I've never been on a tour of "sustainable" gardens before. This one, in Falmouth, MA, was billed as "Earth Friendly Gardens ... Beautiful and Edible." So it was certainly timely. Not all the gardens were designed by professionals, but nevertheless there were some lovely touches and some great ideas for living a more sustainable lifestyle.
If you look closely, you'll see the "rain chain" descending from the gutter to floor of the outdoor shower. And because the property is on a lakefront with lots of large trees, no need, really, for a built enclosure around the shower. All the gutters on this house had rain chains, several of which descended into garden beds, obviating the need for water.
The house is heated with solar thermal panels (up on the roof) that provide hot water for heating and for personal hot water use ... and according to the homeowners, their supplementary heating bills last year totaled $88. The house also has 5KWH of photovoltaic panels that provide electricity, and they have enough to send power back to the grid. They paid nothing last year for electricity. I don't know how much the installation cost, but it's something for everyone to consider. Aside from the butterfly bush, which could be invasive in MA, there were lots of native plantings to attract birds and butterflies, including common milkweed.
The family's large vegetable garden supplies them with plenty of fruits and vegetables for the summer (and enough to put up for the winter, too). There's a natural split-rail fence around it, raised beds, and paths of straw. Nothing fancy, here, but it does the job and looks quite charming to boot.
And while we're talking sustainable ....
How about this laundry area with a table for folding made from a simple stone slab atop natural logs? And it's surrounded by native shrubs to screen it from the back patio of the residence.
And who needs fancy compost bins if you have a bit of room on your property. These nifty bins hold LOTS of refined material, and they even have their own rustic appeal.