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Archives for January 20, 2013

3M: Made More Modern

The 3M Co. is known for its constant development of new products, but the public areas of its Maplewood headquarters hadn’t seen an extensive redesign since they went up in the 1960s.

That all changed in the past two years, as a sweeping renovation project gave the buildings in the headquarters “quad” a modern makeover.

Gone are dark hallways and windowless conference rooms. The new design includes more wide-open spaces, glass-enclosed collaboration sites and an employee mall with shops and services, including a Starbucks coffee kiosk and a U.S. Bank branch. Tall white walls, natural sunlight and casual furniture are around every corner.

The company itself hasn’t been your father’s 3M for some time, and now the headquarters

looks more like a place where your 20-something techie nephew might work.

“It can do nothing but help the 3M image when we have visitors and people wanting to see 3M,” said Lee Fain, a design manager for 3M products who works at the headquarters. “It’s what you expect from the headquarters of a large multinational conglomerate.”


The idea for the makeover started with 3M’s executive leadership team when George Buckley was CEO, and continued under CEO Inge Thulin.

The renovation aims to make the headquarters a showcase and “get employees excited to come to work,” said Marlene McGrath, 3M’s senior vice president of human resources.

3M was founded in a storefront in Two Harbors, Minn., in 1902,

focused on developing better grinding wheel abrasives. The company, which would become a giant in sandpaper manufacturing, moved to St. Paul in 1910 and set up shop on the East Side.

It bought a huge tract near St. Paul’s eastern border in the early 1950s, and construction started in 1953 with a $3.5 million research laboratory.

When the new 14-story 3M corporate headquarters opened in 1963, along what would become Interstate 94, it dominated the local landscape and helped spur the development

of residential areas in Maplewood, Oakdale and Woodbury. Its design reflects the streamlined style of its era.

But as the local landscape changed, along with the style and demands of its workers, the inside of the 3M headquarters stayed much the same.

To modernize the midcentury dated interiors, 3M hired two well-known architects — Peter Ebner and Hitoshi Abe.

Ebner, based in Austria, designed the new space in the original headquarters building — which 3Mers know as Building 220 — and the new landscaping on the I-94 side of the building, which now contains the second-largest perennial garden in the U.S., topped only by Millennial Park in Chicago. Ebner also designed The Exchange, a cube-shaped building and meeting space just

outside Building 220.

Abe, the chairman of the architecture department at the University of California-Los Angeles, did the work in the remaining buildings, including several collaborative meeting areas and the plaza in the center of the four headquarters buildings, which was switched from a parking lot to a public space with trees and seating. The area also is equipped with wireless access and is expected to draw employees in the spring and summer.

“This wasn’t just a carpet replacement and paint-the-walls type of thing,” said Tom Heim, 3M’s director of administrative services. 3M hasn’t disclosed the project’s cost.


MSR, a Minneapolis architecture firm that specializes in adaptive reuse of existing

structures, made Ebner and Abe’s designs a reality. The firm’s other projects have included the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis and the Bakken Museum on the west side of Lake Calhoun.

The biggest challenges “were working in an existing space designed in the 1950s and bringing it up to date in technology and up to code,” said Josh Stowers, a principal at MSR.

Employees continued to work in all four buildings during construction, and planning kept foot traffic flowing. A website that the company set up providing construction updates received 500,000 hits from employees, many asking questions about the schedule, Heim said.

The first part of the renovation was a redesign of the employee cafeteria completed more than a year ago, with six serving stations, each featuring different cuisines.

The new employee mall brought in retail outlets, including a Subway, the U.S. Bank branch, an employee store with 3M products, an optometrist, a hair salon and a FedEx Office outlet.

Corporate visitors coming to the campus now enter the main building through an entrance that faces Interstate 94, instead of coming through the plaza that’s formed by the four buildings.

Glass is prevalent in the redesigned areas and new meeting rooms, which would have been windowless in the past, now have some access to outside light. There are five “hubs” for employee collaboration, several of them either open to the common areas or encased in glass, with the option to lower blinds for privacy.


3M employees still work in offices with cubicles, but the new meeting spaces and other open areas give them an opportunity to work away from their desks.

“They don’t want to be in their cubicles all the time,” Heim said.

The new look also sends a needed message to visitors, Fain said, telling them that 3M is part of the information and technology revolution. “And we’re using our own technology,” he said, “which delivers a positive message to our customers.”

3M materials were used everywhere in the new space, from light diffusers to high-traffic carpet and countless flat-panel screens utilizing 3M optical film.

In the plaza between the four buildings, the surface of the former parking lot now has a more tile-like appearance, and that part of the project incorporated 3M products as well. The black and white portions of the surface are made from rolls of 3M traffic tape, which drivers are more used to seeing as road markers, Stowers said.

Near the former entrance for cars into the quad, there’s a new cube-shaped structure called The Exchange. The 40-seat, high-ceilinged room includes a 25-foot-by-25-foot flat screen on a wall for presentations.


While much of the old space was gutted, the designers did retain the flooring in the main reception area of Building 220, which is travertine stone.

The redesigned space also includes a new, secure social networking system for employees. Though it’s still in a test phase, the system housed in one of the hub areas includes a table-sized collection of flat-panel screens, which display short Facebook-style posts and employees’ pictures floating around in boxes.

On a recent tour, Heim logged onto the secure system and was able to pull up employees’ detailed posts, which describe their current work projects.

The system also does a keyword search, pulls up a handful of other employees’ posts doing similar work, and displays them around the original employee’s post.

The social networking system is limited in scope. But in a company with 84,000 employees scattered around the globe, the idea is to help them find colleagues who have expertise and ideas that will help all involved.

“The intent would be to link our global operations,” Heim said.

Several companies have rolled out similar intra-web networks, and experts say such systems are expected to gain in popularity.

The development of 3M’s interactive social networking system involved 3M GTG, a 3M-backed technology firm based in Munich, Germany, which specializes in digital media used in outdoor advertising.


Collaborative hubs and meeting areas — geared toward informal interaction among employees — are increasingly popular in corporate settings, said Tom Reardon, executive director of the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association.

“Workstations are getting smaller, and trending more toward collaborative work and team work in open spaces,” he said.

The trend shows up in statistics on production of furniture for office systems — a category that includes cubicles. That sector peaked at 36.6 percent of production in 2000 during the dot-com bubble. But it’s been on the decline more recently, and stood at 28.4 percent in 2011.

Workplace redesigns are typically part of a larger strategy to encourage productivity, and they’re done with an eye toward the future, said Marc Liciardello, chairman of the International Facility Management Association.

“Millennials” — the generation born between 1976 and 2001 — will make up almost half of the American workforce by 2020. And as corporations look to the hiring they’ll need to do to replace retiring baby boomers, modern workplaces are one tool to help them attract the best talent.

For companies where people are the most important asset, amenities like a new cafe or employee lounge aren’t added “just because it’s the cool thing to do,” Liciardello said. “It goes right on down to recruitment and retention. It sets the stage for where the company wants to go.”

John Welbes can be reached at 651-228-2175.

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Daytona dreams big on gateway, rail – Daytona Beach News

City commissioners and other local leaders have pondered all those transportation dreams, and now they’re starting to take steps they hope will turn the ideas into realities. It will take years and millions of dollars, and some of the visions might never leave the pages of proposed plans, but city leaders are committed to seeing what they can make happen.

“Transportation is very important to any city pondering its future,” said Mayor Derrick Henry.

During a meeting at City Hall last week, city commissioners met with key leaders in several transportation projects to get the latest on what’s been happening and figure out where to go next. The meeting covered everything from the city’s lengthy list of road improvement projects to a coalition’s plans to make International Speedway Boulevard a more cohesive and developed corridor from Interstate 4 to the ocean.

The meeting kicked off with a presentation from ISB Coalition Co-chair Cheryl Coxwell, who gave commissioners an overview of the public and private partnership.

Coxwell, director of public affairs for International Speedway Corp., explained the group is studying ideas such as connecting Central Florida passenger rail projects to Daytona Beach, creating a hub at Daytona Beach International Airport that could include rail and buses, tackling drainage and stormwater improvements along International Speedway Boulevard and building shared parking structures.

“A lot of it is creating awareness and having face-to-face conversations” among partners in the group, which is made up of some of the city’s biggest businesses, government leaders and officials from local schools and colleges.

“We see it as a great way to encourage economic development,” Coxwell said. “The corridor is very diverse, but it’s all a gateway to the city.”

Local transportation engineer Sans Lassiter, the other co-chair of the ISB Coalition, said “it all comes down to — we have an economic engine” along International Speedway Boulevard.

With the hospital, airport, high school, colleges and a host of retail businesses along International Speedway Boulevard there’s “an opportunity to develop a corridor, not only from a transportation standpoint but also with land development,” Lassiter said.

With the future in mind, coalition members are talking about getting zoning and permitting in place to be ready for opportunities.

Commissioners also talked about the proposed passenger line on Florida East Coast Railway tracks that would run from Miami to Jacksonville and is being discussed with Amtrak and the Florida Department of Transportation. The state has set aside $118 million for the project, but millions more will be needed along with a binding agreement that’s yet to be reached with the state, cities that would have stations, Florida East Coast Railway and Amtrak.

Daytona Beach city commissioners decided a few years ago their top choice for a station would be on property along railroad tracks near City Hall, but at the meeting last week commissioners said they’re not ready to buy the land with so much still up in the air. They don’t know how much of the $118 million the city could get, and when.

A committee of local leaders who’ve volunteered their time and met almost monthly for the past year to try to develop the railway project are hoping the city will somehow get control of the land soon to be ready if the line comes to fruition.

Commissioners asked City Manager Jim Chisholm to look into low-cost ways to control the property for a few years, but not buy it.

City Commissioner Carl Lentz, director of commercial sales and leasing with Realty Pros Assured, cautioned commissioners that they could drive up the price of the land if they’re not careful.

City Commissioner Rob Gilliland, who’s also chairman of the Volusia Transportation Planning Organization, isn’t convinced it’s time for the city to make any moves.

“It’s my preferred site today, but I’m not wed to it,” said Gilliland, who suspects a new passenger line could be 5-10 years away.

The mayor and other commissioners agreed they want to keep their options open.

Lassiter, a member of the volunteer committee working on bringing passenger rail to Daytona Beach again for the first time in decades, remains a strong believer in the project and pointed out a deal could be worked out with a carrier other than Amtrak.

“It’s not a question of if, but a matter of when,” Lassiter said.

Commissioners talked only briefly about the proposed Halifax River Greenway Trail. The vision is to create a multi-use path that would connect to trails in Holly Hill and South Daytona to provide a continuous route and bolster eco-tourism.

The plan commissioners were presented shows the full project costing $487,000 and being complete in about three years.

Commissioners also talked about creating a network of directional signs that would have a uniform look and guide pedestrians and motorists to major venues within the city.

Ron McLemore, the deputy city manager for operations, said the signs will give visitors a happier experience and encourage economic development.

“It says to people this is a city that’s got its act together,” McLemore said.

The network of signs could cost $480,000 to develop and take until the fall of 2016 to complete, according to city records. The state Department of Transportation would have to approve a master plan for the sign program.

The final subject commissioners tackled at their transportation workshop was city road projects. Records show the city has spent more than $26 million over the past decade on signalization, resurfacing, sidewalk improvements, landscaping, Boardwalk improvements and streetscape work.

The city has another $38 million worth of projects in progress, records show.

The city needs to keep in mind that many of its transportation dreams will involve working with, and reacting to, other governments, businesses and groups, said City Commissioner Pam Woods.

“I think it’s important to keep the big picture in mind, and remember that nothing happens in a vacuum,” Woods said. “We seem to be doing a better job with that.”

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Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show – Lodi News

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

Ken Le Loup pours a special blend of balsamic vinegar and oils onto a spoon for testing during the Home and Garden Show at the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2013.

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

Bill Bassett assembles a pizza in the Pizza Box, a new food truck in Lodi, during the Home and Garden Show at the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2013.

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

A display of Filthy Farm Girl soap for sale during the Home and Garden Show at the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2013.

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

Tim Contrestano squeezes some local honey onto a testing spoon during the Home and Garden Show at the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2013.

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

Gary Danko uses a Lustre Craft shredder to make a fresh salad during the Home and Garden Show at the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2013.

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

Billy Dee shows off how to use the Miracle Whisk during the Home and Garden Show at the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2013.

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

Troyce Fraga hands a cupcake to a customer from the Cupcake Lady food truck during the Home and Garden Show at the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2013.

Lodi Home and Garden Show

The show runs through Sunday at the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds at 413 E. Lockeford St. It starts at 10 a.m. and goes until 5 p.m. Tickets are $3 at the door.

Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013 9:06 pm

Inspiration and ideas for Lodi homeowners at annual Home and Garden Show

By Sara Jane Pohlman/News-Sentinel Staff Writer


Butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers didn’t make it out to the Lodi Home and Garden Show this weekend, but it seems as though every other local company selling home improvement goods sure did. From bath fittings and cabinet-makers to flooring, shower and screen doors to high-end pots and pans and no end of gourmet sauces and marinades, the show was an expo of creative options to spruce up the home. 

Lodi homeowners turned out by the hundreds, and 95 business owners were eager to show off their wares. 

Ellie Ashworth and Linda Edwards were representing Delta Tree Farms, a Lodi garden store open to the public. 

“The plants are arranged to give people ideas for their own gardens. They’re displayed with the homeowner in mind,” said Edwards. 

Tim Contrestano, of Fresno, doled out samples of Glory Jeanne Honey, made from local honeybees. From buckwheat to sunflower and pomegranate, Contrestano had a wide range of flavors to choose from. 

Manuel Guzman manned a booth filled to bursting with plants from Hollandutch Nursery on Davis Road. 

“There’s not so many sales today, but people will call later, they will come by the nursery later. Today is for information, coupons and to get ideas,” he said. 

Shannon Taylor and Dawn Root from Reno were selling the ingenious water beads. Small pellets transform into glossy orbs perfect for keeping flowers hydrated or filling vases for decoration. 

“They’re made with contact lens material, so they’re non-toxic,” said Taylor. She even uses them in potted houseplants.

Gourmet oils and vinegars were readily available. Ken Le Loup offered lime coconut blends, traditional garlic, and unconventional Hennesey and Kahlua varieties on small blue spoons to passersby. 

Mike Engle, owner of Urban Blue water efficient landscaping, was eager to get his name and brand in front of customers before the rush of spring landscaping projects got started. He said it was well worth the $700 for a three-day booth. 

Browsers took a break from perusing vendor booths for a lunch break outside, where six food trucks had formed a kind of battle arena. 

Lodi’s A Moveable Feast was parked next to The Cupcake Lady of Modesto. Doc’s BBQ vied for customers next to The Pizza Box, a new Lodi institution that tends to frequent the winery circuit.   Southern Comfort Express traveled from Jamestown, and The Spicy Grill drove up from Stockton 

Each diner had the chance to vote for his or her favorite truck. The votes will be tallied up on Sunday, but there is plenty of time to get out to the show and try it for yourself. 

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at 


Saturday, January 19, 2013 9:06 pm.

| Tags:

Shannon Taylor,

Linda Edwards,

Ellie Ashworth,

Tim Contrestano,

Manuel Guzman,

Moveable Feast,

Dawn Root,

Mike Engle,

Ken Le Loup,

Lodi Home And Garden Show,

Lodi Grape Festival Grounds

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Gardening catalogs and events help you cultivate green thumb

There’s something comforting and convenient about the feel of a gardening catalog while you sit near a window on a cold winter day and count the days until spring.

Many companies have gone “green,” putting out e-newsletters and online catalogs, which is admirable in terms of protecting the environment.

Even so, there’s still nothing like the inspiration and convenience of a print catalog with full-color photos and plant descriptions that you can keep on your work bench to use as the gardening season unfolds.

Several of my all-time favorite catalogs, including locally produced ones like Brent and Becky’s Bulbs in Gloucester and The Gardener’s Workshop in Newport News, can be consulted

as plant reference guides for selection, companion planting and year-round care. Best of all, most catalogs are free.

Here’s a list at my 10 favorite catalogs that you can order online, plus highlights of some major gardening events that will also help you grow the green thumb you’ve always wanted. Follow my Daily Press column throughout the year for more local gardening news; contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office for help, too –

The Gardener’s Workshop — cut-flower and herb seeds, gardening tools and local programs, including March 23 organic gardening seminar, April 24 farm tour and pop-up shops;; 757-877-7159.

Brent and Becky’s Bulbs — spring, summer and fall bulbs, gardening tools and local programs, including farmers markets, garden tours and kids events;; 804-693-3966.

Select Seeds — heirloom flower and vegetable seeds, including my favorite purple hyacinth bean flowering vine and honeybee-attracting Verbena bonarensis reseeding tender perennial, as well as small plants;; 800-684-0395.

Camellia Forest — fall-, winter- and spring-flowering camellias, including Camellia sinensis and recipe for using its tender growth to make homegrown green tea);; 919-968-0504.

Fairweather Gardens — specialty, hard-to-find ferns, irises, sedums, hollies, viburnums, witch hazels, shrubs, grasses and flowering trees, including the native Franklinia tree, a member of the tea family, that bears fragrant flowers August-September and must have excellent drainage and light shade;; 856-451-6261.

Bluestone Perennials — Clematis, coneflowers, bee balm, geraniums, ground covers, ferns and many more come in plantable coco pots that are 100 percent biodegradable. You’ll love the four pre-planned cut, butterfly, border and shade gardens;; 800-852-5243.

The Cook’s Garden — organic and heirloom vegetables you can grow from certified organic seed and plants, including lots of tomatoes for those tasty summer BLTs;; 800-457-9703.

Burpee — Catalog cover features actual size Super Sauce hybrid tomato, billed as the world’s largest sauce tomato; inside is On Deck hybrid sweet corn that grows in a patio pot, as well as Solar Flare sunflower with scarlet-red flame petals that finish in a gold;; 800-888-1447.

Tomato Growers — Every size, shape and color tomato seed, including Mr. Stripey in yellow-orange stripes, several pages of cherry hybrids and beefsteak and bi-color beauties;; 888-478-7333.

Renee’s Garden — Her online-only catalog offers a new line of organic seeds for vegetables, flowers and herbs. Many of Renee’s seeds are sold in local garden centers, too;; 888-880-7228

Gardening shows

Virginia Flower Garden Expo. Jan. 25-27 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia Beach. Speakers, vendors, landscape displays and floral and decorated rain barrel competitions; more details and $2 coupon off $10 admission at Free tickets: 1 per household at Daily Press, 7505 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, subject to availability, 8:30 a.m. Monday.

Mid-Atlantic Horticulture Short Course. Feb. 4-7 at the Marriott City Center, Newport News. Geared for professionals and hobbyists, sessions given by industry leaders, including local experts such as retired extension agent Jim Orband of York County, cover new plants, landscaping, maintenance and more, sponsored by Virginia Horticultural Foundation;

Home Gardener Day. Feb. 7 at the Marriott City Center, Newport News. Landscape architects and designers share tips and trends, and then everyone splits into work groups to sketch out garden designers for future Habitat for Humanity homes;; 523-4734.

Hampton Road Home Garden Show. Feb. 8-10 at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, Hampton. Meet Mike Wolfe, star of the History channel TV show “American Pickers,” bring items for Dr. Lori to appraise and enjoy how-to programs on the Green Thumb Stage, starring Landscapes in Miniature of Harrisonburg ( and Gardens and Accessories by Teresa of York County (;

Mid-Atlantic Home Garden Show. March 1-3 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. HGTV’s “Curb Appeal” expert John Gidding, Food Network’s “Sweet Genius” host Ron Ben-Israel, outdoor living spaces, 500 exhibitors and New Home Expo all part of the activities;

Colonial Williamsburg Garden Symposium. April 13-15, Theme “More Than a Garden: Creative Ideas to Enhance Your Life” features nationally known gardeners P. Allen Smith, David Culp and Tara Dillard who focus on fruits, herbs and gardens that are earth and pollinator friendly;; 220-7255.

Historic Garden Week in Virginia. April 20-27, more than 250 statewide homes and gardens open for public tours, including downtown Smithfield on April 20, Kingsmill in Williamsburg on April 23 and Hilton Village and Brandon Heights in Newport News April 24 and Gloucester on April 27.; 804-644-7776.

CNU Gardening Symposium. April 20 at Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News. Keynote speakers Bob Goodhart, Jim Orband and Ken Druse.; 269-4368.

Norfolk Botanical Garden 75th anniversary. Special celebration April 6 with poet Maya Angelou at Chrysler Hall; tickets on sale Feb. 8. Plant sale May 10-12 focuses on azaleas, including native species, which honor the botanical garden’s first name, Azalea Gardens; with listing of special observances throughout year; 441-5830.

Thyme in the Garden. May 30-Aug. 29. Thursdays at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, an interactive program sponsored by the Virginia Beach Council of Garden Clubs, zoo docents and Norfolk master gardeners share the importance of horticulture at the zoo through stories, hands-on activities and living laboratories;; 441-2374.

Plant sales. April 20-21 and 27-28 is the spring native plant sale at Virginia Living Museum; April 27 at site to be announced for Williamsburg/James City County master gardeners; April 20-21 Williamsburg Botanical Garden; April 26-27 for John Clayton Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society. May 4 for York County and Hampton master gardeners; 890-4940 and 727-1401, respectively.

Know a great garden or event I can feature this year? Contact Kathy at

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Restoring the work of landscaping pioneer Henry Nehrling

MIAMI – During the summer, the kudzu and air potato vines came creeping back, threatening to reclaim the ground that dozens of volunteers had cleared only months earlier.

By October, the vines were snaking up oak and magnolia trees, some more than a century old, that had once been the subject of federal research programs but had been overgrown by invaders. The volunteers launched a late-fall counteroffensive, cut back the new runners, then set to work uncovering more trees. They sawed through the sturdy vines, slowly peeled them back like a carpet from the trees they had taken over, used crowbars to pry their roots from the soil. Then they planned more workdays to fight the invaders.

In the midst of all this greenery, the tangle of desirable and the undesirable, stands the former home of Henry Nehrling, a botanist who nearly a century ago tested and introduced to Florida some of the plants that are now staples in landscaping throughout the state.

The historic Central Florida property is on the National Register of Historic Sites and has been certified as a Florida Historic Landmark. It is the headquarters of the nonprofit Nehrling Garden Society, which is rescuing and restoring the home and grounds.

But whether it is the invasive vines that keep returning, financing that vanishes just as it is on the verge of landing in the bank, or a compromise with the wary neighbors, the society’s efforts often sound more like a battle than simple conservation.

“We are doing it foot by foot, yard by yard,” said Theresa Schretzmann-Myers, the society’s vice president and volunteer coordinator.

On the grounds is a sago palm that was already more than 100 years old when Nehrling planted it a century ago. Enormous magnolias he hybridized. A tall eucalyptus that Nehrling planted and that has been dead for 30 years but is home to giant pileated woodpeckers. A huge golden bamboo with lime-green trunks and gold leaves, masses of amaryllis and caladium, towering bunya pine and bay laurel.

“It’s just such a treasure,” said Angela Withers, the society’s president. “It’s rare to find a place with such a combination of elements … the history, the science, the beauty – a site where a man who was really quite extraordinary did his work. It was an amazing passion and he grew these amazing plants. There are plants here that are over 100 years old. It’s a living laboratory.”

The property is a house of dreams. In an architectural rendering, the run-amok greenery has been curbed and neatly organized into a palm collection, a bromeliad collection, demonstration gardens. Walk the grounds with Withers and Schretzmann-Myers and they will point out the Nehrling Society’s ambitious vision. In addition to reclaiming the garden and the house, they want to turn the garage – added in the 1980s – into an education wing, build a gazebo, plant a palm allee, build a lakeside observation boardwalk and add Henry’s Bookshed, a small library.

“For me it’s been an unbelievable journey,” said Richard Nehrling, Henry’s great-grandson and a volunteer and advocate for the garden. “It’s really sad for me, knowing how important this garden was. David Fairchild was on plant-collecting trips all over the world and he was sending samples back to my great-grandfather to test. He tested over 3,000 species.

“As I look at that in 2012, I think how sad that nobody even knows about this garden, that it doesn’t have a place in our history. That story got lost for 70 years.”

Like the other society members, Nehrling wants his great-grandfather’s story known, his homestead to be a public garden again, a place for plant research.

But the society’s dreams are tempered by the cost. It needs to raise money to pay off the mortgage – right now, there’s only income to cover the interest – as well as to hire staff, renovate parts of the house, launch an educational program. Right now, all the work is being done by volunteers; the only person being paid is a fund-raising consultant.

It’s all part of the legacy of a man whose passion for tropical plants made a mark throughout Florida.

Late in the 19th century, Nehrling, a Wisconsin schoolteacher and naturalist, bought 40 acres in the German-American settlement of Gotha – about 12 miles east of what is now downtown Orlando – to grow tropical and subtropical plants. His land evolved into Florida’s first experimental botanic garden, which he named Palm Cottage Gardens.

Nehrling grew more than 3,000 species of plants for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction. He wrote books and articles about horticulture. His expertise included palms, bamboo, bromeliads, amaryllis, gloriosa lilies, orchids and caladium. He is considered the father of Florida’s multimillion-dollar caladium industry.

Some of his work was for David Fairchild – the famous plant explorer and one of the founders of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami – when Fairchild worked for the USDA.

In the archives at Fairchild’s gardens is this comment by Fairchild about Nehrling:

“I have known many with a passion for plants. I have met many who were keen to collect and dry their fragments. I have known others who lived to make gardens, but none who quite so fully combined their passion for observation with their skill in the propagation and cultivation of a variety of species, keeping them under their constant attention so that they were able to accumulate through many years’ observation clear pictures of their characteristics.”

Another visitor to Palm Cottage Gardens was Thomas Edison; Nehrling would later create an orchid garden at Edison’s winter home in Fort Myers, Fla. Some of the orchids he attached to trees are still there.

After Nehrling lost thousands of plants to a freeze in 1917, he bought acreage in Naples, Fla., for his most tender tropical plants. That garden is now known as Caribbean Gardens, home to the Naples Zoo.

Nehrling died in 1929, and the Gotha property changed hands several times. Pieces of it were sold off. There were periods when the house was unoccupied and vines poked through the walls. Many of his plants died; others were taken by neighbors who assumed the land was about to be bulldozed.

The nonprofit Nehrling Garden Society was established in 1999 by people who wanted to save the property and Nehrling’s legacy. The group tried for more than 10 years to buy the property, but each time a grant or other financing seemed about to come together, a new obstacle would crop up. Wary neighbors worried about noise and traffic had to be sold on the plan as well. Barbara Bochiardy, who owned the property, was willing to sell it to the society for significantly less than the asking price if they would save it.

Finally, in 2009, a local entrepreneur loaned the society $350,000. With that and $100,000 it had raised, the society bought what was left of Palm Cottage Garden: 5.9 acres, a house more than 100 years old, and a neglected greenhouse from a later era, with many of its glass panels broken or missing.

But buying the property did not solve the financial problems. Withers said the group’s biggest challenge is raising money to pay off that $350,000 loan, which doesn’t carry the cachet of donating money for a specific project – like converting the unfinished garage into an education wing – that the donor’s name could be attached to. The society is already doing other things or has plans to: offer classes for a fee; rent out the property for events; sell plant sponsorships; partner with a nursery to develop and sell Nehrling-branded seeds and plants.

The society took possession in May 2010 and began organizing volunteers – Boy Scouts; Girl Scouts; garden clubs; service clubs; arborists; middle and high school students; plumbers and roofers; Disney employees; church groups; even German studies students from Rollins College, where Nehrling taught.

“We have had unbelievable help from the community,” said Schretzmann-Myers.

They worked almost year-round, taking a break in the summer. For protection, they wore long pants and long sleeves, the kind of clothing that is unbearable after a few minutes working outdoors in Florida’s heat and humidity. They ripped up invasive plants – kudzu, dog fennel, cat’s claw, Brazilian pepper and air potato, the latter the very species Nehrling had warned in his writings not to bring into Florida. They pruned desirable plants and planted Florida native species in the newly cleared ground by Lake Nally at the back of the property.

As they did, they discovered some of Nehrling’s original plants, mostly trees and bamboos, still living. “These are plants that have survived with benign neglect for a long, long time,” Withers said.

And they found junk. In one spot, long ago overrun by plants, they found an old still used to make moonshine from orange juice. Cleaned up, it sits in the garage now.

“It’s exciting. Every time we do a clean-up, we find something else,” Schretzmann-Myers said. “There’s living history here on the property.”

As the restoration continued, neighbors came forward with cuttings or seeds from plants that originated in Nehrling’s garden. The group replanted Nehrling’s amaryllis garden at the front of the house with bulbs rescued from a nearby abandoned garden, almost 700 bulbs that were descendants of plants Nehrling had introduced. They planted a big bed of caladiums, too.

Right behind the house, they created a “pollinator garden” with thyme, blue sage, coreopsis, passion vine, milkweed and other plants to attract bees, butterflies and moths.

While most volunteers worked on the grounds, others worked on the house. They spent the first two years making the property safe, rebuilding stairs that had rotted through, building supports under the sagging back porch, replacing railings and screens. The society uses part of the house as an office, part for exhibits and part to sell Nehrling’s and other garden books.

The property is zoned for agricultural use. Unless it is rezoned, the society can give only private tours by appointment; it cannot set regular hours that the gardens are open. That is one of the society’s goals, which they hope to achieve in the next 12 to 18 months, but with the property set in the middle of a residential neighborhood, they must win over the neighbors.

So the Nehrling Society continues to work on that bridge between past and present, between the research that Nehrling did and the plants that go into Florida gardens today. They have done much but still have work to do – the constant battle against invasive plants, cataloging the plants they uncover, digging, cutting, clearing, planting, pruning. And perhaps most importantly, educating.

“The beauty of a place like this is it’s a place where you can get your hands dirty,” Withers said. “You go to these immaculate gardens and say, ‘Isn’t that lovely.’ We want to show people how they get that way. Very rarely do people understand the joy that comes from growing a plant from start to finish.”


Nehrling Gardens

What: The Nehrling home and gardens are in Gotha, Fla., about 12 miles east of downtown Orlando. They are open to the public only on private tours arranged in advance.

Help: In addition to cash, the Henry Nehrling Society is seeking donations of gardening tools, cleaning supplies and other goods. It is also looking for volunteers. The website has a wish list as well as information on how to donate or sponsor a plant identification marker.

Information: 407-445-9977,

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8 Things to check out for respite from winter at 20th Garden Expo in Madison


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The Garden Expo in Madison runs from Friday, Feb. 8, through Sunday, Feb. 10. Attendees get the chance to gather gardening information and advice from more than 150 seminars. Proceeds benefit Wisconsin Public Television.

The Garden Expo in Madison runs from Friday, Feb. 8, through Sunday, Feb. 10. Attendees get the chance to gather gardening information and advice from more than 150 seminars. Proceeds benefit Wisconsin Public Television.


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The Garden Expo in Madison runs from Friday, Feb. 8, through Sunday, Feb. 10. Attendees get the chance to gather gardening information and advice from more than 150 seminars. Proceeds benefit Wisconsin Public Television.


If you go

What:20th annual Garden Expo

When: 3-9 p.m., Friday, Feb.8; 9 a.m.-6 p.m.,Saturday, Feb.9,and 10 a.m.-4 p.m.Sunday, Feb. 10.

Where: Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center,1919 Alliant Energy Center Way, Madison.

Admission:One-day pass, $7 in advance or $8 at the door. Two-day pass, $11 in advance or $12 at the door. Three-day pass, $16 in advance or $17 at the door. Children 12 and younger will be admitted for free.

Advance tickets are available at   and locally at Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive, Janesville.

Advance registration for hands-on workshops is available at  . During the expo, registrations for remaining workshop openings will be taken at the Wisconsin Public Television booth. Workshop fees cover supplies and instruction.

All seminars and demonstrations are free.No registration is required, but seating is limited.

Parking: $6.

Concession stands: A variety of concession stands will sell food. Lunch options include sandwiches, salads, wraps and pizza.

If you go

What:20th annual Garden Expo

When: 3-9 p.m., Friday, Feb.8; 9 a.m.-6 p.m.,Saturday, Feb.9,and 10 a.m.-4 p.m.Sunday, Feb. 10.

Where: Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center,1919 Alliant Energy Center Way, Madison.

Admission:One-day pass, $7 in advance or $8 at the door. Two-day pass, $11 in advance or $12 at the door. Three-day pass, $16 in advance or $17 at the door. Children 12 and younger will be admitted for free.

Advance tickets are available at and locally at Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive, Janesville.

Advance registration for hands-on workshops is available at . During the expo, registrations for remaining workshop openings will be taken at the Wisconsin Public Television booth. Workshop fees cover supplies and instruction.

All seminars and demonstrations are free.No registration is required, but seating is limited.

Parking: $6.

Concession stands: A variety of concession stands will sell food. Lunch options include sandwiches, salads, wraps and pizza.


— It’s January. It’s cold. The landscape is a bland palette of white, brown and gray.

It’s the time of year gardeners crave a fix of green.

The Garden Expo in Madison promises to deliver a hint of spring with gardening innovations, information and advice among lush plants, colorful flowers and vibrant designs, said Kristin Korevec, special events manager for Wisconsin Public Television.

Proceeds from the event Friday, Feb. 8, through Sunday, Feb. 10, support Wisconsin Public Television.

More than a dozen Janesville area businesses and experts will be among those offering exhibits and demonstrations.

Here is a list of eight things Korevec said not to miss while at the Garden Expo, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary:

1. More than 150 free educational seminars and demonstrations. The hour-long seminars and 45-minute demonstrations focus on gardening, landscaping and lawn care.

Presenters will be experts in their fields.

New topics include frugal gardens, home compost tea brewing, dealing with drought, backyard chicken coops and lawn care without pesticides, she said.

“So with the cost of admission you can attend educational sessions all day,� Korevec said.

2. Hands-on workshops. These cost between $30 and $50, and participants work on projects that they can take home.

Projects include garden jewelry, herbal vinegars and flavored oils.

“So not only are you taking home bottles of that, you’re learning how to do it at home,� Korevec said. 3. A 1,200-square-foot central garden. Wisconsin Landscape Contractors Association members will build the garden display of flowers and greenery in the middle of the show.

“It’s one of the great parts of the Garden Expo,� Korevec said.

4. Master Gardener Shelley Ryan, who is preparing her retirement season as producer/host of The Wisconsin Gardener. She will be available in the Wisconsin Public Television booths from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

“The whole concept of the Garden Expo started with Shelley and her show,� Korevec said.

Arthur Ircink and Kyle Cherek, producers and hosts of Wisconsin Foodie, will make 9 a.m. appearances Saturday at the Wisconsin Public Television booth, she said.

5. Discussions of innovative garden techniques at the UW Extension booth.

Experts on everything from insects to plant diseases will be answering gardening questions and offering information about enrolling in the Master Gardener program, Korevec said.

“Stopping at the UW Extension booth is one of the most valuable parts of the show and sometimes overlooked. They’re the source for unbiased university researched-based information,� Korevec said.

6. The latest in garden and landscaping equipment and services. About 350 exhibitors will include garden centers, nurseries, artists who specialize in gardening themes, garden clubs and nonprofit plant societies.

“So, if you’re looking to do a big landscaping project, there will be landscapers, landscape architects and arborists plus a number of book publishers that have material related to gardens. So, I think there’s something for everyone at the expo if they’re looking for a lawn mower or information on how to treat a certain disease,� Korevec said.

7. Opportunities to buy seeds, tools and the newest in gardening equipment, tools and services.

“If you’re just starting to think about spring, and the seed catalogs are starting to arrive in the mail, it’s time to start planning, getting ready and excited for the gardening season to begin,’’ Korevec said.

8. Plant a Row for the Hungry. Visitors to the Wisconsin Public Television booth can participate in this new service project. Seed packets will be distributed, and Garden Expo attendees will be encouraged to plant an extra row of produce and donate their surplus to local food banks, soup kitchens and service organizations.

Staff from Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin will be present to answer questions and provide resources for donating produce.


Janesville area organizations that will be represented at the Garden Expo in Madison include: Agrecol, Evansville Blackhawk Technical College Formecology, Evansville KW Greenery, Janesville Kris Kraft, East Troy Rotary Botanical Gardens, Janesville Tallgrass Restoration, Milton Windows to the Garden, Lake Geneva Wisconsin Arborist Association Hanover Sod Farm, Hanover Badger Custom Curb, Janesville Blain’s Farm Fleet, Janesville TD Builders, Janesville Dvorak Landscape Supply, Janesville

Local experts will give free seminars and demonstrations at the Garden Expo in Madison:

Friday, Feb. 8

3:15 p.m.—Backyard Gardening: Vegetables and Fruits for Fun and Enjoyment by Richard Miller, Blackhawk Technical College in affiliation with the Wisconsin Landscape Contractors Association , at Mendota 4 location.

4:30 p.m.—Trendy Annuals by Mark Dwyer,Rotary Botanical Gardens, at Mendota 4 location.

Saturday, Feb. 9

9:15 a.m.—Cover Crops for the Home Garden by Jim Stute, UW Extension Rock County, at Mendota 4 location.

2 p.m.—Plant Propagation Basics by Richard Miller, Blackhawk Technical College, at Mendota 5 location.

2:15 p.m.—Annual Grasses for the Garden and Container by Mark Dwyer, Rotary Botanical Gardens, at Mendota 6-7 location.

4:30 p.m.—Gardening Vertically by Mark Dwyer, Rotary Botanical Gardens,at Mendota 1-2 location; Holiday Plants from the Past to the Present by Patty Bailey, Patty’s Plants, at Demo A location; Tree Pruning and Hiring a Certified Arborist by David Graham,Wisconsin Arborist Association, at Mendota 5 location.

Sunday, Feb. 10

12:30 p.m.—Trendy Annuals by Mark Dwyer,Rotary Botanical Gardens, at Mendota 8 location.

3 p.m.—Backyard Gardening: Vegetables and Fruits for Fun and Enjoyment by Richard Miller, Blackhawk Technical College, at Mendota 8 location.

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The Beauty of Bacteria

Two recent developments, however, suggest a détente between nature and domestic culture.

This month, Pantone, a company best known for its color-matching system, announced that the color of the year for 2013 is emerald green. Never before, in 14 years of these selections, has a true green been named, possibly because it is also the color of mold, lobster liver and brussels sprouts.

Pantone was not put off. “No other color conveys regeneration more,” the company’s news release noted about the “vivid, verdant” hue known as Pantone 17-5641. It seems that as we become more environmentally considerate (and possibly also more susceptible to the color of money), we’re ready to ignore the ick factor and welcome green into our homes.

The idea that nature might be an honored houseguest and not just something that slithers in under the refrigerator is also behind “Bio Design: Nature, Science, Creativity,” a book published last month by the Museum of Modern Art.

Written by William Myers, a New York-based writer and teacher, “Bio Design” focuses on the growing movement to integrate organic processes in the creation of buildings and household objects so that resources are conserved and waste is limited. Some astonishing visual effects are produced as well. The book’s 73 projects, culled from laboratories and design studios around the world, show, for example, how living trees can be coaxed into becoming houses and bridges; how lamps can be powered by firefly luminescence; how human DNA can change the color of petunias; and how concrete can heal itself when damaged, like skin.

Mr. Myers said his interest in the redemptive power of small, creepy things started years ago when he began making his own bread and beer, and developed a familiarity with yeast. We have been conditioned to fear micro-organisms, he said, “but in fact they can be useful and have been for millenniums, if you think about baking and brewing.”

Also influential on Mr. Myers was “Design and the Elastic Mind,” a 2008 exhibition organized by Paola Antonelli at the Museum of Modern Art, which presented a number of visionary collaborations between designers and scientists. (One of the show’s most memorable projects, “Victimless Leather,” a tiny jacket cultured from living mouse cells, appears in Mr. Myers’s book.)

Designers habitually copy nature. The examples pile up faster than beetle species and include things like Antonio Gaudí’s soaring architecture, William Morris’s floral wallpaper and George Nakashima’s rough wood tables. Cutting-edge technology takes away nothing from nature-inspired designs, but instead enhances them. In 2006, the Dutch designer Joris Laarman introduced a chair modeled by computer along the principles of bone tissue development, so that the parts of the chair subjected to the greatest stress were thickest, while those subjected to the least amount of stress were carved away. The result was an efficient use of material and a spectacular form.

But bio design is not about merely taking cues from organic structures and operations. It’s about harnessing the machinery of the natural world to perform as nature does: storing and converting energy, producing oxygen, neutralizing poisons and disposing wastes in life-sustaining ways.

Mr. Laarman’s 2010 Halflife lamp is a good example. A prototype for a lampshade coated with hamster ovary cells modified with firefly DNA, it generates an enzymatic reaction that causes the lamp to light up, after a fashion, batteries not required.

What the Halflife lamp does require is a continuous supply of nutrients to keep the cells alive. As designers explore new ways to make and dispose of household goods, they gesture at new relationships between owners and possessions. “We’re used to thinking we can throw away objects,” Mr. Laarman said by phone from Amsterdam. “We’re not used to objects you can care for or treat well, or that renew themselves.”

Hamster ovary cells as pets? In the wonderland of biotechnology, bacteria is beautiful, moss is electric and decorative tiles are animated.

Consider Bacterioptica, a chandelier designed by Petia Morozov of Montclair, N.J., with petri dishes loaded with bacterial cultures nesting in a tangle of fiber optics. The pattern and color of the blooming bacteria (ideally supplied by individual family members, including pets) changes the quality of the light.

Or Moss Table, a collaboration between the scientists Carlos Peralta and Alex Driver of Britain and Paolo Bombelli of Italy, which exploits the small electrical current produced when certain bacteria consume organic compounds released by moss during photosynthesis. Using carbon fiber to absorb the charge, the scientists produced enough electricity with their table to power an attached lamp.

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Building a Show Garden: Rockin’ It with CEM Design at Marenakos


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How thrilled am I to be working with Clayton Morgan  and CEM Design and Construction once again. I wrote up a little profile on him awhile back and you may have seen our photo when I attended his wedding two summers ago. He’s been a very busy guy and now he’s even busier having been married and, now, he’s also A DAD!!  Congrats to Clayton, Jamie and their precious daughter, Hope.

IMG_8502Clayton and I informally discussed maybe doing a show garden together at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show many years ago. Having just taken the plunge on my own, I wanted to him to have some part of the show to gain the experience and get his work out there. Business has picked up for him considerably, but he was gracious enough to help out with the rock work involved for “The Lost Gardener”. That meant my very first visit to the infamous Marenakos Rock Center in Issaquah, WA. They are one of the main sponsors for the show and graciously provide the awesome rocks for almost all of the show gardens being created.


Being sort of new to the world of selecting landscape rock, Clayton was on hand when I met with Mr. Bill Hyde who was so informative and helpful throughout the process. Knowing that Clayton was on a tight schedule, I did my best to be as efficient and direct as I can. This whole process has been a true practice in taking control of a project and trusting those around you to guide and support your thoughts and decisions and overall vision.


I think we got a few useful pieces to be placed strategically by Mr. Morgan’s crew come show time and about three pieces that are in the running as the main focal point of the display.

This was too small, but still intriguing

Will we figure it out and make it work??   We’ll find out February 16 when Marenako’s bring these rocks to the Washington State Convention and Trade Center.


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