Steele: Start planning now for a water-wise garden

As the new gardening season begins, the question arises once more: Will this be a drought year?

As the new gardening season begins, the question arises once more: Will this be a drought year?

If you want to be proactive in drought proofing your landscape, the Okanagan Xeriscape Association has many resources to assist gardeners for both new and established landscapes.

Much of that information can be found at  the website www.okanaganxeriscape.org.

The website includes a summary of the Seven Principles of Xeriscape; a Landscape Assessment Tool; classes and events; resource lists of books, other websites and demonstration gardens; and a photo gallery including the story of the creation of the unH2O Garden.

On the website, the searchable plant database has 400 plant listings with 23 search categories.

OXA is working with valley nurseries to have them listed on individual plant profiles for water-wise plants they carry.

This makes it easier to find plants on your wish list before you go shopping. Be sure to visit the unH2O Xeriscape Demonstration Garden frequently to see seasonal changes.

Located in front of the H2O Aquatic Centre on Gordon Drive, it includes over 80 species in five theme gardens. With the addition of many spring bulbs last fall, the garden will have abundant bloom from mid March until frost.

The first blooms (snowdrops) were sighted Feb10. A pamphlet containing the plant list is available in the garden during the growing season and also on the OXA’s website on the About Us—OXA Projects page.

The popular two-night Introduction to the Seven Principles of Xeriscape class will be available on three Thursday dates: March 29 and April 5; April 12 and 19; and April 26 and May 3. Information and registration details are on the Classes page of the website.

The second annual Xeriscape Garden Contest begins April 1 and runs to Aug. 31. Forms will be available by April 1 online and at participating nurseries.

Details of the 2011 Xeriscape Garden Contest and photo stories of winning gardens can be found on the events page as well as links to six garden photo stories from the 2011 contest.

The Okanagan Xeriscape Association’s 2012 memberships are now available online on the About Us page.

Benefits include 10 pe rcent off all of OXA’s classes and workshops; notification of OXA’s classes and events and significant additions to the website; and a 10 per cent discount off plants from specified Okanagan Valley nurseries.

We also welcome garden volunteers, giving them learning opportunities in the garden. Contact us through the website.

As for my column, it will run every Friday in the Capital News from now through November.

Similar to last year, it will highlight xeriscape plants, garden conversion stories, tips and seasonal advice for home gardeners about planning, creating, and maintaining xeriscapes. It will also publicize garden related events.

Using locally acclimatized seeds ensures better gardening results. You can purchase seed from local producers at Seedy Saturday on Saturday, March 10, at Okanagan College.

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