Note: of course, I started writing this last week and now that I have time to finish, it is raining :-0
I heard the governor on the radio the other day, and it made me realize my yard might not get much water this summer.
This is serious stuff. And it is likely to continue into the future. I might as well face the facts.
I have decided to delay planting our front yard. Why plant, if I can’t water or shouldn’t water? I am going to wait until the fall when it is cooler.
That said, I am also going to plant even more drought-tolerant plants. This poses a problem for my style of gardening — I love cottage gardens. I am not a fan of a cactus or succulent garden; I have seen enough of those growing up in the desert!
I am going to search for cottage plants that don’t take water. The one that comes to mind is lavender. My lavender on the “hell strip” by the street never gets water. I spray it for a second or two once in a while to wash off the salts. I think the morning mist waters it.
I could plant my whole fountain area in lavender and have a few of those succulents that have the hot pink flowers–Calandrinia spectabilis. It is supposed to be indestructible, which is good.
Sage (the herb), salvia, alstoemeria, moonshine yarrow and a native verbena like De La Mina also might be good. I rarely water my alstoemeria once established and it still blooms. I also think artichokes would be nice–of course, they will likely need a little more water. That is one thing I have learned that can be difficult about mixing low water plants with ones that need more water–if you water too much, you kill the drought tolerant ones and if you water too little, well you know. I think you have to pretty much go whole hog with drought tolerant! At least zone your plantings to match your sprinklers so you can have a low water area, and if you need it, an area that needs more sprinkling. Usually the plants will live without water but they just won’t bloom. I have found this true with day lillies. They like water to flower.
Of course, grass falls into this category. We have a tiny figure eight of grass, which is ugly anyway due to other grasses mixing in and compacting of the dirt (and holes the dog dug). We could brick it over or try a native grass–no more mowing. Another option is to make the grass even smaller and edge each border with a gravel or river stone then have the grass. I have seen this in larger yards and it looks beautiful.
In the shade, I like drought-tolerant ferns: here is the article I have been searching for in Sunset Magazine on ferns that like it dry. And this article has some other ideas for “wild and romantic” drought tolerant designs. Some of those look pretty.
Better Homes And Gardens has some other good garden ideas for drought-tolerant plantings. This page for Intermountain Nursery has a lot of the plants I like. You can see moonshine yarrow, mimulus, and other plants here, including Carpenteria Californica, which is planted on my hill and is about to bloom for the first time. (Maybe it needed a really dry year to bloom.) I am really excited to see it and will post a photo.
Looks like I will have time to plan this new drought-proof garden all through the hot, long summer.
Say, I just saw this email from Grow Native Nursery. Not sure how far you are, but ask for this at a CA native nursery near you. Requires NO watering after established. –
Here’s our favorite plant for April: Eriogonum crocatum (Conejo Buckwheat) is an attention-getter with chartreuse-to-sulphur flowers and silvery foliage. Conejo Buckwheat is a rare water-wise plant native to the Santa Monica Mountains, and it would love to be native to your garden too! It will bloom reliably April through July in full sun. Reaching 1.5 to 3 feet, this striking perennial can handle getting no supplemental water once established and looks great next to Penstemon ‘Margarita BOP’ (Foothill Penstemon) and Linum lewisii (Blue Flax).
Conejo Buckwheat fits perfectly into mixed perennial beds, dry landscapes and rock gardens. We now have Conejo Buckwheat in stock at our nursery in 4″ pots for only $7.00…Rare, easy-going, and hard to find, it is sure to earn a place in your garden.
Thanks, Kaye. I will check that out for my hill!