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Archives for January 28, 2013

MainStreet America creates new business model for home sales

MainStreet American isn’t the typical amusement park. Instead of roller coasters, concrete and Disney characters, the park has green lawns, landscaping, fountains and the feel of an exclusive neighborhood.

While the kiddies may not be scrambling to get in the gates, home owners, home builders, interior decorators, realtors and do-it-your-self designers may have found their niche.

The 14-acre park located in Spring, Texas creates an all new business model that cuts the drive out of home touring. Designed by Mike Feigin, CEO of Design Tech Homes and veteran home-builder, the multi-million park opened in November featuring an all-in-one destination for custom-home designs, home products and home services.

“It’s really what you need it to be for you,” said Lorie Freeze, head of marketing for the company. “You can go in there as a person looking to build a home from the ground up or you can go in as remodeler looking to remodel a room or redesign something.”

The park is the result of 15 years experience in the home building industry and years of research into home market trends.

What Feigin found was a lack of efficiency and organization in the home-building industry. Customers would have to drive from home-to-home to view a contractor’s or home-builder’s work, making the home building experience difficult and often overwhelming.

“Home tours are really, really popular, but if the weather is inclement and home shows are only on a certain weekend, it’s kind of tough to make it a successful venture,” said Freese. “You have to wait until next year to do it again.”

As a result, Feigin decided to develop a park features the latest trends in home designs and 12 showcase homes ranging from $150,000 to $1.5 million – all with different architectural styles. Customers can also stay up-to-date on the latest interior design and green building methods and products.

The park offers year-round home tours, an onsite restaurant, an in-house architecture firm, a florist, a furniture store and educational opportunities.

“He’s more than a home builder,” said Freese. “He pays attention to what people actually need and want and how the market changes.”

The styles and featured items will also constantly be updated, said Freese.

“As trends change, homes change, and eventually years and years down the road they’ll knock one down and build a new model,” said Freese. “So it’s not just the internal that changes, it will also be the home from time to time.”

Customers who find items they like can input the item’s code and make purchases on the spot, said Freese. Featured items not available at MainStreet America can go on a customer’s to-do list, which they can take with them for later.

“If you just want to redecorate, you can come in for paint ideas or new crown molding ideas or the latest trends in sofas, carpets and accessories. If you just want to have lunch and a nice day out with friends, we have a restaurant onsite,” said Freese. “It’s really your store.”

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Garden Cameos: Gather ideas at garden shows

Gardening 101

If you want to start learning right away, there is space available at the Community Gardener 101 course offered by the Spartanburg Men’s Garden Club. Classes start from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Feb. 12, and run through April 30. The cost is $155 and includes a one-year membership to the club (which is for women too).

The classes are held at Spartanburg Community College’s central campus in the Tracy Gaines Building.

Each class is presented by Master Gardeners, local professionals and the SCC horticulture staff (Jason Bagwell, Kevin Parris, and Jay Moore). I will be teaching annuals and perennials, and container gardening. Parris will teach propagation and pruning. Jeff Hall, Hatcher Garden’s horticulturalist, will talk on native plants. Other subjects include soils, basic botany, seed starting, vegetable gardening and landscaping.

This class is offered twice a year and is an excellent start to learning the basics of gardening.

To sign up, call 592-4406.

For more information, call Joe Maple, who is in charge of the class, at 576-3319.

Davidson Horticultural Symposium

This event at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., will feature the noted English gardener Noel Kingsbury as its keynote speaker this year. The theme is “Beyond the Garden Gate: Exploring Creative Spaces.”

In addition to Kingsbury, Julia Moir Meservy, Nan Chase and well-known terrarium expert Tovah Martin will speak.

The registration deadline is Feb. 22, and the $89 fee includes lunch.

There are two morning lectures, followed by lunch. Then there is an additional lecture after lunch, followed by a workshop. It is a full day and always very informative.

There are always lots of refreshments, an extraordinary marketplace, as well as a great book sale.

To register, go to and register. All events are held at the Knobloch Campus Center.

Southern Spring Home and Garden Show

Just up the road in Charlotte, N.C., is the Southern Home and Garden Show. This year the show will be open from Feb. 28 to March 3. This event will be at the Park Expo and Conference Center, 2500 E. Independence Blvd. Tickets are $20 for adults and $8 for children. For more about this show, visit www.southernshows. com/sss. If you can only go to one show this year, this one is the closest and is usually very good.

Southeastern Flower Show

Farther down the road in Atlanta, you can visit the 25th Southeastern Flower Show. This year’s theme is “What’s Old Is New Again.” It will take place March 15-17 at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

This show will have a whole section on judged entries in landscaping, artistic design, discovery, horticulture, youth and photography.

General admission tickets are $21 and are available at

Philadelphia Flower Show

I have saved the best for last. The best flower show in the country is the Philadelphia Flower Show. It usually picks a country to draw its theme from. This year the show is based on the United Kingdom, with the theme “Brilliant!” The show is held at the Philadelphia Convention Center.

The display gardens are incredible every year, and I expect that this year it will be better than usual with the English theme. There are behind-the- scenes tours to get you into the show before everyone else. The Pennsylvania Horticulture Society sponsors the show and arranges for all of the speakers.

There are education lectures going on nonstop, as well as garden teas, and the very best miniature garden judged competition. In addition, the displays of pictures made entirely from plants and flower petals are incredible.

Just standing in the entryway to this flower show is an amazing experience. There are endless gardens that will instantly transport you to a faraway place. Bring your camera and especially your notepads and pens. Tickets are $27 and are available at This is a show you should attend at the very least once in your life. Spring is on its way, and the daffodil foliage is peeking out of the ground everywhere. Now is the time to plan your spring activities. This list of lectures and shows will help arm you with ideas for you to bring home and implement into your very own backyard garden space.

Linda Cobb is a master gardener who lectures, teaches and does garden design. Reach her at 574-8493 or email her at

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Landscaping Ideas To Increase Your Property Value

Different studies have shown varying results with regards to increased property values due to landscaping.

Boise, ID ( ) January 25, 2013 – Different studies have shown varying results
with regards to increased property values due to landscaping. For example,
adding a deck, a porch, a patio, or plants around your home may increase
your property value
by up to 14%! Additionally, studies have found that
beautifully landscaped homes with trees, shrubs, flowers, and plants have
typically sold faster in the past. Therefore, landscaping is imperative because
it plays an important role in the economic value of your property. At the same
time, it also has a distinct quality of life value, simply providing peace,
privacy, and beauty to your property.

To Add Value To Your Home

Whether you plan on staying in your
home or selling it, you should make the most of your property, beginning with
reducing maintenance wherever possible, such as with a sprinkler system. You’ll
save lots of time and energy when such a system is in place, and it will
definitely look impressive as a selling feature in the

Perennials, Shrubs, and Trees

No landscaping plans are
complete without these essentials regardless of the size of your property.
Perennials are plants that will grow back and bloom year after year. Annuals are
still important in the garden, as they will continue to add excitement and color
in between the blooming perennials. Shrubs add shape and interest, and trees
provide vertical line for more excitement.

Light up your property and
your home at every opportunity. Today, it is a very economical undertaking,
considering the availability of solar powered LED lighting, which can
dramatically cut down the cost of their installation around the garden. Bright
floodlights or up lights beneath a tree can also create visual drama to make
your home look absolutely fantastic and give it curb appeal. Solar garden lights
provide safety and softer illumination which look stunning along the sides of
the walkway that lead to the entrance.

To really pack a punch, consider
installing a water feature, like a fountain. In the past, this was usually quite
expensive, but that’s not the case anymore. In fact, these also can be powered
by solar energy, so anyone can install them, and they are available in different
shapes and sizes to complement the architectural design of your

While your budget may not allow you to do all of the above at once,
you may be able to pace yourself with one project per year. You can stretch out
your large projects in phases over the course of a few years. Slowly but surely
your project will be completed and it will definitely add to your enjoyment at
home. You will also have the opportunity to witness the excitement of each step
being unveiled knowing all the while you are adding value to your

Media Contact Information:

P.O. Box 140134
Idaho 83714
Phone: 208.884.2694

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


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Rolls-Royce crashes into Las Olas building; shots fired at rapper Rick Ross

A Rolls-Royce driven by South Florida rapper Rick Ross crashed into a building on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale early Monday after being shot at more than 10 times from what neighbors said was a high-powered rifle.

With bullets whizzing by, Ross tried to drive away and lost control of the car, according to Fort Lauderdale police. Riding along with him: his passenger, Shateria L. Moragne-el, 28, of Davie.

Ross, who also lives in Davie, had been celebrating his 37th birthday at the nearby Floridian diner on Las Olas. One of the bullets meant for the car pierced the front window of the iconic restaurant and reportedly landed in a cooler.

No one was hurt in the shooting and the crash, said Fort Lauderdale police spokeswoman DeAnna Garcia. The suspects escaped before police arrived, she said.

Hours after the shooting, bullet shells remained scattered along the 1500 block of Las Olas near the diner.

The morning breakfast crowd at the Floridian ate their eggs near a shot-up window at the restaurant.

Carol Touchstone and George Maznicki, who own a boutique on Las Olas called Bohemian Style and live two blocks away, said they heard a barrage of booms around 5 a.m. Monday.

“I was sound asleep and I heard boom-boom-boom and I ran out said, ‘Did you hear that?’’’ Touchstone said.

Maznicki replied: “That was gunfire.”

Maznicki, 55, said about 10 shots came rapid-fire from what sounded like a high-powered rifle. Maznicki and Touchstone hunt and do target-practice, and say they are familiar with guns.

Touchstone, 61, said there has been a lot of robberies, strong-arm robberies and graffiti -tagging recently in the neighborhood.

The shot-up window of the Floridian diner was cordoned off by chairs and is taped up from the outside to prevent the glass from shattering. A nail salon called Tiffany also got hit through the front window.

Around the corner, the Rolls-Royce had swerved off the road and went through a landscaped patch in front of a small apartment building. Two or three little palm trees were run over and some of the landscaping was uprooted.

Ross, who grew up in Carol City, is best known for his hit single Push It and his founding of Maybach Music Group in 2006. Most recently, his 100 Black Coffins was featured in Quentin Tarantino movie Django Unchained.

Last February, a house the rapper owns in Miami Gardens was the scene of a crime. A resident, Gregory Paul Nesbitt, was shot dead in the front yard.

Ross had spent his birthday Sunday celebrating on South Beach, where and his girlfriend partied with P Diddy and Ross performed his newest single “Box Chevy” at Club LIV.

Ross, whose real name is, whose real name is William L. Roberts II, named himself after former drug trafficker “Freeway Ricky Ross,” who has sued the rapper over use of his name.

On Monday afternoon, Freeway Ricky Ross tweeted this:

“I don’t wish this upon no man. Reality is when u claim 2 live that life ppl know that you are faking. They are going 2 test u. reality.”

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Camden County MUA awarded governor’s award for environmental excellence


NJ Department of Environmental Protection

The Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority was awarded the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in the Healthy and Sustainable Communities category.

The CCMUA was selected for its green infrastructure program, “Camden Stormwater Management and Resource Training,” or SMART initiative. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Rutgers University, Camden City, NJ Tree Foundation and Cooper’s Ferry were partners on the SMART initiative as well.

“The SMART initiative has constructed new rain gardens in Camden City to avert stormwater from entering Camden’s overburdened sewer system, and reduce the potential for flooding, sewer backups and sewage overflows in the city during major rain events,” said Freeholder Jeffery L. Nash, liaison to the CCMUA in a press release. “Since the program began, 20 rain gardens have been installed in Camden City, which capture about 2 million gallons of stormwater per year.”

The Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards recognize outstanding environmental performance projects in the state.

“Rutgers Agricultural Extension Service consulted on the selection of plants and the grading for the rain gardens,” Nash said in the release. “The landscaping selected not only serves to beautify Camden, but also to captures stormwater and prevents it from entering into Camden’s combined sewer system.”

The winners of the awards will be honored today at 7 p.m. at the State Museum in Trenton.

The awards program is sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology, in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.

Contact the South Jersey Times at 856-845-3300 or at

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Idyllic village property will appeal to a wide spectrum of buyers

HILLSIDE in Gallowstree Common is a substantial, five-bedroom brick and flint family home which has been completely refurbished, extended and updated to a high standard, in a plot of more than an acre and with a newly built two-bedroom detached annexe.

Located in a highly regarded Chilterns village, the property has more than 2,000sq ft of accommodation arranged over three floors, including four large reception rooms, a 24ft kitchen/breakfast room and three fitted bathrooms.

It has been a joint project for Ian James and Mark Borthwick who have both put in a huge amount of time, energy and creativity to produce a stunning home.

Mr Borthwick said: “We bought the property four years ago with the intention of giving it a full refurbishment. The work included building the two-bedroom annexe and landscaping the gardens as well as updating all the existing rooms.”

The duo have tackled renovation projects and new builds before with their trademark style of mixing the traditional with the contemporary. They usually like to add environmentally friendly features such as solar panels but strict planning regulations ruled that out this time.

Instead they focused on achieving a finish that is second-to-none with clean lines and natural fittings such as stone and wood flooring as well as granite counter tops.

The attention to design detail is excellent with oak floors, staircases and a subtle colour theme running throughout the property.

Mr Borthwick said that the pair’s skills complement each other perfectly with himself more on the planning side while his partner concentrates on the sales and financial side, playing equal roles in the design elements.

Mr James added: “We probably put more of ourselves into the projects than we should, getting totally involved in every aspect but I think that attention to detail shows through in the finished product.”

The property would appeal to a wide spectrum of buyers. It could suit a growing family while those with teenage children could benefit from offering them independent space in the annexe. It could also appeal to those who would like elderly parents living nearby as a granny annexe, accommodation for a live-in nanny or to provide studio/work space.

Mr Borthwick added: “The key to the property is that the space is flexible to work for all manner of requirements.” While the pair usually opt for an open-plan design, the layout of Hillside lent itself to offering separate spaces with good flow from room to room.

The front door opens into a spacious entrance hall with an oak floor extending through to the kitchen at the far end of the property. The 24ft drawing room has windows overlooking the front and rear gardens and features a limestone fireplace with gas coal-effect fire. There are two further reception rooms which could be used as a study, formal dining room or a more informal living room or playroom.

The kitchen/breakfast room is the real hub of the home, extending more than 22ft and with far-reaching views over the gardens.

Fitted with an attractive painted kitchen which includes wall and base cabinets, deep drawers and integral wine racks, the kitchen also has an inset butler sink with integrated electric double oven, microwave, gas hob, dishwasher and washing machine.

There are complementary black granite worktops to the cabinets and a quartz work surface to the island unit. There is ample space for a breakfast table and chairs.

Attractive stairs lead down to the 22ft garden room, which also has a solid oak floor and bi-fold doors which open directly into the garden.

Upstairs, the master bedroom also overlooks the gardens and has fitted wardrobes across the width of the room.

The en-suite bathroom is a real treat, fitted with limestone tiles to the walls and floor and underfloor heating. There is a large, fully enclosed shower cubicle, contemporary sanitary suite and chrome heated towel rail.

The guest bedroom overlooks the front and is also fitted with built in wardrobes and has an en-suite shower room, again with underfloor heating and a high specification suite.

There are three further double bedrooms and a large family bathroom fitted with a high-quality white suite with travertine marble tiles to the walls and floor.

The gardens are a feature of this property, extending more than 200ft in length and once contained a tennis court. An extensive deck wraps round the side and rear of the property making the most of the south-westerly facing gardens.

Planning approval has been granted for a detached brick outbuilding which could be used as a home office/games room or gym, providing the new owners with the possibility of a project to add their own stamp on to the property and to add further value.

There is an extensive drive which leads to a detached brick and flint garage.

The property is bounded to the front with a brick and flint wall with a newly planted laurel hedge. An extensive gravel drive leads to a detached double garage.

The grounds immediately to the side and rear have been landscaped to provide a private terrace with steps leading to the main lawned garden. There are mature trees and hedges to the boundaries and the end of the garden backs on to open fields.

A two-bedroom self-contained and detached, single-storey annex has been newly built in the grounds, adjacent to the main house. Fitted with a bathroom and open plan kitchen/living room.

The property is available through Davis Tate for a guide price of 1,250,000. For further details telephone 0118 972 4242.

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Published on 28 January 2013

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Garden bird-watchers get tips from RSPB at the Forum

The RSPB Wild Garden weekend at the Forum. Allana Townsend, 10, with some cuddly bird friends. Picture: Denise Bradley

By CHRIS HILL, Rural affairs correspondent
Sunday, January 27, 2013
9:30 PM

Nature lovers were encouraged to join the nation’s biggest wildlife survey this weekend – and to make their gardens more appealing to the birds they recorded there.

The RSPB Wild Garden weekend at the Forum. Sue Stephenson, RSPB volunteer, with examples of bird seed. Picture: Denise Bradley

The RSPB, in partnership with conservation groups including the Friends of the Earth, the Bat Group Norwich, and Master Gardeners, invited the public into the Forum in Norwich throughout the charity’s Big Garden Birdwatch weekend.

The survey asked the public to spend an hour counting the numbers of birds in their garden or local park, and report back to the RSPB to help build a better understanding of species’ habitats and population.

And to help boost the counts in future years, visitors to the Forum were taught about wildlife-friendly gardening, given a “pick and mix” choice of bird seeds, and offered the chance to build their own bird box.

Aggie Rothon, Big Garden Birdwatch project manager for the RSPB, said: “The survey is about getting as many people as possible across the East region sitting down and looking out of their window for an hour and counting the birds in their garden. “The most important thing is that they then submit the results to the RSPB so we get an idea of numbers and what we may be able to do to help them.

The RSPB Wild Garden weekend at the Forum. Adam Murray, RSPB social media officer, with a tray of fat balls for the birds. Picture: Denise Bradley

“Once people have done the big garden birdwatch this weekend, what we’re asking them to do is to take the rest of the year to improve things in their garden, so they can see the difference next year.”

David Cannon was one of the RSPB volunteers selling £3 bird boxes for blue tits and great tits, made from timber kits supplied by the prisoners at Wayland Prison near Watton.

He said: “It is critical that they face north-east, otherwise the birds won’t use them. But blue tits don’t care what they look like, as long as they keep the water out, so why would you pay £30 for one?”

Among the experts giving tips on how to make gardens more wildlife-friendly was Shirley Boyle, who tends the RSPB’s Flatford wildlife garden in East Bergholt, in Suffolk.

The RSPB Wild Garden weekend at the Forum. Spiderman, 5-year-old Frankie Welander, with one of the bird boxes that customers can build, helped by RSPB volunteer, Darren Clarke. Picture: Denise Bradley

She said: “One of the easiest things to do, although this is not always popular, is to be a little less tidy in your garden. It does not mean you have to let it all go mad, but leave a small corner of the garden for the grass to get a little longer, because it provides a good habitat for insects and invertebrates which provide food higher up the chain.

“People tend to take things down the dump straight away, but we say: ‘Why not use them creatively?’ If you have got tree prunings you can lay them down to make a ‘dead hedge’. Deadwood is a great source of food and habitat for a lot of creatures and it is a greener way of dealing with your waste rather than driving it to the dump or burning it.”

The event also included a gallery of wildlife photography, as well as nature-inspired face-painting and story-telling.

Anyone who took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch survey can record their results at


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    Green thumbs up for roof-top design

    A roof-top garden in Middletown and a pond preserve in Westport are among the projects honored recently by the Connecticut Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

    The Excellence Award for Corporate and Institutional Landscape Architectural Design went to Boston-based Robert Olson Associates for its work designing the rooftop garden at the Community Health Center in Middletown. The Excellence Award is the group’s highest honor.

    It was the first garden rooftop design in Connecticut for the firm and one of only a handful constructed in the state. The $17 million, 48,000-square-foot Community Health Center was constructed last year on a dilapidated, asphalt parking lot on Main Street.

    Installing rooftop irrigation is similar to setting up ground-level systems, said David Miller, a LEED-certified landscape architect at Robert Olson Associates.

    “One of the things we had to figure out was how to run the system up through the core of the building,” said Miller. “We had the elevator and other building components included, so it wasn’t that difficult of a process once we knew where everything was and how it was going to fit.”

    Mark Masselli, who started the health clinic in town 40 years ago, envisioned a rooftop garden designed to absorb storm water runoff, cool the building and promote educational opportunities for students and visitors.

    “The community surrounding us is important too. Primary care is only one piece of the puzzle,” said Masselli. “People can’t be healthy if their neighborhood isn’t healthy.”

    The garden, which has 10 inches of soil, provides a habitat for butterflies and pollination for bees. Masselli coordinates with the nearby elementary school to maintain the plants and vegetables.

    “Although not an entirely new practice, rooftop gardens and green roofs are becoming more common,” said Barbara Yaeger, chairperson of the CTASLA Awards Committee and a self-employed landscape architect in Madison.

    “As development becomes denser, the value of outdoor green space increases. Rooftops provide an ideal space that not only allows humans to interact with nature, but also provides added benefits of reduced heating and cooling expenses, increased wildlife habitat and storm water management,” said Yaeger.

    Towers|Golde LLC, a New Haven-based landscape architect firm, was honored this year for its work at the Gateway Community College. It also earned recognition in 2010 for its rooftop garden at the Betty Ruth Milton B. Hollander Healing Garden at the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale.

    The CTASLA recognized Erskine Middeleer Associates LLC in Georgetown with an award for its Sherwood Pond Preserve in Westport.

    The site was formally occupied by Allen’s Clam House, and purchased by the Town of Westport to protect it from developers. After a five-year design and permitting process, the park was constructed over a one-year period starting in 2009, according to Silvia Erskine, a principal at the design firm.

    The firm transformed the gravel and asphalt parking areas into a park with walking paths and benches for viewing the flora and fauna of the marsh, and a kayak launch area.

    “Each year it seems the projects emphasize more and more the importance of sustainability in designed and built landscapes, with more native plants and green infrastructure on a majority of the projects,” said Yaeger.

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    Gardening news and notes: Inspiring landscape design; ideas on Pinterest …


    View full size

    I’m thinking about putting some romance — and shade — into the garden with an arbor. Maybe in a style reminiscent of this one at Red Ridge Farms.


    As I scrolled for ideas for an arbor I’m planning, I came across pictures of the work of Rees Roberts + Partners. I’m still drooling. I can’t afford any of the designs, but voyeurism brings inspiration and I got plenty of that. I especially like the Mediterranean project about halfway down the page. A version of the pillared arbor actually might work.  

    PINNING IT: Have you tried Pinterest yet? If not, sign on and explore. I love it. As does columnist Christine Arpe Gang, “… with the blossoming Pinterest, gardeners have another great way to connect with the things they love,” writes columnist Christine Arpe Gang. “The online site, which combines social networking with electronic scrapbooking, allows us to envelope ourselves in stunningly beautiful and inspiring virtual environments with the click of a mouse.”

    On Huffington Post, freelance writer Katherine Gustafson tells the story of how two neighbors changed a crime-infested neighborhood in San Francisco through gardening. One of them told her about coming home one day to find someone had planted a corner of his yard. “Even though there was a throng of people — drug dealers who were carrying guns, pretty scary folks — she had planted flowers on this little strip of dirt by my driveway,” he told me. “I was so moved by that . . . I thought, that’s what life is about. That’s what community development is about. That’s what’s going to change this block faster than any public investment or outside strategy. And in fact it did.”

    — Kym Pokorny

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    See innovative design and spring displays

    See innovative design and spring displays

    28 January 2013

    RHS London Plant and Design Show 2013

    Come to the RHS London Plant Design Show on 19-20 February 2013 and immerse yourself in inspirational plant displays and cutting-edge garden design.

    See displays of a variety of plants that have received the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM) – from conifers to culinary herbs. We highlight the history behind these plants and illustrate why AGM plants are important to horticulture.

    The show also launches the new RHS AGM list and the revised RHS hardiness ratings which help to inform gardeners which plants are hardy to certain temperatures in winter.

    A platform for young designers

    Why not take a look at the garden plans of budding young designers challenged with creating gardens with an ‘Eco-Innovations’ theme? Then see their plans come to life when they build their gardens at this year’s RHS Flower Show Tatton Park in July.

    In addition, visitors can get expert advice and inspiration from specialist growers of spring plants. Keep an eye out too for a great buy from the extensive range of garden products and rare and unusual plants.

    Buy tickets

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