The Expo now draws over 3,000 residents to a free day of seminars, demonstrations, and exhibits for both adults and children.

Water Conservation & Xeriscape Conference

Kent Swanson | EcoBackyard

Water Conservation & Xeriscape Conference
The Expo now draws over 3,000 residents to a free day of seminars, demonstrations, and exhibits for both adults and children.
Water Conservation & Xeriscape Conference
Kent Swanson

The weekend of March 10-11th I attended the 12th Annual Water Conservation & Xeriscape Conference here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Conference is hosted by the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico, Inc., a non-profit tax-exempt corporation.

It was an impressive event, bringing together some of the top innovators in the xeriscape movement from the southwestern U.S. and other parts of the world. Here's some stats and info about last year's conference from the Xeriscape Council's website:

Our annual conference now regularly attracts over 400 participants from 12 primarily southwestern states. The recent conference welcomed delegations from both Japan and Mexico, making it an international event. The Expo now draws over 3,000 residents to a free day of seminars, demonstrations, and exhibits for both adults and children. The 2-day conference will continue to focus on more high-level water concerns and issues while the "open-to-the-public" day will deal more with practical "how to" educational sessions.

This year, the keynote speaker was Sandra Postel, the Director of the Global Water Policy Project in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Visiting Senior Lecturer in Environmental Studies at Mount Holyoke College. Other notable speakers included African biologist Allan Savory, founder of Holistic Management International, Edward Mazria, AIA, founder of Architecture 2030, and a long list of very talented people working in landscape architecture, city planning, education, research, ranch management, gardening, etc.:

George Radnovich, Sandra Postel, Sid Goodloe, Matthew Schmader, Judith Phillips, Ron Pate, Carol Franklin, Jim Knopf, Joran Viers, Eileen Claussen, Marcia Tatroe, Ted Hodoba, Corva Rose, and Stanley Crawford.

One of the highlights for me was a great lecture from author and landscape designer Judith Phillips. She discussed "hardscapes" in xeriscape design, and how the hard surfaces of a landscape contribute to microclimates and how they can be used to channel and capture storm water. Other subjects of her talk included "green shade" versus "hard shade," and the use of permeable hardscapes.

The idea with green shade is that areas shaded with plants have the additional effect of evaporative transpiration, which cools an area more efficiently that an area shaded with a hard structure. Hard structures and "green shade" can also be combined in unusual, vertical designs to cool and decorate an area. Permeable hardscapes allow some water to filter back into the soil. See this website for more info on using permeable hardscapes.

I also enjoyed browsing the booths of vendors, and saw some very cool and innovative products, including irrigation "ollas" (clay pots) which you plant in the ground and fill with water to slowly seep into the soil and water garden plants.

Here is the website where you can purchase the irrigation ollas.

You can find more information about the Xeriscape Conference here.

Kent Swanson is a freelance writer specializing in environmental issues. See these websites for more of his work:

"An article about my visit to the Xeriscape conference also appears at the Practical Environmentalist website."

 

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