Green the Grounds, Lawn Reform, Ministry of Controversy

Postcards From The Edge – DROUGHT

I have lived through drought before, but I have never seen anything like what I am witnessing now.

I live in what is usually called an “up and coming” community – this is one of those places where artists and musicians come to raise their families, and before the drought, it looked like an adorable upper-middle class community of post-war bungalows.

Now it looks abject, a neglected place, even though the homeowners are anything BUT neglectful of their homes.

These pictures were taken on one block, around the corner from my house.

This is how things have looked since March, only now, in addition to the lawn shriveling up, foundation plantings are dying as well.

We simply don’t have water.

Has YOUR climate changed in any way that is affecting your quality of life? This drought means that I don’t wash my car, showering is quick, my beloved bubble baths are a thing of the path, and my garden is suffering. If it continues, it may mean that prices for food are raised dramatically, maybe for the whole county.

This is my reality, it is a painful reality for a passionate gardener. Even succulents and natives need regular water to thrive.

Yes, Los Angeles is a dream – a city built in a dessert where ALL the water is imported from elsewhere. Currently, we are in the midst of a population boom. Which means we need more water to sustain all the transplants (pun intended – even when I’m sad I’m cheeky!). Maybe what we need is to move this entire city somewhere else. Because THIS, this version of Los Angeles, is as unsustainable as it gets.

Have a look – this is repeated in many neighborhoods. The only thing that is worse is the neighborhoods that are lush and green.

 

drought 2drought 3drought 4drought 5

sodrought 6

Sigh. That’s all, folks.

Posted by on August 27, 2014 at 10:05 am, in the category Green the Grounds, Lawn Reform, Ministry of Controversy.
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43 Responses to “Postcards From The Edge – DROUGHT”

  1. Garden Rant Garden Rant says:

    Boy, those photos are shocking to this Easterner. Susan in green Maryland.

  2. tara dillard says:

    Are house foundations cracking?

    You touch on something potent then jump away.

    My mom, living on Galveston Bay, has only 1 option for flood insurance. The government. 2 choices, a high/low. When hurricane Ike hit the government gave the lowest amount of insurance even to those who paid for the highest. Potent. Some elderly widows had to leave their, now empty, plot of land where they had lived decades due to the insurance issues. Some homes were forced to wait years to rebuild. Ike was not a major hurricane.

    So, do Americans have a ‘right’ to live in hurricane prone areas, drought areas, fire etc????? Interesting times.

    Remember too well the stress of living with drought in my garden & things dying. For all, hope it ends soon but not in muddy floods. Know too much, must be careful for what you ask for !

    Historic gardens of northern Italy are instructive, at least to me while studying them decades ago. Rocky, little top soil, not much rain. Gardens were gorgeous. It was all in the design & plant selection. Intellect instead of amusement, stewardship instead of arrogance against Nature.

    Again, hope this ends soon, the drought.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    • Ivette Soler Ivette Soler says:

      Tara, I think if we had to squeeze this population into low-risk temperate zones where there were no tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, blizzards, icestorms, fires, or droughts we would all be living in … I don’t even know where, Kentucky?
      Who can anticipate how the climate will change? And, for many, the risk of living in a flood plane where the risk is one flood every 40 years isn’t a bad one. People love to live in high-fire zones, those are the places closest to nature, the most undeveloped. I am not sure whether having a government agency “allowing” people to live only in areas of gentle weather is any sort of viable answer …

  3. Marcia says:

    Google News search “aquifers” and “California.”
    Shocking.

    Heck, even marijuana growers are shutting down water-guzzling operations, buying water trucks to supply other growers who are decimating streams:
    http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/legal-pot/water-guzzling-pot-plants-draining-drought-wracked-california-n149861

  4. It may sound strange but I found your photos comforting. I, too, live in an “upscale” Southern California neighborhood and my front yard looks like hell, just like some of those shown in your photos. In contrast, the yards of many of my neighbors look much better – their grass is still a pleasant green color. I just interviewed a garden service provider who suggested that either something was wrong with my irrigation system or I wasn’t running it enough. He commiserated about the water cost when I said I’d reduced my watering but he looked a bit askance when I said I’d done that in response to the drought rather than the cost. We’ve taken out large sections of lawn already and the rest will probably go, albeit in increments. I think all of us in drought-stricken areas have a responsibility to change our planting schemes – the drought is a kick in the pants to emphasize that we do, indeed, live in a desert and we need to adapt to those conditions. Every region faces its challenges – be it floods, fires, landslides, tornados or other violent acts of nature – we need to understand the impact and adapt our life styles and practices to fit our circumstances. The world is a crowded place and we can’t all in a rain-blessed haven.

    • Ivette Soler Ivette Soler says:

      Kris, I get it – at least in these photos we see people are doing the responsible thing and cutting back on water. I have clients who WON’T have anything other than lush greenery everywhere, and it feels really bad. I want to yell at people – “This is a FINITE RESOURCE!!!” – so yes, these photos at the very least show good intentions.
      All of us have to think about how we are going to balance our desires for gorgeous gardens with the realities of the times we live in. It won’t be easy. But we have to start somewhere! Thanks for your comment!

      • kermit says:

        A finite resource just means – to some people – that the rich can more easily display their wealth while the rest of us show that we can’t. It’s not going to get better; the climate is changing and will get, well, more of what we’re seeing. i am in an area where it’s between a region expected to get wetter and a region expected to get drier, so we’re about the same as we’ve been so far. A little warmer. But we garden with irrigation water, and the western US water supplies are overextended. I expect that our suburban neighborhood will eventually be kicked off in favor of the farmers (as it should be). Hopefully we can still grow succulents. Maybe we can keep a few fruit trees or veggie beds going.

        On those rare occasions when someone asks me for advice about these troublesome times to come, I recommend being mobile if young. But that’s little comfort for gardeners. They are building desalination plants in California, but it will be years before they can replace substantial amounts of water. Can you build a small greenhouse, an arboretum adjacent to the house? Maybe the enclosed area won’t be so water-demanding, and it can reduce the garden-deprivation. You’re in this for the long haul, I think.

  5. Mary Gray says:

    I am curious about the first photo, with all the cardboard spread out. Do you think they are smothering what’s left of the lawn to prepare for a new planting scheme, something xeric?

    I was just reading how changes in climate can throw certain ecosystems out of balance much more than others because there is more “redundancy” built into some ecosystems. Which I guess is why deserts, tundra, etc, are so fragile compared to where I live, the eastern deciduous forest.

    I have lived in the midatlantic for 38 years and I have not noticed much different in weather, or the health of vegetation. However, it’s likely that things have occurred that just aren’t so obvious, like less species diversity or more rapid growth of invasives.

    I sure hope the drought ends soon. California is such a great state and with its agriculture so important to the entire nation. Even from 3000 miles away it is painful to watch what is happening.

    • Ivette Soler Ivette Soler says:

      Mary Gray – that yard with the cardboard on it has been that way since around February. I don’t think they understand what it means to “mulch” with cardboard. I have approached them and told them that they could put compost on top and plant through it, but they responded that this was their new “mulch”. Another problem is that there is so much misinformation about how to use water well, how to prioritize, and how to have a water wise garden that works. From where I sit, there are very few successful xeric gardens going in, mostly just people abandoning gardening altogether.
      Thank you for your kind words, I hope this ends too! Unfortunately, I believe the climate is changing, and this is what is in store for LA for the near future.

  6. Stella B. says:

    I don’t see a lack of green — I just see a lack of grass. In my opinion, that’s a good thing. Good riddance.

    • Ivette Soler says:

      I would agree – BUT usually when one gets rid of a lawn it is replaced with something. All of these front yards have been like this for months and months. It is different. The act of creating a garden is a sign of hope, of positivity and investment. I see the lack of moving forward on replacing the lawn as a significant problem – people have no idea what to do, what kind of decision to make in the face of the changing climate. It isn’t like we haven’t had severe drought before, and planting drought tolerant gardens has been encouraged here since I was a baby gardener, almost 25 yrs. But for some reason, things are going fallow with no replanting. It’s pretty unsettling.

  7. Yikes! I left Central Texas a year ago and headed east. Too hot, too dry, and little chance that it is going to get better anytime soon. My gardening heart just couldn’t take it any longer…

    • Ivette Soler says:

      I understand exactly why you did that Julie! My gardening heart is getting very heavy, very weary.

  8. Mog says:

    I’m from Australia where severe droughts are something we get pretty used to. Every time ‘El Nino’ strikes we get hit with drought, and this year we are at only 75% of our usual rainfall so it is looking like we are about to enter the next one after a reprieve of 2-3 years.

    We very recently had a decade long drought in Melbourne which has seen the city on ever increasing water restrictions (somewhat relaxed now, though the peak they were pretty full on), and eventually permanent water usage rules.

    At it’s worst most houses had suffered cracks in the walls (some severe) due to the ground drying out so thoroughly that foundations shifted and our water catchments reached the lowest point ever since the dam was built.

    The whole city obsessively checked the water catchment percentages daily, and over the prospect of rain.

    There was a government funded campaign where you could swap you existing shower heads for new restricted flow heads (these are ubiquitous now) and free shower timers (three minutes only!) were given out, as was the advice to catch the pre-warm water in a bucket for use on the garden, to turn the shower off while shaving your legs, and to only ‘flush’ for #2s.

    People’s lifestyles have had to adjust and some things (like sprinklers running to ‘soak’ the lawn, casually filling a swimming pool, hosing off the driveway) are committed to the same nostalgic place as the idea of people smoking in cinemas or at the office. Such madness, how did we ever allow it?

    Anyone who enjoys gardening makes sure they have a water tank, or reuses grey water (green lawns sport signs proclaiming recycled water use to stop outraged neighbours dobbing you in for water wastage; there was a point where you would quite literally call the council if you saw someone washing their car with a hose). Lots of people have a water tank specifically for use in the toilet or laundry too. Water tanks are a really good intervention here because we get a fairly consistent amount of rain each month, but we lose huge amounts to storm water runoff, using saved rainwater is VERY effective for reducing water use for the garden.

    We mulch obsessively, water sparingly. We plant natives that are drought hardy. We add water saver crystals to our soil. Grassy lawns have become frowned upon.

    We have ‘Target 155′ meaning each person should set the goal of using no more than 155L of water per day. When your water bill comes in you get shown how well you do against this goal.

    Target 155 is actually REALLY easy to beat, and we managed it last summer even while watering the lawn just enough to keep it going and periodically filling the turtle tank, but I remember when it was introduced that people were horrified, outraged and saying it couldn’t be done. We have adjusted.

    Drinking water is a precious commodity and lifestyles have to change to treat it as such.

    • Ivette Soler says:

      Mog, what a great comment. Your experience is so valuable – that is what we in Southern California should have been doing for years! We might be in a better place during this, our worst crisis in many decades. Graywater is going to become a big part of my watering strategy. I wish rain barrels and cache basins were a better option for us, but we get no rain for about 9 months, and then monsoon, so that water is very quickly used. Saving and re-prioritizing is, I believe, the way SoCal needs to move forward. And using plants adapted to drought – I use many Australian natives in my design practice that work so well in times of water stress. There are ways to garden well in these times, even if we have to adjust our expectations. Thanks for your input!

  9. ks says:

    Ivette, thank you for this post. I only wish those individuals who insist on broad green lawns in summer dry climates were likely to read this. I live in Northern Cal wine country and grew up in LA. Most of my lawn has been gone for many years and I admit my reasons were not drought-altruistic..I wanted more room for plants ! I retain a small path of grass as a savannah for my cats, and it gets watered sparingly. It’s fescue and if not mowed too low I can get away with watering twice a month. I don’t fertilize it at all. This time of year as the transpiration rate goes down I can get away with a week and half between waterings in my garden. We hope for some normal rainfall up here this winter –maybe 30 inches ? I’ll continue to use stingy water practices even if the rainfall returns to normal.

    • Ivette Soler says:

      ks – you are doing all the right things! A water-wise lawn is totally appropriate for your climate, and it sounds like you are thinking about it in a realistic way. And you (and your cats) USE the lawn, which is important! To have a lawn as a pure visual element is a default choice, a knee-jerk way to allocate outdoor space that I hope is changing. YES to more plants, like what you did!!!

  10. Ivette, Keep the faith. This too shall pass.
    Here in Georgia we had a devastating drought a few years back that was a real game changer. My business, which had been thriving, went straight into the toilet. Water restrictions were enacted, the governor held a prayer rally, the cicadas sang the blues…
    It was a very hard time for anyone that loves plants. It was sad and desperate. I don’t want to live through another one.
    But here we are a couple of rainy years later and you can barely tell the difference. In my garden I lost a lot of the herbaceous plants but most of the woodies came through with a few exceptions (no more hydrangeas for me please).
    The lessons were good ones: only count on deep rooted perennials, plant woodies further apart, trees are always going to get the water first, etc.
    I also got the opportunity to experiment with drought tolerant plants that aren’t usually grown around here – agaves and opuntias, eucalyptus and cistus, echiverias and acacias… and guess what? Another game change. % degrees last winter! But alas, that is another conversation…
    I see those yuccas thriving and flowering in one of your photos. Start there.

    • That % was meant to be a 5. Sorry.

    • Ivette Soler says:

      David, thanks for your words of encouragement! I need all I can get! It is so strange to see what the lack of green can do to a community. It starts to look desolate, and it can affect one’s mood! I am HOPING that this drought is broken this winter. I swear, I will do a rain dance on you tube if I thought it would help! And yes, the tough plants that are thriving are my best friends right now! Thank goodness for them!

  11. Ailsa says:

    I come from a land of lawns and hedges (Ottawa, Canada) but many homeowners are willingly giving up their green expanses for something more ecologically sound and interesting. Since our bylaws have recently nixed the use of herbicides for control of anything other than noxious weeds, homeowners who aren’t obsessive about their lawns are seeing more plantain, dandelions and quack grass than Kentucky blue. If it’s not easy, it’s too much work.
    I personally would love to live in a hot, dry climate where my garden would be filled with agaves, cacti, echeveria and portulaca, not to mention beautiful boulders and river-washed stone that didn’t look out of place. I fully understand what you’re saying about clients wanting their green lawns and flowering shrubs of their childhood (in another climate), but I think this is truly a teaching moment, no? Fighting nature never makes sense, whether its a result of climate change or not; the unrealistic thought that during those non-drought years in desert climates we can actually grow things that need a lot of water is just fooling ourselves and setting ourselves up for heartbreak when everything green suddenly shrivels. It takes a few professionals (or non-professionals) to create gardens that can sustain themselves through drought to make others jealous: http://www.desertsun.com/story/life/home-garden/2014/03/22/garden-conservancy-tour-arid-climates-can-grow-beautiful-spaces/6728239/

    • Ivette Soler says:

      Ailsa, you are singing my song! My design practice has always been focused around xeric plantings and prioritizing front lawns OUT of residential projects, but some clients, especially the very affluent, want what they want and they won’t hear “teaching moment”. They will often pay the penalties levied by our water agency so they can have their lawns. Thankfully, nature is being my co-hort right now. I have a client who wants HUGE lawns in a chaparral zone, and so I talked him into doing a “test” lawn while his compound is being built. That “test lawn” has been a nightmare! My client is now allowing me to proceed with a less thirsty design. VICTORY!!! Sometimes it all works just the way you want it to!

  12. Lisa - Ontario says:

    There should be water meters that automatically shut your water off after the 155/person limit a day. Then people can’t “opt” to just pay the penalty. I know they would get around that somehow, money talks.

    That must be very depressing to live in. Hope is tough to hold onto after so many months.

    We are the opposite this year, rain, rain and more rain. My basement flooded with the deluge coming off the neighbours’ hills. Two years in a row we have had the “100 year” storm. The storms are intense and drop so much water in such a short time that we just get rivers instead of it soaking in.

    I will hope for a lovely gentle rain for you.

    • Ivette Soler says:

      Lisa – that is such a good idea! A shut off meter once you reach maximum use! You know what is really awful? Some cities in California, like Sacramento, don’t have ANY meters at all, meaning these people don’t pay for the water they actually use, so how can they decrease? It makes me angry!
      Thank you so much for your wish for gentle rain for me – I wish sweet, drying sun for you … not the blistering kind!

  13. Wow, those are awful pictures. Keep the faith. As others have said, this will eventually pass.

    The worst thing about drought when you live in a normally green place is that you really begin to feel detached from your environment. I don’t know how to describe it fully, but when you have no water — even if you are not a gardener — you begin to feel this horrible empty feeling of desperation. There is no way to escape it, no place to go to reflect on life’s troubles or difficulties, no cool spot in the shade. No place to go that doesn’t feel lifeless. Nature seems to suffer all around. It is inescapable and that just becomes very tiring and dispiriting.

    Someone here where I live in MD was recently remarking on a report they saw on the news about the terribleness of the CA drought, and they said, well, I guess that’s what you get when you try to live in a dry place like that. I thought it was a terribly heartless thing to say. And very silly.

    So I responded: oh, you mean like those of us who “chose” to live in what should be a forested ecosystem but instead live with big green lawns with exotic cool season grasses and no trees here in the Mid-Atlantic? OR those who live on farms where there historically were forests and instead now grow food crops in full sun? OR those of us who live on the island of Manhattan where once-flooded wetlands teaming with animals have been replaced with Wall Street and Broadway and a subway?

    Besides, anyone who eats CA crops — which is most of the US at this point — ought to know better. We are all of us in some ways trying to make CA work in ways that a dry climate won’t always allow. We are all going to suffer the fall out in the form of higher food prices, as you note.

    The truth is, very few of us could claim to be living lightly just by the nature of being born into places where land-use change has been swift and dramatic in the last few centuries. We are, none of us, blameless. But we all could reduce our footprint in all ecosystems, and try to live a bit more in tune with nature.

    I do hope that the best thing that comes out of this is that more people in CA will chose plants intended for that climate and stop trying to grow things that are water intensive. Also, it would be great to see more emphasis on grey water systems everywhere in the US. Where they are put in they really work well.

    But I also turn the question on those in other climates: what could you do that would put your community and your garden more inline with the nature of your local ecosystem? How can we all make our gardens add resources to the local ecosystem instead of taking resources away from it? It is challenging, but by seeking answers you can make some great new garden adventures for your self. And in those years of extreme (too much rain, not enough rain, etc) you often find your garden is not as destroyed as those who aren’t living in tune with nature. Native plants often find a way to survive. They evolved to do so.

    Here’s hoping for some slow, steady, soft rain for you and everyone out there in CA, Ivette! We will keep praying for it.

    • Ivette Soler says:

      Very eloquent Alison! I am with you, thought per thought. You are so right about things becoming somewhat detached and surreal. I am hoping this rainy season will bring some relief, and I will take your wish for California and double it!

  14. Sandra Knauf says:

    Sorry to be a “Debbie Downer” and I don’t know if anyone else has posted this but we now realize that extreme weather, due to global warming, is the new “normal,” right? The drought may end in California, or not, we don’t know, we do know that the wildfires, drought, floods, etc., etc. keep coming year after year after year and are here to stay. The question is what do we do now.

    • Ivette Soler says:

      Sandra, I don’t think your comment is a downer at all – it is a very real possibility that we have to look square in the face. The reality of climate change has very little to do with what we are being told – plant natives and all will be fine. Nope – we have to figure out the best strategies to adapt to what could be perma-drought. Our gardens will, without a doubt, look very different. We have to prioritize. All of this needs to be done with clear eyes – which can be hard because gardeners tend to be a rather romantic bunch. Time to get pragmatic, to get tough. I’m hoping we can do it!

      • Nell Wade says:

        Yes, we definitely have to prioritize. However, I’m not reading about prioritizing growing quality food in your landscape or property. When you take into consideration the chemicals that are dumped on food; the amount of fuel it takes to ship produce out of state and the lack of varietals, why wouldn’t everyone grow a favorite fruit or vegetable. And it can still be done in a drought. I live on the Central Coast of California, so I’m on the same page as you. But, I’m still putting in new fruit trees and growing vegetables. We just added another 3,000 gallon tank for rain water collection, we use grey water from the bath and the washing machine. And if the drought continues next year, I won’t have a summer garden of annual vegetables. But, I’ll have the biggest winter garden ever because I can grow a lot without much supplemental water during that time. SO, please continue to prioritize, but also consider putting in something you like to eat. The Earth will thank you for it – even during a drought.

        • Ivette Soler says:

          Nell, it is great that you see food as a priority, but we have to understand that what is a priority for us isn’t a priority for everyone.
          I use most of my irrigation water for food – growing food is extremely important to me, as most readers know, since I have written a book on the subject which deals with growing food in one’s front yard – thereby getting rid of one thirsty crop and replacing it with an infinitely more useful one.
          BUT this is not the case for everyone. Many people haven’t the time, the energy, or the inclination to grow food. Fruit trees can bring in unwanted pests to an urban environment. Vegetables are easy prey for gophers. Let’s be very clear, one has to REALLY WANT to grow food to be a food grower, it isn’t a whim or something you can do well without putting time into.
          So I believe we need to allow for differing priorities. Just because someone isn’t using their precious water to grow food doesn’t mean they are bad or irresponsible. They might need to take a hot bath every night instead, to unwind after a hard day. They might decide that their collection of cottage garden plants are where they want to spend their water – and that is okay. As long as people are aware and doing something other than watering lawn and cleaning off their driveways with a hose, I’m good with it. Time and continued water shortages will change my city, and others – we have to see what emerges, and how we gardeners will respond.

      • Joe Schmitt says:

        Here’s a bit of positive news on water conservation. Here in the heart of the Midwest, arguably the Saudi Arabia of fresh water, with our temperate climate, regular rains and one of the largest depositories of fresh water on the planet in the Great Lakes, a Milwaukee judge ruled against the Wisconsin DNR over its permitting of a high capacity well for a $35 million dairy operation, stating that it had failed to do its job of considering the long term consequences of yet another serious drain on the aquifer in the Central Sands, a part of the state already drawing down the water table drastically by cumulative agricultural use (apologies for the paragraph-long sentence). I’ve gotta say, with few exceptions I’m really liking the judiciary all over this land lately. Too bad the policy makers rarely seem capable of doing what’s in our best interest. I’d post a link to the news piece but the last time I did that I got banished to the Rant’s spam folder.

  15. Laura Munoz says:

    I live in Central Texas, and it seems we’ve been in a drought since about 2008. I changed my watering ways by installing two 1,100 rain tanks, two 75 gallon rain barrels, and a 300 gallon water trough to water my garden. (I have no lawn.) I started taking outdoor showers and letting the water go to the fig tree. When I bathed inside, I used the water to flush the toilet and also pumped it out to certain shrubs. I used my washing machine water to irrigate the roses. I collected the sink water from washing my hands and rinsing dishes and reused it for my water lilies and rushes. I also mulched heavily and planted drought tolerant/native plants. After 6 years of this, I just can’t keep it up any more. I’m exhausted and the drought continues. Plants I cherished dearly have died.

    I see other gardeners in my area go to granite sand yards and agaves, but this isn’t my style.

    After 27 years of living in Central Texas, because of the drought and other reasons, I quit my job, sold 2 properties, and am on the verge of selling my house. I am moving to a state with more water, and I’m pretty sure I will buy additional acreage in my new state that will have water (pond/creek/spring). I think water is the gold of the future.

    • What you talking about is painfully familiar to me as well! I live in Melbourne and we had to deal with a devastating drought at about the same time (2007-2010). Special water regulations were issued then, which often made our lives a living hell. Fortunately, the drought came to an end in 2010. The bad news is that it did with cataclysmic floods.

      It’s even worse that most of use don’t realize what our actions cause to the environment and to the climate, or if we do, we simply turn a blind eye to it all. But as you said, time will come when water is going to be the most expensive commodity.

    • Ivette Soler says:

      Laura, wow – I SO hear and understand your plight! You are doing all the right things. You are doing far more than most. It actually is starting to anger me to see the waste! When people like you do so much to conserve, and a neighbor waters a lawn lavishly, the result is in effect no savings, just an offset of the waste. ARG!!!! And you are not the first person I have heard about who is considering a move – I have a friend who is starting an arts community, but instead of doing it in Southern California, he is now doing it in a place with access to lots of natural water.
      Drought changes one’s psychology, no doubt. Water is a necessity. It is life.

  16. Pam/Digging says:

    Julie/Southern Wild Design’s comment makes me sad and anxious, since I live in central Texas myself, and yet I understand her feelings all too well because I have them too sometimes, as our multi-year drought drags on.

    I agree with other commenters here that seeing lawns die is not a bad thing. In fact, usually it’s a good thing in arid regions. But when people who aren’t gardeners don’t know what to plant instead — or don’t have the money to replant, or feel insecure about water availability — they often don’t replant anything except a bunch of rocks. Or cardboard, in your neighbor’s case.

    Still, we gardeners must go on as best we can because…we have to. Wouldn’t it be bleak if we didn’t? Maybe you can organize a neighborhood block party with a succulents-are-beautiful theme! Show the yardeners in the ‘hood how gorgeous and water-thrifty succulents are, and how easily shared (free pups!). Maybe you’ll start a neighborhood makeover with agaves, aloes, and yuccas, Ivette. You are the Germinatrix, after all!

    • Ivette Soler says:

      Oh LOVELY Pam! If only I had your wonderful spirit and energy as Cruise Director! I’ve benefitted from your friendly, incredible spunk! I, on the other hand, am the introvert who walks into the block party to say hi and then runs away. I have to content myself with being social within internet boundaries.

      I think many of these people are paralyzed, and they also feel the financial burden of installing a garden, rather than the ubiquitous lawn. While for some of us, the idea of ditching lawn was a welcome opportunity, many in my neighborhood – one made up of immigrants on the one hand and young eccentrics on the other – see it as a symbol of everything it means to be wholesome and American – and that is what they want. So for them, the idea of a front yard planted out with drought tolerants and covered with gravel is the opposite of their dreams and desires. Thankfully, many are making the conversion, but it is the people you’d expect – the young and adventurous. The immigrant families tend to let their lawn die until they can afford to water it again, and I’m not sure how much that will change in the near future. Of course, since this drought is probably going to persist, a paradigm shift is in order – even for those who resist. It will be interesting to see what happens.

  17. Ellen Knickmeyer says:

    Such an interesting sharing of perspectives from around the world! Thank you for not just raising the topic but moderating a great discussion on it, Ivette.

    • Ivette Soler says:

      Thank you so much for that, Ellen! Part of my love of blogging is my very real belief that this kind of communication is really important – I love being in dialog with my readers. I always think of the post as a beginning, and the comments are where the action happens, and the topic really “blossoms”. In a sense, we are partners in this blog! And I love that The Rant has the kind of readership that makes this kind of interaction really kick into high gear. I am very very lucky! I appreciate your comment very much!

  18. Nell Foster says:

    Ivette –
    I live in Santa Barbara where brown lawns are becoming the new norm. The over 100 year old Italian Stone Pines, a rare treasure here in the US, which line Anapamu Street near the SB Bowl are suffering & 3 have died so far. Fortunately my own garden is drought tolerant but I know the plants would like more water & a good spraying off. People hosing down their driveways …. now don’t get me going on that one! Sigh is right…

  19. Deborah Banks says:

    I live in upstate NY in the Catskills, an area blessed with abundant beautiful water. And what is the state of NY contemplating? Allowing fracking, a practice that uses an obscene amount of water and pumps toxic chemicals into the ground to contaminate the rest of it. Just the drilling of one well requires 2 to 4 million gallons of water, and may require up to 5 million additional gallons over the “life” of the well. [from the Groundwater Protection Council]

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