Water Wise

Where’s the water?

It’s hot around here and dry- a typical summer on the Central Coast.  But unlike other years, this summer wasn’t preceded by a wet winter. In the mountains near us where they typically get about 50 inches of rainfall per year, the storms summed to a meager 2.5 inches. It has everyone worried. We are now in our third year of drought in California and experiencing the driest year on record in over 100 years. Without much water, the risk of wildfires is elevated and our farm fields are gasping.

At our house we’re water-wise and have landscaped with natives that are not water intensive. In addition, we’ve installed drip irrigation everywhere so the plants get only metered amounts. While the hills all around us are turning gold and crisp, on the patio our collection of succulents is just starting to bloom.

My love of succulents started when I was 8 years old and I entered my county fair landscaping competition. I had to create a garden space with the theme “Under The Sea.”  Succulents, with their knobby leaves and repeating patterns looked like underwater creatures to me. Branchy corals, sea anemonies, spiny urchins- I created textures to look like the ocean floor. My design won “best in show” at the fair, but real prize was getting to plant them all at home. Succulents are amazing because they are both beautiful and nearly indestructible.

Botanists classify succulents any plant with thick, fleshy (succulent) water storage organs. Succulents (xerophytes- from Greek xero dry, phuton plant) have superpowers- water can be stored in leaves, stems or roots and their adaptability to survive arid conditions make them ideal for our climate.

They come in so many varieties of shapes and colors of silver green and purple, jade and teal, I love them! They are easy to grow and share- some of my favorites in our collection come from our friend in Santa Barbara. We snipped a few leaves from her plants and now they’re thriving at our house.  At the end of the summer, we’ll clip some of our plants to pass onto other friends. Here’s a great site to help you get started propagating succulents.

I hope you all are having a great summer and remembering to be especially water wise!



2 thoughts on “Water Wise

  1. Emma, this is one of the best-written essays I’ve seen on your blog. The thesis, focus and language are all very tight, and the description entices. Have you seen the coffee-table book The Jewel Box Garden (I think that’s the title)? Not all the gardens featured are water-wise, but for some reason I think you might enjoy the gardening style depicted.

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