A Drought Tolerant Failure

Olive grove

Something to keep the original Landscape Architect awake at night.

This shopping center (yes, a shopping center!) began life with a wonderful planting scheme:  an olive grove under planted with lavenders and accented with red bougainvilleas.  A parking lot with a uniform grid of Phoenix dactylifera.  It was as wisely water-saving as you could ask for, and besides that, it was gorgeous.

Olive grove

Phoenix dactylifera

The olive trees and bougainvilleas grew and  appeared to thrive.  The lavenders were beautiful for a  few years, and then they needed replacement, as lavenders will.  It's a plant that gets woody after a while.  It's the nature of the beast.

So, did they replace the old lavenders with new ones? 

Olives with lawn

No!  They installed a nice, big, thirsty lawn!

Phoenix dactyliferas and olive trees are not cheap.  They spent money on the original installation.  But somehow replacing the lavenders every few years was thought more expensive than a lot of water for a big big lawn and the gasoline to mow and blow it every week.  

Phoenix dactylifera

Now if the lawn was a playground, or a place for people to sit and have lunch, I can agree with lawn, or at least some lawn amidst some lavender.  However, no one sits here, or plays here.  The only human interaction is when the guys come to mow it.  A beautiful design lost, and water (and gasoline) wasted as well. 

Water wasted

I'm a pragmatist and  no drought-tolerant fanatic, and I understand there is pressure from the city, possible traffic visibility issues, and all that...but still...it was so beautiful with just the lavenders.   Will you mourn with me a moment?   Does the original Landscape Architect wince as s/he passes by?

The Dry Gardening Handbook: Plants and Practices for a Changing ClimateLandscaping with Native Plants of the Southwest


  1. Seriously? I thought people were learning...

  2. The original landscape was beautiful! What are people thinking?


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