Scary precipitation stats from Environment Canada

Worrisome dryness

Well, the numbers are in, and they should terrify all of us.

March was an extremely dry month throughout the Okanagan Valley, with Kelowna experiencing its sixth driest month on record. To the north, Vernon had its fourth driest month on record and Penticton had its second driest March on record, with only 1.8 mm of precipitation compared with an average of 23.6 mm.

Those are some troubling numbers, especially when contrasted with a city skyline increasingly dotted with cranes, as Kelowna continues to be one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada.

Recently two Kelowna city councillors, Gord Lovegrove and Mohini Singh, discussed whether the City of Kelowna should declare a climate crisis. It’s no wonder. Yes, this has to be our top priority.

Last Friday, the Okanagan Xeriscape Association held its first-of-the-season weekly Dig with Sig events, an opportunity for volunteers to help out in the demonstration garden, learn about xeriscape and connect with other gardeners.

Once we got our hands in the dirt there were multiple comments about how dry the soil felt. One only needs to look to the water issues plaguing the southern U.S. to see our potential future here if we don’t start taking better care of our most precious resource, water.

One of the easiest steps to take to conserve water is to stop wasting so much of it on our household landscapes. Why do I continue to see new developments where acres of turf grass are being planted, along with thousands of cedars?

These two options have long been the go-to choice for landscapers because they are cheap to purchase and quick to install—but at what ultimate cost? Both are heavy water users and inappropriate for our dry climate.

We need our politicians to say “no more!”

I’m not a fan of rules and regulations, but if the landscape industry continues to make poor decisions, we need to legislate some not-so-common sense. We need a comprehensive strategy to address climate change in this beautiful valley we call home, and it can’t come fast enough.


After years of online classes, I am looking forward to hosting an in-person xeriscape class which will be held April 20 at 6 p.m. at the H2O Aquatic Centre on Gordon Drive in Kelowna, to be followed by a tour of our xeriscape demonstration garden, the UnH2O Garden.

Head to our website at www.okanaganxeriscape.org to register. One of the many benefits of an OXA membership is a discount on classes, so the first thing you should do is join us.

Our annual spring xeriscape plant sale and primary fundraiser for OXA will be held May 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Wild Bloom Nursery, 840 Old Vernon Road. It will feature a wide selection of xeric plants, a list of which will be posted on our website in the coming weeks.

On March 31, OXA drew two names from the updated membership list and presented $25 gift certificates for that plant sale to Denise Oyelese of Kelowna and Edward Wilson of Vernon. Congratulations to both.

Follow us on social media for inspiration on the sustainable beauty that is xeriscape.

The Okanagan Xeriscape Association is extremely grateful for the ongoing financial support of the Okanagan Basin Water Board and is proud to be collaborating with them on their Make Water Work campaign.

Sigrie Kendrick is a master gardener and executive-director of the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association and can be reached at 778-363-8360 or by email at [email protected].

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

I inherited my passion for gardening from my Australian grandfather, a renowned rose breeder in New South Wales. My interest in water conservation started early after a childhood spent growing up in the desert of Saudi Arabia, when a day of rain was cause for a national holiday.

After meeting Gwen Steele, co-founder of the OXA through the master gardener program, I became passionate about promoting xeriscape. I joined the OXA board as a director in 2015 and became executive director in 2019.

When not promoting the principles of xeriscape and gardening for clients throughout the valley, I can be found on a rural property outside of Kelowna where I harvest thousands of litres of rainwater with which to water my own xeriscape gardens.

Connect with me at [email protected].

Visit the website at: www.okanaganxeriscape.org


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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