Of the two things plants need most—sun and water—Baja California, the narrow Mexican peninsula stretching 760 miles south from California’s southern border, has no shortage of the first.
Water is another matter. The past couple of decades have been exceptionally dry, and both home gardeners and pros must be resourceful in creating and maintaining water-wise landscapes.
To cut down on supplemental irrigation without sacrificing luxuriant growth or aesthetic delight, Baja garden pros like Enrique Ceballos, the maestro responsible for 32 exuberantly cultivated acres at Rancho La Puerta, a legendary wellness resort near Tecate in northern Baja, rely on universal principles of sensible water management and good garden design.
Below, 10 garden tips, gleaned from my tour with Ceballos before the ranch closed to guests in mid-March, that translate to any climate. (Rancho La Puerta will be welcoming guests back as soon as key U.S. and Mexican health milestones are met.)
Photography by Cara Greenberg, unless otherwise noted.
1. Replace thirsty plants.
2. Mulch with rocks.
3. Prioritize natives.
4. Be wary of invasives.
5. Withhold water from fast growers.
6. Bark is beautiful.
7. Blend the garden into its surroundings.
8. Hardscape with local materials.
9. Mix it up for visual interest.
10. Punctuate for drama.
For more on gardens in dry climates, see:
- Garden Visit: A French Aesthete in Todos Santos, Mexico
- Pretty in Pink: An Artist’s Dry Garden in LA’s Topanga Canyon
- 11 Ideas to Steal from Drought-Tolerant Gardens
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