Home & Garden

How this Santa Margarita gardener keeps his yard blooming during dry season

Dave Synder’s Santa Margarita home is surrounded by beautiful low-water landscaping.
Dave Synder’s Santa Margarita home is surrounded by beautiful low-water landscaping. Special to The Tribune

This spring, Dave Snyder’s Santa Margarita garden will bloom with vibrant colors and luscious greens — thanks to his meticulous choosing of low-water and drought-tolerant plants.

In 1978, Snyder started his landscape with a woodland theme, planting sequoias from seed. Now those trees are more than 60 feet tall. Surrounded by ivy, agapanthus, a Japanese maple tree and other shade loving plants, this area of the garden offers the perfect location for his grandfather’s cast-iron stove.

Throughout the years, Snyder has planted several fruit trees, an ash tree, a Sunburst honey locust tree, manzanita, ornamental pomegranate and a smoke tree. He took a cutting from the smoke tree and planted it on another part of the property; the second smoke tree has green leaves rather than its purple parent.

The driveway to Snyder’s property is long but scenic with colorful butterfly bush, lavender, and other drought-tolerant bushes lining the roadway.

JUMP 1 Snyder roses
Several types of roses lend color to Dave Snyder’s Santa Margarita garden. Tami Reece Special to The Tribune

It passes a large vegetable garden where excess summer and fall crops are donated to local nonprofit Glean SLO. Last year, before spring started, Snyder had already donated 40 pounds of figs, apples, and tangerines.

At the back of the house, Snyder’s kitchen garden is filled with herbs and some vegetables for easier access.

Hardscapes of boulders, rusted objects and rock walls add texture to the landscape. A granite cat sits at the edge of a fountain, forever waiting for his next fish meal.

Succulents, alyssum, Russian sage, dusty miller, yarrow, Shasta daisies, coreopsis, and columbine are just a few of the flowers sprinkled in the various beds.

SECONDARY 1 Snyder lavender
Lavender is among the drought-tolerant plants in Dave Snyder’s Santa Margarita garden. Tami Reece Special to The Tribune

Mondo grass grows along the side of the garage with Rocky Canyon gravel lining most of the paths. Unbeknownst to Snyder, the gravel was filled with California poppy seeds and he still enjoys the annual bloom each year.

The roses in his garden are spectacular. He has Rio Samba, Belinda’s Dream, French Perfume and heirloom Persian roses.

A trellis with Sally Holmes in the center flanked by Cecile Brunner and Jacob’s Coat is along the front pathway. Everywhere you look are apricot, yellow, orange, red and pink roses.

Under the shady deck is an annual garden of pansies, impatiens, four o’clocks and violas. Thompson Seedless grapes climb along a wooden fence with vibrant blue Peruvian lilies – Scilla peruviana – nearby.

SECONDARY 2 Snyder stove
Dave Snyder’s Santa Margaria garden is the perfect spot for his grandfather’s old cast-iron stove. Tami Reece Special to The Tribune

Snyder said his garden has been an evolving process through the years. He keeps records of all his plantings and doesn’t wear gloves when he gardens, wanting to feel the soil in his hands.

He credits his father and grandfather for his love of gardening and, walking through his delightful property, a visitor would agree they taught him well.

Tami Reece lives in Paso Robles and has been gardening and preserving its bounty for 30 years. Email her if you know of a unique or beautiful garden at rosepetalranch96@gmail.com.


▪  Plant your garden so you will have color each season.

▪  Keep accurate records to identify plants and dates planted.

▪  Add benches and hardscape as needed to add interest.

▪  Vary heights of plants in beds. Such as a climbing rose with agapanthus.

▪  Plant carpet roses on slopes.

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