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Archives for March 4, 2013

Indoor, outdoor living spaces on display

The old adage states, “Where there’s a house, there’s a home.”

If that’s the case, then when there’s a home, there’s a home show.

The 34th Montreal National Home Show rolls into town at Place Bonaventure Friday, March 8, through Sunday, March 17. The show aims to help attendees renovate and decorate their own home sweet home. More than 500 exhibitors and 1,500 specialists will be offering the latest home-decoration and construction-design trends in heating, air conditioning and energy; kitchens and bathrooms; pools and spas; major appliances; landscaping; recreation; windows and doors; electronics; and decor.

“Everyone has a renovation or decoration project in mind, but what’s often missing are the tricks, advice, inspiration and new ideas to help make these projects a reality,” Montreal National Home Show manager Helene Cote said. “You can find this at the show.”

Cote said your level of renovation expertise doesn’t matter.

“The National Home Show is an annual rendezvous for home lovers, first-time home owners and industry professionals — all visitors are welcome,” she said.

“Whether it’s a small decoration project or larger-scale renovation, the NHS has answers to all your questions.”


As always, the show boasts many special events and attractions. 

Don’t miss a visit to the CasaBubble, a dome-shaped, self-contained, all-transparent structure that can be used as an outdoor living room, winter garden or a bedroom under the stars. Each CasaBubble takes about 30 to 40 minutes to install, the press release states.

“You’ll really feel as if you’re living as one with nature,” Cote said.


Landscaping and exterior design are a perennial National Home Show favorite.

“Our garden displays are always a crowd pleaser,” Cote said.

This year, the show features a 5,000-square-foot garden created by boutique landscape designer Ladouceur. The space incorporates rooftop, patio and balcony urban-garden designs complete with foliage, outdoor furniture, planters and ambient lighting.


Canadian retailer JC Perreault offers a grilling workshop to help attendees hone their outdoor-barbecuing prowess. On hand are grease-free, smoke-free and easy-to-clean grills; brick and stainless-steel outdoor islands; and outdoor refrigerators, patio heaters and furniture.

The space comes with some good taste, too, as visiting chefs cook up some tasty treats on-site. Guest chef Joel You offers a Cajun-inspired tasting menu. 

Swimming-pool retailer Trevi will also offer the latest design trends in leader pools, which are entirely built from concrete, as well as cabana spaces.


Moving indoors, the home show features L’Espace BMR, which is “entirely dedicated to renovation and home decorating,” Cote said.

This year, L’Espace BMR showcases 10 complete, staged living spaces — 12,000 square feet in all — as well as workshops devoted to current trends, paint, moldings, wall coverings and garage storage. While workshops are held in French, many bilingual experts are available to answer one-on-one questions in English as well.

And from the large to the small, the event also allows attendees to explore a 400-square-foot complete micro-condo unit. In addition, the National Home Show offers a new product showcase featuring the latest home innovations.

— Steven Howell is the author of Montreal



WHAT: The Montreal National Home Show.

WHEN: Presented Friday, March 8, through Sunday, March 17. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.

WHERE: Place Bonaventure is located at 800 rue de la Gauchetiere W. (Metro station Bonaventure), Montreal.

ADMISSION: $16 for adults, $13 for seniors (60 and older) and students, and $6 for children 6 to 12. Save $3 off admission price by purchasing tickets online. The show celebrates International Women’s Day on March 8 with free admission to the first 5,000 women.

NOTE: The National Home Show devotes a specially designated day for industry professionals, including contractors and designers; this year, it is on Wednesday, March 13. The show is open to the general public as well that day, but professionals will have to register on the Home Show’s website.

CONTACT: For more information, visit or call Place Bonaventure at (514) 397-2222.

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Annual Fulton Area Home Show to be held in April

Mar 4, 2013

77292887by Andrew Henderson

Get your green thumbs ready.

The seventh annual Fulton Area Home Show will be held Saturday, April 6 at the Fulton War Memorial, according to Fulton Community Development Agency Executive Director Joe Fiumara.

The annual event will include booths and exhibits from building suppliers, home repair specialists, and financial institutions.

“This is such a good opportunity for our community to see what’s available to them and to look forward to the spring and summer home improvement and landscaping months,” Fiumara said.

The free home show is an opportunity for local homeowners and potential homebuyers to get a glimpse of the many services available for buying, selling, renovating, and sprucing up a home.

The show will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature a special guest this year. Terry Ettinger will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to talk about gardening, pruning and other landscaping ideas.

Ettinger is the “Garden Journey” reporter for YYN. He is an expert in the field of environmentally sensitive lawn, landscape and garden design and management. He has spoken to professional groups across North America.

Ettinger’s interest in horticulture is the product of time spent at his grandparent’s northern Illinois Christmas tree farm. He received both B.S. and M.S. degrees in horticulture from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He’s done additional graduate work at the University of Minnesota-St. Paul and the SUNY College of Environmental Science Forestry.

He is also the host of “The Weeder’s Digest,” a radio call-in program heard on 106.9 WSYR. Ettinger owns the environmental landscape consulting firm, Terry L. Ettinger Horticulture Consulting Services.

To read the rest of the story, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe today by calling 598-6397

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Gardening: Take me home, country road



Random rocky outcrops planted with shrubs and ground covers break up the long expanse of driveway; above, if your driveway is unlit, use white stone, chip or pavers to show drivers where the edges are.
Random rocky outcrops planted with shrubs and ground covers break up the long expanse of driveway; above, if your driveway is unlit, use white stone, chip or pavers to show drivers where the edges are.

I suspect one of the greatest gardening challenges for those on an average income is landscaping a long driveway. The “small budget, big space” dilemma applies and, probably for this reason, most of the driveways I traverse are au naturel. Including, despite strenuous efforts, ours.

Urban driveways are less of a problem. They’re usually short, edged and sealed, and there’s not often a lot of room for plants. Rural driveways, however, are usually long, irregular, metalled and pot-holed. If you’re unlucky, they can also be steep, winding and weedy.

The first step in dealing with them is to ascertain why you’re even bothering – apart from the fact that an unlandscaped driveway is about as attractive as a triple bypass scar. Are you looking to create a grand entrance to impress visitors, or do you regard the driveway as an extension of the garden?

If the former is the case, stop reading this minute and phone a landscaper. If it’s the latter, try to think of the driveway as simply a long strip of undeveloped garden that’s desperately in need of a plan.

A friend of ours has a very long, winding driveway with wide grass verges planted in rosemary and lavender. Aside from the fact that this planting palette sits a little uncomfortably in a subtropical landscape, it’s also, well, boring. A more interesting approach would be to divide the space into a series of smaller gardens using a variety of plants. Having said that, may I just caution against leaping from one style or theme to another. Variety is the spice of life, but a succulent patch alongside a lush palm grove isn’t going to sit comfortably either.

It pays to get your hard landscaping elements in place first, and this is not an area where you can mix and match.

A picket fence adjoining bollards and rope adjoining a low brick wall adjoining a formal hedge will simply confuse visitors, so choose a way to define the drive and stick to it.

Unless you specifically need a post and rail fence to contain miniature donkeys, babydoll sheep or some other, more commonplace stock, the way you edge your drive can be based on aesthetics – and budget, of course.

If the B word is paramount, remember that you don’t have to carry your fencing or edging all the way from gate to house. If 2km of dry-stone wall will break the bank, consider sections of stone wall that taper down to the ground then start up again a little further along. Irregularly spaced outcrops of carefully placed rocks, interplanted with shrubs and groundcovers, are another option.

If, like us, you happen to have a large pile of randomly sized posts that your partner was offered and couldn’t resist, despite the fact that he couldn’t, at the time, think of anything to do with them, here’s a plan. Sink the posts into the ground (hiring a post-hole digger for half a day will not break the bank) and run thick, gnarly rope between them. It’s an effective way of saying “this is the edge” without major construction costs. You can add climbing plants to crawl up the posts and along the rope if you like, and groups of plants behind the fence at random intervals.

Formal hedging is making a serious comeback so, if you’re a good gardener, you may like to go for either a classic, straight hedge, or a freeform version. Freeform is ideal for the busy or lazy among us, while a formal hedge is therapeutic to those who enjoy the discipline of precision trimming. The great advantage of this choice is that, effectively, you get the benefit of hard and soft landscaping in one.

For country cottage-style properties, how could you go past a white picket fence and wildflowers? The picket fence can be as tall or short as you like, but keep the plants that are closest to the drive fairly low, and increase the height further back. A kilometre or two of picket fence will not be cheap, unless you’re lucky enough to find one that’s being recycled, but you can use wildflowers right from the road then introduce the fence partway along the drive to define the approach to the house.

Try to remember when designing your driveway landscaping that the primary reason the area exists is to provide vehicle access to your house. So choose plants that won’t encroach on the driving space. Do provide lighting or light-coloured paving or edging to guide guests at night, and don’t position those rocky outcrops on bends where they’re likely to take out someone’s door.

Modernist moa trio

Three moa sculptures in the exhibition garden of award-winning Auckland landscapers Adam Shuter and Tony Murrell are a standout at this year’s Ellerslie Flower Show.

Made from driftwood by a Taumarunui-based wood sculptor, the largest of the family of birds stands about 3m tall.
Adam says they chose the moa for their “Modern Day Moa” garden design because they wanted to feature something iconically Kiwi that no-one else had used before.

The resulting garden is an attractive fusion of new and old, native and exotic.

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Gardens of the Golden City returns


Landscaper Leon Kluge will share his secrets.

Johannesburg – Each year, representatives from 10 garden clubs across Joburg come together to organise the annual Gardens of the Golden City programme.

Established in 1996, Gardens of the Golden City has raised R1.75 million over 17 years through the opening of hundreds of gardens across Joburg. Last year, R140 000 was raised for charities including Johannesburg Child Welfare, Meals on Wheels and Ubebele, Alexandra.

This month, a host of gardens will be opened in Midrand, Senderwood and, by far the biggest event, in Jukskei Park (103 Robyn Street), where a largely indigenous, water-wise garden with a spiral vegetable garden will be open between 10am and 5pm next Saturday and Sunday (March 9 and 10).

Owned by Alan and Angelique Gravett, the Jukskei Park garden includes indigenous sections of garden next to lush corners. Being holistically inclined, and with the help of Jamie Shepherd, they created a spiral vegetable garden, complete with companion plants, which wraps itself along the edge of the property.

The spiral vegetable garden feature makes this an interesting site for the food security-conscious visitor. Some parts of the garden are a work in progress to show innovative ideas. Shepherd, the designer of this garden, will talk to visitors throughout the weekend.

A host of experts have thrown their weight behind the concepts of indigenous, water-wise, and permaculture gardening. To explain these concepts, a series of talks has been arranged at the Jukskei Park garden.

Leslie Hoy is to talk on being water-wise.


There are only 50 seats for each lecture, and booking is essential. Telephone Shelley at 083 409 7927. Cost: R40.

Celebrity gardeners have donated their time to this open garden charity venture. This is the programme:

Saturday, March 9

2pm: Alan Buff will give a talk on Effective Microbes. A horticulturist, Buff joined the Johannesburg Parks Department in 1970 and is one of the most senior executives in the organisation. “Effective Microbes is an absolutely fascinating concept for any gardener and is used widely throughout the world”, he says.

3pm: Leon Kluge will talk on landscaping. As part of the successful South African team at Chelsea in 2010 and 2012, Kluge is an award-winning landscaper who is known for his contemporary landscapes.

4pm: Jamie Shepherd will talk on how to create a vertical garden. Shepherd has designed and built permaculture gardens in home gardens for 15 years.

Sunday, March 10

10am: Leslie Hoy will talk on water-wise gardening. As an environmental services manager for Rand Water, Hoy has been associated with water-wise gardening since 1994. Over the past two decades, he has managed the growth and development of Rand Water’s water-wise gardening education.

11am: Tess Raynor will talk on the use of biomimicry in the garden. Raynor is an expert on the concept of nature-inspired innovation.

“Biomimicry is the practice of learning from, and then emulating, nature’s genius to solve human problems and create more sustainable designs,” she says.

2pm: Paul Fairall will talk on wetlands. As an award-winning wetland warrior, Fairall will talk on how water moves through and over the landscape in northern Joburg.

Create a permaculture garden

Are you interested in creating a permaculture garden? These are based on the ecological principles of sustainable gardening. Included in the principles are concepts such as placing a chicken house on a platform above a pond containing indigenous tilapia fish. The idea is that the droppings fall into the water, providing food for the fish.

Food gardens are a keystone to permaculture and are created with an informal design of stepping stones among herbs, strawberries, vegetables and fruit trees.

Wild garlic (Tulbagia violaceae) and marigolds will help to keep some of the plant-eating bugs away and compost for the vegetables is produced using the leaf rakings and grass clippings from the garden. All organic material waste from the kitchen is used for the production of compost.

Ponds and wetlands are important and should be situated at the lowest part of the property. All the water off the house roof and the hard landscape (driveways and patios) should be directed into the pond which can be sealed using bentonite clay or a PVC liner.

Open gardens

Interested in attending charity gardens? All gardens open from 10am to 5pm. Entrance R20. Children under 12 free.

* March 9 10

Spiral Vegetable Garden, Alan and Angelique Gravett, 103 Robyn Street, Jukskei Park (Parking In Platina Street). 10am-5pm. Tea garden.

March 16 17:

Digby and Penny Hoets, 125 Springfield Road, Midrand.

Tuareg Guest House, 44/1 Norfolk Road, Carlswald.

Thula Manzi Guest House, 68/1 Norfolk Road, Carlswald. Tea garden.

Candice and Alan Fuller, 94/1 Norfolk Road, Carlswald. Telephone Addis at 083 409 7927. – Saturday Star

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Busch Gardens Offers Landscaping Expertise in Giveaway is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City York Counties.

Busch Gardens is holding its first contest for one person to win a custom landscaped yard by the Busch Gardens team of horticulturalists.

Busch Gardens has been recognized as the most beautiful park in the world and has received the Most Beautiful Park Award from the National Amusement Park Historical Association for the past 22 years.

The contest is open to Facebook fans of the Busch Gardens page who enter by providing an explanation of why they should win and a photo of their yard. Legal residents of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Washington D.C. and Delaware are eligible.

The contest opened Friday and voting for a winner will begin March 11. The winner will be notified March 18.

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Library offers advice for gardeners


Not everyone can have a full garden in their backyard. But community gardens can provide access to fresh vegetables even for people who live in a more urban environment.

Kanawha County Public Library’s main branch in Charleston will host experts on community gardening in March and April.

Organizers say gardening can not only provide access to fresh herbs and food but can also help individuals develop socially and improve their health.  They say other benefits include potential cost savings at the supermarket and conservation of resources. To learn more about upcoming classes just follow the link provided.

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A different kind of garden

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What are the benefits of growing aquaponically? Aquaponics gardening enables home fish farming. You can now feel good about eating fish again. It uses 90 percent less water than soil-based gardening and is twice as productive on a square-foot basis as soil-based gardening. It is free from weeds, watering and fertilizing concerns, and because it is done at a waist-high level, there is no back strain. It is necessarily organic. Natural fish waste provides all the food the plants need. Pesticides would be harmful to the fish. Hormones, antibiotics and other fish additives would be harmful to the plants. And the result is every bit as flavorful as soil-based organic produce. It also consumes no energy to transport out-of-season produce to distant markets across the globe because you will be able to select your own produce from the garden right in your own home.

Is aquaponics organic? It doesn’t work unless it is organic. Think about it. If you were to add chemicals, antibiotics, or other artificial additives to your aquaponic fish tank it would harm your plants. If you use pesticides or growth stimulants to your plants, it will harm your fish. Your plants are being grown with “composted� animal waste. Aquaponics works as well as it does because of how well it mimics nature. The closer you are to pure nature, the better your system will work.

Is Aquaponically grown produce safe from E.coli and Salmonella? Yes, because fish are cold blooded animals their waste does not, and cannot, contain either of these pathogens. In fact, there was a recent study done by the College of Tropical Agriculture in Hawaii titled “A Preliminary Study of Microbial Water Quality Related to Food Safety in Recirculating Aquaponic Fish and Vegetable Production Systems� that explored this very question and concluded that, in general, aquaponically grown food is even safer than soil-grown food.

Can I grow outdoors in the winter? That depends on your winter, the type of plants you are growing and the type of fish you are using. All three living components to an aquaponics system (fish, plants, bacteria) need to be bio-active in order for the system to thrive, or at least survive until the following spring.


Farmer Michael Dickson believes aquaponic gardening — a system of growing fish and vegetables together — can be the ideal way to grow food in urban areas.

Dickson, owner of Seed of Life Nurseries Inc. in Frederick, demonstrated the food-growing method and shared other gardening tips recently at Ag Week at The Mall in Frederick, which offered the public a glimpse of Frederick County’s $200 million agriculture industry.

“Aquaponics is a revolutionary combination of the best of aquaculture and hydroponics — and an amazingly fun and easy way to raise fish together with organic vegetables, greens, herbs and fruits,” according to “Aquaponic systems are much more productive and use up to 90 percent less water than conventional gardens. Other advantages include no weeds, fewer pests, and no watering, fertilizing, bending, digging or heavy lifting.”

Dickson said aquaponic farming functions on a closed-loop system that cultivates both organic fish and vegetables for consumption. This process is a symbiotic relationship between fish and plants. The fish effluent is converted into natural plant food, then filtered through plant absorption, returning viable water back to the fish habitat. This recirculating environment permits both cultures to grow at an accelerated rate without producing any waste or using chemicals.

Quick crop vegetables, such as assorted lettuces, chards, spinach, turnips and greens, endives, watercress, arugula and fresh herbs are ideal in this process due to their aggressive nature to grow in low nutrient conditions, Dickson said. When these vegetable plants grow in an aquaponic farming environment, they are able to more quickly absorb nutrients, thus reducing growth time cycles.

According to traditional farming practices, one lettuce plant needs 1.5-square-foot of soil for a 60-day harvestable growth cycle.

“In the aquaponic growth bed, we will grow six times more lettuce in the same square footage with half the growth time needed,” Dickson said. “This equates to 12 plants harvested in aquaponic farming versus one in traditional farming.”

Tilapia and catfish also grow faster in aquaponic conditions, Dickson said.

A small aquaponic system that produces 20 pounds of produce a month will cost about $300; using recycled materials will cost between $100 to $125, Dickson said.

Dickson is no stranger to finding ways to grow food. He has organized a collaborative effort to help counter hunger locally.

Working with the Middletown FFA, local churches and the community, Dickson started Bethel Farm in Frederick, a 20-acre tract that grows lettuce, tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, radishes, potatoes and other vegetables. Much of the food the venture grows is donated and delivered to needy people in Frederick. The remainder is sold to raise additional funds for the farm.

Lisa and Peter Moholt, of Gaithersburg, said Dickson’s presentation gave them confidence about their gardening skills.

“You can feed people, but educating people on how to grow their own food is a lot more important,” Lisa Moholt said. “You got to teach people how to fish. I learned a lot of helpful, useful, take-home tips, and I like the idea of reducing your carbon footprint by growing a garden.”

Peter Moholt liked Dickson’s tips on inexpensively growing food in a small space, and without insecticides or pesticides.

“I thought his presentation was awesome. It offered very practical tips,” Moholt said.

Dickson wants to grow more food. He plans to start a 350-acre farm in Emmitsburg later this year to grow produce for the Maryland Food Bank and Maryland schools. The land was bought by a group of local businessmen, he said. The project will create 30 new jobs and, when fully operational, add 80 new positions to the local workforce.

“We’re planning to grow the food, then freeze, package and deliver it to different locations,” Dickson said.

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UNH master gardener to share tips in Londonderry

LONDONDERRY — AS A YOUNG BOY, Henry Homeyer would count down the days to those precious four weeks each summer when he would visit his grandfather’s organic farm in Massachusetts.

“My grandpa was a pretty serious gardener,” the Cornish Flats resident recalled. “I think it was fun because he understood that kids don’t really like to pull weeds all day. I got to get my hands dirty and learned a lot while I was there.”

Decades later, those early lessons left permanent impressions on Homeyer, a UNH master gardener whose weekly gardening column now appears in a dozen New England newspapers.

Homeyer will share his knowledge at Londonderry Leach Library later this month as part of the free program, “Growing Great Flowers in New Hampshire: Old Favorites and Lesser Known Beauties.”

A regular contributor to Vermont Public Radio, Homeyer has taught sustainable gardening at Granite State College and also posts regular blogs on his website,

During the March 21 program, Homeyer will discuss which varieties of flowers grow best in New Hampshire and what each needs to succeed.

He will share tips and tricks and explain how one can grow such exotic species as showy lady slipper orchids and Himalayan blue poppies – or just have better luck with the standard roses, peonies and bee balms.

“Many times people get discouraged when they buy a nice plant and in a few years it’s gone,” Homeyer said.

And while many New Hampshire residents are tempted to try to grow the endangered pink lady slipper orchids in their home gardens, Homeyer recommends they instead try their luck with some of the orchid’s colorful cousins.

“Many other lady slipper varieties can be purchased, and they’re wonderful additions to a home garden,” he said.

Homeyer’s presentation will emphasize the importance of gardening without chemicals, and the audience will have the opportunity to ask him questions. Growing vegetables and edible flowers is something that can be done year-round, he said.

“Organic gardening is really about stepping back and letting Mother Nature take control,” Homeyer said. “I don’t spray my garden for insects because in doing so, you’re killing some of the beneficial bugs too. Remember, you’re born with the best insecticide of all – your two fingers to pick the Japanese beetles off your flower bed.”

Homeyer’s presentation, which will begin at 7 p.m. on March 21, is free and open to the public. The program will take place in the library’s lower-level meeting room and light refreshments will be served.

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Advice and tips bloom at Garden and Patio Show

We aren’t feeling the warmth of Spring just yet, but inside the Coast Coliseum you couldn’t tell. As we prepare for the upcoming season, gardeners were making sure they’re prepared the days ahead. 

“We have such a good time at the Garden Shows. We love seeing people that we’ve seen before, but we always get to meet so many new people. Particularly here on the Gulf Coast. Frankly there are always a lot more gardeners here every year,” Author and Garden Expert, Nellie Neal said.

Luckily for them, everything a garden fanatic could need was all under one roof. From potting soil, to seeds, and even top of the line advice. The idea for the show, that continues through Sunday, is to make even novice gardeners comfortable. 

“It’s just a passion. Everybody coming is looking for something special, or to see bright things. It’s that first sign of Spring. Here it is, a cold gloomy day. Look around, this is Spring time,” vendor, Michele Varner said.

While outdoor living is seen as a pastime for many, there are others who see it as much more than a hobby. But whether or not you’ve utilized your green thumb, these experts say its never too late to start. 

“Gardening really touches your soul. It’s one of the things in this world that, the more you put into it, the more you get out. It’s actually a great form of backyard therapy. We enjoy it because it makes us feel good. The better we feel, the better we do at everything else,” Neal said.

The Garden and Patio Show at the Coliseum wraps up Sunday at 4 p.m.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.







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