the Leonotis leonurus down the street

This Lion’s Tail is thriving in the front garden of a neighbor who took advantage of the first wave of lawn removal rebates offered a few years ago by our local water department.
I”ve been personally characterizing the latest round of lawn rebates after April 2015 as the second wave, just to distinguish between the two, because I have noticed some differences.
The first wave of rebates resulted in front gardens filled with natives and other dry-adapted plants like this leonotis from South Africa designed around paths, berms and swales.
The work and planting in the first wave was mostly done and/or directed by the homeowner. This Lion’s Tail garden also includes, among others, ceanothus and the Indian Mallow, Abutilon palmeri.

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In contrast, I’ve noticed that a lot of the second-wave designs include far fewer kinds of plants, and quite often are entirely of smallish succulents.
Widely spaced succulents bedded in gravel or mulch and laid out in a horizontal grid.

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Now that actual water restrictions are in place as of April 2015, the second-wave gardens are being executed in more haste and less planning than the first wave.
Less planning and haste seem to be hallmarks of a well-known company which leaves its sign in the newly planted grid advertising free lawn removal in exchange for the rebate.
Not that there’s anything wrong with seizing an entrepreneurial opportunity.
But results from the second wave are almost a throwback to that time when a dry garden meant a kitschy collection of cacti, bleached cow skulls, and wagon wheels in white rock mulch.

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Hopefully, there will be some fine-tuning of these second-wave gardens by the owners now that the heavy lifting part of the job has been done.
The Lion’s Tail doesn’t mind pruning, dry conditions, and will roar in full-throated tawny bloom spring through fall. For full sun.

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8 Responses to the Leonotis leonurus down the street

  1. This is the happiest Leonotis leonurus I’ve ever seen. Perfection. I once had a couple in my front yard that looked great for a few years then declined. I wonder if they’re short-lived?

    I couldn’t agree more about the cookie-cutter approach to lawn conversions. I don’t understand how homeowners could buy into these uninspired designs, especially with the wealth of ideas available online. You don’t have to be a gardener/plant lover to appreciate beauty.

  2. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Great looking Leonotis leonurus! Mostly an annual for us but sometimes it comes back. So no white gravel or bleached cow skulls for your garden?

  3. ks says:

    What will we do if wagon wheels in white rock is the Next Big Thing ??

  4. Denise says:

    @Gerhard, I’ve seen them seed around at my community garden. It’s hard to believe, but a lot of people don’t want to think about outside the house and prefer it one and done, as cheap as possible.
    @Peter, it’d be fun to play around with white gravel themes, but horticultural humor is so obscure, not many people would get the joke 😉
    @Kathy, we lived through it once, we can live through it again. At least it expresses enthusiasm instead of the usual lack of interest.

  5. DC Tropics says:

    Love those orange flowers! I tried this plant several years ago and it didn’t bloom well for me, but after seeing your photos I’m tempted to try it again.

  6. Christine says:

    We actually used turf terminators to take out our front lawn last fall. I had been wanting to replace the lawn with landscaping for a long time but the prospect of tearing out the lawn ourselves was overwhelming, so we used their service mainly for the “free” labor. I wasn’t super concerned with what plants they would use because I could just replace and fill in with my own choices later. And what they planted ended up being a ton of the same plants (mainly sea lavender and rosemary which I don’t care for, and cistus and yarrow which I do like) in perfectly straight lines. I ended up replacing a lot of plants and added a bunch of others and now it actually looks pretty good. My main complaint is that they didn’t do a very good job of tearing out the lawn and grass is constantly growing through the weed barrier that they put in. We are attempting the lasagna method to get rid of the grass in the hell strip right now and hopefully it will be ready for planting by the fall.

  7. Denise says:

    @DC, there is a Leonotis menthifolia I’ve tried, which is smaller, but leonurus reads so well in the landscape. With all the lawn being removed, space shouldn’t be an issue anymore!
    @Christine, that sounds like the perfect use of this service, and I was wondering if anyone was doing that, so thanks for the input. I have read that the grass has been coming back. It’s so hard to “terminate” grass in one pass. Good luck with the lasagna method in the hell strip.

  8. Les says:

    I planted my third Leonotis last month. Normally it is root hardy for us, but after these past two winters, not so much.

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