North of Joshua Tree the high desert landscape opens up, falling away from the San Bernardino mountains towards distant dry arroyos and lake beds. In this area, small homestead cabins were built in the 1950's and 60's mostly by families on the other side of the mountains, 2 hours away in the Los Angeles basin.
This is were my cabin sits, out in the open desert with creosote bushes to soften the sandy landscape. The views that surround it make for an endless day of sky, sun and shadows, clouds and winds. The desert slope here washes gradually down, like a tilted table top you can't quite get even. Look for the light blue rooftop to find the cabin.
Situated in the foothill community of Tujunga, high above Los Angeles, this lush garden reflects a long range plan utilizing local materials and drought tolerant plants. Originally this south facing yard was inaccessible from the house which stands nearly a full story above the sloping back yard.
Books about adventures in travel and gardening can be inspiring, especially when reading about something familiar in another culture. "French Dirt" takes us to the south of France, where the author Richard Goodman and his Dutch girlfriend rent a large stone home for a year.
Designing a low water landscape and using drought tolerant plants can be overwhelming if the yard is currently planted with water loving greenery and flowers. There is also the added question about climate and sunlight. What about a garden in dry shade? Is it possible to have color and plants in a shady yard when water is scarce? One colorful and exotic plant to consider are epiphyllums, whose colorful cactus flowers will fill a shaded yard or patio every spring.
Tucked away at what is now the 'back' side of the modern entrance to the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, CA, are Spanish Revival mission style buildings of the original museum. The mature garden and cool echoing halls are a welcome retreat from the overbearing freeways and commerce just outside.
This is the perfect season for a landscaping project with succulents, aloes and cactus, and the California Cactus Center is a good place to start. Whether a single planter like the one above is in your plan, or a larger grouping in the ground, finding inspiration within a garden setting can help to give any project focus, style and content.