 15 years ago.  It has become about the kids or young adults that I teach either at the university or high school's about their reactions to it that I find thrilling now. Student teachers, who LOVE Spanish, get in front of the kids and expect the kids to love it as well....and I love it when they realize that not all students were created equal and not all students take Spanish as passionately as we teachers do.  In fact, it's kind of a letdown for the teacher-in-training.  Some kids just want the credit to get into college....they aren't interested in speaking the darn language.  Can you imagine that?:) Maybe it surprises you and maybe it doesn't.....for me, I don't care just is and it's never going to change....and knowing that baseline is where I begin my work with teenagers and adults.  With adults, they obviously are there because they want to speak for me, it's a lot more fun teaching those classes.  So what does this have to do with gardening?
As with everything in this life, nothing stays the same.  The same rules that apply to teaching Spanish will also apply to gardening except that my knowledge base is lacking!  There is so much to learn about in this sector of the world and I have only just scratched the surface.  People that come to visit the gardens or walk through my gardens have different interest levels.  And because gardening has become a stronger passion now, I tend to unload a lot of information on people who don't, quite frankly, care:)  I'm actually okay with that and it is for that reason that I have found my gardening geeks to have crazy conversations's just that now, instead of having an answer for everything or predicting what people will ask me, like in Spanish, I will now probably answer with, "Hmmm, I'm not sure....let me find out for you:)" And that scares me. On the table, we had to grab several items and explain them to our audience even if we didn't know what they were....I didn't like that at all because I like to research everything before it's presented in front of an audience.  So I grabbed the tequila bottle and explained how tequila comes from a blue agave out of the village of Tequila outside of Guadalajara.  I've been there, tasted it, and know about it....because it's all related to Spanish and the culture so I stuck with what was safe.

So here are some basic things that I learned about interpretation....well didn't learn as much as figure out how to understand it when speaking to people in our gardens.  Always always....get information from your group before you begin and find out what their interests are.  Never exclude children from your lecture.  Share personal stories.  Find a way to hook people into your presentation. If a "teachable moment" happens, take it.  For example, if a butterfly crosses your path and people are watching it float about it and some of the plants that attract butterflies into your garden.  There is an equation that breaks down a meaningful was the only strange thing that stood out:)
Kr=Knowledge of the resource(this part is important because if I have it, I'm extremely comfortable!!)
Knowledge is the foundation of everything we do as interpreters.
Ka=Knowledge of the audience(easy)
AT=Appropriate Technique(can be tricky for the socially awkward)
IO=Interpretive Opportunity(random and fun...leading to not all of the same presentations will have the same outcome or each presentation is different although it has the same content)

And if you're extremely interested, here are the 15 principles of interpretation from Freeman Tilden....

1.  To spark an interest, interpreters must relate the subject to the lives of the people in their audience.
2.  The purpose of interpretation goes beyond providing information to real deeper meaning and the truth.
3.  The interpretive presentation-as a work of art-should be designed as a story that informs, entertains, and enlightens.  Let me put it this way...without interpreters on my trips abroad, I would not have learned 1/2 the information that I know now.  A good interpreter adds spice and life to a garden, museum, historic places like Machu Picchu.
4. The purpose of the interpretive story is to inspire and to provoke people to broaden their horizons.
5. Interpretation should present a complete theme or thesis and address the whole approach.
6. Interpretation for children, teenagers, and senior-when these comprise uniform groups-should follow fundamental different approaches.
7.  Every place has a history...make the past come alive.
8.  Technology can reveal the world in exciting new ways.  However, be careful on how you use it.
9.  Interpreters must concern themselves with the quantity and quality with the selection and accuracy of the information presented.
10.  Interpreter must be familiar with basic communication techniques.
11. Interpretive writing, such as this blog, should address what readers would like to know....maybe not this posting:)
12.  The overall interpretive program must be capable of attracting support, financial, volunteer, political, and administrative.
13.  Interpretation should instill in people the ability and the desire to sense the beauty in their surroundings.
14.  Interpreters can promote optimal experiences through intentional and thoughtful program and facility design.
15.  Passion is essential.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mesquite Trees....Love them or hate them?

The other day I was walking down a path lined with these beautiful trees. One of the things that goes through my mind when I see this plant is whether or not one should love them or hate them here in Tucson.  Let me list the pros and cons and you decide....

1. Self fertilizing
2.  Nice shade tree for the desert
3. Unique branch structure
4.  Little to zero watering as it grows naturally in our landscape
5. Sonoran wildlife love this plant
6. Is a fast grower in the desert
7.  Will tolerate intense sun

1.  Root structure spreads on top of the soil
2.  If not pruned properly, this tree can blow over...
3.  Branches break off easily during storms(cars and homes damaged each time)
4.  Mesquite pods are the messiest unless you like making pancakes with them
5. Some have thorns
6. Can be invasive rootwise...never put near a pool or a foundation

So what's your verdict?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Themes for the Garden

A couple days ago, I went to the Tucson Botanical Gardens for their preview of the Wicked Plants display, and I have to say that when I entered the gardens, I got a different feel for the place.  It was busy with the butterfly exhibit, but it was more than that.....there was a "fall" feeling.  No, it wasn't from the plants....the plants are still green here in was from the art that was hung up around the gardens and in the gardens.  There was an energy that made the place look different. So naturally I began to think about why today was a lot of fun even though I've been to this place many times.....

First off, I want to say before I begin that I found that most volunteers were retired.  I guess it shouldn't surprise me because that's what I would do if I didn't work. It was so much fun to be around a united group of people working together for the same cause.
I walked into the meeting room which was beautifully decorated with amazing local artist's talent for the month of October.  It was mostly all Day of the Dead art work, more on this day later, and the theme in the gardens today was "Wicked Plants".  Of course, the idea behind it is to teach people about landscaping/household plants that have poison or can irritate you in some way.....maybe even kill you.  Yikes! Naturally oleander is on display:)  Back to the theme.....I was handed a brochure that was a dark scarlet color.  The letters were vampirish and on it was the title, "Wicked Plants".  I opened the brochure while waiting for our guest speaker....Dr. Ergot Ratbane.:)  Inside it had a map of the grounds with a trail to follow on all the different things you should think about before planting certain types of plants....sticky, spicy, poisonous, allergy prone, etc.  There were 18 spots in the garden that had all the plants grouped into different sections....titles like, "This Beauty is a Beast", "Friend or Foe?" "Dastardly Datura", "Super Stinkers", etc etc....and it got me excited about looking at things in a different way.

Then our speaker came out in a lab coat with glasses and hair spiked up.  I thought it would be the usual type speaker but instead it was someone who played the role of a crazy plant scientist...and that was unexpected. The crowd laughed while the Doctor stayed in character telling random stories about how people died from various plants...I know it sounds morbid, but it is close to Halloween:) The fact of the matter is that people were buying into the presentation and having a lot of fun during the learning process. 

The Office of Dr. Ergot Ratbane

It gets better.  A lot of school kids come by and while this exhibit is going on, people will be able to visit Dr. Ratbane and nurse Lan-tana in their lab.  They actually have a lab room for kids to use a microscope and look at the plants up was really something special.  Now when I walk by that area near the bathrooms, I'll always think, "That's Dr. Ratbane's office." 

So today I walk away from the gardens with an idea....themes to create magic in your own gardens.....and that sounds like a way to spruce up a desert home when our seasons don't change like elsewhere:)

Here is the official word from the website.....
"Open daily 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Plants are sneaky – they may be rooted to one spot but they’ve developed many ways to spread pollen and seeds, defend against  predators, and snare the food they need to survive. These tactics can be harmful to people and pets, even deadly! The Gardens Wicked Plants exhibit explores the more nefarious members of the plant kingdom – poisonous, carnivorous and just plain mean! Free with admission."

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Castor Report

Well...why am I so fascinated by a weed?  I don't know.  I really don't. But there is something very cool about this plant that won't die....... no matter what happens!  It needs sun...and it can take the heat here....boy was I shocked AND if it doesn't get the sun, it doesn't grow very well. 

These plants are currently taller than I am and I am having to reach to clip dried pods off.  Inside each pod are 3 seeds that I have been giving away because there are so many of them.  I can see how this would be invasive in places like Florida....what a nightmare! But here, they aren't a threat.

Here is the smaller plant with my old camera....

This summer we had a terrible storm and it knocked these guys down to the ground.  I used concrete blocks to bring them back up again and I thought I had lost them....but I didn't!!  I've heard these things can become trees, but I do believe our frost will end their lives.  From 4 seeds grew these monstrosities and from 4 seeds, I have been given hundreds more to share and put in ziploc bags. I think this plant will stay in the gardens as it has passed the tests of nature:)

Side Note: I don't really do these wordless pic days, but you'll notice I do them with videos. One of the things growing up that I loved was sitting with my Grandparents watching CBS Sunday Morning. At the end of each broadcast, a quiet montage is made where there isn't any talking....just pure silent beauty and that is why I put these mini vids on the blogs. There is something very relaxing about just taking a moment from the day and capturing it on film. I'm getting better with them.  My first attempts were pretty rocky....well, I think when I started blogging, like many people, I didn't know a lot about how to begin the experience, but I am learning and getting better with my camera and organization. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Agua Caliente Park

An oasis in the desert.  Agua Caliente park literally refers to the springs that exist below the Catalina mountains.  It's one of the best kept secrets around....unless you're reading this post:)  If you are in town, take a drive down Tanque Verde towards Reddington Pass, another Tucson gem, and look for the sign to Agua Caliente Park.  You will have to turn left and head towards the Catalina Mountains to get there.  It's a great place to have lunch, feed the ducks, read a book or ponder life.

In a previous post, I wrote about microclimates in the desert.  Here is a place that is a great example of how it changes from just a couple steps. Below you see water with the reeds but a walk around the springs will change completely into a dry desert.  It is shocking see a major landscape change.

All these animals have free range of the park and they are out there for your viewing pleasure. There's a nice trail behind the brick cabin that goes behind the springs. I love this park for the groupings of palm trees all over the actually feel like you are some place else.  Happy adventures wherever you may be!