Steele: Gardening season over in a snap

Kelowna columnist Gwen Steele gives some winter reading tips in her final column of the year

By Gwen Steele

After some lovely, sunny and colourful fall days, winter suddenly arrived with a howling gale and an early blanket of snow.

The gardening season ended abruptly.

I have to admit I enjoy the quieter time of winter. It’s a great time to read, research, and plan for next year. If you are planning changes to your garden I invite you to explore the many resources on the Okanagan Xeriscape Association’s website www.okanaganxeriscape.org.

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.

The book I find the most useful and applicable to the Okanagan is Creating the Prairie Xeriscape by Sara Williams. It is an excellent how to guide to effectively use the Seven Principles of Xeriscape.

It also has lots of great photos and an easy to follow format. All plants in the extensive water-wise plant guide are hardy for Saskatchewan so they will thrive here. 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 building, in 2010, of the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden.

Additionally there are six slide shows of the theme gardens illustrating changes through the seasons and growth year to year. Some captions on the slides include plant names to assist with identification of an individual plant, or of a pleasing plant combination you might like to try.

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, 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 you do a search, the search results always appear 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.

This is my last column for 2017. I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to share my gardening knowledge with you and to write about gardening events. I hope to 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 info@okanaganxeriscape.org.

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

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

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