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Colorful drought-survivors in Santa Barbara.

Colorful drought-survivors in Santa Barbara

Completely California is the best way to understand this garden. The house is built on the edge of a ravine in Santa Barbara, and limitations on water use are severe. Forced to be conservative with water, what kind of garden can you make?

Landscape architect Isabelle Greene chose to exaggerate the California look.

Using natural patterns such as hillsides and rivers as models, she devised sweeps of silver and gray plants, the colors of coastal California.

The result: a garden that manipulates apparent disadvantages into high art.

It features an eclectic mixture of plants. Some are California native; most are not. The garden does include a sprinkler system; all the plants are watered by an amount within the allotment. But in the unhappy circumstance of a drought that precluded using any garden water, these plants would probably survive.

Many of the plants in this garden are common--but not commonly associated with dry gardens. Examples are bougainvillea, Natal plum (Carissa grandiflora), smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria), border penstemon (P. gloxinioides), and dwarf pomegranate (Punica granatum 'Nana'). All of these tolerate water, so in other gardens they're often grouped with plants that require regular sprinkling.

Tough but always exotic-looking Agave victoriae-reginae, beargrass (Dasylirion), ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), and Our Lord's candle (Yucca whipplei) are used with several kinds of aloes as accents.

Also notable in this garden are the number and variety of succulents--dudleya, crassula, echeveria, and sempervivum. They're featured in containers, massed to make a ground cover, or tucked into available niches.

And some plants grown at the early missions (see "California mission gardens," on pages 144 to 147) are featured here: the grapes are espaliered umbrella-style, pomegranates are ornamental dwarfs.

Many of the plants produce flowers, but emphasis is onfoliage colors of silvers, blues, and grays. In this way the garden echoes and blends with surrounding native landscape. Note especially the beds of ground covers such as snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum) and Senecio mandraliscae. Gray leaves and blue flowers of fragrant spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia) form low hedges and borders. Succulent blue-green dudleyas and silvery white cushion bush (Calocephalus brownii) serve as accents.

The garden also features extensive use of stone, from gravel to boulder size.

Landscape zones--wetter close to the house, drier farther away--are employed here, too, though less obviously than at the garden on the previous pages. In the front, near the main entrance, is a small pool with a tiny recirculating pump. Near it are a clump of baby's tears and a patch of English ivy.

Photo: Stream-like pathway of gray-blue stones lies in bed of tan gravel chips. Those are dwarf pomegranate in front, with aloe in pot behind

Photo: Terraced slope is arranged in beds planted with silvery snow-in-summer, gray Kalanchoe pumila, and French lavender

Photo: Flowering echeveria is surrounded by tough baby's tears look-alike called creeping wire vine (Muehlenbeckia axillaris)
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Title Annotation:Landscaping For A Water-Sensible Future; includes related article
Date:May 1, 1988
Previous Article:In Los Angeles, a water guzzler becomes a water saver ... and gains privacy.
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