A Cottage Garden the California Way

california garden
Photography by Emily Reiter and Rhianna Mercier

Within the modest dimensions of the grounds—20 feet in front and 30 feet in back—Margaret laid out meandering paths and as she puts it, “little rooms where people could gather and talk.” Originally, she planted eight rose bushes in the backyard to use in her floral designs and wedding work. “The gophers ate seven of them,” she says, “so I put pots of succulents in that spot.” In the front yard, sheltered by the walls of the courtyard and house, fifteen rose bushes and a variety of dahlias have so far eluded the hungry pests.

The rest of the garden is a tapestry of plants that can survive with little water. The previous owners of the home had planted Agaves. When the Lloyds began reworking the landscape, Margaret dug them up and potted them until she could replant in the new beds.

Photography by Emily Reiter and Rhianna Mercier

Since then, she has added between 25 and 50 varieties of succulents, most given to her by neighbors and friends. “Succulents are something we can give each other because the cuttings root so easily,” she says. “I use a lot of little succulents I clip in corsages and bouquets. They are so resilient, you can pull them off the bouquet and plant them and they will root. It’s a nice keepsake from the wedding flowers.”

Hardy natives such as Salvia and Alys-sum and imports from South Africa and Australia complement the succulents. Margaret also plants for fragrance. “The tall salvia along the walk has a wonderful scent,” she says. Roses, mint, California bay, lavender, honeysuckle, and jasmine also provide scented accents for her wedding work—and her own enjoyment at home. “My youngest daughter, when she comes for a visit, always expects lavender on the bedside table,” she says.