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Gardening with water conservation in mind

It is not often that one hears of a public garden centering it’s landscaping on water conservation. Not only can it be close to impossible to find a community with enough support for such an idea but it is also difficult to find a community that is willing to let go of the sentimental values of a historic garden.

The plight of water is gaining speed across the world as communities are starting to face the stark reality of a potential global water shortage. Garden like Descanso are setting the benchmark for sustainable public recreational areas and many more will be following suit.

Nowhere in the West is sustainable gardening a harder sell than in Southern California. Public gardens preach conservation, but their grounds are surrounded by turf. The message to visitors: Eastern-style, highly irrigated gardening is not just OK here, it’s the way it’s done.
And so, it is beyond refreshing, more like happy dance exciting, that Descanso Gardens has begun what will be a long-range overhaul in which water conservation is the central theme. The messaging will start with the landscaping.

After five years work poring over conservation possibilities, Descanso has a mission involving truly progressive goals, which include irrigation of its 150 acres with locally harvested water, capturing storm water with bioswales, generating enough solar power to take Descanso facilities off the electricity grid and composting all its own green waste.

Some of the parkway replanting should be complete by June. This change alone, Brown estimates, should save 600,000 gallons of water a year. By contrast, the long-range plans anticipate water savings in the millions of gallons. Under Portico’s conceptual plan, the garden’s current annual use of almost 25 million gallons could be cut to roughly 19 million. These savings become much more meaningful when you consider that by better managing native water, the garden could eliminate its current draw of 9 million gallons a year of water expensively treated to potable standards, but then squandered on irrigation.

Source: latimesblog

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