Garden Photo of the Day

Saving Water Without Compromising Beauty

A California gardener creates a beautiful, water-wise garden

Today’s photos come from John Lewallen.

I live in Glendora, California, which is just east of Pasadena. This is a semi-arid foothill region in Zones 10–11.

Over a period of 15 years, we took out all of the lawns and replaced them with gravel pathways and mostly drought-tolerant plantings. We carted in flagstone for patio areas. While lower water use and easier maintenance are a plus, living in a hot, dry summer region requires some frequent watering during the hottest days. This also keeps the gardens looking their best.

I chose a large variety of plants because I like an arboretum feel. I also use many colorful leaf plants like coleus and succulents. This keeps color in the garden even when most plants are not blooming.

Aloe barbadensis (Zones 10–11) in a half-day sun location


A bougainvillea trained to drape softens an east-facing cinder-block wall.


In the late morning this back garden enjoys the sun, but from midday on it will be covered in shade from a California sycamore. Plants pictured here include four o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapaZones 9–11 or as an annual); Costa Rican potato vine (Solanum wendlandii, Zones 8–11); white-flowering Chilean jasmine (Mandevilla laxa, Zones 7–10); ‘Hot Lips’ sage (Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’, Zones 8–10) under a sago palm (Cycas revoluta, Zones 9–10); ‘Mr Lincoln’ rose; and yellow dahlia ‘Impression Fortuna’.


A collage of plants from the spring garden. Clockwise from top left: Lantana ‘Bandana Cherry’ (Lantana camara ‘Bandana Cherry’, Zones 8–10 or as an annual) thriving in a hot, sunny location all summer long; orchid ‘Green Apple’ in a front garden container; Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (Zones 10–12) on a back garden shelve amid a collection of white ceramic birds; yellow Kalanchoe blossfeldiana; Primrose (Primula vulgaris, Zones 4–8); Serbian bellflower (Campanula poscharskyanaZones 3–9) in a pot next to a wooden bear sculpture.


Lantana ‘Radiation’ in the front garden. This is a very hot location in the summer, since it is right next to the street. Lantana takes the heat and blooms like this spring through summer.


Assorted coleus share a cool north-facing wall in bright light under an Australian black tree fern (Cyanthea medullaris, Zone 10). Sweet potato vine ‘Margarita’ (Ipomoea batatas ‘Margarita’, Zone 11 or as an annual) is in the foreground. No direct sun ever hits this area.


Senna (Cassia nemophila, Zones 10–11) is happy in a hot, dry, parkway garden.


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
    meander_michaele 08/20/2018

    Your displays of colorful flowers and foliage are all quite glorious, John. Based on your pictures, there is nothing boring about choosing to go with more drought tolerant plantings. And, oh, my, that tidal wave of red from the bougainvillea is breathtaking!

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 08/20/2018

    Love 4 o'clocks. I grow them as well. Do you have more than 1 color?

  3. btucker9675 08/20/2018

    That senna is so lovely! I also appreciate the ability of lantana to take the heat and still look beautiful here in Waxhaw, south of Charlotte. Mine are frequented by hummingbirds and masses of butterflies. Your garden is a treasure trove of color and texture, and the happy bear sculpture makes me smile.

  4. User avater
    CAlexander 08/20/2018

    I love the red chairs as focal point in the little conversation room John created. What a nice place to sit and enjoy this lovely garden!

  5. User avater
    CAlexander 08/20/2018

    Also, hope you are faring well with the fires out there!

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest