In many parts of the country, it would be hard to create such a lovely planting using only four species of plants. Every location has it’s pros and cons though, but it may still be surprising that you can havee so much interest without a wide range of variety. Landscaping Phoenix-style would come off as sparse, perhaps even bare in many places, but here things are different.
This particular project has a small planting space next to the walk to the courtyard gate, but that doesn’t matter, because you can put quite a lovely scene together with a limited number of plants when you know what you’re doing. Limitations in material really just hone an artist’s skills. A creative person can work miracles with whatever they have on hand, but unlike many situations where making the most out of what is available, you can’t bend, twist, repaint, or upcycle plants to tweak them into something they never were. You have to know what to choose going in and what it will become over time.
Here we’ve only used desert roses, cactus, palm, and aloe. There isn’t a lot of repetition in plant variety, yet there seems to be, which is how you create interest with limited materials. The repeated spike shape would be boring if the same plant variety was used, but there are several types of aloes, and the palm echoes their texture yet takes on a different form. There are also several types of cactus, but none of them repeats in shape and mass, which is where the interest really goes up a notch. Variegation, color, and mass also do their part in taking this small space from what would be boring into the realm of highly attractive. The Lady Banks Roses climbing trellises on the far wall adds just enough fluff to soften the backdrop for all the hard, spiked shapes in the foreground.