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Coastal gem: choose easy-care plants for year-round appeal in a small front yard.

PROPERTIES BY THE BEACH call for plants needing little care, especially when they're used by vacationers who come and go. Because the owners of this Capitola cottage wanted their front yard to look good whenever they came for a holiday, garden designers MaryAnn Scanlon and Cathy Drees relied on low-maintenance plants that thrive in the often foggy and windy coastal climate.


The small front yard had no room for large trees or shrubs, but the landscape needed to balance the scale of the two-story house. So Scanlon and Drees chose one multitrunked Arbutus 'Marina' tree and two deep burgundy 'Dark Delight' phormiums for substance.

A persimmon-colored front door and a generous walkway help highlight the recessed entry. Playing off the house's vibrant front entry, the designers filled the beds with layers of sunset-hued plants. Orange blooms of Arctotis 'Pumpkin Pie', Leucadendron 'Flame Tip' and L. 'Safari Sunshine', 'Chihuly' rose, and Salvia blepharophylla, along with the coppery foliage of carex, carry the color theme, while purple-flowering sea lavender and plants with lime and silver leaves provide accents.

The designers chose carefully, since each selection would look prominent in the compact yard. "Every plant counts in a small space, so you have to make sure it holds its own," Scanlon says.

The lush garden needs clipping and primping just once a month but provides continual interest. "Almost 100 percent of the plants are evergreen," Scanlon says, "so there's something happening year-round."

INFO Design: MaryAnn Scanlon, Gardens by MaryAnn, Los Gatos (408/358-2745); Cathy Drees, Accent Gardens, Los Gatos (408/356-2435). Sculpture: Hardy Jones, Found Art Sculpture, Los Altos ( or 650/814-3310).

Four great ideas from this garden

Create an inviting entry A wide path of full-range Connecticut bluestone--bordered by eye-catching carex and leucadendrons--leads from the street to the front door. A custom-made metal surfer sculpture, holding an actual surfboard, welcomes guests.

Choose groundcovers In the place of lawn, Scanlon and Drees used ground huggers including catmint, Cotula 'Silver Mound', echeveria, Erigeron glaucus, sedum, and thyme. They provide the same coverage without the water and work.

Give plants room to grow Space them so they can reach maturity without getting crowded. "Don't be a crammer jammer. We like plants to have their own identities," Scanlon says.

Plant in swaths A single kind of plant used en masse has more impact in a small yard than many different kinds mixed together, Drees says.


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Title Annotation:Northern California style
Author:Chai, Julie
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Oct 1, 2007
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