Drought Tolerant, Heat Loving Plants on “Home & Family Show” Deck Makeover!

by / 2 Comments / 2298 View / March 14, 2013


I was assigned a deck garden makeover recently for the Hallmark daytime show,   “Home & Family” with Cristina Ferrare and Mark Steines.

If you like home and garden shows, you’ll love this unique daytime show where all the guests are experts from this genre!


When I design a garden makeover for television, one of the first things I do is secure the very best looking plants available.

This is TV after all!



The pros at Armstrong Garden Center helped me select  drought tolerant, heat loving plants for this Southern California garden.

Armstrong Garden Center in Sherman Oaks, California supplied all of the plants.

The service was excellent and one of the nursery pros, Audrey, pulled plants with me for over two hours!



Before the deck makeover


The Planting Conditions

The deck is open and sunny and has a southern orientation, meaning it receives generous sunshine most of the day.



Two of my challenges were the narrow planting areas  between the house and the deck and the nutrient-deficient soil- a casualty of construction.

My choices were to amend the soil generously where the soil would sit dangerously high against the house or plant in containers.

I decided to plant in containers that were recessed into the narrow planting strips.



Lowes Garden Center‘s  black containers were a perfect fit and affordable!


The Allen + Roth black plastic planters were reasonable at $14.97 and even better with the discount I received for buying 16 of them.

The 18″ containers cost me $11.97 each-  such a deal!

The black rim of the containers sat flush against the deck, creating an edging effect.


I filled the containers with Gardner & Bloom Organic Potting Soil provided by Kellogg Garden Products.


In addition to the recessed planters, I bought some “Luster Leaf”, three-tiered obelisks  with planting baskets to maximize vertical gardening space and keep the floor plan open for production needs.

The planting towers stand 7.5″ feet and cost $60 each  at my local Mel O Dee Garden Center in Chatsworth, California.

Take a look at the “after” and closeup photos of the gorgeous but simple plant combinations.


Container Plant Combinations For Sunny Area



After- Perimeter gardens planted in containers, window box and three-tiered planters.

This is the right side of the deck.




After-Left side of deck

The “garden” you see here is actually a group of eight containers each planted with a combination of plants that will look great year-round.

Primary or “Structure Plants”

The tall, burgundy-brown shrub in the extreme right corner is a Purple Hopseed Bush, (Dodonaea viscosa ‘Purpurea’) grown by Monrovia plants.

This workhorse woody ornamental plant will provide dark, sultry foliage year-round in this zone 9 garden.

We picked up the Dodonaea in a 15 gallon size and will allow it to grow until it reaches the height of the adjacent trellis, and maintain it at that height.

The New Zealand native serves as a structure plant in this narrow garden and is able to be sheared as a hedge.

Looks great against the gray-colored wall.



Next to the Dodonaea, are a couple of containers with:

#1 Euphorbia x ‘Martinii’
An evergreen, compact shrub that will grow to approximately two feet with an equal spread.

The dark gray/green leaves provide a handsome contrast to the bright, lime green flowers with purple tinge that make a long lasting appearance between spring and summer.

The Euphorbia x martinii provides the secondary structure plant position in this planting scheme.


Secondary Plants

#2 Senetti pericallis by Suntory

The Senetti pericallis in striking magenta, is a part of a completely new hybrid collection of pericallis plants developed by Suntory Flowers, a leading plant breeding company from Japan.

When I first saw the flowers of a Senetti plant, my jaw dropped.

These long-blooming plants come in jewel tones as well as bicolor combinations and bloom from autumn until heat sets in early summer.


Senetti’s grow in neat little mounds and will cover the bare legs of the Euphorbia in this planting combination.

Other winter annuals pale in comparison to the Senetti, especially in the spring time.

After blooming, the Senetti can be cut back and it will re-bloom.


#3 Boronia

A native of Australia, the Boronia is intensely fragrant, similar to fresh citrus and sports feminine, wispy yellow flowers over fine green foliage.

I selected it to echo the yellow/green flowers of the Euphorbia x martinii and blooms from winter to spring.


Complimentary and “Supporting Plants”

#4 Tulbaghia violacea ‘Variegata’ (Striped Society Garlic)

This drought tolerant, highly common perennial, (in it’s solid-leaf form)takes on an added elegance with its white and green striped foliage.

The fine blades grow to a neat one-foot fountain and launches lavender colored flowers another foot above the foliage in spring and summer.

In this planting combination, the Striped Society Garlic adds texture without adding another “significant” or distracting color.

Year-round performer.



#1 ‘Angel’s Breath’ Euphorbia

This “frothy” and light, white-blooming perennial grows to fill the nooks and crannies like “Baby’s Breath” in a bouquet of flowers.

Angel’s Breath is easy to grow and can take the punishing sun as well as neglectful watering.

I like Angel’s Breath because it  interjects a resting place for the eyes, between the dark maroon Hopseed bush, lime-green Euphorbia and arresting, magenta Senetti.


#2 Lotus berthelotii, (Parrot’s Beak)

One of my favorite, low growing, cascading plants is this little gem, Lotus berthelotii.

The Lotus berthelotii has fine, glistening silver foliage, (reminds me of dill) and stunning, coral flowers that look like a parrot’s beak!

I can’t wait for this glamourous creeper to grow and drape itself around  the feet of #3, the Hebe plant.


#3 Hebe ‘Variegata’ (Variegated Hebe)

I chose to add just one Hebe ‘Variegata’ to the planting combination because there were no more Boronia’s at the nursery!

So, the variegated Hebe stands in for Boronia in the pattern comprised of Purple Hopseed Bush-Euphorbia x ‘Martinii’-Boronia.


The striped, yellow and gray-green glossy leaves of the variegated Hebe blend well with the combination from a distance.

A rich purple flower emerges in the summer and attracts pollinating bees.


I love the way the colors play well with each other and add life to the gray walls of the house.

The foliage-dominant plants will provide a contrasting color scheme year-round even when they are out of bloom!

Window Box and Planting Tower Plants



The black window box was originally terra-cotta color, but we painted it black along with the shutters.



The window box combination is strikingly simple and demands attention for it’s contrasting texture, foliage and flower colors.

The center, ornamental grass is the brown Carex buchananii- (Fox Red Curly Sedge) by Monrovia.

Flanking the Carex are a pair of red flowered Argyranthemum frutescens with yellow faces.


White alyssum, pink Armaria and cascading,  Sedum ‘Angelina’ in florescent yellow round up the combination.

Painting the window box black adds a lot of elegance.




 “Luster Leaf”, three-tiered obelisks

Top basket- Purple Gazania

Middle basket-Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ and white petunias



Lower basket-“Million Bells” varieties by Suntory

In the black container- Coleus


Other Garden Design Details


Black wall planter from Lowes- $8



I hung three nursery flats on the wall to use as garden tool organizers!

This is one of my original designs.

Each of the nursery flats are doubled for sturdiness.


Two are hung with the backside prominent, and the middle flat is hung to show the front as a shelf.

I was about to throw the nursery flats in the recycle bin when it occurred to me that they looked a lot like the black trellis I was hanging in this garden.

I experimented by hanging them on my wall with assorted tools and gloves. It worked!

Great way to repurpose a ubiquitous gardening material that is usually thrown away.


Close up of “Shirley Bovshow’s Nursery Flat Hanging Organizer!”



I had a great time designing the deck garden for the Home & Family show, hope you enjoyed reading about it.

You can watch my makeover segment on the ,“Home & Family” on the Hallmark channel!


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