I read Susan’s post on drought-tolerant plants while I was in the New Mexico high desert–where it rained almost every day. Summers around there are known for their delicious, dramatic thunderstorms that rumble in just in time to cool down the 100+ temps and wash through the sandy, alkaline soil.
And then I returned home to chilly, overcast, northern California, where it barely rains for months but also never gets warm. You’d think that High Country Garden‘s plants would just sulk in my slightly acid, clay soil, but guess what? They’re flourishing.
I agree with the commenters who said that we should stop lusting after plants that grow halfway across the country, but I also know that drought-tolerant plants make sense anywhere. Just depends on your definition of drought.
Before I order from High Country, I call them up and tell them where I live. I make it clear that temps
never get much above 70, and I check to see if what I’m after can tolerate a little morning or afternoon shade. They’re surprisingly knowledgeable about my climate, and like any great nursery, they’ll cheerfully talk me out of a plant that won’t work here.
Here’s what I think a town like Santa Fe or Taos has to teach us: Figure out what works and run with it. Every parking lot, every street median, every storefront and cafe and garden was growing yarrow, hollyhock, salvia, lavender–if it works, plant it by the dozen.
I also loved the fact that gardeners there have figured out how to work with the architecture. A blue
windowsill is just crying out for something orange. A long red ristra (string of chile peppers) hanging in a doorway demands some yellow to help it pop. Santa Fe has figured out what its thing is, horticulturally speaking, and it’s running with it. It makes the whole city feel like one continuous garden.
And I’m not just talking about the wealthy, touristy communities–even run-down neighborhoods in Albuquerque looked fabulous–because they have figured out what to grow.
Do they long for roses and spirea and lilacs? Well, yeah–probably. What gardener doesn’t want what they don’t have? But meanwhile, the place looks enchanting The butterflies don’t seem to mind, either.