A generation ago, in the distant mists of time when my children were little (they’re in their 20s and 30s now) water dominated both garden and family life.
I had never gardened until we moved into this place in 1979. Everyone around me watered their gardens all year round so I assumed that is what you had to do. The overhead sprinklers broke the delicate lavender branches so I switched to drippers. But I hated the look of the drippers and anyway the plants kept moving and changing and somehow they were never in the right place-both drippers and plants!
Years and years later I realized that the lawn grew anyway although it died back a bit in winter. And that the lavenders and rosemaries, gum trees, and most of the plants in my garden were ok without moisture additional to that provided from the sky. In fact, I felt that water was harmful and addictive to them. It would only encourage them to be lazy and not to bother extending their roots down, down into the moist underworld when they could easily lap at a wet surface.
In the meantime the climate grew hotter and drier, and here water became a scarce resource, with strict laws limiting and controlling its use. You no longer hear the sound of sprinklers, nor do you see water running off into the street.
When the children were little, the garden was planted on the four sides of the fence line. In the middle was the lawn, a grassy play space. On hot summers they rarely wore clothes. In their little birthday suits they played together and with friends. In and out and around the sprinklers – what cool fun they had. Cool fun that my baby grandson will never know, not in this geographical area anyway.
You could even buy special toys for water play. We had a kind of water slide, which was laid on the grass and got wet and slippery. With a running jump, down the children went, sliding and slipping and laughing. And we adults joined in too, often bruising ourselves as we slipped.
And there were water pistols. The kids weren’t allowed to play with guns but who could refuse them water pistols on a hot sunny clothes-free day? That kind of play has ended forever round here.