Plant Selection

Plant selection is a key skill that I bring to garden design.

The best garden is where each plant not only survives, but thrives.

Among the considerations required when selecting a plant are:

- Climate. This includes factors such as heat, cold, humidity, and wind. Many guides and plant labels only include cold hardiness (will the plant survive a freeze). In Southern California a more common problem is with plants that need to freeze.

- Aspect. This refers to whether the plant needs sun or shade, but again this is a more complex issue than that. Some plants need a certain amount of bright sunlight, but will tolerate shade the rest of the day, others want consistent low light (filtered shade). Other plants will take either sun or shade, but may not flower without light.

- Soil. Southern California has several quite distinct soil types, from heavy clay in much of the LA basin, to pure sand along the coast.

- Drainage. Some plants will soon die if their roots remain wet (this is true of a many, but by no means all, natives). Others require a constantly moist soil. Many tropical looking plants require constant water and can be considered climate inappropriate purely due to their water and humidity needs.

 In addition it has to be the right size for its space. Too often you see a large tree either overwhelming a small garden or pruned into submission. Pruning is not a good solution for a plant that is too large for its space - it never looks right, and it will always try and regrow to the size nature thinks it should be.  

Hibiscus 003

This is Hibiscus syriacus ‘Blue Bird’. This is a great choice for  a back of border shrub, but it is deciduous and needs plants around it to cover in the Winter


This is Weigela florida. It is not a good choice for  my coastal garden because the salt turns the leaves brown in Summer. If planted in the sun it has these pretty pink flowers in Spring. However it is often planted in the shade where it is quite happy, but will not flower.