The Best of Times - The Worst of Times

A few days ago, I tried to cancel the order of 2 fruit trees from a nearby nursery. "We don't have a drought," said the nursery manager. "Your garden looks bad because we had a bad frost in December."

No matter what I said, she was not to be moved. The newspapers were exaggerating. It might still rain a lot in March. No drought.

Regrettably, she was wrong. California is now officially in a drought. Farmers can apply for aid. The rest of us are encouraged to save water.

"You're lucky," one of my neighbors said. "with your native plants, you must be saving a lot of water."

Which is true, but my problem is that I've been saving water for the last 10+ years. I've gotten very good at using the bare minimum, both for myself and for my plants. But if the water district asks me to cut another 20%, I don't know how to do it. Which brings me back to the title of this post.

This is the Best of Times...

  • To get rid of a lawn and plan a native garden for next year. Assuming it will finally rain. 
  • To come up with more creative ways of using water. I'm planning to collect salad and vegetable washing water and use it in the garden. And I'll start taking navy showers. 
  • To focus on Southern California natives (unless you already focus on locally native plants) and on succulents for some extra oomph in the garden. 
  • Consider watering even the natives. A little bit goes a long way, and the plants need the water now. Better to cut back on watering in summer, as plants go summer dormant. 
  • To enjoy those plants that miraculously survive - or even thrive. Meeting with some gardening friends today, we all remarked on how well our manzanitas and madrones looked. 

This is the Worst of Times...
  • To expect miracles from your California natives. The plants are already drought stressed from last spring, and might need additional water now. You can start cutting back in June. 
  • To be a gardener who has been conscientious for many years. I'm truly worried I'll get hit with an astronomical water bill because my water use will likely be higher this spring than last. I hope I can apply for an exception with the water district, the rules of the water saving game are not clear yet. 
  • To have redwoods or a redwood habitat. The neighbor's redwoods, much beloved for their shade and the many birds they attract, are problematic because the require water to survive. Truly drought-stressed trees pose a risk - they might topple when the next big storm hits. 

So, just as with all things, it's hard to say whether the drought is just tragic. I personally find it upsetting, for sure. I miss the smell of the damp clay, the many small seedlings, the promise if a wonderful spring. But maybe it will be a wake-up call for some. Maybe some of my neighbors will start asking more questions. Maybe we'll even realize that the changing climate that brings about weather like this - even worse in Australia than here - is a call to action.

Maybe there's more we can do!


Terra said…
We have the same situation at our house re the drought since we already save water and really can not cut a lot more. Many people who waste water can comfortably cut water usage, but not you and not us. We are already water frugal.
We have no lawn and that saves a huge amount of water plus no chemicals needed.
Country Mouse said…
It does seem unfair to make those who use water little use it even less. By the way, Las Pilitas nursery blog makes the interesting statement that anyway it is bad for the plants to deep water right now. Maybe an hour at longest. They say plants are maintaining their summer state and to water much more would cause pathogens and etc - you can read it here:
Diana Studer said…
I have an ongoing argument with my husband - who would like to water enough to keep the plants green thru high summer. But. They are meant to be resting, aestivating, till the coolth and rain in March. Sigh. Will try your link on him.