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Archives for February 21, 2013

Project Team are all Minors > Ideas on handling income/finances?

I teach classes on game design/development, and we recently had some discussions on finances.  I gave some initial impressions, but I’d like to get other people’s input on this. 


Many of my students are minors (Under 18 years, in the US) and many of them have their own project groups already, made up entirely of other minors.

My request is for any suggestions about how to approach the finances, divvying up pay, treasurer, etc…  particularly around involving the parents, and presenting a plan for them.

I suggested some basic models, the easiest being split evenly, but my suggestions on talking with parents were vague and could use examples/ideas to clarify.  I had worked with friends on smaller projects when I was younger, didn’t setup finance plans, and fortunately it worked out.  but that was mostly luck, and lack of skill at the time to produce a game that sold well.


Any Should do’s, Must do’s or considerations?



Edited by Dan Violet Sagmiller, Today, 12:15 PM.

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Watsonville takes steps toward Highway 152 takeover aimed at economic …

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WATSONVILLE — Kurt Overmeyer stood at the curb of Main Street in front of Watsonville’s City Plaza late Wednesday morning as hundreds of cars and trucks passed by and kept on going.

That’s the problem with having a four-lane state highway cutting through a downtown shopping area, Overmeyer said.

“Caltrans’ job is to get cars from city to city or through cities, not to be friendly to pedestrians or to be set up for a retail environment — in fact, just the opposite,” Overmeyer said. “Getting through is different than getting to. We need getting to.”

That’s why Watsonville officials started looking at taking control of the 4.6 miles of Highway 152 within city limits more than a year ago. Since then, state legislators cleared the way for Caltrans to relinquish the road, though city officials must agree to take responsibility for it and have yet to sign off on the deal.

The highway, which runs on Main Street, East Beach Street and East Lake Avenue, links Highway 1 with 101 in Gilroy.

Studies are under way to determine what it would cost the city in street maintenance and what the impact would be if major changes were made, such as reducing the number of lanes to provide more parking and wider sidewalks. Answers could be a year away.

“How much is it going to cost? What are we taking on? If we get that asset back, we need to get it back in a way we can use it,” Overmeyer said. “We’re not going to pull the trigger until we know

the answer to that question.”

But the answer could be more than a year away. In the meantime, city officials want to find out what the community thinks.

Overmeyer is seeking to bring together downtown property and business owners and residents, as well as representatives from the community at large, to develop a vision for the area.

“If we want to hit the ground running, we need to start now,” Overmeyer said.

And if the city decides not to move forward with claiming the highway, the talks at least will serve to engage stakeholders to figure out how to make the downtown function better, he said.

Scott Taylor has been selling office supplies at Taylor’s Office City on the 400 block of Main Street for more than four decades. The highway does little to help the downtown, he said. Getting rid of it could have a positive effect if improvements were made as a result.

Niche businesses, such as the soccer store across the street and the Western clothing store on the next block, do well, and a nicer downtown could attract more such shops, he said.

“The bottom line is it’s like buying a house that’s a fixer-upper,” Taylor said. “How much money do you invest before you get money out of it?”

Preliminary estimates run about $100,000 annually for street maintenance. Improvements, such as diagonal parking or landscaping, would need to be funded, as well.

Overmeyer said any change wouldn’t be “instantaneous.” The idea would be to develop a long-range plan with near-term and intermediate steps.

Councilman Daniel Dodge, who championed the idea as mayor in 2011, said taking over the highway to revamp the downtown may have seemed like “pie in the sky.” But Walgreen’s plan to build a store on lower Main near Riverside Drive shows there is a willingness to invest in the area.

Still, as long as Caltrans controls what happens on the road and sidewalks of Main Street, there’s only so much the city can do, he said.

“It’s a process to come up with some ideas about what we’d like to see, what’s economically viable and what’s not,” Dodge said. “I’m excited about the potential of what it could be.”

Follow Sentinel reporter Donna Jones on Twitter at


Watsonville downtown

WHAT: City wants to establish group to develop vision for downtown without Highway 152.
WHO: Business and property owners, downtown residents, community members urged to get involved.
WHEN: Four workshops and a field trip will be scheduled in 2013.
CONTACT: Kurt Overmeyer at 768-3087

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Garden Calendar: Explore great outdoors at Audubon Center events, nature hikes

NATURE EVENTS: The Trinity River Audubon Center’s free Third Thursday will offer guided hikes and animal encounters all day. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday. An owl prowl is planned for 8 p.m. The center also is planning adventure day camps for kids during spring break, March 11-15, $225. 6500 Great Trinity Forest Way, Dallas

ROSES: Learn which roses flourish in North Texas and require minimum care at the monthly meeting of the Dallas Rose Society. 6:30 p.m. Friday. Farmers Branch Recreational Center, 14050 Heartside Place, Farmers Branch. Free.972-727-3007.

GARDEN EDUCATION: North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Road, Dallas, offers the following garden events.

Terrariums and dish gardens, 10 a.m. Thursday, free

Design consultation by Roundtree Landscaping, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Reservations required. $60

Herbal vinegars, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, free

Veggies 101, 12:30 p.m. Saturday, free

Spring color, 1 p.m. Sunday

ORGANIC GARDENING: Learn how to create outdoor spaces with organic gardening practices. 10:15 a.m. Saturday. All Calloway’s Nursery locations. Free.

SPRING PLANTING: Redenta’s offers the following free classes at their Arlington location, 5111 W. Arkansas Lane, Arlington; and Dallas store, 2001 Skillman St., Dallas.

Spring vegetable gardening, 10:30 a.m. Saturday

Roses with Mike Shoup, owner of Brenham’s Antique Rose Emporium and author of Empress of the Garden, 10 a.m. March 2 in Arlington.

NORTH TEXAS ROSES: Covington’s Nursery plans a day of education and presentation on roses. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. 5518 Bush Turnpike, Rowlett. Free. 972-475-5888.

Landscaping with roses, 10 a.m.

Earth-Kind roses, 11 a.m.

ARBORETUM CLASSES: The Dallas Arboretum, 8525 Garland Road, Dallas, offers the following classes. Advance registration required.

Tons of tomatoes, 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, $27

Common-sense design, noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, $27

Easy-care Drift landscape roses and companion plants, 1 p.m.

GARDEN SEMINARS: Nicholson-Hardie offers the following spring gardening seminars. 5060 W. Lovers Lane, Dallas. Free, but advance registration requested. 214-357-4674.

Japanese maples, dogwoods and magnolias, 9:30 am. Saturday

Azaleas in Dallas, 11 a.m. Saturday

Shade gardening: perennials and annuals, 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Shade gardening: understory trees, shrubs and vines, 3:30 p.m. Saturday

Hydrangeas in Dallas, 1 p.m. Sunday

Camellias in Dallas, 3 p.m. Sunday

TROUT LILIES: Take a guided hike through Spring Creek Forest to see the trout lily. The early-spring wildflower has a flowering period for only two to four weeks. Expect mud.

10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, rain or shine. 1770 Holford Road, Garland. The parking lot is south of Bush Turnpike and north of Arapaho Road. Free.

CHICKEN FEST: Dallas County 4-H Livestock Project Coalition is hosting a daylong event that aims to enhance youth showmanship skills and explore the world of backyard chickens. Topics include feeding, breed identification and more, and is open to all youth. 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Texas AM AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Building C, 17360 Coit Road, Dallas. $25. Advance registration required. 214-904-3080. Email


DRIP IRRIGATION: Learn the basics from the Tarrant County Master Gardener Association drip irrigation specialists. 10 a.m. Saturday. Fort Worth’s Resource Connection, Building 2300, Magnolia Room,2300 Circle Drive. $5. Advance registration required.

TRINITY BIRD COUNT: Help count the birds along the Trinity River. 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday. Trinity River and Dogwood Canyon Audubon Centers, 6500 S. Loop 12, Dallas. Free. 972-889-0608 or email

WINTER WALK: Master naturalists will lead a walk through Mockingbird Nature Park. 10 a.m. Saturday. 1361 Onward Road, Midlothian. Free. Registration requested. 972-775-7177.

WATER SUPPLY: The Indian Trail chapter of Texas Master Naturalists will meet for a discussion on Texas’ water supply. 6 p.m. Monday. Red Oak Library, 200 Lakeview Parkway, Red Oak. Free. 972-825-5175.

GARDEN COLOR: The Grapevine Garden Club will offer ideas for color schemes for landscaping and beyond. 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Stacy Furniture Community Room, 1900 S. Main St., Grapevine. Free grapevinegardenclub .org.

NATIVES: The Trinity Forks Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will cover herbs and native plant landscaping at its monthly meeting. 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28. Texas Woman’s University, New Science Building, 325 Texas St., Denton. Free.

Submit calendar information at least 14 days before the Thursday publication date to

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Gardens of all shapes and sizes

Always popular with visitors, the show gardens provide plenty of ideas and inspiration.

Show Gardens

Wander around Malvern’s inspirational show gardens including designs inspired by a Cornish coastal scene, an old boat house and the Mediterranean. New for 2013 are the Themed Gardens, and following on from a fantastic year for Olympic cycling, designers will pay homage to the Tour de France.

School Gardens

Inspiring the next generation of horticulturists and garden designers, the School Gardens are a sight to behold with amazing designs created and built by local pupils from primary schools right through to colleges. The theme for this year is storytelling.

Some of the books providing inspiration include: Where’s Wally?, The Secret Garden and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Permanent Gardens

Malvern boasts a selection of wonderful permanent gardens. Be sure to look out for them as you walk around the Show.

The Stone Bottle Fountain – designed by Alchemy Gardens

Sculpted by Darren Bennett, the stone bottle fountain is the central feature of this garden. It was originally located outside the Malvern Water bottling factory in Colwall. When the factory closed in 2010, the fountain was removed by the Friends of Malvern Springs Wells in conjunction with Coca-Cola, and has now found a permanent home at the Showground. Over the coming seasons, as the planting matures, the garden will become a fitting tribute to 160 years of Schweppes Malvern Water in Worcestershire.

Caves Folly Nurseries 

This garden was constructed for the 1993 Show and has been a popular feature ever since. Caves Folly Nurseries has reflected its interest in environmental care and organic gardening in the design and construction of the garden, using reclaimed materials such as the brick paths and edge stone. The various areas in the garden are designed to give a variety of ideas in terms of construction, design and atmosphere and to reduce maintenance time. The plants provide colour and interest throughout the year and attract wildlife into the garden. The garden also features a whalebone archway made from English Oak, a small pool and a raised alpine bed.

Alchemy Gardens

Alchemy strives to create new and interesting areas within its garden. Meander through this stunning space full of delightful corners and various styles of planting and landscaping. Alchemy Gardens will also be building a Show Garden, so be sure to visit both locations.

Learning Garden

This permanent garden on the Showground is lovingly looked after by local group Pathways. This beautiful haven offers a means of escape and a sense of calm amidst the Show. There will be activities for children and local groups in and around the garden.

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Snowmass looks to better maintain landscaping

SNOWMASS VILLAGE — The Snowmass Village Town Council on Tuesday directed staff to put more resources into landscaping, a change in direction from its discussions last fall.

Significant cuts have been made in parks and trails staff in the past few years, and last year gardens throughout town were maintained by a contract service. This year, the plan was to contract out the maintenance of Town Park and town gardens, and staff members Tuesday night were looking for the officials to give direction on what landscaping areas they would like to see enhanced.

But that sparked a discussion about whether a contract service was enough to maintain the town’s resources. In the end, the officials directed staff to come back with a series of options for reallocating funds so that more employee hours could be spent on the maintenance.

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Naturescaping, a hollistic approach to landscaping, explored in Santa Cruz …

SANTA CRUZ — Whether it’s been in the wet weather of Oregon or amid a heat wave in Italy, Beth Young has experienced firsthand the benefits of naturescaping a home garden.

A landscape designer since 1983 and a Santa Cruz resident since October, Young asserts that a naturescaped yard can reduce the need for watering, weeding and fertilizing, thereby requiring less time, money and energy on upkeep.

Author of “The Naturescaping Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide for Bringing Nature to Your Backyard,” Young will share her expertise in a free three-part lecture series beginning Monday in Santa Cruz.

“Naturescaping is a holistic version of landscaping,” Young said. “It’s not just water conservation — it’s thinking of creating an entire ecosystem in your yard, inviting wildlife in, using appropriate plants for where you live and not interfering with nature’s processes such as decomposition.”

Called Naturescape Your Yard, the series will be held on three consecutive Mondays in the Pacific Room of NextSpace, where Young, 52, has her office.

“Over the years, I transitioned from a traditional designer to exclusively designing sustainable landscapes — ones that don’t need pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or excessive watering to look great,” said Young, born in Pittsburgh, and raised in Burlingame. “I’m offering this lecture series to present myself to the community and share what I’ve learned in my career.”

A 1983 graduate of

UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture, Young went to work for a landscape architect on commercial and municipal projects, including designing irrigation plans for Caltrans projects in the Bay Area.

She moved to Corvallis, Ore., to raise a family in 1988 and began working as a residential landscape designer, establishing Beth Young Garden Design in 1998.

“I had clients in Corvallis, some of whom were very well-educated, yet I realized they didn’t know much at all about natural ecosystems,” Young said. “I saw that nature was making beauty all on its own, yet many homeowners would struggle with weeds and plants that only survived with life support and found it frustrating. I wanted to learn more about how to work with nature rather than against it and teach that to my clients.”

Young began teaching naturescaping classes sponsored by the Corvallis Environmental Center. A freelance editor attended her class and suggested Young write a book. Her workbook was printed by Timber Press in 2011 and is available at Bookshop Santa Cruz, Capitola Book Cafe and Crossroads Books in Watsonville.

As a good first step for home gardeners to take toward naturescaping their yards, Young extols the benefits of using compost and mulch to help improve the health of soil as well as to help reduce runoff.

“Compost and mulch are verbs — putting them into action can solve a lot of landscaping problems,” Young said. “If you take any green material that comes into your household, stick it into a corner and let it break down, within a year you will have beautiful compost.

“Mulch is what nature does all the time,” she continued. “I believe leaves are called leaves because they’re supposed to be left. Rake them into your garden beds and let nature do its thing.”

Young spent the past two years splitting time between Corvallis and Siena, Italy, where she said her belief in the importance of drought-tolerant plants was strengthened immensely.

“I was taken with how precious water is in Italy and always has been,” Young said. “The Italians only use water for their vegetable gardens; everything else is drought-tolerant.

“This past summer was the hottest record-breaking heat wave since 1800 in Italy,” Young continued. “Rivers dried up. I watched all the vegetable gardens die. They were taking too much water, and it wasn’t cost-effective, so the Italian stopped watering them. Yet, it was still such a beautiful place, and that was because the Italians were using only appropriate plants in their climate.

“Native and appropriate plants are what I’m going to focus on in the lecture series.”

If You Go

Naturescape Your Yard

WHAT: A three-part lecture series by landscape designer Beth Young of Santa Cruz on using nature as a guide to making a dream garden. Author of ‘The Naturescaping Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide for Bringing Nature to Your Backyard,’ Young asserts that a naturescaped yard can reduce the need for watering, weeding, pruning, fertilizing and mowing, thereby requiring less time, money and energy for upkeep.
WHEN: 7-8:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25, March 4 and 11
WHERE: NextSpace, Pacific Room, 101 Cooper St., Santa Cruz
COST: Free. Registration is required as seating is limited.
DETAILS: 831-419-9853, or visit

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London Orchid & Botanical Art Show

London Orchid  Botanical Art Show

April brings the RHS London Orchid Botanical Art Show to London, where attendees can buy beautiful orchids and international works of botanical art

From the 12th-13th April this year The Royal Horticultural Society will be hosting the RHS London Orchid Botanical Art show, an exhibition that will display highly collectable orchids as well as international works of botanical art.
The show, to be held at the RHS Horticultural Halls, includes the opportunity to hear stories from those students involved in the well-known Writhlington School Orchid Project. The pupils recently set out on an expedition to Rwanda where they visited schools to aid them in learning about horticulture. Several key orchids of the Sikkim Himalaya will be incorporated in their exhibit.

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David McLaughlin of the RHS described the show as ‘unique’ and and said it would give access ‘to a wide range of high-quality orchids that aren’t commonly available.’ Mr McLaughlin also pointed out that there will be ‘more challenging plants for sale as well as botanical art, so there’s something for everyone.’
With works from nearly 30 artists based around the world, the Orchid Botanical Art Show will offer the chance for visitors to see and purchase orchids as well as work from renowned botanical artists.

You can buy tickets online here

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Hedge trimming: tips for keeping your hedge in perfect shape

• If you struggle to cut your hedge it’s better to cut it by hand in stages.
It’s rather traditional and romantic to cut by hand and if you have the time
and the eye you get a much better cut. If it’s a big, tall hedge, then maybe
you need a powered hedge trimmer with an articulated head. Or use a Henchman
platform, which let you work at a higher level . It’s the thing I get
asked about most when I am out in the garden.

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Sharon Hull, This Week in the Garden: To many, Japanese maple the prettiest …

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For devotees of Japanese maples, there is no lovelier plant. And even to those of us who find many other plants quite appealing as well, the maples are hard to resist.

Japanese maples (usually Acer palmatum and A. japonicum) have been popular with local gardeners for years; if you look around town, you will see old specimen trees in the yards of many Victorian and Craftsman homes, as well as in the gardens of less venerable houses. Many more cultivars are available these days than could be found when those old houses were built, so modern gardeners have some true treasures from which to choose.

Now and in the next month is the perfect time to shop for these trees because they are beginning to leaf out — I think they are especially wonderful in spring. Entire books have been written about these trees because there are so many types and cultivars. We are fortunate that we can grow them well here, both along the coast and inland.

Few deciduous trees offer such a long season of interest; their form is so striking that even in winter when the leaves are off they still make a statement in the landscape. In spring, the newly unfurling leaves and infant flowers are often delectable colors, in softest pastels as well as deep burgundy and purple. The soft-to-the-touch form of new leaves, often with delicate hairs at the tips, reminds me of a kitten’s ears. In summer, the mature foliage, depending on the cultivar,

can be deep green, pale green with other colors such as pink or cream, or some form of variegated green and white. Or the tree may have deep velvet wine-hued foliage, sometimes with other colors overlaid in jewel tones. And a few cultivars occur in shades of rich golds or yellows.

The leaf shape and size can vary enormously, from very fine thread-leaf forms to broad and sturdy leaf shapes that are only slightly indented. The mature tree size also can vary, from tiny bun-like shrubs, growing no taller than a few feet, to large trees over 30 feet in height. Forms available include trees with pendulous branches creating a waterfall effect, very upright and fairly narrow forms, and large majestically spreading trees that need a spacious yard to reach their potential.

Even the bark can offer drama: the Coral Bark maple’s limbs turns intensely red-coral when the temperature drops in the winter months, and several other cultivars also have colored twigs and stems.

Fall color is often beautiful enough to cause onlookers to gasp. With Japanese maples, there is a tree to suit almost any situation the gardener can imagine and to appeal to every eye.

A quick survey of local nurseries revealed the following especially choice cultivars in stock:

  • Uki gumo: One of my favorites, with small leaves heavily speckled with pink and white. The name means “floating clouds.” Mature height is 10 to 13 feet.

  • Fireglow: Shrubby when young, attaining tree form with age, to 33 feet or more. Leaves medium sized, deep wine-red, maintaining the color throughout summer.

  • Katsura: Becomes large with age, to 33 feet. Small leaves unfurl in orange shades, become golden yellow during summer and then orange again in fall. Many fanciers describe it as one of the most spectacular of Japanese maples.

  • Seiryu: Deeply dissected leaves give a delicate airy appearance to this small upright tree. Grows 10 to 16 feet tall. The fresh green of the foliage becomes dark purple with red highlights in fall.

  • Shin deshojo: A shrub up to 8 feet, densely branched. The small leaves are brilliant scarlet as they unfold, creating a spectacular effect. Leaves become blush pink and green in summer, rich red in fall. Winner of many merit awards in the trade.

    Garden tips are provided courtesy of horticulturist Sharon Hull of the Pro-Build Garden Center. Contact her at 423-0223.

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    Chris Olsen shares tips for winter garden chores



    Video: Chris Olsen shows you colorful indoor foliage

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — Our garden guru Chris Olsen with Botanica Gardens shares tips on winter garden chores and fun foliage for indoor plants on “THV 11 News This Morning”.

    Winter Chores

    Yes, its that time of year to get out in the yard and do your winter chores. The weather is perfect to go ahead and prune back your roses. When it comes to shrub roses (like Knock Out roses) I prune back mine to about half. Some varieties such as floribundas and granifloras can be cut back to about 18 inches from the crown.

    Don’t forget to cut make your liriope and spireas. Also certain varieties of hydrangeas need to be pruned back as well. Pee Gee, Tardiva, Limelight, etc. need to be pruned back each winter to about half their original size. The old fashion mop tops require no pruning unless they are getting to large for their area. But you will want to cut out the weak and dead stems from the interior of these plants. This will help with air flow thus preventing diseases and will add in new growth. With new growth comes more flowers.

    Don’t forget to also rebark your flower beds. I prefer hardwood mulch. Mulch will add nutrients to the soil as it decays, conserves moisture, prevents weeds, and looks great and fresh.

    Colorful Indoor Foliage

    Now that Valentine’s Day is over, soon your fresh flowers will be done and your house void of fresh color. Did you know that there are so many different varieties of houseplants that not only provide fresh and vibrant foliage to cheer up any drab room, but they are easy to grow. If you like English ivy then tree growing the Neon Algerian Ivy. These babies have very large leaves and their new growth is bright lime green. This in contrast to the older dark green foliage makes for a spectacular display. Speaking of neon…try the Neon Pothos. This plant actually looks like a lime green potato vine but for indoors.  

    You can’t forget about bromelids, the Limelight Craigii, and even soft ferns add color and texture. But if size matters and if you are limited to an apartment, then grow some “Ittie Bittie” foliage plants. They come in 2 inch pots and are so cute…

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