Some Like It Hot
I was out and about the other day in the 100-degree heat and I could feel my own temperature rising. And it had nothing to do with the fact that I was driving my beat-up un-airconditioned black Honda CRX. It had to do with the sprinklers I saw on lawn after lawn, some of them watering the driveway or the sidewalk, even the street.
Come on guys. When the globe is warming and the world around us is wilting, why is a green lawn still a badge of honor? It's time to give the lawn a break. Let it rest. Let it turn a nice shade of beige. It's called going dormant and it's what turf grass does naturally when the growing gets tough. You're better off letting the lawn nap a while than giving it a spritz now and then to perk it up. Believe it. Besides, a splash from the hose or a spray from the sprinkler won't be enough to keep the green green grass of home very green -- nature will take care of that when things cool down. But in the meantime, it will do wonders for the weeds. And what good is that?
So here's my word for the day -- Xeriscape. It's derived from the Greek word Xeros, meaning dry, and it's pronounced as if the first letter were a "z." The idea of xeriscaping, which started as a water conservation measure in Colorado in the early 1980s, is to garden with plants that get along with little more moisture than what comes from the heavens.
There are more of them out there than you might think. Some annuals and perennials you may be familiar with like nasturtiums and hens-and-chicks and black-eyed Susans and Echinacea purpurea (both shown above in my garden) and Gaillardia and yarrow. And some you may not know like gomphrena and tithonia and melampodium and Echinops and Agastache -- my favorite variety is Tutti-Fruitti -- and Acanthus and sea holly and Russain sage.
Of course, all plants need to be watered until they're safely established in their new digs. With perennials and trees and shrubs that could take a year or two. The results are worth the wait.
I'm making my wish list now. It's later than you think. Next month we'll be heading into prime perennial planting season. We need all the water we can save.