My book recommended by Better Homes and Gardens!


Last night I was sprawled on the couch reading the new issue of Better Homes and Gardens (May 2016). Halfway through the magazine, I turned the page and saw the cover of my new book, The Water-Saving Garden, pictured along with four other gardening titles.


“Our favorite new garden titles,” it reads. What an honor! Thank you, BHG, for recommending my book to your readers!

By the way, I second BHG’s recommendation of Bill Thomas’s book, The Art of Gardening, whose design-focused look at the garden Chanticleer, with gorgeous photos by Rob Cardillo, is absolutely wonderful. The other titles look intriguing too. I notice another Ten Speed Press book (my publisher) made BHG’s list, Annie Novak’s The Rooftop Growing Guide.


By the way, if you don’t already subscribe to Better Homes and Gardens, you might consider doing so for their recent renewed focus on gardening content under the leadership of new editor-in-chief Stephen Orr, himself a garden writer and former gardening editorial director for Martha Stewart Living. This issue has a wonderful article, “Raise the Roots” by Debra Prinzing, about the design of an edible garden using Corten steel rings.


Oh yeah, baby! Regular readers know I’m strictly an ornamental gal, but this article tempted even vegetable-shunning me to think about where I might find room for a contemporary-styled veggie patch like this one. Coincidentally, the beautiful design is by fellow Ten Speed Press author Stefani Bittner, who co-authored The Beautiful Edible Garden: Design A Stylish Outdoor Space Using Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs.

There’s lots of good garden reading for you! I’m thrilled to be included in BHG’s list. So, what garden books are you reading right now? Do share if you’ve found something really good!

I welcome your comments. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

I’ll be speaking on April 30, noon-12:30 pm, in Cedar Park, Texas, at Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery’s Lily Blossom Festival. My free talk is called “How to Garden Water-Wise, Not Water-Wasteful.” An old proverb reminds us that The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives. Don’t be a water-guzzling frog! I’ll be sharing my tips for making a garden that is water-wise, not water-wasteful. Stick around after my talk for a book signing, with autographed copies of Lawn Gone! and The Water-Saving Garden available for purchase.

Come see me at Festival of Flowers in San Antonio, May 28, time TBA. Learn more about water-saving gardening during my talk at San Antonio’s 19th annual Festival of Flowers. Get a signed copy of my book after the talk. Tickets to the all-day festival, which includes a plant sale and exchange, speakers, and a flower show, are available at the door: $6 adults; children under 10 free. Free parking.

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

I’m on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Lone screech owl and other creature features


Every day, through the open window, I hear the thin cries of cedar waxwings as they strafe the back yard, flying from ligustrums to yaupons in the greenbelt behind our house to polish off the late-season berries. With their sleek, tan feathers and robbers’ masks, they are among my favorite bird visitors.


Now that the weather’s warm, Texas spiny lizards have been sunning themselves on the brick chimney. I spotted these two as I was reaching to change (belatedly) our outside clock for daylight saving time.


The big one moved up the wall into the sunniest spot and posed for me. These skittish lizards have such interesting, scaly skin.


But our most surprising visitor over the past week is seen here. Where? Just under the eave, sitting atop the junction box for the string lights. See it?

We’d just gotten home from our spring break road trip, and we’d been up and down the back steps checking on the garden and the pool. On my third pass, I caught a glimpse of something gray under the eave and immediately thought, wasp nest. I froze and looked up, and that’s when I realized we’d been walking not two feet away from a tiny screech owl.


I softly called to the family to come look, and then I went inside to get my camera. He (or she) calmly held his ground, watching warily but not seeming alarmed as we gathered at a respectful distance to look and take photos.


He looks a bit quizzical, doesn’t he? Like, What are YOU doing here after a week of peace and quiet?


It looks like a cozy spot, but I wondered why he was here and not in the owl box. I could only hope that this was a male, standing guard as his mate nested in the owl box. We’d not seen any activity in the box before our trip, although by this time of year we normally have. In fact, I’d begun to think that we wouldn’t have a nesting owl this year.

After dusk, the owl flew off while none of us was looking, probably to hunt. I kept an eye on the owl box, hoping to see the male fly in with food for a nesting mate. But I saw nothing, and we’ve had no more owl sightings since last weekend. I’m still hopeful, however, that we just have a very shy nesting pair. Time will tell.


What else is going on in the garden? Dyckia ‘Burgundy Ice’ is blooming.


Fuzzy, yellow flowers staggered along tall bloom spikes are opening one by one.


On the front porch, the succulent dish is wildly overgrown. I need to take cuttings of these plants and replant the whole dish. And yet I do kind of like the shaggy look, so I keep procrastinating. Below it, a foxtail fern in a tall pot seems to be reaching out with tentacle-like fronds.


In other happenings, I was surprised and pleased to see The Water-Saving Garden featured in the spring 2016 issue of The Designer, the publication of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD).


Check it out — click here to read the digital issue, and look on page 17. My thanks to Bay Area designer Rebecca Sweet for her complimentary quote and to editor Katie Elzer-Peters for including my book.

If you love garden design, consider subscribing to The Designer. It’s free, and you don’t need to be a designer or a member of APLD to enjoy it. APLD members write all the articles, and in this issue you’ll find topics ranging from ways to use hedges to patio projects to photos of the home gardens of designers from Toronto to Nebraska to Arizona.

I welcome your comments. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Come meet me at Zilker Garden Festival, Austin, TX, April 2 & 3
Get your gardening mojo on at Zilker Garden Festival! I’ll be at the brand-new Author Booth on both days between 10 am and 2 pm (near the main building entrance), and I’ll have copies of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! for purchase ($20 each), if you’d like a signed copy for yourself or for a gift. Zilker Garden Festival is the garden’s biggest fundraiser (and it needs our support) and offers all-day entertainment, vendor shopping, plant sales, demonstrations, live music, a beer garden and food vendors, children’s activities, a garden train, a flower show, and a docent-led tour of lovely Zilker Botanical Garden. Don’t miss it!

Join me for lunch downtown at Holy Grounds coffee shop and cafe on Wednesday, April 6, at noon. As part of their Coffee with the Author series, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton will interview me and host a Q&A with the audience — i.e., y’all — and afterward I’ll sign copies of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone!. I hope to see you there for this intimate, lunchtime event. Holy Grounds is located in the main building of St. David’s Episcopal Church at 301 East 8th Street in downtown Austin. You can park in the surface lot in front of St. David’s main doors.

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

I’m on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Buy local and get a signed book


Austinites, do you like to shop local? Want a copy of The Water-Saving Garden? Do you like autographed books? If you prefer to support local retailers, I can recommend several businesses that are carrying my book. And some have autographed copies because I stopped by this week to sign them.


Book People, Austin’s biggest independent bookstore, has a dozen or so signed copies of The Water-Saving Garden and one signed copy of Lawn Gone! You can find them in the gardening section on the 2nd floor and possibly in an autographed books section elsewhere. Ask if you can’t find them. They have excellent service.


Whole Earth Provision Co. on North Lamar Boulevard is carrying three copies of The Water-Saving Garden. These are not signed because the manager wasn’t there to approve that when I stopped by. But it’s a cool store with lots of great gifts, books, clothes, and supplies for outdoor activities.


If you’re looking to do a little plant shopping with your book purchase, head over to The Natural Gardener in southwest Austin. I signed about 16 copies each of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! on Thursday.


While you’re there you can explore their extensive display gardens to enjoy spring flowers and scents…


…like Texas mountain laurel’s grape Kool-Aid fragrance. Go on, bury your nose right in those dangling purple blossoms.


In other book news, Garden Design has published an adapted excerpt from The Water-Saving Garden on its website. “Create the Illusion of Water with Plants” offers 6 fun ways to evoke water in a drought-tolerant garden using plants. “Choosing dry-adapted plants to accomplish this sleight of hand,” I wrote, “makes the illusion even more satisfying.”

Check it out, and let me know if you plan to try any of these “magic tricks” in your own garden this year.

I welcome your comments! If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.

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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Enter to win a free copy of The Water-Saving Garden this week at Gardening Gone Wild. If you already have a copy, go for it anyway; if you win, you’ll have a gift for a gardening friend!

Do you review? Have you read The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

Come meet me at Zilker Garden Festival, Austin, TX, April 2 & 3
Come see me at Zilker Fest between 10 am and 2 pm, on both Saturday and Sunday, at the Author Booth (near the main building entrance), where I’ll be signing and selling my books ($20 each). Zilker Fest offers all-day entertainment, vendor shopping, plant sales, demonstrations, live music, a beer garden and food vendors, children’s activities, a garden train, a flower show, and a docent-led tour of lovely Zilker Botanical Garden. Click here for full details.

I’m on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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