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Archives for February 26, 2013

EPA program aims to make downtown streets walk-bike friendly

For people who walk, drive or ride a bicycle, a variety of possible scenarios could change how they get around in a portion of Helena’s downtown.

Consultants hired by the Environmental Protection Agency through its Greening America’s Capitals program, unveiled options for a five-point intersection downtown, along with how the Last Chance Gulch and Sixth Avenue intersection could be reshaped to provide a better transition to the city’s Downtown Walking Mall.

Other of the visions for changing Last Chance Gulch involved possible reconfigurations for traffic, pedestrians and those on bicycles for Last Chance Gulch from Sixth to Neill avenues, Fuller Avenue from Sixth to Neill avenues, Last Chance Gulch from Neill to Lyndale avenues and along Neill from Kessler to Front streets.

The focal point of this process is Last Chance Gulch and how to make it more pedestrian friendly as it transitions from new economic development to where it enters the walking mall and the city’s historic past.

“This is kind of an exciting project for us,” Sharon Haugen, the city’s community development director, said as the first of three days of considering possibilities began on Monday.

The process isn’t to determine what the city will do but rather what it could do to make the downtown more desirable, more usable by pedestrians, she added.

Some of the designs used landscaping to separate traffic on streets and to provide a lane for those making left turns. Landscaping along street curbs and in areas set aside for parking, sidewalks and bicycle lanes were included in designs as well as in larger open space that was intended to help divert rain from the city’s storm sewers.

Using landscaping for this purpose, said Kevin Perry with Urban Rain Design in Portland, Ore., helps reduce the amount of oils, greases and other pollutants that are carried by water running along streets en route to storm sewers. This tainted water presents concerns for those downstream of where the storm water drains.

The proposals advanced as starting points for a community discussion on reshaping city streets were all feasible given the city’s rights-of-way, Hall said.

In most cities, a quarter of the land is devoted to street rights-of-way, so a question for those who manage cities is how to take advantage of that land so it serves multiple functions, said Phil Erickson, a principal with Community Design + Architecture of Oakland, Calif., who is leading the design team.

Looking at serving multiple interests in street design, Erickson said, can be a consideration by agencies when asked to help fund street projects.

The nearly hour-long explanation of possibilities for reshaping how streets are used drew questions from those who owned businesses along the affected areas. Their questions focused primarily on why to expand sidewalk widths, how to ensure that business locations are not left “landlocked” and whether the designs put forward for discussion will allow for handling the winter’s snows. Among other comments offered to the design team was that the area being reviewed for improvement was too limited and a broader look at the city was warranted.

More meetings will be held today with stakeholder groups such as those representing business interests, transportation and historic preservation; and another public meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Civic Center, 340 Neill Ave., where the public input process will conclude.

Based on what information is gathered during the session, a final report on what changes the city could make to its streets would likely be completed by early June, according to Abby Hall, a policy analyst with EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities.

Some of the ideas in the report could be initiated in the six months to a year after the report is released, Hall added. Other of the suggested improvements could require further study to determine if they are practical.

Funding for future projects, should the city decide to pursue them, would have to be sought, city staff has said.

Helena is one of five state capitals selected this year by the EPA for the program, Hall said, adding that the city’s application that sought to improve transportation while also better connecting its new economic growth with its historic past helped it be selected. The EPA has said that it does not make public what it is spending for this project.

Hall said that she walked the downtown and said the pedestrian mall with its historic character is vibrant with people there for lunch and others walking through the mall too.

She also viewed the five-pointed intersection, dubbed locally as “mini-malfunction junction” as there is another intersection with more traffic that has the distinction of being the city’s larger “malfunction junction.”

The intersection, she said, has a disconnect for the traffic that uses it.

Despite the confusion that the intersection can cause those who are just passing through town and even for people who live in Helena, there was only limited support for one of the two suggested revisions for it.

And others at the meeting wanted the intersection left alone and said that installing a roundabout in place of the stoplights that are there now would create “an accident waiting to happen.”

Erickson, who led the design team, said more engineering and analysis would be necessary before the city could decide whether to proceed with a roundabout.

Design team members said modifications to the five-pointed intersection could be removed from the scope of work too, based on public comment.

Members of the Helena City Commission and City Manager Ron Alles arrived before the meeting started to hear the presentation as they would be holding one of the twice monthly meetings later that evening.

Improving mobility and safety while adding landscaping and trees along streets, Erickson told the commissioners, can add 3 percent to 15 percent to home values. Retail spending, he noted, can benefit by between 9 percent and 12 percent as people tend to linger longer in these pedestrian friendly environments.

“There’s some challenges, but I think there’s a lot of opportunities to do some great things,” Erickson said before the meeting began.

The challenges posed by the five-point intersection, he continued, were large.

“It’s one of those places where the community really needs to think about the trade-offs of any decisions,” Erickson added.

Two proposals that were advanced for discussion at the meeting dealt with the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Last Chance Gulch where the walking mall starts. One scenario called for expanding the curbs at this three-point intersection so people would have less distance to cross and to slow traffic for pedestrian safety.

The second scenario called for expanding the walking mall into the intersection so the space – clearly defined by color and style of the pavement – would provide for a mixed use by those who are walking and in vehicles.

In discussing why Helena’s application was selected in 2012, the third year for the Greening America’s Capitals program, the EPA website noted that redevelopment in the northern part of Last Chance Gulch has added new office buildings, a new bank and both commercial and residential office buildings. As this redevelopment continues toward downtown, Greening America’s Capitals will help the city and community create a common vision that makes the streets and intersections friendlier to those who are walking or riding bicycles while still maintaining the neighborhood’s functionality for all users.

Greening America’s Capitals is a project of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities between the EPA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation, the EPA website noted. A goal of this program is to help state capitals develop a vision of distinctive, environmentally friendly neighborhoods that incorporate building concepts and infrastructure that is more environmentally sensitive. Green building concepts seek to create healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation and maintenance while green infrastructure designs offer a new look at managing rainwater such as directing it into landscaping instead of sewer pipes which also offers new options for other stormwater and floodwater management.

Also selected along with Helena are Des Moines, Iowa; Frankfort, Ky.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Indianapolis.

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Savvy Senior: Resources for older job seekers

Dear Savvy Senior,

What resources can you recommend to help older job seekers? I’m 62 and have been out of work for nearly a year now and need some help.

— Looking For Work

Dear Looking,

While the U.S. job market has improved slightly over the past year or so, challenges persist for many older job seekers. Fortunately, there are a number of free online tools and in-person training centers scattered across the country today that can help you find employment. Here’s what you should know.

Online resources

If you have Internet access, there are a number of 50-and-older online employment networks that can help you connect with companies that are interested in hiring older workers.

Two of the best are, a resource developed by AARP that combines career advice, job listings and online discussion tied to LinkedIn’s professional networking platform. And, which offers a job search engine that lists thousands of jobs nationwide from companies that are actively seeking workers over the age of 50. It also provides job-seeking tips and advice, helps with resume writing and allows you to post your resume online for companies to find you.

Some other good 50-plus job seeking sites to try are,,, and a resource that helps older workers find meaningful work in the second half of life.

In-person help

Another good place to get help finding a job is at a Career One-Stop center. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, these are free job resource centers that can help you explore career options, search for jobs, find training, write a resume, prepare for an interview and much more. There are around 3,000 of these centers located throughout the country. To find one near you, call 877-348-0502 or go to

Depending on your financial situation, another program that may help is the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Also sponsored by the Department of Labor, SCSEP offers access to training and part time job placements in a wide variety of community service positions such as day care centers, senior centers, governmental agencies, schools, hospitals, libraries and landscaping centers. To qualify, participants must be over 55, unemployed and have poor employment prospects. To learn more or locate a program in your area visit or call 877-872-5627.

Work at home

If you’re interested in working at home, there are many opportunities depending on your skills, but be careful of rampant work-at-home scams that offer big paydays without much effort.

Some of the more popular work-at-home jobs include “customer service agents” who fields calls from their employers’ customers and prospective customers — you don’t place telemarketing calls. Agents earn an average of $8 to $15 an hour and many also receive incentives and commission, too. To find these jobs see,, and

If you have good typing skills there are “transcriptionist” jobs that pay around $10 per hour for typing verbatim accounts of board meetings, presentations, conference calls, etc. Companies that hire transcriptionists are,,

And if you have a college degree, online “tutoring” or “proofreading” jobs are always available. See to find tutoring opportunities which pay between $10 and $15 per hour. Or, if you have some writing or editing experience, proofreading pays $12 to $20 per hour. See and to look for proofreading jobs.

For more work at home ideas and resources, see and click on the “Work from Home” tab on the left side of the page.

Start a business

If you’re interested in starting a small business but could use some help getting started, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers tips, tools and free online courses that you can access at

• Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070. Or visit Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

Article source:

Neighbors Want Niowave Tax Break Blocked – WILX

There’s no denying the Niowave expansion on Walnut Street is hard to miss, and neighbors have a name for it.

“The pole barn,” Mary Elaine Kiener said.

She lives just three houses away from what has become a 14,000-square-foot thorn in the community’s side. They’ve been battling with Niowave over the design for months, asking for improvements since they weren’t involved in the construction in the first place. Folks said it’s not just an eye sore, it’s hurting property values.

“We have real estate agents saying, ‘We’re not going to show people properties in the area,'” Kiener said.

Niowave said it’s tried to be a good neighbor and offer landscaping ideas that the community has shot down. Now it wants a $550,000 tax exemption on equipment investments over the next six years, while adding 25 jobs by 2016.

“At the end of the day we’re looking at a very important business partner here for the city of Lansing, and in an important neighborhood,” Lansing Director of Planning and Neighborhood Development said. “In the middle, there has to be a compromise, and I think that – I believe very strongly – that’s what Niowave has brought forward.”

That’s not the way the neighborhood sees it. They called the tax abatement request “ridiculous” at Monday’s City Council meeting, where multiple people spoke out against it.

“This issue has kind of taken on a citywide flavor,” Lansing City Council At Large Member Brian Jeffries said. “We’ve had a lot of other neighborhood organizations from East Side, South Side, contacting us, saying, ‘Hey, we don’t want this happening in our neighborhood.'”

Those neighborhoods have even coined a new catch phrase for their troubles.

“Every time there’s a new development or something new coming through, people say, ‘Oh, we don’t want to get Niowaved,'” Kiener said.

Niowave has offered $100,000 worth in landscaping, but people say it’s not enough. They want guarantees.

“They have not been good neighbors,” Kiener said.

A public hearing for Niowave’s requested tax exemption is set for March 11.

There’s also an amendment on the table for the Special Land Use permit to prevent situations like this in other neighborhoods in the future.

Article source:

Art Center Wins Beautification Award

The Wayne Art Center was named the First Place winner of the Radnor Township Manager’s Beautification Award, which recognizes citizens, businesses and organizations that have improved their properties.

The Center is sited on nearly three acres of mostly wooded land, with two large parking areas and two prominent street entrances, Maplewood Avenue and Conestoga Road.

The art center describes its gardens in the following text:

Dorrance H. Hamilton Garden                                                                 

The nursery located behind the Wayne Art Center building rents space to several landscaping companies. The area is used for construction vehicles, not at all the tranquil setting we envision for our students to study art. There were no plants or shrubs or a backdrop to yield privacy. The area also required grading and additional pipes and drains to alleviate an ongoing drainage problem and divert the flow of water away from our facility.

We now have 15 varieties of woody plants and 18 varieties of perennials in the Hamilton Garden. We have built a semi-circular boulder wall with seating at the edge of the garden, using boulders given to us by the Township when they built the Radnor Walking Trail adjacent to the Art Center. It is truly an inspiring outdoor space that is visible from the clear storied window wall that was installed in the newly renovated Hamilton Studio.  It also is a wonderful space for students to sit and relax.

Betty Moran Garden                                                                                   

These gardens are located in front of the Wayne Art Center building, adjacent to the parking lot. The plants that were installed there were overgrown and a new design brings freshness and new color to the area.

Steven Laden Meditation Garden                                                              

The installation of this garden served as a kick-off to our Landscape Campaign and was a wonderful way to honor Steve and share his love with the entire community.  It was our dream that the grounds surrounding the Wayne Art Center would serve as inspiration and respite for our students and community. Creating a “Meditation Garden” behind the “link” that connected the Center’s old and new sections and was an ideal starting point for achieving our dream.  This special connecting space is now utilized everyday by all of our students and visitors.  We have achieved the creation of a restful, peaceful place – an oasis of calm in a garden setting that helps students connect with their own creativity and goals in the same way that our studios and exhibitions now already do.

Josephine M. and Calvin W. Schmidt Garden                                   

The Schmidt Garden is a beautiful backdrop for available for works of art displayed in the Davenport Family Gallery. This garden surrounds a rain garden that was installed during our last major renovation project. It has an edible theme: including blackberry, raspberry and blueberry bushes, strawberries in addition to herbs such as rosemary and thyme. These edible plants are being utilized in the culinary classes we offer during the summer and enjoyed by all of our culinary students. Lovely magnolia trees also grace the terrace which is used for gallery receptions and special events. A Rain Garden is located in the center of the Schmidt Garden and will feature rotating sculpture throughout the year.

Ralph J. DiMaio Landscaping of Wayne designed most of the gardens and donated maintain them over the summer months.


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Author, television host, professor to speak at Healthy Lake Conference March 5

Dave Tylka

Dave Tylka

Professor Dave Tylka will be the keynote speaker 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 5 at the Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance Healthy Lake Conference in Osage Beach. Tylka is a semi-retired Professor of Biology at St. Louis Community College at Meramec, where he taught full-time for more than 20 years. He still teaches native landscaping, field zoology and Ozark ecology courses. Tylka was the first St. Louis Urban Biologist for the Missouri Conservation Department, a position he held for 14 years. He is also a widely recognized educator, biologist, nature author, and photographer, he brings together a wealth of information on native species and ideas that can inspire any landscaper.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013 5:24 pm

Updated: 8:17 pm, Mon Feb 25, 2013.

Author, television host, professor to speak at Healthy Lake Conference March 5

Press Release

LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. – A free conference and dinner will accompany words of wisdom and practical advice on Lake-friendly landscaping next Tuesday.

The Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance (LOWA) has scheduled a Landscape for a Healthy Lake Conference 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 5. The conference will be held in Building D, Suite G at the Tan-Tar-A Family Resort in Osage Beach.

The general public, landscapers, lawn care professionals and rock workers are invited to come to the free conference and dinner and hear renowned experts speak on the newest and smartest landscape techniques that thrive in the rocky and steep Ozark terrain. Learn how to use rain gardens and beautiful, deep-rooted Missouri native plants that require little maintenance or water to slow down rainwater runoff and reduce lake pollutants. Educators will also speak about using landscape techniques and rip rap to stop property and seawall erosion from the constant pounding Lake wave-action.

Real Estate professionals are also urged to come and hear information on steps they can take to protect the Lake – one of the greatest assets in their industry.

The keynote speaker for the conference is Dave Tylka. Tylka is a semi-retired Professor of Biology at St. Louis Community College at Meramec, where he taught full-time for more than 20 years. He still teaches native landscaping, field zoology and Ozark ecology courses.

In 2002, he wrote the Missouri Conservation Department book, “Native Landscaping for Wildlife and People.” Dave has also written several popular pamphlets on backyard landscaping, bird feeding, and butterfly gardening. As a widely recognized educator, biologist, nature author, and photographer, Tylka brings together a wealth of information on native species and ideas that can inspire any landscaper.  

Tylka was the first St. Louis Urban Biologist for the Missouri Conservation Department, a position he held for 14 years. While with the Conservation Department, he also co-produced and hosted “All Outdoors” on Channel 11 in St. Louis.

Conference subjects include:

  • Using native plants and landscaping to beautify property, benefit wildlife and manage stormwater runoff.
  • The Filtrexx Grow Soxx®, a compost sock used to manage storm water, that is considered “gold in a grow sock” by scientists, due to the nutrient-rich dirt inside that helps plants to grow “anywhere,” including a steep, rocky Ozark hillside.
  • The Rain Reserve® catchment devices that are used in capturing water, and why Lake property owners should care about “disconnecting downspouts.”


A notable panel of experts will also be available to answer questions on the following subjects:


  • Ameren Missouri’s Georganne Bowman on shoreline vegetation
  • Schultz Surveying and Engineering’s Mike DeLong on managing rain water run-off through engineering
  • The University of Missouri Extension Office’s Bob Broz on soil erosion
  • Local landscaping experts on LOWA Low Impact Landscapes (LILs) and rip rap

Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn about, and register for, LOWA’s Cost Share Landscaping Program, “Green$ for Greenery”, where they can receive:

  • Free soil samples
  • A free evaluation of their property by a Trained Volunteer Evaluator (TVE).
  • Free expert advice on the best landscapes for their individual property by a TVE.
  • Up to $900 off on landscaping and rip rap.
  • A free LOWA Low-Impact-Landscape (LIL) Lake Protector Sign for their yard

The cost share program is available on a first come, first serve basis.

A light dinner will be provided at the conference. The RSVP deadline for dinner is Saturday, March 3. For more information or to register for the free conference, call 573-280-2296, or email To read more about LOWA LILs go to Partner businesses in the cost share program are required to attend this program.

“We are urging our ‘Friends of the Lake’ to bring neighbors, landscapers and employees. This is probably the best learning opportunity we have brought to the Lake since LOWA began,” LOWA Executive Director Donna Swall said. “We are pulling out all the big guns, don’t miss this opportunity.”

© 2013 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Monday, February 25, 2013 5:24 pm.

Updated: 8:17 pm.

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Survey identifies top outdoor living trends for 2013

Landscape architects see a growing trend in outdoor living, with more American homeowners adding outdoor rooms for entertainment and recreation on their properties.

The results of the “2013 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey” conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects also show an increasing demand for both sustainable and low-maintenance design.

Landscape architects who specialize in residential design across the country were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements in 2013. The category of outdoor living spaces, defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces, received a 94.5 percent rating as somewhat or very popular. It all but tied with gardens and landscaped spaces at 94.4 percent.

Across all categories, 97 percent of respondents rated fire pits and fireplaces as somewhat or very in demand for 2013, followed by grills (96.3 percent), seating and dining areas (96.3 percent) and lighting (95.1 percent).

In the category of home landscapes, decorative water elements, including waterfalls, ornamental pools and splash pools, were predicted to be in demand (90.9 percent). Spas (81.5 percent) and pools (75.3 percent) are also expected to be popular. Terraces, patios and decks are high on people’s lists (97.6 percent), as are fencing (89.6 percent) and ornamental water features (84.2 percent).

“In this uncertain economy, homeowners

want to get more enjoyment out of their yards,” says ASLA executive vice president and CEO Nancy Somerville. “They want attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and sustainable.”

Carolyn Miller, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors, agrees. “These times have changed the way people live. It costs nothing to keep things neat and tidy. People are doing more ‘staycations’ these days. They’ve moved their living during warm weather to their back yards, where they have added outdoor kitchens, quiet areas, ponds and waterfalls, which add to the enjoyment and relaxation gained from a yard.”

The survey notes Americans still prefer practical yet striking design elements for their gardens, such as low-maintenance landscapes (93.9 percent) and native plants (86.6 percent), with organic slightly increasing in popularity (65.3 percent compared to 61.2 percent in 2011).

More people are opting for food and vegetable gardens, including orchards and vineyards (82.7 percent). Other sustainable elements such as native or drought-tolerant plants (83 percent), drip irrigation (82.5 percent), permeable paving (72.8 percent) and reduced lawns (72.6 percent) are making their way into outdoor living spaces across the country.

Landscaping is almost as important as having the interior of a house look welcoming, according to Miller, who is with RE/MAX Real Estate Services in Cupertino. Miller says when an agent prepares a home for sale one of the first things that is discussed is curb appeal, starting at the street and moving to the front of the house.

“There needs to be an attraction to get potential buyers inside the house, and if the front welcomes them with color spots and neat and tidy walkways and mowed lawns, they will move to the front door and enter the home,” explains Miller. “Landscaping carries into the house and out to the back yard. Buyers aren’t just buying the interior; they’re looking for year-round living.”

Improving landscape, particularly in front, not only helps sell a home, but makes your home inviting, so people enjoy the view and may feel inclined to stop by long enough to renew friendships or make new friends, says Miller.

“When spring arrives, you can see neighbors outside talking across the lawns, while taking care to fertilize, prune and trim, and add seasonal color to make their homes look fresh and friendly. Homeownership instills this pride of ownership in many homeowners,” says Miller.

Additional information on residential landscape architecture can be found at tialinfo.

Information is presented by the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors at Contact

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Tips To Get Rid Of Rats From Your Garden

Just login with Facebook.    

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Monthly Home Garden and Landscape Tips from Master Gardeners

Most vegetable gardeners have seed orders in hand and will soon be starting some plants with an eye toward the brighter days ahead. With that in mind, we’ve included a chart (below in tips) with suggested times for indoor seed starting and transplanting seedlings into the garden.

Although Wayne County remains in the NYS quarantine our ash trees have yet to show Emerald Ash Borer infestation. That’s good news for us as many of us have Ash in our yards, along streets or in woodlots. There are Emerald Ash Borer infestations in Monroe County.

We are currently seeking applicants for our Master Gardener Volunteer program. For more information you can contact Laurie at 331-8415 ext. 107 or e-mail us at There’s also an article about the Master Gardener Program at the end of this e-mail.

Below we have included information about our upcoming events, garden and landscape tips for February, and two articles from our Master Gardeners.

Upcoming events
Gardening Hotline: During the winter months we receive many questions about insect pests inside homes, tree and shrub pruning and questions from people who want advice that will help them avoid problems they’ve had in their gardens and landscapes in the past. If you have a question please leave it on our voicemail 331-8415 ext. 107 or e-mail us at Please leave a daytime phone number where we can reach you with any additional questions we may have.

Master Gardeners are a great resource for new gardeners and for troubleshooting home garden and landscape problems including weeds, lawn issues, wildlife, insect pests and plant diseases along with control recommendations. Plant and insect samples can be brought to the office for identification or diagnostic work. During non-hotline hours you can leave your sample with our secretary or in the drop box at the end of the building. Please put insects in a sealed plastic container (so they won’t get crushed) and plant samples in sealed plastic bags. Remember to label them with your name and daytime phone number where we can reach you. We also offer soil pH testing (cost is $3 per sample) and can help you with soil test interpretation.

Saturday, May 11: CCE Wayne County Master Gardener’s 24th Annual Plant Sale – more information will be provided as we get closer to this event.

Info for woodlot owners: Free Woodlot Visits: Call 331-8415 ext. 107 to schedule a free woodlot site visit. These free site visits typically last up to 3 hours with our Master Forest Owners providing woodlot management information to Wayne County woodlot owners including best management practices for achieving management goals. During the visit our MFO’s can also provide you with   additional sources for assistance and information.

For information and webinars on forest health visit

Monthly garden and home grounds tips

Many factors including infectious disease can cause browning of conifer needles but winter browning is a common cause. Evergreen trees continue to produce energy from sunlight throughout the winter, which requires water. If these trees do not have sufficient stores of water from the fall to last through the winter, they may dry out and their needles turn brown. Frequent freeze/thaw cycles, cold temperatures, and rapid temperature changes increase the rate of drying. This browning may appear more pronounced on the sunny (south and west) sides of the tree. Winter browning typically becomes visible in late winter or early spring. Evergreens near roads may also turn brown in the winter due to exposure to road salts.

Houseplant growth is at its slowest during the winter months, so keep fertilization to a minimum until the plants show signs of new growth. Keep plants away from heat sources which will cause excessive drying also keep leaves clean and dust free.

For winter interest, choose plants such as holly, winterberry, and viburnum, which are not only colorful, but also have berries that attract birds. Winter-blooming witch hazels, red twig dogwood, and hellebores are also good choices when adding interest to the winter landscape. For additional color, add some early-blooming bulbs, such as scilla, snowdrops, grape hyacinth, and crocus.

Most deciduous trees can be pruned at any time during the dormant period (Maple and birch are pruned after they leaf out). Delay pruning spring-flowering shrubs such as forsythia and lilac until after they bloom. Summer blooming shrubs are pruned while dormant.

You can test the germination rate of old seeds by placing some in a moist paper towel placed into a plastic bag. Put the bag in a warm location and check for seed germination in a few days.

Some vegetables such as beans, beets, carrots, and radishes are best planted by directly sowing the seeds into the garden. Check seed packages or contact us for recommended planting dates.

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Designer’s passion fills her family home with quilted works of art

Abraham Lincoln is hanging out in the sunny breakfast room of Susan and David Marth’s home. Susan’s quilt wallhanging, titled “Abraham Lincoln Tribute,” features a silhouette of the 16th president of the United States. It seems right at home overlooking rolling hay and grain fields in rural Moro, Ill., just an hour from Lincoln’s law office, home and other historic sites in Springfield.

Susan, an internationally known graphic quilt designer, created the unique piece in 2008. “He was about to celebrate his 200th birthday, and I liked the feel of the fabrics copied from the Civil War era that were available.” Her finished piece is about 4-by-4 1/2-feet and made with reproduction fabrics in historic colors of black, cream and reds. Four of Lincoln’s famous quotes and classic quilt patterns frame the president’s large black silhouette.

Susan says her creative process differs; sometimes she uses a graphics program to design on her computer; or she may do a sketch on paper or design as she quilts the fabric. She makes one sample of each design and, to save time, has area professionals who quilt them for her. Judy Bishop of Piedmont, Mo. machine quilted the Lincoln piece. Susan says, “I like the creative process of making it. It’s not any fun to me to make the second and third of anything. I think creative people have to do something creative to spark their brains.”

Her creativity extends to furnishing the traditional 2,000-square-foot two-story home the Marths had built 21 years ago on two acres. “I love going to flea markets and estate sales; you get unique things. I like to be different, and my style is very eclectic.” She displays vintage items, from treadle sewing machines to wood bowls, along with her quilts. She hangs them over the rungs of a rustic ladder in one corner of the living room and drapes one on the brown couch. Interior walls are kept simple white to showcase her hangings and her beloved fabrics. In her studio neat stacks of folded fabric overflow a small grocery cart and fill a pair of metal lockers, while baskets corral notions.

Susan, whose degree is in architectural interior design, left a career designing retail stores, store fixtures and tenant office space in the St. Louis area to be a stay-at-home mom. But she missed designing and working with color and turned to fabric and quilting. Her mother, Pat Gvillo, taught her to sew at any early age, and quilting was an easy transition. She believes that her passion for space planning shows in her use of fabrics. “That’s why we quilt — because we love fabric,” she says.

She began putting her original quilt creations into pattern form and started her business, Suzn Quilts, in 2003. She sells to the trade at the International Quilt Market twice a year. Her patterns and books sell through quilt shops, catalogs and distributors, and her designs appear in quilting magazines. She has just designed a line of child-oriented fabric for Red Rooster Fabrics of New York.

Whether it’s designing, promoting her work, cooking nightly for her family or decorating her home, she says, “I don’t sit still and do nothing very often; I think I get that from my father.” Her motto is, “Family first, then quilting.”

Susan Marth


Home • Moro

Age • 49

Family • Susan has been married for 24 years to David Marth, 49, a civil engineer for Greene County. They have three children: Chloe, 21, and Blake, 19, students at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville; Clare, 15, attends Edwardsville High School. The family collie, Nemo, is 5.

Occupation • Susan makes graphic quilt designs and is starting her 10th year of business as Suzn Quilts ( She also teaches workshops and lectures on quilting.

The Marth Home • Susan and David had the handsome two-story brick-fronted home built 21 years ago on two acres next to the farm of her parents, Richard Gvillo, Sr., and Pat Gvillo, outside Moro. With 2,000 square feet plus a full basement there is plenty of room for four bedrooms and two and a half baths.

Living room • The designer’s quilting cozies up the family’s main living space. David’s contribution to decor is his largest buck mounted and hung. The lap quilt on the couch is Susan’s cheerful “Garden Trellis” pattern.

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Society of Garden Designers chair Juliet Sargeant to teach garden designers of …

25 February 2013

Society of Garden Designers’ chair Juliet Sargeant is going back to her roots to teach aspiring garden designers the creative art of transforming landscapes.

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