The program, sponsored by Tampa Bay Water, is now accepting nominations for the 2011 awards. I know many readers of this blog have landscapes that are worthy of consideration for this award, and I urge you to nominate your yard at http://tampabaywaterwise.org. Entries are coordinated and judged by local water conservation coordinators as well as experts in eco-friendly landscaping with the county extension offices. Residents of Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, and the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg and New Port Richey receive awards. Judges actually conduct a site visit to your home to view your landscaping and water-saving features.
There were few entries last year. I told my husband we may have won the award because we were the only people who bothered to enter!
I know there is a huge and growing (pun intended) interest in Florida-Friendly gardening, so it doesn't make sense that so few enter this competition. The application itself is simple, and there is no embrassment if you don't win. In fact, you'll receive a helpful letter detailing how you could improve your landscape to make it a stronger contender next time around. And, like us, you may even win! We actually were invited to accept our award at a Tampa City Council meeting -- what fun!
We're still riding the coattails of our brief flirtation with gardening fame. The city's water conservation staff recently visited our yard again to film a promotion for this year's Water-Wise Awards. It gave me another chance to talk about our water-saving landscape and the difference it has made in our quality of life. That segment is now airing throughout May on the City's TV channel (Verizon Channel 15 or Bright House Channel 615) during a program called "Spotlight Tampa." The city folks were kind enough to send me the video clip, and I have posted it here.
Don't be shy! If you've created an attractive, water-conserving urban oasis, please enter the awards program. More entries lend credibility to the sustainable, low-impact gardening principles we follow, and show others that we're not just a bunch of weirdo bug- and bunny-huggers, but thoughtful, informed and dedicated gardeners who prefer an alternative to the cookie-cutter view of suburban landscapes that clever marketing by the lawn care industry tells us we should have -- a sterile vista dominated by heavily manicured, chemically treated and excessively irrigated grass.