Okanagan Xeriscape Association

Recently a landscape architect friend told me about a great gardening book entitled “Planting in the Post-Wild World” written by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West.

On the back cover the book is summarized as a “groundbreaking guide that presents a powerful alternative to traditional horticulture: designed plantings that function like naturally occurring plant communities”.

In this book the authors are making the case for designing plant communities inspired by the wild. One of the chapters explores the concept of resilient landscapes as a design process by examining the three essential relationships: relating plants to place, relating plants to people and relating plants to other plants.

In the preface of their book the authors call it “a manifesto dedicated to the idea of new nature – a hybrid of both wild and the cultivated – that can flourish in our cities and suburbs, but it needs our help” and the authors dedicate their book “to anyone who can influence a small patch of land”. They furthermore observe “While our small urban spaces will never be true grasslands, woodlands or forests, they can look and function like a more distilled version of them”.

At the end of the book the authors highlight three garden case studies of very different types of gardens. They conclude that “As populations expand and resources become increasingly limited, plantings can no longer be just ornamental backdrops for our buildings. They must instead perform double duty: cleaning our storm water, providing a food source for pollinators, and acting as a kind of genetic reservoir for diversity. Achieving this requires understanding how plants fit together, how they change over time, and how they form stable composition.”

Here regionally, the non-profit organization Okanagan Xeriscape Association (OXA) provides information and offers classes on how to “landscape with nature” and they also host an extensive plant database on their website www.okanaganxeriscape.org listing and describing appropriate water wise plants we can grow in this valley.

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On Sat., June 10, I will be leading an OXA xeriscape class at the Summerland Ornamental Gardens and will also conduct a tour of the site’s extensive Xeriscape Demonstration Garden — check out the OXA website above for registration details.

Eva Antonijevic, Program Director Okanagan Xeriscape Association.