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plant suggestions for socal cottage garden?

hi all -

i'm struggling with our tiny backyard and found everyone's pictures here very inspirational! i posted over in landscaping but seems like often the concerns over there are on a much larger scale.

since moving here last summer we've put up new redwood fencing, installed a 9' square patio for a table, and gotten two 4'x4' veggie gardens going. i'm landscaping the front yard with all ca natives - ceanothus, mallow, buckwheats etc. so i'm interested in natives but also willing to wander in the backyard. there is a huge orange tree whose canopy covers half the yard.

it gets a lot more sun back here during the summer - so my pretty baby's tears i'd tucked around the patio and between walkways promptly shriveled, though the creeping thyme is hanging on...

what are some climate appropriate/somewhat drought tolerant plants to consider to get that cottage look? looking forward to your suggestions!!

our new fence with ugly dry dusty dirt....

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