About OXA

The Okanagan Xeriscape Association (OXA) is a not-for-profit organization formed in 2009 to provide xeriscape information for the Okanagan.

The OXA offers hands-on xeriscape workshops, classroom education, public xeriscape demonstrations, web libraries, and a searchable on-line plant database – all of which provide residents with the tools they need to create xeriscaped yards, communities, and places of work.

The vision of the OXA is for xeriscape gardening to become a desired and accepted norm in the Okanagan.


Keep up with the latest OXA news and events via our monthly newsletter. If you’re a member, it will be sent out to you. If not, you can find it here. Click image to open.


To get involved with the Okanagan Xeriscape Association, or to learn more about how you can bring xeriscape to your neighborhood, please email us at– admin@okanaganxeriscape.org

You can also write to us at–
PO Box 25207 Mission Park PO,
Kelowna, BC     V1W 3S9

Find and follow us on social media!

Sigrie Kendrick- Executive Director of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association

Sigrie Kendrick– Executive Director

I inherited my passion for gardening from my Australian grandfather, a renowned rose breeder in New South Wales. My interest in water conservation started early after a childhood spent growing up in the desert of Saudi Arabia, when a day of rain was cause for a national holiday.

I completed my Master Gardener course in 2014 during which time I met Gwen Steele, co-founder of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association. Her enthusiasm was infectious; I became passionate about promoting xeriscape and joined the OXA board as a director in 2015, becoming Executive Director in 2019.

I write a bi-monthly column for Castanet called ‘Gardening with Nature’ which is also published by by Black Press in a variety of their newspapers. I have been fortunate to share my xeriscape knowledge province-wide via CBC.

Through my tenure with OXA I have forged strong relationships with the Okanagan Basin Water Board and their Make Water Work campaign, various Rotary and garden clubs throughout the valley, and Interior Health. I give regular xeriscape presentations to municipalities, stratas, and landscape professionals. Throughout the growing season, I lead a weekly opportunity aimed at volunteer and community involvement called ‘Dig with Sig’ in the OXA demonstration gardens.

Joan Byrne- Vice-President of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association

Joan Byrne– President

I am excited to continue working with such a great group in promoting sustainability and education around xeriscape.

My background includes a horticultural apprenticeship resulting in becoming a licensed journeyperson through Kwantlen Polytechnic University. I have owned and managed Wild Bloom Nursery since 2010 and I am currently obsessing over starting native and uncommon water-wise plants from seed.

I also love introducing and trialing new plant varieties in my gardens and hope to increase the diversity of plant material available in the Okanagan. My gardens are messy and wild, but I like them that way!

Stephanie Aitken- Board Member of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association

Sharon Spring– Vice President, Director, Social Media

I began learning about xeriscape gardening in 2003. We arrived in the Okanagan from Ontario, just in time to experience the Okanagan Mountain Park Wildfire. It came into the bottom of our yard and was only stopped by the heroic efforts of the firefighters. The massive cedar hedge of my neighbour almost ignited and if it had, it would have taken both our homes. Much of our lower landscape needed replacing. We got up to speed fast on FireSmart and Xeriscape!

I became a member of OXA in the early days (2010) and took advantage of its premier course – Xeriscape 101. After volunteering for a few years, I joined the Board in 2022. I bring to OXA a background in corporate marketing, administration and a bit of tech-savvy and am enjoying combining those skills in the roles of vice-president and director of Social Media.

Judie Steeves- President of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association

Judie Steeves– Past President & Director, Communications

I was invited to become a founding director of OXA by co-founder Gwen Steele in 2009 because of my commitment to water conservation and my love of gardening. I immediately took on the role of secretary and took responsibility for communications.

In 2015, I was asked to serve as president and continued until 2022. I am currently past-president, and still the director responsible for OXA’s communications, including publication of an OXA newsletter every two months.

I believe strongly that xeriscape is an essential component of a water conservation program for the arid Okanagan and that we all should be following xeriscape principles to create beautiful landscapes in our parks, around our civic buildings, institutions, commercial and industrial buildings and in our home gardens.

Lisa Masini- Secretary of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association

Lisa Masini– Secretary

I co-founded OXA with Gwen Steele due to my passion for xeriscape because it is an easy way to support the health of our planet and create beauty at the same time.

Every time I see a new species of pollinator in my garden it brings me joy and delight. During evening’s twilight, you can often find me admiring the small wonders of nature that my garden brings.

At the moment, I have the pleasure of acting as OXA secretary with a great group of board members.

Amanda Price- Board Member of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association

Amanda Price– Treasurer

I am a CPA and consultant who discovered a deeper interest in landscape design in 2017 when I took the first steps to renovate my then West Kelowna yard and develop a low-water use planting scheme over the following years.

To explore that interest further, I took the Landscape Design & Horticulture Certificate at Okanagan College and have been a member of OXA ever since. As my own garden came together, I enthusiastically helped my friends and family transform their yards by providing design plans and installation assistance utilizing the xeriscape principles.

I am excited to contribute to such an important initiative to make the living spaces in our community sustainable.

Mark Godlewski- Treasurer of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association

Mark Godlewski– Director, Technology

I moved to Kelowna from Calgary in 2016 to take advantage of this wonderful climate and the opportunity to grow something other than poplar trees and lawns. I own a design company called Great Outdoor Designs and love designing imaginative and liveable outdoor spaces that integrate with indoor spaces and the neighbourhood.

I am keen to make OXA the go-to source for information on how to best create and maintain a xeriscape garden in the Okanagan.

Chuck Cullen- Board Member of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association

Chuck Cullen– Director

Charles (Chuck) Cullen moved to the Okanagan in 1981 from Vancouver and worked for Team Construction for 32 years, retiring recently and freeing up more time to serve OXA as a volunteer.

During his time in construction, he was involved in organizations such as the Canadian Homebuilders Association, as well as volunteering for the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, and Mamas for Mamas.
He has also worked with Okanagan College, as a volunteer, helping to build its extensive Trades Training programs and mentor students.

In his spare time, he loves traveling, driving, diving, hiking, biking, reading, gardening, and other outdoor activities with his partner of 40 years, who is a high school teacher. He has two daughters.

Jessica Hobden- Board Member of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association

Jessica Hobden– Director

I am a local biologist and business-owner based in West Kelowna with my husband and two children. My biology career has always focused on invasive plant management, habitat stewardship and community education.

When I am not working on running our property maintenance company with my husband, I take on small side biology-related contract work. I am passionate about environmental education and making spaces and places more environmentally friendly– from incorporating drought-tolerant, pollinator-attracting plants, to recycling. When I’m not parenting, working or worrying about the state of the world, I can be found outside or reading.

Josh Smith - Board Member of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association

Josh Smith– Director

I am a plant biologist who fell in love with the Okanagan ecosystem while
attending UBCO. Following my passion, I now manage XEN Nursery in West
Kelowna, where we grow and propagate native and xeriscape plants for use
throughout the Okanagan on ecological restoration projects.

I have had the pleasure of meeting many of the wonderful people at OXA and
am excited to join the board to help promote the use of water-wise plants and
landscape design.

When I’m not out planting Ponderosa Pine and Snowberry on eroded and
failing hillsides, I can be found hiking, camping, and exploring the wonderful
and diverse environments of the Okanagan.

Melodie Lind- founding member of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association

Melodie Lind– Founding Director

Melodie Lind, a partner in Pushor Mitchell Law, a founding director of OXA, but no longer on the board.

She is our legal advisor.

Gwen Steele- Co-founder of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association

Gwen (Hughes-Games) Steele – Co-founder and Retired Executive Director

Gwen was born in Kelowna and has gardened here since early childhood. For over 25 years, she has studied, practiced and taught xeriscaping. She feels this is the simplest, most cost-effective and rewarding method of gardening and the best way to protect people and the environment.

Gwen was co-owner of the first xeriscape nursery in the Okanagan where many plants were trialed for drought tolerance in the ½ acre demonstration gardens. This information formed the basis for the plant database she created at www.okanaganxeriscape.org.

In 2009 Gwen co-founded the Okanagan Xeriscape Association to bring water-wise gardening education to Okanagan Valley residents. She was executive director for its first ten years.

Gwen was instrumental in the creation of the unH2O Xeriscape Garden and oversaw its maintenance by volunteers until 2016. In 2012 she initiated the annual plant sale and, for five years, oversaw propagation and running of the sale by volunteers.

From 2011 to 2018 Gwen wrote a weekly gardening column. Many of these can be found on the Capital News website.