I was in the desert for a couple of days and stopped in Sunday at the Sunnylands Center and Gardens in Rancho Mirage. That is the free, open to the public side of the Sunnylands estate, which includes the mid-century modern home designed in the early 1960s by A. Quincy Jones as a winter home for Walter and Leonore Annenberg, plus 200 surrounding acres of lawns and desert, golf course and lakes. The estate is the home now of the Annenberg Retreats and events such as President Obama's meeting last year with China's president Xi Jinping. Public tours of the home and grounds can be arranged by reservation.
The gardens cover nine acres and include 53,000 plants, including what seemed like hundreds of flowering palo verde trees. The gardens are free to visit Thursdays through Sundays except in July and August, when you have no business being in the Palm Springs area anyway.