Magazine article Sunset

Lush Look, Low Water: Which Colorful, Unthirsty Plants Will Thrive in Your Garden? Just Check the Roof

Magazine article Sunset

Lush Look, Low Water: Which Colorful, Unthirsty Plants Will Thrive in Your Garden? Just Check the Roof

Article excerpt

ROOFTOP GARDENS face special challenges: Since they're constantly exposed to direct sunlight and wind, they demand super-tough, drought-tolerant plants. So if you're looking for plants that'll grow well in arid ground-level landscapes, a thriving green roof would provide plenty of inspiration. Especially when that roof belongs to the much-lauded Margarido House, the first residence in Northern California to earn LEED-H Platinum certification. For this Oakland project, landscape designer Lauren Schneider mixed California natives that thrive in hot, dry conditions with plants that evolved in similar climates. "I love the juxtaposition of the coarser and finer plant textures," she says. "And I like to use the foliage colors as streaks and splashes."

DESIGN Lauren Schneider, Wonderland Garden and Landscape (wonderlandgarden.com or 510/836-3990)

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Low-water wonders

Grow these easy-care choices that thrive in California

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1. Echinocactus grusonii

Golden spines cover this slow-growing native Mexican cactus that reaches 4 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide. Small yellow flowers top the plant in summer. Sunset climate zones 12-24.

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2. Lewisia cotyledon 'Sunset Strain'

This bloomer, from California and Oregon, has evergreen foliage and reaches a foot high and 10 inches wide. It's great in rock gardens, but needs excellent drainage. Zones 1-7 and 14-17.

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3. Nassella tenuissima Wispy green blades form clumps reaching 2 feet tall and wide. …

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