Living Green Gardens Gallery

  • Succulents
  • Southwest
  • Mediterranean
  • Alter-Native
  • CA Native
  • Ground Cover
  • Succulents

    Succulents comprise a wide array of plants of different form, color, and place of origin, but they have one thing in common - they are adapted to dry conditions. From the rather ordinary, apple-green Aptenia groundcovers to bizarre purple Aeoniums that would look at home on a coral reef, there is a succulent for nearly any dry-garden situation. One word of caution - while the word 'succulent' tends to be associated with cacti, not all succulents are from hot, sunny desert climates. Many are from foggy coastal regions and require filtered shade when grown inland.

    The Southwest Garden

    The Desert Southwest is a demanding climate for plants: scorching summer temperatures and winters that often fail to bring significant rainfall mean that only the toughest plants survive. As a result, landscape plants from the Desert Southwest are among the most bulletproof a California gardener can get. In fact, you have to be careful not to be too nice to these plants, as most require steep drainage and will rot if overwatered. Many Desert Southwest natives have a white, waxy coating on their leaves (meaning they are glaucous, in botanical jargon) that reflects the punishing desert sun; this gives them an appealing blue-grey color.

    The Mediterranean Garden

    The climate surrounding the Mediterranean Sea closely mirrors that of California - dry, hot summers are followed by brief, mild winters during which most of the year's precipitation falls. As a result, Mediterranean natives like lavender, rosemary, olive and rockrose are very well-adapted for California gardens. A Mediterranean plant palette emphasizes grey-green foliage and pastel flowers - perfect for a soothing, laid-back California landscape. Most of these plants prefer full sun and require good drainage.

    The Kindred Garden - Alter-Natives

    Mediterranean climates can be found wherever a cold ocean current traces the western edge of a mid-latitude landmass - in addition to the Mediterranean and California, this includes parts of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. These three regions proffer well adapted Alter-Natives to true California natives that perform just as well in the landscape. Does your garden need some winter color? Correas or many Acacia species from Australia are the thing for you. Do you have a dry hillside with poor soil that needs something interesting? Try a Leucadendron from South Africa! Whatever the garden site, there is probably an Alter-Native to fill it.

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