Gwen Steele An attractive native ground cover, pink pussytoes (Antennaria dioica rubra), may be used as a lawn substitute. It withstands light foot traffic, in sun or part shade, with minimal water. The dense, flat, silver carpet is covered with short pink blooms in May. There will be lots at the plant sale.

Steele: Living in harmony with Mother Nature

I invite you to walk in the wildflower meadows in the city: Knox Mountain, Dilworth Park, Kalamoir

Saturday, April 22 is Earth Day.

It’s a special day to honour this wonderful planet that supports our lives so abundantly when we treat it with respect.

Unfortunately humans, as a species, have lost sight of how important it is to be grateful and live in harmony with Mother Earth.

In my lifetime I’ve seen a phenomenal decline in species, and terrible degradation of land, as we greedily consume the earth’s resources with no thought for what will be left for future generations.

It is easy to fall into despair for our grandchildren’s future.

To overcome this, I invite you to take a walk in wildflower meadows in the city: Knox Mountain Park, Dilworth Park (flat), and Kalamoir Park are all easily accessible.

Bathe in the wonder and beauty of the wildflowers. Listen to the birdsong. Watch the pollinating insects.

Share the experience with family, friends, and children. Connecting this way instills a strong desire to protect and preserve nature.

Let others know how important this is to you and especially thank municipal parks departments and elected officials for preserving these lands.

Tell politicians running for election how important it is to preserve natural areas. Ask them what they will do in this regard.

It’s also essential is to preserve farmlands, support sustainable agriculture and help young farmers to get started so B.C. can grow more of our own food.

Another is to create policies to protect and conserve water.

Ask tough questions for our future generations.

In our yards we can plant some native plants to help restore habitat that has been destroyed by development.

Instead of water-thirsty, high maintenance lawn, consider creating an Okanagan wildflower meadow.

Native plants will be available at OXA’s annual Xeriscape Plant Sale, Saturday, April 29 in the unH2O Garden, 4075 Gordon Drive, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Photos and details of the plants are on OXA’s plant database at www.okanaganxeriscape.org.

These will be for sale:

Nodding onion (Allium ceruum) has pink flowers in May and June. All parts of the plant are edible.

Showy Aster (Aster conspicuus), especially attractive to pollinators, has blue flowers from June to frost.

Orange arnica (Arnica fulgens) has yellow daisies in May and June.

Bluebunch wheatgrass, forms beautiful, fine-textured clumps.

All can be used to create a natural meadow. They self-seed readily so will fill in well to create a low maintenance, water-wise landscape.

Warning: don’t plant them in a conventional garden. They will overtake other plants.

To find Okanagan native plants that are available from nurseries, use the plant database at www.okanaganxeriscape.org. Under features you will find the category Native to the Okanagan.

Tanis Gieselman of SeedCo will be at the sale selling Okanagan native plant seed and she will have an information display for the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program.

The last spring session of OXA’s Introduction to Xeriscape workshop is Saturday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Kelowna. For information and to register, go to the classes page at www.okanaganxeriscape.org.

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