What else does irrigation-free look like six years later?

The first irrigation-free landscape, six years on and looking wild and amazing and just as it should
The first irrigation-free landscape, six years on and looking wild and amazing and just as it should

Just another photo from our visit to the first irrigation-free landscape six years later. It was so fascinating to see how the landscape had taken on a life of its own, and how the wild and exuberant self-sowing plants had mixed in with the more stay-in-place cultivated ones. There were even new arrivals to the landscape that weren’t weeds, something we had never seen before. Anyway, happy Friday.

-John Kamp

Newer isn’t always better

Patio de los Naranjos, in Cordoba, Spain, with the citrus trees planted using the basin technique (photo courtesy of Cordoba A Pie)
Patio de los Naranjos, in Cordoba, Spain, with the citrus trees planted using the basin technique (photo courtesy of Cordoba A Pie)

Notice how the trees are planted in the 17th-century Patio de Los Naranjos in Cordoba, Spain – in basins and connected by way of channels. No overhead emitters; no automatic sprinkler system. Just plants planted slightly sunken so that water can percolate straight down to the roots of the trees, drawing the roots down with it.

Many a landscape professional has looked on in horror when we have proposed or used this technique in our landscapes; and yet, here it is, time-worn and tested, the trees clearly thriving and growing well.

We need to start rethinking our planting practices and the notion that a landscape must have an irrigation system of emitters and lines and tubing in order to survive. The Patio de los Naranjos is yet more evidence of why this just isn’t so.

John Kamp

Tragic Topiary: Then and Now

People constantly wonder what those stars of yore – Kate Bush, Corey Feldman, Pauly Shore, the entire band Cinderella – now look like (Have they aged well? Gracefully? Tragically?). So it should come as no surprise that the more botanically minded of you out there have also asked and wondered how the tragic topiary of yore has aged through the years, including during times of drought. Well, we recently had a chance to revisit some of our favorite tragic topiary, and our answer: quite well. In fact, the topiary has neither grown nor evolved, its signs of aging wholly imperceptible. Let us start with the Cousin It Topes from sunny Alhambra, CA:

Tragic topiary from 2009 taken by John Kamp of Prairieform, in Alhambra, California

Cousin It topes from 2015, taken by John Kamp of Prairieform, in Alhambra, CA

Graceful aging at its finest, and not a tuft out of place.

Stay tuned for more.

John Kamp

Berkeley Botanical Garden

Photo from the Berkeley Botanical Garden of drought-tolerant plants

Photo from the Berkeley Botanical Garden of drought-tolerant plants

Photo from the Berkeley Botanical Garden of drought-tolerant plants

Photo from the Berkeley Botanical Garden of drought-tolerant plants

One of the dreamy perks of living in the East Bay is easy access to the Berkeley Botanical Garden, which boasts one of the largest collections of Mediterranean, South African, and Desert plant collections in the world, all conveniently located in one spectacular setting, up a canyon with views out to the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. If you are in the area, it is a must-visit place, especially in these times of drought, as you can discover the positively huge range and variety of plants from all over the world that actually grow and thrive in drought, and that look good to boot.

Irrigation-free update

irrigation-free landscape, Minneapolis, Minnesota, prairieform, xeriscape, water conservation, landscape design

The Irrigation-Free Landscape has been doing quite a bit of growing these past couple of weeks. The Salvias are immense and blooming profusely (and these were actually the one plant we were thinking about removing, as they were having trouble dealing with dry conditions last summer. . . time will tell this summer. . . we are hoping their root systems have grown enough to take on whatever the weather brings them), the sedges over doubled in size from last year, the smokebushes finally established and growing well. To see how much things have grown in the past three weeks, here is a photo from a bit over two weeks ago:
irrigation-free landscape, minneapolis, minnesota, prairieform, landscape design, xeriscape, water conservation

For more photos from the past weeks, come to our Facebook page, and please do “like” us while you are there. It helps us spread the word about the work on water conservation and design we are doing.