Conference Topic – Climate-Resilient Plants: Maybe Not What Your Grandma Grew

What does increasing warming mean to gardeners? The plants that will survive climate instability are native all around us, many of them too beautiful to exclude from our gardens. The southwestern deserts have always been places of extremes: persistent droughts interrupted by flash-flooding from slow moving thunderstorms; scorching summer days and deep winter cold. Plants native to extreme places are constantly adapting, the weaklings dying to yield ground to the resilient. Introduced plants from similar climates can be assets but may also become pests if they prove to be too well adapted. Careful planting choices create gorgeous, sustainable gardens.

BIO

What does increasing warming mean to gardeners? The plants that will survive climate instability are native all around us, many of them too beautiful to exclude from our gardens. The southwestern deserts have always been places of extremes: persistent droughts interrupted by flash-flooding from slow moving thunderstorms; scorching summer days and deep winter cold. Plants native to extreme places are constantly adapting, the weaklings dying to yield ground to the resilient. Introduced plants from similar climates can be assets, but may also become pests if they prove to be too well adapted. Careful planting choices create gorgeous, sustainable gardens.

Judith Phillips is a landscape designer, garden writer, educator and activist who designs arid-adapted and native gardens in the high desert. In arid climates it is critical that plants coordinate with built features to make outdoor spaces inviting. The hardscape and planting should serve each other: the land contours and hard surfaces collecting rainwater to supplement the beautiful native and climate-adapted plants that belong here. The paradox of native plants is their fragile strength. Resilience is their survival strategy. If they had a motto it would be Exsisto paratus…Just in case.