Saturday, December 15, 2012

Creating Rain Gardens by Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and Apryl Uncapher: A review

In a world which is heating up and where long-lasting droughts are becoming more and more common, the value of the water provided free to us by Mother Nature cannot be overrated. And yet much - probably most - of that water is not utilized as it might be to enhance the environment. Often it simply runs off along gutters and down storm drains, picking up contaminants as it goes and sweeping them into lakes, streams, rivers, and, ultimately, oceans and creating a whole additional environmental problem. 

It is easy for an individual gardener to feel overwhelmed by the environmental devastation facing Earth, to feel impotent about doing anything to effect a solution. But the waste of rainwater is most definitely something that we can and should do something about. In this book, Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and Apryl Uncapher explain to us with step-by-step instructions just how we can accomplish that.

Capturing rainwater is a way to make your own garden practices more water-efficient and self-sustaining, and there are many different ways to do this. Perhaps the most familiar and the easiest method is the rain barrel which captures the water run-off from your roof, water which you can then use in watering your garden. From this easiest of methods, one can progress through many phases right up to the full-blown rain garden which captures rainwater runoff which is then absorbed back into your garden. Such places are magnets for birds, butterflies, dragonflies, many beneficial insects, as well as other interesting wildlife like reptiles and amphibians and even small mammals.

Some of the other methods of conserving water that are outlined in the book include permeable patios, simple living roofs, and planters that harvest rainwater from their surroundings. The authors also include lists of water-loving plants and explain how to work them into your gardening palette for maximum benefit. Examples are given for a prairie rain garden, a native wildflower garden, and even an edible rain garden.

This is the kind of practical handbook which I, as a gardener, find most useful - fewer airy-fairy theories and more down and dirty instructions. If you are that kind of gardener and you are interested in conserving rainwater, you might enjoy this book.

(Full disclosure: A copy of the book was provided to me by the publisher, Timber Press, free of charge for the purposes of this review.) 

Cross-posted from Gardening with Nature.

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