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The Madera Tribune

Drought-tolerant but bright, bold and beautiful

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webmaster | 08/13/12

By Patty Weeks

Rearranging an established garden can be a daunting but exciting project. In the Master Gardener demonstration garden along Mill Creek at West Main and Fairway in Visalia, we recently removed a section of Rush plants that were blocking a sprinkler and the view into the garden. We are left with a 5-by-13 foot area with only a California native buckwheat plant with white flowers and lacy green leaves.

Many people think of a drought-tolerant garden as brown and blah. Our goal is to show a wide range of native and drought-tolerant plants with differing flower colors, leaf textures and eye appeal. We also want to have good structure in the garden yearround. With these criteria in mind we’ve been working on a new design.

To make a bold statement in the center of this area, we selected Butterfly Bush “black knight” (Buddleja davidii), a fast-growing, semi-evergreen shrub with tapered dark green leaves and small deep purple flowers borne in grape-shaped clusters at the end of the branches throughout summer. This shrub, which grows 5 to 6 feet tall, will create height. Because it is tall and airy, everyone can see through it to the rest of the garden from the street and it won’t block the sprinkler.

Next we decided on some mid-size plants that grow no larger than 3-by-3 feet since our space is only 5 feet wide. We will place these perennials along the 13-foot length of our planting area staggered a bit off-center in a wave-like pattern to create movement through the garden. We’ll also use an interesting variety of color and leaf textures...


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