With the recent increase in environmental awareness and resulting appropriate practices, the terms “sustainable” and “green” have become household words. For people engaged with plants, these ideas have been an integral part of our world-view for centuries. Modern cultures are just now being reacquainted with environmental realities that technology has hidden. With this, the use of ecosystem appropriate (especially drought tolerant) plants has become recognized as a basic prerequisite to creating meaningful and appropriate landscapes.

It is clear that future public policy should (and likely will) not allow for irrigated ornamental landscapes, recognizing water as a valuable resource for species requiring vital, clean and abundant watersheds for survival. This precious resource will be used for food production and drinking only, acknowledging the survival rights of other inhabitants of the planet. The constraints of our climate, in particular the ecological value of water and the inevitability of drought, influence the plants we choose to grow.

The majority of these plants hail from the American West, a region of astounding beauty and ecological diversity: a region that should be preserved and celebrated. California, Texas and Arizona rate first, second, and third respectively, with the highest number of plant species in the U.S. Add Southern Oregon, Utah, New Mexico and Northern Mexico and it represents a lifetime of exploration. This region is immense, untouched, and so diverse in plant life that we continue to discover new plants every year.

The plants from this region are not only beautiful but also environmentally appropriate in that their use minimizes resource consumption and supports regional fauna, particularly birds and insects. To this end we offer a list of plants that can be used to create non-irrigated landscapes once established. Having said this, we are, nevertheless, unabashed plant enthusiasts, and sometimes succumb to the beauty of plants with varying cultural needs.