Living Desert University


Learn more about environmentally sound, desert friendly gardening practices. Below you will find just a sampling of our Desert Gardening experts!

Don Ackley
Mr. Ackley is the Coachella Valley Water District's Water Management Supervisor responsible for both the efficient use of water by golf courses throughout the District, and the execution of the Landscape Water Conservation Ordinance's Landscape Plan Check Program. He teaches Turfgrass Management/Landscape Irrigation at the University of California, Riverside Extension, and has taught Soil Science, Irrigation, Pesticides and Conservation of Natural Resources at the College of the Desert as an adjunct faculty member. He has authored over 20 papers in the field of efficient irrigation applications.

Bob Lindstead
For the more than 15 years, Bob has been propagating plants for The Living Desert. He has grown thousands of native plants for use on grounds and for sale at our Palo Verde Garden Center. There are very few individuals in the Coachella Valley (or elsewhere, for that matter) that have Bob's unique knowledge of native plant propagation. Bob has also propagated plants for Joshua Tree National Monument, the Bureau of Land Management, Huntington Botanical Gardens, the City of Palm Desert and the Palm Desert campus of the University of California, Riverside. Known for his engaging lectures and workshops throughout the Coachella Valley, Bob is currently working on a book he's entitled The Politics of Plants, How to Save the Environment and have Fun Doing it!

Paul Ortega
Originally drawn to the Palm Springs area to pursue his dream of opening a retail nursery specializing in desert and desert-adapted plant materials, Paul immediately began to educate himself on the desert plant palette by taking courses at the College of the Desert and Living Desert University. This was followed by a 6 month stint as a full-time employee of the retail nursery, as well as program coordinator of LDU, helping further his knowledge of plant materials that work in our local environment. Afterward, Paul began to develop the landscape design agency that today is Desert Garden Center, LLC. He is a co-founder and current chairman of the Desert Horticultural Society of the Coachella Valley and a member of the Architectural Advisory Committee for the City of Palm Springs. Additionally, Paul is an associate member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and belongs to the California Native Plant Society. Paul has been a resident of the area since 2001.

For information on specific classes, please download our current catalog.