Binge-reading revelations

Binge-watch season of House of Cards? Or binge-read tomes on gardening in dry climates? Coupled with on-site research, my waterwise landscaping crash courses these past 2 years were fueled by scouring the internet, buttonholing experts, and attending classes. I digested Western and California books in my library, and drilled deep into 72 more. Aha moments were:

#1. The problem is bigger than one region. Solutions are too.

Texas, Colorado, and California all face water scarcity. So do Southwest Australia, South Africa, and the Mediterranean Basin. What works for resourceful gardeners in these far-flung areas may work for you too. Check out Mèze‘s Oliver Flippini’s The Dry Gardening Handbook, Australia’s Jonathan Garner’s Dry Gardening, Essex’s Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden, or Intermountain West’s Landscaping on the New Frontier.

#2. There is no one-size-fits-all fix. Pick and choose instead.

All successful ventures work with (rather than fight) local conditions to reduce resource demands. Yet, much like weight loss or financial budgeting, the possibilities are endless. Draw on Carol Bornstein‘s Reimagining the California Lawn, Debra Lee Baldwin‘s Succulents Simplified, the 12 trailblazers in The New American Landscape, and other winners to revamp your consumption.

#3. Most everything old becomes new again.

Waterwise publications, just like the droughts they trail, stretch back decades. Most oldies but goodies, such as Xeriscape Handbook, are still valid today. As new capabilities develop, the classics tend to be refreshed, like 2009’s update to Southern California Gardening for all-organic practices. Irrigation, with its revolutionary advances, is the one category where materials quickly become obsolete.

#4. Passion + knowledge = sea changes.

Catalysts for profound transformation begin with discovery of a better way or triumph over adversity. Starting in her own front yard, Lorrie Otto became godmother of natural landscaping (and crusader to ban DDT) with show and tell diplomacy. Pat Welsh pioneered the topic of gardening in U.S. mainstream media, parlaying early gardening lessons in England and later in California into public awareness of environmentally responsible approaches. Other champions spark changes online.