In 2021 we moved into a grey house. The previous owners loved grey both inside and out.
Somehow I had to try to make it work with the things we brought with us taking the emphasis off the grey. Inside was one thing outside another. It would have been a huge undertaking to change the color of the house not to mention getting permission from the HOA review board! All the terracotta pots of plants I brought with me didn't look right against the clean modern lines of the grey house. And so began the change. It also brought with it a simplification which was the reasoning behind moving here in the first place. Grey and black planters and square rather than round to complement the formidable, square patio pillars, softening the area. Away with all those tiny pots which dried out too quickly and maybe a new beginning with a coat of paint.
I was lucky to find some square planters on sale at 50% of the price. With a little negotiation ( a few had dings) we managed a great deal. All the pot feet were pained black. Now for the plants. Drought tolerant plants which require little to no water when I am away from home. They must also tolerate vast swings in sun and shade as the sun moves across the sky from winter to summer.
Cactus and succulents and small agave the obvious choice. Shout if you can identify this small agave.
I already had a few nice specimens and purchased several elephant food plants, Portulacaria afra, for the larger pots. Elephant food can be grown in full sun or part shade and is very drought tolerant. And there is a variegated version which I think I like even better. The stems are dark burgundy and look stunning against the pale foliage.
Elephant food roots easily from cuttings but will need to be protected from frost. A friend of mine who lives in S.Cal. uses this as a ground cover on his hillside and has a small 'nursery' of pots he has rooted to increase their spread. After the new year I will cut back one of the plants and start my own nursery. Growing in the ground would probably not work here as we have too many nocturnal visitors.
I have never been a huge fan of variegated plants but now find they are very suitable to tone down my large areas of grey. The plant below, Pereskia acuelata also came from my Austin garden. It seems to prefer this climate and has coped well with a long hot summer.
Looking across from the patio are the 3 A. desmettiana variegata and Joe Hoak I planted 2 years ago. They have grown well despite having their lower leaves eaten by critters I try to rescue pups as soon as they appear or they would be eaten too. Is there any hope for this one? Of course,but it may take a few years of potted life.
The old bird bath stand and planter have joined the grey world too.
I do have plans to add color to the edges of the garden. Newly purchased Tecoma stans 'Sparklette' seemed like a good choice as it grows to 3' and is frost hardy. It may die back to the ground during a very cold winter. In another part of the garden I have replaced a Photinia with sparklette. There was nothing wrong with the photinia as it was healthy and evergreen and did put on a great display in the spring but I just felt there were too many other plants with more merit.
It grows alongside aloes and Tecoma capensis, Cape honeysuckle, an original planting. The hummingbirds love this bush.
This white alyssum has returned from last year. It seems to be an easy variety to grow, unlike the purple with which I have had no success.
I am thinking of taking out some of the pavers alongside the pillars and planting vines. The only problem will be irrigation during periods when we are gone. But that will be a job for the new year when we return from our winter travels.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my garden friends. May the holidays bring you lots of gardening joy.