California Native Plants for the Garden, Bornstein, Carol et al ©2005 Cachuma Press, Of all the books here, this is the one that illustrates a drought tolerant beautiful garden. Not only does it show the plants in their glory, but there are suggestions on how to use them with authority. The lists at the back of the book are worth the price of admission alone.
California Native Trees and Shrubs, Lenz, Lee W. et al ©1981 Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden (out of print, but can be found used) A somewhat more scholarly work than most would want, but a thorough treatment of the species chosen and plenty of color and black and white photos as well as considerable drawings and plates. In the black and white photos, the feel is very 1950’s.
Designing California Native Gardens: The Plant Community Approach to Artful, Ecological Gardens, Keator, Glenn ©2007, UC Press, Glenn is a well-established writer on California native plants and a respected authority. This is his latest offering containing some 300 photographs, easily understood and used; a practical book you’ll return to again and again.
Firescaping: Creating Fire-resistant Landscapes, Gardens, And Properties In California's Diverse Environments, Kent, Douglas, ©2005, Wilderness Press, Living in Southern California, fires are a consideration. If you are in an area subject to burning – or even in proximity! – consider fire when dealing with your outdoor garden.
Growing California Native Plants, Schmidt, Marjorie, ©1980, UC Press, This is a classic, nothing else quite replaces it, which is why you can still get it. A few color photographs, but mostly line drawings of plants. This is a book to consult for how to grow them. Lots of charts, but the plant selections are, of course, limited to what was available to Marjorie and there are many, many more today.
Introduction to California Plant Life, 2nd Edition, Ornduff, Robert, et al, ©2003, UC Press, Part history book, part survey of the various plant communities of California – if you get into California Natives, Ornduff explains the reason things are the way they are and deepens your understanding and appreciation of our flora.
Plants for California Landscapes, A Catalog of Drought Tolerant Plants, ©1981, California Resources Agency, Department of Water Resources, (out of print, but can be found used), Includes plants from other Mediterranean climates as well. Basically this is a no nonsense group of charts on which plant for what conditions. No pictures and very little readable text.
Trees and Shrubs for Dry California Landscapes, Perry, Bob, ©1989, Land Design Publishing, (out of print, but can be found used), A much more palatable version of the Department of Water Resources book, Perry’s first 15 pages of charts is worth the price of admission, but the rest of the book is full of color photos and succinct text. The pictures are dated, but the information is not.