The Goreski Garden

An excerpt from “Garden Transformation” by Gwen Steele, Capital News September 9, 2011

In early spring 2010, Wayne Goreski attended my “Introduction to Xeriscape” class. He retired here from Ontario and wanted to find out what to grow in this climate. He had plans to take out the lawn in his small front yard and “xeriscape” it by laying down landscape fabric, covering it with rocks and adding a few plants.

A month after he attended the class he sent me a before, during, and after photo story of his project with these comments:
“Gwen: here are a few pictures of my spring xeriscape project. I am so pleased with how it turned out and have received many compliments. I followed your guidance: no stones – except for the walkway, no filter cloth, and used drip irrigation. I mixed some native and non-native plants for summer colour – and voila – all done! I have lots of bees and butterflies. It sure makes grass look boring.

I had a great time doing the whole project myself. The full cost was $1947 including soil, plants, mulch, flagstones, and drip irrigation.

I used your plant database on the OXA website to select the plants. Some of the plants I used are: Diabolo Ninebark, Coreopsis, Liatrus, Gaillardia, Yarrow, Echinacea, Russian Sage, Rudbeckia,  Shasta Daisy, Hen & Chicks, Mosquito Grass (Blue Grama), Blue Oat Grass, Elijah Blue Fescue, and Feather Reed Grass.”

When Wayne was asked why he entered his garden in the 2011 Okanagan Xeriscape Association Xeriscape Garden Contest he wrote:  “I love my garden and wish to share with others how you can have a more beautiful front yard with no grass and much less water usage. My grandkids love it!”

When I interviewed Wayne today he said he spends time most mornings in his garden- sitting with his coffee enjoying the plants and chatting with the neighbours who stop in their morning walks to enjoy the changing display of flowers.

With a two-inch layer of Ogogrow mulch, there are seldom weeds to pull. Occasionally a few dead flowers need cutting off. The garden provides endless delight, whereas the weed prone lawn required regular labour with no reward.

Photo credits: Wayne Goreski


Excerpt from Capital News column “Gardening with Nature” by Gwen Steele –
October 4, 2013

‘Gardening Class Leads to Long Time Enjoyment’

In the spring of 2010, Wayne Goreski attended my ‘Introduction to Xeriscape’ class. (information in preceding 2011 column)

Wayne has continued to send me photos. This year when he entered the 2013 Contest, he was awarded Best Small Garden in OXA’s Xeriscape Garden Contest.

In 2012 he removed a large, water-thirsty cedar against his house. After putting in new soil he planted more water-wise plants.

He also topped up his mulch, covering the whole garden with coarser, reddish fir mulch. The original Ogogrow had a tendency to get blown by the wind.

With the addition, last fall, of spring bulbs, Wayne now has a colourful garden from March to frost. Ornamental grasses and seed heads of perennials such as Echinacea and Rudbeckia are left through the winter to add interest and food for birds.

Wayne followed suggestions from the class:

  • use some long-blooming perennials to ensure a long season of colour
  • use bulbs for spring colour
  • add ornamental grasses to provide continuity, and a backdrop
  • include a few small shrubs with different blooming times, interesting foliage, and good winter structure
  • incorporate a flagstone path for access to maintain the garden and to enjoy flowers, visiting pollinators and butterflies up close

Wayne fell in love with too many plants. His small garden is now jam-packed. There isn’t room for weeds but the path is barely visible.

With the many beautiful water-wise species that thrive in this climate, it’s hard not to add too many when planting a new garden.

It’s also hard to visualize that a small pot of Rudbeckia can grow to two feet in diameter in three years.

Wayne’s 2014 project is to remove all turf from his side yard to make a new garden. He will fill it with ‘free’ plants from the front garden. Because Wayne did not use fabric it will be easy for him to divide and move his plants. As well, the organic matter mulch will make garden renovations much easier than if he had used rock mulch.

Photos taken by Wayne Goreski

Return to Garden Contest 2013 page