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Archives for December 2012

Helen Yemm’s container gardening tips

Really big containers are even better: within them you can come up with some
really interesting plant combinations. A winner that has trucked on for
years in my garden is a rusty old iron cattle trough with a convenient crack
in it (providing drainage). Bronze fennel dominates, Hakonechloa macra
‘Aureola’ (a weepy, golden-stripy grass) and a brown/yellow Viola ‘Irish
Molly’ are permanent, shorter, colour-coordinated residents, and in late
spring I add September-struck overwintered cuttings of pale yellow Argyranthemum
‘Jamaica primrose’, with Helichrysum petiolare ‘Limelight’ to
sprawl through the lot.

Another coffin-size container in my driveway – in full view of passers-by, the
planting in it needs to demonstrate that I at least know how to keep things
alive if I am to preserve some sort of reputation – is home to that most
voluptuous of herbaceous geraniums, Geranium palmatum (not hardy in the
north). Stalk loads of pink flowers are carried above its glossy leaves for
weeks in the summer. With a bit of tidying up, the shuttlecock of foliage
endures all winter (even perking up last week after being “wilted” by recent
frosts). You might think that bit-part players in this drama have a lean
time of it. But a small self-seeded colony of Bowles’ golden grass (Milium
) and dusky Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’ perform
with understated efficiency. And while the geranium itself will be short
lived, it has conveniently self-seeded within the trough.

Container planting doesn’t all have to be high impact and in your face. “Best
in Show” at Yemm Towers last summer came about somewhat by chance. Fearing
that after several years’ service in my shady woodland patch, a mature Hellebore
x sternii
‘Silver Dollar’ (with biennial flower stems) was on its last
legs, last spring I bought a new young plant “to bring on” as a replacement.
I realised that the very large plastic container into which it was repotted
(in John Innes No 3 plus leafmould) would fit neatly into a vacant urn
outside my kitchen window, so there I plonked it.

Virtually maintenance free – such a large pot needed little watering – the
hellebore’s jagged leaves grew larger and ever more beautiful during the
summer, and there it sits right now, with dusky-pink tinged flower buds just
developing on the shoot tips. Maybe it will get planted out in the garden as
planned. Maybe it won’t. I could just cut its flowering shoots back in early
summer, and let it put in a repeat performance in its pot next year. And
maybe I will be here to tell you about it.

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Home Ground and Garden Tips for December

By now many of us have completed the bulk of our outside chores and after taking a holiday break will be looking ahead to next year’s growing season. This year some gardeners reported a successful year while many others have struggled with plant diseases, insects and watering issues. Overall, it was a tough year for plants with this summer’s drought causing watering issues for many gardeners and impacting the health of trees already under stress or newly planted in the last few years. Difficult growing conditions this year, along with an increase in the number of people gardening was reflected by a 43 percent increase in our hotline and e-mail questions over 2011. We appreciate your questions and are happy that so many of you are taking advantage of the free horticultural information we provide.

Below we have included information about our upcoming events, garden and landscape tips for December, and a couple of articles written by one of our Master Gardeners.

Upcoming events:

Gardening Hotline: During the winter months we receive many questions about insect pests inside homes, tree and shrub pruning and questions from people who want advice that will help them avoid problems they’ve had in their gardens and landscapes in the past. If you have a question please leave it on our voicemail 331-8415 ext. 107 or e-mail us at Please leave a daytime phone number where we can reach you with any additional questions we may have.

Master Gardeners are a great resource for new gardeners and for troubleshooting home garden and landscape problems including weeds, lawn issues, wildlife, insect pests and plant diseases along with control recommendations. Plant and insect samples can be brought to the office for identification or diagnostic work. During non-hotline hours you can leave your sample with our secretary or in the drop box at the end of the building. Please put insects in a sealed plastic container (so they won’t get crushed) and plant samples in sealed plastic bags. Remember to label them with your name and daytime phone number where we can reach you. We also offer soil pH testing (cost is $3 per sample) and can help you with soil test interpretation.

Saturday, May 11, 2013: CCE Wayne County Master Gardener’s 24th Annual Plant Sale – more information will be provided as we get closer to this event.

Info for woodlot owners:

Free Woodlot Visits: Call 331-8415 ext. 107 to schedule a free woodlot site visit. These free site visits typically last up to 3 hours with our Master Forest Owners providing woodlot management information to Wayne County woodlot owners including best management practices for achieving management goals. During the visit our MFO’s can also provide you with   additional sources for assistance and information.

For information and webinars on forest health visit

Monthly garden and home grounds tips:

As we approach the New Year, there are still some garden tasks to complete.

• Tie together or support the branches on evergreen shrubs with burlap, which will limit plant, damage from heavy, wet snow. Never use plastic to wrap shrubs, as it will heat up on a sunny day causing plants to “cook”.

• This is a good time to transplant your houseplants that you have been postponing using a lightweight commercial potting mix. Remember to water the plants with warm water.

• Speaking of houseplants, those with large leaves and smooth foliage like philodendrons, dracaena and ficus, will benefit from a periodic leaf cleaning to remove dust and grime, which clogs leaf pores. You can use a soft, moist cloth, turning it as you clean or you can use commercial leaf shine products cautiously in order to not use too heavily.

• This is a good time to clean and sharpen garden tools. Sharpen hoes, pruners, spades, edgers and mower blades, as this will make tasks easier next spring. If sharpening mower blades, be sure that they are balanced and level before placing on the mower and remember to remove the battery from powered garden equipment and store it away from freezing temperatures.

• Now is the time to re-apply rabbit and deer repellents if you have not already done so. Watch the snow height or rainfall to gauge when to apply it again. Research has shown that the “rotten egg” odor products seem to work the best.

• Consider ordering your seeds early for this coming gardening season if you want the best selection and check out Cornell’s 2013 recommended varieties selected for NYS gardeners at:

• If you have a home orchard, this is a great time to remove fruit still left on or around any trees. This will help prevent the spread of any disease problems. Make sure that your mouse and deer guards are in place as well.

• In terms of care for your holiday gift plants you may have received, make sure you pour off any excess water that collects between the container and foil wrapping after watering. Locate the plants away from direct heat sources like a wood stove, heat run or on top of the TV. Remove drying leaves and flowers before they “die”. Pruning on a frequent basis can promote a longer blooming period.

Below are a couple of short articles from Dave Reville, CCE Wayne County Master Gardener.

Holiday gifts for gardeners

Holiday flowering plants make great gifts for gardeners, but the list of possibilities doesn’t stop there. Gifts for gardeners and plant lovers abound. Browsing through gardening magazines is a great way to come up with additional options.

If you know someone likes specific types of plants, send for a specialty catalog and then give the catalog with a gift certificate for the recipient to select plants. Other catalogs offer flower and vegetable seeds and transplants, landscape ornamentals, tools, season-extending equipment, garden lighting and even greenhouses.

A gift certificate to your local garden center or nursery is another option. Recipients can use the garden center gift certificate for flowering plants, shrubs and trees or to purchase indoor plants, seeds, special gardening tools, and garden fertilizers. Also consider all the bird feeding support items and the potentials they offer as well.

Gardening books also make great gifts and offer a wide array of choices of subjects, depending upon the potential recipient’s interests.

Who is eating in your pantry?

This is the time of year to be watchful for flying moths in the kitchen or food storage areas especially where pet foods and birdseeds are stored.

These insects, known as Indian Meal Moth, feed on grain products. The adult beetle and moth are frequently seen in cabinets, on counters and around windows. The larvae and some adults of these insects feed on rice, barley, corn, wheat, birdseed, cornmeal, pasta, cereals, flour, cake mixes, dry pet foods and nuts. Sometimes they can be found feeding upon dried flower arrangements, ornamental corn and seed displays.

All life stages can be found in these products often simultaneously. Generally, these pests are brought into the house in infested food packages or when purchased in bulk. When infestations are discovered, remove and inspect opened and unopened food packages from the cabinets. Discard infested products immediately. Vacuum shelves and cracks around shelves to remove spilled food and insects. Discard the vacuum bags as well so the insects cannot potentially, breed in the bag. Wash shelves with hot, soapy, water. Place food products in airtight containers and not in plastic bags. If no insect activity has been observed for six months, they have probably been eliminated.

Contact us for more information on this and other home grounds or garden pests.

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Stylists design-district standby, Country Garden Antiques, is revamped

Country Garden Antiques has been a favorite of interior decorators, set designers and collectors for 18 years, thanks to its one-of-a-kind accents and affordable prices.

Last week, the cozy-but-jumbled Design District shop about a football field’s length from the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge unveiled a new look.

“The Trinity River District in Dallas is experiencing an incredible change in growth,” owners Alan and Gina Galichia typed on their blog, country, which chronicled the two-month remodel. “We felt that it was time to upgrade our antique store.”

Gina says the redesign kick-starter was a set of towering antique French doors she found at Round Top, the Central Texas antiques fair. The only way they could function inside the store was if walls were torn down to accommodate them.

They hired longtime client and decorator Annie Uechtritz as project manager to carry out their vision.

In just 60 days, Uechtritz took Country Garden Antiques from a cubbyholed warren to a spacious showplace that’s now more glamorous.

“One of my main goals for the store was opening up the space and making the flow better,” she says. “I also widened several doorways into rooms and framed them with columns or other architectural pieces to add interest and importance.”

Now the shop’s signature pieces — discolored mirrors, old silver, architectural remnants — amassed at Round Top, flea markets and estate sales, are easier to appreciate. It doesn’t hurt that Gina styles accessories and art like a Martha Stewart Living market editor.

“We have a good mix of things so that there’s something for everyone’s taste,” says the owner. “But now there’s less smalls, more bigs.”

Translation: The shop always has been known for its mouthwatering collection of oil paintings, mercury glass and shabby-chic chandeliers. But thanks to a 2,200-square-foot storage space that was opened, there’s room for old beds, salvaged columns and even a sweeping Provençal bakery counter.

Formerly crammed rooms packed with products are now neatly organized and dedicated to specific styles so shoppers can better imagine how to use the items in their own homes, says Uechtritz.

The art room is filled with oil paintings (expect dozens of florals), fashion sketches, abstracts and empty frames. There’s an industrial-furniture corner as well as sections focused on English looks, Asian antiques and shabby-chic examples.

One room is entirely devoted to Christmas decor — tinsel garland, glass jars, wintery landscape paintings — year round. It’s also home to Dallas’ largest selection of vintage ornaments, according to the owners. Vignettes are arranged by color, making it easier to shop to suit a color scheme.

Country Garden Antiques is located at 147 Parkhouse St., west of Riverfront Boulevard.

Brittany Cobb is a Highland Park freelance writer.

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Vectorworks Landmark Integrates Shoot for Garden Design

Vectorworks Landmark Integrates Shoot for Garden Design

MD, Dec 17, 2012 – Garden designers in the UK will be happy to know
that Shoot’s award-winning online garden design
resources can now be integrated with Vectorworks
Landmark software. Available to Vectorworks
Service Select members, Shoot’s unique offering
includes information, maintenance, and care
advice for more than 13,000 plants.

About Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc.

Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Nemetschek
Group and has been developing software since 1985. The Vectorworks line of
software products provides professional design solutions for more than 450,000
designers in the AEC, entertainment and landscape design industries. With a
tradition of designing flexible, versatile, intuitive and affordable CAD and BIM
solutions, Nemetschek Vectorworks continues to be a global leader in 3D design

For more information, visit


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See Also

Oct 19 – Nemetschek
Appoints Tim Lüdke to CEO, Homolka to CFO

Nemetschek AG website

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Source: Material used in press releases is often supplied by external
sources and used as is.

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Freeland Tanner’s Napa garden

Freeland Tanner’s Napa garden resembles many gardens in the throes of winter: the occasional fallen branch, patches of wet bare soil, a scattering of fallen leaves. But step farther into this landscape designer’s 1-acre spread, and it’s clear this is no typical garden, and the season’s austerity only highlights the art, structure and thoughtful design.

The property, originally belonging to Tanner’s grandparents, is nothing like the neglected parcel he purchased from his mother in 1985. “She was no longer able to take care of it,” says Tanner, 59. Along with his wife, Sabrina, 53, Tanner has restored not only the garden, but also his childhood home, Blue Jay Cottage, in addition to building their own residence in 1987.

During the early years of restoration, the Tanners applied the fundamentals of good design such as line, scale, light and balance to carry the garden through any season, especially winter. “We would both come home from work, Sabrina from her winery position and I from my engineering job, and we would garden together. It was like therapy for us,” says Tanner. He also blended formal European principles such as French partier (boxwoods) with more informal English cottage elements (climbers and ponds).

Throughout the garden’s evolution, the Tanners also implemented their own design mantra: Allow the plants to be themselves. “Allowing plants to inherently express themselves minimizes maintenance,” says Tanner. It’s a sensible approach because the couple maintain the acre themselves. Today, the garden supports upward of 700 varieties of plants with just 5 percent of those annuals, including vegetables. The bulk of the property is a tapestry of colors, layers and form made up from trees, shrubs and perennials. Tanner discusses his plants with the clarity and compromise-like tone of an exemplary parent – and his rewards for good “parenting” are a garden rich in depth and beauty, even during the dormant season.

A lot of happenstance takes place in the garden, and sometimes the best time to appreciate it is when the showiness of spring and summer blooms have faded away. “Many of the plants in our yard ended up where they are because they wanted to be there. Our anemones traveled to the toughest part of the garden: Those are some of the nice surprises about gardening,” says Sabrina Tanner.

Depression-era lessons

Freeland Tanner is grounded in the principles of the Depression-era lessons that his grandmother taught him. Whether it is her egg carton art that hangs on the walls of Blue Jay Cottage or memories of her surveying the property, he can’t help but reference her as he discusses gardening and art. She taught him a practical “trial and error” approach to gardening, which he still applies. “She always planted cuttings from the same plant in three different locations: whichever plant survived was where it was meant to be,” he says. Many of the plants that flourish in the garden were rescued from clients who no longer wanted them in their own yards.

As sought-after garden designers for destination wineries like Darioush and private estates, the Tanners use their garden as a working studio for prospective clients and host visits by horticulture clubs and other organizations. Even during winter, their garden is a source of beauty, for themselves and for others.

Appreciating the garden during the quieter months of winter means that, “shape and form become even more critical during the winter,” Tanner explains. This is the time that focal points, plant and non-plant, in the garden are exposed. Trees like the coast redwood ‘Aptos Blue,’ ‘Swane’s Golden’ Italian cypress, and the weeping fruitless mulberry ‘Chaparral’ that mimic an inverted oversize basket when bare, do double duty by anchoring the axial views while still providing interest.

Whimsy, structure

The garden is also full of Tanner’s art, and there’s no better time than winter to fully appreciate its purpose for providing whimsy and structure. Found items like a vintage plow or an antique English chimney pot filled with Thuja plicata ‘Whipcord’ reside in various raised beds. Tall vertical objects, like his vintage sprinkler sculptures, watering can teepee, and statuesque obelisks provide a place to rest the eye when viewing the garden. “The blue color on the obelisks was custom mixed to match a flower petal that I took to the paint store. I wanted to capture that intense color year-round, even when the flower isn’t in bloom,” he says.

De-cluttering cupboards of his vast collection of garden paraphernalia is just one reason why he composes art for the garden. Another reason is that he dislikes the notion of anything going to waste. Tree stumps become pedestals for urns, vintage garden implements and a shallow harvest basket become a gardener’s coat of arms, salvaged tree stakes become poles for his avian community of custom-built bird houses and trimmings and twigs are contorted to become fencing for raised beds, which take root and sprout new leaves.

Color in the winter garden can still be interesting albeit more subtle and soft. New growth always adds a layer of color. “The Taxus ‘Emerald Spreader’ has a lovely two-tone effect from new growth that’s vibrant against the deeper green needles,” his wife says. Tones of green are also striking on the Agave parryi. Pockets of golden color from golden feverfew ‘Aureum’ play off various shrubs’ variegated leaves. Tanner sums up winter’s foliage contribution: “Every plant has its moment of glory, which is why a planting sequence is so important.”

If a garden is established with the foundations of good design, then even when mistakes happen, it can still be spectacular, he says. “When you see the garden at its worst and it still looks good, then you have winning garden.”

Sophia Markoulakis is a freelance writer. E-mail:

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