Here we are at the end of May and I’m happy to share with you the final phase of my front garden re-do!
After moving around my new little plants at least a half a dozen times each, most of them have finally found their permanent homes.
Going back to my first post, I wanted to see if I actually followed through on my original intention which was to use my latest book as my guide to incorporate color, texture, and form with a combination of ornamental, native, succulent ,and edible plants.
These new plants needed to tie in with my existing garden so as not to stick out like a sore thumb, or appear drastically different than their surroundings.
Hefty amounts of chartreuse and yellow are used throughout my garden to help create a bright yet lush atmosphere.
So often, low-water gardens consist of plants that are primarily gray which, while beautiful, when overused can end up looking a little hot and parched.
To counter-balance this effect I interspersed plants with chartreuse, gold, and yellow highlights, among those nearby plants that are dark green and maroon.
I didn’t eliminate gray, but chose various shades from the brightest white, to soft gray-green, carefully placing them throughout the garden to create a ‘woven tapestry’ effect. Click here to read more about how to garden with shades of gray.
Some of my favorites are the euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ , chartreuse carex ‘Everillo’, gold-splashed euonymus ‘Moonshadow’, the yellow flowers of phlomis ruselliana (Jerusalem sage), and the new darling of my garden – a plant that I started from a small cutting from my brother’s former garden – a helichrysum italicum (Curry Plant, below.)
I just love the pale cream flower ‘balls’ in the early spring and how once burst open, add such textural interest with both open and closed buds on the same cluster. So far it has provided me with several months of happiness.
I have two established Japanese maples that thrive on very little water – the smaller ‘Shaina’ and larger, upright ‘Bloodgood’. I like how they help to emphasize the chocolate brown color of the container placed in the garden bed.
The dusky plum foliage of ‘Cheryl’s Shadow’ geranium (below) helps to highlight the purple flowers of neighboring ‘Bill Wallis’ geranium.
Just as important as color, plants with interesting textures play a huge role in my garden – adding another layer of sensory delight.
Some of my favorites are the delicate, feathery textures of the Bluestar (amsonia hubrichtii) and nearby artemisia ‘Powis Castle.’
The bright silver, velvety foliage of the stachys ‘Bello Grigio’ contrasts nicely with the rigid, delicate, needle-like foliage of the Australian Pillflower bush (ozothamnus ‘Sussex Silver) placed nearby.
Form and Shape
Remember how I wanted to highlight the existing ‘Bronze Baby’ phormium in my garden?
To help emphasize its striking color and upright shape, I surrounded it with lower, mounding plants such as the ‘Bergartten’ sage and California native solanum xanti ‘Mountain Pride’.
Other plants were chosen because of the unusual shapes of their foliage.
For example, the ruffly, velvet scented geranium ‘Peppermint’ (don’t you love how the delicate traces of white around its leaves echo the flowers?) and the jagged edges of potentilla atrosanguinea, which look like they’ve been cut with pinking shears.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the progress of my front garden. I look forward to comparing past and present water bills once we’re in the middle of summer – I’ll keep you posted!
I’ve been invited to speak at this year’s Sunset Celebration (80 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA) held this coming weekend May 31st and June 1st.
I’ll be speaking each day at 3:00 on the topic of Designing with Drought, and will cover the above concepts in depth (and much more) using plants to perform my version of ‘before and after’.
It’ll be tons of fun, and if you’ve never attended I highly encourage you to come on out!
I hope to see some of you there!