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When It Pours…Let Nature Do the Watering

Articles: When It Pours…Let Nature Do the Watering

The rain-only garden designed by Brandon Tyson, against a backdrop of Azara dentata, with Yucca rostrata at the furthest point behind orange spikes of Dyckia ‘Jim’s Red’. Photographs by Cyrus Harmon
It’s been said that anyone can create a beautiful spring garden. It’s the same with watering. Anyone can create a garden using irrigation; I wanted to try something beautiful without it.

Brandon Tyson
Gardeners. We’re all control freaks, and garden designer Brandon Tyson considers professionals the worst of the lot. After more than twenty-five years in the business, he should know. But he recently seized the opportunity to silence his inner horticultural megalomaniac and submit, for the moment at least, to the dictates of Nature. He decided to let her do the watering.

Tyson set aside a small, curbside section of a garden he was creating in Berkeley (Sunset zone 16/17), attempting to free himself from the “the tyranny of irrigation.” The project proved a perfect testing ground: the bed would receive constant scrutiny from the politically and environmentally conscious Berkeleyites who walk by each day. He also...

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