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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Mar 27

If Life Hands You Lemons

Posted on March 27, 2015 at 8:53 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

The news of continuing drought conditions gives cause for concern. You may have heard that the State Water Resources Control Board recently announced new statewide emergency conservation regulations, including limiting the number of days per week that we can water. To ensure MMWD is in compliance, the Board of Directors expects to take action on the new regulations in April—stay tuned.

The good news is MMWD customers rock when it comes to conservation. I believe many of your water-use habits come from thinking ahead instead of waiting for the word to cut back. Congratulations! Despite low rainfall, you have managed to keep the reservoirs at above-average levels for this time of year. But we are not out of the woods yet.

What a conundrum! It is spring. A gardener's thoughts are typically filled with choosing annual color combinations for containers, implementing new landscape designs, planting a bigger vegetable garden, creating that perfect summer oasis for entertaining, or just establishing a beautiful quiet retreat for grabbing a cold beverage and soaking up the goodness of spring. However, this drought news is more like a bucket of cold water being dumped on many of those ideas!

 Bleeding heart
 Bleeding heart
Being the proactive gardeners that you are, I wonder what you are doing instead of planning and planting high-water-use annuals or other shallow-rooted plants? Are you leaning more toward California native perennials such as western bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa) or sticky monkey flower (Mimulus) for the shady areas of your garden? Perhaps the various orange-red yarrows (Achillea millefolium) have captured your attention. And have you checked out hummingbird mint (Agastache), another jewel that provides immeasurable benefits besides attracting hummingbirds to your garden? The deer don't like it and it comes in a bevy of colors! And speaking of a bevy of selections, the sage family (Salvia) continues to hybridize more varieties and colors than you can imagine.

Perhaps your thought of going native will be carried a step further to native Marin plants only. If that appeals to you, make certain to check out California Native Plant Society for a list of ferns, shrubs, and trees that are indigenous to Marin. To further whet your appetite, in a few weeks they are having a plant sale along with numerous wildflower walks and other free events as part of California Native Plant Week, April 11-19.

Low-water-use plant options are too numerous to count. I haven't even begun to focus on succulents—sure winners in the water conservation realm. Sedum 'Autumn Joy' will give you color at a time when gardens tend to fade after a long hot summer. Echeveria 'Afterglow' has purple leaves with red margins. In spring, reddish-pink flower spikes stand proud over the beautiful leaves. The word "stunning" is an understatement. And did I mention each plant grows about 12 inches wide? For medicinal purposes, no succulent garden should be without Aloe vera for drying up an outbreak of poison oak or administering to sunburn or other skin irritations.
 Iris and Sage
 Iris and sage

Are your thoughts drifting in these garden directions, too? Please share so others might glean from your ideas. Let's keep those reservoirs as full as we can and keep up the great job!

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