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Archives for February 1, 2013

OC cities get down to business

Gallery-owners Barbara and Ludo Leidevitz’s dream came true when they eyed a lease sign on a building they’d wanted for more than a decade.

The triangular-shaped space, complete with high ceilings and lots of windows, was across from the Festival of the Arts grounds and the Laguna Beach Playhouse. The couple got a business license, a conditional-use permit and a Planning Commission OK and opened the Ocean Forest Gallery just days before the festival season began last summer.

New businesses in OC in 2012

Lake Forest: 113

Rancho Santa Margarita: 28

Laguna Beach: 31

Anaheim: 3,996

Huntington Beach: 2,889

Newport Beach: 3,089

Irvine: 1,763

San Juan Capistrano: 1,582

Now, immersed in the arts community and embraced by nearby business owners, the couple’s business is thriving.

“I feel honored,” Barbara Leidevitz said. “It’s so renowned here for its artistic atmosphere. At times, I’m like, ‘Wow, we’ve really got an art gallery here.'”

The city’s arts reputation, its quality of life and its reputation as a thriving tourist destination are big draws for businesses, city officials say. In 2012, more than 31 businesses opened in the 24,942-resident town.

“More than 50 percent of people who want to do business because they’ve been coming here for years and have had wonderful experiences,” said Ann Larson, planning manager who’s been working with interested business owners for 22 years.

Cities countywide are positioning themselves to attract businesses and the sales tax revenue they bring. Whether by waiving business licenses, honing in on specific segments of the market or through some other approach, cities are tailoring their economic development strategies.

Some pay full-time staff, while others look to consultants to market the city’s vision to prospective companies and retailers. Many work with their chambers of commerce. Still others develop task forces to help prospective businesses get through red tape. When commercial properties fill up, demand drives up rents; that spills over to residential units and property values go up with demand for more employees, said Jan Brueckner, a professor of economics at UC Irvine.

Businesses look for well-maintained communities to settle in, experts say. A good community lifestyle helps draw workers. Businesses also look to see what other businesses have set up shop in town. Settling near another, similar, business makes it easier to find skilled workers because they’re already in the area – and, in some cases, ideas from one business may rub off on another, Brueckner said.

“Once a place gets the ball rolling, they get a cumulative advantage,” Brueckner said.


In inland Orange County, Lake Forest is home to at least 40 businesses with national and international headquarters. The city promotes itself as both a geographically well-positioned and a family-oriented location for business. In the third quarter of 2012, the city’s business parks had 98 percent occupancy, compared to 94 percent in Irvine and 96 percent countywide, said Jessica Gonzales, economic development manager.

Oakley occupies seven buildings and is the city’s largest employer, with 2,400 people. In 1997, the company was one of the first to buy land in what is now Lake Forest’s corporate community. Other sports-action companies like Sole Technology now operate in the city. More than 113 businesses opened in 2012 in the 73,000-resident city.

This summer, Applied Medical, based in Rancho Santa Margarita, will expand into Lake Forest. The company has purchased two buildings there.

Top reasons new businesses say they come to Lake Forest include no business license requirement, expedited permitting and plan-check processes, one-on-one business consultations and competitive lease rates. Five new master-planned communities will be built in the city in the next few years bringing more than 4,000 new homes conveniently located for employees.

City officials in Rancho Santa Margarita last week discussed a plan to attract more business to their 50,000-resident community. The city budgeted $48,780 to hire a consultant.

Two recent successes for Rancho are In-N-Out Burgers and Cinepolis, a high-end, six-theater entertainment complex where guests can order food and alcoholic beverages from their cinema seats.

Both businesses were recruited to the city through efforts by council members. Three years ago, former Councilman Jerry Holloway attended the International Council of Shopping Centers, a group that helps members network through education, research and action on legislation. There Holloway made contact with representatives from In-N-Out. At that time Rancho was one of 200 cities vying for the burger eatery.

“We got a lot of input from residents saying they would like it,” he said. “Having it here will also get people to stop in town that otherwise might not. It generates a nice sales tax revenue.”

Cinepolis took an interest in Rancho when Mayor Tony Beall and several city representatives including Lt. Brian Schmutz, the city’s chief of police services, traveled to Del Mar to review an existing location. City leaders wanted to make sure that the theater and serving alcohol would be neighborhood compatible.

Ultimately city leaders want to blend resident-serving business with a balance of high-profit companies. The city has 13 businesses with national headquarters, including Cox Communications and DeNaults True Value. Last year 28 new businesses opened in the city.


While Lake Forest is home to large companies in action sportswear, avionics and food retail, Rancho wants to add businesses that offer needed services to residents. Laguna Beach uses art as a primary strategy to attract bed and sales tax revenues for economic growth and to create jobs.

In December, Laguna got a Turning Red Tape Into Red Carpet award from the Orange County Business Council for its arts-oriented economic development campaign.

The campaign, an effort between the City Council, the Visitor’s Bureau and the Arts Commission, creates funding from the city’s Business Improvement District, which adds 2 percent to the existing bed tax.

The funds are used to market Laguna Beach nationally, regionally and locally as an arts-tourist destination and to provide revenue to the Laguna Art Museum, the Laguna Playhouse and the Laguna College of Art Design. In 11 years, the program has generated nearly $15 million in funding to promote tourism and the city’s arts. It is the only California business improvement district dedicated entirely to arts-related tourism purposes.

City officials want to quell the idea that doing business in Laguna is difficult. In 2010, a business-assistance task force was created to analyze the local business climate. It looked at how to retain businesses, help businesses prosper and attract new businesses. It also worked to reduce fees and provide tax reductions to draw new business.

Recently, the city developed “Open for Business,” a way for prospective business owners to see what approval hurdles they might encounter and how to overcome them, Planning Commissioner Ann Johnson said.

All businesses who want to open in the city’s 118-acre downtown specific plan have to get Planning Commission approval. The area is restricted by types of businesses and their locations. A plan is under way now look at the downtown area’s restrictions to see what works and what doesn’t.

Workshops have been set up by the Planning Commission with businesspeople, landowners, architects and local groups to review requirements. Traffic, parking and landscaping are among the issues under scrutiny. Next steps include public input on specific areas.

As for the Leidevitzes, the city’s business climate works. Their gallery, for years in an industrial area of Santa Ana, is now in a venue that provides high visibility.

“We revised our mindset in what we’re showing and really grown as a gallery,” Leidevitz said. “When we were just in college we were drawn to Laguna. We’d come here and make a whole day of it and dream of a gallery here.”

Contact the writer: 949-492-5152 or or

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Strategic execution- please stop innovating


Want more real breakthroughs faster in your firm or department? Here’s an easy way: stop “innovating” so much.

That counter-intuitive approach is the unavoidable conclusion of a fresh look at how most firms approach innovation. You’re probably making one or more of these innovation errors. Fixing them will boost your performance.

The three major ways people mis-handle innovation are: wheel reinvention, over-focus on the core, and putting people first (in the wrong way).

Re-Inventing the Wheel

Fred is a lighting and electrical engineer for a firm that designs and builds the interiors of buildings (light, HVAC, power, etc.). They have a core need to run projects, and run them very well. When Fred saw that his firm was unnecessarily losing money too often on projects, he made a classic mistake — he started to re-design the project management process. Himself. Then, he made another version of that mistake, recruiting some peers to help him re-design their project management approach. In isolation. Then, they made a third version of that mistake, inviting everyone in their firm who was interested, to contribute to the effort.

Here’s the key — all of them had engineering degrees, yet none of them had heard of the Project Management Institute (PMI). Fred was doing a great job of including internal stakeholders. He just wasn’t aware of a universe of external people who had solved most of his project management problems.

PMI gives professional certifications — such as the PMP (Project Management Professional). PMI publishes a massive reference book, the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) that includes chapters on all Fred’s major problems. PMI and its affiliated vendors run in-person and online training in all areas of the PMBOK needed to earn the PMP.

Fred was leading a hopeless effort to re-invent the PMBOK from first principles. And he didn’t even know it. All that time and energy could have been saved, and his firm could have made massive improvements in mere months, if he’d looked outside for some ideas.

When tackling a tough problem, avoid taking a risky trip up the Productization Path.

An Idea is not a Product

An Idea is only a Product when it works outside the lab, in the rest of the world. For example, turning an idea into a piece of software may take as little as 10% of the total effort to bring it to market — the other 90% comes from the rest of the trip up the Productization Path — creating the elements of a Product — quality tests, documentation, user training, a support team, training for the support team, a stock of replacement parts (for hardware products), maintenance manuals, distribution channels (for new product lines), pricing, sales training, sales support material, etc.

The “Sapling Saver” is a great example. The inventor, Craig Smith (on whose advisory board I sit), patented the design years ago. Right now he’s walking the long road to productization — building prototypes, filming promotional videos, talking to potential wholesalers and partners.

Once he’s done, he’ll have a Product.

Risk of the Productization Path

Now, suppose you own a large landscaping firm, and you know you spend $15,000 a year replacing plants that your crews damage while trimming weeds. You have a choice of (a) continuing to pay that money; (b) re-inventing the Sapling Saver yourself (and then maintaining your own equipment) at a cost of many thousands of dollars and several years, or (c) buying real Sapling Savers off-the-shelf for all your crews for $5,000, and getting a warranty, access to replacements, free training videos, etc. Only a nut would pick “b” — yet we do.

Every time you try to develop a solution in-house, you take on all the risks of Productization.

If you can get a good-enough alternative off-the-shelf, you should. If you’re a leader and your people come to you seeking approval for an in-house innovation effort, require them to look outside first. (A great resource for that is Skip Sponsel’s Emerging Technology Accelerator, a searchable database of productized innovations.)

That’s what happened at Northwest UAV Propulsion Systems. NWUAV is one of the largest manufacturers of engines and propulsion systems for UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) in the U.S. Tiny UAV engines normally struggle to turn heavy fuels like diesel (the fuel mandated by their major customers) into uniform, tiny droplets that burn efficiently. Chris Harris and his team at NWUAV opted not to spend years inventing some new droplet-making technology — they licensed five Hewlett Packard ink-jet printer patents, for turning heavy ink into uniform, tiny droplets. The choice leap-frogged their development effort by years — and by licensing patents, they reduced their risk of a competitor acquiring that same technology. Now they’re a sought-after strategic partner — they recently formed an alliance with Ricardo and XRDi, two other major players in the UAV industry.

They still have to innovate to adapt the ink-jet technology to the heat and vibration of a flying engine — but that’s something they know nobody else has done.

We’ll cover Over-Focus on the Core, and Putting People First (in the wrong way), in future columns.

Tom Cox is a Beaverton consultant, author and speaker. He coaches CEOs on how to boost performance by building workplace trust. Email comments to 
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North Texas gardening only requires simplicity

A lady posted a comment on my Facebook page a week or two ago. She said she had moved here from somewhere up north, and that she’d found Texas conditions almost impossible for gardening. “I’m just going to give up,” she lamented.

That made me sad. A lot about being successful lies in feeling comfortable with your surroundings. Knowing them. Being able to anticipate them. Being patient as you adjust to them.

I grew up in College Station. My first gardens were there, alongside my dad. By high school, I had a small landscaping nursery in our back yard. I started at AM, and I got all of my plant-materials courses there. However, I transferred to Ohio State as a junior, and completed two degrees there. Still, since I was a relative newcomer to the North, I felt uncomfortable with its plants and practices. I knew how this lady felt, only in reverse.

When I landscaped my first home after getting married, I relied on many plants I had known in Texas, and in so doing I bypassed many of the riches of Northern gardening. Our Lake Erie-area landscape looked remotely like it had been transplanted from Texas.

I advised the lady two weeks ago not to give up. I suggested that she keep her gardening endeavors simple and basic as she gained in experience and courage. I mentioned that she ought to find five really reliable gardening authorities, and she ought to bounce her new ideas off them. Those ideas that received consensus approval could be adopted into her plans. Those authorities could be friends and family who have gardened successfully locally, or Texas Certified and Master Certified Nursery Professionals, or they might be respected Texas gardening references. Help abounds, if one just asks for it.

How to start

Some of the best landscapes I have ever seen were also some of the simplest. There’s something elegant about a planting that addresses just the basics — plants that enhance the natural beauty of a house, and that do so in a plain, understated way. You start with the surface, including turf, groundcover and decorative hardscape (stone, gravel or bark). Then you add in the shade trees, one or two for an average front yard, and you choose types whose mature sizes will be in keeping with the space you have available for them. That’s where your expert resources can help with the details.

My choices of best large shade trees for North Texas would include live oak, Shumard red oak, chinquapin oak, bur oak, cedar elm, pecan, Chinese pistachio and Southern magnolias. The best tall screening plant is our native eastern red cedar juniper. The best small trees are Little Gem and Teddy Bear Southern magnolias, redbud, golden raintree, Lacey oak, and, for shade, Japanese maples. For yet smaller trees, tree-form crape myrtles, yaupon hollies and vitex are outstanding choices.

Your shrubs should go into defined beds, and those beds ought to be 6 to 12 feet wide (or wider), rather than straight little ribbons of earth. Larger shrubs go to the outsides, and smaller ones are toward the midpoint. That brings viewers’ eyes toward the focal point of your plantings: the entryway. That’s how you develop a landscape that frames the house like a piece of fine art.

What works

I have done the majority of my own home landscape with hollies. We live on a rural property with more space than urban lots usually have. I have 25 or more types of hollies, ranging in mature size from 2 feet (dwarf yaupons, Carissa and others) to 15 or 20 feet (Nellie R. Stevens, tree-form yaupons, Mary Nell, Oakland and others).

I have several big plantings of compact and standard nandinas, and I always recommend junipers, abelias, elaeagnus, forsythia and bridal wreath for sun, and oakleaf hydrangeas, mahonias and aucubas for shade. Those are all very dependable plants for our area.

A big factor in keeping a landscape modest is in not using too many kinds of plants. The average front yard ought to have only five or six types of shrubs. You want some degree of continuity, yet you don’t want to plant in monotonous rows. It’s best to plant in clusters of five to seven plants of one specific type, and to repeat that plant type on the opposite side of the yard. Not as a mirror image — just to have it show up again in your design. That plant becomes the refrain, the landscape’s unifying thread.

This is a good time to start the wheels turning. Begin your drawings. Seek information, and talk with your nurseryman. Ask for help in fine-tuning your creation, and do so now, before the spring inventory rush. And, as you get these first steps accomplished, you’ll gain confidence in adding embellishments like color and garden art.

Approach vegetable and fruit gardening in the same way. Start small and easy, and each time that you win, try one more new plant the next time around.

You can do it, and it’s not as difficult as you might imagine.

Neil Sperry publishes “Gardens” magazine and hosts “Texas Gardening” from 8 to 11 a.m. Sundays on WBAP AM/FM. Reach him during those hours at 800-288-9227 or 214-787-1820.


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Garden Life: Show offers inspiration to gardening lovers


Robb Rosser is a WSU-certified master gardener. Reach him at

The 2013 Oregon Association of Nurseries’ Yard, Garden Patio Show is the first outdoor show of the season and it’s just a little more than a week away. Presented by Dennis’ 7 Dees, the event runs Friday, Feb. 8, thru Sunday, Feb. 10, at the Portland Convention Center. This is the largest consumer gardening event of its kind.

The theme of this year’s YGP Show is “Gardens Through the Ages” and will feature seven walk-through garden designs from numerous historic and modern eras. Travel through time and dimension as the unique showcase gardens provide inspiration to create the outdoor living spaces of your dreams. The garden creators will be on hand to answer your questions and provide resource information for your future landscaping plans.

Enjoy a full docket of free seminars and demonstrations, as well as countless plant-buying opportunities. Tantalize your senses with an assortment of specialty programs offering outdoor cooking classes, a contemporary Urban Edible Garden and the Remarkable Green Market. Don’t miss the Cracked Pots Art Sale featuring garden sculpture, ornament, art, decorative plant supports and much more.

The highlight of my visit to the YGP Show will be the seminars and demonstrations. There is something here for every level of gardener, from novice to professional. The garden world’s best speakers present topics as diverse as garden design, vegetable gardening, floral arranging,

sustainable practices and plant selection. Celebrity landscape designer and star of DIY’s “Extra Yardage” Billy Derian will be a featured presenter.

This is always one of my favorite garden shows and I encourage you to make the trip with your favorite garden friends for a full weekend of garden overload. I will be there Saturday and Sunday and plan to man the occasional shift at the popular Hardy Plant Society of Oregon Winter-in-Bloom display. Portland and Clark County HPSO members bring in samples of plants in full bloom or with seasonal interest from their own winter gardens. For more information, check out the YGP Show website.

Annual deadheading is normally the only pruning you need to do on heaths, heathers and lavenders. This will keep the plants compact, vigorous and flowering heavily. Without pruning, these plants have a tendency to spread open and go bare in the center of the plant. Use garden shears to cut away the spent flower heads. Cut about 3/4 to 11/4 inch of the previous season’s growth. This will also stimulate dense new spring growth.

Lilacs, hydrangeas and other tall, multi-stemmed shrubs that have grown too dense will benefit by cutting back one third of the shoots for two or three years in succession. I personally recommend a yearly habit of pruning out one third of the oldest shoots. This allows you to keep the shrub to a manageable size from year to year. There will always be some older, flowering stems, as well as new growth for plant vigor.

If you decided to take a chance and leave tender bulbs such as dahlias and gladiolas in the ground this winter, make sure that the stocks are cut off at ground level and that they are cut at an angle so that water will not collect in the stalk and rot the tubers below. Ensure that the plants are covered with a thick layer of mulch or compost to help protect them through the cold months.

In some winters, a few shrubs and trees in the garden all but refuse to drop their leaves. Others, such as the weeping Japanese maple, Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’) and the dwarf weeping willow (Salix caprea ‘Kilmarnock’), have such a tangle of intricate branching that fallen leaves catch in all the different angles, collecting in matted pockets through the branches. This is when you need to take matters into your own hands.

Remove any clusters of leaves stuck in the crotch of twigs and branches. A flexible, steel, hand-held rake is perfect for this job. Available in the garden tool section of most stores, this rake has foot-long, flexible tines that can reach in between tight branches and pull out fallen leaves and other debris caught in the nooks and crannies. This is the classic “right tool for the job”.

Any leaves that cannot be removed with this tool may need to be picked out or plucked off the stems. Since I often advocate buying certain plants for their winter silhouette, it makes sense to remove any debris that detracts from the architecture of the plant.

Robb Rosser is a WSU-certified master gardener. Reach him at

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Bay Area Landscape Designer Chris Jacobson, Featured in San Francisco …

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Jacobson and Gervais bask in the beauty of the “urban Eden” of SOMA to celebrate their hidden garden treasure

A garden is always a work in progress. It is always in flux, and is never finished

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) January 31, 2013

On the street outside a larger-than-life ceramic Buddha welcomes visitors to the lush tropical space that waits inside; creating a welcoming entry to the Eden-like world where Richard Gervais and Bay Area landscape architect Chris Jacobson both live and work. The urban oasis was recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Home Garden section, noted for its remarkable ability to remain massively luxuriant in the heart of one of the city’s busiest neighborhoods.

The garden is a work in progress originally created by Richard Gervais and his friend John Pierce years ago situated in the bustling south of Market street (SOMA) neighborhood. Chris says that since he moved to the property five years ago, his presence has simply added another layer to the life of this exotic locale.

“A garden is always a work in progress. It is always in flux, and is never finished,” says Jacobson.

Bay Area landscaping management specialist Chris Jacobson of GardenArt Group went on to comment that the combination of exotic art and hidden gardens have all the ingredients of a classic film noir movie. Next to his compact, colorful studio, filled with relics from his world travels, is the gallery of art collector Richard Gervais, the creator of The Richard Gervais Collection, a wholesale collection of all things exotic and beautiful which have been collected over many years.

Although Chris Jacobson says that the SOMA garden where he lives is appropriate for a small city space in a mild climate like San Francisco’s, he provides both Bay Area landscape design and landscape management services to many gardens in the south peninsula, where hot summers and colder winters create more demanding gardening conditions. There are environmental considerations that need to be taken into account when dealing with larger gardens in harsher climates.

Paramount among those considerations is water: its use and misuse. Jacobson has specialized for the last 30 years in the creation of unusual, environmentally friendly gardens, and is on the advisory board of the northern California branch of the International Mediterranean Garden Society. He has been counted among the top tier of Bay Area landscape designers for years, and has done a wide range of notable projects, including the Sunset Publication Headquarters 50 year Anniversary design remodel, the San Francisco Decorator Showcase, and a memorable Palo Alto “Idea House”, also for Sunset.

Chris Jacobson has had his work featured in the San Francisco Decorator Showcase because the owner of the house consulted a Feng Shui specialist, and Chris’ proposal was the most in line with the principles of the Chinese art of placement.

He believes the point of creating a sacred space is to bring the viewer to a moment of calm reflection, a quiet opportunity to leave the worldly rush and noise and go within. His gardens have been featured in many local and national publications over the years, including Peg Streeps’ book “Spiritual Gardening”.

Jacobson’s work reflects a knowledge of gardening in California, which includes a concern for water. Chris says that people forget that western summers are usually bone dry, and the water used for California gardens has to be piped, pumped, saved, measured, and appreciated.

“The highest expression of the art of garden-making in the arid west is the creation of water saving gardens that retain the basic components of a sanctuary space: gardens that encourage peaceful contemplative thoughts.” says Jacobson “The historic gardens of Moorish Spain, such as the Alhambra and the Alcazar, are models that can be followed here in California.”

His philosophy of landscape design and management is found in his residential garden guide “A Different Shade of Green: A Manual for the New California Garden”, which he says will soon be back in print.

For more information about Chris Jacobson’s popular Bay Area landscape planning, and Bay Area landscaping installation visit or call (415)-722-0615

About Chris Jacobson and the GardenArt Group

Chris Jacobson began creating landscape designs in the 1970s while pursuing a career in the fine arts. He eventually fused the two pursuits into one concept; GardenArt. A fourth-generation California horticulturist, Chris has been one of the proponents of the New California Garden, an emerging movement that combines environmentalism, multi-culturalism and art.

Jacobson is a member of the northern California chapter of the International Mediterranean Garden Society advisory board. The Society provides a means for gardeners of these unique climates to exchange information concerning their specific gardening needs, the most pressing being water conservation.

Jacobson’s work has been featured in Sunset, Country Homes and Gardens, Architectural Digest, Northern California Home and Garden and Peg Streep’s gardener’s guidebook “Spiritual Gardening”. He has also penned his own horticulture care and design handbook, A Different Shade of Green: Manual for The New California Garden.

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Proof that gardening is good for us

Quality green spaces reduce crime

Quality green spaces reduce crime

Charlie Hall thinks it’s not good enough to simply tell people that gardening is a good thing to do because flowers are pretty and planting trees and shrubs makes the world more beautiful and ultimately more livable.

Charlie Hall

Charlie Hall

All of which is true. But Hall wants to prove the benefits of gardening by producing unequivocal evidence, supported by convincing research data and verifiable scientific proof.
Who is Charlie Hall?
He’s one of the most influential leaders in horticulture in North America today, famous for giving passionate, informed lectures.
An economist by training, he is a professor in the department of horticultural sciences at Texas AM University.
He has all sorts of other titles, but all you really need to know is that he is the expert everyone in the gardening industry listens to very carefully because of the detailed work he has done to nail down precise data about the benefits of gardening.
His research has unearthed compelling facts and statistics that prove being around plants makes everything better, including helping children to learn faster, improving health, reducing crime, enhancing the natural environment and greatly reducing the stress of everyday life.

Children learn faster when they are in natural garden-like spaces

Children learn faster when they are in natural garden-like spaces

I doubt you have heard of his name before today, but it is well known to all the movers and shakers in what is now known as the “green industry” — covering everything from garden centres to landscaping to the basic nitty-gritty of upkeep of parks and other community green spaces.
“You may have heard the term ‘greenwashing,’ ” he told me in a phone interview recently. “This is when a company makes a claim that it is doing something that is environmentally friendly without backing up the statement with evidence.
 “The consumer is left asking, ‘What is the basis for them saying that? Where did they come up with that information?’ ”
Hall says it was his desire to have facts at his fingertips rather than anecdotal experiences to back up assertions that got him to start compiling research data from a wide variety of respected sources, including many not directly connected to the horticultural industry, such as Harvard Medical School.
Over two years, he gathered more than 400 research documents showing the benefits of gardening and other aspects of the horticultural industry.

Quality landscaping raises property values and makes businesses more profitable.

Quality landscaping raises property values and makes businesses more profitable.

Here are just a few of his key findings:
• People are able to concentrate better in the workplace or in the home and have better memory retention when they are around plants. “Tasks performed while under the calming influence of nature are performed better with greater accuracy.”
Spending time in nature gives people an increased feeling of vitality, better energy levels and makes them feel more animated, he says.
• Children learn better when they are around plants. “Research shows that kids learn faster when they are in a green environment. Those with attention deficit disorders have longer attention spans when they are in a natural garden-like environment as opposed to a sterile, concrete classroom,” Hall says. “You’d think it would be counter-intuitive; if you take kids to an outdoor classroom where there are all sorts of distractions, dogs barking and so on. But the opposite is true.”
• Gardening can act as therapy for people who have undergone trauma. “The act of nurturing something is a way for people to work through the issues surrounding traumatic events and improve their mental health.”
• Residents are more likely to exercise if there is a community park or landscaped area nearby. Exercise improves their health through physical fitness which can cut health care costs.
• Landscaping is one of the most cost-effective methods for changing a community. “It is a fact that neighbourhoods with beautiful parks tend to have less crime. Simply by landscaping a formerly crime-ridden park, a community can be transformed into a safe and friendly neighbourhood environment.” Hall says parks also give people a reason to come together and become a tight-knit community.
• Quality landscaping improves property values. “You get a $1.09 return on every dollar invested. It is the only home improvement that generates a greater than one dollar return for every dollar spent,” says Hall.
“Put the same dollar into a bathroom or kitchen and, according to the Home Remodelling Institute, you get 73 cents return for that dollar, but our own research shows that with every dollar put into landscaping you get $1.09 in return.”
• Businesses do better when even a little strip of landscaping is added outside their premises. “Research shows businesses sell more stuff when they have an esthetically-pleasing landscape outside. People shop longer, feel more at ease, will come long distances to shop, and are often willing to pay higher prices.”
 • Beautiful parks and landscapes enable communities to reap benefits from ecotourism. “In this new green environmentally-conscious era people are becoming more interested in exploring the beauty of nature while maintaining its integrity.”
This is one reason Hall believes botanical gardens and other public gardens and green spaces should be supported without hesitation by local government. “Ecotourism is a smart way for communities to bring in revenue with relatively little cost to themselves. Walt Disney proved this to us years ago — that people will come to the swamps of Florida in the middle of summer to be in a beautiful, engaging environment.”
• Studies show that people who spend time cultivating plants have less stress. “Plants sooth human beings and provide a positive way for people to channel their stress into nurturing.”
Hall’s core message boils down to this: the green industry — gardening, landscaping, the growing and selling of flowers and plants and all the rest of it — is about much more than creating “pretty environments.” It is also about other positive factors from health to air quality to job creation to community relations, spinoffs that most people never think about.
 “The message that plants are more than just pretty needs to be incorporated into the marketing message of every single business in the green industry,” Hall says.
“We need to give people the facts that prove plants are not merely an indulgence, but an essential necessity if we want to live positive, productive, healthy lives.”

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Impatient? Tips for a quicker vegetable harvest

Vegetable gardening is an exercise in patience. Sweet potatoes can take more than 100 days to ripen; some tomato and watermelon varieties require five months.

But there are ways to shorten the wait.

The easiest is choosing plants that taste best when harvested young.

“The one thing you will miss out on with speedy growing is bulk, but what you will get in return is layers of flavor; a sprinkle of hot and peppery micro-green radish here, a sweet and nutty, barely cooked new potato there, a garnish of cucumber-y borage flowers to finish a dish,” writes Mark Diacono in the new “The Speedy Vegetable Garden” (Timber Press). “These are the crops that will mark out your cooking as distinctly and unquestionably homegrown.”

Timing is everything.

“Be slow to harvest and you’ll miss their best moments,” says Diacono, who does his gardening on a 17-acre plot in Devon, England. “These are fresh, lively and zingy flavors, flavors that can either fade or become bitter and overly strong as the plant grows on toward maturity.”

Many plants — notably fruits — are genetically wired for late development.

“Tomatoes, strawberries and apples all want to be left on the plant until they are fully ripe to get the fullest, lushest flavors out of them,” Diacono says. “Vegetables are a little different. Many get woodier, less succulent and lower in sweetness as they grow more mature, so really are at their loveliest picked young.”

That would include new potatoes, radishes, baby carrots, zucchini, miniature cucumbers, spring peas, turnips and beets.

Cut-and-come-again salad leaves can be clipped in as little as 21 days. Sprouted seeds (mung beans, mustard, lentils) can become table fare in just three days.

Check the maturity dates on seed packets as you shop. Heirloom tomatoes take 100 days or more to develop while cherry tomatoes need only about 65 days.

The same goes for squash. Winter squash (acorn, butternut) generally require 110 days before they are kitchen-ready. Summer squash (crookneck, zucchini), by comparison, can be eaten in 55 days or less.

There are many ways to jumpstart the growing season so you can be harvesting a meal while other gardeners are just beginning to turn the ground. Among them:

— Choose the warmest site possible if you’re planting early. “Even a small change in temperature can make a difference during spring and fall frosts,” says Jo Ann Robbins, an extension educator with the University of Idaho.

— Use enclosures. Covering plants moderates temperature, wind and humidity. “Air and soil temperatures are warmer, and the cover will conserve heat radiation from the soil during the night,” Robbins says in a fact sheet.

— Start vegetable plants inside from seed, and transplant them eventually into the garden. “Research shows the older the transplants, the better they will resist cold weather,” Robbins says.

— Warm the soil early. “Throw a piece of black or clear polyethylene over the soil in early spring, pin it down with tent pegs or bricks, and wait,” Diacono says. “The sun will warm it and excessive water will be kept off, leaving it in a fantastically workable state a few weeks later and conducive to quick plant growth.”

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2013 East Texas Garden Lecture Series set Feb. 16 in Tyler

Scott and Lauren Springer Ogden to speak

Scott and Lauren Springer Ogden

Scott and Lauren Springer Ogden, authors of the Plant Driven Garden, the Moonlit Garden and other books. (Photo courtesy of the authors)

Writer: Robert Burns, 903-834-6191,

TYLER – The first of the East Texas Garden Lecture Series, set Feb. 16 in Tyler, will feature nationally renowned husband and wife authors, horticulturists and garden designers Scott and Lauren Springer Ogden, according to Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service county agent, Keith Hansen.

“Many gardens are designed cookie-cutter fashion, with little or no sense as to how plants may work in a particular environment or with each other,” said Hansen, AgriLife Extension agent for horticulture, Smith County.

The Ogdens, however, teach what they call “plant-driven” design, according to Hansen.

“It’s about how to use adapted plants in ways that are not just original and beautiful, but lend a ‘sense of place,’ and are sustainable with an emphasis on soil and drought tolerance,” he said. “The Ogdens emphasize that a garden’s design should be driven by the plants a gardener loves rather than by a rigid adherence to certain design styles or rules.”

The lecture series is a rethinking – as well as a renaming – of the East Texas Spring Landscape and Garden Conference, which Hansen has overseen in Smith County since 1994. the conference in years past was an all-day event, the lecture series breaks programming up into half-day sessions in February, March and April.

An example of a plant-driven designed garden in the Tyler area. (Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service photo by Keith Hansen)

An example of a plant-driven designed garden in the Tyler area. (Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service photo by Keith Hansen)

“Our horticulture committee decided it would better serve our clientele to have several morning programs than one daylong program,” Hansen said.

The first part of the Ogden’s lecture will be “Plant Driven Design: Creating Gardens That Honor Plants, Place and Spirit,” followed by “Moonlit Gardens.”

Registration for the Ogden’s lecture opens 8 a.m. at the Tyler Rose Garden Center, 420 Rose Park Dr. The program will begin at 9 a.m. and finish at noon. Registration for each lecture will be $25, payable at the door on the day of the event.

“To keep costs down, we are not taking credit cards; only cash and checks,” Hansen said.

Upcoming lectures in the series are “Creating Creative Container Gardens” on March 16, and “Growing and Arranging Cut Flowers” on April 13.

For more information on the East Texas Garden Lecture Series, contact Keith Hansen at 903-590-2980 or, or go to .

For more information on the Ogdens and their books, go to


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Get a peek at what you’ll find at 2013 Yard, Garden & Patio Show

Billy Derian, host of DIY Network’s tear-it-up hit “Extra Yardage,” headlines the Yard, Garden Patio Show this year, but the gardens star, too. Seven designers took on the assignment to create displays of “Gardens Through the Ages.” Interpretations ranged from the romance of the past to the possibilities of tomorrow.

Find out which the judges prefer and vote for your favorite during the show’s run Friday-Sunday, Feb. 8-10. While you’re at it, catch one of almost 50 seminars, watch a cooking demonstration by local chefs and, of course, do some shopping.

— Kym Pokorny; On Twitter


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LMeyer Design, 503-705-5511; and JP Stone Contractors, 503-209-5982

Not Your Father’s Garden: Designer Linda Meyer intends to show a garden of the future created with materials of yesterday. The image begins with a snapshot of Dad flipping burgers on the barbecue, surrounded by lawn that’s edged in junipers. For the new garden, out go the lawn and the junipers, but remnants of five Weber barbecues remain, turned into vessels for fire and water as the centerpiece of the garden. bird gardens.JPG

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Red Bird Restorative Gardens, 503-887-3439; and Living Color Landscape Nursery, 503-678-3364

Thrive Outside: P. Annie Kirk interprets the theme “Gardening Through the Ages” with a garden for our ages, one that reflects how we live through the stages of life. Sand forts, hideouts, wishing trees, a swing, fire and water — playgrounds for kids and adults — come to a crossroads made of a rectangular deck inlaid with swirls of Irish moss in what she calls a “fleur de floor.”

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Aspen Creek Landscaping, 503-625-6888

A Glimpse Back to the Fifties: The calm of the ’50s comes back to life in a garden made for people to relax in sundresses and slacks with their martinis and Coca-Colas. An amoeba-shaped planting bed centered in the geometry of a patio reflects the yin and yang design of midcentury.

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Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping, 503-777-7777.

Sentimental Journey: For his design, Corey Verch reached into the romantic era of the late-18th to mid-19th century when public gardens in the U.S. were coming into their own. A casual, arbor-covered path curves along a reflecting pool, eventually leading to a circle of stone floating on the water.

Live chat at noon Friday: The Oregonian’s garden writer, Kym Pokorny, will take your questions and comments online during the Yard, Garden Patio Show. She’ll also be posting updates, sharing photos from the Convention Hall floor and revealing trends, cool ideas and other tidbits.


WHEN: 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, and Saturday, Feb. 9; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10

Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.  

Several TriMet bus routes stop near the convention center, and MAX light rail goes right to its door. Convention center parking lot is a daily maximum of $9.

$12 at the door, 12 and younger free; $7 in advance at Dennis’ 7 Dees while supply lasts; for locations, go to, click on garden centers and then locations, or call 503-777-1421.

INFORMATION:, 503-682-5089, 800-342-6401

— Billy Derian, host of DIY’s “Extra Yardage,” interacts with the audience on the show floor.
— Displays of seven gardens designed around the theme “Gardens Through the Ages” and a contemporary urban edible garden.
— Plant sale.
— Cracked Pots art sale.
— About 50 free seminars, featuring ever-popular plant collector Dan Hinkley; Cistus Nursery owner Sean Hogan; Joe Creek’s Maurice Horn; always-amusing Dan Heims, owner of Terra Nova Nurseries; Debra Prinzing, author of the new books “The 50 Mile Bouquet” and “Slow Flowers”; clematis expert Linda Beutler; celebrity radio host Mike Darcy; Willi Galloway, author of “Grow Cook Eat: A Food-Lover’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening”; garden designer Lucy Hardiman; and Richie Steffen  for the Great Plant Picks program.


— Search out nearby restaurants or bring your own snacks. You don’t even want to know how much you’ll spend at the shows.
— Bring along a backpack or large bag to collect information and small items.
— Wear comfortable shoes.
— Use your smartphone or camera to record the ideas you’d like to copy or follow up on.
— Bring a notepad and pen.
— Make it easy on yourself by checking plants you buy at the holding station so you don’t have to carry them while enjoying the show. Or shop at the end of your visit.

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Brothers take garden designs from classroom to Chelsea

David Rich, a final year Landscape Architecture and Design student at Leeds Met and his brother Harry, a graduate of the same course in 2008, have been invited to submit a design for a small garden, ‘Un Garreg’ (one stone) for the Chelsea Flower Show after winning the best in show at last year’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Flower Show in Cardiff. The duo run their family landscape architecture business, Rich Landscapes, based near Brecon, Wales.

David commented: “We appreciate this opportunity to display our naturalistic design style amongst some of the world’s greatest designers. Leeds Met has provided us with the knowledge and freedom to develop our own individual style, allowing us to draw inspiration from what we see and feel and implement that into our designs. Our course provides a broad range of design-based projects, encouraging team and individual development and all our tutors have a wide variety of skills providing a professional but friendly atmosphere within the studio.”

Harry added: “Our ‘naturalistic’ show garden at Chelsea is inspired by the growing separation between man and nature, reiterating our passion for restoring this innate connection. It is about creating a humble, naturalistic space crafted from one stone.”

Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture, Steve Heywood, said: “Working with both Harry and David has been a very enjoyable experience for me; they are both great characters as well as accomplished designers. I think this team of brothers will certainly be a force to be reckoned with and I look forward to seeing their next creation at the Chelsea flower this spring and following their future endeavours.”

In his final year, Harry designed and constructed a shoe garden at the university’s Landscape Resource Centre. Harry’s passion for garden design launched him onto the show garden, circuit and, working alongside his brother he succeeded in clinching two major Garden Design awards for their garden at the Welsh RHS show and the BBC Gardeners’ World live show.

David is following in the footsteps of his brother and has been working on a live design project for a garden at St. Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds which culminates in an exhibition of the work at Broadcasting Place on Thursday 31 January.

Our University is the only university in the country with a Landscape Resource Centre and experimental garden for Landscape Architecture students. The course will be celebrating its 50 year anniversary in 2016.

The brothers’ Chelsea design.

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