During this month’s A to Z blog challenge, I drew the letter “X” … and frankly, that letter scared me! When I learned what my letter was to be, my brain nearly x-ploded, so I quickly x-plored the possibilities: x-ray, x-rated, x-chromosome, even x-axis and “X marks the spot!” I conducted an internet search and discovered there’s a lot of “X’ out there! (see http://www.crosswordsolver.org/x-words).
Since April is National Gardening Month and since I live on the Great Plains where the weather is arid … and because I enjoy the desert so much … and because need to write about something starting with the letter X, in this blog we will learn about xeriscape. When a person xeriscapes his/her yard/garden, s/he uses plants that conserve water, those which are meant for arid or semi-arid areas. Drought-tolerant plants come in a variety of colors and sizes, from groundcover to bushes. Some examples include ice plants, thyme, coneflower (also known as echinacea), lavender, sunflower, coral bells, and hen and chicks as well as cacti and yucca. The wide array of plant variety and color reminds a person that xeriscape doesn’t mean gray, brown, and boring. Instead, the lively lavenders, bouncing blues, perky pinks, yapping yellows, and roaring reds create festive gardens and lawns that don’t drink a lot of water … or digest a lot one’s financial budget! And those vibrant colors attract necessary pollinators, such as bees butterflies, whose numbers are dwindling drastically.
Many home owners and gardeners in Wyoming and surrounding states, such as Colorado and Montana, implement xeriscape landscaping. Green lawns are pretty but not always practical. With California in such a historic drought and that state’s governor recently declaring stringent watering rules, even more western homeowners, gardeners, and landscapers will likely look into the practice of xeriscape.
When I visited Arizona back in March, I was reminded of the beauty of the desert. Wildflowers and cacti of the Sonora desert were brimming with color. The ancient saguaro stately stands amidst the chollo, yucca, desert evening primrose, and ocotillo. Colors of crimson, butter, and eggplant mingle with duller shades of gray and brown, enlivening the sandy and spiny Arizona ecosystem.
One of my neighbors doesn’t have a lawn – she’s filled her front and side yards with rocks and endless types of flowers. From iris to coneflowers, Mexican hats to blue flax, each season brings a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. My friends whom I visit in Arizona have a desert yard, not a green lawn that drinks water and money.
I am not much of a gardener; I didn’t inherit that talent. I have been able to raise herbs, such as mint, tarragon, rosemary, and lavender. My parents, on the other hand, are very successful with both vegetables and flowers. Although they have a lawn at their Montana home, they have also established several rock gardens filled with columbine, blue flax, white daisies, hens and chicks, and hollyhocks. They rarely have to water these areas. Each spring they look forward to the welcoming blooms that grace their front and back yards.
Colorado State University’s “X-tension Service” has a website and several informational pamphlets about xeriscape. Learn more about this gardening/landscaping technique at http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07228.html.
Remember there’s a lot of “X” out there … and it can be quite colorful!
For other gardening information and encouragement, including how-to videos, visit http://www.nationalgardenmonth.org/.
Do you grow a garden? What are some of your favorite things to grow? Do you or have you ever landscaped with xeriscape plants?
Gayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion books: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and the environment and she looks forward to composing more stories about animals and the beauty of the natural world. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.