Friday, October 15, 2010

Xeriscape ~ Desert ~ Cactus ~ Gardening

Blog Action Day 2010 Water

British Columbia has one of the driest and hottest spots in Canada. The dry interior zone is not large, but it is very interesting - snaking up all the way from the Mojave Desert in California, it makes its way through Oregon and Washington and into the Okanagan and Thompson River Valleys in the southern part of British Columbia.
Only a small part of this area, near Osoyoos, is true desert. But the rest of it is still very dry, with rainfall as low as just a few inches per year, and summer temperatures that can be more than 40 degrees Celsius! We even have tumbleweeds, cacti, and rattlesnakes - right here in Kamloops, BC.

Xeriscape Gardens, McArthur Park, Kamloops, BC, Canada
Xeriscaping (pronounce the ‘x’ as a ‘z’) refers to landscaping and gardening in ways to have water efficient gardening.  This does not mean we have only cactus and drought tolerant plants but choosing plants appropriate to the site.  A great example is at McArthur Park on the Northshore of Kamloops, BC.

McArthur Island, Kamloops, BC, Canada
Kamloops as part of the Thompson River Valley, is semi-arid and therefore has some challenges to gardening.  We’ve always enjoyed the luxury of having water for our grass and gardens but there are other ways to have beautiful gardens and landscaping.

Late summer garden at McArthur Park, Kamloops, BC
This style of gardening will create healthier gardens when proper watering and mulching is used.  Xeriscaping uses less water and requires less weeding, fertilizing, pruning, mowing and pesticides.

Indigenous plants for the area
Perennial xeriscape gardens can include sedum, coneflowers, dryland grass and most plants with grey or fuzzy leaves are usually drought tolerant.   If you wish more information, clik here to learn the principles of xeriscape gardening.

A cactus feature in a city garden
Combining several varieties that require so little water, including ‘hens and chicks’ and ‘Mother-in-law’s Tongue’ is demonstrated with this concrete birdbath.  A great suggestion for a garden feature.

A lonely cactus grows on a hillside in Kamloops, BC
Hens and chicks are a popular succulent evergreen perennial and can grow and multiply well in this area, with very little water.  I saw this one sitting pretty on a hillside all alone but thriving where nothing else was.

A large prickly pear cactus
Pickly pear cactus, history tells us, had many uses with the First Nations, including telling them when it was time to pick other plants, e.g. when the cactus blooms, it is time to pick Saskatoon berries.  They would use the spines to pierce ears, roast stems and eat them as greens plus it makes great pickly pear jelly.  Recipes can easily be found on the internet.

As anyone walking the trails in the hills surrounding Kamloops can attest to, we have lots of cactii in those hills.  Some are small enough to be easily missed but it doesn’t take long to know if you’ve walked into them, and caution must be taken when taking our dogs for walks on these trails. 

I hope this will give some ideas on how to make a beautiful garden area and yet conserve water.  This is a big problem that must not be ignored and we can all do something about it.  Every drop counts so let us not waste any of them. 

We still have a long way to go to avoid waste and conserve our water but there are efforts being made and this city xeriscape garden is a good example of that.  This is one other reason why we love Kamloops, there is just no place like home.


  1. This is the most amazing blog I've stumbled upon, I was here looking up info on RRange when I came upon your photos of RR and CC, my Dad lived on RR and my Mom came from the original Campbells of CC!! I LOVED those photos and I love these, I recognize some of the names and some of the photos, GREAT BLOG for nostalgia you take amazing photos Lynn Mortensen (in france)

  2. Thanks for your kind words, Lynn. You've made my day!
    My dad also lived in RR so many years ago.
    I love sharing our hometown with others but it amazes me that it can touch someone anywhere in the world! Sheila