Canadian Travel Section, Cactus Edition

Kayaking in a little discovered part of Mexico’s Baja California, resorts and tequila bars are Baja California’s best-known attractions. But up the coast, the quiet waters of protected Loreto Bay hold almost 900 species of fish — and few tourists, at least for now…


(Darryl Leniuk for The Globe and Mail)
Limestone cliffs, dolphins and cardon cactus: The park and its five islands – including Danzante, offer an unusual combination of marine life and picturesque desert.

I wonder why Canadians insist on skipping right over the US and traveling to Mexico for their vacations. Don’t they know they are very close to Sandusky, Ohio, home of the Sandusky Speedway.

I always have enjoyed my visits to Minnesota’s Walker Art Center and it’s fish sculptures.

Plus, here in the US we have the World’s Largest Holstein Cow in New Salem, North Dakota. I can vouch for it; I’ve seen it in person. And the Canadian border is so close, they can practically smell it.

Cholla City

The LA Examiner (never heard of them) go traveling a few miles up the road and reach the cholla garden at Joshua Tree NP. Nice photo:

Photo: Seth Smigelski

The Cholla Cactus Garden is… (p)erhaps the cutest cactus on the planet, the Cholla is know as the “teddy bear” cactus. But this is one teddy bear you should never hug (or) back in to a Cholla. That is not a pleasant experience, or so I’ve heard…

I think he’s speaking from experience. Plyers are a good tool to have around if you find yourself in a cholla forest.

Military Cactus

Stars and Stripes has found some large cactus in Germany. I can’t decide what category to put this under – news or travel, since I don’t have a military category.


Michael Abrams / S&S
The cactus house is the first hothouse you enter when visiting the Karlsruhe botanical gardens. The giant cactus in the foreground is an Opun(t)ia, or paddle cactus. The big round Golden Barrel Cactus at right, are nicknamed mother-in-law seat in German.

Arizona in Winter

The Washington Times goes traveling to Arizona and finds some cacti.


This giant saguaro cactus is one of thousands that dot the southern Arizona landscape….

What a contrast. From desert flora and fauna to a sensible Native American, then on to barren rocks, crooked pine and aspen trees sitting in snow drifts – all within a 50-mile drive.

I’ve been to Arizona and I can tell you there are giant saguaros all over the place, including spots where there aren’t paved trails and little signs. In fact, if you get off the paved trails, you can find entire forests of these things, and not just single sentinels.


Pam sends along this photo of an a agave at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy.


It lokos kind of ratty, actually. Maybe they should fertilize it on occasion.

Los Olivos Garden

The Santa Ynez Valley Journal journeys to Los Olivos and checks out the local coffee houses and succulent gardens.


J. Woeste’s succulent garden is packed with whimsical pottery and colorful garden accents. Lucy and Lady, the garden’s mascots, can be found guarding the garden gate.

I wonder where the Santa Ynez Valley and Los Olivos are? Why, let’s map it out, shall we?

It turns out it’s about an hour north of Santa Barbara, near Solvang. Good to know.

Carribean Cactus Trip

They like to leave Chicago in winter, which is why they have healthy travel sections in the newspapers.

Washington Slagbaai National Park, on the northern end of Bonaire, is a good place to view cacti and the other flora and fauna of the island. Iguanas and a wide variety of tropical birds like to hang out here.

Cactus and Iguanas, together again. Maybe I should go visit. Do they offer anything else?

Bonaire is not big on museums.

Good to know.

Winter in PA

What to do in winter in Pittsburgh, where it’s cold, I hear? The Post-Gazette suggests you go visit the desert garden, and the orchid exhibit too.

Quick getaway to … the tropics
Where: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Oakland.

Why: Get a blast of warm, wonderful summer in the middle of winter…. (in) the Desert Room, where you’ll not only find cacti and succulents but artist Dale Chihuly’s Desert Gold Star chandelier…. A special exotic orchid show in stunning colors also is on exhibit through March 8.

Fun factor: 10, because we’ve had it with winter.

We went to the butterfly exhibit with Noa last time we were in Pittsburgh. That was fun.

Going Somewhere?

From Montreal, they travel to Los Angeles and sample some of the exotic local foods, like,

(No)pales con huevos, cactus with eggs. (Cactus, a common vegetable, is available at the local markets.)… (at) Barragan’s (1538 W. Sunset Blvd.), a Mexican restaurant started in 1961.

Do you think they’re delicious? I suspect that they are. But then the travelers were from Canada, which seems to be a theme today, so I would take their recommendations with a grain of salt, and a dose of hot pepper.


Gardens to Visit features a cactus garden for you to visit, I guess.

The Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium… (in) Palm Springs, California… were established in 1939 by Patricia and Chester “Cactus Slim” Moorten, one of the original Keystone Cops. The Moortens collected many of their own plants from Baja California, Mexico, and as far south as Guatemala.

Any pictures to share? Why, yes they do.

That’s a lot of cactus. But who would want to go to Palm Springs in the fall, anyway? I would!

London to Bolivia

Travel writing is always interesting. People from one part of the world, usually a rich country, travel to another part of the world, often a poor country, and marvel at the nature.

At the centre of the salt flats, the sudden appearance of the cactus-covered Incawasi Island gives you sufficient grounds to think your water bottle has been spiked with hallucinogenic drugs….

However, trek to the top of this rocky oasis and you will be rewarded with a blinding view of the sea of hexagonal salt tiles below – and if you’re really lucky you can get up close and personal with a ten metre cactus – a slightly more prickly experience than hugging a hoodie.

Fascinating, really, from a sociological perspective of course.

Rough Canyon has Cactus and Frogs

Traveling in Colorado this summer? Grand Junction’s Rough Canyon has lots of rare cactus to see. If you hurry they’ll still be in bloom.

Rough Canyon, only 8.6 miles from downtown Grand Junction, is geologically fascinating and home to some of the world’s most rare plants and animals. As its name implies, it’s also rough, rugged and rocky….

(P)ink and yellow Prickly Pear Cactus, vibrant red Claret Cup Cactus… (are) in full bloom.

The trail head is well marked, and initially leads to both the Mica Mine and Rough Canyon. It splits in very short order. The right fork takes you to the Mica Mine, the left trail leads to the tangled maze of Rough Canyon, where the Spineless Hedgehog cactus and rare Canyon Tree Frog live.

You may or may not spot the rare Spineless Hedgehog cactus, since they’re so rare. You could, however, see or hear a Canyon Tree Frog if you look closely and you’re in the canyon at the right time of day.

Cactus and Frogs! Every hike should have cactus and frogs. I mean really that’s the only point of hiking in the West as it turns out. Cactus and frogs.

More From "Around the World in 80 Succulents"

Today we are traveling around the world. Earlier we posted from Canada – Ottawa! – and Ireland – Piltown! – because it seems like there are succulents everywhere, and the fanciers to match. Or at least the reporters to try to make sense of it all.

Now to India.

Here we have a travel article about Chandigarh, near the Pakistan border, home to Le Corbusier’s biggest building.

And they tell you to visit some nearby gardens too. Very generous of the travel writers, although to be honest, when given the opportunity to visit the Assembly building, really who cares about a few measly cacti. But for you, here you go anyway.

The Cactus Garden is Asia’s largest of its kind with over 3500 species of cactus. Visit the 17th century Pinjore Gardens spread over 100 acres. According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that the Pandava brothers rested here during their exile.

They might as well point you in the direction of the nearby taco stand around the corner from Louis Kahn’s National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Photo by Karl Ernst Roehl

I’m sure they make very good tacos there.

Cactus Signage

This looks like it’s from Arizona, maybe into New Mexico, but no. It is from right here in the giant megalopolis urban Bay Area. In Santa Clara. Must be old.

Have GPS Will Travel

The LA Times sends their intrepid reporter an hour’s drive away to Joshua Tree NP armed with all the latest gadgets, and he survives.

The Times’ Dan Neil scans the gorgeous, punishing terrain of Joshua Tree National Park, site of his recent solo hiking and camping trip. He was armed with some of the latest in backcountry electronics — the tools of “e-survival,” as he calls it. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Apparently there were 2 people on this trip, the reporter and the photographer.

More from the article:

Going solo into the backcountry — or on a sailboat around Catalina, or on a mountain bike in Moab, Utah, for that matter — always implies a trade-off, the exchange of safety for reverie. Nearly always, the risk is worth it…

Is navigating always about being certain where you are, or is there magic in getting lost and finding your way again, much like life itself?…

Life abounds at Joshua Tree: jumping cholla, candelabra cactus, pinyon and juniper pines, lizards and rabbits and hawks, life everywhere. But it’s all so close to the margin. When a cactus dies in Joshua Tree, it doesn’t just shrivel but suddenly collapses, an ashy skeleton of itself. There are no fat jack rabbits. I take this as an object lesson.

Boston Cactus

The Boston Globe travels to the California desert in Spring, and what do they find? Why, cactus!

Spring is to California’s southeastern deserts – Joshua Tree, Mojave, and Anza-Borrego – what autumn is to New England. From February to June, depending on rainfall and snow melt, the deserts are alive with color as flowers, cacti, shrubs, and trees come into bloom and migratory birds make their way north.

Those crazy Bostonians and their analogizing ways. Now, I’ve always felt that the desert in spring is like the glaciers melting in summer up in Alaska. Or, wait, maybe it’s like the pot-dens of Copenhagen in bud. Well, there you go, another Bostonian and his analogizing ways.

Grand Canyon

The Blue Mountains Courier-Herald from Thornbury, ON, Canada sends out travel writers to visit US National Parks on occasion. The Canadian travel writers don’t stay in lodges, they tent it.

Just got back from hiking and camping in the Grand Canyon Sunday night and I have to tell you the place is amazing….

Flowering cacti was the subject of our amateur yet brilliant photography.

Our eyes screened the rocky desert hoping to sight a blooming prickly pear cactus or the violet flowers peeping from a barrel head or hedgehog cactus. Although only April, pictures were snapped for our aspiring wall galleries at home.

It does seem to be a good year for cactus blooms everywhere. Even the National Parks are getting in on the act. And yet these Canadians didn’t publish any of this chap’s photos for me to “borrow.” How rude of them.

Stanford Gardens

A local site that travels locally called California Travels – “We’ll be exploring Northern California places the crowds don’t find” is their motto – travels to Stanford and finds an Andy Goldsworthy wall and a cactus garden.

The time is 8.30 in the morning and it is very peaceful. I wandered around looking at the many different cacti and succulents and then found a bench in the sun to write my journal. It’s a perfect day with hardly a breeze to stir the leaves. Every so often I gaze at the garden, which is showing its age a bit.

Now I know you’re wondering whether or not our weekend was pleasant, but the truth is often harder to discern after a couple shots of vodka. So I’ll just say that we were pleasantly surprised.

Sydney, the Cuddly Koala

Do you ever receive press releases? This one was written by a hotel chain, trying to attract visitors to Sydney.

With the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Hawkesbury River to the north, the Blue Mountains to the west, and the Royal National Park to the south – Sydney is the capital of New South Wales.

Now that’s an invitation to travel if I’ve ever read one.

Also, a highlight is OzTrek, which is adventurous, with three dimensional holographic technology.

I wonder why I posted this today? Oh yeah, it mentioned the cactus, of course. Anything to do with the cactus and there I am, passing out press releases like they’re candy.

Royal Botanical Gardens – This is a fantastic area, with attractions such as the Rose Garden, Cactus and Succulent Garden, and the Oriental Garden.

Well, that was satisfying at last. Delicious like candy.

Barcelona – Architecture and Cactus

A reporter from the Vancouver Sun visits Barcelona and the Gaudi buildings in he area, and also, just on the side, sees a cactus garden in passing. Who knew there were cacti in Spain?

A 15-minute hike away is the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) Cathedral, long a symbol of the city. Architect Gaudi created the dramatic façade at the end of the 19th century, which was intended to have 12 irregular towers representing the apostles. A project is currently underway to complete the landmark, but it will likely take a few decades….

The nearby cactus garden, which grows some 200 varieties of succulents, is a pocket of peace.

There are other sights to see in the city, such as Europe’s largest aquarium.

Now that’s what I call a vacation. Of course, I would have taken pictures, while this Canadian reporter did not. Really, now, who can visit the Sagrada Familia and not take pictures? It’s practically heresy. Well, here’s on for you that I found on wikipedia, by Shawn Lipowski.

New Desert Garden

In Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden is opening a new Cactus and Succulent Garden, years in the making. The Salt lake Tribune is all over it.

The new Sybil B. Harrington Cactus and Succulent Galleries at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix will open in April, the first major milestone in a $16 million endowment campaign.

Now, what I’d like to know is, how much does it cost to fly to Costa Rica, since we’ve reserved a condo for a week there next January.

Lush Cactus Gardens in Phoenix

While we’re talking about things to do in Phoenix, here’s a <a href=";entry_id=1730" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">tour of a cactus garden</a> that is can’t-miss.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">Saguaros, ocotillos and other survivors of a cactus garden planted decades ago frame Phoenix landmark Tovrea Castle today, reminders of a dreamer ahead of his time.<br />
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Italian immigrant Alessio Carraro, helped by one of his sons and a crew of about 20, built the castle and brought in Russian gardener M. Moktatchev to create the environmentally-compatible landscape that surrounds it….<br />
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Carraro Cactus Garden<br />
When: Guided 90-minute tours offered on selected Saturdays, usually three or four times each day.<br />
Where: Grounds outside Tovrea Castle, 5041 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix.<br />
Details: <a href="">Registration required</a>. 602-256-3220</span><br /></div><br />I wonder if readers in Texas have already pre-voted, or are waiting to vote tomorrow. My sister pre-voted, but then she would. <br /><br />

Riding through Lesotho

<a href=";entry_id=1712" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Traveling in Africa</a> for a plant enthusiast can be very rewarding indeed. There are native succulents of the most spectacular types. Some may prefer the animal safaris, but what can beat the sight of a forest of aloe trees?<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">We pick our way along vertiginous, boulder-strewn ledges and down slick limestone slopes where only the tiniest indentations give hoof purchase. At one point, a succulent aloe cactus proves too tempting for Seputsoe, creating multi-horse gridlock around a hairpin bend. By the time we splash across the river, there’s no doubt which of us is best qualified to navigate.</span><br /></div><br />OK, so the article from London was really about a trip on horseback across the highlands of southern Africa, where they did not come across any aloe trees at all. Still, I’m just saying, there are aloe forests in southern africa and they are pretty neat.<br /><br />

Canadian Cactus

All the way from <a href=";entry_id=1681" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’′;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;"></a> comes this travel letter. I don’t know why.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">While we enjoyed Tecate beer on the patio, we looked out at… (t)he prickly vegetation in the desert… the land of the giant cactus. Some were unbelievable, reaching several storeys high.</span><br /></div><br />Sometimes I look out my window and see all the stuff my neighbor with OCD is storing in his small front fenced-in patio.<br /><br />


Aunt Rachel sends us this photo of a wobbly-armed Saguaro on their travels in Arizona.<br /><br /><img width="432" hspace="5" height="325" border="2" src="/blog/uploads/cactus/AZ3006.jpg" /><br /><br />

Hawaii Succulent in the News

Tourists flock to the state for the gardens. This article comes direct from the source, <a href=";entry_id=1664" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Kauai News</a>. I think they want you to print this article in your own local paper, to generate more tourists for the state.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">The Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens in Kilauea doubles in dramatic man-made landscaping and horticulture….<br />
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Had we been magically transported to the Sahara? I wouldn’t think a cactus could survive all the rain and moisture on Kauai’s north shore. But a huge array of succulents and cacti from around the world seemed to thrive in the artificially arid conditions.</span><br /></div><br />That’s all. Not much going on, I guess.<br /><br />

Baltimore Cactus Comedy Gold

The <a href=";entry_id=1650" title=",0,5188069.story" onmouseover="window.status=’,0,5188069.story’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Baltimore Sun</a> escapes the freezing frigid northeast to visit Arizona in winter.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">There are hundreds of varieties of cacti and succulents dotting the arid landscape that surrounds the Phoenix metropolitan area, including the classic saguaro cactus that can grow to heights of more than 50 feet. For some strange reason, however, cactus climbing has never caught on here.</span><br /></div><br />The travel reporter’s a comedian. We don’t feature too many cactus jokes here on cactus blog because most of them are pictures of saguaros that are, shall we say, rather Freudian in their implications. So here you go, a nice clean joke printed in a major newspaper.<br /><br />

French Canadians in the Desert

The <a href=";entry_id=1644" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’′;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Montreal Gazette</a> visited Arizona and all they got was a lousy T-Shirt.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">Visiting Arizona for the first time, I found the arid hot landscape as different from Canada as the surface of Mars and, initially, about as inviting….<br />
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As I peeled away the layers, the desert revealed itself as a place of delicate and unusual beauty….<br />
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The bleakness is punctuated by towering saguaro cacti whose limbs reach skyward as though calling for rain.</span><br /></div><br />I’ve been to Montreal and had a good time there. I wonder if the Phoenix paper has written a travel article about Montreal recently? I’d like to read that.<br /><br />

Cactus and Ghost Towns

The <a href=";entry_id=1594" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">New York Times Travel section</a> visits southern Arizona on a lovely drive.<br /><br style="font-style: italic;" /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><img width="432" hspace="5" border="2" src="/blog/uploads/misc/11amer.01.jpg" /><br style="font-style: italic;" /><span style="font-style: italic;">On a road trip along the borderlands of Arizona you’ll find vast open land, big Western sky and adventurous people ­ some who live there and some just passing through. At left, a visitor drives on Ajo Mountain Loop road in Organ Pipe National Monument five miles north of the Arizona and Mexico border.<br />
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Photo: Jeff Topping for The New York Times</span><br /></div><br />I always try to get out of the car too. Check out the rest of the photos, it seems they got out of the car too.<br /><br />

Minnesota Cactus

Things to do in <a href=";entry_id=1549" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’′;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Shakopee Valley</a> in the winter.<br /><br />1. Visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">“Desert Exploration,” a free weekend family activity, is offered from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in January in the Marion Andrus Learning Center. Depart winter for a desert adventure in the greenhouse and discover the amazing adaptations of desert plants. Zoom in with Scope-on-a Rope and see the spikes, spines, and inside of a cactus up close, invent your own survival adaptation while you <span style="font-weight: bold;">munch on an edible cactus</span> and pot up your own succulent to keep on your windowsill all winter long.</span><br /></div><br />I’m cold just thinking about it.<br /><br />


May 2020

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