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Discussion in 'Gardening for Water Conservation' started by jimweed, Jun 29, 2007.
Thank you very much!
>I am in Oregon, Salem, so we have about the same weather. I would love to know what you do have planted; especially this "Xeriscaping." I had no idea what it was until coming here. Do you trade seeds? I'm new tonight and trying to locate that area. That's how I found this. I need all the help I can get from those who are experienced. I am really interested in the succulents and flowering cacti but did not know how they could survive in our rainy weather, like, 9 months out of the year.
Any wise words of wisdom?
It's amazing the sorts of otherwise dryland plants will grow here on the wet side of the Cascades. Both Opuntia polyacantha and O. fragilis will grow quite nicely here. Pretty much any Sedum will grow, especially the native ones--my favorite is S. oregonum, which grows up on Saddle Mtn. among other places and just goes nuts down here. S. stenopetalum, which normally grows in central Oregon, where I've seen it near the Deschutes River, also grows really well in my rock garden. Departing from succulents, Penstemon richardsonii var. curtiflorus, which grows in vertical basalt walls along the Deschutes and in the Ochocos, also does very well in my garden, where I have it planted a few inches above grade. Native bulbs love it, particularly Allium, members of tbe Brodiaea alliance, Fritillaria, Chlorogalum and Olsynium (I guess not technically a bulb, but geophytic nonetheless.) to name a few. Several of the Lewisias do well.
I could probably go on with plant lists, but I guess you were more interested in approaches.
I have one section of bed underneath a downspout where I put things that don't mind being soggy during the rainy season, mostly woodlanders native to the Coast Ranges. I have another spot on the other side of the walk that's in more or less open shade where I also have woodlanders. The rock garden is out in the open. I pretty much site plants more by microclimate than by moisture regime. My philosophy is that if it won't grow without me babying it after the first season, I'll either put it in a container, or I let it die. I have Epipactis gigantea, Lysichiton americanum and Gentiana newberryi in a large bowl I made specifically for such plants. I also made another large bowl for my carnivorous plants. Heck, even my roses don't get much attention--watered once a week maybe (I have a few that are NEVER watered and a couple of those just keep going nuts.), deadheaded and pruned if and when I remember, but they're established enough that they don't seem to mind.
You could probably come visit if you'd like. My garden is hardly inspirational and very incomplete...I keep getting distracted...but you might go away with a good idea or two.
Reading all this information about xeriscaping is terrific! I am slowly trying to move toward a more water-concious and earth-friendly landscape. It's a challenge getting my gardener from El Salvador to understand and change his ways; we will learn together as we go.
The biggest obstacle is how to keep (most of) the lawn but not have to water it very often. Our weather in Southern California is dry, with an average of less than 10" of rain a year. There was mention in one post of drought-tolerant grass, and maybe it even said high-traffic toleratant. If anyone can make a recommendation on a good variety, it would save me a ton of research.
Southern California has a number of excellent native plant nurseries and there should be some good sales coordinated by botanical gardens. Do I recall a Quail Sale?
The California Native Plant Society would be a fine source for information.
Thanks, Dave! I'll be sure to check it out. (Pardon my asking, what do you mean by "Quail Sale"?)
They're down toward San Diego. Rancho Santa Ana is closer to LA.
>The biggest obstacle is how to keep (most of) the lawn but not have to water it very often. Our weather in Southern California is dry, with an average of less than 10" of rain a year. There was mention in one post of drought-tolerant grass, and maybe it even said high-traffic toleratant. If anyone can make a recommendation on a good variety, it would save me a ton of research.
Your only hope is probably with native species. Go to www.calflora.org and search for grasses. Some will be suitable for conversion into turf and some won't. Pay particular attention to those that occur in your area and those associated with xeric plant communities or those that grow on sand (For example, seaside species should be able to handle severe water restriction as well as the intermittently heavy irrigation usually necessary to keep turf halfway green.).
Re the drought tolerant grass for lawn areas. I know here in Australia that is the trend but I think they are also using native grasses. One commercial brand is "Sir Walter"
Looking through the local information it seems the running grasses may be the lawn of choice over tussock
Wow!.....what I have learned from reading these posts is that Xeriscape has a different meaning for different regions. I live in arid/hot (I mean REALLY hot!) Arizona where the temps in the summer can climb to 117% in a bad year. For US...Xeriscape means planting plants that require little water (if none at all that need to be added by man) to survive. We're talking cactus and desert plants/trees...not so much GRASS!!! Most people here (of which I am NOT one) do NOT want grass at all. I have a very small patch in my back yard for me (and my soon coming grandchild)because I love the look, but its a SMALL patch. Because of the heat, grass in the summer is seceptible to fungus, weeds and unless it is a hardy bermuda brand, does not do all that well without special care. Most people try to pull it out or kill it. It just requires too much water which is precious here. Also most "Zonies" use decomposed granite. It's way cheaper and comes in many beautiful colors!
Here are a couple websites on the subject. The first is my favorite...The 7 Principles of Xeriscape.
I don't know what the fascination with grass is, I dug all mine up. But people have different ideas on what they think is beautiful. We used to think that dark sun tans were beautiful but tastes change with the times. It doesn't happen overnight but when people have to look at crispy brown lawns because they can't water them then maybe they will adopt different attitudes.
Thanks for the information re xeroscaping. Great picture. I live in Kelowna. (Rutland where we have very stringent water restrictions all year long unlike the rest of Kelowna) I have had some struggles trying to get it right. I have thyme in my herb garden and will now use it more creatively in the rest of my yard. I still need some grass because my 3 1/2 year old needs places to run and kick and generally be a kid;however my husband would not be unhappy having less to cut!
I had been wondering what it meant also. I grow only drought tolerant herbs because we have very little rain to water with but it is not a desert yet. Well, as I say this we are getting lots of rain right now (downpours) then nothing for weeks. North Carolina is still on water restrictions.
I am still trying to find a short drought ground cover for in my mound of rocks. It has a few cedar trees and two wild rose bushes, the rest is mainly rocks and hard dry soil. I don't care for thorny things but do tolerate the two roses because they were volunteers and pretty. I did dig up a lot of yuccas and that cacti that has round flat "Petals".
I loove all sort of aloes and cactus and saving water but how can one go for that in Vancouver Canada? Dont drought resitant plants suffer when it rains too much ?
I lived in South Africa past 10 years and love yukkas and am very happy to see they grow and flower here also.. but beside that whats left that can take both water and sunshine?
If you're able to source the right plant material, nearly anything is possible.
Cheers, LPN (Vancouver Island)
mkk, check with university gardens in Chapel Hill and Raleigh (NC Botanical Garden and the NCSU arboretum).
There's plenty of native NC plants that put up with shallow soil, deep sand, and other droughty situations. Red cedars are notoriously good at shallow-soil sites, along with redbuds.
Thanks Dave, I'll try it out.
I had no idea of what Xeriscaping meant, I didn't even know the word existed. Then, what I'd like to do in my garden is in fact Xeriscaping. I love desert gardens and would like to try and have one. I'm located in the right area (Pisa, Italy), though. I might have to work on some adjustments for the Winter, I suppose.
My image of Pisa (from Google Earth) is of flat farmland. There's quite a lot of literature (and online advice) on mediterranean-climate gardening. In fact, the University of California Press is offering a sale price on a gardening book that covers all the world's mediterranean climates.
As if Italians haven't been skilled gardeners since Etruscan days.
hi Dave :) Yes, it's pretty much flat farmland here and my backyard is sort of the typical mediterranean garden. I have 2 young olive trees, mixed grass and a bunch of local kitchen herbs and little bushes.
Nice thing, since my recent trip to New Mexico I have this idea of building a desert garden in a corner of my yard. Besides the crazyness of the project, it would probably use a lot less water than my medit. native plants are. Weather has been very dry here, it's not as rainy as it used to be. It rained twice in the past 2 weeks. Before that, it hadn't rained at all since late April. It's not at all becoming like New Mexico, haha, but maybe a desert garden can still live pretty well here. We'll see...
We have a lot of beaver tail cacti here after all ;)
In Florida, everyone seems to want the buildings to look "Tuscan" while the landscaping is supposed to look tropical. Our wet summers and dry winters are bad for most Mediterranean plants, although rosemary (Rosmarinus) grows well even in Miami. New Mexico tends to have the most rain in summer, typically from storms heading north from Mexico.
The University of California Press book is Heidi Gildemeister's "Mediterranean Gardening: a Waterwise Approach". To judge from the online Klimadiagramme Weltweit website, Pisa's climate is like somewhere between Eugene and Portland, Oregon. Summers get warm, approaching 25 degrees, but the summer dry spell is short. California is much more dry in the summer, except along the foggy coast with its surprisingly mild climate.
We have little useful rain here at the moment and are using mulches to keep water to the plants. Much of Australia is in it's 8th year of drought and Mediteranian (sp), xeriscaping, native planting is all the rage. As once established the need for watering is minimal. Olive trees are a tree of choice for many suburban gardens. Many of the gardens concentrate on leaf shape and colour. Using ornamental pots to contain more water needy plants and flowers and pretty coloured gravels
I'm blessed with a somewhat unusual situation--the local drainage in my neighborhood is such that the most popular turfgrass, Stenotaphrum (St. Augustine grass) was never planted in my yard, but immigrated from the neighbors and lived many years without irrigation. And to think that this grass is usually lavishly watered.
I have water-loving heliconias in the relatively moist back of the yard. Otherwise (apart from two jacoticaba bushes), most of the ornamental plants need little water. Except for the orchids, which like to be sprayed a bit at least several times a week.
If my yard were a bit more xeriscaped, the caladiums and heliconias would go, to be replaced with natives. The Callicarpa americana bushes would stay, and so would the Simpson stopper mini-trees (Myrcianthes fragrans, Myrtaceae) and the two dozen or so coonties (Zamia) around the house. These little cycads grow surprisingly fast if they're given the right fertilizer. An assortment of ground-dwelling bromeliads would stay, too. the big Aechmea reginae-mariae, A. blanchetiana, and assorted smaller species are undemanding. About all you need to do is find homes for surplus plants.
The photos are of a young Yucca filamentosa, native to much of the eastern US and Aechmea blanchetiana, which has been flowering lavishly since the photo was made.