Living Annie's Annuals catalog + sidewalk veggie beds

Another garden I enjoyed on the 2023 Ruth Bancroft Waterwise Garden Tour was what I mentally dubbed the Living Annie’s Annuals catalog. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the homeowner, Melissa, actually is the marketing director of Annie’s Annuals (and the former marketing director of the Ruth Bancroft Garden). No wonder her garden reminded me of the display beds at Annie’s!

In the official garden tour blurb, the style of this garden is described as “RBG-inspired with CA native & edible landscaping (with no cacti!).” Melissa isn’t fond of spiky succulents like aloes and agaves, but she does like Mangave ‘Mission to Mars’ because it reminds her of the RBG. As you’ll see further down, she has a couple of beautiful specimens in her front yard.

Another focus of this garden, in addition to all kinds of flowering annuals and perennials, are vegetables. As Melissa says in her garden statement, “"[I wanted to] help the environment, save water and money and have a relatively low maintenance garden. I also wanted to demonstrate the diversity of plants, including edibles that are drought tolerant (that may not look like it)!”

The planter boxes in the sunniest spots along the sidewalk are reserved for vegetables. They hadn’t been planted yet when I was there, but I suspect they might be now.

A sea of California poppies in white, pink, and orange

Sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus)

Leucospermum ‘Blanche Ito’ next to a ‘Carciofo Romanesco’ artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus ‘Carciofo Romanesco’)

Planters for edibles waiting to be put to use

I’d love to see this garden later in the season when all the vegetable boxes have been planted

So much floriferousness

Sphaeralcea incana ‘Kathy Echols’ and Lavandula × allardii ‘Meerlo’

Here’s the first Mangave ‘Mission to Mars’

Mangave ‘Mission to Mars’

Another Mangave ‘Mission to Mars’

White California poppy (Eschscholzia californica ‘Alba’). The moss-like groundcover is an Australian native called two-flowered knawel (Scleranthus biflorus). Annie’s Annuals calls it Australian Astroturf.

‘Purple Gleam’ California poppies (Eschscholzia californica ‘Purple Gleam’) and Salvia nemorosa ‘Rose Marvel’

Horehound (Marrubium supinum) and Lewisia sp. on the right

Leucospermum ‘Blanche Ito’ from the other side

Leucospermum ‘Blanche Ito’, with ‘Carciofo Romanesco’ artichoke behind it

This garden is a prime example of how to create a space that combines beauty with purpose—and gives neighbors a visual feast they can enjoy as they walk or drive past.

© Gerhard Bock, 2023. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. It's nice that the garden is out front too. Veg are usually relegated to the back so having it front I bet is a real conversation starter in the neighbourhood. Nice way to build community and to demonstrate the low maintenance water techniques.

    1. YES!! This is a corner lot so it gets more foot traffic anyway. A great way to engage with neighbors, maybe even share veggies.

  2. A few Yucca rostrata would add some fine sculptural accents and some mid-height variation, but I like flowery gardens and that is a sweet one! What are the trees in the front yard? And how to grow Scleranthus biflorus? I've killed it several times.

    Great idea--a "waterwise" garden tour to give people real, local examples and hopefully inspiration and motivation of what can be done with their properties.

    1. Yucca rostrata is a great idea. Of course, just about any garden would be enhanced by a rostrata or two!

      The tree is a Chitalpa x tashkentensis, according to the plant list that was made available to tour goers.

      Scleranthus biflorus: Annie's doesn't carry it anymore. I wonder if that means it was too difficult to grow? I have no personal experience with it, but it doesn't look like a plant that would thrive in my garden.

  3. It's an awe-inspiring garden, especially for flower fanatics (or maybe I should use the Annie's-preferred term "flower floozies") like me. Oddly, I got a little hung up on those gravel paths, which might be a nice replacement for my flagstone paths (someday). And Leucospermum 'Blanche Ito' is actually my current plant crush. Like HB, I've unfortunately killed the Australian Astroturf a couple of times.

    1. 'Blanche Ito' is killer. If I ever tried another leucospermum, it would be that one. I just need the room for it.

      I have no idea what that Australian Astroturf wants and needs, but it looks so delicate...

  4. What zone is this garden in, I'm eying the Leucospermum with hope if it's ok with living with occasional frost and hot sunny summers?!

    1. It's in zone 9b. They climate in Walnut Creek is almost exactly like Davis where I live. I have a friend in Sacramento, 20 minutes from my house, who grows leucospermums. 10 years ago, they would have been iffy, but because of climate change, they seem to be able to survive.

  5. What a sweet beautiful garden. No doubt it gives inspiration to the neighbors, I'd love to see the planters when they get filled! I've been toying with adding an artichoke to my perennial garden just for the vivid bloom - this pushes me to do it.


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