Yesterday’s record temperature in Salem surprised us all. You may have received “Are you OK…isn’t Oregon supposed to be green, wet, and cool?” phone calls and texts from friends far away. Although 117 degrees may be an aberration, it is hard to deny that hotter, drier weather is heading our way.

We recently developed a water management plan for Gaiety Hollow, considering the diminishing supply of this precious resource as well as its increasing cost. The historic aspects of this garden, including plant selection, design, and density, result in higher water consumption versus more contemporary landscape designs. The plan identifies 12 potential water saving measures and the anticipated cost and savings of each. Some of these measures require an upfront investment before savings will be realized. Others would result in the garden assuming a different look and feel than its current state.

As part of our research, we contacted the Marion Soil and Water Conservation District and the City of Salem Water Resources Department requesting an audit of our current practices to see what we might be missing. We also contacted other historic gardens to see if and how they were addressing this timely topic. (More on the Gaiety Hollow water plan in a future blog.)

Hot and Dry on I-5

Last week, I drove to Pasadena, CA to visit family and friends, taking 1-5, the most direct route. Other than miles of irrigated almond orchards, and occasional sightings of the California Aqueduct, the landscape was quite bleak. It was clear that California farmers are being negatively impacted by the water shortage with abandoned orchards and pro-farmer signs along the way. Read more here.

Other signs read: “Is Growing Food Wasting Water?” and “Dams Not Trains – Build Water Storage Now.”

Arrival to Pasadena

It was fun to see the beautiful Craftsman, Spanish, and Mid-Century homes in my old Pasadena neighborhood. Even better was to get reacquainted with the Mediterranean plant palette. Californians seem more serious about conserving water than we are in Oregon. Local water restrictions and associated penalties play a role in this.

On my morning walks, I saw creative reworkings of residential parking strips. Grass had been replaced with native and drought tolerant plants, succulents, and rocks. I thought about how we water Gaiety Hollow’s front grass parkway to stay green all summer. In our water management plan, we consider letting this grass parkway go summer dormant as many Oregon homeowners do. Perhaps instead we can take some ideas from our friends down south.

Have a good week!