Desert dust skies


I’ll never forget a moment in my college years when I was exclaiming over a particularly vivid Houston sunset. A friend remarked, “You know that’s because of pollution, right?” I probably responded with an exasperated sigh — so much for the romance of natural beauty! — but of course she was right.

Last week we enjoyed color-suffused skies here in Austin thanks to dust blown all the way from the Sahara Desert in Africa. I know it’s just dirt in the air, but in my imagining it floats here from undulating, tawny dunes right out of The English Patient. Still a romantic at heart. And why not? Just look at the colors that blossom from low sunlight beaming through wayward desert dust.


I admired the skies again a few days later — this time a golden sunrise and the sinuous silhouettes of live oaks reflected in an office building’s windows. As a cool counterpoint in the foreground, silvery blue agaves add their own sinuous, serrated-leaved echo.

Air pollution. Erosion. Prosaic office parks. You never know when something undesirable will give rise to something beautiful. Keep your eyes open, friends.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Passionate about gardening sustainably for the place you live


New Jersey gardener and author Mike “The Gardener” Podlesny interviewed me recently for his popular Vegetable Gardening Podcast, and you can listen to it here (scroll to bottom). Despite the veggie-centric podcast title, Mike interviews all kinds of gardeners about any gardening topic you might imagine. I’m delighted to have been his guest.

In this 39-minute podcast — entertainment while you’re making dinner, no? — we talked about what makes a water-saving garden, how much planning it requires, the pleasures of gardening for wildlife, lawn reduction, permeable paving, garden blogging, and more! I hope you’ll take a listen, and then let me know what it’s like to practice water-saving gardening where you live.

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 see me at Festival of Flowers in San Antonio, May 28, time TBA. Get inspired to save water in your garden during my presentation at San Antonio’s 19th annual Festival of Flowers. I’ll be at the book-signing table after the talk, with copies of both The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! available for purchase. 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!

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

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10 years of Digging


Today marks a decade of blogging here at Digging — a decade! I was a young stay-at-home mother (a former editor who left the workforce to raise her kids) obsessively making my second garden when I started this blog to connect with other passionate gardeners and record moments of beauty in my garden. It quickly evolved into a passion in its own right as I got serious about my writing and photography and made strong connections with other bloggers. Some of those have become deeply sustaining offline friendships as well.

Ten years after starting this blog, my kids are nearly grown, I’m on my third garden, and I have a wonderful second-act career as a garden writer — third act if you count a decade-long stint as a garden designer that began when I started my blog. Both of these opportunities arose directly from my daily practice as a blogger and gardener.


And the reason I’m still blogging after all these years is because of you, dear reader. Your interest, your comments, your passion for gardening and reading about it keep the blogging fire burning. So this valentine is for you. Thank you for being here.

If you’ve been along for the ride for 10 years, or even just a year or two, please leave a comment to say hi, especially if you’re usually just a quiet reader. I’d really love to hear from you.

On anniversaries, it’s fun to look back and remind yourself of where you’ve been, so I’m linking to my blogiversary posts from the past decade. Some of these feel like dinosaur-era posts! And some are very personal, like the first one.


Year 1: In 2007 I mused about what makes a gardener, remembering my grandmother’s influence.


Year 2: In 2008 I was busy planning the first Garden Bloggers Fling (then called Garden Bloggers Spring Fling; “Fling” has stuck, even though nowadays it may be held in spring, summer, or fall), and I didn’t find time to write a blogiversary post. But I did write a fun post about what it’s like to live in Austin.


Year 3: In 2009 I’d changed houses and was starting a new garden. In my blogiversary post, I urged readers to start their own blogs and join “a continent-spanning virtual garden club.”


Year 4: In 2010 I marveled over the friendships that blogging had led to, and I offered a giveaway of photo notecards I’d made.


Year 5: In 2011 I kept it short and sweet, with a simple thank-you to my readers.


Year 6: In 2012 I was writing my first book. In my blogiversary post I noted the rise of Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media and wondered aloud what the future held for blogging, and whether blogs would “one day seem outdated and struggle for readership like so many gardening magazines and newspaper columns.” Unlike Pins and Instagrams, blogs are long-form musings — and if you’re still here reading this lengthy post, I can only hope there are lots more like you!


Year 7: In 2013 I’d just given my very first public talk and started selling my book Lawn Gone!, and I was running on adrenaline fumes. Looking back, this all seems very déjà vu, as I’m gearing up for another garden talk — same venue, The Natural Gardener — to promote my new book, The Water-Saving Garden.


Year 8: In 2014 I was still wondering about the future of garden blogging and predicted more video blogs (vlogs) and single-photo “blogs” via Tumblr — or, as it turned out, Instagram.


Year 9: In 2015, I looked back at the early days of blogging, when “[s]uddenly, anyone who had something to say about gardening could say it freely, instantly, with no need for an editor’s approval. For those of us in regions perennially overlooked by gardening magazines and books — well, let’s just say there was a void in need of filling.” I added that blogging, for me, is about “sharing and making personal connections. It’s a place of creativity and personal improvement. It’s about commemorating the ordinary yet extraordinary daily life of a garden — which represents all gardens, really — and what it means to be the one digging in it.”

Year 10: Today!

Enough of the retrospective. At the 10-year point, I’m still looking forward as a blogger, and I hope to spend more time with you here, celebrating gardening goodness and a passion for design, nature, and sustainable gardening. Here’s to you, readers!

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Upcoming Events and News

Join me for my kick-off garden talk for my new book, The Water-Saving Garden, on February 27, at 10 am, at The Natural Gardener nursery in southwest Austin. My talk is called “Hold the Hose! How to Make Your Garden Water Thrifty and Beautiful,” and it’s free to the public. Afterward I’ll have books available for purchase and will be glad to autograph one for you! Dress for the weather, as the talk will be held in the big tent outside.

Look for me on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

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

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