How to be water wise |

How to be water wise

by M.G. Gallagher

Perhaps the best strategy is to convert lawn areas to xeriscape plantings. I’m not talking about the large rectangles of inc- and-a-half pink quartz that have occasionally blighted the image of xeriscaping. There are thousands of fine examples of good low-water design, and seldom are they complicated, but they are very attractive.

There are waterwise plants of all shapes, sizes, and colors, as well as good surrounding materials. A little effort into planning an appealing design is all it takes.

Placement, form, color, and interest features are fun to work with. Design can be fun. It starts with a freeing of the mind, and looking at ideas first, without judgment. It’s like starting out with scribbling and finishing with a Monet. (If Monet were here today, he would concur that the pallette of xeriscape flowers is laden with beautiful selections.)

And keep it simple. So many nice designs I’ve seen in the Southwest are simple, yet beautiful.

Conversion to low-water landscaping should include conversion from conventional sprinklers to drip and microspray irrigation.

A top choice is sulphur umbrella flower, sometimes called sulphur buckwheat. Its brilliant sulphur-yellow blossoms appear in early summer, and after a long stint slowly fade to shades of rusty pink.

Another underused group is the hyssops. Agastache cana, or double bubble mint, seems to be the most hardy for the east end of the valley. It bears interesting deep pink flowers from mid-summer into the fall, and has the distinct aroma of bubble gum.

Anise mint, A. foeniculum, has blue flowers, and smells like anise. Licorice mint, A. rupestris, has fascinating orange into lavender flowers and smells like sweet licorice.