Garden Photo of the Day

A Drought-Tolerant California Garden

Gardening in a dry climate without sacrificing beauty

Today’s photos come from Stephen Katcher.

I am writing to share some pictures of my garden in Studio City, California. I live with my wife of twenty years, our two daughters, ages 19 and 12, and our two dogs. We’ve lived here since 2004, and what was a passing interest in native and drought-tolerant landscaping became a passion in the great drought we had in California for many years.

Our home is a comfortable midcentury typical of the period, but with limited space for gardening. We pulled up the lawn out front years ago and picked plants that could handle a south-facing exposure and were better adapted to our Zone 9b climate.

Over the years I’ve been drawn to chapparal plants, and you’ll find in my garden Mediterranean, South African, Peruvian, and especially Australian and Californian native plants. I love succulents and bulbs, so you’ll find those tucked around here and there too. I also appreciate interesting barks and forms, and so I get distracted by those from time to time.

drought-tolerant landscapingFocusing on native and drought-tolerant landscaping does not mean sacrificing beauty! There’s lots to enjoy here, with splashes of bright orange from the native California poppy (Eschscholzia californica, annual).

five-spotFive-spot (Nemophila maculata) is another annual plant native to California.

Meyer lemon bloomA Meyer lemon (Citrus × meyeri, Zones 8–11) in bloom, with fruits visible in the background.

variegated euphorbiaA variegated euphorbia (probably Euphorbia characias ‘Tasmanian Tiger’, Zones 7–10) shows off in front of a fragrant lavender (Lavandula sp., Zones 5–10).

Arbutus marinaAn Arbutus marina (Zones 9–11) tree with some Urginea maritima (Zones 8–11), succulents, king protea (Protea cynaroides, Zones 9–12), and plenty of California poppies.

king protea flower budsDeveloping flower buds on the king protea.

California poppiesCalifornia poppies bloom away in a mix of diverse foliage and forms.

Cereus peruvianus flowerThe blue-green stems of the cactus Cereus peruvianus (Zones 9–11) are always attractive, but when the enormous white flowers open, it is truly over the top!

Cereus peruvianusThe flowers on the Cereus peruvianus are followed by these red fruits.

hummingbird nestA hummingbird nest, complete with two oh-so-tiny eggs!


Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

If you want to send photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box that is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 04/08/2020

    Oh, my, how grand! Love it all.

  2. moyra_b 04/08/2020

    What a pleasure to see your beautiful garden...a treat!

    1. user-7645917 04/08/2020

      Absolutely gorgeous! Love your gardens! I live in Massachsetts with hardy zone 5 annuals and perennials! So wonderful to see a tropical garden!

  3. sagebird52 04/08/2020

    Terrific pics of a wonderful colorful and diverse garden. Thanks

  4. User avater
    simplesue 04/08/2020

    Wow, a hummingbird nest photo! What an amazing photo!
    And your garden so beautiful, I can almost smell California looking at your photos!

  5. nwphillygardener 04/08/2020

    Phenomenal photo set, Steven. It's clear you have an artistic sensibility, especially if you're responsible for the visible updates to your "mid-century typical of the period" home: Front doors and garden fencing are as carefully selected as the great plants. The only Cereus genus plant I know is the night-blooming houseplant, and the ginormous plant with extraordinary form, fruits, and flowers is incredible!
    Now I've got to look up that native "five spot" to see more images…. a subtle beauty

  6. cheryl_c 04/08/2020

    Amazing plants, and beautiful gardens. You've done a fabulous job creating a special paradise. Congrats, and please send more photos when you can.

  7. btucker9675 04/08/2020

    Wow, wow, wow... everything about your garden is perfect! California is one of my favorite vacation spots and the poppies are always a joy! Thank you so much for sharing these wonders with us in this not so joyful time.

  8. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/08/2020

    You certainly have one fascinating looking plants. Just by perusing your photos, I feel like I just got my passport stamped for a visit to a foreign land. Thanks for sharing.

  9. user-5117752 04/08/2020

    Simply marvelous! I visited California many times but oh so long ago. Never saw such fabulous combinations and plants blooming like yours. Maybe we were always too far north. I'm in Western North Carolina so your pics were a real treat! Thank you!

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest