The joy of gardening can only be savoured after many years of hard work – gardens don’t work on MacTime. Years of sweat, heavy digging, lifting, designing, reshaping and grieving over plants that didn’t last or failed to grow as expected can take its toll on a gardener. But we expect it…it’s all part of the enjoyment and satisfaction associated with this great hobby.

Yet, what if watering restrictions were placed upon you that limited the amount of scheme water that you could use to grow your plants? I can hear you already commenting under your breath, “Why not install some rain barrels?” Which makes perfect common sense, except when you’re in the middle of a drought that’s continued over the past 3 years.

In Adelaide, where this scenario is definitely no hypothetical, gardeners are abandoning their gardens in droves. Those who haven’t left are abiding by the watering restrictions and have opted for gardens that better reflect the climate in which Adelaideans find themselves in. And, the exotics which many gardeners would have grown up cultivating are now being tossed by the wayside.

It’s perfectly normal to expect that people raising gardens in temperate climates should be more mindful of their water consumption and grow plants accordingly. But, many of these gardeners have been in the same garden for 20+ years assuming that their water provision was always going to be there.

I mean, imagine if your local authority decided to impose watering restrictions on your garden this year. Instead of using reticulation or a garden sprinkler you were limited to a hose, or worse still, a watering can. And, you couldn’t do this every day but were restricted to a day or two per week based on your house number. How would your current garden survive?

My guess is that most gardens would struggle to deal with such tight watering restrictions. In fact, most of our gardens would either die within the first summer or, at least, be crippled beyond its former glory.

It’s quite alarming how dependent we are upon this very precious resource. In the past we’ve never had to concern ourselves with limiting our water consumption but with changing weather patterns associated with an earth that’s warming up it may not be too long before we’re all dealing with a similar restrictive watering regime.

Fortunately there is amazing growth in the range of drought-tolerant plants available. And while this gives us younger gardeners (at 36 I’m lumping myself in with this age category) some wonderful freedoms to be different to our predecessors, it does make you wonder whether we are about to lose some of the incredible plants that have shaped our heritage.

Watering restrictions are necessary for humans need to drink more than plants do but imposed upon gardeners year after year it’s of little wonder than many are departing from this hobby.