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Archives for February 28, 2013

Kirby: Carolina Home Show offers ideas for spring projects

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Shani Gates, Phil Walters and Harold Brewington were among the many vendors with smiles on their faces and prospect leads in their pockets. And patrons were just glad Charles Allen and other gardening gurus were there over the weekend as part of the 14th annual Carolina Home Show at the Crown Expo Center.

“Great crowds,” said Gates, 43, who owns Curbing Creations.

Spring is coming, and this was a smorgasbord of ideas if you’re into landscaping or interior and exterior upgrades.

“It’s been really good,” Walters, 48, said outside of his Phil’s Home Improvement booth. “It’s that time of season when people want to renovate.”

Walters grew up in Massey Hill, has been in the remodeling business for 25 years and offered some insights on why updating an older home is an alternative to buying a new one.

“They like their neighborhoods,” Walters said. “They are comfortable. We just improve on what they’ve got.”

Brewington, who owns Carpet One of Fayetteville, said he had received several good leads.

The annual showcase is sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Fayetteville along with Carolina Mortgage and First Alliance Mortgage.

“We had 67 different vendors and 4,300 people attend,” said Natalie Fryer, 36, executive officer for the Home Builders Association. “Spring is coming and there’s a lot of remodeling.”

There was a time when I couldn’t get to the pub fast enough.

Sunday, I couldn’t get to the Crown Expo Center quick enough to explore everything from kitchen cabinets to storage sheds to pulling up that old, brown rug in the front bedroom.

“Hardwood floors are the thing now,” Brewington said, after I told him about the beautiful hardwood floors I hadn’t seen in years because of that rug.

Some sanding, staining and buffing, Brewington said, and the floors can be just like new and a signature of pride.

Trust me here.

There was something for everybody, from folks interested in bathroom makeovers to adding on sun rooms to swimming pools and spas to garage doors to heating and air-conditioning units to home security systems to purchasing and financing new homes.

And for folks who like working in the yard, people were there to offer advice and tips.

“They had a lot of good questions,” said Allen, 55, owner of Green Biz Nursery Landscaping, after conducting a seminar on lawn and garden care. “They wanted to know when to fertilize and such.”

Allen gave me tips on cutting back azaleas once they bloom, and anything and everything you would ever want to know about caring for indoor plants.

Spring is near.

I’ve got ideas.

I’ve got plans.

I’ve got dreams for this old house of mine, because there’s no place like home.

Next: Mama’s asparagus fern

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San Diego Spring Home / Garden Show: March 1-3, 2013

Promotional image of San Diego Spring Home/ Garden Show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Above: Promotional image of San Diego Spring Home/ Garden Show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

The San Diego Spring Home/Garden Show is returning to the Del Mar Fairgrounds for a 3 day extravaganza of ideas, inspiration, hands-on demonstrations, educational seminars and one-stop shopping for everything pertaining to the home and garden.

Spring Home/Garden Show has hundreds of different exhibits including home improvement products, furnishings, decorating remodeling ideas, garden displays, flower and landscaping… plus art and pets.

Friday, March 1st from 11am-6pm
Saturday, March 2nd from 10am-6pm
Sunday, March 3rd from 10am-5pm

Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar, CA 92014 Google Maps

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New pocket park with a view in design

A new park with a panoramic view of Mukilteo’s waterfront is in the city’s future.

A longtime Mukilteo family recently donated a parcel of land and a 1919 two-story house on the 600 block of 4th Street for use as a city park.

The 0.36-acre parcel has an unobstructed panoramic view of Lighthouse Park and the waterfront.

The owner of the property, Robert Byers, transferred ownership of the land to the city free of charge on the condition that it be used as parkland. Byers said he’d like the community to be able to enjoy the view.

“It would be a neighborhood park to come and sit, relax, maybe eat lunch, and enjoy the view,” said Jeff Nicholson, commissioner of the Park and Arts Commission. “It’s the perfect location to watch the sunset or the sunrise.

“It will be a valuable asset to the community.”

The Parks and Arts Commission is hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 2, at Rosehill Community Center to go over plans for the future Byers Family Park. A tour of the Byers property at 601 4th Street starts at 9 a.m.

Those in attendance may contribute ideas and ask questions of the architect and city staff.

“We welcome any citizens to comment,” Nicholson said. “Citizen input is a good thing to have, especially when it comes to a community park.”

The Park and Arts Commission has worked with Byers through the transfer process, and also has been brainstorming park and landscaping ideas. A landscape architect has provided the city a conceptual plan for free that incorporates many of those ideas.

Nicholson estimates it could cost anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 to transform the property into a park. It will cost about $13,000 to demolish the house. No city funds have been budgeted for the project.

With the land, Byers is including a $10,000 donation and the promise of $1,200 a year for on-going maintenance of the site, up to $10,000 more.

Landscape architect Nicolas Morin of Barker Landscape Architects has drawn up a plan that includes a raised boardwalk around the perimeter of the property, a central patio, benches and gardens. The plan includes the removal of some trees to improve the view.

There are also plans to install a bench in memory of the late Jim Byers and a commemorative plaque signed by the Byers family that says, “We all enjoyed the view, we hope you do, too.”

The city has about 10 parks, including the 14.4-acre Lighthouse Park and 24.3-acre 92nd Street Park. Most of the parks are less than an acre and are what many call “postage stamp” or “pocket” parks. The Byers Family Park would be another.

“There are very few parks there, and so if I can contribute to another park for the city, I’ll be glad to do it,” Byers said.

Three generations of the Byers family lived on the site for more than 90 years. Robert Byers, himself, was there for 27 years. Byers, 57, now lives in Texas.

Byers’ grandmother, Janie Byers, bought the vacant lot on Fourth Street in 1919. She ordered the house out of a catalog and had it delivered by railroad car.

“She liked the view,” Byers said. “Everybody likes the view.”

The house and land was passed down from Janie to her son James and his wife Rayoma, and then to their sons James Jr. and Robert. Neither Jim nor Robert had any children of their own to leave it to, so they decided to donate it to the city.

Jim Byers died unexpectedly in 2010 at age 60. He had lived at the house for 55 years.

Jim used to mow the yard around his driveway and trim back the blackberries so that visitors to the Lighthouse Festival could picnic in his yard during the fireworks show.

“We always thought it was a good idea to turn the old place into a park,” Robert Byers said. “We’re the only people that ever lived there. It will be a good memorial to the family.”

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Pa. Garden Show of York opens Friday


View full size

John’s Landscaping display garden from the 2012 Pa. Garden Show of York.


   The annual Pennsylvania Garden Show of York
kicks off Friday, March 1, at the York Expo Center with 11 indoor display
gardens, 100 exhibitors and dozens of seminars, including three by author Tovah

   The show runs for three days (March 1-3) in
the Expo Center’s Toyota Arena, 334 Carlisle Ave., York. This year’s theme is “Nature’s

   Tickets are $11 at the door ($9 for
seniors), and parking is free.

   Martin will speak Friday at 6 p.m. on “Infusing
the Garden with Personality” and Saturday at 2 p.m. on her new book, “The
Unexpected Houseplant.” She’ll also do a terrarium workshop Saturday at 11
a.m., which requires registration and an extra fee.

   York-area landscapers are building 11
display gardens, and 100 exhibitors will offer fare such as mowers, garden
books, cut flowers, garden art and plants.

   New for 2013 is a “Candyland” exhibit that
has candy growing on trees and Kool Aid flowing over landscape rocks.

   Once again, the Garden Club Federation will
stage a Floral Rhapsody Flower Show, which moves to the center of the show
floor this year. Garden clubbers display some of their best plant specimens and

View full size

Judging of the flower show inside Pa. Garden Show of York.


   In addition to Martin’s talks, the show will
include more than two dozen seminars on assorted other topics, including
vegetable gardening, native plants, using color in the garden and cutting-edge
plants for 2013. The full schedule is posted online

   Other features include puppet shows for kids,
tea events (extra fee), wine and cheese samples, live music, working artists, a QA booth where York County Master Gardeners answer questions,
and a fairy garden workshop (March 3, extra fee).

   Show hours are March 1 from 10 a.m. to 9
p.m.; March 2 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and March 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

   Kids 12 and under get in free. Advance
tickets are $9 ($8 for seniors) at the show web site. See the show’s ticket web page for details.

   More information: or 717-848-2596.

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Find your cup of tea at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Philadelphia is ready for a British invasion.

But this time, it won’t be about music, as it was in the 1960s, when British rock groups like The Beatles and Rolling Stones stormed the nation.

Instead, our friends from across the pond will share their love of horticulture and the beauty it has brought to our lives at the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show, the largest flower show in the world.

The 184th annual show, Saturday-March 10 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, will pay tribute to Great Britain, the one country that has had more influence on how we garden than any other in the world.

“Great Britain makes a great flower show theme, because gardening is a huge part of their culture,” says show designer Sam Lemheney.

Show presenter Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has partnered with Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society to ensure it would exhibit some of the best ideas Great Britain has to offer, from its colorful, free-flowing English cottage gardens and the perfectly manicured landscapes of Buckingham Palace to high-yielding vegetable gardens.

A goal of the show is to inspire gardeners to take home ideas to try in their own gardens and landscapes, Lemheney says. “And it’s especially easy to be inspired by Britain, because its temperatures and growing conditions are similar to ours, particular here in this part of the Northeast.”

Sharing a similar climate made it possible for major exhibiting nurseries to grow flowers here rather than importing them, says Lemheney.

But that doesn’t mean less work goes into preparing for the show, he adds. Forcing flowers and landscaping plants to bloom weeks before spring arrives is a science that requires nursery growers to artificially produce the climate conditions the plants need.

For centuries, Britain has collected cultivars from around the world to incorporate into its gardens and landscapes. So you can expect to see a broad variety of plants and flowers in the exhibits, including the tulips, daffodils, rhododendrons and azaleas that we look forward to in spring.

Whatever your cup of tea — gathering ideas that will inspire you to garden or simply enjoying the sight and fragrance of beautiful flowers — you’ll find it at the show, Lemheney says.

Nearly four dozen major exhibits by the region’s top landscapers will explore Britain’s heritage and culture, from royal events to fictional ones, such as the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

Among events planned for opening day on Saturday is a presentation by Mark Lane, gardens manager for Buckingham Palace and the Royal household.

Other nationally and internationally known speakers include: Raymond J. Evison, a nurseryman, lecturer, author, photographer and founder of the Guernsey Clematis Nursery, which introduced more than 100 clematis species cultivars; Melinda Myers, television/radio host, author and columnist, and Barbara Damrosch, weekly Washington Post columnist known as the “queen of organic growers.”

Two celebrities will be there for meet and greets — kitchen and homes expert Sandra Lee, 5:30-7 p.m. March 7, and “The Real Housewives of New York” star Ramona Singer, 2-4 p.m. March 9.

You’ll find gardening experts from the Lehigh Valley at the show, too. Sue Tantsits and Louise Schaefer, co-owners of Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery, will present “Bring Life to your Landscape with Native Plants” at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

As you enter the Convention Center, you’ll be greeted by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s impressive exhibit featuring fragrant English roses and a digitally enhanced rendition of Big Ben. Don’t miss a 21-foot-long green wall planted in a Union Jack pattern.

Lemheney hopes the impact will be “Brilliant,” the title of this year’s show. Brilliant is a word used by the British to describe something that’s inventive, dazzling and extraordinary, and what could be more extraordinary than seeing how some of our country’s top landscape designers and florists can turn the convention center’s 10 acres of concrete into a floral fantasyland with a British Twist?

It’s not the first time the flower show has spotlighted England, says Lemheney. But this tribute won’t be like anything you’ve seen in the past. Instead you’ll see the traditional, centuries-old concepts with modern twist — cleaner lines and bolder use of color, he says.

You’ll also have more time to see the show. It will open a day early — Saturday rather than Sunday.

Article source:,0,1620967.story

Home & Garden show returns to Coliseum

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The 40th annual Fort Wayne Home and Garden Show returns to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum Feb. 28 – Mar. 3

More than 650 exhibitors will be on hand as 50,000 people are expected to visit over the four days. Guests will find the latest on home and garden products and services. Home and garden experts will be on hand, including celebrity Jeff Holper, known as “The Mole Hunter.” Jyll Everman, a 2011 Food Network Star finalist, and Erica Glasener, host of HGTV’s “A Gardener’s Diary” will also have sessions throughout the weekend.

Alex Babich, popular morel mushroom hunter, is also slated for a 2013 appearance.

Tours of various gardens and landscaping areas will also be available.

The popular kids’ area also returns for 2013. An interactive themed “Old McDonald’s Farm” can entertain children of all ages with hands-on exhibits, a petting zoo, adoptable pets, and ballet and martial arts demonstrations.

Event organizer Karen Tejera said the Master Gardener’s Stage will be a busy area once again. Sessions will include urban forest examination, perennials, herb gardening, rain barrels, tomatoes, butterflies, shrubs, hydrangeas, and soil.

“We always love seeing so many friends and colleagues who have been along on this ride with us for 40 years,” Tejera said in a statement. “We work year-round to present the best show possible for Fort Wayne. The people who live here in the Tri-State area have so much pride in their homes, and we love being able to bring them the best and newest in home and garden products and services every year. We do our best to make the show a one-stop-shop for all things home and garden, and to make it an entertaining event that’s a great destination for the entire family.”

“We are so grateful for the support and friendship of the people of Fort Wayne and surrounding areas, for 40 years now, and look forward to bringing the show to all of you for many, many years to come!”

Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for seniors (65+), and children under 15 are free. Parking at the Coliseum is $4.

The Home and Garden Show runs Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A $2 coupon off admission is available by clicking here .

NewsChannel 15 is a proud sponsor of the event and will broadcast LIVE from the event Thursday and Friday on First News, Noon, First at 5, and at 6. WANE-TV will also have a booth at the event with free giveaways. Make sure and stop by to meet your favorite members of the NewsChannel 15 team on Saturday and Sunday.

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8 tips for a great bathroom redesign

Deborah Binder wanted some place to relax, and the dated bathrooms in her home just weren’t doing the job.

The Edmonds woman is a cancer survivor. When she and her husband, Gaetan Veilleux, bought a home two years ago, part of the deal was she would get a relaxing, spa-like bathroom.

She ended up redoing all three of the home’s bathrooms with the help of Emerald Design Kitchen and Bath of Everett. She also had a little luck: She entered a contest at a home show and won enough high-end countertops for all three bathrooms and her laundry room.

“She came in with a good overall feel for what she wanted,” said Karen Fugate, owner of Emerald Design and the designer. “Plus, she has beautiful taste.”

Binder wanted the remodel to stand the test time; the results feel rich and classic. The designer shared some wisdom that might come in handy on your remodel.

1. Tiles are going bigger. The tiles in the master bath are porcelain and 12-by-24 inches.

That reflects a trend toward the use of large tiles, particularly in bathrooms. It’s not uncommon to see tiles that are 18-by-18 inches or even 24-by-24. Some people shy away from tile because they assume the grout will stain or become discolored. That’s not the case if you choose an epoxy grout.

2. Go beyond granite. There’s no doubt that Binder lucked out when it comes to countertops. She won $5,000 in countertops from Cambria, a company that makes an engineered product made of quartz and resin.

The product is comparable to granite in quality, but it doesn’t need to be sealed. The color offerings number in the dozens, and the product is far more consistent in appearance than granite.

3. Do away with the shower curtain. Fugate encourages her clients to consider clear glass shower doors. This makes any bathroom feel bigger. It also allows beautiful tilework inside the bathroom to add to the visual appeal of the room.

Fugate places a wet-rated can light above the shower. It’s a nice practical touch but it also draws the eye and further enhances the feeling of spaciousness.

4. Get rid of the tub. People often assume getting rid of a bathtub will somehow hurt a home’s resale value. If you keep at least one tub in the house, that’s not true, Fugate said. Most people never use the bath, and would be better served with a large shower.

That’s exactly what Binder opted for in her 13-year-old son’s bathroom. Doing so made a small space feel larger.

5. If you want a soaking tub, go smaller. The old master bath featured a massive soaking tub with jets. Like most of Fugate’s clients, Binder wanted something smaller. The reason: Most water tanks aren’t big enough to supply the huge tubs with hot water.

A smaller, well-made tub can be just as comfortable, more affordable and take up far less space. And the water stays hot longer.

6. Go higher with cabinets and showerheads. If you own an older home, chances are your cabinets are a bit lower than a contemporary home. As people have gotten taller, so has the countertop level.

Fugate recommends also taking a look at the showerhead heights. Many builders put them in a little lower than is comfortable for taller folks. It doesn’t cost much more if the tub is coming out to adjust the height upward a few inches.

7. Replace wall-to-wall mirrors with framed mirrors. Most builders install mirrors that stretch the length of the wall above the bathroom vanity. A simple way to add some class and individuality to a room is to replace that wall-to-wall mirror with something framed.

It doesn’t have to be expensive. Binder finished the frame on her powder room mirror herself. The result is charming.

8. Keep what you can out of the landfill. Binder didn’t want to see still-good cabinets, fixtures and other items go straight into the trash. She took special effort to list them on Craigslist and find new homes.

In some cases, she made a bit of cash. Her polished brass fixtures were picked up by a dealer who ships them to Ghana for resale, where gold-colored fixtures are all the rage.

Emerald Design Kitchen Bath

The company continues to work with clients, despite a fire in November that destroyed the showroom in a brick building at 1814 Hewitt Ave.

The business has insurance and is working through the claims process, said owner Karen Fugate. It’s been tough on the business. Eventually, they plan to re-open a showroom.

In the mean time, Fugate and two other full-time designers continue to take on new projects. They’re working out of her home, just like when the business started nearly two decades ago.

Contact Emerald Design Kitchen Bath at 425-258-2600, or go online to

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Gardening gifts for Mother’s Day

AS Mother’s Day approaches, there’s a wealth of choice of presents for the gardening mum, whatever your budget. Hannah Stephenson selects some of the best

From seed collections to fashion-conscious gloves for the green-fingered and innovative tool ranges, no gardening mother should be without a gift on Mothering Sunday.

There’s a plethora of choice, whatever your budget, from small seed collections and mug toppers for under a fiver to more extravagant floral fragrances and practical tools which are easy for mum to manage as well as dad.

Here’s just a few of the gifts on offer:


If your mother’s cuppa always goes cold when she’s working in the garden, treat her to a MugTopper, a clever accessory that creates an airtight seal on the top of a mug or glass, preserving the heat inside a warm drink and ensuring a cold drink stays cool, even in the sun. It also stops insects getting inside a drink. Four designs feature a rose, a bow, a mouse and a cat on top of each (£4.99 for a set of four, from

Wild flowers have become much more popular in recent years and if your mother has an area of garden which she’d like to transform into a mini meadow, there are endless possibilities with collections of flower seed mixes from This innovative range contains seed mixes, using annual and annual/perennial seed combinations chosen for their beauty, low maintenance and cost effectiveness of their results. There is a seed mix suitable for various specific soils and aspects, open spaces, under tress, nooks and crannies, as well as tall species ideal for bouquets. For full details of the ranges, which start at £2.99, visit


If you want to say it with roses, BQ is launching a limited edition Amazing Mum rose on March 1 to raise funds for the charity founded by Prince Harry, Sentebale. The pink rose launches as part of activity to support the BQ Sentebale Forget-me-not Garden which will be unveiled at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. (£7.98, available in 50 stores. For details, go to A donation of 20% of the purchase price will go to Sentebale.

Birds, bees and butterflies are featured in lifestyle artist Katie Alice’s vintage-inspired tableware and this floral-patterned porcelain tankard mug from her English Garden collection may provide inspiration for the gardener. (£6, from and selected garden centres)

If you miss phone calls or text messages when you’re tending the garden, Briers’ new Pruner Pouch offers a solution, comprising secateurs and a pouch complete with a mobile phone pocket. Fitted with a belt clip, the Pruner Pouch enables you to stay contactable while you’re out gardening. (£10.99,

Mothers who save their own seeds would welcome a pretty, eco-friendly gift of a set of five stylish recycled cardboard seed saver tubs from the new Eco range from Burgon Ball (£6.95,

Orchids are still a hugely popular gift idea and if your mother has three, you could buy her the ideal container to show them off. Ebertsankey has just launched the Luzern 3, a contemporary single pot made of injection moulded plastic, which houses three separate plants and is available in fuchsia, white and granite. (£8.99 from good garden centres and DIY stores. For more information, visit


Bird lovers can welcome visitors to their home with an unusual ornamental Birdies Wall Pocket, which can be filled with different flowers and foliage with each season. Designed in California, it’s made of rustic metal with three charming blue birds, which are often referred to as Blue Birds of Happiness, perched on the edge of the pocket (£18.95,

A gardener can never have too many gloves, but Ethel gloves are designed to specifically fit the contours of a woman’s hands – so they’re comfortable and pretty at the same time. The Jubilee, a creamy fleur-de-lis pattern against a royal blue background, is a timeless classic, made from two-way stretch Spandex with reinforced fingertips and is machine-washable. (£13.50, and Amazon)

Gardening shoes don’t have to be boring any more thanks to a new range of designs from Back Door Shoes, including a pretty red and cream roses print. These shoes have no air holes in them so don’t let water through but are washable and ideal for just popping out on to the patio or up the garden without getting your feet wet (£20,


Keen vegetable gardeners who are going away later this year may appreciate the new Growbag Waterer from Hozelock, which keeps plants watered for up to 14 days. By simply placing a growbag on top of the waterer, the integral capillary matting transfers the required amount of water from the reservoir to the compost. (£24.99, available from leading garden and DIY stores)

If your mother loves to keep the flowers she has grown, this new flower press from Nether Wallop will preserve many of the pretty blooms as keepsakes. The kit comes with acid-free blotting paper, cardboard separators and full instructions. (£29.95,

OVER £30

To really pamper your mother, look no further than the Alison Claire Natural Beauty range, all with long-lasting natural scents. Featuring an anti-ageing cream containing natural moisturisers, orange and patchouli hand cream, peppermint and witch hazel foot cream, rose geranium body lotion and mango body butter, it is beautifully presented in a pink and white gift box lined with pink tissue paper. (£55,

Gardening mums often end up doing the spade work but there is help at hand for the more labour-intensive jobs such as hedge-trimming. Check out the new Bosch AHS 45-15, a lithium-ion battery-operated gem of a machine, which is light, easy to use and doesn’t have any of those awkward wires which always seem to get in the way (£89.99, BQ, information at

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Future Perfect: A Walk Around the Japanese Garden and Tillman Water …

Set within a 6.5-acre Japanese garden, the Tillman administration and laboratory building is an “architectural swan” among “ugly duckling” public utility buildings of the time. A 1989 Los Angeles Times piece called it “the most attractive public service facility in Southern California.” In its time, it heralded the increased design quality of public buildings around the city.

Metal-framed glass cascades down the elongated building’s façade, much like a multi-level waterfall, to be tucked neatly into the structure’s concrete base in the end. From afar, it seems as if the building is floating on a huge pond, surrounded by greenery and wildlife. Its marriage of the natural and man-made is the stuff of utopian futures.

The Tillman complex was the brainchild of city engineer Donald C. Tillman, who first thought to combine garden and utility. By providing a public amenity, Tillman was able to gain public support for the upstream water reclamation plant.

Today, the plant treats up to 80 million gallons per day of reclaimed water, ¼ of which supplies the Wildlife Lake, Balboa Lake, the Japanese Garden Lake, and the golf course in the Sepulveda Basin. The rest of the reclaimed water is released to the Los Angeles river.

Much of the complex’s beauty lies in its authentic Japanese garden. Designed by Dr. Koichi Kawana — who created botanical gardens for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Diego’s Balboa Park, as well as Seiwa-en in Missouri, the largest Japanese garden in the country — the garden is an easily overlooked gem in the San Fernando Valley, swallowed up by the larger Sepulveda Basin complex.

Entrance to the garden is through an unremarkable path on Woodley Avenue. After successfully finding your way, a guard will halt you to ask for identification. At least for these few moments, a trip to the Japanese garden feels more like a visit to a government office that it really is. But, the sight of the garden more than makes up for its awkward first impressions.

Hidden behind a partially opened wooden gate, the path throughout the garden meanders, offering lots of opportunities to explore. “Japanese gardens are an art form,” says Gene Greene, the Japanese Garden’s director. “Dr. Kawana created this garden with the philosophy of hide and reveal, so you don’t see everything in one look.”

True enough, the garden’s treasures are revealed slowly with every step. More formally called Suiho-en (the Garden of Water and Fragrance), the garden combines three types of gardens in one: the dry garden, a Zen-garden kind of arrangement that most usually comes to mind; a stroll garden, which includes lakes, streams and carved stone lanterns gifted by Los Angeles’ sister city, Nagoya; and a tea garden that sits beside the a Japanese-style residence.

Despite combining three types of Japanese landscape design, “it’s not a hodge-podge,” notes Greene, “It takes elements from different garden styles and creates an all-new authentic design.”

As we walked through the gardens, Greene filled me in one the many symbolisms that abound within the grounds. The stone lanterns from Nagoya are said to house good spirits; the Shoin building is a typical residence for upper-class monks and samurai; even tree types were meant to depict specific gender attributes.

I could easily see there was a lot to appreciate within the 6.5-acre site. Greene’s deep commitment to his work was also evident. A fixture in the gardens since it opened in 1984, Greene has never felt the need to move on to a different position. “I have the best job in the city.” He says, “I deal with the best people. It’s just nice — except for the paperwork — that’s a lot.” Greene helped Dr. Kawana realize the gardens and placed six of the large stones in the garden himself.

Over the past three decades, Greene has been ensuring the quality of landscaping in the Japanese garden, as well as in other treatment plants around the city. For those uninitiated in the art of Japanese greenery, he recommends a docent tour and also imagination. “They’re beautiful gardens but they’re a lot more,” he says.

As ducks, egrets and other waterfowl came to rest around us and the sound of water gurgles in the background, I think I begin to see why.

Top: The water reclamation plant within the Japanese garden

Photos by Carren Jao

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Home & Garden show advice: Designing home for all generations

Today’s Dispatch Home Garden Show offers advice on how to design your new house or
addition to serve all generations of a family, and to update your home so that it serves your needs
as you age.

Also on tap are sessions on home safety and security, as well as tips on gardening and

The show runs through March 3 at the Ohio Expo Center, aka the State Fairgrounds at I-71 and
17th Avenue, north of Downtown Columbus.

It’s open noon to 6 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. See
the full schedule

You’ll find hundreds of professionals among the exhibitors, people who are able to answer
questions about your home projects. And there are four stages for demonstrations and entertainment
related to home-improvement, landscaping, design and cooking.

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