when water is scarse…

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For those of you won’t aren’t aware, Oklahoma has been under the thumb of a severe drought for the past three years, or so. The first year was oppressive. That’s the only way I can describe it. Triple digit temperatures, no rain, and expansion joints literally breaking in the roadway. This spring, we’ve experienced record amounts of rain. People are declaring the drought to be over. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Texas and parts of western Oklahoma are still in a stage of severe drought. Central Oklahoma is still technically in the drought area ‘with lessened effects’. This means that just because we get lots of rain in spring, does not mean that summer will be as water logged. Beyond that, I wholeheartedly believe these drier weather patterns are here to stay…for good. Water rationing, conservation, and xeriscape are the way of the present. People just haven’t accepted the facts yet.

This brings me to my broader point. People in central Oklahoma are not going to be able to maintain giant gardens full of Boxwood, Hydrangea, and thousands of annuals anymore. Working in the design industry, it was so important that we incorporate as many evergreens as possible. If it’s not in a constant state of green, people freak out. I agree, evergreens have their place. However, if weather trends continue, we simply will not have the water to support them on a large scale.

Enter wildflowers. 

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I have tried to push the use of wildflowers in residential, commercial, and civic projects for YEARS. Sure, they aren’t evergreen. They appear unkempt. You have to seed them twice a year. But, they are extremely drought tolerant, and in many cases native. The deal is, you have to be strategic with where you plant. You also have to avoid any weeding until the flowers actually bloom. It is worth the work. Once these flowers bloom, it is the most incredible seasonal show. You have flowers that arrive in early spring. Those die back, and a wave of summer flowers appears. It’s a dynamic display of color and foliage. Our mix includes Larkspur, Poppy, Cosmos, Blackeyed Susan, in addition to many others. The cool thing is, certain seeds may or may not appear in a mix. So you may have the same performers for a couple of years. But have a completely different show the next. It’s pretty amazing, really.

You have to wrap your head around the fact that in the late fall and winter, the bed will be collage of dormant stems {or empty if you cut it all down}. The prospect of that may scare some people. Believe it or not, absence really does make the heart grow fonder. It’s amazing how much I look forward to spring when everything is semi-bare in the winter. It makes the appearance of the wildflowers that much more exciting. If you’ve got some empty space to work with, try wildflowers.

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