Mix the plantings. Many California natives have the same exposure, water, and soil needs as plants from similar Mediterranean climates. In the Schleins' yard, fremontodendron and ceanothus (California natives) pair with plants like lavender (a Mediterranean native) and red-hot poker (Kniphofia) from South Africa. Group different plants according to their needs.
Forget lawn. Plant unthirsty groundcovers such as blue fescue, 'Carmel Creeper' ceanothus, dwarf cotoneaster, and gazanias. Mulch spaces between them with fine-textured (1/4-inch) fir-bark mulch, and use gravel or pavers for paths and patios.
Pair bold colors. Bright flowers stand up to California's sunlight. Yellows and blues predominate in the Schleins' garden, but other plants splash color around the perimeter ? purple asters, orange bird of paradise, ruby-red leptospermum, and red kangaroo paws and penstemons. Bronze-foliaged plants such as hop bush, phormiums, and purple smoke tree are cooling accents.
Add fragrance. Sweet scents from citrus and angel's trumpet mix with herbal aromas like lavender.
DESIGN: Rosemary Wells, Viridian Landscape Architecture, Pacific Grove, CA (408/656-5829)