Spring is Springing
Abundant rain and snow are greening the hillsides and vacant lots. Spring comes early in a Mediterranean climate. California (except for our deserts) is one of a handful of places in the world with this type of climate, which is characterized by moderate wet winters and hot dry summers.
California native plants come to life with the winter rains, and many grow like crazy and bloom in early to mid-spring, while plants in the rest of the country are just starting to come out of winter dormancy. As summer gets hotter and dryer, many of the California native plants go into a resting phase, or go into summer dormancy, while plants in the rest of the country are growing like crazy and blooming in response to summer rain.
As I hike around our mountainsides, the manzanitas and Oregon grape, some of the earliest spring bloomers, are growing flower buds. Native bulbs like golden star (Bloomeria crocea) and blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum) are growing their strap-like leaves, preparing to shoot up a flower stalk. At the bird feeder, my little neighbors are starting to show up in pairs rather than flocks.
We can have landscapes at our homes and businesses that need zero irrigation and are still green and blooming. The secret is to choose plants native to the surrounding mountainsides that already know how to grow here, – without any help from us. They’ve been doing it for thousands of years. And if you want thriving plants with a longer bloom period, you might water once or twice a month. That’s a huge difference from watering lawn three or four times a week.
If you landscape with plants from the Continental US, or from China or Rhodesia, they expect to get water in summer, because they come from areas with summer rain. Put them in a Mediterranean climate and you have to irrigate them in summer because we so very rarely get rain in that season.
Our fescue lawn grass is actually from a Mediterranean climate, and it goes dormant in summer like a well-adapted Mediterranean plant, greening up with fall rains. It is our cultural bias that lawns must be green all summer, so we water, water, water. Our lawn “fashion” came from England, where it rains all summer, and was made fashionable when subdivisions were invented on the east coast of the US, where it rains all summer. Lawn in California is difficult and costly to sustain.
Get rid of some lawn. You have so much help available to you right now! Financial help from the State turf rebate program, up to $2.00 per square foot of lawn removed. Low water plant lists developed specifically for Tehachapi are available from our website, (http://tccwd.com/plants/). My expertise is available in the form of free landscape consultations. I can help you through every step of your re-landscaping process and make sure you meet the rebate requirements if you decide to apply. What are you waiting for – me to design your new landscape? It’s possible!
Email me, Liz Block, at email@example.com or call (661) 822-5504.