Before and after: Easy-care color

A Los Altos flower bed, before and after the remodel

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Before and after: Easy-care color


Thomas J. Story

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Before new landscaping awakened Betty Norlander's flower bed in Los Altos, California, the view through her living room window was anything but inspirational. Plants in this shapeless 15- by 40-foot plot struggled in heavy soil, and weeds were hard to control.

To overhaul the sunny bed, Norlander called on Mountain View, California, garden designer Gay Bonorden Gray (650/969-9523). She shaped the space with graceful curves, amended the soil with compost, and installed drip irrigation. Gray and Norlander then chose plants for year-round color, ease of maintenance, and drought-tolerance.

Now, hot pink 'Flower Carpet' roses ― along with perennials like blue hibiscus, bougainvillea, violet butterfly bush, and Mexican sage ― offer vivid color from spring through fall. Dahlias and gladiolus accent the bed in late spring and summer. In winter, nandina and variegated flax sustain the show with eye-catching foliage.

Most of the plants only need cutting back in late winter or dividing every few years. All Norlander has to do is relax and enjoy the view.


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