The Water-Saving Garden, Book and Giveaway

– Posted in: Contests and Giveaways

Congratulations to winner Leslie Reed Costello!

Find out why author Pam Penick chose Leslie’s comment among so many excellent ones, and learn more about the book below. Many thanks to all who participated! ~ Debra. 

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In her new book, The Water-Saving Garden: How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water, author Pam Penick calls heedless waste of water “madness.” Penick, who makes me want to raise a fist and holler, “Tell it, Sister!” reminds us that clean drinking water gushing from faucets is a relatively new phenomenon—and unfortunately one we’ve come to take for granted.

Pink grasses resized

It’s the perfect sequel to Penick’s previous bestseller Lawn Gone! Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard, and not simply because of its rousing writing or that many of the gardens include succulents (about which I’m prejudiced). The Water-Saving Garden is a terrific resource for its numerous practical (and painless) ideas, plus photo after photo of great-looking gardens not blatantly (and painfully) waterwise. Like the one above, in Lakeland, Texas, that features Gulf muhly (Muhlengergia capillaris), agaves, yuccas and a ripply opuntia…

Aloe vera, palo blanco in AZ resized

…or this one, in Arizona, that beautifully repeats Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) and native palo blanco trees (Acacia willardiana)…

Trash bin planters resized

…or these containers in an Oregon garden that showcase cholla, Agave parryi ‘Truncata’ and trailing silver dichondra.

If I had to pick a favorite chapter, it would probably be the one about creating the illusion of water in the garden.

Stone steps resized

For example, this Scottsdale, Arizona garden’s stone steps evoke a cascading waterfall…

Birdbath resized

…and this marble-filled basin’s echeverias suggest water lilies…


…and this garden, near my home north of San Diego, that appears to incorporate a pond. (Thanks, kitty, for showing what it really is. Count on a cat to photobomb.)

I’m tempted to quote from the book at length, but I know what you really want is the copy I’m giving away, courtesy of Penick and her publisher.

How to enter: If you are a US or Canadian resident age 18 or older, leave a brief comment here that tells why you’d like to have The Water-Saving Gardenby midnight Sunday March 20.  In doing so, you agree to allow your first name and city or region to be mentioned if you win. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

Picking the winner: Penick herself will read all comments and select the winner. (If she knows you personally, she’ll recuse herself from choosing you to avoid favoritism. On the bright side, if you two know each other and you offer to review and/or give away the book on your own blog, the publisher will likely send you a complimentary copy. Btw, I know Penick only through her own wonderful garden blog, Digging.) Pam will announce the winner here by noon on Monday, March 21 (be sure to check back!) and I’ll notify him or her via email the same day. If the proposed winner does NOT acknowledge my email AND provide a mailing address by March 23th, the prize will be re-awarded.

Sound good? I’m eager to hear what you have to say!

Photos reprinted with permission from The Water-Saving Garden, by Pam Penick, copyright © 2016, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Pam Penick.




Debra Lee Baldwin
Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified, all Timber Press bestsellers. Her goal is to enhance others' enjoyment and awareness of waterwise plants and gardens by showcasing the beauty and design potential of succulents via books, articles, newsletters, photos, videos, social media and more. Debra and husband Jeff live in the foothills north of San Diego. She grew up in Southern California on an avocado ranch, speaks conversational Spanish, and at age 18 graduated magna cum laude from USIU with a degree in English Literature. Her hobbies include thrifting, birding and watercolor painting. Debra's YouTube channel has had over 3,000,000 views.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin
41 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Cathy March 10, 2016, 6:35 am

I’ve been a fan of Pam’s since I discovered her blog on “Blotanical” several years ago. With our historic drought and water shortage, gardening in California means learning to recycle water that would simply be wasted and use it to grow water-wise plants. It also means learning water-thrifty ways to grow traditional gardening favorites.

The California experience has shown everyone that water is not an unlimited resource. The few gardening ideas shown here are exciting and I already see a couple that I would love to include in our small patio garden. I’m looking forward to scouring the book for other pearls and jewels.

Donna@Gardens Eye View March 10, 2016, 8:51 am

This topic is so important to today’s gardener and I can’t wait to read Pam’s wonderful advice. Hoping I win a copy but will purchase this book if I don’t win a copy!

Lisa - Ontario March 10, 2016, 9:07 am

I need to learn more about saving water if I am to continue to garden at the cottage. we are on a well there and it is irresponsible to lower the water table for all my neighbours to water my (beloved) plants. With the changing climate it is a necessary skill.

Laura Balaoro March 10, 2016, 10:23 am

Oh I would love to get a copy of her book. This is exactly the idea tha I promote. Would be making a demo garden and this book will be “the best reference ” and of course let the public we educate refer to this book.

Sandy Schaadt March 10, 2016, 10:28 am

I would love to own a copy of this book. I am a Master Gardener in Delaware County in central Ohio. As an active MG, I am always expanding my knowledge to help local residents with their questions and garden problems. I sit at Fair Booths, assist with public education events, and attend CE classes to stay up with current diseases and pests, and landscape design. It would be very beneficial to my continuing education in gardening.

Leslie Reed Costello March 10, 2016, 10:55 am

The photos are gorgeous and I’d love to add this book to my collection. But most importantly, I’d love to share pam’s ideas with my customers at the garden center I help manage in San Diego. customers often want to become more waterwise but are hesitant because they can’t imagine how beautiful their yard could look.

Pamela Gray March 10, 2016, 10:57 am

I would love this book! My husband and I are slowly making the transition to a turfless yard here in Orange county, california. We’re not sure what we’re going to do in the front instead of a small lawn. our backyard has a good start towards low water needs but would love new ideas for plants that grow for years! The photos above feature great ideas!

Bonnie Budnik March 10, 2016, 11:03 am

We moved to the desert lands of Mesquite, Nevada last July from Michigan, where we were surrounded by the Great Lakes! This has created a major change in our thinking about water. I am looking to start container gardening and can use all the help I can get!! Would love to have this book! I’ll buy it if I don’t win it! 🙂

Luciann March 10, 2016, 11:12 am

i just attended a workshop on water wise landscaping through the local water districts and am ready to start work on our backyard so I would really appreciate some examples to convince my husband that now is the time!

Naomi Goodman March 10, 2016, 11:14 am

In our summer dry Seattle climate, another resource for low/no water gardening is always welcome!

Cathi Lamoreux March 10, 2016, 11:37 am

I look at my garden every day with that in mind. saving water in every part of our lives has to be our new mantra.

Laurie March 10, 2016, 12:46 pm

I’ve done a lot of interesting things in my yard to save water though plant selection but I don’t have a “big plan,” a more comprehensive approach to saving water. Perhaps this book would help me get that cohesive strategy to maximize my efforts.

Chris Rentmeister March 10, 2016, 12:50 pm

Even though I live in wisconsin, it would still be smart to be more water-wise. love the ideas you’ve shown in this book and am eager to learn more. the Scottsdale, Arizona garden stone steps picture above is so inspiring! Thanks for the opportunity!

Betty Nostrand March 10, 2016, 1:45 pm

I’d love to win the book and learn more about great garden combinations using less water. Just love the agave and dichondra combo – such a lush water look!

Linda Puleo March 10, 2016, 1:57 pm

I think, that no matter where you live, you should be aware of the water you use to keep your garden looking beautiful. These pictures of water wise plants let you see that your garden can be beautiful without using a lot of water.

Cheryl March 10, 2016, 2:37 pm

Always looking for ways to conserve. We have had several summers where we go weeks without rain. I’m “fortunate ” to have clay. If I’m lucky enough for the rain barrels to get filled at the start of the season then my garden usually does well.

Barbara Wolfe March 10, 2016, 5:07 pm

I need this book, just moved to very dry Rio Rancho New Mexico

Dianna March 10, 2016, 9:16 pm

Recently moved back to my central tx country farmhouse with my family from bif busy dallas and am in recovery changing ny surroundings and developing positive outlets in my life to help myself heal from being seperated from my children as well as to have as a coping skill for positivity and inner self growth spiritually and mentally. I have had the lord put it on my heart recently to garden. And it feels amazing and calming the little bit ive tried. Im completely new and clueless in a way. But i have a huge vision to use it for service work as well. I want to eventually start a community garden of edibles as well as beauties to the eye for those in need to come and get food for their family as well as to just enjoy the peace from all their stress just by coming for their visit. I even have a name picked out and everything, i just know the lord is moving my spirit to this and its such a beautiful thing. Any and all help/insight/tips i can get rlly are appreciated to get this vision started. This book would definitely help alot for such insight and learning on my journey to the movement i wanna make to impact peoples lives!

patricia March 10, 2016, 10:45 pm

I am gradually replacing grass with gardens, and never water anything after the year in which I planted it. Could use some advise on new plants to incorporate in my gardens.

joy March 10, 2016, 11:43 pm

I would love a copy of this book. I live in CA on a 1/2 acre property and would love some ideas for my landscaping. I love flowers, especially the water loving kinds, and would like to find some less thirsty alternatives. This book looks like it’s just up my alley. (For some reason, I cannot capitalize on this comment and it’s very vexing)

Viswa March 11, 2016, 5:03 am

Stunning Photos,that looks awesome,especially i like last one,really great collection…

Jamie Perry March 11, 2016, 7:44 am

Even though I live in west Tennessee (where there is too much rain), I would like to win this book for ideas. This is my first garden and water preservation is one of the things on my list of growing a semi self sustainable garden.

Trudy Hamilton March 11, 2016, 10:47 am

I would love to win this book for my daughter. She’s mentally challenged but loves to grow things. She’s attempting to have a garden this year in Arizona. We live in a house with no yard so everything must be in containers. It will be a challenge but I am encouraging her as best I can. Thanks for the opportunity to win this helpful book.

Lara March 11, 2016, 11:07 am

Living in Southern California Desert we have wonderfully long growing seasons, however with water restrictions added to our personal family goal of using as little as possible I am always looking for ways to garden without using more. I love the Arizona photo that looks like a waterfall but isnt! This type of ingenuity is inspiring!

Peggy duffield March 11, 2016, 1:00 pm

I live in North san Diego county and am trying to reduce my water usage. I recently had a dry creek bed put in my back yard and am really getting into succulents/water-wise plants. I am a senior citizen who is trying hard to “do the right thing” to have a lovely yard that doesn’t use a lot of our precious water. (I have recently purchased 4 rain barrels to help). I love the posted pictures and would love to have the book as a help/guide to my continued love of gardening.

Mary yannell March 11, 2016, 3:03 pm

I fell in love with succulents awhile back when my daughters asked me to make succulent gardens because they are the rage! They bought one and said “mom you can make this!” Many gardens later and ton of plants that I’ve shared, I never get tired of playing with them and reaping the benefits or surprises they give me! Thanks for sharing this great book with us and all the joy succulents bring to the garden! Aloha Aina!

terrie leivers March 11, 2016, 4:03 pm

I’d love to get more tips on growing with drought tolerant plants!!!

Momela March 11, 2016, 4:39 pm

California has always had a shortage of water and yet many people in my community still resist making changes to their beautiful water wasting yards and gardens. I would love to have a copy of your book to help me create a garden that helps demonstrate for my neighbors that we can reduce our water usage and still have beautiful gardens..

Ita March 11, 2016, 5:19 pm

I read Lawn Gone and it had lots of great ideas and pictures! It sure Looks like this book also has a lot of inspiring things I can copy (I have no design talent.) I’ve converted most of my yard but There are a few areas which still need to be filled in. I Hope to win!

Patty March 12, 2016, 1:02 pm

I’d love to have this idea filled book. I pulled out my high water usage cottage style garden and lawns about 5 years ago prior to water restrictions. I’ve made some wonderful water wise changes in landscape and would like to continue by having some practical ideas from this book.

Diane heim March 12, 2016, 2:55 pm


Tricia Hunt March 13, 2016, 6:51 am

I am excited to see this book and learn about learning to garden while respecting our water As gardeners, we can lead the way in encouraging others to take care of our world and care for its common good. Sounds like a great read to helps us garden with wisdom.

Karen Runyan March 13, 2016, 3:22 pm

I would Love to win your book!
Books are my continuing inspiration for all of my new projects with my company
Karen Runyan Gardens
I’ve been taking out huge lawns for 25 years!

Carol cole March 15, 2016, 11:52 am

Happily converting our suburban California yards into drought tolerant landscapes and find so much inspiration from others. I love how Pam brings such an artistic flair to her designs and can only hope to mimic many plantings found in her new book!

Teresa willis March 16, 2016, 3:39 am

I am checking out every book in the public library I can about water conserving gardens, I would love to have a copy of yours for my own.

Judy Mitro March 16, 2016, 9:28 am

I have numerous gardens that aren’t near a door water supply. Watering by dragging hoses around becomes a bit much as I get older!

Sylvia Gonzalez March 18, 2016, 10:00 am

the current and future water crisis makes this subject a necessity . i would like to have ideas on which plants do you recommend to plant to provide food for our pollinators. i also would like ideas to have a useful garden while making it look pretty too 😉

Dyann Meschi March 18, 2016, 3:21 pm

I would love to have this book! We are experience such a bad drought in central California. Though we’ve received a little rain lately, we are still considered to be in a significant drought and water conservation is still so necessary. I have lost a majority of my garden and, of course, my lawn. I truly need tips and ideas to make it beautiful again…but this time with truly drought-tolerant plants. Since I also live in a place where is freezes, I really need any education on what plants suit best for my micro climate. Thanks for the consideration!

Lisa Palmese March 19, 2016, 12:17 am

I really would love to win this book I find it fascinating when absolutely gorgeous flowers or plants grow with very little water. I am Limited in physical abilities so caring less water to my flower garden would be awesome. Plus the photos in it are just so amazing. Beautiful book. From Savannah Georgia

Lisa Brosseau March 20, 2016, 5:35 pm

I would love to receive a free copy of The Water-Saving Garden to help spur my imagination as I convert my garden into a drought tolerant space.

Thanks for the chance 🙂

Pam Penick March 21, 2016, 12:05 pm

Debra, thank you for the write-up about The Water-Saving Garden, and for hosting this fun giveaway! I just read through all the comments, and, wow, it’s heartening to hear about all the water-saving projects people are planning for their gardens. I wish I could send each person a copy, but, well, I do need to sell a few. 🙂

Selecting one winner was not at all easy, but I choose Leslie Reed Costello because she mentioned the key reason I wrote this book: people “often want to become more waterwise but are hesitant because they can’t imagine how beautiful their yard could look.” It’s my goal to inspire people to imagine the possibilities, along with sharing plenty of practical how-tos. If someone reads the book and gets excited about changing out a thirsty patch of lawn for a beautiful xeric garden that will attract birds and pollinators, or they suddenly see ways of holding onto rainwater when it comes instead of watching it wash into storm drains, then I’ll count my book as a success.

I wish everyone good luck in making their own spaces more beautiful and water-saving!

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