I wrote recently about my plans to create a mid-century modernesque landscape in my own backyard. I cited my lack of interest in flowers and favor for organization even in nature as a reason to do so. However, I’m rethinking that logic. I’ve been reading the book, “Eames, by Gloria Koenig” in what little spare time I have, and I was taken by the section on the Case Study houses; specifically the ones done for architects and MCM legends Charles and Ray Eames and John Entenza in the Pacific Palisades. The Case Study houses #8 and #9 were “to share a rolling grassy meadow dotted with eucalyptus trees and rich in wildlife that overlooked the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.” Sounds lovely, right? Well, in the process of building, the Eameses and John Entenza fell in love with that meadow, and subsequently moved the location of the Case Study houses to the hillside in order to “keep the structures more integrated with the landscape.” Ray Eames was quoted saying, “We’d got to love the meadow and the idea of putting a house in the middle of it seemed terrible at the moment. So that’s how it happened.” I admire how important nature was to them, and that the more time they spent observing it, the more essential it became for them to preserve it. Ironically, I’ve experienced the same pull from nature that I’ve been reading about. My preschool-aged son and I spend a lot of time in the backyard together and we have begun to love seeing lizards, red-tailed hawks, hummingbirds, butterflies and even bees. We have a family of owls nesting in our neighbors untrimmed palm tree, and as a result, we got to pick bones out of an owl pellet found in a plant bed. I remember doing that in science class as a kid and thinking how cool it was. I now find myself making excuses to hit Home Depot, and gravitating towards butterfly and hummingbird-attracting plants when I really went in for lightbulbs. Lantana, Cleveland Sage and California Fuchsia are butterfly and hummingbird-happy plants, drought tolerant, and native to California. With qualities like that, they’re quickly climbing to the top of my planting list. I scarcely think that if I uprooted everything I had in favor of being orderly, that I would get the enjoyment out of the outdoors that I do now. Why not just add native flowers to further enhance the scenery? So if you’re busy planting this October like I am, here are a few ideas should you be in the market for drought tolerant, nature-attracting plants.
All of the flowers/plants pictured above are drought tolerant, full sun plants as an fyi. The only exception is the shrimp plant, which needs a bit more moisture – and could be placed in a planter, or in a flower bed that is part sun/part shade.