Xeriscape perennials show its not just about rocks and cacti

Stars of the fall garden

In welcoming autumn planting of perennials, the Okanagan Xeriscape Association will hold its first fall plant sale this weekend.

OXA recently expanded its extensive plant database at www.okanaganxeriscape.org to include many more plants suitable for use in our arid Okanagan Valley. On our website and in our social media you’ll also find fantastic photos of inspiring xeriscape gardens from around the valley, which dispel the myth that xeriscape is simply rocks and cacti.

Many of the stars of the fall garden will be included for purchase and will include, but are not limited to, ornamental grasses, sedums, and asters.

For instance, we will have Schizachrium scoparium “Blue Heaven” available for purchase which has been chosen as plant of the year by the Perennial Plant Association. This ornamental grass features steel-blue foliage during the summer that slowly transitions to purple, red and orange shades and is extremely forgiving of poor soil and drought conditions.

Also available will be Panicum virgatum “Blood Brothers,” which is featured on our website right now as Plant of the Month. As a lover of red plants, I am absolutely enthralled with its foliage which transitions to a deep wine colour as the temperature dips.

We will also have a variety of sedums available, both tall—such as the cultivars “Autumn Joy” and “Matrona”—and ground covers, such as Sedum rupestre “Angelina” and “Blue spruce,” as well as “Dragon’s Blood.”

All of these sedums attract pollinators and the tall sedums are fall bloomers and good choices for extending interest in the garden—for people and insects alike. Both tall sedums and ground cover sedums are excellent choices for sunny, dry areas of your garden and are especially well-suited for planting in rock gardens.

It has been said nature abhors a vacuum, and if you have a sedum somewhere in your garden, you won’t have a weed in its place.

Asters serve as some of the brightest colours in the fall garden and none are better, in my opinion, than Aster frikartii “Monch.” This Aster starts blooming in July and continues its delightful pale purple blossoms through to fall without the usual need for time-consuming deadheading. Aster frikartii is a star in a mixed perennial bed where its cool-coloured blooms contrast nicely with all of the warm yellow, golden and red hues which are typically associated with the autumn garden.

These and many other perennials will be offered at the sale, which also serves as the primary fundraiser for our non-profit organization. Stop by the sale and add some xeric choices to your garden. A full list of available plants will be posted on our website prior to sale day.

OXA’s bright, yellow t-shirts, in both long-sleeve and short-sleeve styles, will also available.

The sale will be held at the UnH2O Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, 4075 Gordon Drive, Kelowna Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Okanagan Xeriscape Association is extremely grateful for the ongoing financial support of the Okanagan Basin Water Board and is proud to collaborate with its Make Water Work program.

Watch for me at nurseries this season promoting their plant collection.

Sigrie Kendrick is a master gardener and executive-director of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association and can be reached at 778-363-8360 or by email at [email protected].

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

I inherited my passion for gardening from my Australian grandfather, a renowned rose breeder in New South Wales. My interest in water conservation started early after a childhood spent growing up in the desert of Saudi Arabia, when a day of rain was cause for a national holiday.

After meeting Gwen Steele, co-founder of the OXA through the master gardener program, I became passionate about promoting xeriscape. I joined the OXA board as a director in 2015 and became executive director in 2019.

When not promoting the principles of xeriscape and gardening for clients throughout the valley, I can be found on a rural property outside of Kelowna where I harvest thousands of litres of rainwater with which to water my own xeriscape gardens.

Connect with me at [email protected] or call 778-363-8360.

Visit the website at: www.okanaganxeriscape.org


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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