Saving Water Without Sacrifice

With Sunday’s temps breaking records on January’s last day, I’m so glad I planted winter-annual calendulas for brunching bees.
bee on calendula Central Texas Gardener
It’s so easy to grow water thrifty plants that don’t diminish our wildlife. Low-care Aloe maculata blooms for months to support hummingbirds and pollinators. Evergreen native vine Carolina jessamine draws every bee in the neighborhood!
aloe maculata and carolina jessamine Central Texas Gardener
Honestly, it sears my soul to watch an over-reaction to drought with rocked-over yards. Within weeks, they’re peppered with “weeds” and stalwart Bermuda grass. People ask me, “So, can I just kill it all with herbicides?” Polluting our watershed is a solution to water conservation? Let’s step away, far away, from this dangerous trend.

Succulent Dasylirions are much prettier than carpets of gravel, though they do like rocky, well-drained soil. ettier than Daphne explains how to grow structural sotols, including Dasylirion acrotriche.
sotol dasylirion acrotrichum Central Texas Gardener
There are many species and I get very confused about them! Jeff Pavlat set me straight on D. wheeleri.
Dasylirion wheeleri Central Texas Gardener
Their sky high flowers alert hummingbirds and pollinators. Unlike some agaves, their late spring/summer blooms do not end their lives. Simply cut out the stalk at the base when it browns.
dasylirion bloom Central Texas Gardener
Water-thrifty perennial herbs flavor our gardens, from ground-hugging oreganos to waist-high rosemary varieties. This prostrate rosemary I planted on my neighbor’s curb years ago never gets hose water. Although rain bombs rotted out some branches last year, its bee rally goes on as scheduled!
bee on rosemary Central Texas Gardener
Trisha tells us: “Use the flowers in egg or tuna salad, as a flavorful garnish, and in drinks or herb butter. They have a mild hint of rosemary and a bit of sweetness too.”

She picks some of her favorite rosemary and oregano varieties, including Madelene Hill’s ‘Hill Hardy’ and ‘Arp’ rosemary and ‘Hilltop’ oregano. I want to try ‘Hot & Spicy’ oregano, too. And she sold me on winter savory (Satureja montana) a foot-tall evergreen perennial that tastes like oregano-meets-thyme.
winter savory Central Texas Gardener
Whatever we’re growing, microclimates matter. My firespike (Odontonema stricta) tends to freeze to the ground. On a January visit to the Travis County Extension demonstration gardens, it was doing its fiery thing on a warm wall shared with Duranta erecta ‘Variegata’.
firespike Odontonema stricta Central Texas Gardener
Daphne explains how microclimates work, thanks to Curtis Fesser’s question on Central Texas Gardener’s Facebook page!
tiny courtyard garden microclimate Central Texas Gardener
Author and blogger Pam Penick beautifully illustrates artistic water-saving designs in her own garden. This shot is from our taping last fall: KLRU’s Robert Moorhead photobombing. Video coming your way later this year!
Pam Penick garden Central Texas Gardener
This week, Pam joins us once again on a quick tour of her latest book, The Water-Saving Garden, jam-packed with ideas for gorgeous gardens that conserve water.
Tom Spencer and Pam Penick Central Texas Gardener
From eye-popping design—regardless of budget—to nitty gritty DIY details, The Water-Saving Garden takes us down the creative path to gorgeous gardens that spare the water and pump up our style.
The Water-Saving Garden Central Texas Gardener
With hands-on perception that personably relates to our voyage, Pam maps out strategies, techniques, and outdoor lifestyle options.
The Water-Saving Garden Penick Central Texas Gardener
Viewer Picture goes to Williamson County Master Gardener Viki Strauss who dumped the lawn in her shady backyard for a charming wildlife haven. Thanks to husband Sam for sending in pictures!
no lawn shady garden Central Texas Gardener
no lawn shady backyard Central Texas Gardener
Theo, their gorgeous Irish setter, thinks it’s pretty fine, too!
Irish setter in shady no lawn garden Central Texas Gardener
On tour, Austin Neal keeps a tight fist on resources in his energy-efficient house and front courtyard garden.
green build house and no lawn courtyard Central Texas Gardener
With recycled fencing, he patterned his privacy, inserting cattle panel for neighborly chats. In spare time, he started building his Ipe deck for a bird’s eye view hangout.
deck levels recycled fence no lawn garden Central Texas Gardener
Now a Travis County Master Gardener, he teaches how he adapted to drought as a new Texan. In vegetable gardens, ollas slowly disperse water to his food.
no lawn courtyard food, outdoor living Central Texas Gardener
Through layers of levels for outdoor living right in front, native and adapted plants guarantee a wildlife buzz in every season.
ipe path recycled fence no lawn courtyard Central Texas Gardener
no lawn front courtyard outdoor living Central Texas Gardener
no lawn courtyard garden Austin Neal Central Texas Gardener
Watch Austin’s story now!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda