The California drought

The water situation in California is alarming. It hardly rained this year and snow was scarce, again. Reservoirs are empty and if it does not rain soon there will be a severe water shortage .

I wrote this above a couple of years ago, in 2013.  It is now May 2015 and the situation is even more dramatic. From the Guardian.co.uk in January 2014  :  Governor Jerry Brown recently declared a state of emergency after Califorina reached its 13th month of drought, wreaking havoc on a $45bn agriculture sector which supplies much of the country’s fruit, nuts, vegetables, wine and dairy products. The crisis could leave thousands of farm workers jobless and increase food prices. 

We are now in the fourth year of the worst drought that California has ever experienced and every day we look up at the blue skies and pray for water.

For the past years it had shocked me to see that very little effort was being made by people in Northern California, who continued to water their empty lawns everyday in spite of the warning signs. Water preservation is finally mandatory and water restrictions are now in place, albeit a bit late. My friends in Los Angeles have let their lawns go last year and our own garden up North is parched and balding.  Twitter has a drought shaming page where people track the water wasters, in many cases celebrities, or their own neighbors.

There is no other solution than to look at low maintenance gardens and the use of planters and succulents as a way of reducing water dependence. Nothing irritates me more these days than to see sprinklers going aimlessly, they have become obsolete, a thing of the past. As we contemplated cutting down on water waste and going for drought-proof gardens here are some examples of cacti, succulents and planters in the low-maintenance gardens and streets in California.


Above and below: a drought resistant back yard in San Francisco. Pebbles, succulents, pots  and planters have replaced thirsty lawns and bloomsPhoto credit fashionsphinx.com






Below : a huge cactus in Los Angeles Arts District. Photo credit fashionsphinx.com





Above. Cacti and tree in Los Angeles Arts District. Photo credit fashionsphinx.com

Below: Aloe and succulents in garden, Thousand Oaks. Photo credit fashionsphinx.com





Below : A stunning combination of wood, pebble floors, sculpted planters, big rocks  and cactus. Photo credit fashionsphinx.com






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I also like the idea of replacing lawns by yellow earth. In Andalucia we use it a lot, it is called tierra de albero. This weekend I also saw it used on the streets of the municipality of Hidden Hills near Calabasas, California….stunning and so much more beautiful that the high-maintenance and water-thirsty lawns that have become the California way of life of the past.

Above: A bullring in Spain with albero earth.

Below: An albero-covered street in Hidden Hills, California.


My landscape gardener friend jesus Gomez says that this type of gardening n Spain is called Xerojardines. Here is an example of a garden that he has designed in Andalusia that consumes zero water and looks gorgeous and chic. Photo credit Jesus Gomez.



3 responses to “The California drought”

  1. Juancho Melian says:

    I like I like I like…!!

  2. Brilliant! they are low maintenance and gorgeous shapes and colours. thank you.



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