Steele: Water-wise gardening research a productive winter pastime

Now that the snow has settled, I can enjoy the quieter time of winter to read, research and plan for next year.

Waking up to a thick blanket of snow Wednesday morning forced me to set aside those last optional tasks on my garden to-do list.

They’ll wait until spring.

Now I can settle in to enjoy the quieter time of winter—a great time to read, research and plan for next year.

I invite you to explore the many resources on the Okanagan Xeriscape Association’s website

On the Resources page, there are lists of great books related to water-wise/sustainable gardening.

Most are available in the library or bookstores. There are also links to websites.

If you want to see how other gardeners converted to water-wise gardens, explore the stories and photos in Xeriscape Galleries.

They illustrate projects from small to large and in many styles.

Under the unH2O Garden page is the story and photos of the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden being built in 2010.

As well, there are six slide shows of the theme gardens illustrating changes through the seasons and growth year to year.

To assist with identification of a plant or pleasing plant combination you might like to try, some captions include plant names.

If you are new to the concept of xeriscape, check out ‘Why Xeriscape’ under the About Xeriscape page.

Then you can go on to read ‘How to Xeriscape.’

It’s an abbreviated version of the Seven Principles of Xeriscape. After a life-time of gardening, I feel these principles are the best and simplest guide to successful gardening.

The most visited page on the website is the plant database. I encourage you to read the database explanation page before you begin using it. Then plant information will be more meaningful and the navigation easier.

When I demonstrated the database at a recent garden club presentation, I discovered that the direction to ‘click on column name to sort’ is not clear. It appears at the top of any search result.

The list always appears alphabetically by common name. By clicking on Latin name, the list will re-sort by Latin name.

For example, you could see all the types of yarrow under their Latin name, Achillea, together rather than scattered throughout a list by common name.

For gift ideas for gardeners, go to About Xeriscape/How to Xeriscape/Tip of the Month. About half way down you’ll find the November 2013 entry with lots of suggestions.

There’s a varied collection of ideas and good advice to be found if you peruse some of the other Tips of the Month.

This is my last column for 2014. I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to share my gardening knowledge with you and write about gardening events.

I’ll resume writing the column next March. I love getting your feedback. If you have ideas for topics you would like me to write about, or comments you wish to pass on, please contact me at

Best wishes for a happy, and successful gardening New Year.

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