The Book – Gardening in Summer-Dry Climates

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What’s it about ?

At its core, Gardening in Summer-Dry Climates encourages gardeners to understand and work in harmony with their region. By choosing naturally occurring, climate-appropriate plants, gardeners can promote healthier ecosystems and make a difference from their own backyards.
Working with rather than against the summer-dry climate means reducing impact on water supplies and creating spaces that attract and sustain wildlife. It means taking a step back, letting nature assert itself in the garden, and welcoming in the unique wildness of these special regions.

California Coastal Hills

The plants we showcase in this book are not intended in any way to limit your choices. We hope they will inspire you to look beyond what is described here. There are many more selections, in almost every genus, than what we had space to to include. Plant collectors and nursery professionals continue to develop and introduce new plants, which seem to appear almost every day.

Path through waterwise mixed border demonstration garden with flowering Blue Oat grass, perennials and shrubs at Bellevue Botanic Garden, Washington

Nora Harlow is a landscape architect and gardener with wide-ranging experience in the
summer-dry climates of California. She is the author of Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates of the Bay Area, co-editor of The Pacific Horticulture Book of Western Gardening, and co-editor of Wild Lilies, Irises, and Grasse


Saxon Holt is a photojournalist who has spent more than 40 years exploring Kingdom Plantae. His work has been featured in diverse publications, from Architectural Digest and Pacific Horticulture magazine to Smithsonian and Money magazines.

“In the midst of tumultuous climate change, we realize it’s all the more important that gardeners be stewards of the land, attuned to the local environment on behalf of all creatures. Every small act we do adds resiliency.”

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Peeling Bark

In a not uncommon response to summer-dry heat, a number of trees and shrubs shed their bark in the middle of the summer. In California, this exfoliation seems to happen almost instantly in Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) and many species of … Continue reading

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Every so often it is worth reconsidering a once wildly popular plant that, apparently for no reason other than overexposure, has fallen completely out of favor. Agapanthus is one of those plants. Oleander (Nerium oleander) is certainly another. Overplanted in … Continue reading


Deer grass

Deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) is a fine-textured bunchgrass with erect to gracefully arching grayish green leaves to three feet tall and four feet wide and a haze of tawny or silvery gray mid-summer flowers on stems that rise two feet … Continue reading

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Pittosporums are a large group of tough and adaptable evergreen shrubs or smallish trees native to subtropical and tropical Australasia, Africa, and Asia and grown in warm temperate climates throughout the world.  Most are fairly fast growing in full sun … Continue reading


Newsletter 2 February 2017

This is the second newsletter since Summer-Dry was launched two years ago, so those of you who might have been looking for this update expecting news have not missed anything directly, though there have been about 40 plant descriptions posted to … Continue reading


Is The Drought Over ?

It has been raining like crazy in California this winter.  Or rather, it has ben raining like a normal winter. In a summer-dry climate we expect it to be winter wet. But is the California drought over ? Here is … Continue reading


5 thoughts on “Blog

    • it does – look good.
      I was going to add you to Feedly, but not sure if you will be adding new posts?

      I’ve been following GIMCW’s idea of small m mediterranean, as I garden in South Africa’s Southwestern Cape fynbos.

      • Thanks Diana – Delighted to have you drop by from the fynbos! We will soon be adding Nora Harlow as editor to add more blog posts and plant information. Stay tuned….

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