Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont displays the ravishing beauty of California's wild plants. But the setting is so operatic, it can be hard to imagine this flora on a smaller stage, say, a patio or apartment balcony.
Unless you happen upon a nook where native plants are potted up for a more intimate performance.
On a foggy morning, a hummingbird swoops in for a sip of Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii, above). Impatiently, it probes the whorls of the petite lavender flowers. This sage is usually a sprawling shrub, but confined to a 5-gallon teal pot, the crisp reiterations of dainty leaves and blossoms have the restraint and precision of a Baroque concerto.
Many of Rancho's pots are tall. Low-growing species are raised 3 to 4 feet off the ground, offering a bird's- or bug's-eye experience of these intricate plants.