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Archives for February 17, 2013

Winthrop legislator proposes edible plants requirement for Capitol Park

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Winthrop legislator proposes edible plants requirement for Capitol Park

‘I want them to see agriculture. People don’t always think of edible plants as landscaping,’ says Rep. Craig Hickman, a farmer and bed-and-breakfast owner

By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

AUGUSTA — When Rep. Craig Hickman stands on the third-floor balcony at the State House and looks out at Capitol Park, he sees potential.

A child runs pulling a kite in October 2011 across Augusta’s Capitol Park. Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, has sponsored a bill to require that edible landscaping be placed in a portion of Capitol Park.

Staff file photo by Joe Phelan

Craig Hickman

Contributed photo

More specifically, he sees the potential to grow blueberries, sage, oregano, sweet potatoes, okra and collard greens. He envisions colorful and edible additions to the historic state land once used as a campsite during the Civil War.

“I want people to see food when they come to the State House,” he said. “I want them to see agriculture. People don’t always think of edible plants as landscaping.”

Hickman, a Winthrop legislator, farmer and bed-and-breakfast owner, is sponsoring L.D. 474, “An Act to Require Edible Landscaping in a Portion of Capitol Park.” Co-sponsors on the bill include Rep. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, and Rep. Karen Kusiak, D-Fairfield.

The bill is headed to the State and Local Government Committee, which will hold a hearing on the idea in the coming weeks.

Hickman is seeking to change the look of a carefully planned park that mixes passive and active recreational uses, said State Historian Earle Shettleworth. Shettleworth, who serves as chairman of the Capitol Planning Commission, said he had not spoken to Hickman about his ideas, but that berry bushes and apple trees probably would conform with the current plan for the park.

Capitol Park — described in a legislative handbook as “the earliest-known consciously-designed public ground in Maine” — dates to 1827, which is the year in which the Legislature established Augusta as the state capital. Lawmakers in that year set aside $500 to pay for improvements to the park, including “forest trees.”

Then in 1920, the state hired Frederick Law Olmsted’s firm to plan the landscaping for the park, the State House grounds and the Blaine House. In more recent times, the plan has been updated, and the Legislative Council has provided money to pay for new trees, improved walkways and better benches, said David Boulter, executive director of the Legislative Council.

The council consists of leaders in both major parties and is responsible for paying for park maintenance and monitoring uses of the land, which in recent years have included a long-term encampment by Occupy Maine protesters. Boulter said any changes to the landscaping will need to be consistent with the Olmsted plan, which typically calls for trees and plants that are “muted in terms of colors,” he said.

Another consideration is upkeep.

“Maintenance is an issue,” he said. “It’s a very large park. We don’t have gardeners on site.”

Shettleworth said it’s important to keep the park available for multiple uses.

“One of the basic precepts is you have active space and you have passive space,” he said.

Hickman said anything he proposes would require little work but would showcase the beauty of food-producing plants year-round. His bill calls for the edible landscaping to be added as money is available, and that public and private funds may be used to cover the cost.

He even has some seeds from his farm he’s willing to donate to get the project started. The food produced at the park could be sold in the Cross State Office Building cafeteria or consumed at the Blaine House, he said.

“Whoever designs it, I want it to look seamless and beautiful,” he said. “You can just let the plants live through their full life cycle, and you see how beautiful they are.”

Susan Cover — 621-5643
scover@mainetoday.com

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Article source: http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/edible-plants-proposed-for-capitol-park_2013-02-16.html

Thinking spring at home and garden show

Snow flurries and cold wind swept through Northeast Tennessee Saturday afternoon, but inside Freedom Hall Civic Center, home and garden vendors teased visitors with their displays of warm weather activities and projects.

The Johnson City Area Home Builders Association’s 44th Annual Home and Garden Show was in full swing as participants young and old filtered in and out of the arena and gym areas that were transformed into backyard patios, bathrooms and garden waterfalls.

Lisa Luster, executive director of the JCAHBA, said the show tried to encompass a little bit of everything, with 137 booths and 90 exhibits from vendors specializing in carpeting, roofing, cutlery, landscaping and hardscaping.

“We have everything you can possibly think of regarding indoor and outdoor living. That is our theme this year. We try to have a theme every year,” Luster said. “What we’re finding is so many people are back into the remodeling and looking at building, but they are interested in the remodeling side. They’re interested in … fixing up their front yards, their side yards, their backyards, making their living area expand out into their outdoors. So, they’re really turning their outdoors into another home, basically.”

She said Saturday’s show featured a lot of exhibitors showcasing some of their unique products not easily found at a store.

Luster said visitors come to the show for many reasons, either to solidify an old plan or to come up with a new one regarding home and garden decor.

“They love it because they can come out and get ideas or take the ideas that they’ve had for a long time and get it down on paper and actually find somebody that can take care of the idea that they’ve had,” she said. “It’s perfect weather to be in here, because you can’t work out there.”

Tim Hicks, JCAHBA president and owner of Hicks Construction Co., said he was having a lot of fun Saturday and wanted to show the community that the construction business is back in bloom.

“As the economy’s picking up, we’re picking up with it. A lot of people (have) helped us through these tough times and we just want to try to give back and let people see what we can do,” he said. “I’m very excited about all the traffic and all of the positive feedback. A lot of people are interested and it looks like they’re going to be doing stuff this year.”

A group of David Crockett High School students in the SkillsUSA club were busy at work helping some of the show’s young visitors construct and paint their very own birdhouses.

“This is our second year doing it,” said Logan Tarlton, a senior at DCHS. “We got the lumber donated to us and we … pre-cut all of the birdhouses out and pre-drilled holes. Some of them would just rather paint them, but then there’s several that want to build them.”

Tarlton said he enjoys working at the show and said he’s happy to “get out in the community, get our name out there.”

Terry Henderson, of Terry Henderson Landscaping, said he’s been in the landscaping business for almost 44 years and said he wanted to show visitors to his exhibit that they could marry landscaping and hardscaping to create a relaxing and fun outdoor area. He said adding custom walkways, patios, retaining walls, fire rings and outdoor fireplaces have been hardscaping ideas that have been trending when remodeling or fixing an outdoor area.

Henderson said he was enjoying his time at the show and said “it’s just great to meet new people and shake hands with old friends.”

Colleen Weems, who had visited the show last year, said she and her husband, Ken, decided to bring their two kids back out to get rid of their “cabin fever” due to the cold weather.

“We came last year and the kids had a great time making their birdhouses and we wanted some more. We had a lot of neat little sign-ups last year and … cool freebies,” she said. “We can’t do anything outside right now, so the kids come, they can run around and get stickers and meet police officers and learn about safety and do fun things with power tools. They have so much fun, so we’re really excited we came out again this year.”

The Home and Garden Show will continue today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults and is free for children 12 and under. The first 100 people through the door today will be entered into a drawing for a special prize.

Article source: http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/News/article.php?id=104859

Mariposa Master Gardeners Will Present Edible Landscape Public Workshop

Submitted by Master Gardener Elizabeth Gabriel 

You put a lot of work into your landscaping and you get a lot of pleasure looking at the beauty of it. But what if you could get more?  What if you could get food? Maybe it’s time to change your ideas about what a landscape can be.

Mariposa Master Gardeners will present a free public workshop on edible landscapes Saturday, February 23 from 10 a.m. to noon in the county board of supervisors chambers, 5100 Bullion St., Mariposa. To register online, go to: http://cemariposa.ucanr.edu/Master_Gardener or contact the county ag office at 5009 Fairgrounds Road, Mariposa; (209) 966-2417.

You’ll learn the benefits of growing fruits, vegetables and herbs among your ornamental plants, how to get started with a plan, and a bit of what looks good with what:  For example, an asparagus with its ferny foliage would be right at home among a display of tall grasses; bok choy, with its urn-shaped stalks and broad leaves, can hold its own with pretty kales and cabbages.

You can use edibles in all areas of a landscape.  Instead of grass that you have to mow, how about thyme, mint or strawberries? Instead of  iris in a low border, cucumbers, lettuces, herbs or even compact, determinate tomatoes would work.  For visual screens, put up a trellis and lay on the tomatoes, squash, grapes or beans. If you like hanging baskets or pots, the choices are endless.  And don’t forget trees. Any fruit tree in bloom has flowers worthy of a painting by Monet.

Presenters Kris Randal and Betty Massey will go over  the basics, including  plant selection (plant what you want to eat), planning and planting,  preparing soil,  controlling pests,  fertilizing, irrigating, and keeping your crops happy.

They also will cover benefits not only to you but to the earth. If you grow your own, you know exactly what is and is not on your edibles, you’ll save money, you cut down on transport costs for food and you can get more variety than you’ll find in the market.

Article source: http://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/news/mariposa-daily-news-2013/143-february/7646-mariposa-master-gardeners-will-present-edible-landscape-public-workshop

Tank will collect rainwater for coming educational garden


The first of several rainwater harvesting tanks was installed at the Southside Recreation Center on Feb. 1, by Chuck Hartgrove, owner of Angelo Seamless Gutters. It will be used to capture rainwater for the educational garden being built by The People/Plant Connection, a local nonprofit organization. Funding for the rain tank was provided by a grant from the San Angelo Area Foundation. The tank holds 3,000 gallons of rainwater.

A misconception is we don’t get enough rain to collect rainwater. According to the weather station at Mathis Field, since September 2012, we have received about 9.01 inches of rain. Since September 2012, with the size of the roof, the rain tank would have collected more than 14,000 gallons of rainwater.

Water conservation is one of the main subjects of The People/Plant Connection. Their educational garden will be built to inform people in the Concho Valley about how to garden in drought situations, taking care of the environment and how to raise vegetables for themselves and their families. The garden will be on about three acres of land in front of and around the Southside Recreation Center on Ben Ficklin Road.

This unique garden will have four smaller gardens inside the perimeter. There will be a children’s adventure garden, an accessible garden for people with disabilities, a community garden where gardeners rent a small space for their own garden and a serenity rose garden where people can sit and relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the garden. The main gardens will be connected with sever smaller pocket gardens for demonstration of how to have beautiful plants that don’t need a lot of water.

The People/Plant Connection has been in operation since July 2009 when they started a horticulture program at the Concho Valley Community Women’s Correctional Facility and the Roy K. Robb Community Men’s Correctional Facility. Since 2010, they have sponsored two monthly gardening seminars. One is a Lunch ‘n’ Learn class taught by Allison Watkins, Texas AM AgriLife Extension horticulturist. They meet at the Edd B. Keys Building, 113 W. Beauregard Ave., on the second floor, in the commissioner’s court. The class is from noon to 1 p.m. and cost $5. Watkins covers different subjects about gardening in West Texas to help homeowners and business owners get the most of their gardening efforts.

The Saturday Gardening Seminars are held at the Water Education Center, 417 S. Oakes St.,from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Speakers are professionals from the community speaking about different aspects of gardening. Rainwater harvesting, gardening with Texas native plants, drip irrigation and more. These classes are $10 each. All proceeds from their classes go toward the programs and building the garden.

Gardening and art classes will also be held in conjunction with the summer camp programs at the Southside Recreation Center and the Carl Ray Johnson Recreation Center beginning in June. These classes are for children registered at the City Recreation Program Summer Camp. Children’s gardening classes will also be offered at the Goodfellow AFB Youth Center. Special student memberships are $15 per month with an additional $5 for each additional child. Parents get discounts from our seven industry sponsors with the student memberships.

If you would like to become a PPC volunteer and be part of this unique project, call 325-656-3104. Volunteers will help start the garden by landscaping the front of the Southside Recreation Center and the side garden around the outdoor classroom. As a PPC volunteer, you will get gardening information, discounts at the monthly gardening seminars, an appreciation dinner at the end of the year to recognize your hours and contribution to The People/Plant Connection.

If you would like to become a member of The People/Plant Connection, call 325-656-3104 to receive an application. The cost is $25 per year and members receive discounts from seven industry sponsors from the community. The industry sponsors are All-Tex Irrigation Supply, Brannan Nursery Landscape, Britton’s Garden Landscape, Concho Natives, Native Ornamentals-Mertzon, Olive’s Nursery and Scherz Landscape Co. Other benefits include a quarterly e-newsletter with information about what is going on with our garden project, class schedules and articles by Watkins and master gardeners about gardening in West Texas.

We also accept donations of cash or gift cards. The People/Plant Connection is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization making your donations tax deductible. Send your donations to: The People/Plant Connection, P.O. Box 62841, San Angelo, TX 76906.

For information about The People/Plant Connection and their programs call Susan Stanfield at 325-656-3104.

Article source: http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2013/feb/16/peopleplant-connection-column-217/

Eastwood home and garden show attracting serious buyers

By William K. Alcorn

alcorn@vindy.com

NILES

There is a sense that the local economy is improving among exhibitors and visitors at the Mahoning Valley Home and Garden Show in the Eastwood Expo Center at the Eastwood Mall complex this weekend.

The show started Friday and runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Admission and parking are free.

Everybody who comes through the door — and there have been lots of visitors — seems to be a serious buyer, said Dominic Baragona, president of Mid America Events of Niles, which produced the home show.

Baragona said about 4,000 visitors came through the doors Friday, and by 2 p.m. Saturday, more than 5,000 already had been counted, and he estimated Saturday’s total would reach 9,000.

In the past few annual shows, most people have walked around looking but not doing a lot of buying. However, this year many more are stopping to talk to one or more of the 150 vendors at the show, Baragona said.

One of the serious buyers Saturday was John Blue of Girard, who was at the show with his nephew, Damian Blue.

Blue said he is planning quite a few family home- improvement projects, such as roofing and siding, and he picked up a lot of brochures, got some ideas and even arranged to receive some bids.

John Perry of Poland and Matt Karlovic of Hubbard, sales consultants for CVS Creative Vinyl Systems, said more people at this year’s show are looking seriously.

They are not planning to move, they are planning to improve where they live and are looking for top- quality products for their projects, said Karlovic. CVS has offices in New Castle, Pa., and Salem.

Enchanted Gardens Landscaping of Canfield had one of several landscaping displays at the show.

Business started picking up in 2012, and a lot of people at the show are looking to do something this year, said Mark White, owner and designer for Enchanted Gardens.

“Outdoor living is a huge trend, with projects featuring kitchens with stoves and running water and living rooms with fire- places,” White said. He said patios can range from $5,000 and up. The show display would cost about $30,000, he said.

There also are several stage activities today at the show including how-to-do-it seminars presented by Home Depot at noon and 3:30 p.m., and a live cooking demonstration at 1 p.m. by chefs from the Firebirds Wood Fired Grill in the Eastwood Mall.

From 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., people can bring family heirlooms and just old stuff to have auctioneer David Dangerfield discuss the items and appraise their value.

On Saturday at the Home Show’s version of “Antiques Road Show,” some items were worth only a few dollars. But others, such as a Civil War collection, had considerable value.

The Civil War collection of letters, a diary and pictures and sword, could be worth anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000 or $10,000, depending on the contents of the letters and diary, Dangerfield told the owner.

Article source: http://www.vindy.com/news/2013/feb/17/home-and-garden-show-attracts-crowds/

Fresh grown local foods abound in Lake

It looks as if it’s going to be an early spring. Loquats began ripening toward the end of January, a good month ahead of normal, and the mulberry trees in our yard are flush with fruit. Blueberries are also ripening earlier than usual. Although that’s one crop we don’t grow ourselves, we do take advantage of nearby farms that welcome U-pickers.

One of our favorite U-pick operations is Lake Catherine Blueberries (5849 Lake Catherine Road, Groveland; 352-429-8221) run by Dustin and Jamie Lowe. According to Jamie Lowe, this year commercial picking should be starting in March, and they expect to open their U-pick operation in early April. That’s a couple weeks ahead of last year, but I’m not complaining. I’ll gladly indulge in an early feast of local produce.

The popularity of locally grown fruits and vegetables seems to be on the rise. Within a five-mile range of my home, I know of three new “farmettes,” backyard gardens turned into businesses to supplement the fruit and vegetable needs of several families. Three other specialty farms — farms that focus on specific crops such as strawberries, blueberries and blackberries — are also nearby, as well as three “egg farms” where small flocks of free-range chickens produce enough eggs to help their owners earn a little extra “scratch.”

My son’s girlfriend, Malory Foster, is among the new crop of garden enthusiasts eager to share a passion for plants with the public. Shortly after joining forces, Malory converted a sandy patch of weedy lawn into a verdant oasis of organic vegetables. One garden led to two, which led to a third, as well as the installation of a small greenhouse.

My husband and I have watched with nostalgic pleasure as the energetic couple sought out sources of local horse manure and proceeded to tote loads of the nitrogen-rich fertilizer to their property to mix with wood chips, peat and compost. Just as we did when we were starting out, Tim and Malory have managed to transform sadly deficient soil into a healthy composite of produce-supporting nutrients. Malory’s gardens now provide enough surplus vegetables to launch a small community supported agriculture operation in addition to a stand at the Clermont Farmer’s Market on Sundays.

I find myself encouraged by the surging interest in edible landscapes. Even in small spaces such as patios, balconies and postage-stamp-size front yards, people have begun to realize how much sense it makes to grow a few vegetable, herb or fruit plants.

Perhaps the abundance of online information has helped.

Anyone who wants to learn how to grow a particular plant need only do an Internet search for how-to videos. Consider tomatoes. A Google search on “how to grow tomatoes” yields 1.2 million posts by people eager to teach others how to do everything from planting tomato seeds to trellis growing plants, to preserving their harvest.

And then there’s Facebook.

In addition to reconnecting with high-school classmates, Facebook is a great place to find others who share common interests. Both experienced and would-be gardeners can join any of Facebook’s many specialty groups set up by individuals with passion for particular aspects of homegrown goodness. One of the Facebook groups I find particularly inspiring is called Grow Food Not Lawns (website: growtest.org), which strives to spread the word about sustainability, permaculture and edible landscaping.

Fortunately for those who either don’t have the opportunity or interest in growing their own food, small-scale local farmers have stepped up to the plate. Their willingness to dedicate the time, labor and resources needed to provide the public with fresh-grown local foods is a welcome addition to the community.

No matter whether the growing season is running early as it is this year, late or along normal lines, it’s good to know resources are available to make locally grown foods more accessible to anyone with the desire to seek out a more nutritious (and delicious!) way of eating.

Farm resources

Online sources for local farms:

•pickyourown.org

•lakecountyfl.gov/enjoying_lake_county/listings/farm

•localharvest.org

Sherry Boas can be reached at simplyliving@

beautifulbamboo.com. Her columns can be found online at OrlandoSentinel.com/

lake.

Article source: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/lake/os-lk-sherry-boas-021813-20130218,0,3213377.column

Gardening Tips, Vacancies And Arion Vulgaris Slug Warning From Bell Plantation

Gardening Tips, Vacancies And Arion Vulgaris Slug Warning From Bell Plantation

“One of Ashley Warren’s  new arrivals”

In his weekly chatter and blog with AboutMyArea/NN12 Ashley Warren owner of Towcester’s Bell Plantation Garden Centre on the A43/A5 roundabout said, “Saturday morning, fog lifting, sunny blue sky above, hey could this be the start of a spell of dry weather or even a great spring? It will take a few drying days before any major soil turning, depends a bit on how free draining your soil is? It’s easier digging if a bit drier.

“I am pleased to say the Garden centre is getting busy, so busy that we have 6 vacancies in our team now we are moving into our really busy period. We are looking for 2 cooks, 1 café front of house, 1 poultry centre assistant, 1 plant area expert and some full time help in the garden centre.

“If you know anyone who is looking for some full time or part time work drop us a line, we would love to hear from you. Come and join our happy team.

“I spent three hours yesterday on pot wash as the Café was so busy. Unemployment in South Northants is about 2.4% great for the local community, not so easy to recruit.

“Our contact details are all on the website: http://www.bellplantation.co.uk/about/

“With the sun on the soil it will be warming up the hungry slugs. Protect your veg. There is a monster slug appearing in the UK imported on leaves and plant roots, Arion Vulgaris it can grow up to 15cm long. It has been reported that it eats dead animals and even its own kind. Lock your doors at night. It also eats plants not usually eaten by other slugs i.e. onion tops, runner bean pods and even oil seed rape.”

www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk


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Article source: http://www.aboutmyarea.co.uk/Northamptonshire/Towcester/NN12/News/Local-News/241646-Gardening-Tips-Vacancies-And-Arion-Vulgaris-Slug-Warning-From-Bell-Plantation

Gardener: A tightwad’s tips for equipping a garden

Until recently, I’ve 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, you’ll 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 they’ll last for years. If I purchased the real thing, I’d spend about $5 each.

Social media: Facebook and, especially, Twitter have been a gold mine for me in sourcing goods for my $25 garden. I’ve tapped into a vast network of talented, giving people who want to help you succeed (or seed, in my case). I’ve had an outpouring of offers from seeds to supplies. One new Twitter friend even provided free hand-painted plant markers! I treasure them still.

Craigslist.org and Freecycle.org: 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. It’s 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 you’re 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 cheapskate’s 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, you’ll meet some wonderful people and recycle many of those items you’re ready to part with.

Online seed swaps: There are many organizations and groups across the country that facilitate seed-swapping. The National Gardening Association (garden.org) has a free online service for this, and hyperlocavore.com 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 email@joegardener.com and let me know. We can continue this conversation soon.

Joe Lamp’l, host of “Growing a Greener World” on PBS, is a master gardener and author. For more information visit www.joegardener.com. For more stories, visit shns.com.

 

Article source: http://siouxcityjournal.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/gardener-a-tightwad-s-tips-for-equipping-a-garden/article_ab920023-3ef5-5eeb-a2d9-2ed317683e89.html

Landscape designer Terry Welch takes his Zen vision to Vashon

EVEN THE most experienced gardeners make mistakes. The most they can hope is that when they move on to a new garden, they don’t repeat them. After 40 years in the design/build landscaping business, Terry Welch must have kept this maxim firmly in mind when he began creating a new garden on Vashon Island.

Welch’s old garden was a multiacre magical mystery tour, with a Zen garden, large pond, beaver dam and woodland trails. A wildlife sanctuary in rapidly developing Woodinville, the garden was a mecca for school tours and a pilgrimage for gardeners visiting the Northwest.

But when Welch decided to sell his famous garden, he discovered it wasn’t so easy to find a buyer. Seduced by the charms of Vashon, he was ready to move on after 28 years of creating and tending the Woodinville garden.

“It was an eight-year odyssey to sell the sanctuary, with a cast of characters including artists, healers and Zen centers,” says Welch of the array of potential buyers he dealt with over the years. “I realized that in my naiveté I’d created a hugely idiosyncratic property.”

Finally, in 2009, a serious buyer turned up, and Welch could at last join his partner, Steve Shanaman, on Vashon and take up the opportunity to begin again.

Downscaling started with the house. After an architect’s plans proved too pricey, Welch and Shanaman went online and ordered a metal building they called “the gas station.” They bought an upgraded window and door package to take advantage of the view, and built a partial second floor in the voluminous interior. They ended up with a 2,700-square-foot home that, from its metal roof to integral metal gutters, requires no exterior maintenance.

The new property is two acres, but most of it is in wooded ravines. Majestic madrona trees and ancient firs frame the view and set the scale of the garden. Welch kept the plantings simple, avoiding the siren song of what he calls “perennial terrorists.” He grows 15 cultivars of Japanese maples, as well as pines, witch hazel and stewartias.

The centerpiece of the garden is a boulder-framed plunge pool that looks like a hiking destination. The water is the clear aqua blue of fresh glacier melt, kept clean and swimmable by a nonchlorinated salt system. Heated by the sun, the water gets up to 76 degrees in the height of summer. “It’s bracing in April,” says Welch, who swims when the water temperature nudges up toward 50 degrees in the spring.

A moon gate forms the symbolic as well as the literal portal between the ornamental garden and the naturalistic hillside below. Where lawn meets ravine, a wide buffer of native plants protects the slope.

Welch’s expertise at building gardens for clients shows not only in the plunge pool (he’s built five on Vashon) but also in the way the garden quietly radiates from it. A flagstone patio set into the lawn holds a pair of Adirondacks. A broad terrace runs along the back of the house, tying the metal building to the landscape. Benches at one end of the terrace hold the collection of bonsai Welch brought from his Woodinville garden.

The bonsai aren’t all that Welch transplanted from his old property. While very different in size and site, the new Vashon garden is imbued with the same atmosphere of serenity as the Woodinville sanctuary. Welch has again reinterpreted Japanese aesthetics for a Northwest setting. And even in this new and less wild garden, his deep reverence for nature permeates the design and spirit of the place.

Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer. Check out her blog at www.valeaston.com. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific NW magazine staff photographer.

Article source: http://seattletimes.com/html/pacificnw/2020298656_pacificpwelch17.html