If you’re a gardener, unless you’ve been locked in a closet for the past decade (and if so, how have you been gardening in there?–you should write a blog!), you’re familiar with the concept of “sustainable”–the careful stewardship of resources in order to avoid depletion. It’s easy to embrace the concept–either because you care about the earth, or because you care about your water bill. But what’s not so easy is how to get from your established, current water-intensive situation to something a little more planet- and wallet-friendly.
It’s not for lack of inspiration. Between shelter and lifestyle magazines, Pintrest, HGTV, and any number of other media sources, you receive a tidal wave of pictures, features, and Great Ideas for your new, all-sustainable landscape, which may or may not include a vegetable garden and chicken coop. The trouble is, a lot of those Great Ideas are not so great. They may conserve water, but more often than not, they also overlook the necessity of conserving other important resources: time, energy, and money.
Sunset magazine, just to pick on an obvious source, is a particular offender in this regard. You’re pulled in by a lovely picture of golden feathery grasses waving in front of a hedge of olive trees placed artistically around a starkly minimalistic house; you read the equally minimalistic text (thanks, Sunset, for decades of “how-to” advice–not!) and find that the owners are both architects who stumbled upon this fixer-upper when looking for a vacation home. They “fixed it” by gutting and rebuilding it, and then hired another couple, these both landscape architects, who pulled everything out, bulldozed, and then re-established a drought-tolerant landscape that suited the house’s new profile. The owners, shown on their new yoga deck or sipping wine, are supremely content. “This is our dream,” they tell us.
While we’re happy for them, I, for one, can not relate. I don’t have the time, energy, or money to throw everything, be it home or lawn, out and start over. I love to garden, but I can’t spend eight hours a day doing it. And I think a lot of people are in the same boat. So this blog is dedicated to the proposition that sustainable gardening doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor; that it’s possible to conserve a wide range of precious resources by adopting the middle way–a more moderate path through the sustainable landscape. So come along with me–read, share your ideas and experience–I think we can start a movement! We may not be featured in Sunset, but we can perhaps redefine what “sustainable” means–and looks like.