Drought Concerns in the Garden
We are in a drought. And it may last for more than the short cycle of approximately seven years that has regularly occurred here in recent history. Some scientists are saying that this is part of a much larger cycle that could be one hundred to one hundred-fifty years in length (and let’s not even try to imagine how climate change will affect that). So, how do we keep our love of living, green things around us with much reduced water resources? One way is to look at the plants that have evolved in this habitat for many thousands of years. Native California plants are great choices for our modern gardens as are plants native to climate zones similar to ours.
Plant Options for Drought
Obvious choices for evergreen shrubs are Manzanita and Ceanothus. Both of these have been bred and selected for a variety of plant shapes and sizes. There are ground-hugging cultivars as well as tall and broad shapes to provide screening. Manzanitas have interesting bark as well as dainty, bell-shaped flowers. Ceanothus are often called California, or wild lilac, for the resemblance their flowers have to the cultivated lilacs our grandmothers grew. Consult a good garden guide or your local nursery for selections and specifics of each cultivar.
Mediterranean Plant Options for Drought
Other readily available options to replace thirsty plants during our dry spells hail from the Mediterranean region. Some favorites include Echium candicans, Pride of Madeira, that covers itself with spires of tiny flowers in shades of blue and purple as well as Lion’s Tail, Leonotis leonuris, which bursts forth with sprays of brilliant orange blossoms from spring through fall. And let’s not forget the many selections and species of rosemary and lavender that are ideally suited to our climate as well as their native zones.
Water for the Birds, Bees, and Bugs
One added perk for all of these native and non-natives is that they are quite attractive to bees, butterflies and other beneficial fauna that are seeking sustenance through this dry spell. So don’t be afraid to lose that thirsty garden and replace it with a verdant, more water thrifty landscape.