After experiencing one of the worst droughts in the state’s history from water year 2011-2016, California went to another extreme since the start of water year 2017, receiving so much rains that it became one of the wettest for the time period so far. We know generally plants like rain, but how about the drought tolerant plants and native plants that were planted in water efficient gardens last year? Did they survive? How do they do after all the rains? Recently I went back and checked on those gardens, what I saw totally blew me away. A floral dream is blooming!
A floral dram came true
In the design phase of the garden, one plant chosen to be the anchor was Pride of Madeira (Echium), a drought tolerant plant. At 6-8 feet when fully grown, their big spikes are like flower towers in a garden. With them in the picture, there is no chance a garden is plain or dull! However, the Echium was just this small plant when the garden was installed. It would take quite a while before it could grow to 6-8 feet and bloom, everyone reckoned. “Let’s just wait, and it will come in some years.” But, as it shows, you don’t need to wait that long! In a mere 3 months of time, during which it rained heavily, it grew from one foot to 5 foot, with 4 huge spikes of flower tower in full bloom. It is a spectacular view. The owner took a trip before it bloomed. When she returned and saw those spikes, “I was so surprised! It was gorgeous!” Jan 2017 Apr 2017 Apart from Echium, other plants also grew and bloomed beautifully. Jan 2017 Apr 2017 More flowers
Rain help make floral dreams come true
While most of the drought tolerant plants are tough and can thrive in new environments, without a doubt, the heavy rains in the last winter and spring helped them grow so well as they did. One might ask, since these plants are drought tolerant, why are the rains still so important? Yes, it is true they adapt to dry conditions and can survive in a low water environment; however, most of them would still like a certain amount of water to bloom, or bloom well. If it was dry in the last season, they can still live, but likely not produce such splendid blossom. For plants like Echium and Seaside Daisy (the purple flower above), which originate from areas of Mediterranean climate (Canary Island and California coast), they are accustomed to rains in winter and very little to no water in summer. They will grow rapidly in the rainy season, then go dormant or grow slowly in the dry summer season. It is amazing how we can observe the same wonder of nature in our garden.
A beautiful view, and conserving water
In addition to providing us with a beautiful view of all the blooming flowers, water efficient gardens like this can conserve a lot of water. Compared to a lawn, such a garden can save water by 15 to 40%. Yes, with the heavy rains, California is out of the 5-year drought. However, with population growth and climate change, water the resource will just become scarcer relative to its demand. Water conservation is a way of life in California. By building a water efficient garden, one not only can live in such a way, but enjoy all the beautiful views from the many blossoms nature has to offer.