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Steele: Gardening class leads to long-time enjoyment
In the spring of 2010, Wayne Goreski attended my ‘Introduction to Xeriscape’ class.
Newly moved from Ontario, he planned to take out his small front lawn and xeriscape it with landscape fabric, rock mulch and a few plants.
He only came to class to learn about suitable plants. Shortly after the class, he sent me a before, during, and after photo story of his project with these comments: “Gwen: here are a few pictures of my spring xeriscape project. I am so pleased with how it turned out and have received many compliments. I followed your guidance: No stones except the walkway, no filter cloth and I used drip irrigation. I used your plant database on the OXA website to select the plants. I mixed some native and non-native plants for summer colour—and voila—all done. I have lots of bees and butterflies. It sure makes grass look boring. I had a great time doing the whole project myself.”
Wayne has continued to send me photos and this year was awarded Best Small Garden in OXA’s Xeriscape Garden Contest.
In 2012, he removed a large, water-thirsty cedar against his house. After putting in new soil he planted more water-wise plants.
With the addition last fall of spring bulbs, Wayne now has a colourful garden from March to frost. Ornamental grasses and seed heads of perennials such as Echinacea and Rudbeckia are left through the winter to add interest and food for birds.
Wayne followed suggestions from the class:
• use some long-blooming perennials to ensure a long season of colour
• use bulbs for spring colour
• add ornamental grasses to provide continuity, and a backdrop
• include a few small shrubs with different blooming times, interesting foliage and good winter structure
• incorporate a flagstone path for access to maintain the garden and to enjoy flowers, visiting pollinators and butterflies up close
Wayne fell in love with too many plants. His small garden is now jam-packed. There isn’t room for weeds but the path is barely visible.
Wayne’s 2014 project is to remove all turf from his side yard to make a new garden.
He will fill it with ‘free’ plants from the front garden. Because Wayne did not use fabric it will be easy for him to divide and move his plants.
As well, the organic matter mulch will make garden renovations much easier than if he had used rock mulch.
My next ‘Introduction to Xeriscape’ class is Thursday, Oct.17 and 24, 7 p.m. The class has practical information for making changes to an existing landscape or to create a new landscape. Details and registration information are at www.okanaganxeriscape.org.
Gwen Steele is executive director of the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association.