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Water savings shine in garden tours, Earth Day, landscaping rebates

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SANTA BARBARA, CA – APRIL 12, 2010 -- April blooms with sustainability, given the celebration of Earth Day, the springtime look of water-conserving demonstration gardens, and the start of the Green Gardener training session.

Also, planting season provides homeowners with a fresh opportunity to replace thirsty plants and grass with water wise plants and lawn alternatives. To help pay for it, four water districts in the county cover half the expense of materials up to $1,000 through the Smart Landscape Rebate program. Photos of hundreds of plants that use little water are online at www.sbwater.org, and on CD, titled “Water Wise Gardening in Santa Barbara County.”

To get out and see sustainability, attend Earth Day event, April 17-18, in commemoration of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary. Event will be at Alameda Park 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., respectively. The City of Santa Barbara’s Water Conservation program will be located at the City of Santa Barbara’s booth.

For another means of seeing sustainability at work, residents can visit at least eight demonstration gardens in the Santa Barbara area. They are:

Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden: City block bounded by Santa Barbara, Arrellaga, Garden and Micheltorena streets in Santa Barbara. A 4.6-acre informal park emphasizing exotic flora.Firescape Garden: 2411 Stanwood Drive/Route 192 (corner of Mission Ridge Road) in Santa Barbara, across the street from Fire Station No. 7. This 1.7-acre labeled, model garden demonstrates how risks of wildfire can be reduced. Santa Barbara City College: Lifescape Garden/Chumash Point Ethnobotanic Preserve, 721 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara. 965-0581. The Lifescape Garden features a variety of low-water-using and edible plants, as well as composting systems and efficient irrigation.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden: 12212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara. 682-4726. A 65-acre garden of native plants of California, representing a variety of plant communities and important botanical and horticultural collections. Montecito Water District: 583 San Ysidro Road (above East Valley Road), Montecito. 969-2271. A labeled low-water-using garden featuring a variety of Mediterranean plants.

Goleta Water District: 4699 Hollister Avenue (corner of Puente Street), Goleta. 964-6761. It features many native California plants and other water-wise plants.

For the hands-on approach, consider the next round of Green Gardener classes. Conducted by the Santa Barbara City College Continuing Education Division, the new session begins at 2:30 p.m. April 14 for orientation/registration at the Schott Center, 310 West Padre Street, in Room 31, and continues for 15 weeks. The cost is $35. Classes are taught in English and Spanish.

For more information on these programs and ideas on water conservation, visit www.sbwater.org.

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