South Pasadena Beautiful | 2020 Golden Arrow Awards

And the awards for most beautiful drought-tolerant landscapes in South Pasadena go to...

PHOTO: Olivia and Sarit Swanborn | news | 516 Monterey Road

South Pasadena Beautiful has selected seven private residences to be the recipients of the Golden Arrow Award for their outstanding job of planting and maintaining their properties. While the emphasis of the annual award is on beautiful drought-tolerant landscaping, the appearance of the residence or building was also considered. Each of the properties beautify our city with waterwise plants that grow well in our Southern California Mediterranean climate.

PHOTO: Provided by South Pasadena Beautiful | News | 2060 Alpha Street

Tony and Ave Bagan’s garden at 2060 Alpha Street has evolved over time to be more drought tolerant and water wise. White Lantana, Milkweed, Buddleia “Butterfly Bush”, and Sunflowers attract butterflies, birds and bees. Plants chosen for the design include: Sage plants, Cistaceae “Rock Rose”, and Rosemary.  You can find a Trellis made from old ladders in a garden bed of flowers.  Stacked reclaimed concrete form a low wall in front, and permeable brick pathways allow rainwater to soak into the soil.  Jasmine lines a fence along the sidewalk. They have also recently painted their 1906 Craftsman home using a historic color palette.

PHOTO: Olivia and Sarit Swanborn | news | 517 Monterey Road

Sarit & Arnold Swanborn’s layered garden at 516 Monterey Road creates privacy by shifting focus to the landscape, not the home. A berm, adorned with various scales of succulents and colorful Echeveria, Agave, Pearblossom Cactus, and Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire helps define an inner court, edged with bold-orange walls and punctuated by three Palo Verde trees and informal cacti arrangements.  A wooden walkway floats through a yellow-filtered screen allowing the layers of landscape to be experienced upon entry. “We have always admired desert landscapes and the diverse color palette you can achieve with various succulents and sculptural cacti,” says Sarit Swanborn, “over two years in the making, we are honored to know that our front garden is recognized as a South Pasadena treasure beyond our own aesthetic convictions.”

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PHOTO: Provided by South Pasadena Beautiful | News | 424 Monterey Road

Amy Sweetman’s garden at 424 Monterey Road contains beautiful river rock fence posts with craftsman lighting to compliment the home’s architecture.  Neat boxwood hedges and Iceberg roses line the fence and provide privacy to the home.  Peeking past the fence you see a beautiful brick path with inset medallion, Fountain Grass, Lavender, Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’ and succulents.  There is a meandering dry creek bed dotted with drought tolerant plants alongside the home to catch the rainwater.

PHOTO: Provided by South Pasadena Beautiful | News | 1233 El Cerrito Circle

Daria & George Lacovara’s garden at 1233 El Cerrito Circle was developed with help from The Fairy Yard Mother, Kathy Oberg. Juncus grass provides a screen for the front of the home. The colorful garden contains Blue Fescue, Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’, Kalanchoe luciae “Flapjack”, Russelia Equisetiformis “Fire Cracker”, Callistemon viminalis “Little John Bottlebrush”, Tradescantia pallida “Purple Heart”, Senecio ficoides Blue Chalk Sticks”.   Fountain grass and Guara add softness and movement to the garden, while Olive and Palo Verde trees provide gentle shade. “We’re very pleased to be recognized by South Pasadena Beautiful for our garden,” says Daria Lacovara, “our goal was to have a drought tolerant landscape which was a challenge having just moved from the east coast. I had to familiarize myself with the Southern California climate and the various native plants necessary to achieve that. I’m learning that gardens are ever evolving and a constant work in progress. We’re looking forward to how the landscape will develop over the next few years.”

PHOTO: Provided by South Pasadena Beautiful | News | 815 Milan Avenue

The succulent and cactus garden at Justine and Tom Parish’s home at 815 Milan Avenue started as an experiment with swales to catch rainwater off the roof.  After 7 years of digging out the lawn in sections, it is finally done. Justine Parish says, “I am an artist and designer, so I paint with plants”.  The design includes Kalanchoe luciae “Flapjack”, Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’, Hesperaloe campanulatus “Pink Yucca”, Senecio ficoidesBlue Chalk Sticks” and Echevaria. After the sun sets it transforms into a fantasy garden with glass and metal decorative elements and solar power lights for a nighttime fairy-garden effect.

PHOTO: Provided by South Pasadena Beautiful | News | 616 El Centro Street

Tera Cotta stepping-stones set in decomposed granite provide a welcoming entrance to Kate Gibson and Brad Steele’s garden at 616 El Centro Street. The landscape design includes permeable, decomposed gravel pathways winding among Anigozanthos “Kangaroo Paws”, Westringia, Salvia yangii “Russian Sage”, Grevillea and Buddleia “Butterfly Bush”.  The stunning and sculptural agave is the anchor of this yard and provides privacy to the home and is framed by the home’s large front window.

PHOTO: Provided by South Pasadena Beautiful | News | 1018 Brent Avenue

Carol and Rich LaBrie’s garden at 1018 Brent Avenue contains roses and a lilac from the former English garden-style landscape. Mixed in with these are native, drought-tolerant plants such as Lantana, Mallow, Yellow Bidens, Verbena bonariensis, Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii) , Salvia leucantha “Mexican Bush Sage”, and native grasses.  Plants that remain low when fully mature and won’t obscure the home were chosen. Fragrant Jasmine grows along a split rail fence, and a dry riverbed brightens up the garden, and bird, butterfly and bee activity abound.

South Pasadena Beautiful is a 501(c3) non-profit dedicated to “planting a sustainable future” in our community. Follow us on Instagram @southpasbeautiful or visit our website at to learn about our projects including the new sustainable low-water garden at the South Pasadena Post Office.