Blog Stories Less water, more beauty

Less water, more beauty

By William Wong, September 30, 2022

Geez it was a hot and dry summer… and so was last summer, and the one before that… because of this heat, I’m seeing a lot of crispy plants around our city. But I’m also seeing a lot more landscapes using summer dry (xeric) loving plants. Xeriscaping is something that I truly love and I wanted to share with anyone thinking about adopting this type of garden (maybe replacing an unneeded front lawn), two of the very successful plant species I have grown in my garden (Arctostaphylos & Grevilleas). I have many in each species and none have been watered at all since the first year they were planted, and has never endured any real damage in any of our recent winters (what was up with the heavy snow in April of this year?!)

A better blogger would have taken pics of the following plants.. but alas, I am no pro.. just a real estate agent that likes to garden, so I just included some glamour shots of the “desert-y” parts of my front yard. If you’re interested in pics of some of the following plants, check out my “plantsOgram” @bigleaves.smallspaces

  1. Arctostaphylos (Manzanitas) – I can finally spell Arctostaphylos from memory, that is how much I enjoy this plant. Native to many parts of the west coast, this is an amazingly beautiful shrub that comes in all shapes and sizes. Foliage color ranges from dark green to very blue to nearly ghostly white. It blooms around mid/late winter to early spring (great for overwintering Anna’s hummingbirds), and small edible fruits will follow. I have never tried one but it’s said to resemble an apple in taste (Manzanita, the common name means little apple in Spanish). But the most beautiful part of this plant is the muscular red exfoliating bark. A well pruned plant showing off the bark is a great focal point of any xeric garden. The only thing to remember with this plant is to never water it at all.. but especially not when it is really warm. Some of the best cultivars IMO are A. Austin Griffiths and A. Densiflora. For sale all over the place, but Xera plants and One green world (Another recent blog just profiled these two nurseries) are a great place to purchase with multiple selections.
  2. Grevilleas – Do you like weird exotic looking flowers and plants that can be in bloom for nearly the whole year? If so, then you’ll like Grevilleas. Again, so many different cultivars coming in all shapes and sizes. There are ones with leaves like an olive tree, ones that look like a rosemary-ish, ground covers, huge shrubs, and everything in between. The flowers either look like a colorful spider or a colorful toothbrush, and this is another plant that blooms in winter. The largest grevillea in my garden is fiercely guarded by hummingbirds in the winter. Which ever hummingbird is sitting in the grevillea iron throne will chase off any would be usurpers looking to get some sweet nectar. They will fly and chase each other around in battle (like little dragons, hence the Game of thrones reference). Most also grows explosively fast.. so if you are impatient like me, grevilleas are great for some quick gratification. Only thing to remember with Grevilleas is to NEVER fertilize with phosphorus (and really neither of these two plant species should be fertilized at all). The best cultivar in my opinion is Grevillea Neil Bell. Some other great choices are G. Canberra gem, any Victoriae cultivar, and G. Rivularis. Great place to pick some up is again.. Xera and One green world, along with Cistus nursery in Sauvie island.

At the end of the day, the best plant to plant is the one you will truly enjoy… but in my opinion these two wonderful plant species merits a place in just about any garden. Thanks!



William Wong

Broker | OR


Read More
  • T: 971-645-9230

You might also enjoy

Just Listed! Mod Squad HQ

Bonnie Roseman

3965 N Michigan Ave Portland, Oregon, 97227 Easy living in the hip hot Mississippi District! Leave...

A Case for Keeping Your Crawl Space Vents Open

Robin Hakeman

It’s that time of year in Oregon when the weather is colder and many people worry...

Just Listed! Sweet 1940’s Ranchalow in Rose City/Hollywood

Jennifer O'Brien

6026 NE Multnomah Street Portland, Oregon, 97213 Inside, you’ll find a cozy wood-burning fireplace, beautiful hardwood...

Just Listed! Plenty of space in Parkside!

James Peterson

14617 NE 39th Street Vancouver, Washington, 98682 This classic home features many modern upgrades. Including a...