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Archives for February 15, 2013

Peoria seeking input as city plans parks future

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Ideas floated for Casey parkland

Community members stated a preference for better Emerald Necklace connections and a dog park in the new acre to be added to Southwest Corridor Park (SWCP) as a side effect of the Casey Arborway project.

As a result of demolishing the Casey Overpass and replacing it with a new Casey Arborway surface street, the park will gain about an acre-and-a-quarter of new land. State Department of Transportation (MassDOT) consultants brought several sketches and ideas to the park’s Parkland Management Advisory Committee (PMAC) meeting on Feb. 6 at the District E-13 Police Station.

The current park is a compact entrance to one of the city’s major parks. Small grassy areas and few benches—mostly used by homeless visitors—do not emphasize the park’s beauty and importance, PMAC President Janet Hunkel said.

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The biggest request was to emphasize the Emerald Necklace connection among the Arnold Arboretum to the west, Franklin Park to the east and the SWCP to the north. Members of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, the SWCP PMAC and the Franklin Park Coalition agreed to host a joint meeting to discuss options as how to best accomplish that goal. That meeting has yet to be scheduled.

While a plaza has been planned to surround a new Forest Hills station subway access point on the park, the size and use of the plaza had not yet been decided. Community members stated a preference for a smaller plaza that allowed more direct bicycle and pedestrian paths through the area.

A dog park was tentatively placed on the northeastern corner of the park, along Washington Street.

State, city and transit police representatives advised the consultants on the importance of easy visibility and how that might translate to landscaping choices like taller trees and fewer shrubs.

The Casey Arborway project is budgeted at $52 million and includes roughly $20 million in improvements, including the park’s makeover.

The Casey Arborway project deisgn community meeting is scheduled for Feb. 27. Demolition of the overpass is expected to begin by the end of the year.

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Revised Shoppers plan finds middle ground

Parents of autistic son find relief, support in Surfer’s Healing

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Master Gardener course offered

VALPARAISO | Purdue Extension – Porter County is announcing its Spring 2013 Master Gardener Course. The program runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays Feb. 25 through May 20 at the Sunset Hill Farm County Park Education Center, U.S 6 and Meridian Road.

Master Gardeners are community members who take an active interest in their lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers and gardens. They are enthusiastic, willing to learn and to help others, and able to communicate with diverse groups of people. In exchange for their training, those who become Master Gardeners contribute time as volunteers, working through their cooperative extension office to provide horticultural-related information to their communities.

When accepted into the Master Gardener program, you will attend a Master Gardener training course. Classes are taught by the Purdue University Extension Service specialists, staff, and local experts. The program offers a minimum of 35 hours of instruction that covers topics including lawn care, ornamental trees and shrubs, insect, disease and weed management; soils and plant nutrition, vegetable gardening; home fruit production; garden flowers; landscaping and herbs. In exchange for training, participants are asked to volunteer time to their county extension program. At least 35 hours of volunteer service following the training is required to earn the title of “Purdue Master Gardener.”

The cost of the class is $200, which includes manuals and materials. Applications with payment need to be submitted to the Extension Office as soon as possible for consideration. Priority will be given to Porter County residents and early applications.

For more information and an application, contact Lyndsay Ploehn, agriculture natural resources associate, at (219) 465-3555. Applications are also available online at:

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Garden Class

There are snobs in the gardening world who feel strongly that certain plants are superior to other plants.

For instance, they would pick a rhododendron any day over a plain photinia bush, the common shrub you see everywhere in spring, mostly used for hedging, with bright red leaves.

In the elite world of gardening, hellebores rate more highly than impatiens, penstemons score more points than pelargoniums, and jack-in-the-pulpit plants easily rank head and shoulders above homely astilbes, hostas and plain old pachysandra.

Poppies are fine as long as they’re blue; hydrangeas are permissible as long as they aren’t the ubiquitous spherical mophead type; and roses get two thumbs up when they are “old world” types and have one dramatic super-fragrant flush of blooms and ideally are grown into trees and over shrubs rather than in formal rose beds.

Garden snobs would never allow a marigold into their garden. They grimace at criss-crossed novelty-hybrid petunias and they shudder at the thought of a garish gladiolus finding its way into their backyard, sorry, garden border. Aquilegia, podophyllum, gentian and cyclamen, it seems, can do no wrong. By comparison, bedding plants like impatiens, salvia, zinnia, verbena and alyssum are mere also-rans.

In terms of pots, you score points if they are classic terra cotta, Italian not Mexican. You can get away with stone and ceramic, but never plastic and most definitely not white (ticky-tacky) plastic and ditto for plastic plant labels pushed into the ground at the side of plants as a reminder. No, no.

In the 1950s, British writer and socialite Nancy Mitford recognized and articulated this snobbery and other forms of snobbery and went around labelling everything U (upper class) and Non-U (classless).

At the time, she said it was all just for fun, but when I think back to Britain in the 1950s with its fourth-class compartments on trains, I have my doubts.

Mitford thought people should say “wireless” instead of “radio”, “scent” instead of “perfume”, “sofa” instead of “couch” and felt that it was much more chic to say someone was “rich” instead of “wealthy”.

In the garden, she said it was U to say “vegetables” and Non-U to say “greens”. She also hated garden gnomes with a passion. I would have to hide the one I have in my garden.

Christopher Lloyd, one of Britain’s most flamboyant and esteemed garden gurus of the last century, was another incorrigible botanical snob.

He was famous for walking into a beautiful garden and observing that while the owner had chosen all of the right plants, they had picked all the wrong cultivars, and therefore, despite it being beautifully planted and immaculately maintained, the garden still received a failing grade in his book.

Next week, at the 12th annual Vancouver Sun Gardener’s School at the five-day BC Home + Garden Show at BC Place Stadium, I will be taking a closer look at the issue of what defines class and good taste in the garden.

I want to examine more closely where we get our ideas of superior gardens from and how we classify plants and certain styles of gardens as elegant, refined, sophisticated and, well, quite simply “classy”.

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Wealth of peaceful presence

422 Redoubt Rd, Manukau. Photo / Ted Baghurst

This lifestyle property now brimming with subdivision potential offered the perfect solution when a farming couple bought it 22 years ago.

The park-like block, with stellar views to Rangitoto, was already named “Greenwolds” when the Humphries bought it. Owner Prue Humphries says, “It’s unusual, because it’s one of the few northern slopes properties left along here that is able to be subdivided.”

Its 1.506ha of land on the Redoubt Rd extension can be subdivided into three separate lots. That’s an enviable position, since it’s at the Tuscany Estates end of Redoubt Rd, near where many premium lifestyle homes have sprung up.

Prue and her late husband, Toby, who died last October, were sheep and cattle farmers in northern Wairarapa. When they retired they knew Greenwolds was ideal, being handily located in Auckland, where Prue’s two sisters live. Its tranquillity and ample land offered an ideal transition from their substantial farm.

“For Toby to just have moved into the city wouldn’t have been fair,” says Prue.

And this property has charm by the bucketload, with its sweeping entrance, mature trees, Prue’s colourful gardens, the classically styled home and its far-reaching views.

It’s screened from the road by greenery. The driveway curves around a big near-level lawn, harbouring a magnificent oak tree, and back out a separate driveway exit to the road.

Subdividers would consider this lawn Lot One. Those planning to keep the property as one would consider it an excellent place for kids to play.

The existing home and its surrounds could form Lot Two. It’s a circa-1950s cedar board-and-batten home with part of its front clad in rock as a feature. One of its loveliest areas is the partially joined living and dining room flanking a central promontory housing an open and a closed fireplace. French doors embrace the outdoors.

Toby particularly appreciated having views all the way out to Rangitoto Island, as he could see so much despite having mobility difficulties.

Another striking room is the big kauri-lined billiard or games room. Prue rubbed her knuckles raw restoring its ornate kauri fire-surround.

Its fine billiard table – being sold with the house – was bought from a Cambridge farmer reputed to have housed it in a specially built, upmarket extension to his cowshed.

There’s also a kitchen, laundry and internal-access double garage, a master bedroom with walk-in wardrobe and en suite, another bedroom and two further bathrooms.

The existence of an upstairs attic and a crafts or computer room means there was enough space for 10 people to sleep when overseas-based children and grandchildren visited.

The home’s northern face delights in a colourful area of the garden beside mature kahikatea and rimu trees, where Prue’s daughter was married. There’s also a swimming pool with a deck off to one side and a separate workshop.

The land purposely drops away in front of this colourful garden in a ha-ha – a landscaping feature that keeps grazing livestock out of the garden without interrupting the view.

Beyond this, another expanse of land sheltered by trees on both sides could form the third and final lot. Sharing in the glorious view, it’s where the Humphries used to keep a few sheep.

It’s time for a new chapter in Prue’s life, now she’s widowed. She’s bought a home in Auckland’s Stonefields and is looking forward to having less land and enjoying the neighbourhood’s renowned sense of community. She hopes former SPCA cat Isabella will be just as happy there, because Greenwolds’ freedom suited her so perfectly, too, since she was originally found living wild.

By Sandra Goodwin

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Gardener: A tightwad’s tips for equipping a garden

  • Until recently, Ive never really considered how much of what you need to start and maintain a garden can be acquired for free or nearly free. But a few years back I challenged myself to see if I could create an organic garden from scratch on a total budget of $25 or less. The premise was that I was acting as a brand-new gardener, with absolutely no gardening-related equipment in my possession. I was pleasantly surprised to discover just how far you can stretch that almighty dollar when you put your mind to it.
    Take starting seeds, for example. Rather than buying expensive commercial products, I learned to improvise using common household items, like reusing pizza boxes as seed-starting trays. So in celebration of another fast-approaching season of playing in the dirt, here is a partial list of ideas to get you started and keep you on track to your most frugal garden yet.
    Repurpose or recycle: When you start thinking creatively, youll be amazed at the amount of things you discover that can be used in place of store-bought items. For example, I just returned from two grocery stores. Both donated large clear plastic cake domes with a base. These make perfect mini-greenhouses (to fit over those pizza-box seed-starting trays), and theyll last for years. If I purchased the real thing, Id spend about $5 each.
    Social media: Facebook and, especially, Twitter have been a gold mine for me in sourcing goods for my $25 garden. Ive tapped into a vast network of talented, giving people who want to help you succeed (or seed, in my case). Ive had an outpouring of offers from seeds to supplies. One new Twitter friend even provided free hand-painted plant markers! I treasure them still. and These are the coolest online ways to find exactly what you need. Craigslist is like a giant virtual garage sale where you can find just about anything you need, right near where you live. Some things are free but most are for sale at good prices. Freecycle, on the other hand, is all free. Its all based on the idea of keeping things out of the landfill. You post online to give things away and look there for what you need that others are giving away. I have friends who have equipped their entire garden via Freecycle, from hoses and soil to bricks, seeds and plants.
    Garage sales: Just in case youre not a fan of the online world, consider neighborhood garage sales. As much as you need a grow light or nice shovel, someone in your neighborhood is ready to make a deal.
    Local government: Many city, county or other municipalities offer free compost for the taking. Some offer rain barrels and helpful seminars on gardening. These services are almost always free or well within even a cheapskates budget.
    Organize your own swap: Local events provide the ideal opportunity to swap seeds, tools, plants and supplies. Schools, churches and civic groups are great places to organize these events. Not only are you able to trade for free, youll meet some wonderful people and recycle many of those items youre ready to part with.
    Online seed swaps: There are many organizations and groups across the country that facilitate seed-swapping. The National Gardening Association ( has a free online service for this, and is a worthy grass-roots effort that exemplifies the spirit of giving and sharing as it continues to build a network of members. Search online for seed swaps for more options.
    Agricultural bulletins and classifieds by state: Many regions or states have an online and/or printed version of their agricultural news. It includes a classified section that lists people willing to mail you seeds, merely for the price of a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE). The offerings are amazing. Search online using the term agricultural bulletins by state.
    So little space, but so many more ideas to share. What are ways you save money in the garden? Please email me at and let me know. We can continue this conversation soon.
    Joe Lampl, host of Growing a Greener World on PBS, is a master gardener and author. For more information visit For more stories, visit

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    Gardening Tips: Native plants for home landscape

    Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013 11:25 am

    Gardening Tips: Native plants for home landscape

    By Matthew Stevens

    RR Daily Herald


    A few weeks ago I was asked to speak to a garden club about native plants, and it was such a fun topic.

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    Friday, February 15, 2013 11:25 am.

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    Summer tips for Durban gardens


    In flower now is bougainvillea.

    Durban – Summertime and the living is easy… but not always when it comes to gardening on Durban’s stinking-hot sunny days that are interspersed with lots of rain – just to keep the humidity as high as possible!

    But never mind, says gardening expert Eric Burgess – your garden loves this sort of weather: heat to get things growing and blooming, and regular rain to keep it all racing along.

    “I have hardly had to water my garden at all for weeks – just the beds of seedlings and the plants growing under the eaves of the house, where the rain does not quite reach,” he says.

    “The hot weather means we tend to seek out shady spots in the garden at this time of year. If you do not have enough shade, or wish to create more shade in a certain area, now is the time to plant a tree or large shrub to give you shade and coolness in future.

    “A quick way to make shade, of course, is to build a pergola covered with shadecloth or wooden slats, or thin wooden poles or ‘droppers’.

    “The wooden droppers or slats provide wonderful shade that provides moving patterns as the sun moves across the sky.

    “There are many shade trees available. Some grow quickly, some flower well, some are deciduous and some are evergreen.”

    Evergreen trees, says Burgess, keep their leaves all year, and are thus suitable for screening, but also give shade in winter.

    Deciduous trees let in more sun in winter when their branches are without leaves, Burgess points out.

    “Falling leaves can also block gutters and drains – and choke the pool cleaner. A tree is forever, so think carefully about your choice, and ask your nurseryman for advice.”

    Some of Burgess’s favourite trees are:

    * White Stinkwood (Celtis africana) – Indigenous, quick-growing, a big tree with a tap root system, evergreen.

    * Leopard Tree (Caesalpinia ferrea) – Exotic, quick-growing, big tree, ornamental bark, yellow flowers, smallish root system, small leaves, light shade, deciduous.

    * Golden Trumpet Tree or Yellow Tabebuia (Tabebuia chrysotricha) – Exotic, medium quick-growing, small tree, spectacular yellow flowers in August/September, light shade, deciduous

    * Frangipani (Plumeria rubra) – Exotic, medium quick-growing, small rounded tree, very fragrant flowers in cream, yellow, apricot, pink or red varieties, medium shade, big leaves, deciduous.

    * Lavender Tree (Heteropyxis natalensis) – Indigenous, 5m to 6m tall, quick-growing, attractive bark, leaves smell of lavender, light shade, deciduous.

    * Wild Pear (Apodytes dimidiata) – Indigenous, fairly quick-growing, 5m to 6m, white flowers, attractive seeds, dense foliage, evergreen.

    * Natal Laburnum (Calpurnia aurea) – Indigenous, quick-growing, 4m to 5m, attractive bunches of yellow flowers, light shade, evergreen.

    * River Indigo (Indigofera cylindrica syn I frutescens) – Indigenous, quick-growing, 3m to 4m, small tree/large shrub, good for small gardens and screening, sprays of pink flowers in summer, light shade, evergreen.

    Burgess says that if you are a rose grower, be extra-diligent with your spray programme at this time of the year as the humid weather means blackspot and mildew are a threat.

    “Hot, dry conditions are favoured by red spider, so spray with a combination spray of a fungicide and an insecticide – ask your nurseryman for more details.

    “Lightly prune back stems that have flowered, to encourage growth for the autumn flush. Feed generously and water well if necessary.”

    Summer is the time for flowers and your garden should be a riot of colour.

    In flower now are Allamanda cathartica, with huge yellow trumpet flowers on cascading branches; bougainvillea in all their glorious colours; dipladenia (mandevilla), a favourite climber with huge pink flowers in profusion; and Plumbago auriculata, which is indigenous and has many uses in the garden and is covered with either blue or white flowers.

    Other flowering plants to see at your nursery are pentas, in a range of colours and so easy to grow; lavender, with its aromatic leaves and flowers; angelonia, in white, pink or blue forms which flower almost all year; and day lily (hemerocallis), which are probably the easiest of all flowering plants to grow, flower really well and are edible.

    The perennial portulaca (P oleracea) is another edible plant commonly known as purslane – they are low-growing groundcovers with large, bright flowers in white, yellow, orange, red and pink which need full sun as the flowers close in the shade.

    The succulents are full of vitamin C, and contain more omega-3 fatty acids than some fish oils, so are a vegetarian’s delight.

    On the pest front, the wet weather is a paradise for snails.

    Says Burgess: “On a walk the other day – between rain showers – I found three huge snails on the grass pavement. These were adult carnivorous snails (Natalina caffra), which I was only too happy to carry back to our garden.

    “They have voracious appetites for all kinds of snails and slugs – even resorting to cannibalism if food is scarce!

    “They are bigger than the common snail, Helix aspersa, (which is the edible snail you pay for in restaurants).

    “Natalina is easily recognised as it has a very long ‘foot’ which sticks out both in front and at the back of the shell when it is crawling.

    “It also has a round hole in the middle of the underneath of its shell. It is not the snail with the pale, long, tapered shell like an ice-cream cone (this is also a baddy and needs to be destroyed).

    “Look for the carnivorous snails and treasure them!” – Independent on Saturday

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    Inside the most beautiful home garden I’ve ever seen

    The seed catalogs are beginning to roll in, and I’m daydreaming about sunshine, green leaves and ripe tomatoes. There’s something special about choosing your seeds and plants for the upcoming growing season — maybe it’s the anticipation of what you’ll be eating, and maybe it’s the potential you have to grow your own food. Or maybe it’s because, deep down, we all just want to be farmers. Whatever the reason, it’s time to start looking through catalogs, store shelves and the still-closed doors of our local greenhouses to start planning this year’s garden.

    For my garden design inspiration this year, I’m looking at one specific garden. The garden was created by Jim Nelson in North Kingstown, R.I., and it is the most unique and beautiful home garden that I’ve ever seen. Jim’s garden is not only beautiful, it’s also ecologically friendly; his ingenious design incorporates many materials that would have otherwise gone into the dump.

    I was able to see Jim’s garden during the height of the summer. I had heard about this garden, but that in no way prepared me for the reality of it. When I first saw it, I wondered if Jim secretly had the staff of Better Homes and Gardens doing the planning and maintenance. This garden is beyond gorgeous, and there are so many elements in it that add to the quality and beauty.

    The garden takes up every inch of the back yard, but it doesn’t make you feel claustrophobic or boxed-in. That’s because it isn’t barricaded by fencing; instead Jim makes use of a “borrowed view.” This technique was also often used by Frederick Law Olmstead (a famous park designer who designed Central Park) to frame a view that isn’t necessarily on the same property. So instead of feeling contained by tall fences, the end of Jim’s garden is open and draws your gaze along the length of the garden, giving you ample opportunity to admire all of his hard work.

    Jim was lucky enough to work at a local elementary school where they were replacing the old marble in the bathrooms with plastic. Instead of letting this marble go to waste, Jim saved it and has built the most stunning work tables, fences and garden walls that I’ve ever seen. These beautiful marble pieces would even make Martha Stewart envious.

    The pathways in the garden are also made with reclaimed materials. The bricks that create the garden paths were painstakingly taken from local beaches where they had washed ashore. It is possible that these bricks once made up a lighthouse that was destroyed in the 1938 hurricane. This brick walkway acts to keep weeds under control, and the sun-soaked bricks can heat up the surrounding soil more rapidly.

    My favorite part of the garden isn’t the gorgeous marble work tables, the adorable garden gates, the smooth reclaimed brick walkways or even the stately arbors. My favorite parts are two sets of octagonal glass frames that Jim uses as cold frames and soil storage areas. I’d never seen anything like these before. I wondered where Jim had found these seemingly custom-made cold frames/soil storage units. But again, Jim rescued these from going into the landfill. What I thought were custom-made cold frames are actually the old light fixtures from the school gymnasium that Jim set in the ground for his own uses.

    Jim’s garden (or “man-cave,” as his family refers to it) is by far the most beautiful home garden I have ever had the privilege to see. His unique design and use of found or salvaged items is truly astounding. Instead of relying on store-bought items, Jim created a gorgeous garden from items he was able to find or rescue. Seeing this garden has completely changed my image of using recycled materials in landscaping. Let Jim’s garden act as inspiration for you to find items to reuse in your home garden. Keep on gardening, Jim.

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