Chatto garden essex stantonbury campus adult education

Everywhere you turn these days, someone is talking about drought and water restrictions.

That's not surprising when, according to the Climate Monitoring Branch of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina, slightly more than 50 percent of the contiguous United States by area suffered moderate to extreme drought conditions last summer.

In Aurora, Colorado, where reservoirs are already almost three-quarters empty, a complete ban on planting annuals, vegetables and new lawns has been imposed, at least until the end of this year. Petersburg, Florida, residents are permitted to water their gardens only once a week - on a specific day, during designated hours.

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Given the need for water conservation, today's gardeners - no matter where they live - must evaluate and devise appropriate design and planting strategies.

When I arrived in Austin, Texas, several years ago, I made the decision to be actively waterwise.

I was coming from England, which you might think has all the water it needs.

Some areas do, but I had gardened in Essex, the driest county in England, where the renowned British plantswoman Beth Chatto has her nursery and display gardens.

The book lists plants for a comprehensive range of cultural habitats, from damp shade to dry shade; wetland, steppe and rock garden and so on.