Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for January 25, 2013

5 Things to do in St. Pete This Weekend

1. Home Show at Tropicana Field

At Tropicana Field this weekend, the Tampa Bay Home Show will feature hundreds of area home specialists. Featuring furniture, decorating ideas to landscaping to remodeling to interior design, and the list goes on. See the latest in kitchen design and the hottest fashions in window coverings and flooring. The home show is Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission and parking are free. 

2. Benefit Concert for Cassie Andonian

Last weekend,Ferg’s Sports Bar hosted a benefit for one of its own at its Central Avenue location. This weekend, Quaker Steak Lube is stepping up to the plate and hosting another benefit for Cassie and 5-year-old daughter. All donations of $1 or more will receive a Commemorative Black Bracelet celebrating the Event. The Greg Billings Band will provide the entertainment. The benefit starts at 7 p.m. at Quaker Steak Lube, 10400 49th St. N in Clearwater. 

3. The Lynx Docks in St. Pete

Through Jan. 30 hop aboard this replica War of 1812 privateer ship as it docks in St. Pete. You can purchase tickets to ‘sailaway’ on the Lynx or just tour the ship. It will be docked at Harborage Marina at Bayboro. Sailaway trips are $65 for adults and $35 for children 4-12. It is $6 to tour the ship. 

4. Jackyl at State Theatre

Heavy metal fans, head to State Theatre Friday night to rock out to Jackyl. Formed in 1990, Jackyl released its debut album in 1992 and has released such hits at  “Down On Me,” “When Will It Rain,” “I Stand Alone” and “The Lumberjack. The doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $17. Opening acts include Luvdogz, Relentless and Drive 31. 

5. ‘The Piano Lesson’ at American Stage

August Wilson’s masterpiece, ‘The Piano Lesson’ is at American Stage Theater this weekend. Friday and Saturday evening curtain is at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday matinee curtain is at 3 p.m. Tickets are $39 for the matinees and $49 for the evening shows. 

Article source:

Home Funerals Grow As Americans Skip The Mortician For Do-It-Yourself After …

A little over five years ago, Alison and Doug Kirk held their 9-year-old daughter’s hand as she lay on a futon in their Nashville living room, told her they loved her, and watched her take her last breath.

The Kirks had known for a long time that their little girl, Caroline, would die. In her last weeks, she was under hospice care, lived off an oxygen machine, was fed through a tube, and spoke only in small murmurs. It was the normal course for a child born with Niemann-Pick, a terminal disease that gradually leads to the breakdown of the nervous system, brain and lungs.

What happened after Caroline’s death was anything but typical.

Alison and Doug carried Caroline upstairs to the bathtub, where they washed her skin and hair, dried her limp, 45-pound body with a towel and placed her head on a pillow on the bed in her old room. Alison slipped a white communion dress on Caroline, turned up the air-conditioning and put ice packs by her daughter’s sides. She put pink lipstick on the child’s paling lips, and covered up Caroline’s toes and fingers, which were turning blue at the nails, with the family quilt.

Caroline stayed in her bedroom for 36 hours for her final goodbyes. There was no traditional funeral home service, and no coroner or medical examiner was on hand. Caroline’s death was largely a home affair, with a short cemetery burial that followed.

“We had taken care of Caroline her whole life,” recalls Alison, whose other daughter, Kate, has the same disease and will also have a home funeral. “Why would we give her to someone else once she died?”

Each year, 2.5 million Americans die. For the majority, about 70 percent, deaths happen in a hospital, nursing home or long-term care facility. What happens afterwards is nearly always the same, with few exceptions for religious traditions: A doctor or nurse will sign a death certificate and the body will be whisked to the funeral home, where it’s washed, embalmed, dressed, and prepared for a viewing and burial. A family usually sees the dead only a few times: when they die, if there’s an open-casket viewing and in the rare case when a casket is opened during burial.

But a small and growing group of Americans are returning to a more hands-on, no-frills experience of death. In the world of “do it yourself” funerals, freezer packs are used in lieu of embalming, unvarnished wooden boxes replace ornate caskets, viewings are in living rooms and, in some cases, burials happen in backyards.

Nobody keeps track of the number of home funerals and advocacy groups, but home funeral organizations have won battles in recent years in states such as Minnesota and Utah that have attempted to ban the practice. Most states have nearly eliminated any requirements that professionals play a role in funerals. It’s now legal in all but eight states to care for one’s own after death. And the growth of community-based, nonprofit home funeral groups and burial grounds that are friendly to the cause point to an increasing demand.

The reasons vary from the economic to the psychological and cultural. The average funeral costs $6,560, while a home funeral can cost close to nothing. In a society where seeing death and speaking of it is often taboo, home funeral advocates are challenging the notion that traditional funerals are anything but a natural end to life. Instead, they assert, death and mourning should be seen, smelled, touched and experienced.

“There are people who get it and think it’s a great idea. And there are people who have been so indoctrinated to think a different way, a less hands-on way, that they can’t imagine anything else,” says Elizabeth Knox, the founder of Crossings, a Maryland-based home funeral resource organization and the vice president of the National Home Funeral Alliance. Knox travels across the nation to run trainings on do-it-yourself funerals and her book on her daughter’s home funeral is what inspired the Kirks to do their own. Her group is one of several that have seen interest grow in recent years. They include Final Passages (California), Natural Transitions (Colorado) and Undertaken with Love (Texas). There are 61 organizations that are members of the NHFA, many of which are run by just one person.

“A lot of people don’t want to do anything with touching dead bodies,” says Knox. “They consider it creepy. But it can actually be the first step to healing and acceptance of death. Slowing down the process allows all involved to absorb the loss at their own pace. It’s an organic emotional and spiritual healing not available from limited calling hours at a remote location.”


caroline doug

Caroline died at noon on a Tuesday. Through Thursday morning, her body stayed in her childhood home, surrounded by old dolls, stuffed animals and her favorite books. Friends and family came in and out to say goodbye. Some would get on the bed beside her body, stroking her face and hair. Others would sit across from her in a rocking chair.

“In the morning, I spent time with Caroline. At night, I spent time with Caroline. I would tell her goodnight. It was very calming to sit next to her. I touched her. I kissed her. And I felt like this is where she was supposed to be,” says Alison. “I told her things that were happening. I said there had been suffering in the last few days, but it was a relief that she was not suffering anymore.”

A few dozen visitors came to the house throughout Wednesday. There was a guestbook in the downstairs hallway, and people would gather to chat on the porch. “Caroline is in her room, and if you want to say goodbye to her, you can do that,” Alison would tell each guest. Most went upstairs for private visits in her bedroom. At least one couple decided not to visit her there.

In Tennessee, where the Kirks live, the laws on home funerals are relatively lax. After getting a death certificate — Alison and Doug had Caroline’s pediatrician sign off on one — a family is free to do what it wants with a dead body within a reasonable amount of time. Alison had a funeral director, who was friendly to her ideas, on-call for urgent needs like figuring out how to patch up a leaking hole in Caroline’s stomach once a feeding tube was removed. She also had him bring a hearse with a casket to her home.

caroline kirk grave

“I did look into if we could bury Caroline at our own house. We could have,” says Alison. “But it’s not like we are on some ancestral ground that has been passed for generations.” She opted for a cemetery. Mount Hope, about 20 miles south of Nashville in Franklin, fit her needs. It’s small, with a “country feel,” she says. “No big landscaping, and not this big uniform place.”

On Thursday morning, the family carried Caroline back downstairs. They lifted her into a casket that was a simple, pine box. Alison put The Little Engine That Could next to her daughter. Doug put in a small, leather keychain shaped like a vintage ink jar that he had used since college (“It was a continuity of presence,” he says. “I pretty much had it on me or nearby for 26 years … It was irreplaceable even though it meant nothing to anyone else but me”).

He rode in the hearse with his daughter, and before the body was lowered into the ground, the hospice chaplain read “The Circle of Days,” an adaptation of a prayer by Saint Francis of Assisi that honors God’s creation of the elements, animals and the heavens. Doug sang Caroline’s favorite song, one that would always soothe her in times of pain: “Big Rock Candy Mountain.” It tells the story of a hobo’s idea of paradise.

Afterwards, there was a memorial service at Vanderbilt University, where both parents first met. Religion in any formal sense was absent.

“We wanted a simple funeral because her life was simple,” says Alison. “It was short and simple.”

She also considers it one of the best decisions she has ever made.


It’s not always as easy as the Kirks found it to be.

Richard Bentley, a 70-year-old retiree who lives in Tupper Lake in upstate New York, has tried twice to take care of his loved ones when they died. His dad died in 2008 of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, and, 13 years before that, his mother died of an aortic dissection.

New York is one of the few states that requires a funeral director to be present or to sign off on nearly every part of after-death care. Medical examiners and coroners have to turn over bodies to funeral directors, and the law says an undertaker has to personally oversee each funeral. (The other states with similarly restrictive laws are Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska and New Jersey).

For his father, Bentley says the process was unnecessarily intrusive. He wanted a cremation, which would usually require a death certificate, transport of the body and a cremation fee in most states, but he had to meet with his hospice nurse, the town clerk and the local funeral director to arrange all the paperwork necessary. The total cost: $940. He reluctantly obliged.

“One doesn’t wish to think about things like cost and comparison shopping at the time of a loved one’s death,” says Bentley. “At the same time, I do not believe, and my father before his passing did not believe, that some stranger should be entitled to walk off with a week’s wages or more in return for a few hours of work at the expense of the loved one’s spouse and children.”

Because his mother was airlifted to a hospital in Vermont to have her heart condition treated, Bentley says he had a much easier time with her. She died in the hospital, and he was able to take her body — stored in a box — from the morgue to his car. He drove her to a chapel for a prearranged viewing, then to a crematorium near the Vermont-New York border (it would have been illegal to transport the body in New York state). He returned home for a memorial at his house with her ashes. It all happened within a day.

“We would like to see New York state change its funeral law to allow family to handle such matters as filing death certificates, home viewing and preliminary care of the deceased, and transportation of the deceased without the intervention of a licensed funeral director as prescribed by current law,” says Bentley, who’s on the board of the Memorial Society of the Hudson-Mohawk Region, a group that monitors New York funeral laws and counsels families interested in home funerals. “There is no public need that is satisfied by such laws.”


The public need for funeral homes — there are 19,680 in the U.S. today — is relatively new.

Until the Civil War, death was largely a home matter and home funerals were the norm. It was common at the time for unembalmed bodies to be put in simple caskets and buried in cemeteries that weren’t treated with pesticides. (It’s a growing trend today, known as “green burial.”) Historians say that our culture’s approach to death in the pre-Civil War years had much to be praised.

“Death was much more ingrained into daily life and cultural life. People were rural-living, mortality rates were higher. Most people died at home,” says Gary Laderman, a professor of religious studies at Emory University and author of Rest in Peace: A Cultural History of Death and the Funeral Home in Twentieth-Century America. It was a time before modern hospitals, “a kind of mediator between the living and the dying,” he says.

But the war and the need to transport bodies from the South to the North led to widespread embalming. The practice was even more popularized after Abraham Lincoln’s embalmed body was taken on a 13-city tour after his assassination in 1865. Mourners gawked at how well it was preserved, according to Laderman.

“The most common thing used to be hands-on family involvement. We Americans have completely forgotten that there is nothing universal about calling the mortuary at 3 in the morning,” says Josh Slocum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance and co-author of Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death.

Slocum thinks there are two reasons that home funerals haven’t taken off: “people not knowing they have the option and the ways laws in many places are written to favor the funeral home industry.”

It’s nearly impossible to do a home funeral in some places, but the funeral homes and home funerals can often coordinate activities to get around that hurdle. Like the Kirks in Nashville who hired a funeral director to guide them on how to take care of Caroline’s body and used the funeral home’s hearse, there’s been an uptick in families who want to use only select services of a funeral home. Just as hospice care for the dying gradually became mainstream over the decades, newer generations of less traditional funeral directors are more likely to be interested in helping make arrangements for home services, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

“I don’t think there is a funeral director who is opposed to a family being more intimately involved as long as it better meets the needs of a family, but this is an evolving process,” says Pat Patton, the co-owner of Patton-Schad Funeral Cremation Services in Sauk Center, Minn., and a board member of the NFDA. In his 34 years in the business, he’s been asked to help arrange one home funeral. “If you don’t want what we usually provide, how do we know what you do want? How do we make it work for both of us? Funeral directors are certainly willing to help families take care of their dead at home, but because it’s new and different and outside what would be normal for our business, it takes time.”

He also isn’t sure home funerals are always the right choice.

“In general, deaths at home and a person caring for everything is fine. But we know that, depending on the cause of death, things can go badly in a hurry,” says Patton. “Sometimes there can be rapid decomposition, blistering on the skins or fluids leaking from the body, things that a family may not be able to deal with. Our concern related to home funerals is that people may just not be ready.”

In a culture where talk of death is avoided, direct experiences like home funerals have benefits and drawbacks. On one hand, seeing and sitting with a dead loved one can help a mourner accept death, says Sue Wintz, who is a consultant and managing editor at New York-based HealthCare Chaplaincy. “That action is part of the healing,” says Wintz, who was a hospital and hospice chaplain for 30 years.

But Wintz says that home funerals require “a lot of support and help from your community or family. You can get mentally and physically exhausted.”


Alison admits that Caroline’s funeral was tiring.

Growing up as the youngest sibling in a big Southern Baptist family in Louisiana, she had seen lots of death and had been to plenty of traditional funerals. But even though they were physically easier than services for her daughter, she found them to be emotionally incomplete events (especially so when her parents died).

“My father died from bladder cancer when I was 16. And I just didn’t know what I needed at the time to grieve for him,” she says. “And when my mother died — the same year I was pregnant with Caroline — it was just this huge social event.”

Her mother’s funeral was held back home in Shreveport at a large church designed to seat a few thousand, with a reception before, a reception after, and lots of talking among hundreds of guests in between.

“There were so many family friends I hadn’t seen in years. People just kept on coming to say, ‘Hi,’ and, ‘You’ve got to see this cousin and that cousin.’ I just wanted to be in the sanctuary with my mom with her open casket,” she remembers. “I wanted to have a little last time to be in her presence. I wanted to talk to her.”

Alison was alone with her mother only for a few minutes. “I was self-conscious because people kept on coming in. But I got to touch her hand briefly. She was very cold. And it was a reminder that it was only her body.”

caroline kirk gravestone

So when Caroline died, Alison spoke to her every day, sometimes every hour.

She wrote entries in an online journal to remember how Caroline’s death felt and to explain her decision to family and friends: “I told Caroline that if she knew what a froufrou outfit I had her in she’d be giving me the business. We compromised in that I let her stay barefoot under her big skirt. The girl never liked shoes … There were a few changes in Caroline’s body over the next two days, not many, and they served to remind us that this was only her body, that her spirit had been released. Everyone had time to sit with her, read to her … I frequently found myself running into her room to tell her what I was doing, and it felt so natural.”

Before Caroline left the house, the parents took her sister, Kate, into the room where she was held. “We’re saying bye to Caroline’s body,” they told her. “But she will always be your sister and she will always love you.”

Kate was 5, and she, too, was already showing signs of Niemann-Pick disease.

Kate is now 11 and in a wheelchair. She was pulled out of fourth grade a few months ago, and has been under home hospice care. She can breathe on her own, but is fed through a tube and has frequent seizures. She’s awake for only a few hours each day.

Her condition isn’t as complicated as Caroline’s. Her decline is almost entirely neurological, and her death will be akin to that of someone dying of Alzheimer’s. She could live for a few years or she could have a sudden seizure that would end her life.

The Kirks have purchased a plot next to Caroline’s grave for Kate, but have otherwise made few concrete plans for her death. They don’t know what she will wear or how she will look. It’s not time to plan for that. She’s still alive. They do know that she’ll die at home in the hands of her parents, hearing the same “I love yous” her sister last heard. There will be no funeral home taking her covered body away, and no wake in a room she’s never seen.

“It’s a hard thing to have to say the final goodbye to your child,” says Alison. “But with Caroline, we made it as good as it could be. I wouldn’t change a thing when Kate’s time comes.”

Loading Slideshow

  • Catholic Prayer For The Dead

    Eternal rest, grant unto him (her) O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him (her).

    May he (she) rest in peace (Amen) May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.


  • Jewish Prayer For The Dead – Mourners Kaddish

    Exalted and hallowed be His great Name. (Cong: “Amen.”)
    Throughout the world which He has created according to His Will. May He establish His kingship, bring forth His redemption and hasten the coming of His Moshiach. (Cong: “Amen.”)
    In your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon, and say, Amen.
    (Cong: “Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and to all eternity, blessed.”)
    May His great Name be blessed forever and to all eternity. Blessed and praised, glorified, exalted and extolled, honored, adored and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He. (Cong: “Amen.”)
    Beyond all the blessings, hymns, praises and consolations that are uttered in the world; and say, Amen. (Cong: “Amen.”)
    May there be abundant peace from heaven, and a good life for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen. (Cong: “Amen.”)
    He Who makes peace in His heavens, may He make peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen. (Cong: “Amen.”)

  • Bahai Prayer For The Dead

    O my God! This is Thy servant and the son of Thy servant who hath believed in Thee and in Thy signs, and set his face towards Thee, wholly detached from all except Thee. Thou art, verily, of those who show mercy the most merciful.
    Deal with him, O Thou Who forgivest the sins of men and concealest their faults, as beseemeth the heaven of Thy bounty and the ocean of Thy grace. Grant him admission within the precincts of Thy transcendent mercy that was before the foundation of earth and heaven. There is no God but Thee, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous.

  • Muslim Prayer Al-Fatiha

    “In the name of God, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
    All praise and thanks is for to God, [The] Creator, Owner, Sustainer of the Worlds.
    The Entirely Merciful, The Especially Merciful.
    Owner of the Day of Recompense.
    You alone do we worship and You alone we seek for help.
    Guide us to the Straight Path.
    The path of those whom Your blessings are upon, Not of those who You have cursed nor of those who have gone astray.”

  • Hindu Prayer For The Dead

    The wise have said that Atman is immortal: And that the phenomenon of death is merely the separation of the astral body from the physical body. The five elements of which the body is composed return to their source. Our scriptures teach us that as pilgrims unite and separate at a public inn, so also fathers, mothers, sons, brothers, wives, relations unite and separate in this world. He who thus understands the nature of the body and all human relationships based upon it will derive strength to bear the loss of our dear ones. In Divine plan, one day each union must end with separation.

  • Anglican Prayer For the Dead

    O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our
    prayers on behalf of thy servant N., and grant him an
    entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of
    thy saints; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth
    and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, on God, now
    and for ever. Amen.

  • Words For Parting

    He is made one with Nature; there is heard
    His voice in all her music, from the moan
    Of thunder, to the song of night’s sweet bird;
    He is a presence to be felt and known
    In darkness and in light, from herb and stone…
    He is a portion of the loveliness
    Which once he made more lovely.

    Words for Parting: 2
    The courage of the early morning’s dawning,
    And the strength of the eternal hill,
    And the peace of the evening’s ending,
    And the love of God, be in our hearts.

    Words for Parting: 3
    The world is better for your having lived,
    We are better for having known you.
    We loved you living- we love you now.

    Words for Parting: 4
    Farewell, traveler.
    We do not know your destination but our love and gratitude go with you.
    Rest now- in peace- and in the love we bear you.

Earlier on HuffPost:

Article source:

Planting some ideas

A few tips on how to get a pro-looking garden all by yourself

Living in cities, most of us only have a little space in the front or out back for a garden. One of our readers (Bindhu N from Killipalam) has written in asking how to modify her existing front garden. She has a lawn but wants something more manageable — potted plants and maybe a bed or two of flowering plants. The reader also mentions that she has a tall light in the middle of this space. I thought it would be interesting to visualise this and work around it, to give you all some ideas.

Potted plants are easy to maintain and can be used in different places and different combinations to give your home a new look every now and then. So, for instance, you could get about 30 potted plants, perhaps eight in 12” pots, 10 in 9” pots and the rest in assorted ceramic, glass and terracotta containers of various sizes.

Now comes the exciting part, choosing the plants. For the large pots, it’s best to get plants that grow big and bushy. Large crotons, bougainvilleas in different colours, and Indian jasmine are good options.

Since we are talking of a home garden, Barleria Cristata or December Poo and Crossandra or Kana-kambaram also work.

Lilies in different colours, areca palms, and plumerias are plants that are available in almost all nurseries and are easy to maintain.

For the smaller pots, get money plants, smaller crotons in different colours, zamia, oleander (Arali), and hybrid varieties of roses, gerberas, chrysanthemums, pansies and seasonal flowering plants. The small, variegated planters can hold fancy plants like zamias, asparagus, lilies, and 10 o’clock plants.

You could also have a few ornamental pots with adenium, cacti and Bonsais. Now that your potted plants are done, it’s time to create the garden.

Plan your flower beds at the end of the garden or close to the boundaries. Plants that grow tall, like canna lilies with their large orange and red flowers, add a lot of colour and are perennial plants in our tropical climate. You could also opt for tall oleanders in a row of red, pink and white colours.

Tall creepers like blue bells, bougainvillea, betel leaf or Vethilai, and Nithya Malli also work for the first row against the wall. In front of this line, arrange a row of potted plants, and then plant another bed with shorter plants — dwarf allamanda, golden duranta, or lavender are good choices. This creates something close to a step garden.

The reader mentions a tall light in the centre of her garden. This can be played up. Place pots all around it, and add a fancy shade to the lamp (terracotta, poly-urethane, or tinted glass) for effect. It adds character to the space. How about a bench or cane chair under it? Even a large granite stone or rock could work as a seat.

Besides this, you can place small potted plants on windowsills and ledges, or hang plants from arty, terracotta containers in your porch or from window overhangs. Your little haven is ready.

The writer is an environmentalist who works on landscaping projects in public and private spaces. Mail her at

Article source:

In the Garden: News and events from the Naples Botanical Garden

Naples Botanical Garden, 4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples, offers events for a variety of interests. The Garden is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays. Regular admission prices: Members free; $12.95 adults, $7.95 children (ages 4-14); 3 and younger, free. Information: 239-643-7275 or visit

Special Garden event:

Tributes in the Garden:,5:30 to 9 p.m. today: Don’t miss Rocket Man: A Tribute to Elton John featuring Mudbone from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The Garden will close by 5:30 p.m. No outside food or beverage permitted; bring your own seating. Admission: $7 Garden members/$15 others; child $3 member/ $5 nonmember child.

Lifelong Learning Lecture: 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday: Growing Tomatoes in Southwest Florida: Science and Technique, presented by Jonathan Thomforde; $10 garden members/$15 for others.

Here’s what’s happening this week:

Dogs in the Garden Walk: The family and the family dog both have the opportunity to visit the gardens and enjoy the canine-friendly atmosphere (except the Children’s Garden) during designated Dog Walk Hours.

The fee is $7.95 for nonmember dogs

Sundays: 9 to 11 a.m.

Tuesdays: 8 to 11 a.m.

Thursdays: 3 to 5 p.m.

Saturday, Sunday

W.O.N.D.E.R. in the Garden: 10:30 a.m. — This month’s theme is “Birds.” What makes a bird a bird? Eggs? Flight? Feathers?

Learn the answer to this and more as we examine bird feathers up-close, make birdfeeders and become “bird detectives.” Smith Children’s Garden; no registration necessary.


Yoga in the Garden: 10 a.m. The Garden hosts a weekly outdoor yoga class, led by a Bala Vinyasa Yoga instructor, on the Kapnick Caribbean Garden lawn. The fees are $10 for garden members and $15 for others (includes admission to the garden).


Early Bird Hours: 8 a.m. — Every Tuesday, we open our gates for the “early birds.” Whether you choose to paint, take photographs, use the miles of walking trails, or just come out to bird watch, we invite you to join us during these special morning hours.

Regular Garden admission; free to members.

Walking Group: 9 a.m. — Show up at the Garden for a special get- moving program to help guide you in the right direction with health and fitness instruction and activities.


Master Gardener’s Plant Clinic: 9 a.m. to noon, 1 to 4 p.m., Visitor’s Center. Mike Malloy, plant and butterfly expert, answers your questions about plant health, landscaping and more. Free.

Tai-Chi in the Garden: 10 a.m. — Instructor Karen Atkin will host this energy-flow exercise on the Water Garden stage each Thursday. The fees are $10 for garden members and $15 for others (includes admission to the garden).

Article source:

City, local watershed districts win awards

Neighborhood parties and tours of the gardens in the Lily Lake and Lake McKusick neighborhoods organized in 2011 and 2012 by the Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization along with work by the Borwn's Creek Watershed District and city of Stillwater, earned awards recently from the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts

Neighborhood parties and tours of the gardens in the Lily Lake and Lake McKusick neighborhoods organized in 2011 and 2012 by the Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization along with work by the Borwn’s Creek Watershed District and city of Stillwater, earned awards recently from the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts

Since 2006, the City of Stillwater, Brown’s Creek Watershed District (BCWD) and Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization (MSCWMO) have collaborated with other local governments on an educational program to protect and improve area lakes, streams and rivers. Last month, the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts recognized this partnership as its 2012 Watershed Program of the Year.
The BCWD encompasses all of Hugo, May Township, Grant, Stillwater Township and Stillwater that drains to Brown’s Creek. The MSCWMO is comprised of the nine communities bordering the St. Croix River between Stillwater and St. Mary’s Point. Although the two organizations operate through different structures, they share a similar goal of protecting and improving surface water resources within their jurisdictions, as well as the St. Croix River.
When the collaborative, dubbed the East Metro Water Resource Education Program, began in 2006, there were seven partner entities: BCWD, MSCWMO, Stillwater, Washington County, Washington Conservation District and the Valley Branch and South Washington Watershed districts. Today, the partnership has includes 18 local government entities in the east metro area.
The partners work to raise awareness and understanding about water resource issues and promote practices such as native plantings, rain gardens and low-impact lawn care that help to reduce polluted runoff, especially near priority water bodies. In partnership with the WCD, BCWD and MSCWMO also offer free site visits, project designs and cost-share grants to area residents to make it easier for people to complete water-friendly landscaping projects on their properties.
In addition to educating the public, the East Metro Water Resource Education Program also provides training for municipal staff and officials. One example of this is a series of three St. Croix River workshops that were each attended by more than 100 representatives from cities, counties and watersheds along the Lower St. Croix River in Minnesota and Wisconsin. At the workshops, community leaders learned about issues impacting the river, such as excess nutrients and invasive species, and practices they could implement at a municipal level to address these problems.
The winner of the Program of the Year award was announced at the annual meeting of the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts, Nov. 29 through Dec. 1 in Alexandria.
In 2013, Stillwater-area education activities include workshops on landscaping for clean water and managing buckthorn. In addition, BCWD received a grant to work with the city of Stillwater and homeowners in the Neal Avenue neighborhood near Brown’s Creek Park to install rain gardens. The MSCWMO organized neighborhood parties and tours of rain gardens installed near Lily Lake and Lake McKusick in 2011 and 2012.
To learn more about the Brown’s Creek and Middle St. Croix Watersheds, including how to apply for grants and technical assistance for clean-water landscaping, visit or Learn more about the educational partnership at

No related posts.

Article source:

Break forth into Spring at the 2013 Dogwood Arts House & Garden Show

Break forth into Spring at the 2013 Dogwood Arts House Garden Show
By Jeaneane Payne

The 2013 House Garden Show is set for February 15 and 16 at the Knoxville Convention Center in downtown Knoxville.

The show has been selected as one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events for 2013.

With more than 200 exhibits, a Cooking School, a Green Living Pavilion, arts, and the third annual fundraising raffle the House Garden Show, the stage is set for a spectacular event.

Showcasing will be the Grand Gardens which will feature over 10,000 square feet of landscapes constructed by the region’s top designers. Interior designers will display innovations for the home.

Special Features:
• The Green Pavilion is a sustainability initiative that emphasizes energy efficiency and conservation. Green Living vendors will educate attendees about new energy-efficient technologies, products and services, while providing resources focused on greener and cleaner homes, gardens, and overall lifestyles
• A Cooking School, sponsored by locally-owned-and-operated, Avanti Savoia, will be providing thirteen cooking demonstrations focused on home-made Italian cuisine, throughout the weekend
• The third annual fundraising raffle will give visitors 18 years and older the opportunity to win one of five amazing prize packages including:

– Enter for a chance to win $2,500 to customize your own furniture from the HGTV HOME Design Studio at Bassett. Donated by Scripps Networks Interactive.

– Cook like Food Network chefs with $750 worth of kitchen products from Kohl’s. Donated by Scripps Networks Interactive.
– Building materials for a 15′ x 60′ patio to include a fire-pit – valued at $7,500. Donated by ACME Block Brick.
– Two (2) Telescope Casual Momentum Deep-Seat Arm Chairs; One (1) Telescope Casual Solid Surface Coffee Table; and One (1) Big Green Egg, Nest, and Mates – all valued at $4,450. Donated by Prism Pool and Backyard.
– Invisible Fence Silver Package to include a control panel with one (1) surge protector, one (1) computer collar, one (1) power cap battery plan, professional installation for up to a half-acre, and two (2) training sessions from a certified trainer – value: $1,099. Donated by Invisible Fence.

• Artists – furniture makers, custom tile makers, faux painters, fine art painters, and more!

Celebrity speakers will be on-hand throughout the weekend on the Entertainment Stage as they educate and entertain audiences. Among others, Matt Muenster, host of DIY Network’s Bath Crashers will present “Bathroom Design for 2013 Beyond!”; Leigh Anne Lomax from Cheekwood Botanical Garden in Nashville will present “Cheekwood’s Dynamic Dogwoods: Building an Exemplary Collection”; and Alison Victoria, host of DIY Network’s Kitchen Crashers will present “Alison’s Five Best Kitchen Tips.”

Participating artists include: Alex Smith, Art by Nick, Cadman Cummins Studios, Charles Pinckney Designs, Jill Stone Studio, Michelle Monet Creations, The Clay Horse, and Tufa Garden Art.

Participating Landscape Designers include: Ecoscapes, Forever Green, Landscape Outfitters, Mark W. Fuhrman Complete Landscape Services, Petey’s Landscaping, Pleasant Hill Nursery, Proscapes, Reno Land Design, Stuart Row Landscapes, The Lawn Butler, and Willow Ridge Garden Center Landscaping.

Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (over 65), and $5 for youth (6-12 years old). Children under 5 are admitted free. Tickets purchased at any local ORNL Federal Credit Union will receive $1 off the ticket price from January 28 through February 14. All proceeds benefit Dogwood Arts.

The show, presented by the Knoxville News Sentinel, will take place Friday, February 15 and Saturday, February 16 from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm and Sunday, February 17 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

For more information on the House Garden Show, visit

Published January 24, 2013

Article source:

Gardening Tips: Learn about square-foot gardening

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013 10:45 am

Gardening Tips: Learn about square-foot gardening

By Matthew Stevens

RR Daily Herald


Think about landscapes even in a small city like Roanoke Rapids compared to landscapes in suburban or rural areas.

Subscription Required

An online service is needed to view this article in its entirety.

You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



Or, use your
linked account:

Current print subscribers

You must login to view the full content on this page.

Or, use your
linked account:

© 2013 Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thank you for reading 10 free articles on our site. You can come back at the end of your 30-day period for another 10 free articles, or you can purchase a subscription and continue to enjoy valuable local news and information. If you need help, please contact our office at 252-537-2505.

You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



Or, use your
linked account:

Current print subscribers


Friday, January 25, 2013 10:45 am.

Article source:

Compleat Gardener: Grow fresh tips for Western Washington

Eat Fresh! Winter is the time to order seeds for spring gardens, and seed companies have enjoyed a resurgence of popularity as health and wellness moves to the forefront of the minds of not just gardeners, but consumers as well.

Western Washington gardeners are lucky because Ed Hume Seed company is located near Puyallup and as a local garden legend, Ed himself continues to oversee the operation of the seed varieties that do best in our cool summer climate. You can order seeds online at or just visit a local nursery or garden center and scan the display of seeds in the distinctive dark black seed packets.

The most important tip for successful gardening from seed is to read and follow the instructions on the label – and arm yourself with extra information on soil preparation and harvest tips to insure a productive experience.

Grow fresh tips for Western Washington

1. Slugs will eat everything soft and tender – and are especially attracted to lettuce and other leafy greens. Plan ahead and bait for slugs before your lettuce seedlings sprout. One way to beat the slugs is to lay damp newspaper on top of your lettuce patch right after you plant the seeds. Tiny baby slugs will collect under the newspaper so you can gather them up easily.

2. Heat-loving crops such as tomatoes, basil, eggplants and squash should not be planted too early. I wait until after Father’s Day to add these warmth-seeking plants to my garden.

3. Peas need to be planted in early spring because they fade quickly in hot weather. Pre-soak your pea seeds or wrap them in a damp dish towel so they are partly-sprouted before you plant. This helps to prevent sweet peas and garden peas from rotting in the cold wet soil..

4. It takes skill and lots of heat to grow amaranth, the ancient grain now being sold as a complete protein and the darling of the heirloom seed companies. Stick with seeds that do well in cool soil – carrots, broccoli, cabbage and kale are crops to start with for beginners.

(Want to learn more about heirloom seeds? Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has great information and fresh seeds for sale.

5. Crops in pots is the answer for beginning gardeners. Patio tomatoes, bush cucumbers, basil and other herbs all benefit from the extra heat generated by setting a clay or ceramic container on a sunny patio.

6. Plastic pots and light-weight foam containers (some look just like terra cotta and stone) keep the soil cool and do not release moisture. Gardeners in Western Washington have better luck growing vegetables by using clay or ceramic containers that absorb heat and release excess moisture. If you do use plastic pots, don’t over-water.

7. Most potting soils are sterile or made form what is known as a “soil-less” mix of peat, sand and perlite. This makes the potting soil light weight and quick-draining and excellent for preventing disease. But this also means that most potting soils have no nutrition for the plants. You must fertilize container gardens.

8. Berries are easier to grow in Western Washington than fruit from trees. This is because apples, pears and cherries are more prone to disease in our cool climate. Raspberries, strawberries and blueberries grow better here than almost anyplace in the world. Easiest of all, harvest native blackberries and huckleberries and reap the health benefits without planting a thing.

9. Perennial herbs from Mediterranean climates such as rosemary, thyme and oregano will return year after year but only if grown in a raised bed, rock garden or container with excellent drainage. Fresh herbs can be grown indoors but after a few months the plants will weaken from lack of sunshine. Most herbs do well in poor soil – they are great plants for beginning or busy gardeners.

10. Some crops grow too well. Mint will take over in a garden with damp soil and horseradish, hops, and kiwi have all generated lots of complaints about invasive growth from local gardeners. Just a reminder that growing your own food is not that difficult in our climate. So plan to plant something this spring – and eat fresh!

Article source:

Gardening column: Some tips on do-it-yourself grafting

Garden enthusiasts are planning for spring, spending quality time researching claims (very often outrageous claims) from garden catalogs about the latest, greatest new plants that are being advertised for the 2013 growing season.

This year there will be more heirlooms offered and many more grafted vegetable plants to choose from than in past seasons.

Commercial growers and hybridizers will be offering a nice variety of tomato plants in this classification. They follow the market and know that tomatoes are the all-time favorite plant of most vegetable gardeners.

You can expect to pay more for grafted plants because the process of blending two different types of tomatoes, or peppers or eggplants, for instance, is a labor-intensive process, and also involves healing time for the plants. Even so, the results from trials (by wholesale growers and personal gardeners) of both heirloom and grafted vegetables are proving to be well worth the cost.

I was recently told of an experience one Fort Wayne gardener had raising grafted tomato plants.

As I’m sure you remember, 2012 was extremely complicated weather-wise — early spring, then very hot and dry. Actually, for quite a while, we had drought conditions. This gardener’s grafted tomatoes were doing well in spite of the weather, and then he had to be gone for several days.

There was no one to continue caring for them, so he thought they would surely be dead by the time he was able to return home. Much to his surprise, they were doing just fine. They continued that strong growth and fruit production until very cold weather.

Try it yourself

If you are feeling adventuresome and wish to learn the art of grafting, here are a few tips on how to begin:

•Purchase heirloom seeds and begin planting indoors by late February or early March.

Using heirloom seeds which are more naturally resistant to disease has proved to be one of the best ways to avoid early and late tomato blight.

•Use healthy young plants that have strong roots.

•Use compatible plants to graft together, such as those in the Nightshade family: tomatoes, potatoes (not sweet potatoes), eggplants and sweet and hot peppers.

•Before approaching your transplants with a razor blade or knife, watch this very clear YouTube video demonstration produced by the University of Vermont Extension on how to graft tomatoes: watch?v= WSwTCwlhFgo.

•Washington State University Extension has developed what they call a “healing chamber.” See pictures and more information at this website:

This discussion covers large chambers but also includes construction of an inexpensive small chamber if a gardener should decide to do plant grafting at home.

What is actually being built is an enclosed high humidity, no light chamber to set the newly grafted plants in so that the healing process can take place more quickly.

•As with any new plant that is grown in a greenhouse or indoors (and these will have been in the dark), they need to be acclimated to their new environment. After all signs of frost are past, and over several days, give them a few hours each day outside, beginning in deep shade.

Don’t rush this process. Little by little, move them each day into a bit sunnier location, being careful to avoid sunburn. Finally, plant them in the garden on a cloudy day or in the evening.

Be prepared to stake grafted plants immediately after grafting and during seasonal growth — and especially during fruit bearing.

The weight of the fruit can break apart the union where the two plants were grafted together.

Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to You also can read her What’s Bloomin’ blog at This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.

Article source:

Birdwatching tips for the Big Garden Birdwatch

Blue titsBlue tits

Wildlife lovers across the UK are being asked to count birds this weekend for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

The bird charity wants people to spend one hour in their garden, or local park, and record the highest number of each bird spotted at the same time.

Mistle thrushMistle thrush numbers are down, according to the RSPB

Don’t count the total number of a species over the hour – to avoid including the same bird more than once.

The results can be submitted to the RSPB’s Birdwatch website up until 15 February.

How to take part

For example, if the most you see during the hour is three blue tits in your garden at the same time, you’d record that number.

And you’re only looking for birds that actually land in your garden, not ones that fly overhead.

Check out the RSPB’s website for how to tell which birds are which

The Big Garden Birdwatch is done every year to give a snapshot of how birds are doing in Britain.

RobinA robin

Birdwatching tips

Birdwatching can be enjoyed any time of the year. You don’t need any special equipment – just your eyes and ears – but you can use binoculars or a telescope.

It can also be done anywhere – nature reserves, country parks and forests are a few good bets.

Here is some birdwatching advice from the RSPB:

1. Put birds first – don’t get too close to birds and don’t disturb them or their habitats.

2. Think about your behaviour – respond positively to people if they ask what you’re doing, as you may get them interested in birdwatching too!

3. Respect the countryside – check the rules for where you’re going and respect the local residents and landowners. Don’t go onto private land without permission unless it is open for public access on foot.

4. Record your sightings – you can submit what you see to the BirdTrack website, a project that keeps track of our birds.

5. Rare birds – if you spot a rare bird, be careful about spreading the news too quickly. It could mean loads of visitors flocking to the spot, which might put the bird in danger. Try and tell the landowner or nature reserve warden about it.

Article source: