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New CD-ROM Helps Desert Gardeners Plant Wisely

LAS CRUCES - Picking just the right plant for a sunny flowerbed or shady backyard can be tricky in the desert Southwest. Now local gardeners can do it with the click of a mouse.

Desert Blooms, a new CD-ROM distributed by El Paso Water Utilities, was designed to help homeowners with water-saving landscaping for southern New Mexico, far West Texas and northern Chihuahua, Mexico. The CD was designed by New Mexico State University's agricultural communications department.

"Having water-smart landscaping doesn't mean your front yard has to be covered in gravel," said Barbara Chamberlin, project manager with agricultural communications. "You can have beautiful flowers and nice green trees and shrubs. This CD helps you know which ones to use, how to plant them and how to landscape with them."

The CD has basic information about planting, watering and caring for your landscape. The most popular feature is a database of hundreds of plants, which are catalogued by water use, height,type and light requirements. Homeowners can search for the type of plant they want, view a number of possibilities and print off their favorites.

Sometimes it's difficult to get an idea of what plants will look like after you've planted them and they're starting to do well," Chamberlin said. "This CD will show, in some cases, many pictures of that plant so you can visualize how your landscape will look. You can even print off the information and take it with you to the nursery."

Desert Blooms won a "Best of Show" Addy Award from the El Paso Advertising Federation this year. The CD, which was funded with a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, was distributed to libraries and schools in Las Cruces and El Paso.

To purchase a copy of Desert Blooms for $12, visit area nurseries or call El Paso Water Utilities at (915) 594-5508. Volume discounts are available. The CD works with both Windows and Macintosh platforms.