Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens: 200 Drought-Tolerant Choices for all Climates

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“A terrific complement to basic resources. . . . An excellent resource when it comes to selecting suitable plants for a sustainable landscape.” —Library Journal starred review

“Information and photos are straightforward. Practical design ideas. . . . And let’s hear it for less work.” —Philadelphia Inquirer

“Gardeners will find this book a thorough resource.” —Suite 101

From the Back Cover

People everywhere are facing the realities of restricted water availability. Yet sustainable gardens and landscapes that use less water don’t have to be boring. The key to keeping your garden beautiful and waterwise is intelligent plant choice.

This practical and inspiring guide includes all kinds of plants, from trees to succulents, from perennials to bulbs, selected for their wide adaptability and ornamental value. And whereas most books on drought-tolerant plants focus on southwestern, high desert, or Mediterranean climates, the Ogdens cover both humid and arid parts of zones 4 to 10 and offer choices for gardens from coast to coast.

Each of the 200 entries states where the plant is best adapted, along with its light needs, soil preference, and mature size. Well over 100 related waterwise plants are also mentioned, expanding your options even further. What’s more, the authors tell why each plant deserves to be in gardens and suggest creative design ideas and good companion plants.

About the Author

Scott Ogden, along with his wife Lauren, has been featured on several television shows and in numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Nature, Martha Stewart Living, Sunset, and Horticulture. Awards include two American Horticultural Society book awards and a landscape design award from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. Before making horticulture and garden design his life’s work, Scott studied geology and paleontology at Yale.
Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden’s horticultural experience in the United States and Europe spans zones 4 through 10. They design public and private gardens, speak widely, and have written three books each, including their new award-winning joint book Plant-Driven Design. They seek plants and design inspiration in the wilds of the United States as well as Mexico, South Africa, and Argentina; several of their plant introductions are in the nursery trade. At home in the challenging climates of Fort Collins, Colorado, and Austin, Texas, they tend two intensive gardens together.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction: Rewarding Gardens Under Rainless Skies
In this book we have brought together two hundred beautiful plants especially selected for gardens that experience drought at some point during the year. Climate is changing and weather is becoming more erratic and unpredictable all over, even in traditionally moist regions. More and more people now grow plants in dry parts of the West, while expanding populations strain water supplies around the globe. Sustainability is the word of the day and for the future; plants that need little water and tolerate drought offer solutions for gardeners and homeowners everywhere. Plants featured here include stunning performers that are reliable under ordinary landscape conditions as well as drought. We’ve included many adapted widely enough to enrich gardens not only in arid western North America but also in the Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, Pacific Northwest, and United Kingdom.

Choosing the best plants is the starting point for creating a sustainable, rewarding garden, what we advocate as plant-driven design, and what we hope to help you with in this book. Intelligent gardens and landscapes are democratic. If a plant is beautiful, well adapted to the site and region, and not overly aggressive or invasive, it deserves consideration. If it needs little input in terms of soil amendment, fertilizer, or ongoing care, better yet. If it supports a range of creatures with food, cover, or nesting places, it’s a win-win for all. We have used these criteria to pick the two hundred plants described here. With drought-resistant plants, less is truly more.

Gardening with Limited Water
When fully established, plants in this book all remain attractive with just 1 inch of water (rain or irrigation) every two weeks during the hottest part of peak growing season. They need much less during cooler times and when plants are not in full, active growth. For practical purposes this is how we define low-water, waterwise, or drought-tolerant plants. New plantings require more regular water: 1 inch (rain or irrigation) every week through the first growing season, trees sometimes for a second season.

In nature many plants rely on residual fall, winter, or spring moisture from snowmelt or seasonal rains; they grow strongly early in the season, then enter a resting phase during hotter, drier weather unless awakened by thundershowers or monsoonal rains. Infrequent deep irrigation encourages plants to root deeply and makes them more durable in drought. Frequent shallow irrigation can have the opposite effect and may bring alkaline salts to the surface, tying up nutrients and burning plant roots. Placing cisterns to collect rainwater, or creating curb cuts, swales, and rain gardens to redirect and conserve runoff, and building up and increasing the depth of soil over shallow rocky terrain all maximize capture, preservation, and availability of precious water.

Inorganic mulches such as pea gravel or grit in neutral colors make natural, long-lasting surfaces for waterwise gardens that help reduce soil temperatures while limiting moisture loss and the need to irrigate. Organic mulch materials such as shredded bark, wood chips, and compost are not natural to dryland environments and are best avoided near most drought-tolerant plants, as they may tie up nutrients and inhibit growth while decaying and can promote disease as well as release substances harmful to plants. Trees have deeper roots and thick protective bark and naturally grow amid fallen leaves and woody debris, so they are an exception to this.

All the plants in this book prefer well-drained soils; none require added fertilizer in garden situations.

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