Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Xeriscape Gardening In The Southern Rockies

When we had a house we had a garden,
and it was comprised mostly of herbs, natives, 
xeriscape perennials, and fruit trees.

Much of the time we lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico
 we were in a severe drought and under, at times, 
stringent watering restrictions,
but we both loved to garden without spending all of our time at it.

To make up for the drought we collected rainwater
 and concentrated on tough, drought tolerant plants, shrubs, and trees.

Above you may notice blue flax, rocky mountain penstemon,
 and orange poppies.

At the top with the reddish leaves is a native chokecherry
 and also a native gambels oak, both young trees  at that time about 5' or 6' high.

Peeking out on the far right is a very young semi-dwarf apple.

From left to right are a mugo pine in a pot, yellow bearded iris,
 and on the far right is the gambels oak.

Behind it all is our funky shrine, 
and barely visible behind the edge of bamboo screen on the far left
 is one of many rain barrels.

Mixed in with with the oak leaves 
are a variegated blue iris and the yellow iris.

Moving to the back we have more flax and iris 
with a peach tree peeking out on the far left.

A small pink dianthus mixed in with sedum and a small, spiky agave,
with a backdrop of iris and the ever present blue flax to the back.

A parry's penstemon up against the greenhouse 
with a few small naturalized sunflowers starting their summer journey.

In the background are yet more flax which shows how much we liked them.

Flax are short lived perennials,
but reseed easily if you let the seeds mature and drop,
or you can spread the seeds where you want them.

Front to back are flax, moonshine yarrow, reddish jupiter's beard
backed by a lilac, and at the top a wisteria.

On the far right you can see a bit of the hops 
which cover another rain barrel.

Hops are one plant we had that liked more water 
so it had a good spot next to the rain barrel.

A barrel cactus, found at a yard sale, in bloom in front of some hens and chicks.

This cactus from our neighbor is from Havasu Canyon and seems at home with iris.

Some points:

-We liked to jam plants in close together as I think plants like company
 and it creates a more lush effect as they shade the ground reducing evaporation 
and making it easier to water, keeps down weeds,
 not to mention the intertwining of color and texture.

-Although most of these plants are ornamentals, we also look for food and medicinal uses.

-If it needs water it better have a good excuse, such as a fruit tree.

-Natives are good for many reasons
 not least of which is they attract birds and insects.

- Trees, sunflowers,and birdbaths attract birds which also lets them fertilize the soil 
so design your plants to utilize this resource.

-Don't spend so much time amending soil
 but rather pick plants that will grow with what you have,
 such as yarrow, iris, flax, natives, etc. that thrive in poor soils.

-Group plants according to water needs 
such as placing your water loving plants around the drip line of a fruit tree.