Planting with a color scheme made the garden look more about the colors and less about drought tolerance
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Santa Cruz, California. Late last spring, the water shortage in California turned into an unprecedented drought. Planting the usual summer flowers in the garden was no longer an option. Now, the entire garden had to be drought tolerant. We needed to do some careful planning if we didn’t want it to look like a desert cactus landscape.
The solution was planting with a color coordinated scheme. It made the garden look more about the colors and less about drought tolerance. We planted yellow, red and orange colored flowers (fall colors), because there were plenty of choices that were drought tolerant. Varieties with names like “Indian summer”.
Now that it’s fall, we have the added advantage of flowers that look great with the fall foliage.
Many of the flowers have continued to bloom into the fall, and the garden is vivid with fall colors. At first, gardening with severe water restrictions seemed like an overwhelming hardship, since we love the garden. But with a little planning, it turned out gorgeous. The hummingbirds, honey bees and butterflies approved of our selections as well.
HOW WE PLANNED THE DROUGHT TOLERANT GARDEN WITH FALL COLOR TO FIT INTO THE REST OF THE GARDEN:
Our red brick patio is surrounded by several dark colored Japanese maples. We started the change to a drought tolerant garden by planting the yellow and orange Peruvian lilies as a backdrop, interspersed with orange hummingbird mint. Both of these have dark purple in their stems and leaves that matched the Japanese maples.
Then we added the other orange and yellow drought tolerant flowers in front. We had other flowers that required water in the garden this year as well, but we are replacing them with succulents that will rim the edges by next spring, and lower our water use even more.
HOW THIS GARDEN WITH FALL COLOR FITS INTO OUR PLAN TOCUT OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT:
By planting drought tolerant plants, we cut water use in half. We had already cut back on our indoor water use as much as possible, so any further cut had to come entirely from the garden. And we were able to cut our entire water use in half just be making these changes to the garden. This works with our plan to cut our carbon footprint because much of the electricity in California comes from the dams. Without water behind the dam, there is no electricity, and power has to come from less renewable sources. It’s all connected.
Photos by Tony Fitzgerald Photography