Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Desert Botanical Garden in Henderson, Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas. It was right before Thanksgiving, and the fabulously scented attraction in an industrial area was a bright moment during the holidays. If you haven't had a chance to visit and will be in the Vegas area during New Year's, I highly recommend you take a slight detour and check it out. Late afternoon or at dusk is the perfect time, just as the lights start to go on at the Desert Botanical Garden.
This was the fifth year in charge for landscape and lighting designer Steve Bowdoin, and the guy really knows his cacti, succulents, desert botanicals and a lot about the intricacies of lighting the sometimes delicate and often spiny cacti. Bowdoin and his small crew begin the process around October 1st, and it takes them about six weeks to cover the nearly four-acre public garden.
To view it at night is magical. The unusual shapes and forms of the cacti and succulents take on a fantasy-like appearance when illuminated with various colors of light strands, and photos only describe part of the display. It's one of those things you have to experience in person for yourself. So do it. And try some of the best chocolate you'll ever taste while you're there. It's free, and totally worth the drive -- from wherever you might be coming.
May your new year be bright and promising!
Photo by Lisa Hallett Taylor