Make it a group effort. “Repetition of plants lets other materials stand out,” Nolan says. The glaze on the containers, the texture of the decomposed gravel, and the copper-colored sculpture have more impact when plants like aeonium, aloe, and Agave angustifolia are repeated and grown in clusters.
Import plants from Down Under. Nolan chose a few plants originally from the Southern Hemisphere; they adapt well to coastal climates in the West. Astelia offers “a striking, silvery texture” year-round, he says. Grevillea blooms on and off all year, but the plant is still dramatic when it’s not flowering.
Plant a gallery. Staghorn ferns and sphagnum moss lashed to plywood with fishing line are a tongue-in-cheek nod to mounted antlers.