Glass art and cacti galore at Living Desert Ranch


The weird and wonderful, from plants to garden art, can be found at Living Desert Ranch in Spicewood, Texas, about 30 miles northwest of Austin. Part cactus and succulent nursery and part art gallery, Living Desert is the creation of Darrell Dunten, who ran the business for 30 years out of a shop in Bee Caves (see my 2009 post about it). About five years ago, as development in Bee Caves exploded, Darrell moved his plants and art out to rural Spicewood, where his tin ornaments spin in the breeze under tree limbs and chunks of colorful slag glass (not as easy to get as it used to be, he says) sparkle in the parking lot.


Darrell has expanded the business since moving to Spicewood. He and his wife DeAnna also run a B&B and offer brunch (an entirely plant-based menu) every Thursday through Sunday.


The slag-glass art is what I remember best about the original Living Desert, and lots of Darrell’s pieces are displayed in his greenhouse, alongside his plants.


These garden stakes topped with glass chunks look like wizard staffs.


Beautiful cacti are neatly arrayed on nursery tables.


Many were in bloom during my visit a couple of weeks ago, when I stopped on the way to my Hill Country wildflower photo safari.


Hello there!


Even cylindrical snake plant (Sansevieria cylindrica) was blooming, which I’d never seen.


Glazed ceramic cones stamped with floral patterns make pretty wall planters for cactus and succulents.


There were rectangular hanging pots too.


Molded faces dangle eerily here and there.


I liked this metal heart with a glass heart glowing inside it.


Donkey ears kalanchoe (I think) in towering bloom


Frankenstein’s monster? This is a grafted creation, with two different species turned into one plant.


Personally, I prefer them the way they naturally grow.


In Darrell’s hands, anything makes a good planter.


But some of his treasures are not for sale, like this beauty. I’ve no idea what it is, but wow, isn’t it gorgeous?


Living Desert Ranch is definitely worth a visit if you enjoy cactus and succulents and unique yard art. And unique Texas characters too.

Note: Living Desert Ranch is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. And according to its website, it will be closed every day next week until Easter brunch.

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13 Responses

  1. Kris P says:

    That noID/not-for-sale plant is incredible! I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it.

  2. The one of a kind plant is special. I bet everyone that sees it wants it. I love the wall pockets. They look good stuffed with cacti. A fun place for sure.

  3. Gerhard Bock says:

    This is the kind of place where you better come with an empty trunk because it’ll be full by the time you leave. Thank you for taking us there!

  4. Beth Hamaty says:

    Next time I go to see my mom in Marble Falls, we’ll have to drive out. Looks like lots of fun.

  5. Laura Munoz says:

    Very different. Looks like a fun place to explore. I bet the author of the Rock Rose blog would love it. (Can’t think of her name at the moment.) I have one found chunk of purple slag glass dug up in my former backyard that for the longest I had no idea what it was.

  6. Marla Bays says:

    The plant that is one of a kind is a Euphorbia species. I have a small one that has just bloomed. Nice specimen you have.

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