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Natives in the Garden

Shade Woodland Garden
Woodland shade in Escondido

This is a shade woodland in Escondido (north county San Diego). Shade gardens are one of our specialties. The full shade does not mean you have to sacrifice color, as can be seen in the pink Ribes (currant) and blue Ceanothus (wild lilac). Also note the Pacific Coast iris below. Coursing through the middle of this shaded area is a seasonal creek-bed that we created. It actually fills with rainwater during storms. Its fun to watch the hummingbirds taking baths in the little pools left behind. Ground-level windows in the offices look out through the cool shaded landscape. One of the managers at the water district, where this photo was taken, is an avid hunter. We threatened to put a big plastic Bambi with a bulls-eye painted on the side in front of his window.


Chapparral Garden

Colorful, chapparral gardenChaparral gardens are also incredibly beautiful. Much of California was covered with it once (is that why the first Spaniards wore leather chaps to their chins?). This picture is taken in spring. The deep blue shrubs are Ceanothus, the pink is Cercis (Redbud), there are orange poppies, yellow San Diego Marguerite, and the golden bush on the left is Fremontia, or Flannel bush. Even out of bloom, the native shrubs are mostly evergreen, yielding dramatic foliar colors and shapes.

In Escondido, where this picture was taken, they flourish with no additional summer water. This was an especially difficult site, because it contained very bad fill (something like the bottom of a salt marsh). I should have been tipped off by all the salt grass everywhere. It took about three years and many bags of potassium sulfate to stabilize this one (one of the few additives we’ll ever use in a landscape).


Southwestern Style Garden

Brittlebrush, apricot mallow, and penstemonsThe owner of this property has a beautiful Taos pueblo adobe structure in Bonsall. What is remarkable is that he did practically the whole installation himself! We designed it, did some consultation to guide him, and he pretty much did the rest. It was amazing to see a man in his late fifties underneath a 3000 pound boulder with a carjack! Multiply this scenario a hundred times and you get the picture. He saved thousands of dollars with sweat equity. Our customers amaze us.

This dramatic house screamed for a southwestern style landscape. We patterned the plant community somewhat between Sonoran desert and Joshua Tree. It really fits the house, with yellow Encelia (brittlebush), orange Sphaeralcea (apricot mallow), upright pink and red penstemons, and an assortment of desert shrubs.


Meditterranean Garden

Meditterranean courtyard gardenAt times we like to get a little whimsical too. How about taking a dry Bermuda grass front lawn with a half-dead, whitefly-infested hibiscus, and turning it into a Mediterranean courtyard with white picket fence and fountain? We mixed garden tolerant natives with herbs and put roses and fruit trees on separate irrigation. They couldn’t bear to lose the Bougainvillea, so we built an arbor for it to consume. They claim they are now the pride of their neighborhood, located in Fallbrook. I did see several cars stop in front of the property when taking this picture. We also built a dry stream, raised bed vegetable garden, and horseshoe pits in the back (not shown). They seem to have a lot of fun in this garden.

Asian Style Garden

Asian style gardenAsian style garden: One of our favorite little pleasures is to create “Japanese” or “Asian” style landscapes with purely native materials! Plants like manzanitas, coffeeberry, azalea, juniper, snowberry, sedges, rushes, irises, redbud, currants, etc make for wonderful elements in this style landscape. Many of these plants have circumboreal representatives that are native to the Far East anyway, so we add them to the correct setting, and viola, Japanese garden!

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