Moorten Botanical Gardens
1701 South Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, California 92264
Open 10am – 4pm daily; Closed Wednesdays
Located at the southern end of Palm Canyon Drive, the Moorten Botanical Gardens and Cactarium is a favorite Palm Springs attraction and the enduring legacy of Patricia and Chester “Cactus Slim” Moorten. Both shared a love of the Desert and its beauty, plants and wildlife. Nicknamed Slim for his tall lanky form and work as a contortionist, Moorten was one of the original Keystone Cops and became the stand-in for Howard Hughes. Poor health led him to Palm Springs in the 1930s with his young wife Patricia, a biologist with a special interest in botany. Together they explored the surrounding area collecting desert plants and in 1938 created an arboretum.
The Moorten Botanical Gardens now boasts 3,000 examples of desert cacti and other desert plants grouped by geographic regions: Arizona, Baja California, California, Colorado, the Mojave desert, the Sonora desert, South Africa, arid South America, and Texas. Outdoor collections include agaves, bombax, crested Cereus, cardon and boojum trees, arborescent “candelabra” Euphorbia, a two-story Pachypodium, thorned Caesalpinia and Bursera, and aloes of southern Africa and Madagascar. In the “Cactarium” greenhouse are cacti and succulents, with caudiciform species exhibiting thickened root crowns, many species of Asclepiads, Aztecia, Gymnocalyciums, Alstromeria, Euphorbia, and Ferocactus, plus two Welwitzia mirabilis from Namibian deserts.
Slim and Patricia Moorten designed and installed landscapes for Frank Sinatra and were friends of Walt Disney at his Palm Springs Smoke Tree Ranch. They consulted Disney to help design the western theme of Frontierland at his new amusement park which later became Disneyland. The Moortens were also well traveled and took their only son Clark for trips down Baja California and into Mexico collecting plants as far south as Guatemala.
Today, Clark Moorten (right) is the curator of the Moorten Botanical Gardens and widely acknowledged as an expert on succulent plants in America. Clark tends the garden and propagates many of its plants for sale and is there to greet visitors almost every day.
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