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High and Dry Gardens – Sterling Journal-Advocate

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High, dry gardens are needed more than ever. What are they? A tall, dry garden shows which plants can survive on natural rainfall. There is a high, dry garden located in the northeast corner of the Washington County Fairgrounds in Akron. We have used it to test plants to see how well they are drought resistant.

What defines a drought? According to the Oxford Dictionary, a drought is a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall, resulting in water scarcity. In the Golden Plains, an extended period can mean 10-14 days. According to researchers from Wraith, Blake, and Blake at Montana State University, once plants are in a 10-14 day drought, it takes 2-3 days after subsequent re-wetting periods for plants to absorb water.

In a tall, dry garden there are plants that are drought resistant. For some of the drought-tolerant herbs, here are three in the Akron High Dry Garden:

1) buffalo grass
2) slender wheatgrass
3) blue gram

There is a large selection of shrubs and perennials that can be added to your current garden to help reduce water usage and keep the garden diverse throughout the season. Here is a brief list:

  • aspen fleabane
  • James’ Buckwheat
  • Sulfur flower buckwheat
  • four wild hours
  • golden columbine
  • Russian sage
  • chocolate flower
  • Sonoran Sunset Hyssop Agastache cana ‘Sinning’
  • Apache feather
  • Utah Serviceberry

If you want a full list, please contact your local extension office. They can give you a brochure with the pictures to help you decide what might work for your garden.