What does it mean to be a water wise gardener? It means as gardeners we need to respect water, we need to understand the value of water, we need to conserve water and we must use water wisely and responsibly at all times. We need to create gardens that are sustainable and able to withstand the challenges every season brings.
The three main pillars to successful water wise gardens are soil preparation, selection of plants and mulching.
- Soil preparation
Invest in your soil. Spend time enriching with compost. By composting we return nutrients that we have ‘taken’ from our soil. Compost will greatly reduce our dependence on chemicals, such as artificial fertilisers and pesticides. Compost, a valuable component to soil preparation for planting will most importantly improve the soil’s capacity to hold and retain water.
- Selection of plants
There are a wealth of plants suited for water wise (low water use) gardens. Select carefully and group plants according to their water needs.
Drought tolerant plants:
Dymondia margaretae – Silver Carpet. A compact, neat, ground hugging plant with small yellow daisy-like flowers. It is perfect for those tight areas inbetween stepping stones and sunny courtyards. Clivia miniata – Bush Lily – Magnificent trumpet-shaped red, orange, yellow or cream flowers in spring. Make sure to plant in shaded areas. Phormium – New Zealand Flax. Ideal for plant structure and linear architectural lines in gardens and containers. Gaura lindheimeri – Butterfly Bush with their showy white and pink flowers will attract beneficial birds and bees.
Low water wise plants:
Varieties of Hemerocallis – Daylilies come in every colour of the rainbow, yellow, orange, maroon, pink, purple and red. They can be used as a border along a path or driveway. Suitable for growing in containers. Nothing can beat the Plumbago – Cape– Forget– Me– Not shrub – for its ease of growth and the flowers are a massive attraction for birds. Lavender varieties – with its incredible fragrance and beautiful flowers will attract beneficial insects, bees and butterflies.
Medium water wise plants:
Part of our Cape Floral Kingdom, this rich reed-like plant Chondropetalum tectorum – Cape Reed is stylish and elegant with its graceful foliage. Plant Osteospernums – African Daisies for their showy array of flowers, dazzling purples, whites and yellows will attract a host off butterflies to your garden. Carex – Sedge Grass, are dense forming low- growing ornamental grasses ideal for mass planting. Plant in full sun to take advantage of the contrasting foliage.
Mulching is an important gardening management technique in gardens making the transition into water wise. Mulch will ultimately stabilise soil temperature, retain moisture in summer and will also protect roots from cold weather temperatures. Mulches also help to prevent weeds from growing. Mulching is advised in all areas of the garden. Mulches come in different forms, most popular include the bio-degradable mulches like grass clippings, sawdust, bark chips, well-rotted manure and garden compost.
Enjoy the transition of gardening wisely and sustainably for the future, share your water wise gardening knowledge freely for generations to pass down and love your plants that bring everyone joy and hope.