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Archives for February 7, 2013

Losing our roots

The Toomer’s Oaks were allegedly poisoined by Harvey Updyke Jr. after the 2010 Iron Bowl. (Katherine McCahey / ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR)


The University announced Friday, Feb. 1 plans to remove the beloved poisoned oak trees at Toomer’s Corner.

Despite repeated efforts to save the trees, the possibility of their survival has been in question since the poisoning was discovered in January of 2011.

A date has not been set for the trees’ removal.

According to the press release, the University and the city of Auburn will host a “Celebrate the Tradition” block party featuring live music at Toomer’s Corner after the A-Day football game Saturday, April 20. The block party will provide fans with one last opportunity to roll and photograph the trees before they are removed.

“While I will be very sad to see the trees go and to see the end of an era of one of our greatest traditions, I think that A-Day serves as a great opportunity for us to celebrate the history associated with the oaks at Toomer’s Corner one last time before we move into the next stage of this tradition,” SGA President Owen Parrish said.

The University will also announce its future landscaping plans for Toomer’s Corner at A-Day.

More than 10,000 people voted in an online survey conducted by Auburn University and landscape architecture firms Nelson Byrd Woltz and jB+a for various plans to redevelop the famous corner .

“The architects are combining their expertise and experience with the terrific input from the Auburn Family to come up with a future plan that we will all be proud of,” said Dan King, assistant vice president of facilities management.

The survey featured four possible landscaping schemes for the Toomer’s Oaks area and the area extending into Samford Park.

Auburn will decide what to do with the area after it analyzes the data. It is possible that one specific scheme is chosen, but it is also possible that multiple features from different schemes are combined into one.

“They don’t really know yet, because they’re really interested in seeing what 10,000 people thought,” said Debbie Shaw, vice president of alumni affairs.

“If one was significantly the favorite, then I’d say they may pick that one. You kind of just have to wait and see.”

Auburn intends to create structures at the intersection of College Street and Magnolia Avenue that can be rolled once the trees are gone.

Fans will be encouraged to roll these structures after football wins and other occasions.

“We want people to be upbeat about the future of this area,” Shaw said. “Rolling the corner is a uniquely Auburn tradition, and whether we roll trees or other structures, the camaraderie and sense of togetherness is part of what makes Auburn a special place.”

Shaw and Susan Smith, director of trademark licensing, are working to come up with products made from the wood of the trees to be sold to the public. The profit will go toward scholarships.

“We know we want to offer a lot of different price points,” Shaw said. “Some items may be more expensive, but then some are going to be very reasonable for anybody.”

Shaw and Smith haven’t decided on what type of products will be offered, but they have some ideas.

“It’ll probably range from a framed picture that’s got a piece of the wood in it with a special plaque,” Shaw said. “We may have paperweights out of the wood. We may have bowls. We’re just looking at a lot of different products.”

Auburn is installing high-resolution cameras in various locations surrounding the Toomer’s Oaks. The cameras will be up by the end of the week.

“Some very special high-resolution cameras are being placed in areas that will film around the

tree,” Shaw said. “You’ve probably seen those old grainy films. Well, no longer. These cameras are much higher resolution.”

Vandalism was a cause for concern for the university in deciding when to announce the trees’ imminent removal.

“We talked a lot about that because there were a lot of reasons we didn’t want to announce it this early,” Shaw said. “We do have some concerns that some people might try to vandalize the tree.”

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Neston’s Ringway Park Facelift a Step Closer

Neston’s Ringway Park Facelift a Step Closer

Funding is now in place to allow plans for a makeover at Ringway park in Neston to go ahead in the Spring.

A planning meeting is due to take place later this month, now that the £35,000 funding required has been sourced. The facelift will include landscaping, installation of new play equipment, seating areas and a gate to secure the play area. Ideas for improvements were sought from local residents at a consultation day last Summer.

Contributions to the project have come from Cllr Andy Williams’ Member’s Budget, Neston Town Council, Veolia Environment Trust and Cheshire West and Chester’s Rural Support Fund. 

The new facilities will have year-round access and will be inclusive to children with disabilities and parents with prams.

Most of the funding was secured last year, with the final £10,000 from the Veolia Trust being confirmed recently. Cllr Williams said: “It is great that The Veolia Environmental Trust has awarded this grant. We look forward to working with them to develop and undertake a scheme that will result in the best for the young people of Neston.

“Children will no longer have to travel considerable distances to access decent play facilities.”

Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, McNabb Laurie, added: “We look forward to the scheme starting. We have been awarding grants to community and environmental projects like this one for over 15 years now and every one has made a real difference to people’s lives.”

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A passion for Proteas in the Yockey garden in Arroyo Grande

Michele Yockey’s passion for proteas all started five years ago when she attended a talk by a local grower of proteas in Arroyo Grande. She and her husband, Larry, had recently relocated in Bayview Estates after retirement from careers in the Bay Area. Michele was looking for unique landscaping ideas to replace large lawns and eight 15-year old palm trees in the front yard. “I didn’t like looking at elephant legs out of my front windows, “ she said.

After researching proteas and confirming that her climate zone along the coast would support them, she made the decision to fill the beds around new smaller lawns in the front and back yards with many different species of this evergreen, winter-flowering family of plants from Australia and South Africa. She’s thrilled with the result, and excited at the color and exquisite beauty of the blooms and foliage.

She learned that ‘Protea,’ which is really one genus within the family Proteaceae, is now used as the common term for the whole family of Proteaceae, named by a Swedish botanist after legendary Greek sea god Proteus, who could change his shape at will. The reference to Proteus was inspired by the diversity of flower and foliage of the 73 genera and 1,500 species within this plant family.

This variety is evidenced in Michele’s collection, where a December to April color show is created by the large exotic flowers of the King protea, the pincushion blooms of the leucospermum, and several different species of grevillea, with spiraling pink buds that uncurl like tiny birthday-party blowers. Adenanthos “Woolybush” is another genus, featuring silvery, furry foliage and tubular blossoms.

But it’s the mass of color from the large leucodendrum shrubs throughout the half-acre yard that catches the eye. Out in the open sun with the bay in the background, the leaves of the four to five foot diameter plants shout out in hues of yellow, red, maroon, purple and orange. Michele was careful to space each plant far enough apart to make a bold statement.

Scattered through her ‘Protea demonstration garden’ complete with labels for each plant, she includes other unusual selections from New Zealand as the variegated New Zealand Christmas tree, several shiny coprosma ‘Mirror Plants’ and pittisporum tenuifolium ‘Marjorie Channon’ with small silvery green leaves. “I enjoy a yard that is different, that doesn’t use the same plants as everyone else,” she said.

Since the proteas require little water, she wanted to continue the low-water theme with California native plants. She discovered that ‘Valley Violet’ ceanothus is a good groundcover and the unusual trichostema ‘Woolly Blue Curls’ from the California Coast Ranges is a good conversation piece.

In Michele’s research, she learned that Proteas are grown commercially in very specific coastal areas around the world – Australia, New Zealand, the Cape region of South Africa, Southern California, Hawaii, Israel and Zimbabwe. She said that last year Israel exported 28 million ‘Safari Sunset’ cut flowers. They are widely used in floral arrangements for modern office buildings and hotels, especially in Japan.

Michele is so enthusiastic about proteas that she would like others along the central coast to become acquainted with them. “There are so many reasons to plant them; they attract birds, they don’t need much water or care, they provide winter color, they make long-lasting cut and dried flowers, they are different and…well, just beautiful,” she says.

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Expanding outdoor living space adds value to your home

(BPT) – Even during a challenging economy, the outdoor living trend remains popular as homeowners seek to add lasting value and functional living space under the sky and stars. Whether it’s a do-it-yourself patio or a professionally installed outdoor kitchen, the beauty, usefulness, value and ease of maintenance in outdoor living space is limitless.

Extending living space outdoors is as old as time itself. “Creating an outdoor room is a natural extension of your indoor living space,” says landscape architect John Johnson of Burnsville, Minn. “By creating a space in the open air and adding elements like fireplaces, pergolas, water features and greenery, you get a very different feel. People want and need that connection to the outdoors.”

Adding value

Without erecting the traditional four walls and roof, outdoor living space can be easily added to large, small, twin or town homes. Enhancing an outdoor space with hardscapes adds value and can be adapted for multiple uses.

“Homeowners continue to embrace the trend of maximizing outdoor living space, whether it’s an outdoor kitchen or patio living room with a fire pit,” says Lonny Sekeres, a landscape designer with Villa Landscapes in Oakdale, Minn. “Real estate experts say that for every dollar you invest in landscaping projects, you could see up to a $2 return when you sell your home.”

Do-it-yourselfers will find easy-to-install, maintenance-free pavers and segmental retaining wall systems are budget-friendly for patios, walkways, courtyards, raised gardens, fire features and wall projects. New construction should include plans for exterior hardscapes, and remodels can benefit from the advice of design-build professionals or experts from a landscape supplies retailer, says Sekeres. 

“There are so many solutions to fit any budget and need,” says Sekeres. “Products like Willow Creek permeable pavers allow rainwater drainage if needed, and retaining walls come in colors that complement any environment.”

Al fresco living

As a natural extension of the home’s ground floor, a patio expands a family’s living and entertaining space significantly. It provides a perfect gathering spot for guests and family who will be drawn from indoor dining areas to this enticing space.

A popular trend is to expand kitchen space with outdoor grilling areas, stone fireplaces for cooking wood-fired pizza, or stone counters around a grill for food preparation. “Because the kitchen is typically the customary gathering place in the home, it’s a natural extension for family and entertaining guests,” Sekeres says.

Warming accents

A fire feature such as a fireplace, pit, table, pot or ring creates an inviting outdoor focal point as well as a functional spot for entertaining, says Sekeres. A half-circle seat wall or outdoor furniture around a fire pit or table creates a cozy nook, and adding a grill, pub set, chaise or settee can transform a patio into a lounge for gatherings well into the evening and late in the season.

A newer trend is the green or living wall, says Sekeres. Products like the VERSA-Green Plantable Retaining Wall System from VERSA-LOK lets do-it-yourselfers and professional installers alike easily add drama and beauty to retaining walls. “A living wall planted with herbs near an outdoor grill or a landscaped wall of flowers is an eye-catching, eco-friendly and unique use of retaining walls,” says Sekeres.

Adding ambiance

Pathways created with pavers, stepping stones and permeable pavers can join both back and front outdoor living spaces. “New homes and older homes make good use of the longstanding porch design,” says Sekeres. “It’s easy to create a paver walkway linking the front and back or an outdoor kitchen to a lounge area.”

Lighting installed within steps and along paths can also add a unified ambiance to a home’s hardscape. Adding decor such as pergolas, trellises and arbors covered with natural materials like bamboo or fiber screens is great solutions for privacy, shade or continuity of design.

“There’s no limit to the hundreds of ideas to enhance your yard,” says Sekeres. “Many products are easy for the do-it-yourselfer with manufacturer instructions, seminars and other resources. Talk to a landscape professional, visit a home and garden show and landscape supply stores, or search the Internet for inspiration. Take advantage of the outside to easily expand your living space.”

For more information on VERSA-LOK products, visit its website or call (800) 770-4525.

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Camps vying for $10K prize – Times Herald

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FERNDALE — For nearly 10 years Sullivan Renaissance has handed bungalow colonies and summer camps grants of between $200 and $2,500 to spruce up their properties.

Now the organization is upping the ante.

Beginning this spring a handful of traditionally religious camps and colonies will undertake roadside beautification projects in competition for Renaissance’s “Community Mitzvah Award.” The winner gets as much as $10,000 for additional projects.

“What this comes down to is the people in the camp doing mitzvah,” Renaissance Executive Director Glenn Pontier said, referring to a Hebrew word used to describe good deeds. “Our goal, in the end, is to make the place look better.”

The details are still evolving, but eligible projects will range from litter pickup and painting to fence replacement, landscaping and recycling.

Renaissance plans to invite six camps to compete this year and expand the program in 2014. Allen Frishman, a former Fallsburg code enforcement officer, is helping coordinate the program as Renaissance’s seasonal program and community consultant.

The competition will last roughly seven weeks, with inspectors visiting each property weekly and awarding points. A panel of judges will decide the winner, which Renaissance is planning to announce at the inaugural Monticello Bagel Festival in August.

The winning camp will be able to use the money to continue beautifying or to fund a special project.

“We’re not going to clean them all up through a contest,” Pontier said. “But if there’s more awareness ” that would be a good thing.”

As far back as 2004 Renaissance began awarding $200 beautification grants to seasonal properties. Currently, camps, colonies and seasonal businesses can still apply for matching grants of up to $2,500 for gardening, landscaping and other projects.

Over the years dozens of groups have completed a range of projects, from installing new entry gates and signs and painting fences to cleaning up litter and trash, and planting gardens.

Last year Renaissance recognized six projects undertaken under its seasonal program. They included a dumpster enclosure and landscaping by Camp Kavunes Halev and a barn quilt mural and new signage by Green Acres Cottages. Both are in Liberty. “There are a lot of beautiful camps and bungalow colonies,” Pontier said. “I hope there will be more.”

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Gardens at Shedd Aquarium Win Sustainability Award for Lupfer Landscaping

Chicago, IL, February 07, 2013 –(– Leading the way in the creation and care of sustainable landscapes, Lupfer Landscaping has been recognized with a top award from the Illinois Landscape Contractor’s Association for the renovated gardens at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

Several distinct garden spaces surrounding the Shedd Aquarium showcase hardy and beautiful trees, shrubs, perennial flowers, and edibles that require little or no maintenance, and serve as a teaching tool about sustainable landscaping for children and adults.

“The sustainable gardens at the Shedd offer a new way of thinking about the landscape,” remarks Christine Nye, head Horticulturist for the Shedd. “We took two paths in pursuing our goal; reducing the cost of maintaining the property, and reducing the resources or inputs required.” Over 18,000 square feet of demanding bluegrass lawn was removed and replaced with low-maintenance perennial plants which provide greater biodiversity and color, while requiring less in terms of water, fertilizer, and general care.

Visitors to the Shedd can see a number of garden types at the aquarium’s sustainable landscape exhibit including a Rain Garden where water runoff is collected and utilized by the plants; a Xeriscape Garden which can survive droughts without irrigation; and a Wetland Garden which utilizes plants that are suitable for low-lying or flood-prone areas. There are demonstration gardens showing how to grow vegetables and flowers together for a garden that is both attractive and edible at the same time, as well as expanses of natural areas which showcase plants native to Illinois. All the gardens have interpretive panels which explain the sustainable practices utilized.

Besides using the right plant in the right place, there are other important aspects to achieve sustainability. Tom Lupfer, of Lupfer Landscaping, whose company maintains the landscape, approaches landscape maintenance in a new way. He has put together a program of special methods and techniques in order to eliminate pesticides; reduce waste that goes into landfills; grow strong and healthy lawns using natural fertilizers; reduce weeds without synthetic chemicals; limit the use of emissions-producing machinery; and reduce the use of water in the landscape.

As an innovator in the practice of sustainable landscape maintenance, Lupfer trains his employees to understand the cause-and-effect of natural processes and to use specific tools and techniques that he hopes will soon become standard operating procedures in the landscape industry. “The gardens at the Shedd have been developed to educate visitors about how to create wildlife habitat in an urban setting and utilize sustainable landscaping practices which they can then adopt to their own properties,” adds Tom Lupfer.

This is the fourth ILCA Gold Award for sustainable landscaping earned by the company, while being its first for a public space garden. The three previous awards were for residential landscapes in historic Hinsdale and Riverside, Illinois. More images of the Shedd Aquarium project can be viewed at:

About Lupfer Landscaping
Lupfer Landscaping is a family-owned business located in the western suburbs of Chicago. The company was founded in 1994 by Tom Lupfer after earning his Bachelor of Arts degree at Northwestern University.

Lupfer Landscaping provides a full-range of landscape services including design, installation, and maintenance for both residential and commercial properties. Tom Lupfer is a Certified Landscape Technician, a skills-based accreditation developed by the nationally-recognized Professional Landscape Network (PLANET).

In addition to chairing the Sustainable Landscaping Committee for the ILCA, Tom sits on the Sustainable Landscape Resources for Community Associations Advisory Board (SLRCA) at the Morton Arboretum, and is a Pilot Project Recipient for the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SSI). For more information, contact Tom Lupfer at: at 708-352-2765.

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Gardening tips offered at meeting

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 6:15 am

Updated: 7:52 pm, Tue Feb 5, 2013.

Gardening tips offered at meeting


Join the North County chapter of Trinity Homegrown Foods at the Young Family Ranch, Weaverville, at 2 p.m. Feb. 16 for its general meeting, including a presentation by Tom Cook on garden protection systems for gardening season extension.

Give your summer crops a head start and lengthen your growing season. Detailed instructions on building your own mini-hoop-house will be provided.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013 6:15 am.

Updated: 7:52 pm.

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Sanitation: An Important Garden Chore

So, what will tomorrow bring?  At this time of year, we are riding the roller coaster up and down as winter and spring duke it out.  While it is still too early to start most seeded varieties of annual flower and vegetable varieties, it is not too early to prepare for the upcoming gardening season.  In addition to cutting back ornamental grasses and targeting cool season weeds with herbicide spot treatments, it is likely that your gardening tools and equipment require a little pre-season attention.

A wonderful publication out of Purdue University, Sanitation for Disease and Pest Management, makes the point clear: “A clean greenhouse [and clean gardening tools] lead to healthy plants, and healthy plants lead to happy growers.”

For the gardener, the obvious tools include pruners, saws, shovels, rakes and hoes. Hopefully at the end of 2012 you washed all dirt and debris off of your equipment with soap and water and then applied a generous coat of lubricant to the cutting surfaces.  Although the visible dirt may be gone, invisible fungi, bacteria and viruses can sometimes remain on the assortment of hand tools, seed flats, pots and benches leading to infection in the upcoming crop.  The initial washing step is critical because soil and plant residues interfere with contact between sanitizer and the disease causing organisms. Soil residue and organic matter can also inactivate the sanitizer. Some of the most commonly used disinfectants include commercially available quaternary ammonium compounds and hydrogen dioxide in greenhouse operations and liquid bleach and alcohol on the homeowner level.  Each product will have different properties and will require different application methods and contact times.  Most products will require a swipe or a dip method followed by air-drying or rinsing.  It is also important to note that some products are more corrosive than others and can damage metal parts if not rinsed after treatment.  View the complete chart of “Treatments used for sanitizing tools, equipment, pots, flats, surfaces, and other related items” by Kelly

Ivors and Mike Munster, NC State University at we often resort to these chemical disinfectants, steam and

solarization provide another set of options. For steam, plastic items

should be heated to 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes, while less sensitive items can be heated to 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. The second option is to place gardening tools and equipment on a clean, solid surface and cover tightly with clear plastic.  As a result of the sun passing through the film, the temperature will rise rapidly and solarization will occur.  Extension specialist Dr. Kelly Ivors notes that temperatures exceeding 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 4-8 hours per day over the course of seven days should kill most pathogens.

Other simple practices that will help to reduce the spread of pathogens include:

• Storing tools and equipment off of the ground when not in use,

• Avoiding the contact of hose ends and watering wands with the soil surface and hang all watering equipment on walls or suspended hooks between irrigation cycles,

• Removing diseased plant material from your garden immediately and wash your hands frequently to avoid transmitting disease organisms, and

• Using sanitizing wipes on pruners after each cut when disease is suspected.

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Summoning Nature for Healing

Project Ripple, Ms. Kim’s garden at Jackson South Community Hospital in Miami, opened in August. “When we look for a place to call home and we nurture a garden we call our own, we are looking for a place that’s restorative, that’s regenerative and that has a kind of humanity,” she told a reporter last week on the phone from her office in Boston.

Q. How do you define a healing garden?

A. It allows for us to reboot. I think that a lot of our public environments don’t really offer us that.

Q. Certainly not in hospitals.

A. Overall, a kind of stress management happens. It’s something we all know intuitively. We go to a place that’s quiet and inviting, and we can just feel our body relaxing. I think at the highest level, hospital administrators are really beginning to believe that design matters and they’re infusing a kind of humanity into these clinical environments.

Q. So “clinical” is something to be avoided.

A. It’s an interesting word. We want our health-care professionals to be objective and not emotional in assessing our state of being. But at the same time there’s a growing awareness that clinical environments work against the good work that doctors do — that they may actually increase stress levels, not only in patients but in their families.

Q. Hospitals pose severe constraints to designers. What did you have to think about with a hospital garden?

A. There’s such a range of people who come to any hospital: there are people who are just there to get a vaccination and then there are kids who’ve had four transplants. We had to create a safe environment for kids with severe immune deficiencies.

The other aspect was daily engagement: the rituals of the patients. There’s a kind of layering of activity that took months to figure out how to do, such as allowing for patients who are learning to get back on their feet to do physical therapy using the garden. In the Miami garden, there’s a slight incline that allows people to have a little bit of a challenge as they do circuits and at the same time allows patients in wheelchairs to enjoy the same setting.

I remember one parent in Chicago said to me, “I have a young son, and my daughter is in the hospital. I just want to be able to sit in the garden on a bench and look up at the sky at night and breast-feed my child.”

Q. Can you say more about the designs?

A. Within each of the gardens there are contemplative rooms created through plant material that screens the space and water that screens sound. In Miami, we actually used mist to create a cooling element that is a microclimate in the center and also creates a private zone.

In Chicago, we have a series of sculptural play elements; some of them are benches. They were salvaged pieces of wood from around Chicago. These logs had all this rot in them. We wondered, Should we repair this, should we make it look new? I said no. The whole idea of healing is there’s often a scar that’s left behind. It’s almost the beauty of healing. It’s not pretending that something is perfect. All of the aging was captured with resin and then we punched holes in the wood and embedded speakers. Different water sounds come out of the logs.

Q. Your own career was derailed by a physical disability: You were heading toward a career as a concert pianist in your early 20s when you developed tendinitis. Do you naturally think of creativity as something connected to the body?

A. I think that the idea of vulnerability is something you constantly bump up against as you grow older, but when you’re younger it’s quite traumatic. You don’t have the tools to address it. I had to find another form of expression, which was public and performative, used the body and had a kind of creativity to it. 

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Garden design tip; the focal point

A focal point is an important part of any garden room. Photos by Doug Oster

I spent four days in Florida with my family for a little break from the weather and I wish I was still there.

There was a long meandering trail along a lake near our hotel. A Great Blue Heron fished in the shallows along with other birds.

At the end of the walkway was a gazebo with a beautiful planter in the center.

It’s a great example of a garden focal point. It’s something that catches the eye and calls you to the space. Along the way, there’s always lots to see, but the focal point keeps calling.

It doesn’t have to be a gazebo or a planter, it might be a statue, tall plant or just about anything else.

Sometimes gardens can be created like rooms, at least that’s how I often look at them.

I like to put a focal point in each room. In one it’s a birdbath, another a tall pedestal with planter and another is a big statue.

This is a great time to look at those garden rooms when they are naked. Where’s the focal point in your gardens?

Have fun, look at gardens online and see how you can plan for the upcoming season.

Here’s one more picture from Florida, that balloon is quite a statement, quite a focal point.

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