The Theodore Payne Foundation Garden Tour–a good time and excellent timing!


Just as I’m taking such an interest in drought-tolerant landscaping, today’s news blast came through with what most of us have already observed–California Drought 2013!

These little ground covers don’t seem to mind…they’ve been chosen specifically to hold onto moisture! Notice the straw acting as mulch in the vegetable garden? Very resourceful!

It’s the driest winter in California since 1920, and the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which provides about one-third of the water used in the state as it melts and fills reservoirs and aquifers, has been disappointing.

Another disappointing note, without enough rain over the winter, the California Poppy is in short supply.

The plants normally germinate during March, but in many open places they didn’t make it through the recent stretch of heat. They’re “wild” after all…totally rain dependent!

The April 20th Lancaster California Poppy Festival is still on-deck, but the main event, the poppies, may be a bit disappointing.

But they were plentiful on the tour! Β I’m definitely planting these next year! Aren’t they sunshine?

Someday I’m going to spend a little more time talking about the Theodore Payne Foundation and the history behind its mission to preserve California native plants, seeds and wildflowers. The grounds of the accompanying nursery offer a lovely field trip. I’ll take you one day.

But today why don’t we just enjoy some photos from Saturday’s tour.

Be sure to notice the variety of colors and texture, the way the plants are massed making it possible for something to always be in bloom, and the particular attention to maximizing space. I’m sure you’ll take note of the wonderful way homeowners personalized their yards with items that bring character and personality…and peace.

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These are just few, but if you’d really like to get more of a feel for how beautiful some of the gardens are, I suggest you click HERE and see the slide shows associated with all of the homes open on Saturday. I can guarantee you’ll enjoy the time you spend.

My favorite is Garden #11. You’ll want to linger over the photos. I didn’t want to leave the premises!

You’ll also find a plant list is available from each home. The Foundation is an abundant resource!

I’ll be curious to hear of your impressions. The plants make a very unique appearance that fits our arid Mediterranean climate, but homes fully dedicated to this kind of natural landscaping are still relatively unique.

I think that one reason more homeowners haven’t moved away from large green, water-loving lawns and embraced a more natural drought-tolerant choice in plants and grasses may in part be due to the fact that up until recently there have been so few examples of homes that showcase the diversity and beauty that is available.

This particular tour changed that for me! I walked away a true believer, and now I simply need to roll up my shirt sleeves and get busy. I’ll have to see if my current enthusiasm can carry me through a few years of hard work.

The gardens on the tour looked natural and effortless…but we know better, don’t we. All gardens need lots of love. But the time invested is so rewarding, isn’t it?

31 thoughts on “The Theodore Payne Foundation Garden Tour–a good time and excellent timing!

  1. I loved the garden with what looks like St. Francis and the Buddha. I have been wanting to add peaceful images to our home as it represents who we are. I want to wait until my s/o Phil decides to remodel our home; he does the work himself as he is a retired engineer who happens to be very handy and we save money on labor. Beautiful photos!

  2. About 10 years ago we redesigned the front of our house with a new position for the sidewalk and new beds for our chlorophyll friends. Then we decided to use plants that are indigenous to the area. We still love them! Even though many of those totally disappear in the winter, they return …. and are in the process of reappearing at this time. Go for it Debra!

  3. Debra, I have long thought desert plants and drought-tolerant plants beautiful. These are some gorgeous photos. I hope you’ll keep us updated about the changes you make in your own garden.

  4. Oh man Debra we missed the garden show. You told me about it, and we were going to go, but we went on a hike in a State Historic Park in Chatsworth…. Your pictures are wonderful.

    We were in Anza Borrego at Easter. They haven’t had much rain for several years so there were very few wildflowers BUT there were four golf courses. I felt sick.

  5. Gosh, officially a drought already, Debra! If things go on like this, Californians will have to move away from temperate-zone gardening and embrace the lovely style of planting you illustrate here. Lawns only work well when the temperature is moderate and rain plentiful. A fascinating post.

    1. Yes, Perpetua, they’re already talking drought. We haven’t had much rain and the snow pack is very, very low. It’s a big concern when the hills are so dry in early spring! We’ve already had one wildfire this past week, and homes were lost. It’s quite a predicament…weather has gone crazy all over the world, I think!

  6. I love the straw mulch! It adds color and contrasts nicely with the green. What is that reddish mulch, moss? My step-dad used to collect exotic succulents so he knows how to take care of low-water plants; you’ve inspired me to suggest they add more to their landscaping.

    1. I’m not sure what the red mulch is, Janine. I’ll have to look back through the papers we picked up along the tour route and see if they’re mentioned. I can ask next time I’m out at the Theodore Payne nursery, too. If I get an answer, I’ll remember to let you know!

  7. Bad news of the water front, Debra. I find the lack of the snow pack to be most troubling. No amount of rain will make up for that deficit. Hopefully next Winter will restore it. No matter where one lives, it only makes sense to plant as many native varieties as possible. Of course, as a beginning gardener, I had to learn that lesson but, not having an infinite source of funds, I did eventually. (Duh!) It is very encouraging to see those beautiful gardens featuring native, drought resistant plants. Everything looks so relaxed and natural — although we both know a great deal of work went into giving each that “look”. Thanks for playing tour guide for us. This was a beautiful post to read.

    1. I’m just now getting around to responding your comment about the lack of snow pack in SoCal, John. It is a very serious concern. I’ve been reading about our glaciers melting, and the sad truth is that a lot of Californians don’t even know we have glaciers. There are some sad realities to climate change. We’ve already had our first wildfire…and it’s April. It could be a very combustible summer and that’s the biggest concern, I think. We have problems with weather all over the country, that’s for sure. You would have really appreciated the gardens on the native plant tour. I took lots of photos to help me begin to think a little differently about my own landscape. I’m not the most creative, but I copy well! πŸ™‚

  8. I had no idea you were having your driest period since 1920. That’s not good. Shame about the poppies. We had 10 years of drought and now we’re having years of too much rain (it’s been raining here for almost two weeks straight). Nothing seems to be in balance – it’s either too dry or too wet xx

    1. You would have enjoyed visiting the homes with the beautiful gardens, Nancy. The one you referenced with the Buddha was indeed my favorite. They had many little corners with Tibetan prayer flags and meditative corners. I really didn’t want to leave!

  9. WOW–I don’t know what is more impressive, the amazing gardens, the traveling you accomplished to view them, or all the time and details of organizing them for this amazing post!!! I don’t know how we didn’t cross paths–you were everywhere! Thank you for sharing, maybe I will attempt this experience next year. I don’t understand why Californians use grass–we are soooo blessed with so many other unique options to this region. Happy Gardening!

    1. Smart Gardening! Yes, that’s it! I have to admit I still have grass and I actually have a long way to go before I can use myself as any kind of example, but I’m so onboard with a willingness to change! It’s almost becoming an imperative, I think, if we’re going to continue to have so little rainfall! These gardens were just incredible. The Theodore Payne Foundation is so important in this effort to educate people about the benefits of preserving native flowers and plants, and this was very well organized. We only went to half a dozen homes because I enjoyed each one and stayed a long time! I hope you might be able to do the same next year. I’ll put out a reminder! πŸ™‚

    1. It’s absolutely true, Shakti! I stayed in one of the gardens for a very long time, just luxuriating in the beauty. I don’t really understand it either, but the tranquility is amazing! Thank you so much for adding your voice to the comments.

  10. There is something wonder ful about finding out which plants love the conditions and workig with them to create some thing really beautiful, Debra. What a wonderful array of gardens. Here we are begining to take a ken interest in bog plants.

    1. Kate you made me laugh–and I’m sorry! You’re so quick! Love the comment about bog plants! You know, I think it’s fascinating that we have so much beauty right now with sunshine and things growing so well, but the talk about droughts is so much more than just absence of rain and maybe some water restricting mandates. We’ve already had one wildfire with property damage, and it’s only April. The hills are combustible. So isn’t it funny that we just can’t find that balance. We still can’t control weather! I hope for rain and you hope for sunshine! LOL!

  11. I am so drooling over this stunning garden. I love the colours! What impresses me is that it looks so natural, just like a meadow! But you are so correct in saying that even though it looks so effortless, a lot of work has gone in to it behind the scenes. Thank you for sharing! ~Thea

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