We live and garden in the California chaparral here in the SCV. Many people who move into the Santa Clarita area want to grow tropical plants, lush green lawns and some of the decorative acid-loving plants commonly seen in the central parts of Los Angeles. But this area has a very different soil, much colder winter nights and much hotter summer sun than the valleys or basin. Although many of the lush more tropical looking plants that do better along the coast will not fare so well in these areas, there are many tough plants that are not only colorful and showy, but have a charm of their own. Here is a list of just some SCV s drought tolerant landscaping chaparral plants that will make your garden look lush and sparkle with color yet reduce your water bills and still thrive in the more demanding areas of the SCV chaparral.
Check out the large family of colorful Salvias (sages)
Try Salvia clevelandii ‘Winifred Gilman’ for a 3’ shrub with tiers of purple-blue flowers.
The Salvia chamaedryoides is a low growing sage with its soft grey foliage and bright blue flowers.
Look for the 2’ tall Salvia greggii smothered in pinks, reds or whites
More blues and purples can be found in the Teucreums (Germanders)
Teucreum fruticans azureum is a 3 – 4’ shrub with sky blue flowers that bloom in late winter.
Teucreum chamadrys and cussonii are lower growers with clusters of purple flowers.
Needing a little more water, you can grow lilacs here. The Descanso hybrid lilacs will do the best in SCV. And, hah! Your friends in the valley and basin CANNOT grow them in their gardens!
Penstemons offer a large family of flowering plants with spikes of varied colors, including bicolors, You can choose from California natives and glamorous hybrids.
Natives like Penstemon eatonii and P. centranthifolia bloom in bright orange-reds
Penstemon azureus flowers in blue, while the Penstemon Palmeri and pseudospectabilis are natives that bloom in pink. Look for hybrid Penstemons just about any color.
Try Zauchnarias – recently renamed ‘Epilobium’—for hot red-orange flowers that contrast decoratively with their blue-gray foliage.
Don’t forget the versatile Rosemaries that now come in blues and pinks. Some scramble along the ground while others can grow into spreading shrubs.
Plant Lavenders that offer different sizes, shapes and flower colors with varieties like English, French and Spanish.
Try one of the many yellow native daisies like the Coreopsis, the the Acton Daisy, or the Chocolate Daisy.
And then there are all those interesting colorful ornamental grasses. Consider the highly drought-tolerant and decorative Muhlenbergia family.
Muhlenbergia capilaris blooms with feathery pink inflorescences in the autumn that look like pink fairy dust.
Muhlenbergia dumosa, grows like thin shoots of bamboo.
Muhlenbergia rigens, commonly known as Deergrass is probably the toughest ornamental grass you’ll find anywhere.
Look for smaller decorative grasses that can take high heat and dry soil like Festuca ovata glauca or an Elymus for blue foliage.
For a deep burgundy color, plant the Penstemmon rubrum — the easy-to-grow Red Fountain Grass.
So don’t think that just because you live in the more extreme chaparral environment you can’t have a stunning, colorful garden. There are many showy, drought tolerant landscaping chaparral plants you can grow in your demanding Santa Clarita area gardens.
Jane has produced hundreds of landscape designs, each one a unique work of art specially adapted to the client’s tastes, needs and budget. She also does on site consultations and coaching through Gates & Croft Horticultural Design. She is a member of the Garden Writers Association and the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. You can find her online listed under The Garden Coach Directory or check out her site at http://www.gardengates.info for more gardening and landscape design information for the greater Santa Clarita area.
During past decade, Jane has been writing landscape design and gardening articles for newspapers like the Los Angeles Daily News and local magazines like The Agua Dulce/Acton Country Journal and Santa Clarita Living Magazine. You can find over a thousand articles she’s written nationally on the internet for the Examiner, eHow and InfoBarrel. She also continues to paint, draw, illustrate and cartoon. She is one of the featured artists published in the 2009 ‘100 Artists of the West Coast II‘ just released by Schiffer Publishing Ltd. and available in major book stores and on the internet. Her original paintings are handled by the Orlando Gallery in Los Angeles, CA.