What is a California Friendly garden?

Since December 2016 we’ve enjoyed more rain and snowfall than this parched state has seen in years, lessening the state of emergency, but conservation needs to be a permanent way of life.

I was still in high school (a long time ago) when I was first consciously challenged by a statewide water shortage. I wasn’t yet responsible for household water restrictions and about all I can remember is that I was “grossed out” by a girlfriend  who refused to flush. Those were the rules in her house and she worked hard to convince me that it was my civic duty to follow suit.

I’ve since lived through many significant periods of statewide drought.

This past year as California summer turned to fall nearly 2/3 of the state was categorized as under “Exceptional Drought,” with some areas exhibiting sink holes from depleted ground water. We used water saving additives to hold onto every drop of garden moisture and the products really worked on the remaining front lawn, but keeping other plants alive was a huge challenge.

You can see some of my roses and a glimpse of part of the front yard taken in a brief rainfall a few years ago. I took the photos because the rain was so rare.

My roses were still hanging in there!

About two years ago, four years into the drought at that point, I began to notice my roses, gardenias, hydrangeas and assorted flowering plants showing definite signs of stress. I started admiring the way many garden landscapes had been dramatically changed as lawns were turned under and rose gardens and other high maintenance greenery gave way to succulents, cacti, California natives,  drought-tolerant plants and even rock gardens.

I finally stopped fighting. I took a deep breath, and started removing roses and other thirsty plants. After thanking them profusely for years and years of garden beauty, I gently removed them and put them (and me) out of misery.

Here’s a view of our work thus far. Its a project still in progress.


It is quite a change!

Before I picked up a shovel I was hoping to primarily re-populate with California natives. I have added many, and will “show them off” later when they’re a bit larger. But I realized I had many very beautiful succulents in the backyard, and I decided this was an opportunity to showcase them.

One of the joys of working with succulents is watching them change over time. They obviously grow grander and more spectacular if well cared for, but they also add delightful tones and hues to the garden even under duress. Some gain heightened color the more sun they absorb. Many are more attractive when lightly stressed! Perfect!

Hummingbirds love the different flowers, even after the original color glory begins to fade.

Hummingbird at Aloe spike

After years of feeling that I knew my garden very well, I’m challenged now with an entirely different landscape.

I’ll probably be bringing more succulents to the front and out of reach from one sneaky scavenger! When Darwin escapes his enclosure, which happens from time to time, he heads straight to the succulents and immediate begins to chow down.

There’s a learning curve in adapting to animals, too!