A VERY ENCOURAGING EVENT HAPPENED last November: Publication of a 180-page draft of a report sponsored by the the United States Botanic Garden, the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Lady Bird JohnsonWildflower Center. Together these organizations have put together the Sustainable Sites Initiative, a science-based effort to create guidelines for sustainable landscapes and restoration projects. The draft report was based on more than 2 years of research by experts in fields ranging from hydrology to human health. You can download it at the Sustainable Sites website, with comments being accepted until January 20 and the final report scheduled for publication this summer. Ultimately this process is supposed to lead to the development of criteria for determining whether a site is sustainable.
If you'd like an overview of the report from a gardener's perspective, check out "How Green Is Your Garden? A New Rating System May Tell You" by Anne Ravner in the January 7 issue of the New York Times. Ravner visited the United States Botanical Garden in Washington and uses a tour of the garden (with luscious photos, of course) to illustrate sustainable-gardening tips such as using native plants, avoiding pesticides, and using "right plant/right place" planting to put plants where they will receive the right amount of water naturally. For even more detail on the botanical garden's sustainability initiative, see this page at the Sustainable Sites site. There is also a page on conservation at the botanical garden's own website.