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Gardens that are designed for drought.

Gardens that are designed for drought The gardens featured on these six pages reveal trends in California landscapes. With the persistent drought--and passage in January 1991 of the Water Conservation in Landscaping Act (which mandates that all California cities and counties consider adopting water-efficient landscape ordinances by 1993)--home gardeners are combining plants, paving, and irrigation systems in increasingly water-respectful ways.

Lush and lively gardens like these three, carefully planned and maintained, are becoming the landscapes of choice. All were created within the last eight years, two in response to the current drought. They demonstrate that beauty need not be sacrificed for water conservation. If you choose to rethink your own garden for water efficiency, use these three approaches for inspiration; you can make a plan and prepare the site this summer, then plant in fall.

Four-season food and

flower garden

Little water, a well-crafted design, and a core of drought-resistant plants make the garden pictured on these two pages a tranquil setting for all seasons. The 34- by 54-foot garden "room" off the front entrance of an Encino house is a respite from summer heat and the busy boulevard beyond its wall.

Owners Barbara and Irwin Linden wanted a low-maintenance, water-efficient garden with year-round appeal. They also wanted to keep existing citrus and apricot trees.

In response Paul J. Cunningham of Landscape Design Associates and designer Philip Chandler created a foliage framework of silver and gray plants that persists all year and sets off seasonal color of accent plants. Artemisias, convolvulus, lamb's ears, lavenders, Melianthus major, salvias, and santolina contribute the silver-gray features.

Mrs. Linden tracks the bloom cycles of all the plants, keeping monthly records of color and time of bloom. According to her observations, California poppies, kangaroo paws, Mexican evening primrose, Mexican tulip poppy, and sulfur flower are among spring's most brilliant bloomers.

Agapanthus, blue hibiscus, California buckwheat, and perennial statice are strong in summer. Fall color is carried by dusty miller, fortnight lily, and lavender.

Perennial candytuft, Mexican bush sage, New Zealand tea tree, Phlomis lanata, and rosemary are winter bloomers. Railroad ties terrace the gentle slope up from the driveway to the street. The multilevel planting give the appearance of a densely planted garden. In fact, plants were spaced loosely, with decomposed granite used between them as a ground cover. Granite gives a manicured appearance and minimizes maintenance; there are fewer plants to water and care for, and the surface is difficult for weeds to root in.

A sandstone-paved orchard (above) and a productive patio (opposite page) are intensively planted portions of Bill Slater's Montecito garden.

Designer Dennis Shaw packed color, fragrance, and edibles into small, enclosed spaces. Water and maintenance are focused in these areas of high visibility, while outlying areas were designed for even more efficient water use and maintenance.

Decorative paving, which was chosen for its appealing texture and color, is a storng design element in this Mediterranean-style garden. The large paved area also decreases the demand for water. Sandstone used in the orchard was collected form the property when the house was under construction. Adoquin stone from Mexico decorates the more formal patio area.

The planted orchard pocket above is one of several situated in the low-lying area of the Slater landscape. The orchard is positioned to receive runoff; this provides maximum water for the young peach trees in the center of each pocket. Perimeter plantings of drought-resistant perennials contribute temporary color and texture; as the peach trees grow, they will shade out these plants.

In the planted patio, Shaw used unthirsty plants that are dependable and visually strong--rosemary and lavender, for example--to weave together the diverse groupings of plants in each bed, as well as to lind one planted area to the next.

Many plants were chosen for their fragrance or for use in cooking. Some--such as common thyme, edible scented geraniums, rosemary, and winter savory--serve both functions. Additional fragrant plants include a combination of ornamental salvias and lavenders.

To suppress weeds and conserve moisture, Shaw used bark mulch in the beds. Regular clipping and shearing are requried to shape plants and to encourage new growth and flowers.

As the patio planting matures, shrubs, and trees, like the pindo palm (Butia capitata) shown at near right, will demand more space and force out some of the perennials.

This functional front garden, designed by Owen Dell of Santa Barbara, creates maximum color with minimum water. Just three months after planting, the dramatic foliage of purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum') and Caribbean copper plant (Euphorbia cotinifolia) combine with white yarrow and pink and purple penstemons for a festive landscape. To soften pathway edges and lend an informal quality, plants are allowed to spill onto the saltillo tile and salt-finished concrete paving.

For privacy, an established pittosporum hedge was left to block the garden from the street. In this mild climate, the poured-concrete patio was placed for full exposure to the afternoon sun.

Walk-on bark mulch, defined by a 4-inch-wide mowing strip, reserves a small area for lawn, to be planted if and when water permints. The minimal square-footage is stretched out to give children room to romp. To prevent irrigation overspray, the angles of the proposed turf area match the angles of spray from the pop-up sprinklers. The irrigation system is installed, but water is being withheld until planting.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sunset Drought Survival Guide for Home and Garden; includes related articles
Date:May 1, 1991
Previous Article:Bring your irrigation system up-to-date.
Next Article:Other water-saving strategies.

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