Garden guru: Pretty in pink

By From page A5 | April 30, 2014

As our broader community wrestles with smart ways to conserve the precious resource of water, one of the simpler and more brilliant steps one can take is to capture the water in our showers that normally run down the drain while we wait for the water temperature to heat up.  By having a bucket or two available to catch this “warm-up” shower water, you can essentially save 3 to 5 gallons of water to take to your most valuable household or landscape plants and quench their thirst.

Of course installing low-flow shower heads and taking shorter showers are other water-smart steps you can take to save this essential wet commodity. In concerted efforts to reduce water use and realizing that a majority of our historic water usage is devoted to our landscapes and lawns, here are some other tips to help you do your part while not totally abandoning the green horticultural surrounds:

  • Water when it’s COOL — use automatic sprinkler systems only between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. when the outside temperatures are cooler. This approach allows for the moisture to soak into the critical root zones before higher temperatures accelerate the evaporation rates.
  • Adjust your sprinklers — avoid excessive watering that runs onto paved areas such as driveways, streets, sidewalks or gutters.
  • Limit watering — reduce your landscape watering to no more than two or three days each week.
  • Drip vs. broadcast pop-ups — if possible, rely on more water-wise drip irrigation systems as opposed to pop-up sprinkler heads that broadcast water that can be adversely affected by wind or site drainage conditions.

With the droughty conditions prevalent during the month of April, it was still a brightly colored springtime with powerful punches of pink across our landscapes and gardens. Some of the showstoppers of the pastel palette were flowering cherry, azalea, dogwood and a perennial favorite, columbine. While these landscape champions are certainly not drought resistant, they do hold their weight in water and are worthy of proper care and attention.

Washington, D.C., is flooded with cherry blossoms this season and they can also be found across El Dorado County gardens and landscapes. Cherry trees are native to China but do well in fertile, well-drained garden soil in our area.

Azaleas come in a wide range of colors and are typically a low- to medium-height accent shrub that loves acidic soil and prefers more shaded settings. Her sister plant, rhododendron, possesses larger leaves and blooms but also is happier in similar woodland conditions of light and moisture.

Dogwoods are gorgeous graceful ornamental trees with delicate flowers that thrive in shaded understory conditions of larger trees.  They also prefer well-drained, more acidic soil and adequate moisture levels.

Resembling folded paper lanterns, the columbine’s unique intricate flowers make it perfect for cottage and woodland gardens. Columbine thrives in sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil, but tends to be relatively short-lived. They do self-seed readily often creating hybrids with other nearby columbines.

Seasonal side note:  A special thanks to the students of Jackson Elementary Schools and the CSD Spring Break Camp Kids in El Dorado Hills for helping plant trees on Arbor Day!

Brent Dennis, a landscape architect and garden designer, is general manager of the El Dorado Hills Community Services District.

Brent Dennis


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