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STYLE : GARDENS : A Place in the Sun

August 16, 1992|ROBERT SMAUS

Container gardening is especially tricky during hot Southern California summers--plants can wilt and die within a day. But many of the plants showing up at nurseries this season, introduced from other countries partly in response to the recent drought, grow well in containers. They can handle hot soil (like that found in a sunbaked pot), and they won't wither after one missed watering. Laguna Beach landscape architect Jana Ruzicka planted several of these newcomers in a crisply designed balcony garden that grows 40 feet above street level at Victoria Beach. Surrounded by smooth river rocks, billowy Autumn moor grass ( Sesleria autumnalis ) and blue-gray Festuca amethysin make little fountains of foliage in the custom concrete troughs. Tucked between the tufts of grass are tough flowers such as pink sea thrift. In one trough, Japanese sedge ( Juncus ), an improved Santa Barbara daisy named Erigeron x Moerheimii and an Australian Swan River daisy form a miniature meadow (inset). Verbena bonariensis is the tough perennial that towers above all the rest, flowering all summer long. In-the-ground gardeners have already found it to be one of the prettiest drought-resistant plants for the garden, but balcony gardeners will take it to new heights.

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