Lawnless in Ventura

Plant a water-wise front yard alive with texture and blooms

Lawnless in Ventura

Katherine Perez in the middle of her garden surrounded by a profusion of blooms, including red kangaroo paws, chartreuse euphorbia, purple Cedros Island verbena and Spanish lavender.

Steven Gunther

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Water-conserving gardens can be as colorful as any other. The front yard of Rick Cole, Ventura's city manager, is blooming proof.

When Cole, wife Katherine Perez, and their three young children moved into a Spanish revival home in the Midtown area, the front yard consisted of St. Augustine grass and an oleander hedge ― not exactly the xeric message Cole wanted to project as city manager. Nor was it the environment he wished to live in.

"I wanted something that reflected Ventura's great heritage: the mission, beaches, agriculture, and native habitat," he says.

So husband-and-wife team Michelle Bednar Walker and Jeremy Walker of Blooming Gardens gave Cole a garden that complements his home as well as the larger community.

It's full of great texture and nearly year-round color, and it contains a play spot that the couple's children delight in.

It's also immensely more successful as habitat, according to Cole.

"We went from zero butterflies and hummingbirds to constant," he says. "There's so much going on out there sometimes, it makes you laugh."


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