Low Water, Wow Color
Psst, here's a word to the water wise – you can dramatically reduce your water consumption and still have a bright colorful garden that knocks your socks off. It can be our little secret. Here are some proven performers that are water-wise, easy care, and great for people on the go. These joyful selections love full sun, hate pampering and welcome visitors of all sorts, including butterflies and hummingbirds. With adding a source of flowing water, like a fountain, your winged friends will feel like they're in heaven.
Phlomis fruticosa – The sturdy charm of Jerusalem Sage invites you to touch the wooly leaves of its silvery-green foliage. The whorls of bright lemon-yellow flowers bloom repeatedly through the summer. This is a large, multi-stemmed, spreading shrub that grows to about 4 feet tall and wide, perfect for the informal garden. It can be pruned back hard in early spring to control its spread.
Agonis flexuosa 'Jervis Bay After Dark' – This delicate weeping tree says “Old California” with an Australian accent. The narrow distinctive leaves start as an eye-catching scarlet color in the spring, gradually deepening to a burgundy color. The shaggy bark and dark leaves provide a background for the clusters of small fragrant flowers that appear from spring into early summer. Leaves smell like peppermint when crushed. Makes a beautiful hedge or screen if pruned regularly.
Leonotis leonurus – The blizzard of orange tufts that burst forth at the end of summer give Lion's Tail its playful name. This showy shrub requires little maintenance but, like all lions, looks its best with a little grooming of the dead flowers. One of the most consistently colorful plants in the dry garden, the whorled clusters of bright orange flowers make a glowing display in autumn. Grows to 6 feet tall with a 4 foot spread.
Salvia leucantha – Graceful arching stems and soft downy foliage make Mexican Sage a favorite among Salvias. The main show is the profuse display of pretty purple calyces from late spring through fall. The abundance of flower clusters tend to make this lovely shrub top heavy, so remove blooms as they fade. Velvet Sage needs plenty of room to spread and prune back in early spring to promote a bushier habit. Grows up to 4 feet tall and wide.
Echeveria 'Afterglow' – True to its name, this Echeveria just glows! The brilliantly colored foliage is silvery lavender with violet edging. Rosettes form to 10 inches in diameter or more atop short stems. Use 'Afterglow' as a specimen; you don't want to hide this gem! Large bell-shaped flowers of a red to orange color display atop 2 foot spikes in summer.
Agave desmettiana 'Variegata – You'll strike gold with this remarkable succulent. This highly ornamental agave has it all – great color, great shape and low maintenance. The beautiful 'Variegata' has bright green leaves with golden highlights on the edges. Leaves measure 18-30 inches long by 3-4 inches wide. This Agave grows into a lovely urn shape 2 to 3 feet in height.
Cistus x purpureus – This fragrant Rockrose loves to make a spectacle of itself. The flower buds look quite innocent until they suddenly unfurl into large (3 inches or more) rich pink blooms marked with a distinctive purple-red spot at the base of each petal. The flowers and exotic aroma last for months. Grows to 5 feet tall by 8 feet wide and can be sheared to size once a year after blooming has finished. Loves to be neglected and is an excellent choice for erosion control and firescaping.
Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' – Warm red bracts on densely covered tall stems is a year-round reminder of beautiful summer sunsets – even in the cold of winter. No wonder this is one of the most popular Leucadendron available. This is a vigorous, erect grower to over 8 feet tall and tough enough to handle frost, alkalinity and clay soils. The flower is actually an insignificant cone that sits above showy colorful bracts. Popular as a cut flower.
Verbena bonariensis – Purple Top Verbena will have you floating on air. This outstanding perennial makes an architectural statement with tall, upright branching stems that are topped by clusters of rich rosy-purple flowers that look as if they're floating. Amazingly, the slender, willowy stems that reach 3 to 6 feet tall do not need staking. Butterflies and hummingbirds add to the magical effect of this unforgettable display.
Grevillea 'Noelli' – The graceful branches of this evergreen sport dense, bright green, needlelike foliage and long-blooming pink and white flowers. Also called 'Flowering Pine', this low, compact shrub reaches 4 to 5 feet tall and wide. Look closely and the flowers have a resemblance to tiny pink elephants. Prune after bloom period to keep looking dense.