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Archives for January 4, 2013

Comedic Homecoming



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Group Trying To Remake St. Louis’ Image

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– A grass roots effort to remake St. Louis’ image is gaining steam.  Several ideas have been submitted and voted on, and now the five most popular are about to enter the stage of being funded through Rally St. Louis.

“I think if you talk to a lot of people outside of St. Louis, they’re not sure what to make of our city or region for that matter,” founder Aaron Perlut said Thursday.  “We all understand the benefits of living in our region, but there are a lot of people outside that don’t and we’re hoping to paint that picture.”

Rally St. Louis is the brainchild of Perlut, one of the managing partners in the Elasticity public relations firm downtown.  It began a little over a year ago when he wrote an article for Forbes Magazine entitled, “St. Louis Doesn’t Suck.”

The Forbes post, and the efforts that followed, have drawn national attention.  The New York Times commented on the somewhat new, social media approach.

“Unlike the traditional, top-down civic betterment campaigns that are backed by the likes of chambers of commerce, Rally St. Louis is taking a bottom-up approach,” the paper  reported in November.

Rally encouraged people to submit their own ideas and vote on the ideas of others as to how to market the city.  And he discovered something very quickly.

“I realized the ideas weren’t going to be traditional marketing ideas, they were going to be community improvement ideas,” he said.

The best example is what is currently the top vote getter.  It’s not a snappy ad campaign.  It’s called “Food Roof,” a rooftop farm designed to provide organic produce in a coop fashion.

“To serve the thousands of downtown residents who live here, potentially to restaurants, donate some to charity.  St. Patrick’s Center is just a block away. Basically bring the farm to the people,” Mary Ostafi told us.

In her day job she makes sure projects for the HOK Architectural firm are environmentally friendly, but now she’s heading up the “Food Roof” endeavor as they begin to try and raise money.

“We started a downtown community garden last year and this project came to be as a result of that.  So when Rally StL came on board it seemed like a great opportunity to get more exposure to what we’re trying to do.”

Even something as simple as a mural is taken to a different level by those submitting ideas to the project.

The dilapidated Cotton Belt building, north of downtown, is slated to become a massive, 45,000 square foot work of art, aimed at welcoming those driving across the new Mississippi River Bridge.  What is currently a pile of dirt in the front is also slated for landscaping.

Tom Nagel, who came up with the idea, is thinking big regarding who might do the painting.

“We hope to attract national, local, international artists because the scale is just so magnificent that we’re really excited about it,” he said.

A National Soccer Hall of Fame, a local pickup soccer space, and a proposal to put blacktop basketball courts on blighted lots round out the top five proposals so far.  Next month, the process of funding them will begin.  Users on the site will be able to make donations to their favorite projects, with the promise of a refund if they aren’t fully funded.  The hope is that large companies and wealthy benefactors will get involved in some of the projects alongside the grassroots donors that are expected to chip in.

Rally St. Louis has already raised about $250 thousand in operating funds.   What all this will produce remains to be seen, but it’s clear it will be the product of a community consensus.

“The crowd is really speaking to what is popular,” Perlut said, “so we’ve kind of democratized the process and we’re really seeing what St. Louisans want to truly represent our community as a whole.”


Rally St. Louis site:

NY Times Article on Rally St. Louis

Forbes:  St. Louis Doesn’t Suck 

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A year’s worth of ideas for gardening and growing

Here are 12 activities for 2013 to help you get in touch with your inner green guru and discover the natural world outdoors. These ideas are designed to bring well-being to you as well as the planet. Happy 2013!January

Eagle watch during the winter. Bald eagles soar over Kentucky’s Land Between The Lakes region, about a four-hour drive southwest of Lexington. Guided van and boat excursions are given by the U.S. Forest Service, which manages the 170,000-acre National Recreation Area between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, and through state park programs. Schedules and reservations: and

Plan seed planting. Renee’s Garden Seeds, and Baker Creek,, are two fantastic seed sources that are creating community in the process.

Information-packed and socially responsible, these online catalogs show beautifully illustrated collections of heirloom, organic and culinary delights, encouraging beginning gardeners and inspiring green-thumbed veterans.March

Find spring ephemerals. Situated atop the Kentucky River palisades in far southern Fayette County, Floracliff Nature Sanctuary is a 287-acre preserve where tender, just-sprouted spring ephemeral wildflowers as well as noble, old-growth trees, some approaching 400 years, are found. A Signs of Spring hike, scheduled with the hope of finding hepatica and bloodroot, is scheduled for March 16. Reserve a spot and check out other walks and work days at

Visit baby animals. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Mercer County always has down-home yet warmly sophisticated events going on. On April 13, 20, or 27, you and your children are welcome to have Breakfast with the Babies to check out newborn animals at the village. For reservations and a look at other upcoming special activities, see

Gaze at garden sculpture. At historic Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Crestwood, ( an annual outdoor sculpture exhibit will be installed from May 17 until July 28. Each piece is matched to each garden setting. The gardens are partially supported as a preservation project of The Garden Conservancy, (, a non-profit group which helps fund exceptional American gardens.June

Water, water everywhere. Watering cans, sprayers, and rain barrels are essential for summer survival when the going gets hot. Some favorites:

■ Motion activated water sprayers, which discourage pesky critters and drench sweaty gardeners. Check out the ScareCrow at

■ The U CAN, a fantastic, ergonomically designed, American-made two-gallon watering can.

■ Bluegrass PRIDE’s rainwater collection barrels, and other inspirational green programs: Bgpride.orgJuly

Go native. Including native plants in your garden plan makes sense for environmentally conscious gardeners. They’re already well-suited to our climate and terroir, and support wildlife habitat needs. Wild Ones,, is dedicated to landscaping with native plants, has monthly meetings and is a treasure trove of native plant activities. Visit nearby nurseries like Dropseed Native Plant Nursery, Louisville:; Shooting Star Nursery, Georgetown:; Highland Moor Nursery, Midway: Highlandmoor.comAugust

It’s all about bulbs. Order bulbs for fall planting, and reap rewards with a daffodil, crocus and allium profusion the next spring. Choose amaryllis or paperwhites for indoor forcing, and you’ll have winter color and fragrance. Some favorite sources: Easy to Grow Bulbs:; and Brent and Becky’s Bulbs: Brentandbeckysbulbs.comSeptember

It’s for the birds. Fall and spring migrations mean that unusual birds are passing through Central Kentucky. Take a day trip with experts from the Audubon Society of Kentucky by checking event listings at For a bit of birding sweetness, read Julie Zickefoose’s newest book, The Bluebird Effect, and her blog at

Pumpkins, squash and gourds, oh my. These favorites are everywhere in late fall. Many kid-friendly harvest celebrations include hayrides and corn mazes at farms and markets, like Devine’s in Mercer County,; and Springhouse Gardens,, in Jessamine County. A favorite spot for gourds is Front Porch Crafts,, in Horse Cave. Find a few you like for decorating, carving or cooking, but save the seeds to plant next spring.November

New license plates. In support of the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund, three different nature license plates are available for an additional fee of $10. They include a bobcat prowling in a rhododendron, a crimson cardinal fluttering above a Kentucky coffee tree and a viceroy butterfly atop a goldenrod stalk. Photos and a list of land this fund has helped purchase and preserve are at Find time to visit some of these treasures.December

Backyard coops and greenhouses. What’s in your backyard? Could a productive addition to a lawn or flower garden be a hoop-tunnel or greenhouse for extending your homegrown kitchen garden season, or a chicken coop for keeping egg-bearing hens? Commune with local cluck lovers at Greenhouse source: Gardener’s Supply:

Susan Smith-Durisek is a master gardener and writer from Lexington. Email: Blog:

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Master Gardener – Gain garden knowledge for the new year

Solving problems

Southeastern North Carolina is a challenging place to garden. Poor soils, extreme weather and abundant pests work against your efforts to grow vegetables, fruits, lawns and ornamental plants. Gardening problems are often complex and require expert help to diagnose. This help is available from your local cooperative extension office, usually free of charge.

If you have a plant or bug you would like identified or a problem you would like diagnosed, call or stop by the extension office in your county. Be prepared to describe the problem, including when it started, if it is spreading and what the symptoms look like.

For the best diagnosis, bring a sample that includes several leaves attached to the stem, or the whole plant or insect if possible. Samples should be taken from plants that are still living rather than those that have already died.

If you would like to learn about gardening or landscaping in our area, ask your cooperative extension office about upcoming classes and learning opportunities. We are currently determining what type of learning opportunities and resources are most needed in this area for the coming year. You can help us by taking a brief survey to share your educational needs and preferences. The survey is available online at, or call the Pender County Extension office at 259-1235 to have a copy mailed to you.

Be a master gardener

If you would like to do more than learn about gardening for the benefit of your own yard, you should become an extension master gardener. Master gardeners are volunteers who help the cooperative extension teach youth and adults about gardening by assisting with classes, maintaining demonstration gardens and holding plant information clinics.

To become an extension master gardener you must first complete a volunteer training course designed to teach you the basics of gardening in our area and how to answer common gardening questions.

Training courses begin soon in Pender, New Hanover and Brunswick counties and applications are currently being accepted. More information about the Pender Master Gardener Program and training course is available online at

Grow your own food

Want to grow fruits, vegetables or herbs in 2013? The cooperative extension can help you stay up to date on planting times, recommended varieties, insect and disease problems, and how to sustainably manage pest outbreaks with our weekly FoodGardener email news service.

To sign up for Food Gardener News, send an email to Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe foodgardener.

A free demonstration and workshop on pruning muscadine grapes will be held Saturday, Jan. 12, from 9 a.m. to noon in Burgaw. Taught by Pender Extension Director Mark Seitz, this hands-on class will provide an opportunity to practice your pruning skills. Participants will need to bring their own pruners. Call the Pender County Extension office at 259-1235 to sign up or for more information.

Lawn, landscape care

Want to receive regular email updates on lawn and landscape care? Sign up for the Pender Gardener News.

Posts in 2013 will include exciting new plants and proven performers for our region; information about controlling lawn and ornamental insect and disease problems; using less pesticides; and ways your yard can help the environment.

To sign up for Pender Gardener News, send an email to Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe pendergardener.

Most of the news postings sent to Food Gardener and Pender Gardener subscribers are also posted on the Pender Gardener Blog at, providing another way you can to stay up to date on the latest gardening news for our region.

Learn more

Contact your local extension office for help diagnosing plant problems and to find out about upcoming classes and events. If you live in Pender County, call 259-1235. In New Hanover County, call 798-7660. In Brunswick County, call 253-2610. Or, visit to find your local office and other great gardening resources.

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Let’s Grow! STEVE BOEHME Enjoy some winter reading for gardeners

Let’s Grow!
Enjoy some winter reading for gardeners

Long winter evenings offer some time to relax with a good book. (Illustration by Marjorie Boehme)

By Steve Boehme

Nature’s Guide to Successful Gardening and Landscaping by William Flemer III explains how design should be guided by an understanding of plant habitat, and has sections on the various types of gardens and how to install them.

Another excellent read is Janice Doherty’s “A Calendar Year of Horticultural Therapy – How Tending to Your Garden Can Tend to Your Soul.” Aimed at educators and caregivers, this practical book on “gardening as therapy” includes sixty garden-related projects for children, seniors and the young at heart.

“Last Child in the Woods – Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder,” by Richard Louv. Every parent should read this eye-opening book, full of documented evidence that nature is essential for healthy childhood development. It shows how nature-based education improves grades, test scores, problem-solving, critical thinking and decision making, and directly links childhood obesity, ADD and depression to the lack of nature in children’s lives.

Long winter evenings offer some time to relax with a good book. (Illustration by Marjorie Boehme)

“Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs – An Illustrated Encyclopedia,” by Michael A Dirr (Timber Press) is a comprehensive reference book on woody plants with listings of over 500 species with more than 1,600 color photos, and includes helpful plant selection charts. This is a gorgeous “cocktail table” book that’s also a serious reference work.

“The Well-Tended Perennial Garden,” by Tracy DiSabato-Aust (Timber Press) is a complete guide to perennial garden design, installation and maintenance, along with a perennial encyclopedia that includes specific maintenance by species. The author lives in Ohio so the book is about plants that grow here.

“The Backyard Orchardist,” by Stella Otto (OttoGraphics) Thorough but non-technical, this easy-to-read and well illustrated handbook covers all aspects of home orchard selection, planting and maintenance. A Benjamin Franklin Award winner, this book is so helpful to beginner orchardists that we sell it at our nursery.

All of the above books are available through the library, independent booksellers or online.

Steve Boehme is the owner of GoodSeed Nursery Landscape, located on Old State Route 32 three miles west of Peebles. To e-mail your landscaping questions click “Contact Us” from their website at or call (937) 587-7021.


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Finding Chicago’s Food Gardens with Google Earth

Urban agriculture is promoted as a strategy for dealing with food insecurity, stimulating economic development, and combating diet-related health problems in cities. However, up to now, no one has known how much gardening is taking place in urban areas. Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a methodology that they used to quantify the urban agriculture in Chicago.

John Taylor, a doctoral candidate working with crop sciences researcher Sarah Taylor Lovell, was skeptical about the lists of urban gardens provided to him by local non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

“Various lists were circulating,” he said. “One of them had almost 700 gardens on it.”

On closer inspection, however, many of these “gardens” turned out to be planter boxes or landscaping and were not producing food. On the other hand, Taylor suspected that there were unnoticed gardens in backyards or vacant lots.

“There’s been such a focus on community gardens and urban farms, but not a lot of interest in looking at backyard gardens as an area of research,” Lovell agreed. An accurate map of these sites would be helpful for advocacy groups and community planners.

Taylor uploaded the lists from the NGOs into Google Earth, which automatically geocoded the sites by street address. He used a set of reference images of community gardens, vacant lot gardens, urban farms, school gardens, and home food gardens to determine visual indicators of food gardens.

Using these indicators and Google Earth images, he examined the documented sites. Of the 1,236 “community gardens,” only 160, or 13 percent, were actually producing food.

Taylor then looked at Google Earth images of Chicago to locate food production sites. This work took more than 400 hours over an 8-month period. He identified 4493 possible sites, most of which were residential gardens of 50 square meters or less, and visited a representative sample of gardens on vacant land to confirm that they were really producing food.

All the large sites and a sample of the small sites were digitized as shapefiles (digital vector storage formats for storing geometric location and associated attribute information) in Google Earth. These shapefiles were imported into Arc Map 10, a geographic information system (GIS) mapping tool, to calculate the total area.

The final estimate was 4,648 urban agriculture sites with a production area of 264,181 square meters. Residential gardens and single-plot gardens on vacant lots accounted for almost three-fourths of the total.

To map the gardens onto community areas, the shapefiles were joined with 2010 Census tract shapefiles and shapefiles of 77 community areas and neighborhoods from Chicago’s GIS portal. The tract information was subsequently joined with the Census Bureau’s 2005-2009 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates of demographic and housing characteristics.

The maps showed that garden concentration varied by neighborhood. “Chinatown, Bridgeport was kind of a hot spot,” Taylor said. Both of these neighborhoods have large Chinese-origin populations. Even outside those areas, many of the larger gardens were associated with households headed by people of Chinese origin. Neighborhoods in the northwest with large numbers of Polish and Eastern and Southern European immigrants also had a high density of backyard gardens.

They were not all growing the same kind of food. “There are distinctions between these cultural groups because the crops they select are sometimes from their home areas in addition to the suite of crops we can all grow in our backyards,” Lovell explained.

As people move across borders, they often bring seeds with them. “In a Mexican neighborhood where we were working, a lot of people grow a tropical corn that is 12 to 16 feet high,” Taylor said. “It’s grown not for the ears of corn but for the leaves, which are used to make tamales.”

He noted that many older African-Americans in Chicago who came north during the Great Migration from the south from the early 1900s to the 1970s remember farming and growing up with gardens. “They are almost reproducing in miniature in their backyards the southern landscape and gardening practices that they associated with their youth,” he said.

Garden type varied by neighborhood as well. Home food gardens are concentrated in the northwest, where people tend to live in detached houses. Vacant lot gardens are concentrated in the economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in the south and west sides, as are the community gardens.

Lovell said that, in some communities, more than half of the lots are vacant, and making use of them could be a huge opportunity. Chicago has a program that allows people living next to a vacant lot to purchase it at a fraction of what it would normally cost.

The results of this study suggest that both backyard gardens and vacant lot gardens contribute substantially to Chicago’s total food production.

“Home gardens actually contribute to food security,” Taylor said. “They’re underappreciated and unsupported.” He noted that people grow not only for themselves but for their neighbors as well, which is particularly important in food deserts where fresh produce is in short supply.

“There is also potential for empowering people because they are using their own space to deal with their own food security concerns,” Lovell added.

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Tesselaar Plants Offers Top Gardening Trends & Tips For 2013

by Tesselaar
Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013 at 3:16PM EST

Tesselaar Plants predicts gardening will go from hobby to lifestyle, becoming ever more integrated into our lives this year. As a result, consumers will expect a lot from their plants. The company talked to gardening experts across the country to learn what trends are in store for gardeners across the nation.

“Not only must our plants beautify our homes, inside and out – they also must withstand our recent weather extremes, naturally fend off pests and diseases and offer nonstop color and interest,” said Anthony Tesselaar, cofounder and president of international plant marketer Tesselaar Plants.

Here are a few gardening trends and tips for 2013:

TREND: Outdoors as escape

Outdoor living spaces look to play big in 2013, if you look at the 2012 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Study by the American Society of Landscape Architects. After all, a whopping 91.5 percent of the study’s respondents rated outdoor areas for kitchen and entertaining as “somewhat to very popular.” In particular, the following outdoor amenities got similarly high ratings: grills (97.4 percent), fireplaces and firepits (95.8 percent), lighting (91.3 percent), seating and dining areas (95.7 percent), installed seating (86.9 percent) and weatherized outdoor furniture (81.2 percent).

But people apparently want to spend less time taking care of such spaces, with 96.6 percent of respondents in the ASLA study giving low-maintenance landscapes the same popular rating.

TIP: Pick high-impact, low-care plants

“People want plants that are easy to grow and aren’t fussy,” says Kerry Michaels, Container Gardening Guide for “Succulents are popular all over the country and are a perfect example of beautiful, interesting and easy to grow.”

Many hardscaped outdoor spaces, she adds, need focal points and softening with high-impact, low-care plants in larger planters. Michaels suggests the colorfully foliaged Tropicanna® cannas for vertical beauty, fabulous color and drama. Self-watering containers, she adds, make it easier than ever to maintain these mobile props in the outdoor room.

Another such plant is the burgundy-colored, strappy-leaved Festival Burgundy™ cordyline. In colder climates, it can even be brought indoors as a houseplant, since – unlike many other tropicals – it can withstand the drying effects of forced-air heating.

TREND: Quality over price

“The ‘smart spender’ of the past was primarily focused on cost,” says Mary Hines, vice president of marketing at American Express in the company’s November 2012 report on consumer spending behavior. “Today’s smart spender is defined by values just as much as, if not more than, price.”

Furthermore, consumers told American Express that the “‘buy buy buy’ model that has driven them for decades is now shifting towards a more conscientious, values-driven way of purchasing.”

The gardening world apparently agrees. Nearly half of respondents (49 percent) in the March 2012 Garden Trends Research Report by the Garden Writers Association Foundation (GWAF) said they valued quality over price, compared to the 27 percent who valued price over quality.

TIP: Invest in quality plants

“It pays to do your homework before you buy plants – and with smart phones, you can even quickly check on a plant before you buy it in the store,” says Tesselaar.

One indication of quality, he says, is awards from impartial, highly revered organizations. “I’d love for people to know, for instance, about all the Flower Carpet® roses that have been awarded Germany’s All Deutschland Rose designation – the world’s highest honor for natural disease resistance. A complete listing of ADR roses, he says, can be found under “ADR-ROSES” at

And don’t forget to ask garden center staffers for their opinion on what works the best in your particular area. “I’m promoting plants that are adaptable – that can take whatever extremes our climate dishes out,” says Joseph Tychonievich, nursery manager at Arrowhead Alpines Plant Nursery in East Lansing, Michigan.

TREND: Ditching the chemicals

In the June 2012 survey by the GWAF, those planning to buy organic fertilizer outnumbered those planning to buy chemical fertilizer by 2 to 1. That same survey showed 62 percent of respondents at least somewhat concerned about the environment, yet a quarter were interested in pest control. And in the GWAF’s 2011-2012 Winter survey, nearly three-fifths of respondents (58 percent) had reduced their use of chemicals.

In response, the garden industry is starting to devote more attention to naturally disease- and pest- resistant plants. “The 2012 seed catalogues seem to be showing a trend that has not been too evident over recent years – the hints and details about whether a particular new cultivar of a vegetable or fruit can resist the ravages of some annoying pest or disease,” wrote gardening expert Graham Porter in the Oct. 22, 2011 edition of English newspaper Huddersfield Daily Examiner.

“This important issue seems to have been forgotten by many breeders for too long and now,” read the article, “with pesticides fast disappearing from our garden centre shelves, the trend is to encourage organic and non-chemical growing.”

TIP: Choose pest- and disease-resistant plants

“Many plant varieties that have historically been prone to specific pests or diseases have been improved upon through many years of breeding,” says Tesselaar. “And these days, it’s pretty easy to find such information online.”

For instance, he notes the plant catalog search function on the website of plant developer Monrovia. In the “special features” category, you can find plants with “improved pest and disease resistance” like Volcano® phlox (resists powdery mildew), Flower Carpet roses (resists black spot and aphids), Festival Burgundy and Burgundy SpireTM cordyline (resist deer), Aurora® dogwood (resists dogwood borers and anthracnose) and ‘August Beauty’ gardenias (resists root-rot nematodes).

TREND: Extreme weather

Recent studies – and plenty of newscasts – say severe weather is the “new normal.”

This past summer’s drought is among the six largest in the U.S. (in terms of area covered) since 1895, according to a monthly drought report released in August by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. According to that same report, three of the nation’s 10 most severe droughts (in terms of intensity) have occurred in the last 12 years, and the more recent droughts have occurred in many more areas.

Experts are also noting the increased severity, frequency and range of extreme storms like Sandy, which recently ravaged the Northeast Coast. In April, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego reported that temperatures in the upper portions of the ocean have increased by an average of .59-degree Fahrenheit since the 1870s. At the ocean’s surface, the researchers noted a 1.1-degree Fahrenheit increase, concluding there’s a possible connection between that and the surge of “super storms.”

TIP: Choose weather-proof plants

“The desire for drought- and heat-resistant plants will only increase,” says Tesselaar. “That’s why we introduced Flower Carpet roses – the world’s first easy-care, eco-friendly groundcover roses – after aggressively testing them in extreme conditions of heat and drought. It’s also why we followed up with the line’s Next Generation series for outstanding heat and humidity tolerance.”

The Next Generation series received extremely high marks in the Dallas Arboretum’s famous plant “trials by fire” in intense heat and humidity, as did Tesselaar’s Storm™ series of agapanthus ¬– the only agapanthus (also called lily of the Nile) to survive the trials. Most recently, Tesselaar has introduced Bonfire® begonias, tuberous begonias that can handle sizzling heat – even in hanging baskets.

“Heat-resistant and xeric – or drought-resistant – plants are not the same,” cautions Chicagoan Eileen Hanley, author of the Gatsbys Gardens blog. “Many of the xeric plants can take the dryness, but not the intense heat of over 100 degrees.” Plants that have done well in the heat in her garden, for instance, are phlox, heucheras, heucherellas, grasses, daylilies, brunneras, amsonias, clematis and some groundcovers.

Monrovia’s website allows you to search for plants that can survive a number of climates extremes. Among them are “waterwise” varieties like ‘Arizona Sun’ blanket flower, ‘Dynamite’ crape myrtle and ‘May Night’ salvia, “firescaping” plants less likely to burn in areas of wildfire (‘Abottswood’ potentilla, ‘Autumn Fire’ stonecrop and ‘Pink Double Delight’ coneflower) and varieties for wet or flood-prone areas ‘Strawberry Candy’ daylilies, ‘Summer Red’ red maple and ‘Zagreb’ threadleaf coreopsis.

Hi-res images/plant information
Flickr collection: Tesselaar 2013 Garden Trends
Flickr collection: Flower Carpet roses
Plant fact sheets

About Tesselaar
Tesselaar Plants searches the world and introduces new plants for the home garden, landscape, home décor and gift markets. Tesselaar undertakes extensive research and development of its varieties and, once they’re selected for introduction, provides marketing and promotional support through its grower and retail network. The Tesselaar philosophy is to introduce exceptional plants while “making gardening easy” for everyone, so it makes its products as widely available as possible. Tesselaar believes the more gardeners there are, the better it is for everyone.

Source: Tesselaar

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Garden Tips: Prepare your fruit trees now for new growth in spring

If you have fruit trees, now is a good time to have your soil tested to determine what fertilizers are needed to help with a productive crop. The test will indicate whether you need to adjust the pH of your soil by applying lime.

If adjustment is needed, the best time to apply the lime is late winter; this will give it sufficient time to do its job of changing the soil pH, before new growth starts in the spring.

Fruit trees perform best at a soil pH between 6.0 to 6.5. Blueberries like an acid soil pH between 5.0 and 5.5.

Spring, before new growth begins, also is the best time to apply nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. If you grow stone fruits, such as peaches, nectarines and plums, you may want to split the application of fertilizer, especially nitrogen, applying in early spring and again in about eight weeks. Too much nitrogen can encourage excessive leaf growth and less fruit.

To avoid injury to young trees, don’t apply fertilizer against the trunk. Instead, apply it about 12 to 18 inches away from the trunk.

The Extension Service has soil boxes and information concerning soil testing. Additional soil tests should be taken on established trees every three to four years.

Applying Dormant Oil

If you are going to apply a dormant oil to your fruit trees to kill insects, here are some precautions you should follow to help get the best results:

First read and follow label directions.

Use dormant oil on a clear day when the temperatures are expected to remain higher that 50 degrees for at least 24 hours.

Don’t apply dormant oil when severe freezing weather is expected within three to four days after application.

Don’t apply dormant oil when the temperature is above 70 degrees.

Don’t apply dormant oil to plants that are not listed on the label.

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Winter Gardening Tips From the Brazos County Master Gardeners

When it comes to gardening, the winter offers a break from vigorous weed growth, but it’s also an excellent time to plan and prepare.

Charla Anthony with Brazos County Master Gardeners says you can determine what you like and don’t like in the skeleton of your garden, and think of new possibilities.

Anthony says to look at your landscape, examining trees and shrubs to see which might not being doing so well.

She says it’s a wonderful time to examine trees, particularly deciduous ones, because it’s easy to see their form and structure.

Anthony adds that although November is the ideal time to plant trees and shrubs in Bryan-College Station,  this is still a great time to plant, because the winters are mild enough that many plants continue to grow without ever going fully dormant.

She says winter plantings give shrubs and trees a head start, with a chance to establish themselves before the struggle of our hot, dry summers.

She says it’s a good idea to prune any newly planted trees, which will stimulate new growth.

However, she recommends putting mulch on the root crown to protect the plant from the cold, and not pruning before a freeze, which can be harsh on the plant’s system.

Anthony says you might have to look a little harder to find plant material in garden centers, but it’s out there.

Anthony says you can call their office with your gardening questions at 979-823-0129.

Charla Anthony visits with WTAW’s Kat McMullen

 CLICK HERE for quick access to the Brazos County Master Gardener website

CLICK HERE to be taken directly to the BCMG vegetable planting guide

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Cold weather lawn and garden tips from Pike Nurseries


Winter is in full swing, and the cold weather presents some special challenges when it comes to your lawn and garden. Melodie McDanal of Pike Nurseries stopped by Good Day Atlanta on Friday with tips to take care of your lawn and garden during the cold weather.

And Pike Nurseries answers a question from Kimberly Bryant: “I have a full grown 9 foot tall Japanese maple tree in my front yard. It is either a red leaf or crimson queen (from what I have been told). I do not have interest in this tree or know how to maintain it. Can I sell this tree? What would be an approximate value for it and how would I go about doing that?”

Answer: Japanese Maples are loved for their fabulous foliage color. Pike Nurseries doesn’t buy plants from homeowners; all of our trees and plants come from professional growers that have disease control practices. You would most likely need to find someone willing to pay for the tree removal and transportation cost but this isn’t our area of expertise. It sounds like your Japanese maple is very well established in your landscape so it needs very little care. Usually Mother Nature will provide enough water but if we do go through a dry spell a good deep watering once a week would be needed. To keep it lush fertilizer your Japanese maple at the start of spring.


In the Garden

  • Plant Transplant
    • Even though its cold outside you can play in the dirt year-round in Atlanta
    • Trees and non-blooming shrubs can be easily planted and transplanted now so that they can develop their root system before the Southern summer heat arrives
  • Protect Plants for the Cold
    • If a freeze is expected, make sure that the soil around all outdoor plants has been watered well
    • Plants in containers should be grouped close together on a porch or patio, or moved to a protected area
    • Be sure tender plants, such as pansy beds or emerging bulb foliage, are mulched well with pine straw or bark
  • Color in Your Garden
    • Plant pansies, violas, hellebores, camellias, daphne and more for winter garden blooms

In the House

  • Goodbye Christmas
    • It’s time to take down the Christmas tree and decorations. You can fill the void with houseplants like we discussed last Friday
  • Fill in with Houseplants
    • Foliage and flowering houseplants add some much needed winter color to your indoor space, and they also help clean the air

For the Birds

  • Feed the Birds
    • Food sources are scarce at this time of year
    • Besides seed, suet cakes will attract many birds and provide the calories they need to maintain their body heat
  • Keep Birdbaths Full
    • The birds are counting on you for fresh water, not frozen
    • Add a water wiggler to birdbaths to prevent the water from freezing

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