The name is more complicated than the concept: Zeriscaping is the practice of gardening with plants native to the geographical area in which you live. Plants that originated in local conditions are more likely to thrive in them than exotics or imports from other areas, and zeriscaped gardens generally require less care and less watering, so they're better for the environment.
The concept has taken off in recent years in desert and mountain climates, where conditions are particularly unsuited for, say, an English perennial border. Canadians are also embracing zeriscaping. But gardens in a state like Maryland, which has varying climatic conditions (sometimes on successive days) can also benefit.
For gardeners who are curious about how zeriscaping works, three new publications are devoted to this kind of gardening. Here's a brief survey of them.
* "Dry-Land Gardening: A Zeriscaping Guide for Dry-Summer, Cold-Winter Climates," by Jennifer Bennett (Firefly Books, 1998, $24.95), is a book that offers advice on water use, planting choices, garden features such as rocks, and regional guides to lawns and grasses, bulbs, perennials and vines, vegetables and annuals and herbs, among others.
* In "Grow Wild! Low-Maintenance, Sure-Success, Distinctive Gardening with Native Plants" (Fulcrum Publishing, 1998, $32.95), author Lorraine Johnson discusses the land-healing nature of native plantings, and three types of climates that can benefit from such plantings. There are guides to plants and tips on planting.
* Wild Garden is a quarterly magazine dedicated to native-plant gardens. Among recent articles was one on how to avoid running afoul of local anti-weed laws and how to attract wildlife. The magazine costs $23.95 for six quarterly issues. To subscribe, call 888-945-3949, or write Wild Garden, P.O. Box 70570, Eugene, Ore. 97401.
Looking good on paper
Paper has acquired new cachet in entertaining - when it's plates and coordinating napkins. Instead of pulling out the family plates and silver, more people are using pretty printed paperware for all kinds of indoor entertaining. Tea parties are joining bridal showers and birthdays as popular occasions for paperware, says Kim Ketenheim, of the Pleasure of Your Company at Greenspring Station. And, she says, some people use oversize paper napkins as guest towels in powder rooms. Green and purple are hot colors for the summer, she adds. Paperware comes in a variety of styles, from traditional florals to abstract designs to French country looks. The ones pictured are called Provence, from Ideal Home Range. Dinner plates are $4.80 for eight; salad plates $2.90 for eight; and coordinating napkins are $4.50 for 20 at Stebbins-Anderson in Towson.
* Big peonies and tiny azaleas are on the agenda this week at the National Arboretum on New York Avenue in Washington. Satsuki azalea bonsai are in full bloom in the Special Exhibits Wing of the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and admission is free. Thursday, curator Lynn Batdorf will lead a free tour of the arboretum's herbaceous peony collection. Call 202-245-4521.
* How gardeners cultivate inner space and outdoor space will be the topic of a lecture at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Walters Art Gallery by photographer and gardener Elizabeth Murray. Murry took the photos of Giverny, Claude Monet's garden, that accompany Monet paintings now on exhibit at the museum. Tickets are $10 for members, $20 for nonmembers. Call 410-547-9000, Ext. 237.
More than a shower
If you've ever dreamed of living in a tropical paradise and showering in a waterfall, the new Custom BodySpa by Kohler (shown at right) can give you at least part of the feeling. The waterfall installation offers a 20-inch-wide cascade of water that, according to the manufacturer, "drenches the bather while soothing neck and upper-back muscles." Owners can customize the installation by choosing wall material, doors and foot baths. Kohler products are available at many plumbing-supply stores and home/hardware stores.
Pub Date: 5/17/98