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Review by Miriam Raftery

July 17, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – Thirsty for ideas to use less water yet still have attractive landscaping?


Water-Wise Plants for the Southwest (Cool Springs Press, 2010) offers a wealth of practical solutions ideal for homeowners in San Diego County, where drought, cutbacks in water supplies and rising water rates have become a way of life. Editor Diana Maranhao sought advice from four experts: Nan Sterman, Mary Irish, Judith Phillips, and Joe Lamp’l. All are garden writers; the first three have expertise in specific geographic areas (California, Arizona, New Mexico) while Lamp’l provides green gardening tips.


The book includes full-color photos and descriptions of water-wise plants including a list of zones in which each plant will grow. It also discusses challenges of alkaline soils and advice on everything from mulching to installing water-saving irrigation systems to designing a complete garden. “Water-wise wisdom” tips are included in easy to read boxes, such as “By mulching all landscape beds on your property, you can reduce the runoff and accompanying loss of soil to erosion by as much as 80 percent.”

Nan Sterman provides insights for California gardeners including inland and desert regions as well as coastal areas.

The book has landscaping options handily arranged by plant type: trees, shrubs, vines and groundcover, perennials, annuals, grasses and lawns, bulbs, succulents, and edibles. The latter includes such delectable options as grapes, figs, persimmons, artichokes and herbs. Lest you think water-wise means stark cacti gardens, think again – this book features a wealth of colorful blooming plants as well.

Water-wise Plants for the Southwest is an ideal addition to the library of any San Diego homeowner, particularly those in East County, where warmer temperatures and higher water bills have made water conservation both an ecological and economic necessity.


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