In the Garden: Managing in a Drought

In case you’ve somehow missed the endless media coverage, including my own comments, California is experiencing a severe drought. This is terrible for a number of reasons, and ranking very low on that list is that I can’t do much in the garden. (I’m a utilitarian: Social good is far more important than personal pleasure.) I’ve cut back my watering to a handful of things in pots, and everything else I am leaving to sink or swim (that’s probably a cruel metaphor, given that there is no water to do either in). It’s kind of heartbreaking to watch plants die, but such is life.

Of course, then I get both absurdly jealous and faintly angry when I spend time in gardens like the one pictured above, filled with lush, beautiful flowers and shrubs that are obviously the result of assiduous watering.

‘Think of all the water being wasted here,’ I said to some friends on a drive through Rockridge recently.

Meanwhile, in my garden, some interesting things are happening as a result of the drought.

A succulent that has burst into bloom.

A combination of heat stress and limited water pushed this succulent to bloom, and it’s rather remarkable. These hardy little plants are specifically adapted to environments where they’re basically getting no support, so it’s not surprising that this one is doing well, yet, I’m amazed every time I walk by.

Daisies growing in the sun.

These plants are living entirely without supplemental water, and they’re doing very well. They’re actually part of the natural landscaping here and I don’t do anything with them except trim back the dead stems when they’re done blooming because they can look a little unsightly. I love looking at them in the meadow in particular, where they’re absolutely stunning and bring color even in the grim summer months. Yes, summer is grim. It’s very, very brown.

A small potted plant with pink flowers.

One of the few plants in my household getting water (from a bucket I leave in the shower to collect water while I’m waiting for the hot water to kick in), this one is doing well, although I had to move it as close to the front door as possible to keep deer away. It’s looking great, and I love these little flowers!

A stunning pink amaryllis.

It’s also my favourite time of year: Naked lady season!

That’s right, amaryllis are starting to come out in force, and I couldn’t be happier. Look at these babies.