02 April 2009

Drought Tolerant Garden

Over the past year, I've been collecting (accumulating) and getting to know a number of what some people call desert plants. I'm referring to cactuses, yuccas, aloes, sedums and the like. When we decided to landscape our front yard, originally I planned to incorporate these plants in with the other "normal" plants in our landscape. But there was a high, barren area, far from the house, calling me to plant a drought tolerant garden. It seemed like a no-brainer to me, so that's what I did.

I planted a prickly pear cactus near the center, because I expect it to get fairly large. Then I spaced some yuccas around the bed. I also put another cactus - Cereus peruvianus monstrosus - that should grow pretty tall. I went out and bought some Graptopetalum paraguayense and some Blue Spruce Sedum to plant along the edges. I still had a lot of ground to cover - literally - so I started looking around the yard for suitable plants. We have an old variety of lantana that grows throughout our neighborhood without anyone's help at all, so I planted that. It will flower during the summer, but will leave some interesting structure behind when winter arrives. I continued to look around for appropriate plants. I saw the rosemary and thought - it grows in dry, rocky areas of the mediterranian - why not? The bed began to fill up, except for a couple of areas near the outside, perfect for low-growing plants.

We have a horticulturalist around the corner who has a lot of drought-tolerant plants in his yard, as well as tropicals, such as palms, cycads and citrus. He was thinning out a bed of hardy aloe and had tons that he was going to throw away. He said I could take what I wanted, so I went back and came home with a couple of grocery bags full. I filled the bare spots with the aloe and I expect by the end of the summer, this bed will look like it's been there longer that a few months.

I expect to rotate in new plants in the future, as I find more drought tolerant plants that I want to grow. Until then, I just have to wait for summer and watch everything grow.

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