As the reduced water conditions in California loom more and more ominous, xeriscaping is becoming increasingly popular. This type of gardening utilizes plants (usually native) with lower moisture requirements than water guzzling lawn grasses. I’ve been happily applying xeriscaping techniques even in my rainier region because I tired of high water bills. The fact I have less grass to mow doesn’t hurt, either, so I keep carving chunks out of my traditional lawn for more interesting perennials.
A great example is the ornamental grass garden planted near the sidewalk. These perennials grow even in drought conditions. In addition, their rustling height hides the ugly power transformer nine months out of the year. I cut them back in March to allow new growth, meaning they also provide visual interest all winter. Near my garage, Eastern prickly pear cactus and dragon’s blood sedum thrive in some really crummy soil. Both provide lovely blooms, and are of course extremely drought tolerant.
My cottage style garden features purple coneflowers, lots of fun amorphophallus konjac, bee balm, one long-lived centranthus, a few dwarf evergreen shrubs, and a weeping crabapple. Oh, and I like flowering spring bulbs, too. Just plant them in mid to late fall and they need little effort to provide years of beauty. On the shady north side, English ivy surrounds hellebores and hardy ferns.
What most of these plants have in common is a root system that delves much deeper than boring old grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue and fine fescue. And they don’t need cut two or three times a week, which causes lawn grass blades to lose what little moisture they can store.
Gardening isn’t for everyone, but it provides me both joy and exercise. What hobbies do you enjoy?