Pat Welsh's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Basic and Permanent Garden Plants.
Strand Aloe - Aloe thraskii
Spectacular bloom in winter, easy to grow in frost-free zones, drought-resistant, big and bold in shape.
Gorgeously colorful, long bloom season, easy-to-grow, drought-resistant once established, reminds me us that we live in a salubrious climate. Reminiscent also of California's Spanish heritage, great against Spanish architecture and white walls.
Drought-resistant shrub with spectacular spikes of blue or purple flowers in spring on a large, gray-leaved shrub for banks. Looks great with bougainvillea.
Australian Tea Tree - Leptospermum laevigatum
Starts out as a shrub and eventually becomes a small tree with lovely gray-green, small-leaved, non-messy foliage, interesting shaggy bark and multi-trunks that in time can take on wonderfully twisted shapes. It can then become the focal point of a drought-resistant garden with hanging baskets of succulents dripping from its limbs. Takes wind and is very drought-resistant.
Pink Melaleuca - Melaleuca nesophila
Fast growing to 10 feet at most, makes a good wind-screen, but eventually takes on a wonderfully twisted shape with cascading trunks that often lie on the ground affording fine climbing opportunities for young children. May in time become like a natural jungle gym. Very drought-resistant once established. Bears fluffy round flowers at the tips of branches in summer.
Chinese Wisteria - Wisteria sinensis
Spectacular in spring, easy to grow in well-drained soil, long-lived, drought-resistant once established. Provide a strong support. Once established and covering a pergola this plant can add more character and romance to a garden than almost any other.