Delightful Pollinators Garden

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Garden Features

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Drought Tolerant

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Edible Garden

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California Natives

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Deer Resistant

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Drip Irrigation

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Pesticide Free

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Smart Irrigation Controller

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Lawn Conversion

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Lawn-Free Landscaping

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Permeable Surfaces

During the Spring of 2021 when my large front lawn needed replacing due to lack of sufficient water and encroaching weeds and grasses, the most efficient alternative was to replace it with drought resistant landscaping. Two landscapers I had contacted had suggested high prices for plans that were not very pleasing and sufficient. On my daily walks I finally found an example that was exactly what I was looking for, and the homeowner was happy to share the landscaper’s information. It was wonderful to find someone who shared my vision. I told him the colors I preferred and some plants I wished to include as well as the general layout including flagstone and crushed granite. Otherwise, I told him to select what he knew would be best suited to my area. At that time a pipe needed to be replaced from the water meter to the house. He was agreeable to having the plumber come when the lawn had been removed, but said he could do it for the same cost. He was extremely efficient and accommodating, very talented in his expertise, and his price was reasonable. Redoing the front landscaping is one of the best decisions I have made as a homeowner. My water usage was cut dramatically, and my neighbors and passers by have enjoyed the beautiful garden as much as I. It is amazing that there have been continual compliments since its installation. More importantly, I have enjoyed it every single day, thrilled with the lovely results.

During the spring the various blooming plants attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. How delightful it is to watch the Monarchs fluttering from plant to plant, even passing by me enjoying lunch at the bistro table on the front porch, The lovely hummingbirds gravitate to the Mexican Sage. The busy bees have multiple blooms to enjoy. The Milk Weed plants attract the Monarchs for feeding, laying their eggs, and eventually produce caterpillars who nourish themselves on the stems. Last year it was exciting to find two had formed a chrysalis. Sadly, with a troubling strong wind, only one remained. How magical it was to watch a butterfly emerge and hang for two or three days while its wings dried! One morning it was there when I left for a walk but found its freedom before I returned. I had no idea that, besides the beauty of the drought tolerant plants, my garden would actually come alive with such delightful activity! Even now as I write this on sunny December 26, 2023, I am still blessed with some flowers still blooming and two Monarchs fluttering around. And to my amazement, I just found a chrysalis hanging from the overhang of the porch step! My drought tolerant garden is a tremendous joy. Since it was installed, I must admit I have never missed the lawn.

Plants in this Garden

Asclepias spp, CA native

Milkweed
Organization

Colony-forming, herbaceous perennials with several species providing important habitat and larval food sources for the monarch butterfly while attracting a diverse array of insects.

California milkweeds remain dormant during the colder months. Stems that emerge in April or May bear clusters of small, star-like flowers in summer followed by silky-tailed seeds that are dispersed by wind. A. fascicularis (narrow-leaved milkweed, 1-3’) is the preferred food source for monarch larvae. A. speciosa (showy milkweed, 2-4’) has larger, soft foliage, showier flower clusters, and is also a food source for monarch larvae. A. cordifolia (heart leaf milkweed, 1-2′) has heart-shaped leaves and is also a food source for monarch larvae.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Most Soils
  • Foliage: Herbaceous
  • Leaf Color: Green
  • Flower Color: Pink
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer

Rosmarinus officinalis

Rosemary
Organization

Classic Mediterranean flowering shrub with aromatic foliage, small blue-lavender flowers in late winter and spring that attract butterflies and bees. Thrives in full sun with well-drained soil and makes a good container plant. Rosemary is an excellent plant to have in the garden for harvesting fresh springs for use in cooking. Cuttings root readily, making it relatively easy to propagate new plants. Many named cultivars provide variation in size, growth form, flavor, and fragrance.

Examples: R. o. ‘Barbeque’ (3-5’ x 2-3’) has tall, upright stems that can be used as skewers for grilling; R. o. ‘Blue Spires’ (4-5’ x 2-3’); R. o. ‘Collingwood Ingram’ (2-3’ x 3-6’) is lower-growing with arching branches; R. o. ‘Huntington Carpet’ (1-2’ x 4-8’) is very low-growing; R. o. ‘Irene’ (1-2’ x 2-3’) has a mounding habit; R. o. ‘Prostratus’ (2’ x 4-8’) has a trailing habit that works well cascading over a retaining wall.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: Green - Dark
  • Flower Color: Blue
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummerFallWinter

Lavandula spp

Lavender
Organization

Classic, aromatic, small, Mediterranean evergreen shrub that works well in a mass or mixed planting in a sunny location with good drainage. Blue-to-purple flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies, and seeds provide food to birds. Shear plants by one-third to one-half after flowering to maintain a neat appearance. Vulnerable to root rot in damp locations or if organic mulch is too close to plant crown.

Examples: English lavender (L. angustifolia, 1-2’ x 2-3’) and many cultivars, French Lavender (L. dentata, 3-4’ x 4-6’), hedge lavender (L. x intermedia, 1-2’ x 2-3’), Spanish lavender (L. stoechas, 2-3’ x 2-3’) featuring large and showy bracts on top of flower spikes.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: Gray Green
  • Flower Color: BlueLilac
  • Blooming Season (s): Summer

Salvia spp

Sage
Organization

Salvias are a huge group of more than 900 species that include annuals, perennials, and shrubs adapted to a variety of climates and have varying water requirements. Salvias are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees, and are generally ignored by deer. Sages that are native to California are generally drought-tolerant, prefer full sun, and little to no fertilizer. Annual pruning in late summer or fall generally helps to keep plants tidy and healthy.

CA native sages:

  • S. apiana, white sage (3-4’ x 4-6’), silvery-white, aromatic leaves with tall flower spikes of white flowers, popular for honey production and in bundles as a natural incense.
  • ‘Bee’s Bliss’ (1-2’ x 6-8’), superb, light gray groundcover with light purple flowers on long spikes; damp conditions can cause mildew which will clear with warm weather and sunny conditions.
  • S. clevelandii, Cleveland sage (3-5’ x 3-5’), medium-sized shrub for hot, dry locations known for pleasant fragrance and deep blue whorls of flowers; popular cultivars include S. c. ‘Allen Chickering’, S. c. ‘Pozo Blue’, and S. c. ‘Winnifred Gilman’.
  • S. leucophylla, purple sage, includes plants with both an upright growth habit, such as S. l. ‘Amethyst Bluff’ (3-5’ x 3-5’) and others with a sprawling form, such as S. l. ‘Point Sal’ (2-3’ x 6’), both of which are from Santa Barbara county.
  • S. sonomaensis, Sonoma sage (1-2’ x 3-4’), groundcover that prefers light shade and will not tolerate damp conditions; cultivars include S. s. ‘Dara’s Choice’, S. s. ‘Greenberg Gray’, and S. s. ‘Hobbit Toes’.
  • S. spathacaea, hummingbird sage (1-2’ spreading), herbaceous groundcover that grows well in dry shade and spreads slowly by underground rhizomes; large leaves have a wonderful fruity fragrance; the only red-flowered native sage.
  • S. mellifera, black sage (6′ x 10′), evergreen shrub that grows well in full sun and well drained soils. Dark green leaves with pale purple flowers in late spring and early summer.

Non-native sages:

  • S. chamaedryoides, germander sage (2-3’)
  • S. chiapensis, Chiapas sage (1-2’ x 3-4’)
  • S. greggii, autumn sage (1-4’ x 1-4’)
  • S. leucantha, Mexican bush sage (3-4’ x 3-6’)
  • S. microphylla, cherry sage (3-4’ x 3-6’)
  • S. officinalis, garden sage (1-3’ x 1-3’)
  • Water: Very LowLowModerate
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: GrayGreen
  • Flower Color: LavenderPinkPurpleYellowWhite
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummerFall

Cistus spp

Rockrose
Organization

Mediterranean evergreen flowering shrubs that perform well in California gardens with plenty of sun. Good choice for stabilizing slopes and banks. Flowers appear mid-spring into early summer. Many varieties are low, mounding groundcovers while others are more upright.

Examples: C. ladanifer (crimson spot rockrose, 3-5’ x 3-5’) has white flowers with dark crimson spots. C. x hybridus ‘Mickie’ (white rockrose, 1.5-2’ x 2’) has unique variegated foliage with cherry red stems and white flowers. C. x purpureus (orchid rockrose, 4’ x 4’) flowers are reddish purple with maroon blotches. C. salvifolius (sageleaf rockrose, 2’ x 6’) has white flowers and sage-like leaves. C. x skanbergii (2-4’ x 3-4’) bears pale pink flowers. C. ‘Sunset’ (2’ x 3-5’) flowers in magenta pink and has fuzzy gray-green leaves.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: Most Soils
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: Green - Dark
  • Flower Color: MultiRedWhite
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer