Drought tolerant cottage garden

If you didn’t catch it, we were recently featured on the home renovation show In With The Old, on Magnolia Network. I’ve been doing a deep dive into each space we tackled. Last week it was all about the Scandinavian folk-inspired staircase and kitchen and this week it’s the exterior. Today I’m talking about the drought tolerant plants we put in in collaboration with Monrovia Plants!

Here’s how it goes!


Click here for all the before and after photos from the home renovation
See the full kitchen renovation here
Read about the kitchen cabinets here
Click here to read more about the kitchen hardware.
If you’re interested in seeing the oven, click here.

See how we turned the fridge into a cabinet

Drought tolerant cottage garden

Understatement of the year, but you may have noticed by now how flowers play an important role in my life. I’ve always been drawn to them. I still can’t believe they are real! There are so many in so many colors and variations. Flowers also played a huge role in the story of our renovation for the show. We used flowers on the staircase and even included our birth month flowers. The rose was especially meaningful as it represents the birth flower of Patty Sessions, who we honored throughout the house.

Inspiration for the garden

I connected with Monrovia Plants, whose plants I’ve always admired when I’ve visited nurseries. They always have a beautiful selection of options. I shared my vision for what I wanted knowing that I couldn’t do a full garden makeover in the short amount of time that we had to shoot the show.

I’m really inspired by a number of garden styles and was looking to blend a few together. I listed Claus Dalby’s style

And knowing that I wanted to go in a drought-tolerant direction, I included Piet Oudolf as an inspiration because his style is more natural and I think drought tolerant plants typically take on this style of garden.

I also included Miranda Brooks’ lovely English style into the mix.

I’m hugely inspired by all three and wanted to see what Monrovia recommended.

Too much grass

When we bought our home the landscape was wall-to-wall grass and a tree here and there. While I cannot complain (we feel so lucky to have a home of our own), our dream yard includes flower gardens filled with color, raised beds for gardening, places to play and socialize.

But yards don’t come cheap. So, like most people, we’re approaching our yard renovations in phases. For this first phase, we wanted to add color and interest to our previously all-grass landscape and highlight the walkway to the front door. My one day plan is to go to town with more drought-tolerant landscaping.

Utah in a drought

Utah is the second driest state in America and is experiencing an unprecedented drought (though the amount of snow this year is encouraging–let’s hope for more!). With this first project–and all future yard renovation phases–we want to create a landscape that works for where we live while still adding curb appeal.

Drought tolerant plants

Because of this, we worked with Monrovia to select drought-tolerant plants. For nearly 100 years, Monrovia have been pioneers and craftsmen in the art of plants. Their company started in Southern California, another region with a limited water supply, and have expanded throughout the United States.

When considering our yard, I approached it like I would any room design: What color palette, textures and interests do we want?

Monrovia took my direction and supplied me with some beautiful recommendations for our zone here in Provo, Utah: 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a and 6b.

Shade loving drought tolerant plants

One of Monrovia’s experts gave me a list of shade loving drought tolerant plants to choose from based on the style I was going for. You can see the list of shade loving drought tolerant plants here. I focused the areas on our front, which is north facing so they’re mostly all shade flowers.

  • FloralBerry® Rosé St. John’s Wort
  • lilla smoke bush
  • Green Tower Boxwood (you will want some kind of evergreen structure in all the perennials)
  • Jurassic Stegosaurus Holly Fern
  • Any of the dark-leaved Heuchera – recommend Grande Amethyst or Black
  • Autumn Fern

Sun loving drought tolerant plants

But there are some parts that get some sun and they gave me this list to choose from. Here are some of the ones we chose:

  • Any Daylily that has Skye in the name.
  • Brakelights Red Yucca
  • FloralBerry St. Johns Wort – any of the colors (you will love these!)
  • Any lavender
  • Any Harlequin Penstemon
  • Any Grace N’ Grit Rose
  • Any Nitty Gritty Rose
  • Any color Giga Pincushion Flower
  • Any fountain grass
  • Any gaura

Planning where to plant

Not surprisingly by now, Pat is a wiz in the garden so I consulted with her on what to do. I love flowers and hope to go into gardening more, but admittedly, it is not that season for me in life. Thankfully, Pat knows her stuff. From the list she recommended some based on height and position and colors.

I wanted flowers planted along the pathway leading to the front door as well as the sides of the front door. Of course, there’s much more I want to do to it, but that’s all I could do for the time we had.

Staggered stepping stones

Pat had the great idea to stagger the lined stepping stones so it would provide more walkway and more interest. Such a good plan.

Installing the plants

Once the flowers arrived from Glover Nurseries here in Utah, it was go time! We had given ourselves plenty of time do install the garden, but immediately hit a hurdle (literally)–the rocks. We are near a canyon called Rock Canyon, and it’s completely accurate to the area. It was SO rocky! It took so much time to just dig the holes to plant them!

We got the necessary peat moss and soil to give the plants the greatest chance to thrive. We started digging holes and realized that this was going to take so much longer than we anticipated so we immediately needed to get help. Friends and neighbors came to lend a hand and I will be forever grateful.

We also had to work on the garden at the same time as the exterior because we were running up against the clock to the final shoot.

Here’s Kiersten and Evelyn who gave so much time to this–THANK YOU!

Cottage style drought tolerant plants

And this was a few weeks after planting.

The experts at Monrovia gave us flower recommendations for flowers that would bloom through every season and it was truly the biggest miracle. There was something blooming at each time.

I did choose a couple of hydrangeas that actually bloom in Utah’s dry climate because I love the look so much.

While I’d prefer a true English or Danish style garden, I felt like I had to do something about the amount of water used, hence the drought tolerant choices. It’s a little step for now, but hoping to take it throughout the garden.

I’m in LOVE with how it turned out and can’t wait to see it take shape once spring comes in a few weeks. Hoping that a lot of it survives with the crazy snowstorms we’ve been getting here.

Let me know what you think!


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