I just turned the water on.
Is that a big deal?
I’m talking about irrigation water. And YES its a big deal because it has been off since October. Yes OCTOBER.
How did I manage to avoid watering for nearly six months? Easy! I grow low water plants.
When I started working on this garden in 1992, all the other gardeners I knew labored to create the perfect, flower-filled English garden. I was planting my back corner with natives. While they toiled over roses, I planted aloes and agaves. When everyone wanted a lush lawn, I went for ornamental grasses set amidst un-thirsty flowering shrubs from Australia and South Africa.
My goal was, and still is, to see how much beauty I can create using as little water as possible.
So how did I do? Judge for yourself. Most of the photos decorating the pages of this website are photos from my garden. Previous blog entries have photos of my garden as well.
I can’t take credit for it all, of course. I am fortunate to have good advice from designer Linda Chisari who helped with the original design for my backyard (in 1992) and became a valued friend in the process. Nearly a decade later, designer Scott Spencer, another of my favorite people, got me going in the front yard. I have learned and continue to learn a tremendous amount from both of them.
And then there are the dozens of nursery folk who endure my never-ending questions as I search and research plants to write about, talk about, and of course, try out in my garden.
Not that my garden is entirely low water. I couldn’t live without a vegetable garden (I have a hard time understanding how anyone can live without a vegetable garden).
Vegetables take a considerable amount of water, but I use drip irrigation to target the water to each plant and drip it directly into the ground above the roots, so it is used very efficiently.
Fruit trees take more water than natives, but probably not as much as you’d expect. Deciduous fruit trees – those that are bare in winter – need water only when they are actively growing in spring and summer.
Evergreen fruit trees need water year-round except when it is raining. Still, their well-established roots are less thirsty than, say, an equal area of lawn.
And besides, if I am going to spend water, I want to spend it on plants that give me something back – like food!