A Drought-Tolerant California Garden


Today’s photos come from Stephen Katcher.

I am writing to share some pictures of my garden in Studio City, California. I live with my wife of twenty years, our two daughters, ages 19 and 12, and our two dogs. We’ve lived here since 2004, and what was a passing interest in native and drought-tolerant landscaping became a passion in the great drought we had in California for many years.

Our home is a comfortable midcentury typical of the period, but with limited space for gardening. We pulled up the lawn out front years ago and picked plants that could handle a south-facing exposure and were better adapted to our Zone 9b climate.

Over the years I’ve been drawn to chapparal plants, and you’ll find in my garden Mediterranean, South African, Peruvian, and especially Australian and Californian native plants. I love succulents and bulbs, so you’ll find those tucked around here and there too. I also appreciate interesting barks and forms, and so I get distracted by those from time to time.

Focusing on native and drought-tolerant landscaping does not mean sacrificing beauty! There’s lots to enjoy here, with splashes of bright orange from the native California poppy (Eschscholzia californica, annual).

Five-spot (Nemophila maculata) is another annual plant native to California.

A Meyer lemon (Citrus × meyeri, Zones 8–11) in bloom, with fruits visible in the background.

A variegated euphorbia (probably Euphorbia characias ‘Tasmanian Tiger’, Zones 7–10) shows off in front of a fragrant lavender (Lavandula sp., Zones 5–10).

An Arbutus marina (Zones 9–11) tree with some Urginea maritima (Zones 8–11), succulents, king protea (Protea cynaroides, Zones 9–12), and plenty of California poppies.

Developing flower buds on the king protea.

California poppies bloom away in a mix of diverse foliage and forms.

The blue-green stems of the cactus Cereus peruvianus (Zones 9–11) are always attractive, but when the enormous white flowers open, it is truly over the top!

The flowers on the Cereus peruvianus are followed by these red fruits.

A hummingbird nest, complete with two oh-so-tiny eggs!


Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

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