SG555: How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden Using Less Water with Pam Penick

Pam Penick is the author of two books, The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! She is also one of the founders of the Garden Blogger’s Fling. Pam has been blogging about her garden since 2006, which means she’s definitely blogging royalty by this point. Today, we do a deep dive into her book, The Water-Saving Garden, and how everyday gardeners can create a more efficient and water-savvy garden.

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“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson.

How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden Using Less Water with Pam Penick

Interview Questions

Let’s give folks an overview of all the great work you’ve done in the field of gardening

Time Stamp: 21:40

When it comes to the Garden Blogger’s Fling, who were the original four who founded it?

Time Stamp 24:05

I thought it would be great to establish a foundational mindset for our conversation today - your book is an appeal to gardeners everywhere to honor water. I thought your opening paragraph was a perfect way to start our talk – why don’t you read it for us

Time Stamp: 31:10

How is it that a water-saving garden translates so beautifully into a garden with staying power?

Time Stamp: 37:50

There are five parts to your book. Part one of your book would start with a tour of 7 inspiring water saving gardens – this section was a thrill for me. Let’s chat about some of the innovative and thoughtful highlights from each of these 7 inspiring gardens.

Time Stamp: 43:10

Part Two is devoted to practical tips and techniques for saving water. You start by encouraging gardeners to save “that liquid gold”.

There are a couple of points here I’d like for you to expand on:

First, plants prefer rainwater to tap water.

Second, when it comes to our properties, we fight an inherent barrier most folks don’t even consider: “our yards are designed to shed water”.

Time Stamp: 1:35:20

You walk gardeners through how to create a rain garden. Let’s go through this together.

Time Stamp: 1:39:30

There are some terms that I thought would be productive to review with you that are in Part Two of your book:

Curb Cuts




Time Stamp: 1:45:50

Part two also covers paving as means to saving water. I’d love to have you read the introduction on page 59, where you start by recognizing the valuable role of paving in the garden.

Time Stamp: 2:00:50

I listened to an interview you had done last year, and you said, “Paving is an invitation to come out and use your garden”. That is so true. You highlight four paving options in your book, let’s go through them!

Time Stamp: 2:09:30

Part two wraps up with the water-saving work of protective shade in a garden. In this section, you also feature shade sails. They were new to me! Introduce us to them and then let’s chat a bit about the powerful practice of minimizing wind in the garden.               

Time Stamp: 1:22:20

Part three of your book is all about plants, You start out with a suggestion to “lose the lawn” in the first paragraph on page 115. Why don’t you read it and then I’d love for you to share some of your favorite lawn substitutes.

Time Stamp: 1:29:00

In part three, you introduce this wonderfully descriptive design concept: ripple-zone planting. What is it and how can gardeners use it to design their 2017 water-saving gardens?

Time Stamp: 1:35:40

Part four just may be my personal favorite part of your book – Creating the ILLUSION of water in the garden. Gardeners who have mastered the art of illusion when it comes to water in their garden always inspire me. I’d love to hear your take on the highlights in part four.

Time Stamp: 1:40:20

Part five offers 101 plants for water-saving gardens. I simply have to ask you about one I know you have – and that’s Moby – your whale tongue agave.

Time Stamp: 1:46:20

You dedicated your book “to those who see”. I thought it would be fitting to close our conversation today by having you describe the vision you had in mind when you wrote those words.

Time Stamp: 2:50:30

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What listeners are saying...

I never write reviews but this is the best gardening podcast out there. Jennifer has interesting topics and guests and is not one bit annoying like some others are. I love that she involves her kids at the end of the podcast - usually with poetry or music. Really good podcast.

- Barbcfc, Mar 23, 2016

Still Growing is one of the reliably informative gardening podcasts from North America. The format consists of an intro (personal gardening status chat, seasonal remarks), an extended interview with a guest, and an outro with funny outtakes, side remarks, and some chatter (poems, readings) from the host's children. The podcast is focused on reliable knowledge - the guests are typically experts like academics, master gardeners, gardening entrepreneurs or public garden leaders. The intro and especially the outro give it a homey feel. Given I live in the high northern region, just a little below the Polar Circle, I'm always looking for more cold-weather oriented gardening information. Jennifer Ebeling is in Minnesota, so that's helpful to me! Vegetable gardening (my main interest) gets a good share, but is not predominant. Most topics transcend your specific gardening interest and are applicable to many styles: landscaping principles, vermicomposting, greenhouses. The episodes are typically an hour long, which is just fine for me.

- cwaigl, May 29, 2014

Best gardening podcast out there. Her preparedness leads to a good interaction with the guests and brings out the best in them. Very informative and yet personable.

- Corn bug, June 15, 2016

This is a great podcast. Really well produced and organized with good sound quality. I love the mix of information and personal touches. Jennifer has great guests and asks the best questions. You can tell she really does her homework. I listen to several gardening podcasts and this is my absolute favorite!

- So Cal Gardengirl, June 19,2016

Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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