Maps help

Ever wonder how relief workers know where to go when a region’s infrastructure is washed away and millions of refugees are stranded over vast distances? Dutch hydrologist Michael van der Valk sent this link from to Mapping Pakistan’s Floods. To see how international agencies are working together to track the water that has now impacted almost 20 million people, click here. To enlarge the UN map above, double click on the image. Thanks to Michael Campana of WaterWired for linking to Feriha Peracha’s heart-breaking account from the Swat Valley, and for in addition to Red Cross further offering this new link to aid organizations at work in Pakistan. From Michael: “Don’t look down on anyone unless you are helping them up.” — Pakistani proverb

September fully loaded

Summer heat is late and fiery days are surely ahead in Southern California, so planting season is still months away. However, the number of courses aimed at helping homeowners and facilities managers convert from lawn to less wasteful landscapes ramps up in September. Book now to attend the Pacific Horticulture Society’s “Gardening under Mediterranean Skies” symposium from September 23-26 in Arcadia or click here for a full calendar of region-wide events. If you have an event to include, please send details to [@]

The week that was, 8/22-28/2010

Bullets rain on the Swat Valley in a drawing done by one of Feriha Peracha's students school for "Taliban" survivors. August flooding has brought fresh anguish to the already chaotic and deadly region that Peracha remembers as paradisal during her childhood visits. Source: American Public Media's 'The Story.' Click on the drawing to be taken to Dick Gordon's interview with Peracha.

As we remember the tragic delays after Hurricane Katrina hit the Louisiana coast five years ago today, arguably the single most meaningful way that we can mark the anniversary is to help the millions in Pakistan whose livelihoods are being washed away now, who are desperate now.

For a glimpse of the horror being visited on that country by unprecedented monsoonal flooding, and the bewilderment and desperation of the people in the path of the water, there is no better sampling than Dick Gordon’s August 25, 2010 interview with

The Dry Garden: Pruning sage

Last spring, horticulturist Lili Singer remarked to me that one of the most touching mistakes she sees made by novice dry gardeners is timidity in pruning their sages. And so, in the summer edition of the Theodore Payne Foundation’s Poppy Print newsletter,  she nudges native gardening converts to do it.

With thanks to Lili for the push, I am going to echo the prompt in this column in the hope that others may learn to work out their frustrations on their gardens in such a timely fashion.

If it seems late, it isn’t. Only the most ferociously organized gardeners dead-head sage as soon as the flowers fade in June. Watching the flush of flowers drying on the branch through July and August makes for too many sunset grace notes. As Lili notes, birds move in and glean the seeds. Yet by late August, those fluttering elegies to spring just

Four scenarios for climate change and water

The US Environmental Protection Agency has opened a 45-day public comment period for a draft report looking at impacts of climate change on the water supplies of four American urban regions: the Bay Area in Northern California, Seattle in the Pacific Northwest, New York City in the Northeast and Spartansburg in upstate South Carolina. Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments: Four Case Studies of Water Utility Practices was prepared by the National Center for Environmental Assessment’s Global Climate Research Staff, formerly known as the Tortuous Title Division of Guess Whether or Not it’s a Quango. As it is a draft, the agency requests that readers not cite or quote the content. However, it does welcome feedback. Consider mine given on the title and name of the author. Click here for the EPA’s main climate change page.

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