So here’s another thing that happened. I went to the see the newly refurbished Beverley Hills Cactus Garden (note for pedants, it’s more correctly a xerophile garden – there are plenty of plants in there that aren’t cacti).
Also, as I remembered it, it wasn’t a place that was likely to benefit from refurbishment – surely the whole point about cacti is that you just leave them alone. It was a walk, but I knew it wasn’t going to be much of one, since the place just isn’t very big.
The real joy of the Beverly Hills Cactus Garden, refurbished or not, is that it’s a chunk of desert that sits right there alongside Santa Monica Boulevard – the old Route 66 – you walk among the opuntia and the pachypodia as the traffic flies by.
You know me, I can look at cacti all day, every day, but once you’ve walked back and forth a few times you’ve pretty much “done it.” If you think, oh maybe I’ll sit on a bench and soak up the vibe for a while, well you’re out of luck. There are no benches and although you can sit on a wall, you’re not going to be comfortable lingering for very long. This is no doubt deliberate. I suppose they want to keep out the riff raff, the homeless, and in fact just about anybody with time on their hands.
And so being in need of a bit more of a walk I took a stroll around the neighborhood. I always say that I'm surprised they even let me in to Beverly Hills. And I saw a house with a fabulous patch of color in front of it, with a gardener standing in the middle of what turned out to be a sea of flowering ice plants.
I took a picture and the guy saw me, and he shouted to me, quite cleverly I thought, “Hey, am I doing something wrong?”
And I said, “No, looking at that garden I’d say you’re doing something absolutely right.”
This both amused and wrong-footed him.
“Because the other day,” he said, “I was working, and this guy from the power company came by and he took my picture with his phone. And I said to him, ‘Hey, why did you take my picture?’ and he said he hadn’t taken my picture but I saw him take my picture.”
He seemed more indignant about being lied to than about the picturing-taking itself.
So I said, “Well yes, I suppose I did take your picture but really it was the garden I was photographing. It looks fantastic.”
And of course since he was the man who looked after the garden he was obviously pleased and flattered by this, and of course I did actually mean it, and also from the way I was talking I was obviously not threatening.
So we had a conversation about gardens, and he said the ice plants didn’t usually flower at this time of year, but there’d been rain and then a very hot spell and this had confused the plants and they’d burst into flower. Usually July and August were the times when those particular ice plants looked their best.
I said I’d like to come back then and take another picture and he said, “If I’m here and you take my picture I’m going to want paying.” I said I thought that sounded very reasonable.