Visit Palm Springs and Moorten Botanical Gardens
Updated: Sep 17, 2021
Clark Moorten, the son of the founder of the Moorten Botanical Gardens, will more than likely greet you as you pay your small admittance fee when you walk into the gardens. Take time to listen to his delightful stories for you will not only learn about the gardens but also part of Palm Springs history.
His father moved to acreage which is now part of the Joshua Tree National Park, Cottonwood area, in 1936. While mining gold, he also raised cacti. After a time, he said, “Mining gold or raising cacti—cacti pay more.” In 1938, he established the garden in Palm Springs, which at the time, was in the country. Throughout his life, Clark remembers collecting rocks and plants with his family while on family trips, most of which now find their home on this one-acre complex.
You are in for an amazing treat, for scattered through the grounds are over 3,000 varieties of plants. Volunteers from the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners, Palm Spring Chapter, care for the garden and proudly lead tours. They share their knowledge with visitors that leisurely wander the grounds.
If you have plenty of time, there are benches placed so you can sit in among the fauna, relax, and watch lizards and squirrels scurry around the garden. The gardens are not handicap accessible. One should wear comfortable walking shoes.
Cactus Castle, the Moorten’s Mediterranean style home, sits majestically on a flat area directly above the gardens. The area can be rented and will accommodate up to 100 people. It is often the site for weddings and fundraisers
When you think you have seen it all, you discover the Cactarium (a word coined by the Moorten’s) where rare cacti are propagated. Thus they are saved from extinction. One feels like she has walked into a wonderland for cacti are hanging from the ceiling and crawling across the shelves. Soon you realize you are one of the privileged few to observe cacti that existed, perhaps, from the beginning of time.
Want to buy a cactus? You will be delighted to see the number of varieties of cacti that are available to buy. Prices start at $1 and go up according to their size. If you wonder how to care for them, never fear, you will not leave these amazing grounds without directions about how to care for them.
This unique garden is truly a treasured attraction in our community of Palm Springs.
Kathy Condon is a freelance travel writer and blogger. She is the Founder of the Palm Springs Insider Guide Her book It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: It’s All About Communication was named Best Book Finalist By USA Book News Kathy@kathycondon.net