Asian Themed Garden Plant palette question

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums PLANTS & HORTICULTURE Asian Themed Garden Plant palette question

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    Shavawn Coleman


    I need some of your help! I am currently helping design an Asian themed garden in Las Vegas. Typically I wouldn’t have an issue, but the big hurdle is the backyard faces west. Those of you who don’t know, west exposure in the summer will fry an egg, literally! My question is, what plants can I use to give it the Asian feel, without her plants dying in the first summer? There is no shade, and she doesn’t want shade as it will impede her view of the Las Vegas Valley. I have been playing around with grasses and some succulents. Any help you can give me would be so appreciated!


    Phil Moorehead

    Joshua Trees?


    First thing I would suggest is do a little more digging and find out what the client likes so much about Asian gardens and then create a new theme based on those likes and what can be sustained in the Vegas area. 

    A large part of Asian gardens is controlling the views but here it sounds like the client wants it all open? 

    Then you should use plant lists or nursery lists in the Vegas area. A good one is;

    Find which of those plants work with the theme/style/look the client would like.

    As a side note you should read James Rose’s Gardens Make Me Laugh. He has a point of view on Asian gardens that makes me laugh and I agree with.

    Shavawn Coleman

    Thank you so much! That would be great!

    Shavawn Coleman

    Thanks a lot for your help! I completely forgot about the SNRPC Regional Plant List. It turned out to be a great resource!


    Mexican Feather Grass, Yucca and Agave come to mind right away.  There is a yucca that kind of resembles a tall, wide-bladed grass like Phormium. I think its Giant Yucca. I mention Agave because they have such interesting forms and can take the heat.  They look good in contemporary landscapes which are often Asian influenced.  Dwarf Mock-orange is a good substitute for the low, mounding evergreens you see in a lot of Asian gardens.  Of course, you see that all over Vegas.  Myoporum makes a good fine-textured evergreen ground cover.  Xeriscaping really lends itself to Asian-influenced design, as you have a lot of rock and plants are used sculpturally.

    Xpat Larki

    If you’re aiming for an Asian Tropical feel (which I guess you must, considering the sun exposure), then you should go for plants with great foliage, colors and texture. If bougainvilleas can thrive there, then that’ll do the trick for you.

    But if you’re looking for a more minimalist, Zen-type Asian feel, ophiopogon (“mondo” grass), agaves and cycads and even miniature ficuses will do a great job translating the Asian effect that you’re after.

    Just my personal take on your dilemma. Happy designing & building!!! Cheers!


    Cycadines, in particular Japanese species Cycas revoluta for my point view as biologist botanist,

    DrSc Giuliano Russini

    Shavawn Coleman

    Thanks for all the great input! This is really helping me out!


    You are welcome, good work


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