James West (aka Prince Egon von Ratibor) established an extensive rock garden in 1932 which would later become the area known today as the Deserts of the Americas collection. This garden was planted with specimens from his own personal collection and some transplanted cactus specimens from the main campus.  The director of the Garden, Dr. T.H. Goodspeed, was an ardent supporter of the succulent and cactus collection and encouraged its expansion. The present collection started taking shape after the Andean expedition in 1935, the first in a series of collecting trips that continued for 30 years.

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