Comfortable dappled shade, provided by a large honey locust tree, makes this winding mulched pathway a pleasant place to wander and observe the columnist’s garden on a hot sunny day.

Steele: Lawns replaced with love

I have found that most of my drought-tolerant plants also seem to be deer-proof

By Gwen Steele

Last Sunday, I spent a lovely afternoon in the shade of my beautiful, big honey locust tree, tending to all the plants in my front garden.

When I moved here thirteen years ago, the house was surrounded by lawn. As I happily puttered, I was thinking how much joy I get from tending my perennials compared to mowing a lawn. The flowers are far less time communing as well.

While lawns require weekly mowing and edging, my gardening time consists of a big clean-up in the spring followed by spreading of mulch.

Then I dead-head spring bloomers in early June and have a clean-up in late fall. The plants have filled in so well that there aren’t many places for weeds to grow. In fact what often grows, in the few empty spaces, are babies seeded from my plants.

This gives me lots to share with friends and with neighbours who walk by to see what is blooming at different times of the season. Most of the plants are very drought-tolerant so I don’t have to water much.

This is a deterrent to weed growth and a big saving compared to the amount of water a conventional lawn uses.

A few years ago the Knox Mountain deer began cruising our sidewalks at dusk and selectively grazing in our gardens. Through this I have found that most of my drought-tolerant plants also seem to be deer-proof.

My time in my garden is extra special this spring as I will soon be leaving it. Last year I had begun to feel it was time to move to a much smaller home.

In January an opportunity, that was too appropriate to pass up, suddenly presented itself so I put a deposit down on a townhouse that will be finished this summer.

The only downside is that I won’t have a garden of my own.

After much soul searching, I will put my house up for sale this week.

I’ve often used photos of plants in my garden to illustrate my column.

The opportunity to do that will soon be gone so I’ve decided that over the next few weeks I will write about some of the many things I’ve learned from testing plants here.

The other thing I will miss is being able to take a two minute stroll to Redlich Pond whenever I need a break from computer work. However I am moving within easy walking distance of the Rotary Marshes at Brandts Creek that my dad helped restore. That will be special.

If you missed the spring sessions of OXA’s ‘Introduction to Xeriscape’ workshop, you can register for the same workshop to be held at the Summerland Ornamental Gardens, Saturday, June 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with Eva Antonijevic.

This will be extra informative as Eva will take the participants on a guided tour of the xeriscape gardens at the end of the workshop. For information and to register, go to the classes page at

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