Make a statement in the sun
Thanks to a clever design, the bold forms of sun-loving plants are not out of place, even though they reside near a sizable shade garden.
Intense sunlight is the normal state of affairs in much of my yard. Thankfully, there are far more plants that love full sun than I could ever fit into my garden, giving me a vast array to choose from. This part of the design features heat-loving, sun-worshiping plants with bold forms and bountiful flowers.
The spikes of Spanish bayonet (Yucca faxoniana, Zones 6–11) and other yuccas catch your eye, while supporting players, like California poppies (Eschscholzia californica and cvs., annual) and many native penstemons (Penstemon spp. and cvs., Zones 3–10) and sages (Salvia spp. and cvs., Zones 5–11), dress up the sculptural forms, adding color throughout the summer.
Scoria mulch, a gravelly, pumicelike volcanic rock, keeps the crowns of desert plants dry and moderates temperature extremes. It also keeps the soil surface open and receptive to infrequent rain or watering.
I make the most of my hot spots in full sun. A flagstone patio, for example, though shaded by an umbrella during summer’s heat, is a welcome opportunity to soak up some sun when the winter rays stream in at a low angle. Positioning large boulders to absorb the day’s warmth is another way to take advantage of full exposure. The radiant heat the boulders give off at night offers frost protection to plants tucked into crevices along their base, allowing me to grow less-hardy plants. While snow lingers for weeks elsewhere, here it always melts away within hours or days. This part of the garden is also where I stage my collection of tender succulents in pots.