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Gardening in a dry state

Kim Marquis

A new book published by Westcliffe Publishers aims to help Colorado residents create beautiful outdoor landscaping without consuming thousands of gallons of water.

The full-color, 232-page book, “Xeriscape Colorado: The Complete Guide,” arrives on bookshelves just as residents are thinking about planning for the state’s growing season while anticipating a serious drought year.

More than half of the water delivered by the Denver Water Board to its customers is used to irrigate landscapes. The state’s population boom, coupled with the drought, has left water resources scarce.

Xeriscape is the process of landscaping in a water-conscious way.

The book is geared for the everyday citizens who want to garden in communities experiencing water restrictions or who want to conserve water.

“The timing for this extraordinary guide couldn’t be more perfect,” said John Fielder, president of Westcliffe Publishers and a well-known Colorado photographer and conservationist. “Colorado and Denver have recently been through an eye-opening drought that still persists. Water tables are dropping and wells are drying up. Now is the time for all Coloradans who care about the future to embrace the Xeriscape philosophy.”

In 12 chapters, the book covers planning and design, soil analysis and improvement, practical turf areas, informed plant choice, efficient irrigation, mulching and maintenance with sometimes humorous instructions by author and landscape designer Connie Ellefson.

Ellefson, who for the past several years has been a design consultant for Denver Water Xeriscape Design clinics, was also the principal author and photographer for the book, “Xeriscape Gardening: Water Conservation for the American Landscape.” She is also the author of “The Melting Pot Book of Baby Names,” an ethnic baby name book.

Through hundreds of pictures that illustrate gardens of all types, photographer and co-author, David Winger, a water conservation specialist, catalogs many plant design choices. The photographs, including “before” and “after” pictures designed to give readers creative ideas for their lawns.

Originally having a career in water and wastewater treatment, Winger switched his focus to water conservation more than 10 years ago. He is the past president of the nonprofit Xeriscape Colorado.

Other books by Winger include “Xeriscape Plant Guide,” “Xeriscape Color Guide” and the “Xeriscape Maintenance Journal” series.

Winger’s photographs have also appeared in several magazines, including Sunset.

Extensive plant lists profile hundreds of low-water species that thrive in the state and include topics such as weed control, composting and reducing fire risk around residences. The appendix includes two pages of references and Web sites for further reading.

The authors say the idea that Xeriscape is dull, ugly, rocky and brown is a myth, and describe through explanation and photographs how to create landscaping full of color and diversity with water savings to boot.


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