Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Friday, January 26, 2007

Vegetation & Gardening in Las Vegas

Our winter vacation was spent in Las Vegas, Nevada. We stayed at the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street in the downtown core area. While the main attractions in Las Vegas are entertainment and gambling, the area offers so much more. As always we rented a vehicle for sight seeing.

Las Vegas lies in the northern region of the Mojave Desert, a desert that is hot and dry with little precipitation, influenced by the Great Basin Desert to the north and the Sonoran Desert to the south. Although my husband insisted on wearing his famous Hawaiian shirt, shorts and sandle combination the week was really jacket weather. It was warmer than here in Zone 6A more like our later March weather but blissfully dry. The vegetation in the area always amazes me. The primary natural vegetation include: creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) and yucca (Yucca spp.) however at higher elevations like Mount Charleston there are pine and alpine forests. Cooler winter temperatures limit cold intolerant species like cactus. We have seen a surprising number of cactus on our travels through the area. Their size can be very impressive!

Joshua Trees

The drive to Montelago Village on Lake Las Vegas takes you through desert scattered with Joshua trees. While many wildlife species use Joshua trees, we were not fortunate to see any. Lake Las Vegas lies just east and bordering on the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Turning onto Lake Mead Drive takes you past the Tuscany Golf Club then turn up towards Montelago Village, The Falls Golf Club lies to the east just before the village. While it boasts a setting of natural beauty, there is nothing desert-like about the golf course. At night the lights of the Las Vegas strip provide a vivid backdrop for the course. The lush green of the course belies the fact this resort is in the desert, an impressive example of how much man can change his environment. Ecologically, this this is not a good thing! Of course, there is nothing ecologically friendly about Las Vegas either. Satellite images of the environmental change can be seen at USGS Earthshots.

Gardening in the Las Vegas area presents quite a few problems but mainly soil and heat. Some of the larger casinos and businesses still use grass but others are using artificial turf or xeriscapes that are water efficient with a natural desert look. However, water features still remain quite popular with the casinos. Palm trees appear to be the tree of choice for the area. This trip I noticed that many places had ice pansys (Viola heimalis) planted. Many of the homes are also using xeriscapes but we did see a few with artificial turf. Some homes had natural grass but that is discouraged due to water conservation. I noticed two things while driving through various residential areas. The first was the lack of vegetable gardens or hobby greenhouses. Given the growing conditions and urban demands perhaps this is not surprising. However, the University of Nevada Extension Service indicates that asparagus, cucumbers, onions, garlic, green peppers, squashes, table grapes, plums and some variety of tomatoes grow well with some type of protection. Potatoes and cantaloupe grow well in Northern Nevada. Vegetable gardens are possible in Las Vegas and it is more likely on this trip they were winterized. I would think raised garden beds would do nicely in Las Vegas with adequate watering and perhaps shade cloth during the summer months.

I also noticed a lack of solar panels or anything indicating solar power. This area would be perfect for solar and I'm sure it is in wide use. It just isn't an obvious thing. I can't recall seeing any CF lighting in the casinos however there were signs of other energey efficient lighting such as: fluorescent, rope, halogen and LED. Mirrors, mirrors and more mirrors amplify the lighting. In the city of lights that never sleeps even that is changing. Older signs are being replaced by newer and more energy efficient lighting and in some ways the flavour of old Las Vegas is being lost. What I've notice in our past couple of trips is an increased awareness of energy conservation especially water. The city is growing at a rate of 6,000 people per month so energy conservation is going to be a paramount concern.

Cactus Kit

I wanted to bring back a few cactus from Nevada but thought I would have problems with transporting them on the plane as well as going through customs. This cactus kit was just the answer as seeds are easily transported and seldom is the problems with bringing seeds back into Canada. The kit came with the pot, soil, dome lid and a packet of seeds containing up to ten varieties of cactus seed. The varieties include: saguaro, preckly pear, cholla, firebarrel, fishhook barrel and hedgehog. I set up the pot yesterday using about a quarter of the seeds. Germination should occur in 3 to 15 days at 68º to 80º F. I'll pick up more cactus soil this weekend and sow the rest of the seeds. Once the seeds sprout, the watering becomes crucial as too much water will cause the young cactus to rot. When the seedlings develop tiny spines, watering is decreased and the dome lid is removed. After that it is recommended to water the cactus once a month. This should be rather interesting! I report back with pictures of the cactus as they sprout and develop.

Happy Gardening

Garden Gnome
© 2007


  1. I am happy you made it home safely. We have never been to Los Vegas. Maybe someday! I have a brother who lives in the high desert near San Diego. And a sister who lives in San Antonio. When we visit I find myself looking, even seeking, flora that is different from what we have here. Before I joined "gardeningnuts" I wouldn't have looked twice at much of it. The desert is interesting. Erlinda, who is in the group does a great job in that harsh climate. You do a wonderful job with your blog. Easy to read and interesting. Pokey

  2. Thankyou for you lovely comment! I'm glad you enjoy my blog. I do the same thing wherever we go. I love taking pictures of the vegetation as well as bringing back either seeds or plants.

  3. I was born and raised and still live in Las Vegas and I can tell you - sadly - that we do NOT take advantage of our potential solar power! There is ONE home in Vegas that has negative energy use thanks to solar power (it's the home of an engineering professor) and the University is currently in the process of building the first building that will utilize green energy sources (Greenspun Media Studies building).

    There are garden lights that are solar powered, and I know quite a few people that use those including my family.

    Supposedly there are good vegetable gardens in Vegas. I have yet to find any, and I'm just starting my first one :D


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