Modern in a Sleepy Town

Borrego Springs, California was always a favorite place for me to zip out to, to escape hectic life during my San Diego residence. This time, older and wiser, I decided to hang around, and take my time returning home. It’s in San Diego County, but over the mountains from the beach city, in the low desert.

Sonoran Desert, but the driest part, often termed the Colorado Subdivision.

I had a feeling the next day was going to be great!

The outline of the mountain backdrop may be a combination of a nearly-full moon, backlit by greater San Diego.

this is only the start…

A 1960’s grocery store conversion to art gallery. The new landscape an appealing mix of native and adapted, water-stingy plants. No gestures to Tahiti or the Midwest.

Christmas Circle on a quiet Tuesday morning…

That’s the “Central Park” of Borrego, and outside a few homes and the golf course, about the only lawn. It teems with snowbirds, safe and warm…locals selling fresh grapefruit and other citrus goodness…on the weekend.

a guy’s gotta eat…but then…
original Mid-Century Modern tourist lodging…

Those mountains and desert skies; those low desert Blue Palo Verde / Parkinsonia florida trees; of course, Date Palm / Phoenix dactylifera, from analogous lower, hotter deserts from north Africa into the Middle East.

grove of signature native Blue Palo Verde, sun-bleached mountains…
good contrast between blue paint and Bougainvillea…a massive Blue Palo Verde overhead…
peaceful casitas to stay in…each with a prvate patio…generous overhangs to shade…

Creosote Bush left to dot the ground plane, with some added Desert Agave / Agave desertii, which grows in clumps; it pups readily. It’s hardier than just heat and drought, reported to grow fine in Albuquerque, 5000′ higher.

Only a few plants would be needed to turn it into a stunning casita garden.

of course there’s more on this new landscape…in another post…

Aloe, columnar cacti, Chuparosa, Ocotillo, agaves, golden barrels, Lady’s Slipper, and very-native California or Desert Fan Palm / Washingtonia filifera. Like the palm canyon outside Palm Springs, similar canyons are found on the eastern side of San Diego County’s mountains, including nearby Borrego Palm Canyon.

Too bad I remembered almost every reason I detoured to Borrego, except to get some fresh, locally-grown grapefruits!


3 Replies to “Modern in a Sleepy Town”

  1. I can’t wait to be in Borrego in late May of this year. My brother lives right above this in Ranchita California. I miss the desert so much. Really burned out on Boreal forests with their constant cold and wet.

    I’ll be staying on Ocotillo as well at my sister and brother-in-law’s house. Last year I took them out into the desert bush and collected those same Palo Verde seed pods with those juicy sweet peas inside. Wonderful.

    Very nice…a few days there should get you a few summers of Swedish heat! I remember driving through Ranchita, magical place, too. But I’ve never had Palo Verde seeds; the closest thing are honey mesquite. May be worth a try next time in the low desert; I might be passing through or nearby this summer, on the way to San Diego…


  2. Gets my vote for “best repurposing of a grocery store”. I appreciate that the designers have provided a lot of visual interest on the way into the gallery. I’m grateful when galleries (or museums) take care of my “outside” eyes as thoughtfully as they do my “inside” eyes.

    I’ve seen a few good ones, but this was a surprise…I remember it in 1991! Yes, as a dusty town over the mountain from glitzy Palm Springs, this really gives a needed effect.


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