The Lights Are On at Ethel M!

The lights are sparkling at the Ethel M cactus garden for Valentine’s Day.
Photo by Diane Taylor

What happens when Steve Bowdoin’s crew at Henderson, Nevada’s Ethel M Cactus Garden removes all the green, and yellow holiday lights from their garden? The remaining pink, red, white, blue and purple lights transform the garden into a perfect Valentine (with some added attractions) garden, open for evening visits the two weeks before Valentine’s Day.

This reporter received information along with a preview of the Valentine cactus garden display during a 5 p.m. visit to Ethel M. Wednesday, Jan 27.

The man in charge of garden maintenance and lights, Steve Bowdoin.
Photo by Diane Taylor

On my arrival, only a few cars were in the lot. No buses and only two customers were milling about. Yes, COVID has taken its toll at Ethel M, but down does not mean out. As Lisa Vannerson of Ethel M explained, the Ethel M store is open daily, pick-up services are alive and well and starting January 29 ,online reservations for tours of the cactus garden Valentine edition are available as well.

The days leading up to Valentine’s Day are typically the second busiest time of year at the chocolate factory. Ethel M’s regular chocolate offerings along with a special box of enormous chocolate covered strawberries are offered. In addition, the Ethel M Tasting Room will be open for business during the two-week Valentine’s Day celebration (January 29-Feb 14). For folks who prefer to stay home, a “virtual tasting” is available as well, but requires ordering a virtual kit (instructions and chocolate) in advance.

The walking path is clearly defined, with lots of spots for family photos.
Photo by Diane Taylor

For folks who think a cactus garden grows without maintenance, Bowdoin knows differently. He and a crew of four gardeners prune, water (yes, cactus ultimately need water) and care for the three acres of cactus and other plants. The crew is also on the lookout for weeds, disease and insect infestations. In March, the crew along with a large crane will be taking down all the garden lights, and will set up the 2021 holiday lights again in September.

I asked about the employees at the Ethel M factory, and fortunately, although those tourist buses have stayed away, the company has not had to eliminate any of its Henderson staff.

What the world needs now…
Photo by Diane Taylor

For readers interested in a walk through the Valentine edition of the cactus garden, reservations are required along with a $5 donation to Three Square Food Bank. Why the $5? Cactus Garden visits are popular and at Christmas, some of the folks who made reservations online simply did not show up, preventing other families from being able to make reservations. Ethel M hopes the $5 will help folks remember their dates and times along with helping the food bank. Yes, masks and social distancing are required. People with reservations check in at a small tent. I’m told also, that once reservations are made, an order for hot chocolate can be made as well, with the hot chocolate delivered just as the guests arrive at their appointed reservation time.

I walked the garden Wednesday night wearing a warm coat and a mask. It was lovely.


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