by Shirley Kelley, Master Gardener and Propagation Specialist
O-scape means no compost, drip irrigation, native or adaptable plant material, hard scape, yard art, mulch or anything else. It means absolutely nothing - O. On the other hand lets think about Xeriscaping. Our first responsibility is conserving water. Whether we have a little or a lot of water, it is the most valuable commodity we have, and we should treat it as so.
There are pro’s and con’s about composting, but composting helps water retention and plant health. Drip irrigation conserves water. Mulch helps hold the moisture and control weeds. So you take all these, add native or adaptable plant material, and you can have a Xeriscape Landscape.
Xeriscape doesn’t have to be just cactus. It can be a combination of plant material. Take lantana, there are several varieties and bloom color, so pick what is adaptable to your landscape. You have salvia greggii that bloom in different colors and attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Mountain Laurels are blooming all over the Permian Basin now, and they are considered a large shrub or small tree. Mountain Laurels are evergreen and the strong grape fragrance will knock your socks off. Rosemary is an evergreen shrub or trailing ground cover depending on the variety. Gopher plant, yes a plant, not that 4 legged critter that causes so many holes that you never need to aerate, stays green all year long and blooms in February. What a great plant for winter cabin fever. Fragrant mist flower, blue or white blooming, are a favorite of the butterflies. The white blooms longer, but the butterflies are all over both colors. Butterflies may even leave a thank you note for planting that plant. Flame acanthus are tough as the sole of a boot, but they can be a little invasive, so keep your area in mind when choosing that perennial.
Now, let’s mention sages that are very versatile when you pick the right one for the right place. If they get too leggy, you picked the wrong variety. Leucophyllum Frutescens, green cloud, averages 6-8’ X 6-8’. They get leggy, so if your area is too small for that one, choose the thunder cloud that averages 3’ x 4’, or the compacta which averages 4’ x 4’. When choosing the right variety it can save you time and energy on trimming.
Let’s do something unusual. Take a look at the fairy duster. Callandra Eriophylla, fairy duster pink, is more cold tolerant than the red. The blooms aren’t large enough to dust your furniture but are still showy enough to peak some interest. Blackfoot daisy, moss verbena, and may night salvia are 3 of the many small plants that average between 8” to 18” in height and width and can be used as border or filler plants.
On April 9th from 10am-4pm the Permian Basin Master Gardeners will be hosting a class called Water Wise Plants & Design with Color. Guest speaker, Chris Casanova, is a certified Master Gardener and teaches Landscape Design, Color Graphics, & Planting Design at Texas Tech full time. This class has a $20 fee (this includes lunch), and registration is required, 432-498-4071. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. for pay and lunch selection.