• Make friends with local people who have gardens. I got involved with the Arizona Palm and Cycad Association over ten years ago. It's a group of mostly middle-aged men, like me, who have a fascination with palm trees and cycads (sago palms, etc.). It's all well and good to see photos on the internet, or in magazines, of Hawaii, or Australia, but I wanted to know if I could grow these plants right here. And I wanted to see them with my own eyes. The group doesn't have regular meetings anymore, but the guys still get together every once in a while, and I will be visiting our Vice President today along with our Treasurer. I'm the Secretary, by the way, which means being the webmaster.
• Visit public gardens. I live just a few blocks away from the Glendale Public Library, which has a garden that includes various types of plants, including palm trees and agaves. It's nearby Sahuaro Ranch, which I visit quite often. And if a plant can successfully grow there, it can grow in my yard!
A tropical paradise in the desert is a tiny place, a retreat. It isn't acres of grass, and it isn't cactus and rocks. It's an oasis, a mirage. My favorite place in the whole world.