Read This: Dry Climate Gardening

February 14, 2023

I’ve been following Noelle Johnson’s informative and entertaining gardening blog, AZ Plant Lady: Ramblings From a Desert Garden, for over a decade. As a horticulturist and landscape consultant in Phoenix, Noel is an authority on native and desert-adapted plants suited to its hot, dry climate. Her website is filled with beautiful photos of her own colorful gardens as well as others around town, and she’s generous with maintenance tips. I imagine these are especially useful for people who have moved to the desert southwest and are wondering how to create a climate-resilient garden.

And now Noelle has packaged her vast experience and knowledge about desert gardening in book form! Dry Climate Gardens: Developing Beautiful, Sustainable Gardens in Low-Water Conditions Out in March and available for pre-order now. I received an advance copy for review and am happy to write an endorsement for it:

Noel’s book uproots all stereotypes of gardening in an arid or semi-arid region. Instead of an expanse of rocks and cactus with a few boring clipped shrubs, he walks the reader through the practicalities of smart plant selection and maintenance, showing how colorful and plant-rich — yet water-like — a dry garden can be. Everyone who moves to the desert Southwest, or who wants to freshen up their yard to meet the challenges of climate change, should get this book and read it cover to cover.

I’m especially excited for Noel’s book because his region, like mine here in Texas, is underrepresented in magazines, books, and online. Not only that, but gardening in a desert climate is a completely different experience than gardening in more temperate areas. Plants are different. Seasons are different. The soil and even the sunlight are different. Noel proves to be a great guide to help any dry-climate gardener figure it all out.

Although the book isn’t aimed at a Central Texas audience (we’re not a desert climate), there is some overlap with certain plants, such as the purple trailing lantana and Pride of Barbados pictured above. And as our climate warms, it’s best to look west for planting strategies and species tolerance of both heat and drought while being aware of our potential deep freezes and drought-devastating floods. Meanwhile, West Texans will find many parts of the book directly relevant to their low-water gardens.

Photo credit: All photos by Noel Johnson Dry climate gardens

Disclosure: Cool Springs Press sent me a copy of this Dry climate gardens, and I reviewed it at my own discretion and without compensation. This post, like everything in Digging, is my personal opinion.

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Learn about garden design from the experts here Garden Spark! I host private talks with inspiring designers, landscape architects, and writers several times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Just click on this link and ask to be added. You can find this year’s speaker lineup here.

Plan to join Budding Plant Sale and Festival March 18 at John Fairy Gardens in Hempstead, TX. There will be rare and unique plants, as well as art, ceramics, jewelry, food, drink, music and other entertainment for the whole family. Members have early access and get free. Non-member admission is $5. Children under 12 are free.

Experience a surreal garden at the Zilkar Botanical Garden, with an enchanting neon-art display throughout the park, food and drink, music and dance, surreal performers and interactive art sculptures. Surreal costumes are encouraged! 25% of event proceeds benefit the Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy. April 6 (VIP Night), April 7-8 and April 13-15 runs from 6:30pm to 11pm.

All material © 2023 by Pam Penick for Excavation. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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