Xeriscape nursery grows by design and happy happenstance

Tim Valerioti showcases some of the drought-tolerant plants, Spiraea and Berberis are among his favourite, used in a well-xeriscaped yard. - Jennifer Smith
Tim Valerioti showcases some of the drought-tolerant plants, Spiraea and Berberis are among his favourite, used in a well-xeriscaped yard.
— image credit: Jennifer Smith

There is as much beauty in a black mondo grass as a feisty fuchsia-tinged azalea, once your eyes adjust.

As the owner of Hampton Landscaping, it’s been Tim Valerioti’s job for the last decade to shepherd coastal garden lover’s addiction to verdant expanse toward the wonders of semi-arid landscaping or xeriscaping.

“People get the impression we’ll cover everything in rock, but you still get nice bright, colourful plants, it just doesn’t take a lot of water,” he said. “Xeriscaping is not really a set-in-stone religion; it’s more of a guideline.”

Explaining and adapting has been a big part of developing The Hampton Group, a trilogy of companies capable of building a backyard pool, designing and executing the landscaping and, now, supplying the plants through its new xeriscape nursery on Benvoulin Road.

Valerioti quickly discovered he needed an idea space where customers could not only buy some of their plants, but get a feel for what a drought-tolerant garden looks like; unfortunately, establishing the space prove a serious challenge.

The property where Valerioti originally set up shop was not zoned for the business, forcing him into what could have been a daunting negotiation with city council. But the misstep proved fortuitous, ultimately prompting to expand across the street and develop a niche in water conservation.

“There are a number of nurseries in the immediate vicinity, so we knew we had to do something different,” said Valerioti. “…And what the city is trying to promote is a water-conscious plants and landscaping style, so we said, okay that’s our focus.”

Hampton Nurseries opened last spring and is growing its stock and customer base, inching toward further toward Valerioti’s vision.

He came to Kelowna by way of Vancouver, where he worked in business development, primarily for software companies. When it was time to start a family, the Okanagan seemed ideal location to return to his roots and get his hands back in the dirt. With two degrees, one in business and one in urban planning and accounting, Valerioti had paid the bills through school with a small landscape company and he missed the sense of pride it instilled.

“I’m very creative and that’s something I waited to be able to do. At the end of the day, I wanted to have something to show for my work,” he said.

Knowing the lay of the land, he was quick to expand from the lawn-mowing operation to a  design firm, and credits K West Homes for giving him his first landscaping contract.

He now has two horticulturalists on staff, a pool expert, staff to run the nursery and part-time workers to help out at night.

The mission: low water usage in everything from plant selection to pool and irrigation design, though always within reason.

“My philosophy is not the rock-it-all, left-wing side of a growing space, but we’re living in a dessert. That’s our zone. So when you look out your window, what’s growing on the hills, that’s what should be growing in your yard,” he said. “And that doesn’t have to mean now flowers.”

As for the infamous cedar hedge, Valerioti says he believes a good grass or well-contained bamboo is just as effective and far more attractive. To take a look, visit Hampton Nursery 2589 Benvoulin Road.

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