Deserts are some of the most extreme environments our blue planet offers. While they may bring to mind extreme isolation, a blatant lack of hospitality and boredom, we should reconsider our position and visit, at least in photos, some dry and remote locales to steal cues for our own gardens. The results could be spectacular.
All but one species of cacti are found in North America. In Africa, the cactus-looking native plants are, strangely enough, often members of the Euphorbia family. Both families and their horticultural selections offer endless possibilities for gardeners blessed with a hot, dry climate.
These plants may be used in innumerable ways: Some gardeners pack them tightly, like they would annuals; others show more restraint, like in this section of the Berkeley Botanical Garden in California, leaving some sand and rock exposed.
The agave is another desert favorite. Beyond its role in tequila making, agaves are unparalleled for their dramatic rosettes of fleshy, often gorgeously colored leaves.
Incapable of holding on through most real colds nights, agaves are happier in California and the southern United States. For those in colder climates, agaves make fantastic and easily cared-for potted plants.
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