Steele: Happy xeriscape garden convert

"I sold my lawn mower and weed eater. I disconnected the irrigation system…and all the rest is reduced flow or drip irrigated."

Wayne Goreski's front yard

SteeleIn the spring of 2010, Wayne Goreski attended my Introduction to Xeriscape class.

Newly transplanted here 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 suitable plants.

Since then, he has shared photos and comments, with me, about his progress.

Wayne’s story is interesting as it illustrates how one can gradually convert a property to xeriscape/water-wise gardens.

The first communication came shortly after the class.

He sent me before, during, and after photos of his project with these comments: “Gwen: here are some 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 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.”

This week I received updated photos from Wayne and further commentary on his garden: “Gwen: It’s been a few years since we’ve ‘touched base’  so I thought I would give you an update on my xeriscaped garden.

“It is in constant transformation with dividing and transplanting some plants, this year we even added a few annuals to provide a bit more colour in the hot summer days.

“When I received the award in 2013 (OXA Garden Contest award for Best Small Xeriscape Garden) you commented on the right side of the house and said I should continue on with the xeriscaping there.

“Well I did. I landscaped it by dividing plants from the front. This spring I did the opposite side of the house (facing north) and completed it with stone.

“As of now I have no lawn whatsoever, I sold my lawn mower and weed eater. I disconnected the irrigation system on the north side and all the rest is reduced flow or drip irrigated.

“I thank you again for the inspiration and guidance your seminar gave me.”

Wayne followed these 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

If you are interested in attending my xeriscape class, please contact me through the contact email address available at the website   okanaganxeriscape.org and ask to be put on the class notification list.

The next classes will be in the fall. Details are on the website under ‘classes.’ Dates will be posted mid-summer.