Water Issues

Watering Rocks Solve Key Gardening Problem

My “Best Of” gardening selection at the 2012 ProGreen industry tradeshow is a new portable drip irrigation system called Watering Rocks.

There were a lot of new gardening products featured at ProGreen last week, but one of my favorites is a low-tech portable watering system called Watering Rocks.

Each Watering Rock is a self-contained drip irrigation system. Just place the rock in a part of the garden that’s difficult to water and fill the container with water.

Water will slowly seep from the rock into drip lines and adjustable drippers to water plants deeply. Watering Rocks are available in one-gallon, two-gallon and five-gallon sizes.

Gardeners fill the Watering Rocks by placing a hose in the holes at the top of the rock or they can connect an existing drip irrigation system for automatic filling. The amount of water can be adjusted to match plant needs.

Another handy feature is that liquid or soluble plant food can be added to the water for automatic fertilizing, too.

Rainwater Harvesting is the Smart Rural Option

WesternGardeners.com welcomes our newest advertiser: Flxx Rainwater Harvesting Systems and Equipment located in Boulder. Flxx serves rural Colorado, and nearby states, providing complete rainwater harvesting solutions from design to installation.  (Photos  provided by Flxx Rainwater.)

Colorado’s water laws have never allowed for the collection and storage of rainwater until last July.

Now, some rural Coloradans are allowed to lawfully capture and store rainwater on their property.

Legislative changes created the opportunity for rural residents to capture and use rainwater that flows off their rooftops.

However, residents who get their water from a municipality or water district are still prohibited from collecting rainwater in Colorado.

Harvesting rainwater is a sustainable option to letting rain simply slip away. Green-minded Coloradans can now catch it, store it and use it.

Catch It

Victoria Lilies are Giants of the Water Garden

Today’s Workshop Wednesday features Victoria lilies and how to grow these giants of the water garden.

Ever since botanists first caught sight of Victoria amazonica in the early 1800s, the giant water lily has captured the imagination of plant lovers everywhere.

With a leaf up to 8 feet in diameter and flowers as big as platters, the Victoria is no shrinking violet.

“It is something that touches every sense and everyone has a reason to find it fascinating,” says Nancy Styler, founder and co-director of the Victoria Conservancy, a nonprofit branch of the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society.

Working together with her husband, Trey, the Conservancy provides Victoria waterlilies for the Denver Botanic Gardens, The Hudson Gardens, Denver University and other water gardens around the world.

Named for Queen Victoria, these giant water lilies are known for their large, round floating leaves and their beautiful oversize flowers.

New Green Gardening Show Premieres Soon

A new PBS television series is set to premiere in major markets on Saturday, May 15. Growing a Greener World is what happens when you combine one part eco-friendly living with one part gardening know-how and then mix in recipes for cooking up the harvest.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing the premiere of a new PBS tv show called Growing a Greener World since I first heard about it last year.

This new show is hosted by Joe Gardener (Joe Lamp’l) and Garden Girl Patti Moreno with help from celebrity chef  Nathan Lyon.

I think it’s the right show at the right time for the right audience.

I met both Joe and Patti at a symposium last September and have a feeling they’re going to be terrific, down-to-earth hosts for this series.

Green Gardening Tips for Earth Day 2010

Earth Day is a good time to rethink lawn and garden practices and find ways to make sure your landscape is as green as it looks.

It would seem that green and gardening go together naturally, but that isn’t always the case. Most lawns are kept green and weed free with synthetic fertilizers and toxic herbicides, bags of grass clippings and garden waste head for the landfill and over-watering is all too common.

Do you have a sustainable landscape that uses natural resources wisely? Do you use practices to eliminate soil and water pollution? Are you working to reduce waste?

Earth Day is the ideal time to take a close look at all our gardening practices to make sure each one is promoting the long-term well being of the environment.

For several years, I’ve been trying to follow the lead of the landscape industry and working toward “zero-waste gardening” in my own backyard.

The Urban Forest is an Environmental Tool

Trees aren’t the first things you think of when you think about New Mexico, but Albuquerque’s urban forest is a important environmental tool.


Nick Kuhn, city forester, was one of the speakers at the New Mexico Xeriscape and Water Conservation Conference in Albuquerque last month. I guess it never occurred to me that cities in the southwest would need foresters, but by the time Nick finished his talk, I was a believer.

Nick explained that even the southwest needs an urban forest and street trees are valuable “solar-powered environmental tools.” Each tree is a natural resource for economic, social and environmental benefits.

However, in the city of Albuquerque many residents have stopped thinking of trees as an important part of the ecosystem equation. With water at a premium, and a big push to conserve it, many think that a treeless yard saves water. But nothing could be farther from the truth.

Xeriscape Conference Part 2–Meet Joel Salatin

Joel Salatin is a third generation alternative farmer in the Shenandoah Valley who attracted national attention after being featured in Michael Pollan’s book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

The second day of the 15th Annual Water Conservation and Xeriscape Conference in Albuquerque was not only enlightening, uplifting and educational–it was a lot of fun.

The day started off with two keynote presentations, one by Dr. Robert Glennon, the Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of Arizona and the other by Will Swope, the Vice President and General Manager of Corporate Sustainability at Intel. I plan to recap their talks, and others from the conference in future blogs, but tonight I wanted to write about Joel Salatin’s presentation and “A Sustainable Farmer’s Point of View.”

Joel calls himself a “grass farmer” on his family’s farm called Polyface or the Farm of Many Faces. He’s also an engaging  speaker and author of several books with titles like “You Can Farm,” “Family Friendly Farming,” and “Everything I want to do is illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front.”

The Xeric Transect is Where We Live, Work, Play

The theme for the 15th Annual Water Conservation and Xeriscape Conference is the “Land Use, Water Use Connection” and includes the transect from the natural environment to the urban environment.

The weather in Albuquerque is warmer than it was when we left Denver yesterday, but that’s not due to global warming or climate change. It’s always a bit warmer here in late February when the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico puts on its annual conference.

I look forward to this conference every year, not only to escape the chillier Denver weather, but to hear well-regarded experts talk about water issues. For the first time in several years, there seems to be more optimism in the tone of the presentations.

That’s not to say we aren’t still in the midst of a water crisis, but it just seems there’s more hope in working together to find solutions.

Drawing Winner Will Put CobraHead to Use

Thanks to everyone who shared the lessons they learned from the 2009 gardening season. The winner’s number was drawn at random by the computer genius at Random.org.  Even though gardeners from around the country posted their comments, the winner lives in Denver, Colo.

Judy Lemieux is a licensed acupuncturist who enjoys photography as much as gardening and horticulture. Her garden taught her that she should be realistic about her watering habits and select plants that will survive our dry climate and her failure to water regularly.

This photo shows a corner of her garden that is flourishing with Russian sage, Lemieux Blogpurple and white iris, agastache ‘Golden Jubilee’ and ‘Dimity’ knotweed.

“I seem to kill so many things with my forgetfulness to water,” Judy says.

“I’ve  had several beautiful pots die a sudden death from missing one day.  Now I plant pots with a variety of succulents and other extremely xeric plants that thrive on neglect.  As for the things I plant in the ground – if it can survive a summer with my erratic watering, it can stay, otherwise it goes.”

Plants, Sculpture Mingle at NC Botanic Gardens

These Happy Gardeners welcome visitors to the North Carolina Botanical Gardens at Chapel Hill.

happy-gardeners-blogEven though I’m back from my travels to North Carolina, I wanted to share a bit more of my trip because I visited so many wonderful public and private gardens and saw so many plants I’d never seen before.

We had but a short time at the North Carolina Botanical Gardens, part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

I only caught a glimpse of the the gardens’ new environmentally-sustainable visitor education center as the bus pulled into the parking lot.

It was then a mad dash to the gardens to see as much as possible in 40 minutes flat.

I’m afraid I didn’t get too far into the official collection of North Carolina native plants, because I was enjoying the herb garden too much.

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