Steele: Resources for water-wise gardening

If you want to be proactive about drought-proofing your landscape, the Okanagan Xeriscape Association has many resources.

Sage buttercups blooming at the beginning of the Paul’s Tomb hike

With the early warm weather it’s a delight to be gardening again.

The soil is moist and easy to dig. Plants are emerging. It’s hard to imagine that in four months we could be in another drought year.

If you want to be proactive about drought-proofing your landscape, the Okanagan Xeriscape Association has many resources to assist gardeners for both new and established landscapes.

Much of that information can be found at the website, which includes a summary of the Seven Principles of Xeriscape; classes and events; resource lists of books, websites, and demonstration gardens; and a photo gallery of before and after stories.

The searchable plant database has 350 plant listings with 23 search categories.

OXA’s popular Xeriscape Plant Sale is on May 2 in the unH2O Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, 4075 Gordon Dr., in front of the H2O Aquatic Centre.

The website has slide shows of the Xeriscape Garden illustrating the evolution of the five theme gardens since 2010, plus seasonal changes and close-up plant photos.

I will be offering free guided tours and Xeriscape talks in the garden through the season. Watch for notices in this column.

The Okanagan Xeriscape Association’s 2015 memberships are now available online on the ‘About Us’ page.  After last year’s success, we are again offering three events free to members: Pruning Techniques for Shrubs and Trees (April), Xeriscape Design Bicycle Tour (September) and a Xeriscape Plant Swap (October). Other benefits include 10 per cent off all OXA classes and workshops; notification of OXA classes and events and significant additions to the website; a 10 per cent discount off plants from specified Okanagan Valley nurseries; and one free admission to the Okanagan Lavender Farm’s display gardens.

I invite you to attend my two night ‘Introduction to the Seven Principles of Xeriscape’ class. It includes practical information for making changes to an existing landscape as well as for creating a new landscape and for those who are new to gardening in the Okanagan.

I use photos to illustrate the principles of design and planning, soil improvement, practical turf areas, efficient irrigation, use of mulch, good maintenance, and appropriate plant selection.

Classes are from 7 to 9 p.m., Tuesday, March 31 and April 7;  Thursday, April 16 and 23; or Monday, May 4 and 11.

Details and registration information available at or call 250-762-6018.

In columns through the growing season I will highlight xeriscape plants, garden conversion stories, tips and seasonal advice for gardeners about planning, creating, and maintaining xeriscapes, and I will publicize garden-related events.

The first is Seedy Saturday, this Saturday, March 14, at Okanagan College.

It’s a great event for gardening information and purchasing locally acclimatized seeds.


Gwen Steele is executive director of the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association.