Every picture tells a story, don’t it?

Poor grammar and all, Rod Stewart’s lyrics are in my head as I submit my entry for Gardening Gone Wild’s Picture This photo contest. Pro garden photographer Saxon Holt is judging, and he says he wants your best photo from 2014 that not only has “a strong composition that uses the entire frame” but “tells a story” about “something special” from last year.

My fall garden-visiting trip to NYC with my daughter immediately sprang to mind, so I perused my images and found three I particularly like. This one is from Wave Hill on a chilly, rainy morning (the day after leaving sunny, warm Austin), during which my daughter explored the garden with me. There she is at the far side of the pond, gazing at the gold, green, and copper scene, unknowingly providing a sense of scale for the dramatic yuccas along the hedge.

This one is from New York Botanical Garden, which we visited after the rain had let up. A meadow garden stopped us in our tracks, its matrix of asters, daisies, and grasses blooming in rich profusion, with gone-to-seed garlic chives adding clusters of tawny brown.

But the image I’m submitting for my entry is this one: my daughter walking ahead of me along the path (soon to grow up and make her own way in the world, as I’m all too aware), with an autumn leaf tucked into her messy bun — a moment that still touches my heart.

If you’ve never participated in a Picture This photo contest, I encourage you to do so. Gardening Gone Wild hosted a run of them for a few years, and they’ve just brought it back. You can learn a lot from Saxon’s comments, and it’s all in a spirit of friendly competition and sharing.

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

A new book for 2016 and a Lawn Gone! GIVEAWAY

The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.

I have a big announcement, my friends! I’m writing a new book, a follow-up to Lawn Gone! that’s all about how to garden with less water. Or perhaps a better way of describing it is, it’s about honoring water in your garden.

No matter where you live, whether you contend with drought or are blessed with regular rain, water gives life. As we’ve all grown more conscious of the environmental impact of our gardening practices — from dusting the garden with chemicals to mowing and watering an expanse of thirsty lawn — we’re learning to create beauty that’s more in tune with our changing climate, and that isn’t wasteful of our most precious natural resource: clean water.

While visiting a xeriscape garden near Phoenix last spring, I was moved by an insightful proverb engraved on the rim of a steel container pond: “The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.” Nor must we. Now I don’t claim to be a paragon of water conservation, but I’m doing what I can and learning more every day, making small changes that add up to big water savings, and getting more out of the water I do use. I hope you’ll join me on the journey.

The book will come out early next year, in February 2016, published by the awesome team at Ten Speed Press. I’ll keep you updated on its progress. I’m really excited about this topic, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

Right now though, I feel like keeping the party vibe going. To thank you for reading and visiting Digging, I’m giving away THREE signed copies of my book Lawn Gone! Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard, which the Dallas Morning News called “an excellent guide…if this is the year you reduce your lawn footprint or get rid of it altogether.” Here are the details:


What: An autographed copy of Lawn Gone! to THREE lucky winners

How to Enter: Leave a comment on THIS post and tell me ONE thing you do to conserve water in your garden. It can be anything, from planting some native plants, to collecting rainwater, to using drip irrigation or soaker hoses, to reducing your lawn, to watering in the morning instead of the afternoon. Just one thing. I bet you are doing something!

Who: One entry per person. Open to residents of the continental U.S. only, please, due to shipping costs. I’ll draw 3 winners at random.

When: Giveaway ends at 1 p.m. central time on Monday, February 9. I’ll announce the winners that day here and in a new blog post. Please check back to see if you’ve won.

Good luck to you all! (And thanks to Tom Ellison for sharing his garden, pictured above, with me.)

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Puff balls and the virtue of laziness

I love seasonal changes, don’t you? Even winter has its own beauty, if you look closely. These tawny puffballs are the seedheads of silver ironweed (Vernonia lindheimeri var. leucophylla)…

…which in summer looks like this.

I think it may be more eye-catching at this time of year, when colors are more subdued and the light is low enough to get caught in the fuzzy coronas.

It’s just one more reason not to be too quick with the pruners after a killing freeze. This is one time when laziness aligns perfectly with what’s best for the garden.

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.