My new favorite front yard in the neighborhood

My wife and I took a long walk through our part of town yesterday and I discovered what I think is the most attractive front yard landscaping in our extended neighborhood. I don’t know exactly when the landscaping was installed, but it’s fairly recent. And unlike the typical assortment of shrubs and perennials you usually see—think euonymus, daylilies, society garlic—this strip contains an intriguing array of plants.


The textures and colors complement each other beautifully.


Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and black-and-blue sage (Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’)

I was positively ecstatic when I discovered my favorite variegated leucadendron, a hybrid called ‘Safari Sunshine’ which I had first seen at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum last month. One not just one, but FOUR of them!


Leucadendron salignum × laureolum ‘Safari Sunshine’

I wish I knew where they bought them. I’ve never seen this cultivar for sale in any of our area nurseries. I took my time snapping these photos, hoping the homeowners would come out so I could ask them, but they didn’t.


Leucadendron salignum × laureolum ‘Safari Sunshine’

They also have the thickest and healthiest clumps of kangaroo paws I’ve seen in quite a while.


Kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos sp.)

The same plants repeat on the other side of the entryway, with the addition of an olive tree whose silver foliage is a perfect complement. The plant palette is limited but very effective because it combines so many different leaf textures and colors.





The area next to the driveway uses a different planting scheme: salvias, echinaceas and yarrows, with green New Zealand flax for contrast.



I love the way this front yard looks, and I’ll be checking up on it regularly to see how it develops. And maybe some day I’ll find out what nursery their leucadendron ‘Safari Sunshine’ came from!


  1. Looks good (and new!) but...

    Is that Mexican feather grass I see? (or something that just looks like it) Isn't it listed as invasive in CA? Also the Japanese barberry -- that's on the invasive list too, isn't it? \

    Also, what's with the big gravel strip in front, seen in the first photo?

    1. Yes, it looks like Mexican feather grass but it's darker green than the species. Maybe a different cultivar? The species does reseed but it's used frequently in landscaping around here.

      I've never heard of barberry being invasive in California. I wonder what makes it invasive elsewhere?

      The gravel strip belongs to the city. It runs the length of the entire street. I don't know if it's for drainage (doubtful) or parking.

    2. P.S. I just checked the California Invasive Plant Inventory Database at and neither Japanese barberry nor Mexican needle grass are listed as invasive in our state.

  2. Very nice front garden, and nice looking house too! You could always pop in a note through the letter box and ask where they bought the Leucadendron from :)

  3. Nice to spot fellow gardeners with good taste. A beautiful landscape job, those leucadendrons are incredible. Wish they'd grow well up here . . . .

  4. What a beautiful place and I love the color of their house. Great photos my friend. You should have knocked on the door.

  5. I was thinking you should have knocked on the door as well! Someone knew what they were doing when they designed that garden - as you said, the colors and textures are just great, especially with the house. Japanese barberry is invasive in MA. Some of the gardens I work at have barberry but as a single planting, and it stays as a single plant. The fall foliage is beautiful but you need special gloves to prune them! In an area where they are not tended to, they would become invasive. anne

  6. I bought a 5 gal. L. Safari Sunshine at the SF flower show a couple of years ago and it is looking good.

  7. What a fun find! I've been in love with that leucadendron since you first posted about it. Beautiful garden and house color!


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