by David Salman

Waterwise-Garden-Mary-Ray-CO-blog
Planting a waterwise garden, such as this one in a customer's front yard in Colorado, can help keep the garden alive in areas prone to long periods of drought. Click here to read about how Mary transformed her yard from scratch.

To date, the Santa Fe area has had about 3-4" of total precipitation (rain and snow) since this past January--a very dry year! We usually average about 12" annually. Well, after this last week with daytime highs in the upper 90's, our gardens were wilting and the native grass prairie all around us was going brown (dormant) from drought.

New Mexico gets about 60% of its annual precipitation from the July and August "monsoons." Moisture is pulled up from the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Ocean around the Baja when low pressure stations itself across Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas. This moist air is heated by warm daytime temperatures and forms huge thunderclouds that provide brief but torrential summer rains.

Tonight, the skies darkened, and we got our first hard rain since early June, just over two inches here at my house! One storm has provided my landscape with the equivalent of 50% of the year's moisture to date. Yes, it's feast or famine in the Southwest when it comes to water from the sky.

I have a passive water harvesting system in my front yard, which efficiently moved the water off the roof of the house into some stone covered catchment basins. From there, the water moves under ground system through perforated 4" plastic pipes buried in trenches filled with absorbent red lava gravel. The soil is eagerly soaking up the water, which is nearly 1400 gallons from just one rain! I can practically see the plants, whose roots are reaching down into the newly moistened soil, "smiling" with the renewed moisture.

© All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republishing an entire High Country Gardens blog post or article is prohibited without permission. Please feel free to share a short excerpt with a link back to the article on social media websites, such as Facebook and Pinterest.

  1. Prairie Gold Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa 'Prairie Gold'

    'Prairie Gold' Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a beautiful golden-yellow form of this popular native wildflower. This selection is grown from seed collected from a wild popula...

    Learn More
    Prairie Gold Butterfly Weed Prairie Gold Butterfly Weed Asclepias tuberosa 'Prairie Gold'
    $10.99
    Per Plant - 2.5" Pot
    'Prairie Gold' Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a beautiful golden-yellow form of this popular native wildflower. This selection is grown from seed collected from a wild population in its Indiana habitat. Grow this special native cultivar to add unexpected color and an interesting conversation starter to your pollinator garden. A 2021 High Country Gardens Introduction.
    Learn More
  2. Red Valerian, Jupiter's Beard

    Red Jupiter's Beard is an everblooming Old World wildflower with clusters of tiny dark red flowers held over deep green foliage. A tough, durable plant, it thrives with minimal water...

    Learn More
    Red Valerian (Centranthus) Red Valerian, Jupiter's Beard Centranthus ruber Coccineus
    As low as $11.99 Sale $9.59
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Red Jupiter's Beard is an everblooming Old World wildflower with clusters of tiny dark red flowers held over deep green foliage. A tough, durable plant, it thrives with minimal water and care once established. Great Butterfly plant.
    Learn More
  3. Nepeta Walker's Low, Walker's Low Catmint

    Nepeta Walker's Low (Walker's Low Catmint) is a robust variety with dark lavender-blue flowers in late spring and aromatic gray-green foliage. Thriving in harsh conditions, this dur...

    Learn More
    Walker's Low Nepeta Walker's Low Catmint Nepeta Walker's Low
    As low as $9.99 Sale $7.99
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Nepeta Walker's Low (Walker's Low Catmint) is a robust variety with dark lavender-blue flowers in late spring and aromatic gray-green foliage. Thriving in harsh conditions, this durable, rabbit and deer resistant perennial plant is an indispensable for use in xeriscapes. Drought resistant/drought tolerant perennial plant (xeric).
    Learn More
  4. Pink and Orange Delosperma Fire Spinner, Delosperma Fire Spinner, Fire Spinner Ice Plant

    Delosperma Fire Spinner® has vibrant tri-colored flowers of orange, red and lavender that are unique in the world of perennial flowers. Outstandingly colorful. An evergreen groun...

    Learn More
    Fire Spinner® Ice Plant Fire Spinner® Ice Plant Delosperma Fire Spinner®
    As low as $7.99 Sale $6.39
    Per Plant - 2.5" Pot
    Delosperma Fire Spinner® has vibrant tri-colored flowers of orange, red and lavender that are unique in the world of perennial flowers. Outstandingly colorful. An evergreen groundcover, this ice plant blooms in late spring. A 2011 Plant Select winner. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).
    Learn More