A full-time staff of seventeen — ten gardeners, a tree man, a coachman, driver, gatekeeper, machinist and helper, and a road maker — maintained Sutro Heights. Sutro used largely drought-tolerant plant materials, many of which were native to similar climates in the Mediterranean, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. Species were selected for quick growth and tolerance to seaside conditions. Constant changes of the plant materials used in the beds and annual borders as Sutro experimented with new species and pattens kept a large staff of gardeners employed. The major forest trees planted on the site included Monterey cypress and pine, maritime pine, and eucalyptus. Dracena palms and Norfolk Island pines were used as specimens and accents. Shrubs included hydrangeas, roses, rhododendrons, Hebe, and Coprosma with Phormiums as accents. Hedges were of yew and arborvitae. Annuals and perennials used in beds and borders consisted of geraniums, salvias, chrysanthemums, and violas. Agaves grew in planters and beds. The formal carpet beds or parterres included a variety of succulents, trimmed herbs, boxwood, and miniatures.
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