Agreat spangled fritillary butterfly resting on a native red columbine. (Eva Antonijevic photo)

Column: Helping the planet with xeriscaping

Eva Antonijevic is a biologist and program director of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association

The United Nations released a comprehensive global scientific report last week on biodiversity.

This Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report gives one pause as it lays out the bad news that in excess of half a million terrestrial species are at risk of extinction due to habitat loss.

We will have to figure out a way to restore habitat on a massive scale in order to combat species decline, and we need to do it quickly.

For gardeners looking to be part of the solution, inspiration can be found in a great gardening book from 2015 entitled Planting In The Post-Wild World, written by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West.

On the back cover, the book is summarized as a “groundbreaking guide that presents a powerful alternative to traditional horticulture: designed plantings that function like naturally-occurring plant communities.”

The authors make the case for designing plant communities inspired by the wild. In the preface of their book, they call it “a manifesto dedicated to the idea of new nature—a hybrid of both wild and the cultivated—that can flourish in our cities and suburbs, but it needs our help.”

The authors dedicate their book to anyone who can influence a small patch of land, further observing that “while our small urban spaces will never be true grasslands, woodlands or forests, they can look and function like a more-distilled version of them.”

READ MORE: New guide helps South Okanagan homeowners tackle climate change

At the end of the book the authors highlight three garden case studies of very different types of gardens.

They conclude that: “As populations expand and resources become increasingly limited, plantings can no longer be just ornamental backdrops for our buildings.

They must instead perform double duty: cleaning our storm water, providing a food source for pollinators, and acting as a kind of genetic reservoir for diversity.

“Achieving this requires understanding how plants fit together, how they change over time, and how they form stable composition.”

Regionally, the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association (OXA) provides information and offers classes on how to landscape with nature and also hosts an extensive plant database on the website listing and describing appropriate water-wise plants we can grow in this semi-arid valley.

This year OXA is celebrating its tenth anniversary. A garden party takes place June 23 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the unH2O xeriscape demonstration garden next to the H20 Aquatic Centre in Kelowna. This is a free event to which everyone is invited.

Check out the OXA website www.okanaganxeriscape.org for more details.

Eva Antonijevic is a biologist and program director of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two vehicle crash on Highway 97 in Penticton

The crash happened before 3:30 p.m. in front of the Lakeside Inn and Suites

Pooch abandoned at Penticton doggy daycare suffered from oral disease

A fundraiser for Okie held by the BC SPCA surpassed its goal of $1,700

Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department receives $25k grant

Money used on a truck with low volume, high pressure water pump to fight wildfires

Ryga Arts Festival to include virtual and in-person events

Arts festival in Summerland will run from Aug. 15 to 23

Okanagan and Shuswap MPs want federal funds to help stop invasive species

Concerns raised that spending favours Eastern Canada.

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Summerland Blossom Youth Ambassador Program to hold coronation

Event will be held by video as a result of COVID-19 precautions

Vernon shutterbugs capture rainbow

A rain event July 9 made way for a glorious sight

Couple shaken up after homophobic encounter at Kelowna mall

‘We’re not in the States; we’re not in some little hick town; we’re in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. And it still happens’

Summerland to allow in-person attendance at July 13 council meetings

Two meetings will be held at Summerland Arena Banquet Room to accommodate public

Fundraiser kicks off for Lake Country families displaced by house fire

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to raise $5K for those who lost everything in early morning blaze

Rescued hawk returned to Lumby skies

A rehabilitated Swainson’s hawk was returned to its Rawlings Lake habitat

Most Read