Castanet – April 26. 2023
It’s plant sale time of year again.
With spring, everyone with an interest in growing is out looking for something different to try in their garden landscape—so plant sales are on the list of things to do.
The Okanagan Xeriscape Association is offering a variety of unique and unusual plants at this year’s annual Spring Plant Sale on May 6 that are drought tolerant and beautiful as well. Some might even provide a substitute for that water-thirsty green lawn, with its exotic mix of grasses that are not very appropriate for the Okanagan’s hot, dry climate.
Think: no more turf grass. A recent report from Agriculture Canada states the Kelowna and Vernon areas are in “severe drought” after receiving less than 10% of average precipitation in March.
According to Agriculture Canada this occurrence of severe drought is a once-in-10-year event, but it may become more common. Climate modelling predicts our Okanagan summers will continue to be longer, hotter and drier.
So, why do we continue to lay acres of thirsty turf grass on properties all over the valley when there are many drought-tolerant alternatives?
At this year’s annual plant sale, OXA, in collaboration with Wild Bloom Nursery, is offering many lawn-alternative plants as we continue to encourage residents to reduce their turf areas and plant species more suitable to our semi-arid environment.
One of the lawn-alternative species we have been successfully trialing at the nursery is Herniaria glabra, known commonly as Rupturewort. This creeping perennial features dense foliage of small green succulent leaves which act as an excellent weed-suppressant and can tolerate heavy foot traffic.
The green foliage of Herniaria glabra transitions to shades of red and orange as the temperature drops in the fall, adding to its appeal. Herniaria glabra is hardy to Zones 5 to 9, so it is appropriate for planting in the Okanagan and can thrive in the poorest of soils.