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.

Read This: Hellstrip Gardening book review and GIVEAWAY

I don’t know what people called the strip of grass between street and sidewalk before Lauren Springer Ogden coined the term “hellstrip” to describe it. But it can surely be hellish to maintain, drying to a crisp in hot climates, contaminated with road salt in northern climates, treated by passing dogs as a toilet, subject to utility company digging, with soil compacted by garbage bins, people exiting cars, and even the occasional errant vehicle. It’s really a wonder that anything will grow there.

Many homeowners spend way too much time and money trying to keep lawn alive in such inhospitable conditions. Others throw up their hands and spread a layer of river rock or gravel across the entire strip, hoping to reduce maintenance but often creating a weed-friendly or barren heat island along the curb — not the curb appeal most of us want.

Photo by Joshua McCullough

Less-lawn crusader Evelyn Hadden, an author and speaker from Minnesota who recently relocated to Boise, Idaho, takes on this nebulous public-private space in her new book, Hellstrip Gardening: Create a Paradise Between the Sidewalk and the Curb (2014, Timber Press). Considering that the hellstrip is only a small portion of the average yard, this is a meaty book. Part 1 offers in-depth looks at a dozen curbside gardens, and Hadden performs her usual magic trick of including images of gardens from a range of regions — which I know from experience is not easy unless you do a lot of garden-based travel or have a generous photo budget. Photographer Joshua McCullough is credited for providing most of the images, and they are lovely, as is the design of the book — i.e., plenty of eye candy.

Photo by Joshua McCullough

Part 2 addresses the challenges involved in gardening along the street, from tree roots and HOA rules to car damage and utility maintenance. In Part 3, Hadden offers design solutions specific to curbside gardening, including the types of plants to choose (non-precious and self-repairing) and using berms or rain gardens to address noise or drainage issues. The final section, Part 4, is a generous list of hellstrip-worthy plants organized usefully by showy flowers, showy foliage, culinary or medicinal uses, and four-season structure. As with any plant list geared to a country as geographically and climatically diverse as the U.S., only some of the plants will be applicable to central Texas gardeners, but it’ll get you thinking about the types of plants you might use.

Photo by Evelyn Hadden

Hadden’s emphasis throughout the book is on gardening sustainably, with less water and minimal or no chemicals, encouraging each of us to do our part to create more beautiful, runoff-absorbing, wildlife-friendly spaces. She’s realistic in her assessment that curbside gardens are generally more work to keep up than plain old lawn, but she points out the many benefits they provide in return: community beautification, crime reduction, wildlife waystations, runoff filtration, and more.

The only quibble I have is that many of the gardens covered are not, strictly speaking, hellstrip gardens between street and sidewalk but front-yard gardens as a whole. It often reads, therefore, more like a front-yard gardening book rather than one tightly focused on curbside conditions. Still, there’s plenty of hellstrip to go around, and the extra coverage of entire front yards is a bonus for those looking to garden up little-used lawns. This is, after all, a topic near and dear to my own heart!

I’m happy to be able to offer a copy of Hellstrip Gardening, courtesy of Timber Press, to one lucky reader. To be entered, simply leave a comment on this post. One comment per person only. Giveaway is limited to U.S. and Canada.

This giveaway runs through Monday, July 14, at 11:59 pm CT, and I’ll announce the winner here on Tuesday the 15th. Check back next Tuesday to see if you won, and good luck!

Update 7/15/14: Congratulations to #51 commenter Chris! He’s the lucky winner of Hellstrip Gardening. Chris, look for my email.

Disclosure: Timber Press sent me a copy of Hellstrip Gardening for review. I reviewed it at my own discretion and without any compensation. This post, as with everything at Digging, is my own personal opinion.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Book release party and giveaway: The 20-30 Something Garden Guide

It’s the season for garden book releases, and today I’m helping to celebrate my friend Dee Nash’s brand-new book, The 20-30 Something Garden Guide: A No Fuss, Down and Dirty Gardening 101 for Anyone Who Wants to Grow Stuff. I met Dee, an Oklahoma garden writer and blogger at Red Dirt Ramblings, six years ago at the first Garden Bloggers Fling. She’s an experienced gardener of both edibles and ornamentals in her own country garden.

Dee wrote this book for newbies, particularly those who want to grow edibles sustainably and organically. Her friendly, conversational voice offers plenty of can-do encouragement, and she’s quick to remind the reader that no one is born with a green thumb — or a black one, for that matter. Gardening, like anything else, is a skill that is honed with practice, mistakes, and failures.

But as she shows throughout the book, the rewards of success are sweet — and can be tasty too! If you’re ready to start growing your own food, or if you’re already doing that and want to add ornamental plants to your garden to make it more attractive to wildlife, and to yourself, Dee’s book will show you how.


Bee Preserver

And now, since this is a book-release party, on to the giveaways! Dee has rounded up some cool gardening prizes for each participating blogger to give away.

Here at Digging, I’m giving away a trio of small Bee Preservers from Glass Gardens NW. These colorful, textured glass floats for your pond or container water feature are designed to save thirsty bees — your garden’s valuable pollinators — from drowning. The textured surface gives bees a safe place to land and something to hold onto while they drink.

Bee Preservers

If you don’t have a water feature of your own, go ahead and enter anyway, and if you win you’ll have a nice gift to give to a water-gardening friend. Be bee-friendly!

To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Sunday, February 23. Check back here on Monday, February 24, to see if you won!

The fine print: One comment per person. Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is open only to residents of the continental U.S.

Update 2/24/14: Congratulations to Sara B., whose comment #41 was chosen at random! Thank you to everyone who entered.

Visit the other bloggers in Dee’s book-release party to enter their giveaways too:

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was sent to me for free. Garden photographs courtesy of Dee Nash. Bee Preserver images courtesy of Robin Haglund.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.