|Acantholimon and Cacti can make even a bone dry garden interesting.|
As I write this, ABC News' Good Morning America is featuring stories about more wild fires in the west. I'm not that naive, even though I garden here in the eastern US - the growing reality of water shortages due to either climate change, or simply from humans living where perhaps they should not, is real, and stories about the extreme droughts seem more common than even damaging hail storms. But if we look at plants in the wild, even here in the dry west, we can see many plants surviving - even the most extreme of draughts. The above Castillega in Jim Borland's garden is a terrific example. In his residential neighborhood, he keeps a 100% dryland xeric garden - growing without a drop of water, even though his neighbors water their lawns most every day, but below, these wild Castillega on Jones Pass near 9,000 feet, are also growing without anyone watering them, except perhaps a nearby stream.
|Castillega species growing on Jones Pass, Colorado|
|See those blue stems in the foreground? It's, Ephedra (yeah, that one). Along with native grasses and cacti, they combine to create a natural motif resistant to severe drought.|
|Argemone polyanthmos - a treat for the many honey bees that were surrounding these large blossoms.|
I was a little surprised to hear about how serious people take water access in Denver - some gardeners in restricted areas are not allowed to use rain barrels, they cannot capture what precious rain there is in rain barrels, since they are legally required to allow the rainwater to flow into the streets, streams and sewer systems. It does make sense, for this helps to keep the regional water table more stable but it was a concept which I could not even imagine in our wet garden (it's pouring outside right now!). All of this reminds us that more and more, water is becoming a valuable resource Some gardeners even had to place signs in the windows of thier home - disclaimers saying that they are using well water and not city water, to water their garden.
|Many flowers ranging from Salvia's to sage to Oenothera can be grown without much water at all.|
This Colorado trip has introduced me to many fine and accomplished gardeners, and their gardens demonstrate many creative ways to use dryland plants. Each backyard garden we visited was so unique and personal, that I wish I could have posted a story about each one, but to save space, I will share a few here. Each garden housed a rich variety of plants, many focusing on natives, and those desert and prarie plants so rich with textures and scents - you know, sage brushes, salvias, thorny things, spiky things, sticky and fuzzy leaves - and all drought resistant. Some gardeners bragged that they have not watered their garden in years, as neighboring gardens in these residential neighborhoods showed off their green, artificially green lawns ( if irrigated) or dry, dead lawns ( if not irrigated). It seems that the smarter the gardner, the more native plants they used, and the more native plants they used in their plantings, the greener their gardens were - and the less water they used.
|At the Kendrick Lake Park and Gardens in Denver, a very accomplished landscape designer has created a garden worth exploring. Using only dryland and xeric plants, this garden stops traffic ( and hummingbirds).|
|Plantings at the Kendrick Lake Park and Gardens, Denver.|