A Santa Barbara clothier shows how to use fiery and icy plant colors with panache

Sharon Cohoon,  – November 22, 2004

Wendy Foster, the owner of four clothing stores in Santa Barbara, puts together a garden in much the same way she lays out her stores every season. At her shops, Foster begins the season by choosing two or three colors for her major collections. Then, when she has her basic inventory lined up, she adds accessories in complementary colors.

The exuberant border in front of her rosy pink stucco cottage came together in similar fashion. Since the spot was very sunny, Foster chose to build her color scheme around the most sizzling hues in the spectrum–yellow and reddish orange. First, she put in the foundation plants: shrubs and vines with yellow to red flowers (see “Fire,”below). Then, as she does at the store, she stepped back and asked herself, “Now, what do I need?” A little blue to temper the flames, she decided. So she added plants such as blue-flowered echium, blue-leafed senecio, and a generous splash of chartreuse supplied by Euphorbia characias wulfenii to bridge the gap between fire and ice. It’s a color combination that works especially well in Mediterranean-style gardens.

Despite its lush look, the garden is reasonably drought-tolerant. Weekly watering suffices for everything except the hibiscus, which get water about twice a week.


• Butter yellow hibiscus

• Blood red trumpet vine

• Orange marmalade bush (Streptosolen jamesonii)

• Golden coulter bush (Athanasia parviflora)


• Silver-leafed agave

• Blue-flowered Echium pininana

• Blue-gray foliage of Senecio mandraliscae

• Frosty purple ‘Midnight’ penstemon

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