Steele: Take a tour of the ‘unH20’ demonstration garden

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ is in full bloom in the Mediterranean Garden of the  H20 Aquatic Centre xeriscape demonstration garden. Parts of the native, rock  and ornamental grass gardens are in the background.  - Contributed
Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ is in full bloom in the Mediterranean Garden of the H20 Aquatic Centre xeriscape demonstration garden. Parts of the native, rock and ornamental grass gardens are in the background.
— image credit: Contributed

This an invitation to join me at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 16, for a free guided tour of the unH2O Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, located in front of the H2O Aquatic Centre, 4075 Gordon Dr.

The tour is the first in a monthly series that will continue until late fall.

The garden was created last year by the Okanagan Xeriscape Association with financial support from the federal government provided through the department of the environment; the City of Kelowna; the Okanagan Basin Water Board; and with the assistance of the local landscaping and horticulture industries and many volunteers.

It has been designed to showcase the beauty and seasonal change that are possible in a xeriscape landscape.

The 4,000-square-foot demonstration garden contains over 70 different species that grow well in full sun with little or no supplemental water.

There is a succession of colour from May until frost. Plants were chosen for their bloom time and colour as well as for hardiness and attractive foliage.

To help individuals see what they could do in their own gardens, there are five distinct theme gardens.

The Mediterranean, Native and Rock Gardens contain very drought tolerant plants. These were watered last year to allow them to get their roots established. They will now grow without any supplemental irrigation.

The Butterfly and Ornamental Grass gardens and the trees will always need a small amount of irrigation during hot, dry spells. They are on an in-line drip irrigation system but have not yet been irrigated this year.

The growth, vibrant bloom, and general health of the plants show what can be achieved with good soil and appropriate plant selection. A layer of mulch (Ogogrow) ensures moisture retention and feeds the plants.

Garden brochures, complete with a full listing of plants found in each garden, are available beside the main garden sign. Plant labels and the brochures will aid gardeners in identifying plants they might want to grow.

It’s good to make regular visits as the gardens change by the week. Last year the butterfly garden was a mass of bloom from June until late November.

Plant information and photos are in the plant database at

Check the website gallery page for photos of the garden, a copy of the garden brochure, and the story of building the garden

Gwen Steele is executive-director of the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association. Learn more about Gardening with Nature and plants for the Okanagan on the website


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