Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sexy Sumptuous Color / Water-Wise Plants

We drool when we see those garden photos on the mags at the dentist’s office. Sensuous burgundy leaves, fragrant gray-leaf lavendar, delicate pink flowering shrubs. Looks like it belongs in front of Muffin Mouse's little cottage in merry old Newark. Ya just wanna take a bite out of it!

But much of the stuff we lust after in garden books doesn’t make sense in our semi-desert Santa Barbara / SoCal climate. We just can't shake that temperate climate aesthetic. So do we resign ourselves to a life of sensual deprivation or do we waste one of the most precious resources we have coaxing lush growth in a climate that’s supposed to be sporting sagebrush?

Have I got a deal for you! Call now and you can have the best of both worlds! Operators are standing by.

The key is understanding what makes a plant composition attractive to you, and “reverse engineering” it to its basic components. If your bippy gets all aroused from the combination of sky-rocketing yellow blooms framed by dark green weeping foliage, find something in your own neck of the woods that gives you that effect. Don't try to import something from another climate that needs a life-support system we can't afford!

The photo above gives the look of a lush English garden, but all the plants would survive with a monthly deep soak in the summer and no supplemental water for the rest of the year.

That dark burgundy foliage is a flowering plum with a deep root system that doesn’t need much pampering. The graceful pink flowers are bursting out of a tough-as-nails New Zealand Tea Tree. And Lavendar is a Mediterranean plant that needs no help from us, thank you very much!

So you can have it both ways—drop-dead-gorgeous garden and treading lightly on the planet. Pretty sexy, eh?


Diana said...

Oooooh... it makes me want to rip out the water intensive borring green garden where I rent and put in something pretty and waterwise!

Anonymous said...


I love this garden photo; is it in Santa Barbara? Is it one of yours?
Fabulous! Great colors, textures and contrasts.

Garden Wise Guy said...

Anonymous (why do parents name their kids that way?): It's not one of my designs. Just something I noticed on a neighborhood walk and thought would make a good topic for the blog. But it really captures the drama and color I like to use in my designs.

Can I ask where you found this blog?

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Very sexy, indeed! I love reading the Sunset magazine and other things wholly not appropriate for my zone 6... for just that reason. Your Dasylirion longissima with Euphorbia resinifera combo is my hesperaloe underplanted with either annual 'Silver Falls' dichondra or a tiny, silvery-grey creeping sedum.