Leaving Las Vegas

I spent almost a week in Las Vegas representing APLD at a board meeting as well as at an industry trade show. I had never been there before and it is the first place I’ve ever been where I would be happy not to go back to. There is no romance there unless you like, as one of my fellow designers dubbed it, ‘trailer park glamour’.

For the garden minded, there are pockets of innovation and interest, particularly in the Wynn Hotel.

Wynn display 2

Las Vegas

At The Shops at Crystals I saw a light installation by James Turrell, the mall combines site specific art and commerce, there was a totally original use of mums…yes, mums.

Display of mums in Las Vegas

Despite the artificial perfumed air, the bad fashion and the incredible, unsustainable environment which couldn’t exist without pumped in water, electricity and a boat (caravan?) load of other things that are not in anyway part of the natural environment in the Mojave desert, I did find two places intriguing.

The first, The Neon Museum, is uniquely Las Vegas.  The museum tells the history of the city’s upswing through its neon signs.  These ghost signs have been collected, preserved (thanks to little or no rust), cataloged and organized.  They are beautiful and also tell the history of 20th century design from quaint to futuristic.

Contrasting design styles at Neon Museum Las Vegas Mid century modern Neon Museum Neon Museum genie's lamp

For the second, after two days inside, I went with five other designers to Red Rock Canyon, which is less than an hour away from the Vegas strip by car.  My eastern eyes, used to green forested landscapes with glimpses of the sky, loved the unfiltered light – we were there at sunset, the scale of the sky, the neutral colors, and the rocks themselves.

Red Rock Canyon Nevada Grey and brown plants which would look dead in the east were thriving here, blooming yellow and salmon and red.

Red Rock canyon plants

When I returned home, I woke with a start to the bright red fall foliage outside my bedroom window.  Almost a week in the desert had made me unused to natural color…Las Vegas was either neutral or neon.

10 thoughts on “Leaving Las Vegas

  1. I’ve only been twice and have had a fun time. I think the key to this shiny sparkely collegen injected place is to be selective.
    I enjoy the over produced Disney on steroids horticultural stage shows at the Bellagio , the Venetian and Wynn. At least I knew it was done with tongue in cheek unlilke Buchart Gardens in BC that actually thinks their gaudy garden is in good taste.
    I also spend time in the spas and not the casinos. I feel like I am getting something for my money and I love the opulence and pampering.

  2. The closest I ever got to Las Vegas was a 2 hour layover at the airport. I won 50 cents at a slot machine. We were appalled when we took off to see all the streets laid out in a still empty suburb. Don’t these people know you need a lot of water in a suburban community? I didn’t even like Reno which we visited with California friends but it didn’t help that it snowed and we nearly got stuck in the Donner Pass. My husband got very nervous.

  3. I like the yucca sign in your photo, and glad you went to Red Rock. (desert, BTW, with <8" rain/year up there, steppe is thick grasses like Denver, etc) The touristy parts of LV bring me down (retirees smoking, pushing walkers and oxygen tanks…).

    But the natural areas all around turn me on, and there are some nice desert landscape design examples all over town, the Gardens at the Springs Preserve are amazing, and some other interesting things. Plus most of my colleagues there are engaging…though 2 hate it in a big way. But I'm different…a desert rat, I mountain bike, couch surf / mooch off of friends there, and get paid to do some fun work with creative people who dig it!

    Some days, I wish I had moved there instead of here. But not all days…

  4. David–It’s obvious that my eastern forested eyes can’t tell the difference between desert and steppe. I saw mesquite? and yucca and other plants I couldn’t identify but found extraordinarily beautiful and delicate in their way. There was also fall color which surprised me. Hope you are well in the dry heat…-s

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *