You’ve seen the printed signs around town, maybe you even have one: “Brown is the New Green.” Drought is the new reality in California. But don’t worry, “drought” is actually the old reality in California. We just didn’t notice because for so long municipalities and agricultural networks have been able to overpower the ebbs and flows of water availability with aqueducts, aquifer draining and diesel-powered transport.
Still, far out-numbering the yard signs are pristine green lawns watered on the daily, glistening enough to be at home in the foggy, wet England that first set her colonies on the East Coast. From there, as the colonizers moved west, seizing the continent and remaking it in the damp green image of western Europe, lawns became a mark of “civilization” — surrounding institutions and laid over ancestral native lands converted into parks. With suburbanization in the 20th century, lawns became an essential status symbol.
Enter California the beautiful, land of the always returning drought, one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. Millions travel to enjoy the marvels of the state’s forests and deserts, to hike through meadows of wildflowers. This richness of hardy flora evolved in an environment that often went without water. The results are spectacular because it looks like California, a landscape so unique it is visited more than any other state.
Have a piece of this beauty for yourself. Let the water-hogging, little piece of England out front die. Sure, you could look into drought friendly options like rock gardens and xeriscaping. Or just spread some poppy seed on the corpse of the lawn and let California reclaim its shape right outside your front door, this natural landscape we are so blessed to enjoy, blooming just for you.—M.G.