I love conceptualising; Looking at ideas, researching a theme or a design concept and then building on it from there. Currently, I am finding inspiration from the gardens of Palm Springs. These gardens best suit the quint essential mid century modern home, however can be appropriated to work with modern day architecture where garden spaces are sleek, grouped, and focus on the balance between planted and empty spaces.
Obviously it is always important to look at the environmental factors, such as aspect and exposure to the sun within the garden and make appropriate plant choices. What is the soil quality like? Is there good drainage? How often are you prepared to water the garden? These are all factors that need to be considered when designing a garden.
Gardens that take inspiration from the South West of America focus on the intricate differences in colour, shape, size and most importantly texture. These gardens are often defined by the absence of grassy areas, and with the inclusion of rock beds, large feature rocks, stone pavers or gravel. These are appropriate options that have been considered, and make sense for the original environment; a hot, desert climate.
Australia’s natural environment is often compared to California, and so many of the choices would be appropriate for our climate also. Instead of using mulch, or bark to retain water within the garden beds, a rock layer is a popular choice.
Get the look; Cactus, Prickly Pear, Agaves and other geometric Succulents, Palms, Vertical plants like Mother in Laws Tongue, Shapely feature plants such as the Joshua Tree. There are hundreds of Palms available, and it all comes down to personal choice, but the Ponytail Palm will give you that special Palm Springs inspired look. It has a bulbous trunk and crazy head of leaves. You could also consider including a Australian Grass Plant, Xanthorrhoea- which for many years was known as the Black Boy. These plants often last for hundreds of years, require little water, and are striking in their appearance.
Accessories; Gravel, Stone Pavers, Besser Block feature walls, Large feature rocks.
Colours; The gardens within this style tend to feature green, grey and white. Often the buildings are stark white, with strong coloured features (walls, entry doors, lounge/pool furniture etc). You can also include orange, red and chocolate coloured foliage plants for extra colour.
The Palm Springs inspired garden is not for everyone, but if you like low maintenance gardens, it could be a good fit. The rock layer reduces the watering, and as the plant choices tend to be hardy specimens which favour a more arid environment, they do not require daily watering. This garden style will complement formal settings, and sleek, modern architecture as well as vintage styling.
One thing to note is that many of the plant varieties that feature in this garden style are costly. Golden Barrel Cactus for example are hard to come by, and are slow growers, so even small plants will set you back a bit. You also need to consider that for the cluster plantings and linear plant work in this design style, you will require substantial numbers in many plant varieties. On the upside, choose wisely and this garden design will be low manintence and have great longevity.