Make a plan now for drought

Staff writer
February 15, 2013 01:00 AM

With a climate of increasing extremes recently described as "Jekyll and Hyde," the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden will offer a panel discussion called "Wet Season Planning for Drought," this Sunday, Feb. 17, at 1 p.m. in the Sparling Pavilion, 5941 Mason Rd. in West Sechelt.

Admission is by donation; $10 is suggested. Three experienced gardeners and climate-watchers will discuss ways to prepare your garden for what may be another very dry late summer. Bring your questions and a notebook.

Panelists include Kathy Leishman, who has created a stunning garden on water-starved Bowen Island, Peter Feichtner, a Gibsons gardener with an outstanding vegetable garden, and Dion White, Sunshine Coast Regional District's manager of sustainable services. They'll suggest plants well adapted to our climate, suggest how to prepare soil for both rain and drought, share rainwater storage ideas and suggest ways to outwit the weather. Questions will be welcome, and resources suggested.

We enjoyed the extra weeks of sunshine last August through October after a wet July and our lawns turned brown, temporarily, as usual. But we watched in horror as some shrubs and flowers lost their leaves, and we harvested vegetable with tough skins. Some plants died altogether. During heightened watering restrictions, concerned people put aside grey water from bathtubs and showers to use on plants outdoors.

Our Sunshine Coast climate is known for relatively warm, wet winters and droughty summers. As these two seasons become wetter and drier, we have the ironic challenge of trying to prevent plant roots from drowning in the long months of soggy soil, but keeping enough moisture in the soil in late summer. You may wish for a sunny summer providing two overnight rainfalls per week, but why not make a plan, in case your wish does not come true? Changes made to your soil in spring can improve both drainage and moisture retention.

For more information about upcoming events, visit

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