Garden Photo of the Day

Gardening in a Hot, Dry Climate

You can make a great garden, whatever your climate

My name is Mark Howard and I live in Dallas. I’ve noticed many of the gorgeous gardens featured in GPOD are located near the coast or in cool, rainy zones. As juxtaposition, I’d like to share some yard and garden pictures from my small, midcentury modern home in Dallas (Zone 8a). I’ve been container gardening for over 25 years, having lived in urban apartments and a townhouse in Uptown Dallas until six years ago when I bought a fixer-upper home in North Dallas. The house and yard were in dire need of updating and TLC. The existing St. Augustine grass was in good shape, so I embraced the wide open space and left the lawn intact. After living with small patios for years, it was refreshing to have a wide open space. I was also working with a small budget, so I focused updates on those areas that would make the biggest impact for the least cost.

My garden is truly diverse and includes everything from agaves, cactus, and other succulents, to bamboo, ferns, hydrangeas, and hostas. Although it’s a work in progress, it’s my personal oasis, and I hope you enjoy the pictures.

I’m inspired by Asian style, so you’ll see Asian objects d’art around the property. I created a small Japanese garden in a raised bed with a fountain to drown out the sounds of the city. I also put in a birdbath that attracts a nice array of birds including blue jays, robins, cardinals, mourning doves, mockingbirds, and more. In front of the fountain are creeping junipers (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Blue Rug’, Zones 3–9, and Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’, Zones 3–9) with Japanese holly ferns (Cyrtomium falcatum, Zones 6–10), ‘Virdis’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Virdis’, Zones 5–9), bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus, Zones 10–11) , and horsetail reed (Equisetum hyemale, Zones 4–10).

Agave americanaWhen I moved into my house six years ago, I was given the big Agave americana (Zones 8–10) while it was still a baby. Since that time, I have propagated several babies from it. Here I have grouped them with agave (Agave parryi var. truncate, Zones 7–10), gold column cactus (Trichocereus spachianus, Zones 9–11), and Aloe ‘California Blue’ (Zones 9–11).

green anoleLizards are beneficial for eating insects. This cute little green anole loves living among the English ivy (Hedera helix ‘Needlepoint’, Zones 6–10) and bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘HM2’ Dear Dolores™, Zones 7–10).

topiariesI’ve always loved the look of topiaries, so I propagated English ivy (Hedera helix ‘Needlepoint’ and ‘Variegated Needlepoint’) from one of my beds and trained it on these two shapes. These are about two and a half years old.

horsetail reedI’ve always loved horsetail reed, but it’s quite invasive, so I keep it contained in a pot. This plant has existed for thousands of years, and I appreciate including such an ancient plant in the mix.

Agave parryi var. truncateI love the beauty of the color and dangerously sharp spikes on this floret-shaped Agave parryi var. truncate.

FlapjacksTo create a garden on the patio, I mixed flapjacks (Kalanchoe luciae, Zones 9–12), hostas (Hosta ‘Frances Williams’ and ‘Brim Cup’, Zones 3–9), aloe (Aloe barbadensis, Zones 10–11), and philodendron (Philodendron selloum, Zones 8–11) in blue and green pots.

purslaneThis hot pink purslane (Portulaca grandiflora, Zones 10–12 or as an annual) adds a burst of color and blooms all summer. It loves the heat and sun!

garden gargoyleHidden treasures spread throughout the garden, such as this gargoyle, make it more interesting and intriguing.


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.

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View Comments


  1. blondie3 07/15/2020

    LOVED the topiary, and Loved your style. Thank you for sharing.

    1. DallasPlantLover 07/15/2020

      Thank you so much!

  2. Carolyn3134 07/15/2020

    Just wonderful! You are very talented!!!

    1. DallasPlantLover 07/15/2020


  3. user-7525974 07/15/2020

    Hi Mark, I very much enjoyed seeing photos of your wonderful garden. I am practically your neighbor ( I live in Farmers Branch) so I understand the “hot and dry” issue, particularly this time of year. I too enjoy an Asian influence in the garden, as well as basin water fountains. Maybe we can visit each other’s garden one day.

    1. DallasPlantLover 07/15/2020

      That would be awesome!

  4. coastalgardener 07/15/2020

    It's interesting to see a garden not "located near the coast or in cool, rainy zones" as you said, although I see you grow many of the plants that are in my coastal garden, like hydrangeas, junipers, and Japanese maple. I especially love your fountain and how you've arranged the various textures and shapes around it. Thanks for sharing your lovely garden.

    1. DallasPlantLover 07/15/2020

      Thank you! Those specific plants require a lot of care in this region, but they're totally worth it.

  5. Maggieat11 07/15/2020

    Great job! Wonderful photo of the hydrangea and lizard! Thanks for sharing.

    1. DallasPlantLover 07/15/2020

      My pleasure! Who doesn't love a cute little green lizard?

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 07/15/2020

    Love the containers.

    1. DallasPlantLover 07/15/2020

      Thank you. The containers are really integral to the whole look I'm going for.

  7. User avater
    simplesue 07/15/2020

    Beautiful details, and artistic touch in your garden!

    1. DallasPlantLover 07/15/2020

      Thank you! I like including objects d'art in the garden to give it more personality.

  8. user-5117752 07/15/2020

    Ahhhh, the artist at work in the garden!!! Just loved all of your photos. Your designs, your selection of plants are all simply marvelous! I couldn't begin to pick a "best". Please share more and, maybe next time include a photo of your house. I'm very curious to see what kind of house you picked. Thank you so very much for taking the time to share and talk about your garden world.

    1. DallasPlantLover 07/15/2020

      Thank you so much! I submitted "before" and "after" pictures of the front of the house and back yard, but they were not included due to limited numbers of pictures I'm sure. I wish I could show the beautiful 7 ft. tall, spiral-cut Juniper topiaries flanking the front of the house. They really make a statement. 😊

  9. Sunshine111 07/15/2020

    I love what you’ve done and how you’ve made your yard work for you. I’m especially in love with your turquoise fountain! I want one too!

    1. DallasPlantLover 07/15/2020

      Thank you! I fell in love with that blue planter bowl and knew it would be perfect as a fountain. I'm glad you like it.

  10. btucker9675 07/15/2020

    This is a fabulous garden. That agave is spectacular and love the pot with the horsetail reeds. Your choices of container shapes and colors have created a lovely space. Isn't purslane fantastic for hot summers? I have yellow and that hot pink in several containers - the heatwave we're having here in the Charlotte area hasn't fazed it one little bit!

    1. DallasPlantLover 07/15/2020

      Purslane is a perfect plant for summer because it loves the heat and sun. Plus the colors of the flowers are simply exuberant! Thank you for your nice comments. Enjoy your summer!

  11. nwphillygardener 07/15/2020

    I love the pot in which you've set your fountain. It's color and texture already speak to flowing water even before the fountain spray adds animation and some white noise….a smart solution.

    1. DallasPlantLover 07/15/2020

      Thank you! I thought the same thing. 😊

  12. schatzi 07/15/2020

    You had me with the picture of the exquisite fountain in the Oriental garden! Also, the gorgeous blue pots. The Agave looks beautiful but deadly! What thorns!! I didn't think I liked flapjacks until I saw yours. And the
    Portulaca looks absolutely exuberant - very happy! And last but not least, the little Anole next to the beautiful Hydrangea is adorable. Thanks for sending in such great pictures of your garden.

  13. DallasPlantLover 07/15/2020

    Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed the peek inside my garden.

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