The ongoing California drought has us all thinking of creative ways to spare water but keep our gardens fresh and full of life. Taking a cue from our natural dessert landscape, we are reminded of the beauty of native plants that grow easily in this dry climate and add to the health of our ecosystem.
Many varieties of plant-life attract pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds with bright colorful blooms. Succulents can ease the need for complex irrigation and trees and bushes offer shelter for birds and smaller animal species of rabbits and lizards, for example.
According to Lisha Astorg, special events cooordinator of the Desert Horticultural Society of the Coachella Valley (DHSCV), “Without sacrificing beauty, native plants can also dramatically reduce outdoor watering needs, helping to insure the future and at the same time providing much needed habitats for local wildlife.”
DHSCV is a team of volunteers and professionals, all experts in indigenous desert landscape flora and fauna, who educate the public through outreach, advocacy, and information. They will host their 10th Annual Desert Garden Tour from noon to 4 p.m. April 12 featuring five gorgeous, water-conserving gardens.
Drawing upon drought tolerant plants native to the Coachella Valley, the following types can enhance your garden and benefit the environment.
• Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa var.glandulosa): The beautiful draped form of this moderate tree has naturally deep roots, sparing water. Early Desert Cahuillas relied upon the mesquite bean as a nutritious food source and used the materials for construction.
• Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa): Evergreen gray to light green leaves are soft and velvety with yellow daisy like flowers on tall stems blooming in the spring. Easily maintained due to its good drainage, low water, full sun and no fertilizer, this hardy plant can play a versatile role in home gardens.
• Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata): This year-round bloomer thrives in dry, hot weather, in the sand or rocky terrain of the desert floor. Bright yellow flowers attractive to bees and butterflies.
photo courtesy of thinkstockphotos.com
Red Barrel or Compass Cactus.
• Red Barrel or Compass Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus): The stout barrel-shaped cactus is a subtle accent in a water efficient garden with plants tending to lean southward with time giving them their common name. Yellow to orange flowers appear in the spring and early summer followed by fruits with many tiny edible seeds inside.
Astorga encourages landscape enthusiasts to enjoy self-guided tours that offer insight and inspiration to every garden style. “Our goal on the Garden Tour is to help you find your garden personality with a style that speaks to you," she says. "Be it minimal Zen, modern, tropical, cottage or Mediterranean, we can show you how you can have any of these garden styles while still using desert friendly, water efficient plants to achieve your best results.”
Attendees can pre-register online or at the event, and Guests receive a tour map upon check in at Wellness Park in Palm Springs
10th Annual Desert Garden Tour, Noon to 4 p.m. April 12. Check in at Welless Park, Via Miraleste and Tachevah, Palm Springs. Admission is $15 for non-members of the Desert Horticultural Society of the Coachella Valley and $5 for students; www.deserthorticulturalsociety.org