Edhat
npr edvertisers
visitors movie times

Santa Barbara Weather: 74.9°F | Humidity: 70% | Pressure: 29.92in (Steady) | Conditions: Scattered Clouds | Wind Direction: East | Wind Speed: 0.0mph [see map]

Free Newsletter
Advertise
  Viva la Fiesta! Send your fiesta photos to ed@edhat.com login  twitter  facebook  RSS 
 
 
login
    15436 Subscribers
      699 Paid (4.5%)
     43 Comments
     38 Commenters
     34200 Page Views
 
 

 
The Winehound
The Winehound
 
Advertise on Edhat
Advertise on Edhat
 
News Events Referrals Deals Classifieds Comments About

more articles like this
GARDEN OF ED

El Estero No. 5
updated: Apr 10, 2010, 9:30 AM

By Billy Goodnick
El Estero

El Estero Wastewater Treatment Plant, located at 520 East Yanonali, is surrounded by lush landscaping.

What possessed Chanel and all the other tres continental Parisienne companies to think that splashing water from the potty behind your ears will get you laid? "Eau de toilette" translates to toilet water, plain and simple, but if you say it in French, maybe it sounds romantic.

But I'm not concerned with the $800 per ounce kind they sell at Neiman-Marcus. This week, I'm writing about wastewater, wee-wee, piddle, poopie or whatever euphemism soothes your sensibilities.

No, not waste water in the raw state - that's icky. The official term for today's topic is recycled water. It's used around town to irrigate parks, schools, golf courses and homeowner association landscaping.

Recycled irrigation water is the ultimate in sustainable landscaping: Every gallon used for irrigation means one gallon of drinkable water saved for a higher use. In Santa Barbara that's about 700,000 gallons per day - more than a drop in the bucket.
Pool

The pool at the entryway features colorful water lilies and bullrushes.

My First Lap In The Waste Water Pool

I clearly remember when the El Estero Treatment Plant went online in 1979. I was a dirt-bag gardener, employed by the first crew to care for the newly installed landscape. The planting was less than stellar - mostly African daisy ground cover, a few eucalyptus trees and a mass of boring green shrubs. About as exciting as watching synchronized wading.

But not anymore! On a recent walk around the facility at 520 East Yanonali, spring was speeding along at full throttle. Blooms were bursting from bougainvillea, angel's trumpet, African daisy, kangaroo paws, lavender and a few plants I didn't recognize.

Oh So Pretty

"Why," you might ask, "would a facility dedicated to cleaning up our human litter box go to such lengths to adorn their grounds with a plant collection rivaling Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden?"

The answer is twofold:

1. Science! For some reason, there is very little research regarding which plants will succeed on recycled water.
Coral

A South African coral tree (Erythrina species) has a spectacular scarlet bloom and an other-worldly form.

The chemical make-up tends to be higher in salts than a lot of plants can tolerate.

The folks at Water Resources needed answers. So they hired Grant Castleberg (the same landscape architect who designed Alice KPMG) to create a recycled-water-tolerant landscape master. Gradually, through actual field-testing, a very practical list of successful plants is coming together. You can see the list at the Public Works website.

2. Overcoming resistance: Recycled water has had a bad rap among landscape designers. When Chase Palm Park expanded, the Parks and Recreation Department (me included) fought tooth and nail to avoid using recycled water. Without solid info about the potential harm, the risk of planting 10 acres of new parkland - and not knowing how it would respond - was terrifying.

Having a nearby field lab is good news for local designers whose projects are required to make use of the supply. The new condos at the northwest corner of East Yanonali and Garden are
Breezeway

In the breezeway between the buildings, a collection of ferns and palms create a tropical feeling.

a great example of beautiful landscaping that's tapping into the supply with no ill effects.

Recycled water has even been used for the native riparian plants at the recently planted Arroyo Burro estuary restoration with no noticeable ill effects.

Surprise, Surprise!

As you can see from the pictures in this post, the diversity of the plant palette is robust. I was surprised to see that plants I thought of as wussie aren't just growing - they're kicking some serious butt.

If you want to see the demonstration garden up close and personal, El Estero is open to the public on weekdays, but you need to check in at the main office and pick up a visitor's pass.

One word of advice: At certain times there is a subtle - shall we say organic? - aroma dancing on the air.
Heuchera

Bulbous oat grass (Arrhenatherum elatius bulbosum 'Variegatum') and coral bells (Heuchera species) create a delicate visual texture.

You might want to splash on a little Dolce & Gabbana or Hai Karate before you visit.

Resources:

City of Santa Barbara Public Works Department: 805.564.5460 (link)

Off Topic

If you're thinking of making any changes to your landscaping and need a design tune-up to get you started, consider signing up for my "Through The Green Gate" class, offered by SBCC's Continuing Education division. The six-week class starts Wednesday, April 14 at 6 PM and meets six times, followed by a half-day garden tour. Register on-line

Sludge

Can't help myself - I wonder if this is a hands-on exhibit for school kids. Ewwww!

Boug

Nothing exotic here, but good ole bougainvillea and Agave attenuata can't miss in a Mediterranean palette.

Lavender

My favorite vignette is Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas ‘Otto Quast') combined with the deep burgundy leaves of Caribbean copper tree (Euphorbia cotinifolia).

Angel

Angel's trumpet (Brugmansia species) was doing surprisingly well in an east-facing planter.

Euphorbia

Yellow spurge (Euphorbia characias ‘Bruce's Dwarf') and aloe are backed by kangaroo paws for a strong vertical burst.

----

Billy Goodnick is a nice guy who knows a lot about plants and garden stuff.

www.billygoodnick.com
gardenwiseguy.blogspot.com
www.flickr.com/photos/gardenwiseguy
www.sbwater.org/landscapeTv.htm
www.kingbeesb.com

Looking for design ideas and cool plants? Subscribe to Billy's e-mail newsletter by dropping him a line at billygoodnick@yahoo.com

 BECKY agree helpful negative off topic

2010-04-11 12:20 PM

It's *great* that they're testing which plants thrive on recycled water. Didn't know that; thanks for the reference. My ongoing concern -- recycled water and vegetable gardening. It would be great to convert most outside watering to recycled, but I suspect the heavy metal and chemical content of my veges and fruits would be too heavy to be healthy then. Pondering...

 

100% of comments on this page were made by Edhat Community Members.

 

 

7 comments on this article. Read/Add

  See more articles like this

# # # #