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Taking a Dip
A medley of drought-tolerant plants softens the pool's paved edge.
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Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax)
Native to New Zealand; Zones 8 to 10, height 6 feet to 10 feet; part shade to full sun. Many garden-worthy cultivars of Phormium, a tough and beautiful perennial, are available. In colder regions, it may be grown as a container plant and brought indoors for winter.
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Eragrostis curvula (love grass)
Native to Southern Africa; Zones 9 to 13; height to 4 feet; full sun. The loose, soft texture of this grass becomes even more appealing when its feathery panicles of flowers open in early autumn. It is considered invasive in some states, so check with your state's list before planting.
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Aeonium arboreum 'Atropurpureum' (aeonium)
Native to Morocco; Zones 9 to 15; height to 6 feet; full sun. A popular house and container plant, aeonium makes an unusual addition to the garden in warm climates. It is actively growing only during the winter months.
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The outdoor dining room is edged, appropriately enough, with culinary herbs and fruit trees, including a fig and persimmon.
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Cotinus coggygria forma purpureus (purple smoke bush)
Native to Southern Europe and Central China; Zones 5 to 9; height to 15 feet; full sun for best color, especially on purple-leaf varieties. This small tree or large shrub is popular as a landscape plant because of its coin-shape foliage and smokelike flower panicles. It frequently exhibits excellent fall color.
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Pull Up A Chair
A finetextured Chinese pistache tree (Pistacia chinensis) provides dappled shade for Andy's favorite lounging spot, near the dining area, where a couple of Adirondack chairs are left outside year-round. (The tree's autumn foliage is a brilliant orange.) At the edges, red Aloe saponaria and purple-flowered Verbena bonariensis bloom through a fringe of Euphorbia rigida, front right. Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spear,' front left, adds shine and contrast to the mix of gray-tone leaves.
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Pistacia chinensis (Chinese pistache)
Native to China; Zones 6 to 9; height 20 to 40 feet; full sun. This fast growing tree is a relative of the edible pistachio. It is particularly showy in autumn with excellent foliage color and attractive seeds on female plants.
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Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spear' (silver spear astelia)
Native to New Zealand; Zones 8 to 10; height 3 to 4 feet; part shade to full sun. Persistent silver foliage is the hallmark of this lily relative. It's one of the few truly silver plants that remain effective even in shaded locations. It can be grown in a container in colder climates.
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Soothing sounds come from the large red-glazed vessel, a classic oiljar shape made at the Maine studio Lunaform. Trainor turned it into a water feature. Around it, red-blooming aloes (Aloe saponaria) and purple verbena (Verbena bonariensis) flower near a pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana, at top) and a vibrant smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria 'Purpureus,' right).
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Verbena bonariensis (tall verbena)
Native to South America; Zones 7 to 11; height 2 to 5 feet; full sun. A popular and useful garden plant with purple flowers throughout the season. In colder climates, tall verbena behaves as a self-seeding annual.
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Acca sellowiana (syn. Feijoa sellowiana) (pineapple guava)
Native to South America; Zones 8 to 11; height 6 feet; full sun. This evergreen shrub produces pretty, bicolor flowers followed by edible fruit. It can be used as a hedge, a specimen, or in the edible garden.
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Aloe saponaria (red blooming aloe)
Native to South Africa; Zone 11; height 2 to 3 feet; full sun. Thick, succulent foliage rosettes are dotted with white and edged with hooked thorns. Red and yellow flowers are borne on tall stalks in the summer. Gardeners in cold areas can grow many species of aloe as houseplants.
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Step by Step
A path of Arizona river-washed buckskin stones, interplanted with mixed thymes, paves the way through a crowd of diverse plants, including the bright Teucrium majoricum, bottom left, shoots of Chondropetalum tectorum, middle left, the steely blue succulent Senecio mandraliscae, bottom right, and red Salvia sp., center. At back, a lowgrowing Agave attenuata.
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Chondropetalum tectorum (small Cape rush)
Native to South Africa; Zones 9 to 15; height 2 to 3 feet; part shade to full sun. An herbaceous plant that contributes appealing structure to the garden with its elegant vase-like habit. The dark green reedlike stems are divided into sections by attractive mahogany sheaths.
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Agave attenuata (fox tail agave)
Native to Mexico; Zones 9 to 15; height 4 to 5 feet; part shade to full sun. Agaves are known for the large spines on their leaf margins, but A. attenuata has smooth leaves, making it a safer garden choice. Though the plant flowers and dies at maturity, it spends its life producing large colonies of offsets (called pups).
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Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittanicus (prostrate thyme)
Native to Southern Europe; Zones 5 to 9; height to 2 inches; full sun. Creeping thymes, of which there are several species, make soft carpets in sunny, well-drained areas. Though fragrant, this species is not the same as culinary thyme, and is used only as an ornamental ground cover.
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Teucrium majoricum (fruity teucrium)
Native to the Mediterranean; Zones 8 to 10; height 4 to 6 inches; full sun. This sub-shrub makes a lovely ground cover, especially in spring and autumn when it is covered in its characteristic pink blooms. In colder climates (Zone 5+), gardeners can substitute Teucrium chamaedrys.
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Senecio mandraliscae (kleinia)
Native to South Africa; Zones 8 to 12; height 1 to 2 feet; full sun. A member of the daisy family, this easy-to-grow succulent is popular because of its intense blue foliage; its flowers are not at all showy. It forms large mats, making it an excellent ground cover with minimal water needs.