Imagine planting a new flower garden on Monday and on Tuesday the city bans all outside watering. That’s the crisis that recently faced author and garden designer Pamela Crawford in Canton, Georgia. She didn’t let that stop her though. She developed an ingenious system for storing rainwater and recycled household water. Her flowers are spectacular — and without a single drop of city water for more than 2 years.
I first met Pamela about 7 years ago in her south Florida garden near West Palm Beach. She had just self-published a ground-breaking book, Best Garden Color for Florida, that revealed to both native Floridians and transplanted Northerners which annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees would thrive in Florida’s heat and humidity. I toured her sensational flower garden, featuring things like 6-feet tall angelwing begonias, and wrote a feature story about it for Southern Living in 2003.
That turned out to be great timing, because in September 2004, both Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne passed right over Pamela’s garden. The two storms provided inspiration for a new book — Stormscaping — describing which trees usually survive high winds and which trees fall on your house. They also convinced her to move to Canton, not far from Atlanta, out of Hurricane Alley.
Bursting with more energy than a nuke plant, Pamela immediately designed and planted a new flower garden in her front yard. It consists of all sorts of plants she tests for wholesale growers all over the country. She plants in beds, but also does dozens of incredible containers she mounts on posts. This is how it looked this year in early May right after planting.
And this is how it looked during my most recent visit two weeks ago.
Below, a tighter shot looking back in the opposite direction:
You’ll notice a lot of planters up on posts. Pamela says she does this to get color at eye level, so that all of your flowers aren’t flat on the ground. Her patented container planting system is available from Kinsman. Check it out. She loves growing plants in containers because “it’s the only chance you have to start with perfect soil.” She uses moisture-control potting soil that contains a wetting agent that allows the organic matter in the soil to absorb water, not shed it. She’s also a big fan of Dynamite slow-release fertilizer.
Obviously, her formula works. How do you like this post planter below? Dragonwing begonias, variegated lantana, purple angelonia (my favorite annual), and purple sweet potato vine look incredible.
How about this coleus and begonia basket beneath the window? Woo-hoo!
How does she manage this without using any city water (or well water)? Just take a gander at one of her water storage tanks. It holds 2,500 gallons. Pamela collects rainwater, condensation water from her AC units, and even water from a shower. Underground pipes and a drip irrigation system feed water to her plants. Her tanks fill up quickly after a rain. According to her new book, Easy Gardens for the South, one inch of rain from a 1,600 square-foot roof yields 960 gallons of water.
Look for the usual brilliant, insightful, entertaining, and revolutionary story by the Grump on Pamela’s garden in Southern Living next spring. I’ll leave you with this final photo to whet your appetite.
Garden Conservancy Tours Raleigh
The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program returns to Raleigh, North Carolina, this fall, featuring six private gardens to visit on Saturday, September 19 (9 AM to 5 PM) and Sunday, September 20 (12 noon to 5 PM). The tour also features two nearby gardens in Cary and Wake Forest.
One of the gardens, shown above, is Helen’s Haven, created by my good friend and fellow garden blogger, Helen Yoest, of Gardening with Confidence. She assures me you’ll be pleased.
Call 1-888-842-2442 or visit www.opendaysprogram.org for more information. Locally, call 919-513-3826. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the nationally known J.C. Raulston Arboretum, a research and teaching garden at North Carolina State University.