Golden barrel cactus Echinocactus grusonii
When renowned British horticulturist Christopher Lloyd visited Southern California two years ago, he asked his hosts to show him gardens he wouldn't see back home. "How about a Japanese garden?" they suggested. Lloyd's response was polite but firm: "If I wanted that, I'd go to Japan." His opinion of some local landscapes, with their endless lawns bordered by evergreen shrubs, was equally withering: "It's astonishing you do so little with what you've got," he exclaimed.
His attitude changed dramatically when he and his hosts strolled through the Fallbrook garden pictured here, owned by succulent fancier Patrick Anderson and his partner, Les Olson. The 1/2 acre hillside garden is filled with aloes and agaves in soft hues and sculptural shapes. Aeoniums, euphorbias, and crassulas add texture and fill in the gaps between them, along with African daisies (Arctotis hybrids), Mexican blue palms (Brahea armata), golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii), organpipe cactus (Lemaireocereus marginatus), pindo palms (Butia capitata), blue-flowered pride of Madeira (Echium fastuosum), purple-flowered Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), and brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), a native California shrub with silvery leaves and profuse sulfur-yellow flowers. In midwinter, when perennial gardens snooze, the 200-plus aloes in Anderson's collection blaze with candelabras of red, yellow, orange, and cream. Clearly, it's a garden suited to the region's arid landscape and to the summer-dry climate; plants that grow here need little water once established.