Excerpt from Capital News column “Gardening with Nature” by Gwen Steele –November 15, 2013
“Gardener, New to the Okanagan, Makes Ethical Choices”
Carol Drury was the winner of the Best Professionally Designed Residential Landscape in the 2013 Okanagan Xeriscape Garden Contest.
Last year she and her husband bought a home in lower Mission, retiring to Kelowna from Calgary.
When asked what influenced her decision to create a water-wise/xeriscape landscape, Carol stated: “I wanted a yard that was lower maintenance – hence no turf grass. I also wanted to use less water and use it more efficiently, in tune with the Okanagan climate. I wanted to attract birds and butterflies and to create a restful, natural feeling for the backyard.”
Before re-landscaping her new property, which was mostly sloping lawn, Carol researched how to garden successfully in the dry, Okanagan climate.
As soon as she moved here, she attended my ‘Introduction to Xeriscape’ class, joined the Okanagan Xeriscape Association, and began volunteering in the unH2O Xeriscape Garden. She quickly learned about xeriscape plants and practices.
She worked with Lisa Masini of Waterwise Landscape Design to transform her dreams into reality.
All the turf was removed as well as some shrubs such as overgrown junipers and water-thirsty rhododendrons.
A landscape block retaining wall was built part way down the sloping back yard to create two flatter areas.
The larger, lower area adjacent to the house was planted this fall as a wildflower meadow intersected by compacted gravel paths.
One leads to a sunny patio surrounded by drought-tolerant, long-blooming perennials to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Adjacent to this are berry bushes to feed birds and an apricot tree.
Another path leads to a cool, restful, shaded sitting area beside a lush garden of perennials that thrive in dry shade.
Part of the upper garden is the one area that is regularly irrigated. Carol explained: “My father used to grow beautiful roses in Ontario. In Calgary, I could only grow very hardy types. Now I have nine bushes of ‘Ontario’ roses, which require more attention and water, but they are a fond remembrance of my childhood.”
The rose garden is well placed to be viewed from the house and from back yard seating areas, maximizing the enjoyment from these higher maintenance shrubs.
The front yard has had a small, curved retaining wall placed to break up the slope. The whole area is planted with drought-tolerant, sun loving plants with good spacing to allow for growth without crowding.
All irrigation on the property has been converted to drip. Multiple zones give flexibility to irrigate only as needed.
The landscape has been mulched with Nature’s Gold to retain moisture, suppress weeds and provide a slow consistent level of fertilization which also continuously improves the soil.
By choosing to garden with the climate, Carol is saving water, providing wildlife habitat, and has eliminated time-consuming lawn maintenance.
Photos by Carol Drury