12531 Caswell Avenue

When a visitor from the East Coast first saw the giant cactus in our front yard, she burst out laughing. It’s not something you see everyday, or maybe ever, if you’re not from around here. It’s one of the things we really enjoy about our garden — that the plants that grow well here are so
varied and interesting.

A friend told us that this plant is technically not a cactus. We still don’t know its actual name, or the names of many of the plants in our garden. When we moved to this house, we found some beautiful, but neglected, plants tucked around the perimeter of the big lawn in the backyard. We decided to move them into the front yard, where they would have more room to thrive. We supplemented them with a small box of cuttings from a friend’s drought-tolerant garden and plants we b
ought from Theodore Payne and other nurseries. Just about everything was small when we started the garden in 2014, then we propagated plants as they grew. Later, we added a California pepper tree and a pink trumpet tree, which was free, courtesy of the City Plants Parkway Tree Program. They even came out and planted it!

We also took advantage of a turf removal rebate program, which helped us offset the cost of hiring a landscaping company to tear out the lawn and put in plants and drip irrigation. Our water bill was reduced dramatically after we ditched the lawn and sprinklers, yet our garden is more colorful than ever. It’s our little tribute to Joshua Tree, the Huntington Library Desert Garden, and all the great drought-tolerant gardens in LA!