Put a succulent on it

underplanting with succulents tended.wordpress.com

File under more uses for succulents: underplanting and filling in.

Give your succulents a temporary job filling in blank spots between or under plants. Succulents can take some shade, especially if it’s only for a short time. And while they might not pair well with your ferns, they can take some moisture. I have succulents filling in right now in bright shade and heavy clay soil. Heavy WET clay soil, now that we finally, thankfully, have rain! Since they transplant so easily, you can move them around wherever they’re needed. Or you might decide to just leave them where they are since they look great with everything.

underplanting with succulents tended.wordpress.com

Photographed at Sunset Magazine’s celebration weekend display gardens.

A low maintenance silver, purple, and black garden

silver and black garden tended.wordpress.com

At Sunset’s Menlo Park gardens: a low maintenance, low water garden with year-round color interest.

Here, they’ve used bronze Phormium, Variegated Pittosporum, Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’, Lorapetalum ‘Purple Diamond’, and silver Thyme. These plants won’t need much more than the occasional light pruning.

The Aeoniums are a nice touch here – their forms are stunning, they add color and height, don’t take up any square footage, and soften the transition between the purple and silver. The cement, steel and celadon ceramic containers continue the color theme and can be moved around as needed.

Succulents planted in bands of color

agaves and echeveria tended.wordpress.com

Try planting succulents in huge swaths of a single color. There are so many varieties that you can choose almost any color combination you want. Your garden will look like a jewel box.

This is Echeveria Agavoides ‘Purple Pearl’ and Agave attenuata ‘Nova’ (Blue Fox Tail Agave). When these echeveria fill in, the effect is going to be stunning.

Mediterranean by way of Montecito front courtyard

low water courtyard tended.wordpress.com

Even with all of the late season rain, we’re still in a drought. So here is inspiration to get rid of your lawn: the courtyard garden at Cava in Montecito. Terra cotta pots hold citrus, pittosporum, and boxwood. The garden beds contain more citrus, rosemary, lavender, lambs ears, bougainvillea, roses, agave attenuata, and succulents. This is an easy, happy little garden that will smell amazing on a warm, sunny day.

low water courtyard tended.wordpress.com

Plants you can’t kill: Pink Jasmine

pink jasmine tended.wordpress.com

I love all things jasmine: plants, perfume, tea.. This pink jasmine vine (jasminum polyanthum) is growing in my neighbor’s front yard and I can smell it all the way down the street. Pure heaven.

Pink jasmine is a no brainer. You definitely need some. It thrives in heavy clay soil, it thrives in containers, it tolerates drought, it tolerates shade. I’ve never fed mine and it grows like crazy with no yellow leaves in sight. Technically jasmine blooms late winter to early summer, but it can bloom sporadically most of the year. If it’s planted in the ground, it can grow to 25 feet. It can look a bit messy once the flowers are spent, so you can either prune it lightly or leave it alone and let the new growth take care things for you. The vine itself is neat, green, and lush.

Cut a little and let it spill over the sides of a flower arrangement. Your house will smell amazing.

A garden for lazy gardeners at Filoli

low maintenance garden tended.wordpress.com

Filoli is kind of known for those formal English style gardens, but there are plenty of ideas for us lazy gardeners, too. Everything in this border is low maintenance and drought tolerant. No deadheading, pruning, or cutting things back. And the foliage mix here is so good that even after most things are done blooming, the garden is still totally stunning.

low maintenance garden tended.wordpress.com

Repetition of purple-black shrubs as a transition between the trees and the low growing perennials at the front of the border.

black and silver tended.wordpress.com

Black and silver. Berggarten Sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’) and purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria). In a smaller space you could use Loropetalum chinense ‘Purple Diamond’

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides tended.wordpress.com

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides. This was growing all over the place. It just flows in around everything and gives you a low dense mass of green with the most intense blue flowers.

More useful stuff:

The easiest California garden ever

portola valley garden

This beautiful garden is actually at a riding barn in Portola Valley (the building is one of the stables). A gnarled old olive tree is surrounded by rudbeckia (black eyed susan), phormium (new zealand flax ‘bronze baby’), stipa gigantea (giant feather grass), erigeron (seaside daisy), and buddleia (butterfly bush). Everything here is perfectly suited for our heavy clay soil and Mediterranean climate of wet winters and long dry summers. This is practically a no-maintenance garden if you plant in the fall to catch the winter rains.