Monday, October 29, 2018

Ethel M's Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden

Scene from Ethel M's Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden

A few months ago, we visited Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden, home of gourmet Mars-family-made chocolates, and a four-acre garden with 300+ species of cacti. I was attracted by their display of xeric plants. My wife was drawn to the chocolate.

About as soon as we parked the car, two motor coaches pulled up to the entrance. Out spilled large contingents of tourists with cameras clicking. It’s challenging to take photographs of saguaro in a naturalistic setting when clacking crowds are in the background.

Did the signs say, “Stay on the path?” Yes, the signs said, “Stay on the path”, but it made no difference. The other tourists stepped gingerly among the cactus displays. I waited with a twisted desire to see some reactions to painful encounters. None occurred. I managed to capture some good plant images, though. A photographer can achieve good results with the right camera angle.

Cactus gardens such as Ethel M’s provide wonderful opportunities to see drought-tolerant plants in attractive, practical settings. If you’re interested in saving water, it doesn’t matter where you live. You need not live in a desert to create a water-wise garden. Conserving water is always a good idea, and xeric species are available for practically every climate zone. Photos of some of my favorite selections are featured below.

For more information on xeriscaping, cacti and succulent species, click on the links provided. Don’t forget to check back occasionally. I’ll post more articles in the future.

After capturing their moments, the tour groups entered the chocolate factory. My wife was already there.

Formerly, such a place would have been a “dream come true” for her. I must say with pride, however, that she has committed herself to maintaining a “keto” diet, and has done quite well. But entering a chocolate factory must have been, for her, like a recovering alcoholic browsing a liquor store. I captured her posing with her mouth wide open by an enormous, wall-sized mock-up of a sampler.


If you’ve visited Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden, I’d love to hear about your visit. Which plants did you like best? Have you tried growing any of the species you saw on display? How did they work for you? Let us know in the comment section.

Carnegiea gigantea flower

 Opuntia microdasys var. albispina

Oreocereus celsianus

Austrocylindropuntia subulata

Euphorbia tirucalli

Ferocactus cylindraceus

Carnegiea gigantea skeletons

Calliandra californica

Agave lechuguilla

Agave parryi var. parryi

Hesperaloe parviflora

Agave vilmoriniana 

Echinocactus grusonii

Opuntia santarita

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