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One of the best ways to create a waterwise garden is to grow a variety of plants. These roses deflect rainwater, slowing its fall to the ground, decreasing evaporation. Photo by John Morgan

While those of us in the Pacific Northwest mourn the end of summer and brace ourselves for the rain that follows, most of the country is hungover from this summer’s historic heatwave. Next year, beat the heat with the help of these 7 ways to a more waterwise garden.

Create hydro-zones

  • Group together plants with similar moisture needs
  • Put thirstiest plants in depressions and areas that receive water from natural slopes or downspouts.
  • Shelter thirsty plants from drying winds by putting drought-tolerant plants to the north and west of them.

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A mix of native and ornamental plants thrive in this garden, which is watered with greywater from a kitchen sink. Courtesy of Cleo Woelfle-Erskine.

Rain gardens are not just for places that receive a lot of rain. In fact, they may be most beneficial in places that receive very little rain. Brad Lancaster lives in Tucson, Arizona, and shared some of the reasons why he – and his community – create rain gardens. This case study and more can be found in Creating Rain Gardens by Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and Apryl Uncapher.

Swiss ecovillage designer Max Lindigger’s story of a walk he took with his grandfather radically changed my view of public streets. His grandfather pointed to condominiums sprawling above his alpine village, “That’s where we grew and gathered food during the war. The forests were common land. What commons remain?”

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Garlic mustard, wild rose, and kudzu. Three plants that are invasive and edible.

Become an invasivore and eat your way to a healthier planet with help from the author of Southeast Foraging.

I often get asked, Why do you forage? I forage because I love how rich and diverse nature is in the South and I love food. Foraging leads you to delicious, nutritious wild foods, is sustainable, and helps you to be a more creative cook.

Foraging for wild edibles is undergoing a renaissance in the United States. Whether it is the logical extension of the farm-to-table movement or the result of decades of American reforestation, foraging is an experience no longer claimed just by hunters and campers. We are living in a fortunate moment when you might find local edible wild plants on your dinner table at an urban restaurant. You might be able to take a community foraging class taught by a local expert who lives in your neighborhood. You may even find yourself in your own backyard plucking some wild ginger for your morning tea or gathering dandelion greens for the evening’s salad.

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Buffalo Bayou Promenade solves technical problems of flooding while also improving ecological structure and function, and providing Houstonians with access to their waterfront. Image: Tom Fox/SWA Group

Landscapes of Change author Roxi Thoren takes a look at the making of Buffalo Bayou, an award-winning park providing recreational opportunities as well as flood control and ecological restoration.

In the middle of downtown Houston, an alligator is floating down a bayou, lazily drifting in the muddy current. A group of park visitors excitedly points out its snout, the ridges on its back. On any given day, Houstonians can see three kinds of turtles, heron, osprey, songbirds, a colony of 150,000 bats, and even the reclusive alligator sunning on the silty banks in the middle of the fourth-largest city in the United States. This is an astonishing reversal for a bayou that until fairly recently was inhospitable to people as well as animals—a foul, polluted channel filled with trash.

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Timber Press author Andrew Wilson co-designed The Living Legacy Garden, inspired by the Battle of Waterloo, which aims to "reconciles the drama and violence of the battle with a progressive and positive future." Image: Royal Horticulture Society

Timber Press author Andrew Wilson co-designed The Living Legacy Garden, inspired by the Battle of Waterloo, which aims to “reconciles the drama and violence of the battle with a progressive and positive future.” Image: Royal Horticulture Society

Image: judywhite

Image: judywhite

GRAHAM RICE
Powerhouse Plants & Planting the Dry Shade Garden

Must-do: Check out the Plant Of The Year finalists and winner in the Grand Pavilion: twenty brand new plants go for the award.
Must-not-do: Do not wear sandals. Instead, wear your most comfortable walking shoes, you’re going to be on your feet all day.
Best-kept-secret: It’s far less crowded than it used to be. These days, the Royal Horticultural Society limits the number of tickets to make the show more comfortable for everyone.
The big trend this year: Irises—brand new varieties developed in France seen for the first time, plus historic varieties developed by British artist Cedric Morris more than fifty years ago.

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Image: Chris Wlaznik

Image: Chris Wlaznik

NAOMI SLADE
The Plant Lover’s Guide to Snowdrops

Must-do: Enthusiastically greet all your horticultural friends and ask them what their favourite garden is. If you have not made your mind up yet, hide this fact. Consume champagne liberally. Repeat.
Must-not-do: DO NOT EVER take a little nap on the elegant and comfortable garden furniture (no matter how tempting it is or how weary you feel).
Best-kept-secret: It is completely addictive, but that is probably a really badly kept secret, actually.
The big trend this year: It is a little bit hard to say as we are not there yet, but it is looking like key colours are hot orange, burgundy and plum, with hits of acid-green and blue.

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Image: Matthew Kidd

Image: Matthew Kidd

ANDY VERNON
The Plant Lover’s Guide to Dahlias

Must-do: Get there crazy stupid super early to avoid the crowds.
Must-not-do: Drink too many free glasses of champers on press day and fall a*se over t*ts into gold medal winning gardens. Ooopsie.
Best-kept-secret: The TV coverage is amazing, but the smell, the taste, the atmosphere of early morning Chelsea is basically orgasmic.
The big trend this year: I predict and hope there’ll be a backlash of recent years of lots of oh-so-gorgeous-subtlety. Time for some serious bold colour in the show gardens. The Mexican-themed, dahlia display in the Great Pavillion, (which will be the biggest EVER at Chelsea) is gonna be knock out.

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Image: Joanne Everson

Image: Joanne Everson

RICHARD WILFORD
The Plant Lover’s Guide to Tulips

Must-do: Check out the nursery stands in the Great Pavilion to see new varieties and immaculate displays of perfect flowers.
Must-not-do: Don’t buy any statues, fountains or sculptures on the spur of the moment—you need to plan where these things are going beforehand!
Best-kept-secret: It’s not really a secret, but if you can, get to the show as soon as it opens, to get the best views before the crowds arrive.
The big trend this year: With Dan Pearson returning to Chelsea with a garden inspired by the rockery at Chatsworth, maybe rock gardens will start to make a comeback?

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How Plants Work INFOGRAPHIC

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Just as permaculture is inspired by natural systems, co-authors Jessi Bloom and Dave Boehnlein hope to inspire you to more sustainable gardening with their book Practical Permaculture. The following quotes are some of the words that inspired them to such practices and to write about it.

Permaculture Quotes 5 550 [click to continue…]

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One of the outdoor feel-good spaces where Jessi can spend time with family and friends.

An inside look at how (and why) Practical Permaculture co-author Jessi Bloom turned her property into a permaculture homestead.

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Drought-Loving Plants MEDIUM

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Epimedium ‘Kaguyahime’. Image: Mark Bolton

Epimedium ‘Kaguyahime’. Image: Mark Bolton

Tips for growing this popular plant in smaller spaces from the author of The Plant Lover’s Guide to Epimediums.

Gardens are getting increasingly smaller in this modern world. At one time, every house would have been built with a garden for children to play on the grass, for growing vegetables, and for relaxing with friends. Now there are constraints of smaller areas for building and additional profit for builders, and garden space is usually the first casualty. In many countries throughout the world, more people are living in cities where the only outdoor space is a balcony or even a window box, so pots and containers fulfill an important function. Whereas the more vigorous spreading forms of Epimedium are not entirely suitable for containers, the smaller Japanese plants and the new Chinese species and their hybrids are ideal.

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