Top plants for summer color

Add heat-tolerant flowers and features to your yard and enjoy their beauty all summer

Jerusalem sage

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa)

Tall stems of these Mediterranean natives are set with widely-spaced, hooded yellow flowers.

Moisture-conserving thick, typically furry or hairy leaves are lance-shaped. Pretty planted with lavender and red hot poker (Kniphofia ‘Bressingham Comet’).

More about Jerusalem sage

Hot Cocoa rose

Thomas J. Story

'Hot Cocoa' rose

This floribunda rose bears red blossoms.

'Moonshine' yarrow

Thomas J. Story

'Moonshine' yarrow

The sunny hues of this Mediterranean perennial complement the violet-blue spikes of catmint (Nepeta).

More about 'Moonshine' yarrow

'Sally Holmes' rose

Thomas J. Story

'Sally Holmes' rose

A vigorous white rose, it blooms in huge clusters.

More about the 'Sally Holmes' rose

Feather reed grass

Thomas J. Story

Feather reed grass

Calamagrostis x acutiflora has a vertical growth habit and showy seed heads.

Berberis thunbergii 'Rose Glow'

Thomas J. Story

Berberis thunbergii 'Rose Glow'

The bronzy red Japanese barberry colors up best in full sun.

More about Berberis thunbergii  'Rose Glow'

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes

Thomas J. Story

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes

A cluster from the Strombergs’ vineyards shows the seeded, pearl-size grapes in various stages of ripeness.

More about grapes

Coreopsis grandiflora 'Sunray'

Thomas J. Story

Coreopsis grandiflora 'Sunray'

Like the rest of the sunflower family, this bright yellow perennial blooms all summer on little water.

More about  Coreopsis grandiflora

Pennisetum orientale

Thomas J. Story

Pennisetum orientale

A pretty, midsize (2 ft.) grass explodes with showy pink to white plumes.

More about Pennisetum orientale

Sedum telephium

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Sedum telephium

Dense flower clusters on sturdy stems rise above bright green leaves. Blooms start out blush-colored, aging to coppery pink, then rust as weather cools.

Plants reach 1-to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Pretty beside asters.

More about Sedum telephium

Coleonema pulchrum 'Sunset Gold' Yellow

Thomas J. Story

Coleonema pulchrum 'Sunset Gold' Yellow

Yellow foliage distinguishes this heathlike shrub with tiny pink flowers.

Aster cordifolius 'Little Carlow'

Thomas J. Story

Aster cordifolius 'Little Carlow'

Deep violet-blue flowers cluster atop plants that grow 3 to 4 ft. tall.

Fountain with stone orb

Thomas J. Story

Small-scale water features

Rustic fountains help make Mediterranean-style plantings look at home among California's golden hills.

Because water is a precious resource, using it respectfully in the garden is a tradition. Something lavish would have been out of character in this drought-tolerant landscape.

Firepit and seating area

Thomas J. Story

Permeable hardscape

Every drop of rain that falls in this thirsty part of the country ought to go in the land. That’s one reason gravel, vs. non-permeable paving, was used throughout the garden.

Low-water shimmer

Thomas J. Story

Low-water shimmer

Shimmer Fine-textured plants such as grasses reflect the sun brilliantly. Because they are used extensively in this garden, the whole landscape seems to dance with light.

Summer blondness The garden acknowledges that blond is the natural color of summer in California. The tawny flower plumes of Calamagrostis x acutiflora (feather reed grass) match the amber hues of the hills.

Drought-tolerant plants Most of the plants in the Strombergs’ garden are moderate water users, even the shrub roses.

Empty containers

Thomas J. Story

Empty containers

In a hot climate, planted pots are hard to maintain, but empty ones look great. 

Shade

Thomas J. Story

Shade

The best way to enjoy the sun is from a shaded location. These mature oaks shelter outdoor living areas.

Swing seating under an oak is inviting on warm days.  

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