Sometimes I have a hard time remembering that much of the country is dealing with severe water shortages, especially when I visit gardens like Nan Sterman’s in San Diego, California. It’s like a tropical paradise, but without the rain. Yet in spite of that, her plants were lush and beautiful.
Spend a few minutes with Nan and you understand why she’s the guru when it comes to waterwise gardening. Not only does she walk her talk, but when she does talk about it, you gain such insight into a much bigger picture. I for one, sometimes fail to think beyond the simple fact of overconsumption of a precious resource. But Nan reminds us that it takes other energy-consuming resources to deliver that water to us. And usually it’s in the form of coal burning energy that has to pump that water wherever it needs to go. The examples she provided in our interview will cause you to think twice too; next time you feel the need to indulge in a little extra watering.
Nan’s lawn-free, irrigation-less garden is a testament to using plants ideally suited to your environment. Not all of her plants are native. But they are all from parts of the world that share similar climate conditions of her arid, southern California landscape. Her common sense, practical approach to an eye-popping landscape design is a shining example of right plant, right place while minimizing water use to achieve a lush and diverse garden.
Just up the coast (about as far as you can go as still be in the United States), we took a look at what to do when you have too much water all at once. It happens all the time. Either the dry scorched earth is too hard to allow water to soak in, or already saturated soil, forces water to move elsewhere. So where does it go? Downhill of course as water is always moving to the lowest point. Willows Lodge, just north of Seattle was a quaint and beautiful resort to feature their version of a rain garden that’s both functional and decorative.
Our host for the day was Eagle Song (her true name) and her title is Director of Natural Beauty. (Note to anyone having a stressful day and desperately needing to find a quick way to chill, spend a few minutes with Eagle Song and you’ll forget what put you in such a tizzy—watch the show and you’ll see what I mean. Personally, I think she’s nature’s spokesperson).
We started our morning with Eagle Song, just to get a lay of the land. We had the cameras rolling even though we weren’t planning on using any of this footage. But you’ll discover by watching the show, this is exactly the part we did end up using. Basically, this is one big behind the scenes scene that made it into the main part of the show. The biggest clue to this is the giant fanny pack attached to my waist and the ever-present Starbucks venti coffee in my right hand.
Their peaceful rain garden doubles as a water feature but handles excess runoff exceptionally well. The property backs up to a major river so mitigating any runoff from making its way to the water is paramount to protecting its biodiversity and pristine state. Rain gardens are the perfect solution to buffering silt, sediments and contaminates from reaching watersheds and it was a real pleasure to meet and work with Eagle Song and feature their contribution to reducing runoff around Willows Lodge.