Burnett: Only the drought-tolerant survive

It sure is easy to tell what plants are resistant to dry conditions and ones that are not by observing properties that have been abandoned for awhile.

The first thing to go, of course, is the lawn with its shallow root system.

Almost coinciding with this is the demise of several herbaceous border plants including Ligularia, Astilbe and Delphinium.

After a few weeks of no water, you will see several shrubs wilting including Azaleas and Rhododendrons.

While some of these can recover if caught in time, the one plant that is finished once it turns the drought corner is the cedar.

There is no wonder we are gradually turning away from our beloved cedar hedges, instead planting more drought tolerant species.

Once a cedar has begun to show signs of lack of water, it is often impossible to turn it around, to regain its previously healthy state.

Another cedar problem is often individual plants in a hedge will die here and there, and it is very difficult to establish individual new ones in a mature hedge.

On the other hand, I find it very interesting and helpful in my quest for plant knowledge to recognize plants that do just fine after a property has been vacated and there is no irrigation for a time.

Some plants that one would think need lots of moisture are doing just fine such as the Hibiscus syriacus or Rose Of Sharon.

The tropical Hibiscus rosa sinensis, which we enjoy as a house plant, tends to need lots of water.

So I’ve always thought the same would go for the hardy one we plant in the garden.

But I have noticed them this year in several vacant properties still thriving despite the lack of water.

I also keep an inquisitive eye on a Japanese tree peony doing quite well where it gets very little water other than rain.

Of course there are the usual plants we recognize that do without water—junipers, several species of pine, Sunburst locusts, Barberry and many others.

So if you want to discover first-hand which plants will do without very much water, I suggest you take a few Sunday drives and look for properties which have been neglected for a while, sort of a dry garden tour.


I want to thank the Okanagan Historical Society for hosting the annual Pioneer Picnic, held at Parkinson Recreation Centre this past Sunday.

What a great gathering it was with the wonderful pioneer families of Rutland being recognized this time round. It was great to see lots of familiar faces.


Every Wednesday at noon during the month of August, the Cathedral Church of St. Michael and All Angels will conduct heritage tours of its 100-year-old Anglican Church building.

Bring family, friends and visitors to explore the beautiful old grey stone landmark, made of local materials.

Tours will take place Aug. 6, 13, 20 and 27 at the church, 608 Sutherland Ave., at the corner of Richter and Sutherland Ave. in Kelowna.

The tours are free, and refreshments will be available.

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