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 768x1024 Leaving Las Vegas

Wynn display 1 768x1024 Leaving 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.

Mums at Shops at Crystal 768x1024 Leaving 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 768x1024 Leaving Las Vegas Mid century modern Neon Museum 1024x768 Leaving Las Vegas Neon Museum genies lamp 768x1024 Leaving Las Vegas

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.

sunset red rock canyon 768x1024 Leaving Las Vegas Grey and brown plants which would look dead in the east were thriving here, blooming yellow and salmon and red.

Red Rock canyon plants 768x1024 Leaving Las Vegas

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.

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About Susan aka Miss. R

Professional landscape designer, lover of the land and all things design.
LABELS: American Architecture, Gardens, Las Vegas

10 Responses to Leaving Las Vegas

  1. Michelle D. says:

    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. commonweeder says:

    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. James Golden says:

    Never been, never want to go. But I’d go to the desert, definitely. Red Rock Canyon looks more like steppe vegetation than desert. What do you think?

  4. Michelle–funny, I had my first massage in years there last week. Seems to be a place to get pampered just to avoid the rest!

  5. Those suburbs are now populated. Actually the medians along the main streets we drove were beautifully landscaped.

  6. James-This is the first time in 30 years that I’ve been in he desert. I thought my lips would peel off my face they were so dry. I’ve never been to the steppes…

  7. 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…

  8. 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

  9. Wow, Susan your pix make me actually want to go to Las Vegas, and I’ve never wanted to before. The neon museum looks amazing and the over the top hort stuff would be kinda cool to see, plus the desert.

  10. Stan Romano says:

    Beautiful arrangements in the mall. I recently moved to Tempe from the MidWest and am always surprised the bright plant colors down here!

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