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Archives for January 24, 2013

Morrissey Design reshaping Chestnut Hill venues

A preliminary sketch of what the Chestnut Hill Hotel’s Fareway project might look like. (Rendering courtesy of Morrissey Design)

by Paula M. Riley

James Morrissey, together with his creative team and visionary clients, has become a huge force behind Chestnut Hill’s recent renaissance.

In his contemporary office in Flourtown, the owner of Morrissey Design LLC describes with great enthusiasm many local projects he had the privilege to work on. These include the Chestnut Hill Hotel, Market at the Fareway, as well as retailers Indigo Schuy, Bone Appetite and Green Design.

His greatest impact on the Chestnut Hill community perhaps will be the Fareway, a community gathering space between the Chestnut Hill Hotel and Market buildings. Morrissey’s goal in designing the Fareway was to connect the indoor experience of the Hotel, Market and Chestnut Hill Grille with the outdoor experience of the open space. Ultimately, the Fareway provides multiple opportunities for visitors, residents, shoppers and employees to experience meaningful moments for engagement, he said.

Connecting the Hotel and Market with Germantown Avenue, the Fareway is designed as a large piazza featuring benches, table seating, a water feature, and landscaping.

“This is a multi-functional space that creates a sense of commerce and community coming together,” Morrissey said.

The final design of the Fareway continues to evolve. As part of this effort, the parking lot will be reconfigured to accommodate a community gathering space atmosphere

Ron and Abby Pete own the Fareway property, the hotel, Market and adjacent building hosting the post office, Kings Garden and hotel rooms. Morrissey’s designs update and unify the hotel, the post office and carriage house through façade improvements and decorative features, such as the curved railing design of its second-floor balcony.

“He (Morrissey) is a really talented, innovative guy who thinks outside-the-box,” said Ron Pete. “He has a good perspective on Chestnut Hill as well.”

Formerly known as the Chestnut Hill Farm Market, the Market at the Fareway is getting more than just a facelift. Morrissey Design worked closely with the Petes to develop a new grid layout for Market. Vendor booths are based on an 8-foot-by-8-foot module so Market and its vendors can grow or rearrange for maximum flexibility.

Describing Market as a “modern, general store,” Morrissey explained that his team created different design concepts for the market stalls so that vendors could select their own style, but each is complementary to other Market stalls. Reclaimed building materials are used in all the designs, providing a timeworn feel and creating a nice blend of new and old.

“Morrissey Design harmoniously integrated the beautiful tradition aesthetic of the Chestnut Hill commercial district with the contemporary attitude of the Chestnut Hill shopper,” said Eileen Reilly, E. Vitalize Consulting and former recruiter. “Through Morrissey’s careful planning, there was no sacrificing modern-day style in this historic Philadelphia neighborhood,” (The Petes have hired Reilly as a consultant to the Market renovation.)

Morrissey says that in working with the Petes and all his clients he tries to carefully listen, figure out what key moments they are looking for and hones in on these.

When Steve and Schuy Nunn created Indigo Schuy selling women’s athletic apparel and accessories, it was their first retail venture and they knew what they were trying to accomplish.

“Morrissey Design helped us to achieve a clean, fresh look for our boutique,” Schuy Nunn said.

The final product is Indigo Schuy’s clean, white fixtures, built-in storage and shades of blue and indigo, designed to create an organized, relaxing retail environment.

When the Chestnut Hill Business Association approached him for assistance, Morrissey provided pro bono interior design services to assist with the leasing of the location where Green Design boutique is at located.

“They needed someone to help them (potential tenants) visualize what could be done with the space,” Morrissey said. “I am very happy to help.”

Consistent with the products sold at Green Design, the interior uses environmentally conscious materials such as recycled, repurposed and reclaimed finishes. Combined with open shelving, wood floors,and big light fixtures, the boutique has a free, airy feel, yet a level of sophistication as well.

Morrissey Design’s footprint goes well beyond Chestnut Hill. In Fort Washington, its design work includes McGerk’s new outside deck and the interior of Scoogie’s Classic Italian Restaurant and in Wayne they it Cilantro, a Mexican restaurant with a sophisticated lime and white color scheme.

In Center City, the Morrissey team is engaged with Iron Stone Strategic Capital Partners. LLC in the adaptive reuse of the facility consolidating the Philadelphia Police Department Special Victims Unit (SVU), Department of Human Services (DHS) Sexual Abuse Investigations Unit, Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, and staff from the District Attorney’s Office.

In describing these, as well as his Chestnut Hill projects, Morrissey speaks of his team as “a think tank of great ideas,” Morrissey believes that his experience living abroad and working for a variety of design firms have offered him a unique perspective from which to approach projects. Ultimately though, it’s his team that makes the difference. He describes them as incredibly talented architects and designers and works hard to create a work atmosphere where that encourages a collaborative and collective approach.

“They are a great group,” Ron Pete said. “They are so bright and creative and they are very flexible. They can design whatever the client would like.”

Related posts:

  1. New Oriental rug/design operation in Chestnut Hill
  2. Hill hotel makeover bringing ‘New York to Chestnut Hill’
  3. Farmer’s Market to undergo transformation

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BORDENTOWN TOWNSHIP: For the love of earth



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Taxes, Landscaping and Building Codes: Village Board Talks Long-Term Priorities

Frankfort’s mayor and village trustees brought their ideas to the table on Tuesday evening in a discussion about village priorities for the upcoming fiscal year during the annual meeting of the Committee of the Whole.

Mayor Jim Holland suggested that the village consider a one percent sales tax increase with a residential rebate based on property tax paid.

The increase, which would require a referendum, would alleviate the tax burden off of residents and transfer it onto people who shop in the village.

“It will be controversial, simply because of the fact that it’s, one way or another, adding tax,” said Trustee Kevin Egan.

Holland felt that it wouldn’t be practical for the village to take action on the increase for at least a year.

If the board moves forward with the increase, the village would spend the next several months informing residents about the proposal, before putting the issue to a vote of the people in the March 2014 primary election.

The committee also discussed the possibility of improving the village hall. Multiple trustees mentioned that the board currently meets in the basement of the police department building and that the village could benefit from the addition of a boardroom.

“We need to get out of this bomb shelter,” said Trustee Dick Trevarthan.

The committee determined that a discussion of village hall improvements should be added to a committee meeting agenda in the near future.

Trustees Trevarthan and Todd Morgan both addressed the need for landscaping improvements in Frankfort.

Trevarthan cited a need to upgrade maintenance on Old Plank Road Trail and to implement a landscaping plan for Route 30.

Morgan said he would like to see the village tear out the landscaping in downtown Frankfort.

He also suggested that the committee prioritize the acquisition of additional property downtown and look into organizing more events in the area that could create a strong community identity.

“We really need to take a fresh approach,” Morgan said. “I think we can do more.”

The committee discussed the possibility of changing residential building codes to improve the appearance of Frankfort’s homes and streetscapes as well.

Trustee Cindy Heath said she would like to see the community develop an elegant, unique appearance, with gazebos and walking paths.

“We’re not trying to make homes more expensive,” said Holland. “We’re just trying to make them more appealing.”

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Make big plans for small gardens

­Small, intimate gardens are typical in the older neighborhoods of the New Orleans area, both on the south and north shores. Land is not cheap in towns and cities, and lots tend to be relatively small. Even in the more expansive yards of homes in subdivisions with larger lots and semi-rural locations, areas with smaller-scale plantings — typically close to the house — are not uncommon.


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I have experienced both situations. When I lived in New Orleans, my home in Algiers Point occupied most of the small lot it sits on. My entire garden was a small 30-by-30-foot backyard. Now, I garden on 3 acres in Prairieville.

Despite the larger property, the beds around my back porch and patio area are small and close to my home. The plants and design ideas I used when creating these gardens were quite different from those I used for the gardens located out in the yard, which are on a much larger scale.

Although creating small-scale gardens may seem easier to deal with than larger ones, careful planning is just as, or even more, critical. The choice and use of materials and plants, the positioning and flow of traffic, textures, shapes and colors, and the appropriateness of the planting area to its surroundings — all of these are matters of concern.

When every square inch counts, a well-thought-out plan is essential, since there is less space to plant what you wish for, and the viewer is going to be closer to the landscape and therefore more aware of every detail.

Design considerations

The concept of good design can mean different things to different people, and there is no one absolutely right design for a given situation. To get you started in the right direction, however, certain design considerations are worth bearing in mind when you go about planning a small-scale landscape.

As I mentioned, small-scale gardens often are located close to the home. The style of the garden should reflect the location and style of surrounding buildings.

Look for established neighborhood features (neighborhood buildings, parks, old gardens) and take inspiration from them. The building materials used in the garden should also relate to and harmonize with the building materials used in the house.

For instance, stucco Spanish Revival homes might incorporate formal Spanish elements into their landscape style, while homes with a relaxed, Acadian style architecture would be complemented by a more informal landscape style. You can learn more about styles of landscapes and their characteristics from any good landscaping book.

When I lived in New Orleans, my home was a turn-of-the-century Victorian Eastlake style house. The Victorian period generally favored formal elements in the landscape (symmetry, geometric layouts of beds, straight lines) and the exuberant use of color. This was the style I adopted for my garden.

My selection of building materials was also influenced by my home and neighborhood. After looking around, I chose such elements as laid brick, lattice, wrought iron, clapboard, terra-cotta pots and French doors and stained glass. Remember that your landscape will not exist in a vacuum, and you should feel free to draw on existing surroundings for inspiration.

One last thought on style and materials: Remember that the style and decor of rooms that have a view of the garden should also be considered, since the garden will literally become a part of those rooms and should harmonize with them.

How will it be used?

Once the fundamental style of your garden has emerged, consider the tastes and needs of yourself and your family. The actual form and layout of the garden is largely dictated by how it will be used.

The first step in mapping out the landscape plan is to take stock of your family’s needs that can be fulfilled by the garden. Do you need privacy, a patio for outdoor entertainment or shade? Are you an avid gardener, or do you need to minimize maintenance? How about vegetables, flowers, pets, children’s play areas and hobby work areas? This is the time to consider what you actually have room for.

After you have determined the general style, how the landscape will be used and what it needs to provide, it’s time to begin working on drawing a plan. The area can be carefully measured to produce a scale drawing, or simple sketches might suffice.

The desired features of the garden, based on the chosen style and needs, are arranged and re-arranged on paper until you are satisfied with the results. If there are existing features that will be retained, make sure you include them in the plan.

Plant choices

When it comes time for choosing plant materials, keep in mind the smaller scale, and select plants that are compact, dwarf or slow-growing.

In my small Algiers Point garden, I was highly restricted for space. But I still managed to get in an outdoor living area, privacy, shade, a greenhouse to shelter tropicals during winter, a work area, tool storage, water features, flowers and even some herbs and vegetables. This was possible because I carefully thought out what I wanted or needed from my landscape, and then incorporated as many of them as possible.

When you have a larger property to work with, you have the luxury of moving something you want to a spot away from the small-scale area being designed. I’ve moved vegetable gardening, for instance, away from the gardens around my patio and into its own area. But, I have a small planting of herbs in the beds around the patio near the house, as I like the convenience.

Landscape design tends to be intimidating, even to experienced gardeners. But, just as we create comfortable, functional and attractive rooms inside our homes, I believe most gardeners can do the same in exterior spaces. We just need to take the time to think things through and make plans to accomplish the results we want.

There is always professional help available if needed. If you are unsure of your final plan, consult with a licensed landscape architect to iron out the rough spots. Just like an interior designer, they can help you take your general concepts and specific needs and create something attractive and functional for you and your family.



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A native, ground-dwelling orchid, Zeuxine strateumatica, is known by the common names of lawn orchid and soldier’s orchid. It is native to Florida and along the Gulf Coast to Texas.


We would appreciate your help. Attached are pictures of a clump of flowers that appeared in our lawn in the past week or so, and we need some help identifying it. The flower appears to look like an orchid, and the flower stalk is only 3 to 4 inches tall.

Howard Case

You are on the right track, Howard. This is a native, terrestrial (ground-dwelling) orchid, Zeuxine strateumatica. It is known by the common names of lawn orchid and soldier’s orchid, and is native to Florida and right along the Gulf Coast to Texas. This lovely, diminutive wildflower is considered a weed in some situations. I remember it best years ago showing up in the damp, winter lawns of the English Turn area. Lawn maintenance companies occasionally contacted me on how to get rid of it. As they really don’t hurt lawns or cause problems, I always recommended telling the client they were orchids (after all, who doesn’t like orchids) and could be left alone.

I have not heard one word about these orchids for years, yet recently I’ve received a number of emails from around the area showing these delightful little orchids in bloom. I suspect they may be growing in more locations than we imagine, but not blooming and going unnoticed. But, this year they are blooming all over the place. Why? Weather phenomena are often the reason for things like this. I suspect the unusually wet weather is responsible. These little orchids like wet, saturated soil — they are a wetlands indicator species. They are likely happily blooming because of all the rain.


Is it time to pick all the grapefruit and oranges off of my trees?

Joycelyn Folse

All of the fruit should be removed from grapefruit, orange and other types of citrus trees before they begin to bloom. Fruit left on the tree may diminish flowering and fruit set. Time is short, as citrus trees generally begin to bloom in late winter/early spring. All fruit should be removed by the end of January or the first week of February at the latest.


Is it OK for me to radically prune back my pentas now? They’ve been blooming ever since I planted them almost a year ago. Now they are just looking a bit tired and faded, so I thought I’d cut them way down and hope for thicker, healthier growth. Is this advisable?

Stacey Dehmer

If they survive the winter, it’s a good idea to cut back pentas and other tender perennials we plant for summer color. But it is still too early. So far, we have not had any killing freezes that would severely injure or kill these tender perennials, but the chance of severe freezes is not yet over. The pentas will be more tolerant to any freezes if you leave them alone for the time being. In other words, it is too early to force the new growth you want. Wait until early March to do this, when the coldest part of the winter is past. When you cut them back, fertilize them. In addition to controlling their height, you can expect to see the plants come back thicker and more vigorous ­– as long as we don’t have a killing freeze in February.


Dan Gill is extension horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter.

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Dan Gill, garden columnist

The Times-Picayune Living Section

3800 Howard Ave.

New Orleans 70125-1429

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Sugar Land Home and Garden Show set for Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 26 and 27

When turning your house into a dream home, remember not to overlook the exterior. Improving landscaping not only adds value to a property but also makes a house more welcoming when you come home each day.

The Third Annual Sugar Land Home and Garden Show will offer a number of new ideas for turning your yard into an oasis. The event will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 26 and 27 at the Stafford Centre,10505 Cash Road, Stafford.

Of the show’s lineup of speakers and more than 200 exhibitors, several will focus on landscaping tips and outdoor products, Tony Wood, president of Texwood Shows, Inc., said.“In Texas, we can use our gardens and patios almost year-round,” Wood said. “They become additional rooms in our homes, and there are several ways to improve those outdoor-living spaces.”

Crenshaw Landscapes is one of the featured exhibitors. The local company has served greater Houston for the past 30 years. The entire booth will be covered in an aluminum shade structure from area contractor, Made In The Shade. The structure is virtually maintenance free, is hurricane rated and comes in several colors to complement the home.“We will showcase several affordable and high-quality residential lighting options,” owner Scott Johnson said.

Big Tex Trees will also exhibit at the Sugar Land Home and Garden show, offering design assistance for homeowners — whether they need only a few trees or enough plants to fill an entire landscape.

Enchanted Nurseries and Landscapes Garden Center will bring assorted fruit trees, plants with seasonal color and custom containers.

The show will feature expert speakers Randy Lemmon, host of KTRH 740’s GardenLine show; and Brenda Beust Smith, author of the Houston Chronicle’s “The Lazy Gardner” blog and recipient of numerous journalism awards.

Boone Holladay, Fort Bend Master Gardener, will discuss ways to decrease a lawn’s demand for water in his presentation, “Landscape Water Conservation: simple steps to make a big change.” Holladay is the horticulture extension agent with the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service in Fort Bend County.

“We have a great lineup of speakers who are true experts in gardening, plus professionals offering great ideas and products for outdoor living.” Wood said.

Parking free. Tickets are $9 for adults, $7 for seniors, and children 12 years and younger can attend for free. Only cash is accepted.

Visit for more information about speakers, products and exhibitors. Print out an online discount coupon for $2 off admission and a chance to win terrific giveaways. Check out exhibitors’ special offers for show attendees.

For more show information, including speaker schedules, exhibitor list, and discounts, visit

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Garden calendar

JAN. 26

Beautiful Botanicals: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Jan. 26 (part 1), Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 N. Penitentiary Road, Boise. Artist Sharron O’Neil will explore traditional materials and methods of drawing and painting botanicals. Part 2 will be Feb. 2. $25 members, $30 nonmembers. Registration required. 343-8649,

JAN. 30

Caring for a Water-Wise Landscape: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30, Boise Public Library, 715 S. Capitol Blvd. The first of four in the Water Efficient Landscaping series. The free classes are offered by United Water Idaho, the Ada County Extension Service, the City of Boise and Boise Public Library.

FEB. 5

The Cook’s Garden: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5, Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 N. Penitentiary Road, Boise. Community Supported Agriculture farmers Jim and Elaine Jenkins will share how they grow an abundance of produce each year at their home farm. $10 members, $15 nonmembers. Registration required. 343-8649,

FEB. 6

Xeriscape Principles and Design: 6 p.m. Feb. 6, Boise Public Library, 715 S. Capitol Blvd. Discussion with Susan Bell from the University of Idaho Extension Service. Free. Email to sign up.

FEB. 12

Happy Houseplants: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 12, Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 N. Penitentiary Road, Boise. Learn from experts Dave Fellows and Nancy Willis-Orr of The Potting Shed about the basics of growing indoor plants. $10 members, $15 nonmembers. Registration required. 343-8649,

FEB. 13

Landscaping with Native and Firewise Plants: 6 p.m. Feb. 13, Boise Public Library, 715 S. Capitol Blvd. Discussion with Ann DeBolt from the Idaho Botanical Gardens. Free. Email landscape to sign up.

FEB. 19

Berry Good: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 19, Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 N. Penitentiary Road, Boise. University of Idaho Extension Educator Ariel Agenbroad will introduce participants to the best berry crops for the Treasure Valley and share cultivation, maintenance, pruning and propagation ideas to help keep plants healthy and producing for years to come. $10 members, $15 nonmembers. Registration required. 343-8649,

FEB. 20

Organics for Soil Health and Water Efficiency: 6 p.m. Feb. 20, Boise Public Library, 715 S. Capitol Blvd. Discussion with Mir Seyedbagheri from the University of Idaho Extension Service. Free. Email to sign up.

FEB. 23

Culture and Care of Orchids: 10 a.m. Feb. 23, Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 N. Penitentiary Road, Boise. Janet Crist of the Treasure Valley Orchid Society and American Orchid Society will share her 35 years of experiences in growing orchids. $10 members, $15 nonmembers. Registration required. 343-8649,

FEB. 26

Intermountain Gardens: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 26, Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 N. Penitentiary Road, Boise. Mary Ann Newcomer, author of “Rocky Mountain Gardeners Handbook,” will share her personal recommendations of plants that thrive in our region. $10 members, $15 nonmembers. Registration required. 343-8649,

FEB. 28

Waking up Your Garden: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28, Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 N. Penitentiary Road, Boise. Vegetable garden manager Meg McCarthy will discuss planning, starting seeds, preparing and improving the soil, weeding, pruning and other chores to wake up the garden after a long winter. $10 members, $15 nonmembers. Registration required. 343-8649,

MARCH 22-24

Boise Flower and Garden Show: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. March 22, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 23 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 24, Boise Centre, 850 W. Front St. Shop for the latest in landscape design, garden art and decor, yard furniture, plants, decks, greenhouse and more. Enjoy display gardens, educational and fun gardening seminars, orchid and bonsai displays, a silent auction of container gardens and more. $8 general, $3 children 12-17, free for ages younger than 12.

MAY 10-11

Spring plant sale: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 10-11, 1211 S. Owyhee St., Boise. Annuals, perennials, herbs and veggies grown by garden club members and CWI horticulture students. Proceeds benefit community service projects and scholarships.

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Hands-On Gardener: Tips, Revelations and Resolutions

by Miriam Hansen

It is time once again to order seeds, toss old seed packets (three to five years old, depending on the vegetable) and start planning the garden. I order my seeds in January because I don’t want to miss the lower prices Fedco offers on some of the hotter varieties. Even that approach doesn’t always work! This year, in spite of ordering super early, ‘Fortex’ pole beans (a stringless French bean that produces extra long pods) were already sold out. I’ll have to get the more expensive packet from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and pay a second set of shipping charges.

Lettuce, spinach, mesclun mixes and cilantro have continued to produce well through mid-January in my single-ply greenhouse and cold frames. We’re slowly working our way through two freezers of frozen vegetables, and I’ve been converting some of our stored squashes into delicious puréed soup, which I freeze and pair with empanadas for weekend treats.

The beautiful sweet purple onions, ‘Rossa Lunga di Tropea’, are not very good keepers, so I chopped them up when they started sprouting in December and froze them to use when the ‘Copra’ and ‘Varsity’ storage onions run out. The ‘Ailsa Craigs’, arguably the best sweet onion on the market, are just starting to sprout and may go to the end of February. For an onion that doesn’t store well, that’s pretty impressive.

A tip I recently shared with a young friend is to wring out frozen vegetables after you’ve defrosted them. They will be crisper and taste fresher. I run the frozen vegetables under hot water long enough to break them up. Then I just grab a handful over the sink and squeeze hard enough to get a stream of water out but not so hard that they get mushy or disintegrate. It gets rid of the extra moisture, which can make frozen vegetables soggy. I used to only do this with summer squash but have discovered it works equally well with everything from Brussels sprouts to cauliflower, green beans and snap peas.

This year, my seed order reflects how much I have come to appreciate annual flowers, the workhorses of the perennial garden. I’ve spent so many years trying to plan perennials to keep the color parade going, forgetting that annuals not only give continuous bloom but will continue to bloom long into the fall. Many flowers, such as poppies, cleomes and nasturtiums, will also self-seed so you can move them around in early spring.

In general, annuals are plants that germinate, flower and set seed in one season. Perennials bloom for a short time but come back year after year. Biennials flower the second year, set seed and die. Foxgloves, lunaria (money plant) and clary sage are biennials that self-seed copiously. With biennials, the trick is to start the plants from seed two years in a row. That way you have blooms every year.

Just when you think you’ve got it all straight, some annuals are described as hardy, tender and half hardy. Level of hardiness just refers to how much cold they can withstand in the spring. Hardy annuals, like alyssum and violas, can be planted in the very early spring. Half-hardy annuals, like cosmos and petunias, can be directly sown outside when all danger of frost has passed but the ground is not yet warmed up. Tender annuals (most bedding plants) can’t be planted until the ground has warmed up.

Then there are half-hardy perennials like dahlias, geraniums, tuberous begonias and sword lilies that must be planted each spring after danger of frost has passed, and you have to lift their bulbs in the fall before a hard frost. Some folks think this is too much trouble, but if you’ve ever breathed in the fragrance of the white-flowered sword lily, dancing in a breeze with backlit rosy pink Japanese anemones, you might think it’s worth the bother.

Some of the colorful, prolific flowering annual varieties I’ve chosen this year include, ‘Profusion Series Zinnias’, ‘Durango Marigolds’, ‘Sparkler Hybrid Cleome’, ‘Twinny Snapdragons’ and ‘Chantilly Snapdragons’ to plug into perennial beds for color through the summer and into late fall.

It is reassuring to note that after almost 40 years of gardening, I continue to receive revelations. Last fall, a commercial flower grower explained why my sunflowers did not hold up well in bouquets. Apparently, certain sunflowers are naturally pollenless or male sterile. These sunflowers don’t shed piles of yellow dust, are less apt to be allergenic and hold much better in bouquets. The Sunrich series from Johnny’s Seeds, as well as ‘Soraya’ and ‘Zohar’, are some of the varieties I’ve chosen for cutting.

Of all the books on perennial gardening, my hands-down recommendation is The Art of Perennial Gardening by Patrick Lima. Still, for an education from A to Z, my favorite reading at this time of year is garden catalogs. When I have a specific gardening question, I type my question into the computer’s search engine and check out the gardening forums where gardeners share tips, discuss and disagree. For more advanced gardeners, Johnny’s has some very helpful planning, planting and growing guides available at

Every year, my resolution remains to grow the flowers I truly love and the vegetables and berries that I and my family really like to eat. I’ve begun growing some vegetables commercially, and that adds another layer of complexity to planning the garden. But whether you’re a home gardener or commercial grower, Happy gardening in 2013!


Miriam and her husband, David, live in East Montpelier, where they grow most of their own vegetables, berries and meat on less than one-quarter of an acre. Your questions and comments are welcome. You can reach Miriam at

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Gardeners’ Dirt: Seasonal gardening tips


  • January through March

    •  Water as needed due to drought; always before expected freeze.

    •  Water well minimum of once in January, twice in February to offset winter conditions.

    •  Mow and hand pull weeds or use cool temperature …

  • SHOW ALL »

    January through March

    •  Water as needed due to drought; always before expected freeze.

    •  Water well minimum of once in January, twice in February to offset winter conditions.

    •  Mow and hand pull weeds or use cool temperature herbicide. Proper lawn care wins weed battle.

    •  Mow warm-season grasses 1-inch lower in February than last fall mowing to remove winter damage.

    •  Fertilize in January according to turf type, but not in February unless lawn mowed twice.

    •  Check irrigation systems for proper performance; check soil moisture before setting timers.

Editor’s Note: With consistent inquiries on gardening guidelines, today’s article begins seasonal gardening tips from the Victoria County Master Gardeners.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful and not conducive to thoughts of spring gardens or summer flowers, but the garden calls in every season and winter is no exception. Be thankful for the cool and damp – and enjoy.

In these unpredictable winter months, there is plenty to do to maintain and prepare our lawns, beds and veggie gardens for spring. Like me, many Texas Master Gardeners will turn to a trusted and revered book for timely tips and reminders.

Texas-specific reference manual

I refer to a Texas-specific reference manual – Doug Welsh’s “Texas Garden Almanac” – which is probably in every Texas Master Gardener’s library. Planning, mulching, fertilizing, pruning, some planting or transplanting should be done in these cooler months. Getting all tools and irrigation systems in working order now helps beat the spring rush for tune-ups and repairs.

The tips here come directly from Welsh’s Almanac, though highly condensed. So bundle up and enjoy your winter gardening. Spring will be here before you know it.

Garden design

Use the winter months to peruse gardening books, magazines and catalogues for ideas for additions or changes to your landscape. Plan new beds for herbs, veggies, flowers, a well-placed tree or statuary.

With our ongoing drought, a birdbath would be helpful to wildlife in your area. Plan to plant your bare-root roses in February. Start other new additions in March.

Soil and mulch

Soil should be prepared for all the planting to come by incorporating good compost into the top 8 to 12 inches of currently unplanted areas. Add organic material every time you add plants. Amending your soil can be done now, but don’t overdo additives. Have your soil analyzed if you suspect major changes or you’re in a new home. Contact the county extension office for information.

Mulch your beds and young trees to conserve moisture and heat and to protect roots from the cold. Mulch again before spring.

Flowers, shrubs and trees


Flowering bulbs should already be planted.

Add organic matter to the soil every time you plant (except trees). Texas heat depletes nutrients quickly.

Plant or tend to established cool-season annual flowers.

Fertilize established plants with a high nitrogen fertilizer.

Plant bluebonnet transplants. Be vigilant for pill bugs or sow bugs.

Delay pruning. Freeze damage insulates live tissue.

Weed as needed. Avoid herbicides in cold weather.

Remove dead plant debris, “sanitize” the area.

Order bare-root roses.

Plant new trees or shrubs, transplant existing ones during this dormant season.


It’s pruning month – remove dead or damaged portions of existing trees, shrubs, etc.

This can be our coldest month – protect cold sensitive plants.

Wildflower plantings are ready to grow and bloom. Weed carefully.

Replace unhealthy or freeze damaged plants

Fertilize established cool-season annuals with a high-nitrogen fertilizer.


Divide fall blooming perennials and grasses, if needed.

Plant spring annuals.

Plant trees, shrubs, vines and groundcover while cool – less stress for everyone.

Plant spring-flowering trees like redbud and dogwood.

Cut back ornamental grasses if new growth is emerging at plant base.

Fertilize as last month.

Finish any pruning now. Let badly damaged perennials gain some new growth before pruning off all dead wood.

Move sheltered plants back outdoors.

Beware of late freezes and frosts.

Garden veggies, herbs and fruits


Transplant cool-season crops, and sow seeds for late winter veggies and herbs.

Plant bare-root fruit and nut trees.

Plant trees, shrubs and vines as directed for each plant.

Protect citrus from freezing.

Fertilize lightly with high nitrogen products, preferably water-soluble.


Transplant cool-season veggies, sow seeds of carrots, beets, greens and lettuce.

Jump-start spring planting by growing cool-sensitive giant transplants in containers that can be sheltered if freeze is predicted.

Transplant cold-tolerant herbs like chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, garlic, parsley, rosemary etc.

Fertilize lightly with water-soluble high nitrogen product. Herbs should not be fertilized as too much growth results in poor quality.

Make last minute purchases of bare-root fruit and nut plants.

Protect citrus plants from a late freeze.


If you gamble, plant warm-season crops the first week of March.

Not a gambler, buy transplants and transfer to larger pots easily moved indoors if temps drop.

Plant warm-season herbs like basil and mint now.

Fertilize veggie gardens with a high-nitrogen granular product.

Monitor crops for insects

Take care of fruit blossoms, or there will be no fruit.

The fertilizers referred to above are high-nitrogen and should be applied per 100 square feet accordingly: urea, one fourth of a pound; ammonium sulfate, one half of a pound; or blood meal, one pound.

Let’s hope 2013 brings good conditions for healthy gardening. Follow these proven tips and reap the rewards of beauty and bounty from your garden this year.

The Gardeners’ Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension – Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or, or comment on this column at

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Great Big Home + Garden Show returning to Cleveland

1/24/2013 – West Side Leader

By Ariel Hakim

The Dream Basement’s home theater, which will be on display at the Great Big Home + Garden Show Feb. 2-10, will feature 15 leather power-reclining seats.

This year’s Great Big Home + Garden Show will feature a 4,000-square-foot Tuscan-styled Idea Home that attendees can tour.
Photos courtesy of Marketplace Events

CLEVELAND — The Great Big Home + Garden Show will return to Cleveland’s I-X Center Feb. 2-10 for the fourth year with more than 650 exhibitors, new home improvement features, appearances by home and garden celebrities and returning favorites from the 2012 show.

This year’s event will showcase home improvement contractors, lawn and garden equipment, home décor and products and services, offering attendees ideas and inspiration to transform homes and gardens, according to show officials.

One new feature this year will be a fully constructed 4,000-square-foot “Idea Home” built by Perrino Builders. In business in the Cleveland area for more than 25 years, Perrino Builders won the 2012 “Best Overall Custom Home and Best Merchandising” by the Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland, according to event officials.

According to event officials, the Idea Home will offer ways to plan and create a dream house from concept to completion. The Tuscan-styled ranch will feature an island that seats eight, walk-in butler’s pantry, dining room overlooking a wine cellar and large dinette area. Visitors also will be able to explore the rest of the three-bedroom, three-bathroom home. Other rooms include a mudroom with a walk-in closet and lockers, three-car garage, laundry room, large front porch and home office.

Landscaping surrounding the Idea Home will be provided by Columbia Station’s Morton’s Landscaping, with a focus on low-maintenance design and color, according to event officials. The entrance will have raised flowerbeds, with a foyer built with Belgard pavers and decorative gravel. Azaleas, astilbes and bulbs will surround the outdoor entertaining area behind the house, with a fence of evergreens.

Another new offering is the 2,000-square-foot “Dream Basement,” built by Chagrin Falls-based Custom Remodeling and Design, according to event officials. The Dream Basement will include a wet bar, wine cellar, game room, exercise room and bath with a steam shower. Guests can sit back and relax in one of 15 leather, power-reclining home theater seats and experience live demonstrations in Xtend Technologies’ Home Theater.

Also new this year, show attendees can dine among the Garden Showcase in the Cambria Bistro, a full-service, white-tablecloth restaurant, according to event officials.

The Main Stage and Loretta Paganini Cooking Stage are combining this year. With appearances by home improvement experts, local chefs and celebrities, the Main Stage and Loretta Paganini Cooking Stage will offer attendees home and garden tips and food demonstrations, according to event officials.

“The Good Life” is the theme of the daily cooking sessions presented by local chefs and instructors of the Loretta Paganini School of Cooking. Demonstrations will include adding gourmet touches such as truffle oil to mashed potatoes, whole grain cooking and “Farm Proud” sessions. In addition, consumers will be able to tour the kitchen stage and vignette between stage presentations, which will feature the latest appliances, cabinetry and flooring, designed and built by Pepperwood Signature Homes Remodeling and Little Mountain Homes, according to event officials.

A returning favorite from 2012 is the 17 U.S. landmarks designed by area landscapers in the Garden Showcase located in the South Hall, according to event officials. Visitors will be able to vote for their favorite garden in the People’s Choice Awards.

Also, on Feb. 2 at 2 p.m., Architectural Justice, a full-service design and remodeling center, will host a fashion show on the Main Stage. With architecturally inspired pieces designed by the fashion and interior design students at Virginia Marti College of Art and Design in Lakewood, the show will be hosted by WKYC’s Hollie Strano.

Other offerings at the Great Big Home + Garden Show include:

• celebrity designer rooms custom-designed by Northeast Ohio design businesses and exhibitors, with the help of local radio and TV personalities;

• daily gardening seminars on landscape design, flora and furnishing outdoor rooms at the Petitti Gardening Stage. The Petitti Floral Mart also will feature outdoor furniture and plants to purchase;

• a plant sale, which will begin after the show closes Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m., with deals on the products and plant material on display in the gardens; and

• Playground World’s KidsZone, which features slides, swings, basketball hoops and a fully enclosed Springfree™ Trampoline.

Home improvement and culinary celebrity appearances will be made by Peter Walsh from the TLC show “Clean Sweep” (Main Stage, Feb. 2); Ohio-native Chris Crary, a season nine participant from Bravo’s “Top Chef” (Main Stage, Feb. 9); Matt Fish, owner and chef of Melt Bar and Grilled (Main Stage, Feb. 2-3, 8-10); and Matt Fox, creator and co-host of HGTV’s “Room by Room,” who will serve as the Main Stage’s emcee and make special presentations Feb. 2, 3 and 5.

Show dates and times are Feb. 2 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Feb. 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Feb. 4-8 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Feb. 10 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Admission for visitors ages 13 to 64 is $14 at the Box Office; $11 online, at Home Depot and AAA locations; $10 for seniors 65 and older with identification (Monday through Thursday only, with tickets purchased at the show Box Office); $5 for children ages 6-12 and free for children 5 and younger. Single tickets are valid for one day of the show, and a group rate is available for $9 each for a minimum of 20 tickets.

The latest show information is available at, the Home and Garden Events Facebook page and @Great BigHome on Twitter.


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RI Flower Show Turns 20

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