Even during summer scorchers, low-water gardens are home to a rainless rainbow

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A trio of gardens just off downtown Walla Walla give native and drought-tolerant plants a place to show off their summer colors to passers-by. Some of the blooms, such as gaillardea and echinacea, are showy; others are subtle, unless you take a moment to get up close.

While Xeriscape Park, off Isaacs Avenue near where it turns into Rose Street, has been the classic place to look for plants that can tough out the dry, hot months (we still get those, right?) a newer garden at Penrose and Isaacs showcases plants native to the Intermountain West. Its flowers include the high-profile echinacea but also the little orange blooms, above, and the vaguely gardenia-looking character with fuschia veins.

One other place to admire the native varieties is a small corner of the lawn behind First Congregational Church, at the corner of Marcus and Alder streets. A hardy variety of columbine blooms there for months on end.

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