By Interview by Corey Hajim

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Kirk Anderson, curator of gardens, the Living Desert, Palm Desert, Calif.

I GREW UP IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AND ALways liked plants, so I took some horticulture classes at a local college. I was hired as a groundsman here 18 years ago, and I've been really lucky to have the chance to curate. We basically create exhibits that replicate animal and desert habitats from all over the world. I just finished working on one about Madagascar, with African ocotillo, Madagascar palm, and baobobs. We do some work with plant salvaging too, both with people who have plants they don't want anymore and with the Bureau of Land Management. When an area is about to be developed, we'll go see whether there is anything interesting, like barrel cactus, hedgehog cactus, or Joshua trees. With plants our biggest challenge is the weather: It's over 100 degrees for four to five months of the year. The best thing that has happened to me here? I met my wife, who was volunteering in the retail plant nursery in 1996. I was 40 at the time, and she saved me from a life as a bachelor. -- Interview by Corey Hajim