Beauty in Time of Drought

This map drought May 2014 usdm_2014126shows how severe our current drought is, affecting half the nation. The darker areas are the worst, named “Exceptional Drought,” and my part of California is down a notch from that, at “Extreme Drought.” You can see this and  four other instructive maps more clearly here: Five Maps of America’s Massive Drought.

We began several months ago in our household to collect water in buckets in the shower, to use for flushing the toilets. We are also letting our lawn die. I didn’t want a lawn anyway; I’d rather have flowers like these below, which I snapped at the library this morning.

P1100204 P1100209


They are Matilija Poppies (Romneya), and if you have a big space they can be a good fit – so dramatic and graceful. I tried them once but didn’t really have room. They prefer dry soil.



I don’t remember what these fun blue flowers are, but they were also decorating the parking lot at the library, obviously part of a planned xeriscape. [Thanks to Jeannette for enlightening me in a comment below.]

Over the years we Glads have emphasized drought-tolerant ornamentals in our landscaping and have collected quite a few. Sweet alyssum and Lamb’s Ears are always ready to sprout up and fill spots where thirstier plants languish, so much so that we are constantly cutting them back so that other less invasive plants like this salvia and California poppies can also thrive. California poppies grow all over the bare golden-brown hills in the summer, where where not a drop of rain falls.


As I went looking through my pictures for examples of plants that are good choices for the arid West, I discovered more than I remembered, like aloes, rosemary and lavender.

gr morn glory & aloe 6-07

Even the ground morning glory that grew beneath the manzanita for years required little water. The orange-topped succulent is an Aloe Saponaria.

In the front yard my favorite of these plants that thrive in drought is the pink Mexican Evening Primrose. In the middle of summer it doesn’t need water more than once a month, and it never stops blooming from spring through fall.IMG_5255

And in the back, the prize goes to the Mexican Bush Sage (do you notice a theme here?). It likewise has its long spikes of purple for half the year, and makes me happy by the hummingbirds that love to visit it and that I can watch through the window.

I don’t know what lesson to take from all this beauty. So I guess I’ll just take the beauty. And pray for that sake of all the plants that next winter will bring lots of rain.


12 thoughts on “Beauty in Time of Drought

  1. Oh, what beautiful flowers! I did not realize how bad the drought is! My goodness, floods one place, drought another… your post reminds me of Kathleen Norris’ book Dakota: A Spiritual Geography that I am finally reading for the first time!


  2. So do you just have a bucket in the shower with you? That is a good idea. And now I’m thinking I could have used the dog’s bath water for something, too. I did not realize how widespread the drought was so that is good to know. My husband is talking about rain barrels but you kinda need rain for that. However, he was doing the math on the amount of water we would get even from a small rain and it is significant. So now we’ve got to figure out how to hide them from the HOA. Really, HOAs need to rethink their policies in these dire times.


  3. Ah water…precious water! Those blue flowers are called “Love in the mist” Nigella damascena and are in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. I have a patch left to me by our tenants..both blue and white ones. They supposedly like neglected damp ground.


  4. The Matilija poppies used to remind me of fried eggs when I was a child. I don’t think I ever knew their name before and never thought they were poppies either. The delicate pink Mexican Evening Primrose has always been a favorite of mine. In fact you’ve given me an idea for what to plant in a particularly dry spot near our entry here.


  5. I really like your flowers. Our lawn is dying too. It breaks my heart but with the drought conditions I would feel worse if I was wasting water on the lawn.

    I never knew the names of most of those flowers. I am always so impressed with your knowledge of plants. Have a wonderful weekend.


  6. You have beautiful natural flowers and plants that thrive in dry conditions. I can relate to saving waste water for watering plants in the yard. I used to wash dishes in a plastic tub and then pour the dirty dish water over plants. The soap doesn’t hurt them a bit and in fact, since the soap breaks the surface tension of the water, it allows it to penetrate the soil better. That’s what I’ve been told and I agree.

    I’m sad that you must go through such severe drought. It’s hard on the soul. I love how you are appreciating the plants that you do have that continue to thrive in the heat.


  7. Yep, drought-tolerant gardening for all. I LOVE romneyas, but even though they’re native to Mexico, none of the nurseries sell them, and NOBODY sells seeds down here. Same with Mexican sage. However, aloes are everywhere down here, and my favorites (of which I have many) have a orangey-yellow flower which I have never seen in the States.


  8. Beautiful drought resistant flowers. We let our lawn go brown every summer. Although the winters are wet here, the summers are very dry. I was so shocked when we visited the LA area in California one year and saw all the water being used to keep the grass green. Water is such a precious commodity.


  9. The drought frightens me; people don’t seem to realize how dangerous it is to our way of life, meaning food production, etc. We’re having lovely weather, some rain, some sunshine and everything is lush. I’m even planting a few things in a small patch.


  10. I’m so sorry about this horrific drought. We don’t have it here, but we are on the extreme east coast. You’ve done a great job scouting out dry-loving plants, and how pretty they are! Many of these are my favorites — rosemary, lavender. Lord, send rain!


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