Xeriscape Philosophy, Maurer Garden in Naramata
“Xeriscape” as a principle is but a tiny component of a much larger philosophic position, it’s not just “water wise gardening”: It is about learning to cooperate with nature, not foisting ones will upon it as we have done since the beginning of the industrial age. This is how architecture and landscaping were part of the same effort here: no tree was cut, no rock was blasted, the contours of the land remained unaltered: house and garden flow with the land, they don’t force themselves upon it. It so happened that this led to four small buildings around a central garden, rather than a big one in the centre and dominant position.
Our vegetable garden does get watered, but it’s very much part of this strategy: rather than surrendering the field of human nutrition to the increasingly unwholesome practices of big agri business, we take a stand against “Food Inc.” and reclaim control of what we eat and how we like to see it produced. However, we take a dim view of automatic irrigation: learning to recognize when plants need water and how much, and taking the time to give it to them is an integral part of this philosophy.”
Photo 1– Site Plan: the layout of buildings and garden areas. (pdf here)
Photo 2– Streetside 2004: the front yard at the end of construction.
Photo 3– Streetside 2011: Locusts, Russian Olives, Russian Sage, Rudbeckia, native grasses, Sedums, etc., are now well established.
Photo 4– The Courtyard 2004: the bedroom cabin, main house and central garden area at the end of construction.
Photo 5– The Courtyard 2011: a lone Gingko tree, snowberries, giant wild rye grass, great basin rye grass, black sage (Artemisia), lavender, meadow sage, rabbit brush, a host of sedums as ground cover have asserted themselves and don’t give knapweed a chance anymore.
Photo 6– Looking South 2004: first steps: turkey foot grass (left) and what little native grass survived construction and wasn’t Knapweed.
Photo 7– Looking South 2011: another look at the Gingko and the rock that came out of the ground when the septic field was built.
Photo 8– Studio West Side 2005: after a year first promises: black sage and grasses are beginning to hold their own against the weeds (right side of path). The vegetable garden in raised beds to the left is the only area that gets water.
Photo 9– studio west side 2011: the vegetable garden (left) and xeriscape garden (right) today; the variety of species increases every year, and every year there is a surprise in the form of something different becoming dominant.
Photo 10– rock patio 2011: the rock slab descending into the living room is a habitat for moss, sedums and a dwarf Saskatoon on a tiny patch of soil. Water use is limited to colourful annuals in blue pots.
Text and photo credits: Erika Maurer