Posts tagged "Low Water Plants"

Deck Garden Makeover: Home & Family Show Part 1

Garden designer, Shirley Bovshow transformed the deck patio of the Home & Family show on the Hallmark channel.

There's nothing more satisfying than designing a garden makeover for a deck when it's empty, like the one at the "Home & Family Show."

Clean slates are under-rated!


The deck of the Home & Family show was a blank canvas, no plants, no furniture, nothing to remove!

The Home & Family Show deck before the makeover!


Deck Makeover Segment Assigned

The Home & Family Show producer who was in charge of the deck makeover segment is one very determined guy named Nick Birren.


Nick Birren, producer at Home and Family Show gets involved in the deck makeover segment by unloading plants and soil.

Nick Birren, Producer, Home and Family Show

Nick may look like a "romantic lead actor" but he's clearly channeled all his energy into being a top-notch producer behind the camera!


I got a call from Nick a few days before we were to tape a segment on designing a composting system.

The plans for the composting system were ready to go and I had my bag of food discards packed in my truck.


There was a last minute change- no composting segment, instead, a deck makeover was ordered.


I take my television garden makeovers seriously.

They must meet professional standards which translates to, "no installation shortcuts or planting of plants that look pretty for camera but die a few days later."

I had to measure, assess the site for irrigation, check the grading, soil conditions, sun exposure, etc.

This was a real landscaping job with a super short deadline, high expectations and a camera in your face!


planting strip between deck and house of Home and Family show before the makeover- right side

Left side of deck-planting strip

Left side planting strip. Measures two-feet deep, 13-feet wide and one-foot tall.



Right side of deck-planting strip

Right-side planting strip. Measures the same as left side except it's one-foot wider. Take a look at that tall, ugly wall!


Fortunately, the planting areas were restricted to two planting strips located between the deck perimeter and the house.

My challenge was to design a dynamic garden that could serve as a "backdrop" for segments taped on the deck, while reserving deck space for production needs.

At the same time, I had design issues that needed to be mitigated such as tall, gray walls, an unattractive roofline, horrible soil, and the instructions not to install any pergolas or overhead structures!

With limited floor space, I padded the design with vertical garden features such as a trellis against the wall, a window box, wall planters and a trio of three-tiered plant towers- obelisks.


Preparing For the Deck Makeover

It was a rare day in Los Angeles because it was raining.

This meant that the nurseries were probably closed.

The clock was ticking and I was 24-hours away from installation and still had to source, buy, pick up and deliver the plants, soils, containers and garden decor for the deck.


To make matters more difficult, one of my design decisions ended up being a hassle to fullfil.

Instead of planting directly in the ground, I decided to recess plant liners in the small planting areas in order to better control the soil and planting environment.

My problem was, I couldn't find any planters that fit in this specific space!


I had to visit three different Lowes garden centers in order to buy 16 liners!

None of the stores had enough on hand.

After rustling up the liners, my energy turned towards finding plants.


I called my friends at Armstrong Garden Centers and asked if they would be interested in supplying the plants for the deck and help me pull plants in the rain.

Armstrong agreed, and on my way to the Sherman Oaks store, the rain dissipated.

That was a hopeful sign.


Armstrong Nursery pros from the Sherman Oaks store in California

Armstrong Nursery pros were a huge help!


My next call was to Kellogg Garden Products, the soils company that supplied my television show, "Garden Police."

"I need a lot of organic potting soil for my TV segment," I cried.

"No problem Shirley," the marketing director responded, "we'll set up a pick up for you!"


Producer Nick and assistant Will, unload the potting soil from Kellogg

Producer Nick and assistant Will, unload the potting soil from Kellogg

"All hands on deck!" Producer Nick and assistant Will unload soil for the garden project.


Oh, to have friends in the gardening industry!

Thank you!!!


Installing the Deck Garden

Plants are ready for installation. Jessie Jane's baby shower setup in background

Plants are ready for installation. Jessie Jane’s baby shower setup is beyond.


Subscribe to EdenMakers Blog to be notified of Part 2: "The Reveal!"

Read and see more photos related to the Deck Makeover Project on Shirley's other website, Garden Center TV!






Drought Tolerant Orange Plants For Gardens!

Drought conditions have forced extreme water conservation measures in Los Angeles gardens and it shows!

I've never seen so many parched looking lawns, especially now that we are allowed to water our yards only two days per week.

What Angelenos need are bright, colorful drought tolerant plants for their gardens!

Fortunately for me, I've always had a "plant-driven yard" with little to no lawn to look after so my yard is still looking great!

How is your yard holding up?

Does it need a color injection?

I have an idea for you.


Juice up your garden with orange plants!

      Shirley and Maya

My daughter Maya and I can't help but feel energized and refreshed in this garden, overrun with orange Nasturtiums!


I'm not saying to have an "all orange" garden, I'm just suggesting that you add this powerful, spirit lifting color to your garden!

 Your purple plants will welcome the company and so will your sad lawn.

Check out these low maintenance, low water, orange plants:

  Vancouver Island Mom 116

"Spreading Sunset" variety of lantana provides profuse orange/red flowers year round in frost free areas.

Give it full sun and it will bring the butterflies to your garden!



  Aloe Grassy Lassie

Aloe "Grassy Lassie" does equally well planted in the ground or in a container.

 Deep green narrow leaves with bright orange flowers that bloom most of the year.



  orange kangaroo

Towering,  Anigozanthos "Orange Cross," (kangaroo paw)  is a tall airy plant and evergreen perennial.

Full sun, occasional water in summer.

Attracts hummingbirds and compliments!



I can't remember when this Arctotis "Sun Spot Orange" has not been in bloom in my garden!

I just keep deadheading and more flowers come!

Compact, mounding habit and evergreen, bright tangerine flowers. 


 arctotis combo

Arctotis pairs well with  silvery Senneccio and red Salvia.

Only 3 colors, but large impact!



 Campsis radicans

Vining, Campsis radicans, (trumpet vine) thrives in my garden with lots of sun and some neglect!




Phormium "Rainbow Queen"sports an olive green to bronze central stripe and apricot margins.

This stately plant sets off other plants around it.



phormim and lantana

"Rainbow Queen" phormium and orange lantana.

Shades of orange, coral and bronze.



  shirley at epcot

Why stop at orange plants when you can detail a simple potted  jade  plant with recycled, tumbled orange glass!




On "Garden Police," my co-host Michael Glassman and I created a front yard xeriscape garden and painted the shutters and front door orange, "terra cotta."

Don't forget your house can be part of the garden color scheme too.

Looking for more water wise garden design ideas?

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Before and After: Country Garden Retreat on Small Budget!

stacked concrete garden wall in country garden

Before Photo

I had an instant design vision for this backyard the moment I saw it.

I envisioned a romantic gazebo in the corner, a new handcrafted wood fence, and a raised tumbled stone wall with a swath of Geranium incanum cascading over it.

A country garden retreat!


In a flash, it all came together in detail and just as quickly, the elements started to disappear as I spoke to my clients about the budget.

Board by board, stone by stone my lofty design was deconstructed and faded into the thin air whence it came from.

The only thing left was the geranium and my positive attitude.


“Great, I’ll just have to get creative with materials,” I thought.

Up to the challenge, I assured my clients that they would have the beautiful garden they always dreamed of and I would do it on their small budget.

Take a look at the results which they were delighted with:


After- English Garden by Shirley Bovshow

The concrete block wall had to stay, so I had the homeowners paint it themselves to save money on labor.

The cost of paint was a lot less than a new wood fence and the dark green color made it less obtrusive.

Instead of the shady gazebo, I opted for two Cassia leptophylla “Golden Wonder” trees to form a natural shade canopy and crown the sitting area with it’s golden yellow flowers in the summer.



After- New sitting area and raised stone planters.

I had a stacked stone wall built along the entire backyard, creating a second level for plants.

Instead of expensive natural stone, (like in my vision), we used recycled concrete for a fraction of the price without compromising on charm and good looks!

The broken concrete pieces were also used to build the small pad for the garden bench.


Before- Diagram your new path and garden beds to make sure you like the flow before digging in.

The side yard was used to house trash cans but my plan was to reclaim the space as an outdoor dining and barbecue area.

Whenever I see an unused area, my instincts always prompt me to investigate if the area can serve a function, instead of just, “stand there and look pretty.”



After- The plan comes together just as I imagined it.

The white arbor stands at the entrance of the new dining area and creates a romantic transition between the backyard and new outdoor dining room!


After- A second level in the garden adds depth and interest.

A variety of perennials soften the stone walls on the bottom and top levels.

The raised area near the dining room is planted with veggies and herbs for convenient access.

I’m a firm believer in year-round color through perennial plants that flower different times of the year.

I do use annuals in containers and focal areas, but I don’t rely on them to “carry” my gardens.

In this zone 20 garden in Los Angeles, I am fortunate to have the type of weather that supports a year-round garden.



After- Garden art is always a welcome feature in an English garden, as are cute little dogs!

The “workhorse” plants that I selected for this garden were chosen for their extended bloom time, low maintenance and low water needs.

Alas, Paradise has its shortcomings- a drought issue!



Cassia leptophylla- (yellow flowers)

Citrus trees- variety



Tibouchina urivellana “Princess tree”- (purple flowers)

Lavatera “Red Rum”

Rose Trees- (coral)

Iceberg roses (white)

English Roses-(whites, yellow, dark red)

“Golden Shower” climbing yellow rose

“Joseph’s Coat” climbing multi colored rose in apricot/pinks/yellow

Hardenbergia vine (lavender flowers) a good wisteria replacement

Hydrangeas (pink)

Argyranthemum (white)

Hebe (purple)

Polygala fruiticosa (fushia)

Bay Laurel

Bougainvillea tree (fushia)

Salvia chiapensis (red)


Artemesia (silver)

Teucrium (blue)

Daylily (yellow, cranberry, apricot)

Gaura (pink and white)

Cuphea– (pink and white)


Ground Covers

Ornamental strawberry,Festuca, Erigeron “Santa Barbara daisy”, Rosemary, Scabiosa, Armaria, Huechera, Colombine


I invite you to visit my website to view other projects I have completed.

Try “Kangaroo Paw” (Anigozanthus) For Romantic, Airy Hedge!

Anigozanthos red kangaroo paw

Kangaroo paws come in a rainbow of colors and in full and dwarf varieties.

The yellow "Kangaroo paw" plants provide an airy and translucent hedge that separates my private "master bedroom retreat garden" from the rest of the backyard.

My intention was to create a "portal" effect into the small grassy area without enclosing it with a dense and solid plant.

When the kangaroo paws are in bloom in my zone 10 (Sunset 18 planting zone) garden, from March until early December, the area is a virtual flight zone for hummingbirds!


Before photo of my "master bedroom retreat garden."

This area of my garden was the last and most difficult for me to design.

There were some issues to overcome.

My husband insisted on lawn and I resisted it.

The fence needed to be softened and I wanted something billowing that moves with the wind, like bamboo, my husband favored vines.

I envisioned a private, romantic garden area that was separated from the rest of the backyard but my husband didn't like the idea of closing off an area of the yard.


The compromise was solved with a clumping bamboo hedge in front of the fence and the Kangaroo paws that define the private garden without alienating it from the rest of the yard.

My husband got his lawn, all 250 square feet of it- I can live with that small amount.

My dog thanked me too.


A long shot of the garden retreat.

In retrospect, I'm glad I planted the lawn because it provides a nice, soft floor to walk on.

The lawn also offers the eye some rest from the riot of color and texture from the Mediterranean, Australian and native plants that bloom in a continuous cycle year-round.

I tucked in edible plants throughout the garden beds including potted citrus trees, potted strawberry guavas and an assortment of fragrant herbs too.


My husband and I sit in our Adirondack chairs, talk and eat.

The way to my husbands heart is through the fruit in our private Eden.


The kangaroo paws are the stars of this garden and give so much, while asking for so little care and water in return.

This is my kind of plant!

Read my post on caring for your Kangaroo paws for more information.

Extreme Lawn Makeover…Low Water Plants Takeover!

Extreme lawn makeovers, or "xeriscape landscaping" is the use of low water plants to save water in the landscape.


Water is a precious commodity these days and in my work as a landscape designer, I'm known for replacing  thirsty lawns with colorful low-water gardens.

I understand its tough for homeowners to rip out their lawns because once the grass is gone; there is a large space to fill.

The decisions can seem daunting, from what plants to use to how to install a new drip irrigation system.


In my show, "Garden Police" on the Discovery Home Channel, my partner, Michael Glassman and I performed an "extreme lawn makeover" on a tiny front yard and replaced it with a xeriscape garden that became a model for the wise use of water in their neighborhood.

I hope it will give you some inspiration as well.



Before- A dull and dry lawn does nothing for the curb appeal of this house



After- The new low water garden plants attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Free entertainment!



Tall berms and a dry stone river along the bottom helped to" break up" the deep void left after the lawn was taken out.

We used a 70/30 soil blend that incorporates 70% topsoil and 30% organic amendments to keep the berm from "deflating" after watering.

Medium sized boulders punctuate and accent the gardens.




Yellow, "gold coin" groundcover will knit together and contrast with the burgundy Phormium.

We used weed cloth underneath the entire garden to insulate the soil and retard weed growth.





The plants were selected for bold architectural appearance and contrasting foliage that would keep this garden looking interesting the year round.

Clockwise from top, juniper, Tolson's weeping juniper, Cotinus, "Little Olie" (dwarf olive), Vitex and Plumbago.

Drip irrigation supplies water to each plant.




The shutters and door were painted a warm terra cotta.

The gray concrete walkway was acid stained a golden sand color for an inexpensive and fast color infusion that compliments the gardens.




We top-dressed the garden with 3" of mulch to retard weed growth and preserve soil moisture.

Mulch is a finishing detail every garden should have.


The Plant List for your consideration: (Most plants suitable for Sunset zones 15-24)

Trees: "Tolson's Weeping Juniper"

Shrubs : Cotinus, Dwarf Barberry,Festuca glauca, Plumbago,Phormium tenax,Olea "Little Olie," Pennisetum-(red fountain grass), Lantana camara "yellow," Salvia sinaloensis, Verbena bonariensis, Vitex

Ground Covers: Erigonum "Santa Barbara Daisy," Sedum sieboldii. Asteriscus maritimus-"gold coin"


Other Resources on Xeriscaping Around the Country

"Garden Transformations" on ( I'm a founding member!)

"Xeriscaping Plants: Drought Resistant Plants"

Sunset Magazine's "Lose the Lawn" Ideas