Mexican Fast Food Restaurant Garden (Garden?!?)

We went out to an under-the-power-lines nursery to buy another Grevillea 'Superb'.  It was a surprise to pass a fast food restaurant at a busy intersection sporting a quite good climate-appropriate landscaping scheme.  We stopped to investigate.

Google street view photo:
   Most of the area is pavement; the plants are confined to narrow strips in a ring around the building and curbed drive-through lane.  
At the front are Aloe striatas, Agave attenuatas, Muhlenbergia rigens (?), and dark-foliaged Phormiums. 

 The trees are Parkinsonia 'Desert Museum' and some sort of Lagerstroemia, currently dormant. The Agaves look great right now, but they are too close to the sidewalk.  They will grow outwards and because the sidewalk must be passable, they'll get their lovely rosettes cut off...sigh. 
Aloe striata makes for a wonderful mass planting.
Moving around the front to the north side of the building is the drive-through lane edged with Westringias underplanting some kind of Oak--Quercus illex?  Not your usual shopping center tree.  
The Westringias have not grown enough yet to be buzzed into blocks.  They still have their lovely natural shape. 


 At the back of the restaurant where the drive-through lane begins, the Westringias stopped and Stipa tenuissuma was planted instead.
 The sign indicates entry to the drive-through lane;  beach pebbles surround the sign so no plants block it.  Smart choice--don't block directional signs with plants that end up mutilated so the sign can be seen.
At the back of the restaurant Parkinsonia 'Desert Museum' again, underplanted with Agave attenuata.  There are also sections of Callistemnon 'Little John' and Agave...schidigera, I think.

The arrow points out the drip irrigation line.  The older part of the shopping center behind the restaurant still has once-standard lawn.
  
 Parking barriers with Russelia equisetiformis
 Some kind of Juncus there, I think.  Decomposed granite is used as a mulch. 
 Looking from the back towards the drive-through lane that wraps around towards the front of the restaurant. 
 Looking south at the exit of the drive-though lane.  More Agaves and another Parkinsonia 'Desert Museum'.  Creeping fig on the utility enclosure with a Lagerstoemia in front of it. 
 The south side of the restaurant with Lagerstroemias and Callistemon 'Little John's.  On the far side a large bed of yet more Aloe striatas and Russelia equisetiformis.
 They apparently used the slightly more compact version of Russelia, one that won't spill so much into the pavement.  The plant choices are pretty darn good.
The one plant fail must be this patch of Sempervivum next to the utility enclosure--Sempervivum is a plant native to alpine climates--I would expect these little lovelies to be dead come August. 
 Sweet, sweet plants--too bad. 
 That's a Juncus(?), maybe?  No idea how that performs--have never grown any.  


Very successful as a design and initial landscape, I thought.  Excellent plant choices overall.  Of course longer term the maintenance will determine how long this garden looks good. 

I want to explain why I do call it a garden, not a commercial landscape...
 Because it is supporting native wildlife.  I saw a Hummingbird there, attracted by all the nectar-rich plants.  Despite this being an area of mostly pavement and heavy, heavy traffic (thousands of cars driving by hourly), the plants were supporting wildlife.  Simply wow.  

Back at home, the new 'Superb' was planted straightaway, joining another already planted below it.  They will be feeding Hummingbirds soon, too. 

Comments

  1. Maybe not perfect but still very smart. Some UK retailers should take note.

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    1. Our drought seems to have unleashed considerable creativity among landscape designers. It's been refreshing...not as refreshing in the same way as a lot of rain would be, but something. The typical lawns at every commercial property, mowed weekly and watered heavily, never made a lot of sense, and rarely looked good.

      Lots of vandalism of plants in the UK when I was there, is that still a thing? I remember seeing freshly planted young trees in Oxford on the main road, and a few days later every single one of them snapped off. Americans tend to completely ignore plants unless they can carve their names into them.

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    2. I rarely visit cities now so I can't comment on vandalism. In the country towns a trough of tulips or some hanging baskets is about as creative as it gets!

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    3. "rarely visit cities"

      That sounds simply heavenly!

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  2. Surprisingly nice! By any chance are there public areas nearby that the city may have recently made more water-friendly? I know in St. Louis there are some places where once-boring areas have become low-maintenance gardens (for instance road dividers) that must be an influence on surrounding businesses. Wondered if the same thing might be going on here, or if this is pioneering.

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    1. This city doesn't have a lot of road divider type stuff. They do have terrible street-tree picks, pavement-lifting ficus, mostly. Their parks are very conventional--grass and a few tough shrubs and trees. An electric utility substation just up the street has a FABULOUS garden that I blogged about quite a few years ago--I need to get back there and reblog it because everything has grown and filled in and it is, as I said, FABULOUS.

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  3. That is a very nicely done drought tolerant landscape, indeed! Not only climate appropriate plant choices, but the design is pretty good as well. It is wonderful that on top of that it offers something for the wildlife, too. I actually have to say I am impressed! I would love to see more of this done with the properties of big companies. Way too often here in San Diego you still find vast areas of lawn surrounding commercial buildings.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. One thing about commercial property lawns is that as much irrigation water seems to run down the gutter as onto the turf. Always makes me cringe. Many conversions here, apparently property owners believe getting rid of the lawn will save them money--the real motivator.

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    2. Low-water landscaping almost has to save water, doesn't it? First in the water bill, then in (weekly?) mowing. I know for a truly successful one (such as the substation -- really looking forward to that post!) there has to be regular follow-up maintenance and updating, but surely that doesn't cost as much.

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    3. It requires thought and excellent plant knowledge: sometimes available, sometimes not.

      Want to get back to that substation this weekend, thanks for the reminder!

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  4. Worth stopping for ideas on plant selections and mass plantings. Juncus is a pond edge rainy climate plant. I had some in a container for a while, forgot to water a few days during hot weather and it was toast. Russelia blooms most of the year here so yes, just wow, since it should look like that most of the time with almost no attention. Compact would be a good one to find for smaller rock borders.

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    1. It looked like Juncus to me, but maybe it's Chondropetalum--just really small plants. I'll have to check in a few months.

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  5. It's pretty impressive! I'm seeing more and more of such landscapes in my area too, particularly around new developments. While I'd like to credit the businesses with the smarts to do this, it's becoming sufficiently common that I suspect that developers are obligated to select low-water landscaping under new California regs. Meeting friends for lunch yesterday at a new mall, or really a new mall extension as they seem to spread as indiscriminately as the growth of LA in general, I noticed similarly well-done landscaping and wished I had a camera with me. The only odd note there among the low-water plants were the spots of bedding begonias.

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    1. I think the property owners perceive it as a money-saver. The maintenance crew can come once a month instead of once a week, and a smaller water bill. I have seen dry climate stuff with bedding begonias added--it's an eye-roller.

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  6. Pretty impressed here too as you don't always expect commercial properties to have considerate planting.

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    1. Denise (AGO) finds so many impressive examples in downtown Los Angeles. My example is pretty good for the hinterland.

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  7. Wow, finally they hired somebody who knew what they were doing. Looks pretty darn good!

    I also thought the sempervivums weren't long for this world. It's hard enough to keep them alive in the shade...

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    1. I was surprised, and impressed. Still feel bad for those semps. They belong in Cambria or Seattle, not here.

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  8. Wow...were their tacos as tasty as their plantings? Or was that too much to ask of you?

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    1. Didn't try the food, no. More interested in the plants!

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  9. I've noticed the same thing in our area - a lot of places are converting their lawns to actual gardens, and making some interesting plant choices. They sure are a lot better to look at, and support more wildlifw, as you pointed out!

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    1. Seeing the hummer in such a traffic-crazy concrete and asphalt desert was...encouraging.

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  10. It's a nice change to see a commercial garden done so well!

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  11. Not quercus ilex and probably an American or Californian live oak of some sort like q .wilzeni or q.virginiana

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    1. Thanks for chiming in on the Oak. It did not look like agrifolia, that one I know because I have it. The foliage did look like ilex, but I am no expert. Perhaps a Mexican species? 161 species of Oak native to Mexico! Wow, had no idea.

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  12. The Lagerstroemia surprises me. Here they are drought tolerant once established, but I didn't think they would be Cali-drought tolerant.

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    1. There are drip lines in the beds, so they will get something, not zero. I know my own have grown well given modest water, but here there are plenty planted as street-trees surrounded by concrete looking healthy. I think what it is, they need most of their water in the spring to produce the foliage and flowers--and in normal years after some winter rain back when we got winter rain, the ground would stay moist enough for them to get going. Then they just have to hang on through summer.

      There are three dead ones on a grassy parkway in the neighborhood; the owner just left them. They've been dead for years, and stand there still. Pretty funny, really. I always mean to get a photo.

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  13. As far as your oak, could be a Q. agrifolia var, Q. wislizenni or Q. chrysolepis. I love seeing microhabitats! As I was taking a side street to my favorite swedish big box store last night I happened upon a horrible bog that was meant to be a nice office park pond in wetter times. Sitting at the light I got to stare at it and noticed a among the sad water plants, a duck paddling around and a black-crowned night heron wandering the edge. It made the bog seem less dreadful and more amazing. Thanks for the photos, I love the effort in zero/low water landscaping.

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    1. That's so great you saw some birds able to find habitat, even in an office park. Birds bring a landscape alive.

      Happy you enjoyed the photos, thanks!

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  14. Any way to discover the designer/installer? They might like hearing these comments! So might the City... thanks for sharing, but I couldn't help but wonder about plant theft possibilities. Is this a problem at all in your public areas?

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    1. As it happens, a neighbor knows the owner--I asked him to pass along my complements. Plant thefts, not all that common, thankfully. Most people have zero interest in plants unless they can eat them or smoke them--unfortunate in some respects, but good in that they are less stolen.

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