Now that the weather has cooled, it’s a perfect time renovate gardens.
After watching the renovations of a garden near me, I felt it would be good to review their process to pass on some pointers.
Weedy rock mulch and landscape fabric were removed. The irrigation system was upgraded and tested. (I hope the remaining turf is on a different zone from the garden beds.)
Good soil was brought in and dug into planting areas, rejuvenating the soil. The turf was top dressed with mulch and garden beds were mulched once planted.
The one downside was in the choice of plants. Hydrangeas have been placed against the south facing wall of the building where they will bake and need extra water to keep them alive. They would do better in part shade or at least planted well away from the building’s reflected heat.
Russian sage would have thrived in that extra heat but they have been planted well away from the building and several are in the shade of a covered entry way. Here they will fail to thrive and will be spindly with fewer flowers. If they are on the same watering zone as the hydrangeas they will get far too much water, further stressing them. Once established, Russian sage can grow without supplemental water.
To have optimum performance from a plant it is necessary to place it in its most favourable growing conditions.
Check the tags at the nursery to see if a plant needs full sun, part shade or shade.
Some plants are flexible, growing in more than one light condition. If a plant leans toward the sun and tends to be spindly, it needs more sun. If leaves get crispy or droopy even when watered adequately, a plant may need more shade.
To find water-wise plants for the Okanagan, check the plant database at www.okanaganxeriscape.org.
There are 23 search criteria including light, water needs, size, bloom time and colour for over 375 plants, and photos of each plant.
Another major factor to consider is how big a plant will grow. Be sure to allow space for the plant to grow to its full width and height, taking into account proximity to other plants, walkways, windows, and buildings. Look out for power lines, clothes lines and building overhangs.
Beware of planting a cute little tree in a small front yard as it will likely fill the yard and block out light to windows. Using appropriate sized plants for the available space will minimize/eliminate future pruning tasks.
The plant database is also useful for selecting a variety of plants that have different blooming times to ensure that there is something blooming from early spring bulbs to late autumn colour. The database has fall colour as an optional criteria.
Eva Antonijevic will be presenting OXA’s ‘Introduction to Xeriscape’ workshop: Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 14 in Penticton.
Details and registration information are on the OXA website: www.okanaganxeriscape.org
Gwen Steele is executive-director of the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association.