When we launched the online newsletter last fall, our commitment was for “AAGC to spread more green by going paperless.” As I sit down to write this, it’s been over a month since the April 20th Gulf oil spill explosion—an environmental catastrophe that has wreaked both seen and unseen damage to the Gulf of Mexico for years to come.
For those of us who live in Austin and Central Texas, last summer’s severe drought and Stage 2 watering restrictions reminded us that water is a precious resource that we simply cannot take for granted. Last year, we saved more than 2.5 billion gallons of water (www.WaterWiseAustin.org). And, most of us live near one of Austin’s 66 creek watersheds that enter the Colorado River at Lake Austin or Town Lake, before flowing to the Gulf of Mexico. So, it’s all connected!
Making good choices for better water quality is not an option—it’s an obligation. Those of us who are informed gardeners already know that, but it doesn’t hurt to have a “nudge” as we face another hot summer. The City of Austin has recently published a series of garden booklets that encourage landscape design “to protect and conserve Austin’s water”. Each of the booklets features demonstration gardens and plant selections that illustrate earth-wise gardening principles:
- Sun and Color Design (Zilker Botanical Garden - Green Garden)
- Contemporary Design (City Hall)
- Deer Resistant Design (One Texas Center)
- Low Maintenance Shade (Zilker Botanical Garden – Green Garden)
- Classic Design (Howson Library)*
- Child Friendly Design (Create a sensory garden to encourage children to explore and enjoy the outdoors)
- Drainage Solutions (One Texas Center)
- Pool-Friendly Design (Create a tropical garden with Austin’s drought-tolerant plants)
- Wildlife Habitat Design (Parks & Recreation Department Headquarters)
* Howson Library (2500 Exposition Blvd.) redesigned its landscape in 2004, dramatically reducing its water usage, from 37,000 gallons @ month to 13,400 gallons @ month.
These garden booklets, along with Native and Adapted Landscape Plants: an earthwise guide for Central Texas (another Grow Green publication), are available in the gift shop at Zilker Botanical Garden and at area nurseries and garden centers. Or, if you prefer, you can download the booklets by visiting the Grow Green website at www.growgreen.org and link to “Landscape Designs”. For earthwise gardening and water conservation tips, and rainbarrel rebates visit www.growgreen.org and www.waterwiseaustin.org.
As Dr. Nichols reminds us….”Our actions, wherever we are, matter to the future of the ocean. And the future of the ocean matters to us.” Enjoy your gardens this summer and do your part to make sure the planet has clean water.