Yes, we got record amounts of rainfall this week, for this time of year. But no, the drought is not over. Not by a long shot. We probably used more water wiping the spots off our windshields than we received in the form of rain. Estimates for most parts of SLO County indicate something between one and two-thirds of an inch fell on Tuesday, so drought conditions remain as severe as ever, and so there’s no better time than now to get waterwise.

If you haven’t already started taking fewer and shorter showers, please do. If you haven’t already removed your fuzzy green lawn, or at least let it whither away by natural causes, then what are you waiting for? These are simple steps we all should’ve taken by now, minor inconveniences to our lazy lifestyles. But there’s plenty more we can do, especially if you’re not enamored with that golden brown front yard of dead sod.

Master Gardener Mary Wootten is hosting a workshop on Waterwise Gardening later this month, June 25th, at the Paso Robles demonstration garden to provide creative tips on more efficient and socially responsible gardening strategies. Topics will include drought-tolerant landscaping, gray water recycling, and drip irrigation. With her waterwise words of advice, you can enjoy a beautiful garden without taxing our diminishing water tables. Workshops are free; check out the flyer for complete details.

2020 Follow Up

Between the pandemic, the lockdown, the vociferous demonstrations and the contentious election, we almost forgot about the drought. But water conservation is still an item of vital concern in California. Did I forget to mention wildfires? Yeah.

Drought tolerant gardening with bamboo

We like to think of bamboo as a tropical plant, growing alongside the rice patties of Southeast Asia, or in the Amazon basin of South America. But there are actually a tremendous variety of bamboos for almost any climate. And while it’s a grass, which likes to get watered on a fairly regular schedule, there are some species of bamboo that are pretty drought resistant.

Here’s a short list of the most drought-friendly species of bamboo.

  • Bambusa oldhamii: One of the most popular species of ornamental bamboo. This giant clumper can get 40-60 feet tall with 4″ thick culms.
  • Bambusa striata: An unusually attractive clumping species with yellow and green stripes.
  • Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’: Another popular cultivar with very distinctive striping.
  • Dendrocalamus strictus: A giant variety of timber bamboo from South East Asia. Grows in thick clumps and needs warm weather but little water.
  • Otatea acuminata: Mexican weeping bamboo grows in dense clumps with slender culms and delicate foliage that sways nicely in the breeze. Native to Mexico, many varieties of Otatea are pretty drought tolerant.
  • Phyllostachys mannii ‘Decora’: A variety of running bamboo native to southern China and India.

Further reading

To learn more about growing bamboo in dry climates like Central California, check out some of these popular articles.