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Thoughts on Sustainability in the Garden

Articles: Thoughts on Sustainability in the Garden

There are a lot of ideas floating around these days about what sustainability means in a garden. Several articles in this July issue address the subject; Owen Dell’s new book,  offers a guide to designing the sustainable landscape; and our next symposium, Gardening Under Mediterranean Skies VII, will focus on aspects of sustainability.

There is a broad range of situations in which a garden might be created, and a range of solutions for each situation. At one end of the spectrum might be a garden of native plants, grown from locally collected seed sources, planted in native soils at the beginning of the rainy season (autumn in the West). At the other end could be a container garden of moisture-loving plants in the arid climate found in much of the West.

At the one end, only minimal inputs of energy and resources should be necessary to get the native plants established and to allow them to mature in the garden—an obviously sustainable solution. At the other end, constant inputs of water and fertilizer will be necessary to guarantee a healthy growth of the plants. Yet, the solution of a container garden may be the only one available in the particular circumstance; the plants con...


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