Elegant and Indomitable
The plant life of downtown Las Vegas
If you want Hallmark versions of roses and lush, dewy gardens, move to Southern California. If you enjoy your plant life with a little more fortitude—flowers that have better things to do than adorn greeting cards—the Las Vegas desert has the specimens you’re looking for.
If you live here, you know that our inhospitable summers are not exactly designed to sustain life. But they do. Year after year, an impressive variety of rugged greenery thrives in conditions that can best be described as “hellish.” These are the thugs of the plant world, and they don’t care if they look good in your grandmother’s vase.
It’s easy to walk around downtown and find nice looking shrubs installed to dress up the local establishments. But to see the real, unconventional beauty of this terrain, look closely at the overgrown yards, the vacant lots and the untended nature trails. In these obscure corners of downtown, not far from the lights of Fremont Street, I attempted to capture a fragment of this flourishing world, populated with plant life indomitable and elegant.
While I tried not to look creepy crouching in the bushes with a camera, these formidable organisms commanded respect, displaying a toughness I envy. And while some of them actually do look dainty in a vase, don’t let their delicate bones fool you; if they sprouted from our anemic soil, there’s nothing meek about them.
Thanks to the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners program and local resident Beth Hewitt for helping identify these plants.