Garden Guru: Drought-resistant champions
If any of you remember the Billy Ocean song with the lyrics “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” well, as an adage this is very appropriate for these challenging times of drought .
With record-setting runs of days without rainfall, it is important to remember how many of our tough landscape plants show their true colors of resiliency.
Some of the drought-resistant champions I want to highlight for your consideration are the lavender, manzanita and sedum.
Very common across the fields of France and the drier regions of the Mediterranean, lavender presents a trio of “plant-tributes” — heavenly fragrance, tactile textures and, above all else, a moisture miser. Botanically known as Lavandula species, lavender is an Old World herb enjoyed for its richly colored flowers and fabulous soothing fragrance. Once established lavender shows it’s true colors as a waterwise warrior, saving you the expense of water resources as well as your maintenance time.
For a superior shrub or small tree to an effective low ground cover, the manzanita survives in many harsh environments and can grow for more than 100 years. It is popular for its shiny red or mahogany colored bark and possesses unique urn-shaped flowers that range in color from white to pink. The manzanita flowers are excellent food sources for many native butterflies and hummingbirds. As a very drought-tolerant evergreen looking plant, the manzanita always looks healthy even during the driest summer months.
Sedums are amazing beautiful and finely textured ground cover scale plants. While being extremely drought proof, sedums also herald the locally important characteristic of being deer resistant. One of sedums’ specific adaptations include succulence and a waxy surface on its leaves and stems to help the plants store water. Sedum plants have also found a place of prominence in green roofs and rooftop gardens where heat and watering limitations prevail.
These three dry, arid tough plants are just a few of the many drought-tolerant champions that can bring outstanding colors, textures, forms and fragrance to your gardens and landscapes. Happy gardening!
Brent Dennis, a landscape architect and garden designer, is general manager of the El Dorado Hills Community Services District.