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Melissa McCabe Navaroli ’05

Melissa McCabe Navaroli is co-owner of McCabe’s Nursery & Landscape Construction in Temecula, Calif.  We asked her to tell us about her favorite hardy, low-water and easy-to-maintain garden plants especially suited to Southern California.

 

 

1. Lavender
This very drought- tolerant plant has beautifully fragrant silver foliage and purple flowers. Hummingbirds flock to it. The flowers can also be dried and used in arrangements and sachets. There are many families and derivations of lavender, however, they all want little water and well-drained soil.

2. Salvia
The Salvia family of plants is known for herbal foliage, low-water needs and bright colors. Salvia Hot Lips and other red varieties are known particularly for their ability to attract hummingbirds from all around. In warm climates, these woody shrubs bloom brightly all year.

Mimulus Jelly Bean
This series of plants is a hybrid of a California native plant, which makes it very low-water and low-maintenance. Reaching a height of 2–3 feet, these plants work well in borders. The plant’s beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers bloom in flushes throughout the year and attract hummingbirds.

3. Primrose Jasmine
This fragrant vine is a beautiful, freely branching shrub. This plant needs some tender loving care, but it is a wonderful selection for gardeners who enjoy fragrances. The yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers usually appear in the spring, but in mild climates they can last until summer.

Mexican Feather Grass
This ornamental grass is soft and delicate with very narrow green blades. It waves softly in the breeze. The plumes of seeds add wonderful movement to any garden.

Blue Fescue
This ornamental grass has ice blue to silver narrow blades. It is a low-growing grass, typically only 6 to 12 inches tall. In spring and summer, Blue Fescue has plumes of tan flowers that wave beautifully in the wind.

Bougainvillea
These brightly colored vines bloom nearly year-round. Typically blooming in shades of red, pink or purple, these tall vines are best trained onto a permanent structure or trellis, as they are very long-lived.

Russian Sage
This dwarf version of the original Russian Sage only grows 2 feet tall and wide. It has amazing white-silver foliage and blue-purple flowers. It grows quickly and uses very little water.

Gaillardia
This beautiful perennial flower never stops blooming! The brightly colored blooms are typically in shades of yellow and red. They attract lots of hungry butterflies and are a carefree addition to any garden.

Lantana
These woody shrubs are wonderful for gardeners who love incredibly bright colors. Their vibrant flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds all through the spring, summer and fall seasons. They are extremely hardy and low-water and prefer mild climates. Lantana can also be found as a trailing ground cover in purple or white.

Purple Love Grass
This amazing mid-height ornamental grass changes color beautifully in the fall. The narrow blades, typically 2–3 feet in height, change from a soft green to a deep purple with small flowers. This grass is a very hardy and graceful addition to any garden.

Heavenly Bamboo
These very low- maintenance shrubs make light and airy additions to garden borders. Their red-green leaves turn vibrantly red in the fall but do not fall off in the winter. The bright red winter berries make great holiday centerpieces.

Butterfly Bush Buzz Series
These dwarf Butterfly Bushes that grow to only 3 feet tall and wide are an amazing addition to any garden. The beautifully flowering bushes are a must for any butterfly lover. The silver-leafed plants have either magenta, blue, purple or white flowers.

4. Yarrow
This is a wonderful perennial flower for people with little gardening experience. It has flat-topped flowers in shades of pink, red and white (sometimes yellow) that attract butterflies in the spring. The long stems are wonderful for cutting, and the delicate leaves add foliage interest in the winter.

Verbena
This perennial flower blooms nearly all year, creating a beautiful blanket of color. It is typically low-growing and makes an excellent plant for the front of a garden bed. There are numerous varieties and families available in shades of red, white, pink and purple.

5. Dianthus
This member of the carnation family is very hardy and beautiful. The silver foliage is an interesting addition to the garden all year. The spring and fall blooms, in shades of white, pink and red, make excellent cut flowers. They are very drought-tolerant and easy to care for.

Little John Bottle Brush
This dwarf flowering bottle brush only grows to 3 feet in height and width. It is very hardy and extremely easy to care for. Little John is a summer bloomer that produces deep red bottle-brush-shaped flowers with yellow tips.

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