It has been raining like crazy in California this winter. Or rather, it has ben raining like a normal winter. In a summer-dry climate we expect it to be winter wet. But is the California drought over ? Here is a map showing the overall change in exactly one year, since February 2, 2016. California drought map January 31 2016 - Feb 2 2017; While it has been a dramatic change it its not over; Southern California is still below average. Although there is above average snowpack in the mountains, which will insure adequate water, the State is still experiencing water
Supplemental water is critical for gardens. Even the most enthusiastic native plant gardener recognizes the urban environment is not natural and cannot support a beautiful, healthy garden without some irrigation, especially in dry years.
It's a New Year, the first year of the Summer-Dry Project. In California we are happy to report we had heavy rains in early December but a bit nervous that it has not rained in 3 weeks. So it is with the Project, launched with much excitement last year but awaiting fresh energy to expand the database to include garden photos all nursery plants available in California according to the WUCOLS. Soon we hope to have Nora Harlow, the Project Director and author of the EBMUD book, Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates as our resident expert who will add posts
Summer-dry gardens can be beautiful. The art and science of gardening is learning which plant prosper in garden settings. Many plants are meant for summer-dry climates and don’t need lots of water, though careful irrigation improves their beauty. I do water my own California garden in summer; and so does every farm and every garden – all summer. It simply doesn’t rain. The irrigation water has to come from somewhere, other than a faucet.
All plants are drought tolerant in their native habitat and no plant can live without water. No matter where a garden is located, the tropics or the desert, the plants in that garden should naturally tolerate periods of lower than average water. They may thrive with supplemental water during dry periods but the term “drought tolerant” can be very misleading, especially in summer-dry climates.
We want to change the aesthetic of what we expect to see in a garden photo in summer-dry climates. Beautiful photos of beautiful gardens inspire gardeners to mimic what they see. Many photos in garden books and magazines are from East Coast and English style gardens, that, while are certainly lovely in those settings, are wrong in more arid and summer-dry climates. Water is especially precious in summer-dry climates, lush images from other climates mislead gardeners to try inappropriate and unsustainable gardens. We want to inspire gardeners to choose plants that are water wise and garden styles that fit into the habitats and natural
The cover of the book was cropped from this wonderful photo from Matanzas Creek Winery. The billowing grass is Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'.