This post was originally published January 1, 2014

The State of California has just ended its driest year on record. Now we will have to make it all up in the next three months. It’s happened before, and in some years way too much, with flooding and landslides included. You have to learn to go with the flow here, so to speak. In the garden businesses you have to plan for all possibilities. I am planning on drought this year, with the hope of enough rain to keep water restrictions to a minimum.

I have always thought we should garden in the style of the early Spanish Missions. These early settlers had to survive with water that fell in and around the mission during the rainy season, January through March. The rest of the year is dry with no rainfall. Every plant in the missions had a reason for being, not just ornamental.

Here is a video done by the late Huell Howser for his show “California Gold”. I sure do miss Huell, and his childlike wonder at all things California. In the video he visits La Purisima Mission, located near Lompoc, California. The video focuses on the gardens inside the mission. The first thing you notice is all the plants had uses beyond the ornamental. Some were native to the area, while many we’re from Mediterranean areas of Europe. Food, oils, soap’s, herbs, wine, medicinal as well as psychedelic uses where all included in the garden. It seems as if it would fit in perfectly in today’s modern California.

With water becoming less reliable every year it would be wise to re-look at some of these old school ways of gardening. What can we learn about how these early settlers and natives managed to survive and thrive using what they grew? I believe the mission style of gardening, with an eye towards modern technology and knowledge, is the way forward in this state of extremes. Enjoy the video on this New Years Day, and we’ll revisit some of the ideas we can use today in future posts.