Story Starter: Gorgeous Drought Gardens

November 11, 2015

Are you ready to blow away a few drought gardening myths? It’s a good thing to do, because it helps us shake off the feeling that it’s pointless to be gardening. Drought and gardening are not, in fact, mutually exclusive. Knowing how to make gorgeous gardens where water is scarce is just about being clever…

drought tolerant plants

This is an Australian garden in drought – lusciously lovely in cool whites and filled with Snow Storm agapanthus and Flower Carpet White roses.


GET MULCHING: If you’ve not mulched before, now is the time. Mulching is about covering the soil surface with a thick layer of something that lets in water and air. Mulch makes a big difference to the way your garden looks in the hot and dry. It stops your soil heating up and cooking the plants’ fine root hairs. It stops weeds growing and stealing precious water. And when you water the garden, it stops the soil drying out before the plants can make good use of it.


WATER WISELY: Water is precious and getting scarcer. The drought veterans in Australia have learned how to water wisely so that nothing is wasted and the plants thrive. Whether they’re currently gardening in a drought or not, they use the same approach and their gardens are robust, healthy and beautiful. Many Australian gardeners use low-pressure, in-line drip irrigation systems. Easy to install, they run across the soil surface delivering water directly to roots. Sitting under the mulch, no water is wasted by being sprayed onto the foliage or running off onto paths or driveways. Even on hot days, loss via evaporation is almost zilch. With a timer added to the set up, water can be
delivered to their gardens twice a week at 2:00 or 3:00 AM for even better results.


THE RIGHT PLANTS: There’s nothing like a drought to make you take stock of what’s growing – or trying to survive – in your garden. Drought does make honest gardeners of us all. There is no way to avoid seeing the casualties, so it’s best to accept the reality and avoid growing what clearly can’t cope.


But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a lush garden filled with flowers – all you need to do is pick the right plants. Something like Storm agapanthus will fill your garden beds with its strappy, vibrant green foliage all year round, with punchy massed flower heads in blues or cool white, for months over summer. Flower Carpet roses are another drought-tolerant option and they come in a rainbow selection of shades. This particular rose copes fabulously in the heat, smothering itself in flowers from late spring to late summer. Lavenders are brilliant too, rosemary the herb, salvias, sedums… your options are almost endless once you start looking out for drought-tolerant plants. Also keep in mind that in many warmer climates – California for example – it’s possible to plant in fall and winter, which helps plants to get established before the summer heat stresses the plants. A great shrub to plant this fall or winter is the new coprosma Pacific Sunset™ which is a gorgeous plant from every perspective; it has strong glossy foliage interest and is ideal for adding structure to the garden. As a bonus, unlike many shrubs, it’s not a water guzzler.


drought tolerant shrubs

This new coprosma, Pacific Sunset is a very un-thirsty and gorgeous addition to any autumn garden color scheme.


TO SUM UP: You can fill your garden, during a drought, with gorgeous flowering plants as long as you mulch it, irrigate it efficiently and above all, grow the right plants. It’s as easy as that – problem solved.

drought tolerant plants

This sun baked garden bed at LAX is cool and green thanks to some smart plant choices. Here Blue Storm agapanthus is the hero under a stand of palms.


drought gardens

This professional planting of Flower Carpet Pink roses and lavender is a drought-proof solution that proves drier gardens can still be filled with colorful flowers.


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