That's not drought tolerant--that's normal - Saxon Holt's Summer-Dry website, and getting "occidented"
|This book changed my life!|
I'm preparing to give a talk on best books for native plant gardeners. I was thinking about books that get gardeners reoriented, or I should say occidented, turned towards the summer-dry west where we live, rather than the summer-wet east where many of us used to live, when it comes to how we garden.
It was the first chapter of Plants and Landscapes for Summer-dry Climates that did it for me.
It's a book based through and through on the idea of gardening where you are. And on good principles including use of natives and non-harm to wild areas (though it is not limited to gardening with natives by any means). Ms Town Mouse reviewed it back in 2009 here.
In fact, Gardening Where You Are is the title of the first chapter. I still have a visceral memory of its ideas filling my head and my heart though I read it ten or maybe eleven years ago. I also loved the writing itself.
|An East Bay landscape. Photo by Saxon Holt. Downloaded from summer-dry.com|
I visited the page of the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD)--the unromantically named yet inspired organization that brought this book into being--to see if the book was ever updated (it wasn't).
However, I was happy to discover there that Saxon Holt, photographer for the book, has launched a new web site called Summer-Dry, with multiply-indexed access to all the photographs in the book. The site has the tag line:
Celebrate Plants in Summer-Dry Gardens.
What a striking inversion. I have to stop apologizing for summer dry gardens! Sheesh! What was I thinking! Talk about getting reoccidented!
And the site has an interesting blog. In his post on the term drought-tolerant, Saxon Holt says:
"Summer-dry gardens are naturally dry for long periods. It’s not drought, it’s normal."
Another mind-shifting notion! I love it! You should read his whole post.
Incredibly, given my little trip down the memory lane of garden book reading, there is also a post on the web site by Nora Harlow, author of the chapter that so inspired me, about writing that chapter! Nora is Community Affairs Representative at East Bay Municipal Utility District and a landscape architect - and a wonderful writer.
She says that while walking through Joshua National Park in Southern California, stuck in writer's block ...
|California Southern Desert. Photo by Saxon Holt downloaded from summer-dry.com|
... and daydreaming about reproducing that beautiful desert landscape in her Northern California home... when...
"[T]he truth suddenly came unbidden to me. If I wanted that garden I would have to pack up and move … I went straight to my computer and typed these words: Gardening Where You Are. The rest of that chapter tumbled out as if writing itself, and in a few short days it was done."
Here is the first paragraph of Nora Harlow's opening chapter to the book Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates of the San Francisco Bay Region. The ideas are no longer revolutionary to me, and probably not to you either. Still, I hope you enjoy it half as much as I did.
Some call it natural gardening. Others describe it as sustainable, ecological, regional, or bioregional. Whatever it’s called, the approach to landscaping outlined here is attuned to local climate, microclimate, topography, and soils, and responsive to the reality of limited resources. The natural approach to landscape design and maintenance conserves water and energy, protects wildlands, limits green waste, and provides habitat for wildlife. At the same time, it requires less upkeep than traditional landscapes, and it connects the gardener—and those who live, work, or play in the garden—to the rhythms of life: the seasons, the weather, the daily miracles of the natural world.