Monday, February 29, 2016

The Water-Saving Garden book party and giveaway! (Winner Update)

Today fellow bloggers are helping Pam Penick launch her new book The Water-Saving Garden:  How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water.  There's also a nice giveaway for a lucky reader at the end of my post.  I'm excited to help get the word out about Pam's new book on water-saving gardening since I've followed Pam's blog Digging for years, loved her first book Lawn Gone!, and now she has even upped her game with her second book.

Love the cover!  Pam knows her subject well since that's her own gorgeous water-saving garden on the cover.

Having made her case for ditching lawn in her first book Lawn Gone!, Pam moves the conversation forward to answer our questions about what's next.  In a writing style that's just like chatting with her about gardening, she goes beyond the basics as she shares her thoughts and experiences so you can choose the best approach when designing your own water-saving garden.

Gardeners interested in saving water often express similar concerns that water-saving gardens are basically ugly and the neighbors will object or it's more work than a lawn.  In Part One of The Water-Saving Garden:  How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water Pam addresses such concerns with detailed tours of beautiful water-saving gardens from different geographic regions of the country.

Pam's usual awesome photos serve to further inspire us.

She then leads us through the steps to our own gorgeous water-saving garden while dispensing her practical wisdom along the way.  Part Two is packed with information on holding that precious rainfall whether through rain barrels, swales, terraces, or rain gardens.  Using chapter titles like "Think Saltines" for permeable paving or "Irrigation Without Irritation" she holds our attention with humor while dispensing advice on everything from soils to shade sails.

One of my favorite things about the book is that Pam doesn't shy away from sharing her opinions.  Just in case you missed reading her first book Lawn Gone!, there's more encouragement to "Lose the Lawn" in Part Three. She challenges lawn keepers to consider their reasons for maintaining turf grass.  While understanding everyone has their own views of what looks best, she gently prods us to action.  No, you aren't limited to cactus and rocks.  As she demonstrated with tours of gorgeous water-saving gardens in Part One, there are many great options with no one right or wrong way to approach water-saving gardens.

Pam covers the subject of creating the illusion of water in Part Four, showing how plantings, stones and other features can evoke a sense of water in the garden.  I particularly enjoyed this part of the book on the important role of water features or sense of water in a water-saving garden as her treatment of the subject is something I haven't seen emphasized quite this way before.

Flowing stone steps in a desert garden.

The last section is devoted to 100 favorite water-saving plants beginning at ground level with groundcovers and topping out with trees.  I noted a number of my own easy care, low water favorites like Pine Muhly and Butterfly Vine on the list.

Even if you live in a region where water is plentiful, Pam's ideas will help you conserve this important resource. Either stand alone or as a follow-up to Lawn Gone! Pam's new book is packed with practical advice on creating a gorgeous water-saving garden.

You can find The Water-Saving Garden:  How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water at Amazon and other online booksellers.

Fine print:  An advance copy of The Water-Saving Garden:  How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water was provided to me by the publisher without obligation.  This review reflects my own views and is the same review I would write had I purchased the book myself.

All photos reprinted with permission from The Water-Saving Garden, by Pam Penick, copyright © 2016, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Pam Penick.

And the winner of the Flat Back Rain Barrel with Chesapeake Stand from The Rain Barrel Depot is Martha from Austin!

Thanks to you all for your interest in The Water-Saving Garden and for entering the giveaway.

The Rain Barrel Depot

Flat back design allows the barrel to sit close to the wall.  Other great features include brass spigot, screening to keep out bugs, and a front overflow to direct excess water away from the house.

Learn more about this cool flat back rain barrel here

And the generous folks at The Rain Barrel Depot will include the sturdy Chesapeake Stand for your new Flat Back Rain Barrel.

The Rain Barrel Depot website is fun to browse.  Great styling, recycled materials and prices include shipping.    They also carry DIY kits so I can finally convert that old water softener container into a proper rain barrel.  Videos on the website show how easy it is to install.

For your chance to win the flat back rain barrel and Chesapeake stand from The Rain Barrel Depot, just leave a comment below and the winner will be selected at random on Monday, March 7, 2016.

A few rules:  One entry per person for each giveaway, and you must provide an email address so you can be notified if you win.  If you prefer to keep your email private, just send it to me using the contact form on the right sidebar under my profile and I'll delete it after the winner is notified. (Please note, the contact form will not count as a comment.)  Shipping available within the continental U.S. only (excluding Alaska and Hawaii).

Join the party and follow the links below to visit 6 more bloggers and a chance to win a gift from each:

Clay and Limestone: Rain Barrel from Epoch Rain Barrels

Danger Garden:  Circle Pot from Potted 

Digging:  $100 gift certificate from High Country Gardens

Gossip in the Garden:  Live Succulent Planter from Boxhill

North Coast Gardening: 3 bags of 1/8-in. pumice (to 3 winners!) from General Pumice Products

Red Dirt Ramblings: 65-Gallon Rainwater Urn from Gardener’s Supply Company

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Winter Walk-Off 2016

It's been a couple of years since I joined Les for his Winter Walk-Off at A Tidewater Gardener.   With so many options for exploring San Antonio it's always good choice to go walking.  So when my sister-in-law was in town last week we had lunch and walked a less traveled route through downtown San Antonio.  With the beautiful day and our beautiful city as a backdrop it's a nice walk for sharing.

The rules are simple.  Take a walk and share the photos on your blog then link back to A Tidewater Gardener.  You can walk your neighborhood as I did a couple of years ago or drive or bike to your  starting point.  No photos of your own garden and there are prizes too.  More details at A Tidewater Gardener.

We'll start our walk in an urban park at the base of the Tower of the Americas.  Glass elevators take visitors to the top where they have a choice of Chart House restaurant, a bar or an observation deck for those who just want to take a look.  Originally built for Hemisfair in 1968, the view from the top at night is spectacular.

So much water!  We don't get much rain so water features like this are a special treat.  All public water features are fed with reclaimed water processed southeast of town and pumped back into the city.

Swirling eddy drain, reminiscent of reclaimed water.  Just sayin'

I always enjoy the bright colors combined with plenty of rushing water in this garden.  Our massive convention center fills in the background.

Concrete aqueducts with waterfalls in the surrounding Hemisfair Park evoke ancient acequias which originally channeled water to homes and farms around the city.

Hemisfair Park renovations required a detour through the branch campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) or National University of Mexico. The detour revealed a public art display I had not seen before.

This sculpture was the only one with a plaque and I didn't get a photo thinking the info would be available online.  Turns out I couldn't find any reference to the art at all.  Looks like a Phoenix or logo maybe.  Oh well, at least the top of the Tower of the Americas fits neatly in the cone.

Mesoamerican sculptures line the plaza between buildings.  This Toltec warrior would have supported the roof of a temple.

Olmec head carving looking pretty authentic and pretty amazing to just happen on them with no tags.

Stele like these dot the jungles of Mexico.

These two appear to be Spanish Colonial carvings.

Put a cork in it?  No, probably what remains of a flute.

A tiny float for Dia de los Niños (Children's Day) parade coming up in April?

Now to join the throngs of tourists down on the San Antonio River Walk.

¡Hola! twin girls and their brother wave to....

....passing boats of tourists plying the famous Paseo Del Rio which attracts 26 million visitors a year.

With our sun hats and cameras, I'm sure we look like tourists too.  Maybe we are tourists for a day.  Tourists in our own town, why not?

One of our arched stone bridges with "La Antorcha de la Amistad" or "Torch of Friendship," a gift from Mexico, in the background.

We head through the Arneson River Theater, stage right.  Yes, that's real sky.

Audience seating on the other side means boats float right through the middle of the show.

Another stone bridge covered in fig ivy.  Most tall buildings in the city are hotels.

The bronze sculpture of a Vaquero driving longhorns across the river in front of the Briscoe Museum of Western Art seems to be under repair with hooves and horns protected from damage.

Heading toward the red sandstone Bexar County Courthouse.

At the end of the Paseo Del Rio, a gritty bit of the river's backside shows how the river through downtown might have looked without the vision of Architect R.H.H. Hugman back in the 1920s.  Most people will turn up river north toward town, we're headed south, notice the traffic signal on the bridge for boats.

Wintering Cormorants on a wire await fishing opportunities near the dam.

The Nueva Street Dam controls water levels in the San Antonio River Walk so tourists see water instead of a dry creek bed.  Reclaimed water is used to fill the river unless we've had enough rain.

In a block or so we enter the mostly residential King William Historic District named in the 1870s for King Wilhelm I of Prussia.

Cypress knees are cool, Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) is common along the river but not so much in my higher and drier neighborhood.  I've seen Cypress knees painted like Santa or all manner of creatures at craft shows.  Cypress knees also make fascinating table legs.

Our regional grocery chain H-E-B headquarters along the river.

The River Walk continues another 10 miles south along the Mission Reach.  Saving that walk for another day, we exit to street level at a small park.

Faux bois is common throughout public parks in San Antonio and I enjoy the details.

A house once stood here

Now it's preserved as green and relaxing open space.

San Antonio is smack on the line where southern charm meets the old west so we'll enjoy a few charming houses in the King William Historic District on our way back to the car.

These homes would have greeted my great-great grandparents when they moved to San Antonio from Palestine (Texas!) in the 1860s.

Generous and thoughtful touch for four-legged walkers.

One very old, very crowded Crape Myrtle puddles along the street

Oge House Inn looks welcoming.

Through the Alamo-shaped arched hedge is a rose garden.

This narrow house brings back memories of our years in a 14' wide townhouse in Alexandria, Virginia.

Bicycles are a popular way to explore the far reaches of the River Walk.  Rent a bicycle here and return it at another location.

Either an artful bike rack or simply outdoor art.  Truck colors may vary.

Yanaguana Garden, a new children's play area, has opened as part of the ongoing Hemisfair Park renovation.  I'll explore the new park on another visit.

Almost back to the car.  The round Federal Courthouse building is scheduled to be replaced with something more functional and safe.

That completes our three mile loop from the Tower of the Americas and back.  San Antonio has so many walking opportunities in almost any direction and on this walk I've found several new places to come back and explore in the future.

You can join in the Winter Walk-Off 2016 by posting your own walk or follow the links in the comments section at A Tidewater Gardener.