The first meeting of the year was well attended, with a handful of new faces in the crowd. Welcome!
Colleen Green introduced the speaker – Kathleen Lang – and her topic was Drought Tolerant Gardening.
Kathleen hails from the Lanark County Master Gardener group, and has been a member for 11 years. She gardens on a tiny lot on the banks of the Rideau River. Many of her tricks were learned while gardening in South Africa. She managed to
established a landscape at her new home during a 4 year drought. Today, with many having to pay for water, these same techniques come into play.
So-called drought-resistant plants are, by definition, tolerant of low-water conditions. But while the definition is straightforward enough, we find that it’s not so easy to implement a plan that will get our landscapes through periods without rainfall (in the absence of artificial irrigation). That’s because, in practice, there are numerous factors that have a say regarding whether or not a plant will receive adequate water.
For example, what type of soil do you have? Something that qualifies as a “drought-resistant plant” in a wonderfully loamy soil may struggle during a dry spell if it’s growing in a sandy soil (through which water pours quickly, as through a sieve).
Then there’s the issue of competition for resources. The most extreme example is encountered when we plant under trees. Only stubbornly tough plants can compete successfully with massive trees for water. But on a less extreme level, even various types of weeds can pose a challenge to landscaping specimens during dry periods, siphoning off much needed water.
Thankfully, using garden mulch correctly can mitigate some of the above challenges. Mulch shields the ground from the pounding sun, helping to keep it from drying out. It also suppresses weeds, thereby reducing competition for water. But even after mulch breaks down, it continues to work hard for you. As it decomposes, organic mulch adds humus to the soil, promoting water-retention.
Always pay attention to sunshine requirements and/or tolerance when planting. You may think of full-sun plants when you hear mention of drought resistant plants, but there are also suitable plants for dry shade. Moreover, not all sun-lovers tolerate excessive dryness (and there are varying degrees of such tolerance).
Vegetation that tolerates dry soil includes stalwarts such as cacti and succulents, as well as native plants. The latter have adapted to your local climate over the ages, so they should work well as drought resistant plants if you can mimic their natural habitat soil type, amount of sunshine or shade, etc.). Not everyone will like the look of a landscape planted purely with cacti and succulents, although new cultivars such as ‘Chocolate Drop’ sedum may generate significant excitement. And sometimes natives simply don’t offer enough color choices for a particular season of the year.
Seedsavers blog: Drought strategies for vegetable gardening
Howard Hunter brought the revised Constitution and By-Laws forward for a vote of acceptance. On motions duly moved and seconded, the society’s Constitution and Bylaws as amended were adopted. You can read them or download a copy here[88kb pdf].
The meeting closed outwith a series of announcements from Colleen (aided by the audience).
There are a couple of notable fund-raisers from the OHA (details to be on the web site).
John Garside will be in charge of the Society’s efforts with the Picton Hospital Garden for this year.
Members were reminded about the plant sale to be held in Wellington on May 16 (Saturday).
Member benefits this year are 10% discounts at Walker’s Greenhouse in Milford, and Connons in Trenton will donate 10% of member purchases back to the Society. Watch for details soon our web site.
Seedy Saturday was ‘very well done’ and raised some money for the Society. Congratulations to Bert and Mary Jenkins, Howard Hunter, and Anne Reeves.
The mini-show main category – ‘arrangement is a tea cup’ … First place went to Mary Jenkins (arrangement at left below) and second place went to Pat Stuckey.
Pat Stuckey was the only entrant in the ‘Garden Picture’ mini-show category.
Click the images to see larger versions.
photo credits: Howard Hunter