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Archives for March 9, 2013

At-home oasis big trend at Tulsa Home & Garden Show

The economy may have forever changed how people look at luxury.

Trips to resorts and other out-of-town attractions aren’t out of the question, but as seen and heard at this year’s Greater Tulsa Home Garden Show, more people are looking toward home as their vacation destination. From outdoor kitchens to pools and hot tubs, decorative landscaping, kitchen updates and bathroom remodels, “people are investing in their homes,” said Scott Gideon, this year’s show chairman.

The theme of this year’s event is “Find Your Oasis,” and for Gideon, he’ll tell you quickly, his oasis is his backyard.

That oasis is often an expansion of your property’s livable space, past the four walls of the house and into the yard.

“People aren’t traveling like they used to,” said Matt Cobb of Oklahoma Landscape. “They want to create a place where their kids can bring their friends over.”

Cobb said for the family on a budget, or one interested in building on their oasis one feature at a time, starting with an outdoor kitchen may be a good idea.

But “there are so many possibilities,” Cobb said.

Even starting with a focus on your yard is a good place, he said, adding that yard health is Oklahoma Landscape’s big focus this year.

A pretty yard means more curb appeal, no weeds, a safe place for kids and pets, and even a good talking point for the neighbors, Cobb said.

Your oasis can be as simple as a well-kept yard, colorful with a flower garden, resort-inspired with waterfalls and a pool or hot tub, or cookout-friendly with an outdoor kitchen. Your oasis could also be upgrades for your indoor kitchen or a remodel of your home’s bathrooms.

Lawn and garden

Fragrant flowers are among the ideas to consider for your garden. As are native plants that can be just as eye-catching as exotics but can tolerate Oklahoma’s heat and even drought conditions better than non-natives. Gardening with heirloom seeds is another practice that will be popular this growing season. Such seeds haven’t been genetically altered; they’ve been saved from one crop of plants to the next.


With more people looking to their own homes for a relaxing break, making an investment in developing a patioscape may mean savings down the line. It can take little time and money to turn the backyard into the family vacation destination. Cobb said the possibilities available to people wanting to extend their home’s livable space to the outdoors are many. Water features, pools, outdoor kitchens, fire pits and fireplaces, bars, and lounging areas are among the options – and landscape lighting can give your yard and outdoor living space a dramatic new look.

Kitchen and bathroom upgrades

At this year’s Home Garden Show, there was no shortage of kitchen cabinetry installers to consider. And it’s no wonder: Remodeling kitchen areas, including refacing cabinets, updating countertops and backsplashes, and bringing in high-efficiency and cutting edge appliances, will not only make a homeowner feel like a reality-TV chef while cooking up dinner, but it will also increase the value of the home. Granite countertops in a variety of natural tones make a big splash at the Home Garden Show, but be on the lookout for quartz composite, which requires little maintenance and is highly durable. The bathroom is another money maker, as well as a place to bring in some luxury with new countertops and fixtures and even a new coat of paint for an updated look.

Original Print Headline: Escape to your backyard

Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316

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Edible Mint for Your Garden

Add mint to your edible landscape — don’t fear it, but embrace its varieties and medicinal properties. Here’s a guide to growing mint, plus a mint tea recipe and mint wine recipe.

In “Eat Your Yard! Edible Trees, Shrubs, Vines, Herbs and Flowers for Your Landscape,” author Nan K. Chase shares her first-hand experience with gardening, landscaping ideas and special culinary uses for fruit trees. Recipes for edible garden plants include the crabapple and quince, nut trees, such as the chestnut and almond, and herbs and vines like the bay, grape, lavender, mint, and thyme. She instructs how to harvest pawpaw, persimmon, and other wildflowers for your meal as well as figs, kumquats, olives and other favorites.

Eat Your Yard! (Gibbs Smith, 2010) has information on 35 edible plants that offer the best of both landscape and culinary uses. Edible garden plants provide spring blossoms, colorful fruit and flowers, lush greenery, fall foliage, and beautiful structure, but they also offer fruits, nuts, and seeds that you can eat, cook, and preserve. 


Wine Maker Guide to Making Homemade Wine

An assistant biology professor turned home wine maker gives the guidelines on how to make homemade …

Homemade Wine Recipe: Make Elderflower Wine

Sandra Oddo shares wine making tips for brewing with elderflowers and elderberries. Originally publ…

Sun Tea: Brewing Tips and Herbal Tea Recipes

Augie O’Connor shares his method to making healthful sun tea, and his herbal-infused sun tea recipe…

True Brew: Drink Tea for Your Health

true BREW December/January 2000 Steep a cup of tea …for the health of it. by Marguerite Lamb It’s…

Harvest Fruit Favorites: Seasonal Apple Recipes, Pear Recipe and Cranberry Recipe

Harvest fruit favorites with an apple battle between the sweet and the tart, featuring seasonal app…

Buy this book in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Eat Your Yard! 

Read more from Eat Your Yard! 
Edible Roses: Beautiful and Delicious Garden Features
Growing Hazelnuts in the Garden 

Eating Mint from Your Garden

Don’t plant mint! It takes over the garden.

That’s an all-too-common reaction, and it’s true that some mint varieties can run wild if given the right soil, mois­ture, and sunlight, but no discipline.

I say hurray for mint.

A pretty, low-growing plant, mint fills in the wet, shady places where nothing else will grow. And while the flowers are generally not flashy, they do add lacy pastel highlights to the summer garden and attract beneficial insects.

Mint’s medicinal properties have been chronicled for centu­ries, and its usefulness in the kitchen is reflected in the fact that cookbooks of ancient Rome contained mint recipes. In houses and temples of those times, mint leaves were strewn over the floors to freshen the air as people walked.

The Spanish name for mint, yerba buena, means the “good herb.” Mint effectively calms the stomach and aids digestion (after-dinner mint, anyone?). It calms nerves, too, and is used in compresses for the relief of skin and joint problems, as well as for headaches and sore eyes.

In my own edible landscape it has taken ten years for a nice little mint patch to get started, and now that it shows signs of robustness (discipline time), I have started using it for cooking and tea, and most spectacularly, for making mint wine.

Peppermint and spearmint. Apple mint and chocolate mint. Curly mint and creeping mint and long-stemmed mint. There are a dozen main mint species and hundreds of hybrids. Sizes range from only a few inches high to some two feet or more.

All these members of the genus Mentha have square stems as a distinguishing characteristic.

They also have a tendency to “run,” so unless you have room for the mint to naturalize, plan early to contain the plants in sunken boxes or pots, or by using lengths of metal or plastic edging to a depth of six or eight inches.

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Growing Hazelnuts in the Garden

Grow hazelnuts in your own garden, and learn how to use them in your cooking.

In “Eat Your Yard! Edible Trees, Shrubs, Vines, Herbs and Flowers for Your Landscape,” author Nan K. Chase shares her first-hand experience with gardening, landscaping ideas and special culinary uses for fruit trees. Recipes for edible garden plants include the crabapple and quince, nut trees, such as the chestnut and almond, and herbs and vines like the bay, grape, lavender, mint, and thyme. She instructs how to harvest pawpaw, persimmon, and other wildflowers for your meal as well as figs, kumquats, olives and other favorites. 

Eat Your Yard! (Gibbs Smith, 2010) has information on 35 edible plants that offer the best of both landscape and culinary uses. Edible garden plants provide spring blossoms, colorful fruit and flowers, lush greenery, fall foliage, and beautiful structure, but they also offer fruits, nuts, and seeds that you can eat, cook, and preserve. 


Ask Our Experts: Growing Hazelnut Trees, Diets for Nursing Mothers and Poison In Compost

MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers receive guidance on growing successful hazelnut trees, appropriate diets …

Ricotta Cheese Recipes and Yogurt Cheese Recipes: Whey to Go

Recipes for low-fat, part-skim ricotta cheese and tangy yogurt cheese; including herbed ricotta spr…

Garden Clean-Up, Gardening Books, and Other Gardening Tips

This installment of a gardening tips feature provides advice on fall garden clean-up and ideas fo…

Thoreau’s Gardening Expenses: Reflections on the History of Gardening and Gardeners

A look at Henry David Thoreau’s gardening expenses at Walden Pond sets this grower off on an amblin…

Buy this book in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Eat Your Yard! 

Read more from Eat Your Yard! 
Edible Mint for Your Garden
Edible Roses: Beautiful and Delicious Garden Features 

Eating Hazelnuts

Crack! The sound of a ripe hazelnut being broken open before Thanksgiving dinner is unmistakable. So is the ruddy color of the hard little shell. Hazelnut flavor: that’s unmistakable too, sweet and earthy, with a little crunch.

Hazelnut, filbert. They’re interchangeable as far as the nut industry is concerned and, botanically speaking, quite close.

The important thing is that the filbert, or hazelnut, grows as a beautiful shrub or small tree with year-round interest. Pendu­lous catkins—the blooms—hang like golden chains from the bare branches in late winter. During summer the rounded, many-pleated leaves provide islands of shade as the nuts develop. In fall the leaves glow red and gold.

Some filberts have special landscape value on their own—the contorted filbert, or Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, for instance—and are grown as specimen trees. Others are chosen for screening; filberts rarely grow taller than twenty feet, and some stay much smaller. Because filberts need cross-pollination with other varieties, it’s imperative to mix and match anyway.

There are two ways to grow filberts: as individual trees with single, or at most a few, trunks; and as a hedge of medium height. Imagine a garden plant with such versatility.

The natural growing habit features “suckering,” or the tendency for the plant to throw up many extra shoots around the main trunk. That’s perfect for a hedge configuration; space the plants just four feet apart and let the suckers fill in the spaces. For more intense nut production as well as for ornamental treatment, situate the plants about fifteen feet apart and keep suckers off. Hazelnut trees may need to be netted once nut production begins; squirrels love them.

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The Green Symphony

The Green  Symphony 

Conserving Chandigarh’s unique
tree heritage is as important as its world-famous architecture and it
holds valuable lessons for urban planning
Rajnish Wattas

Six decades ago, Chandigarh showed the way for a garden city. Above: Stately chakrasia trees along the cycle path on the PEC campus.
Photos by the writer

our urban sprawls of concrete jungles and asphalt deserts
perchance, to sight a grove of kachnars in bloom is like an
unbelievable apparition. In the new-age city skylines of glass towers,
cuboid concrete boxes, crush of cars and fume-emitting automobiles,
the presence of trees is a balm to the city-worn soul. Chandigarh
stands apart as a green exception. As one of the few cities in the
world with planned landscaping as famous as its architecture
its a far-sighted vision of an Arcadian utopia for human

Nearly six decades ago
when the layout plan of the city was evolved, its architect-planner Le
Corbusier, along with Dr M S Randhawa, bearing in mind the landform,
plantation and climate of the site, included landscaping as an
integral part of the plan fabric.

Green tunnels

The road plantations
were based on study of movements of sun in relation to direction,
scale, size and architecture along avenues. After an analysis, trees
were recommended on the basis of their shape, form, foliage, flowering
and growth patterns. To minimise glare along the avenues running
north-east to south-west, dense foliage evergreen trees like pilkhan
and kusum were planted so that they formed “green

Similarly, the shopping
streets were planted with flowering species like amaltas, pink
cassia and others to give a colour identity to each sector. All parks,
gardens, pedestrian and piazzas, too, had designed tree plantations.
In the 1960s, on my first visit to Chandigarh, driving along Jan Marg
in the month of March was to savour an unforgettable vista of
lilac-laced jacaranda trees on both sides of the grand
ceremonial avenue. Behind the rows of the flower-bedecked jacarandas
was the secondary plantation of siris trees, marked by their
tall, strapping height and light green stems. The combination of
vista-defining tall trees at the rear, and the splash of colour of the
flowering species in front; focussed the eye towards the distant blue
Shivalik hills and sculptural shapes of the Assembly and Secretariat
buildings peeping through.

Harbingers of spring

This plantation scheme
has, however, now been replaced by a double rows of chakrasia and
tecoma agentia trees, for some reasons. With spring in the air, the
harbingers of the season in the City are the seemul trees.
Tall, strapping with branches jutting out from the stem, they first
shed off all leaves in the cold of January, and then in early
February, adorn big bouquets of crimson-coloured flowers. The
flowering is so profuse that the ground beneath gets littered with
them. A good place to spot them is in Sector 9, close to the Carmel
Convent School.

The next note in the
symphony are the kachnars dotted along the city parks and the
Leisure Valley. You notice magnificent groves, laden with pink and
mauve blossoms lighting up the adjoining brooding foliage all around.
But the most spectacular display is by the tecoma trees along the Jan
Marg. They first shed off their dusty small leaves and then
metamorphose into radiant yellow bunches of flowers. As the rays of
sun fall on their canopies, they are ablaze like yellow orbs.

Jacranda trees along Jan Marg Palash trees. Photos by the writer

Summer spread

As spring ripens into
summer, one can notice a sprinkling of gold on the silver oak
trees dotting Chandigarh’s landscape. Golden flowers adorn their dark
green, feathery leaves. The tall, ramrod trees, even though “poor
cousins” of the magnificent deodars on the hills, too have a
majesty of their own. But there are other surprises too. While on one
hand, the city flowering trees are a riot of pink, lilac and bright
red strangely, some trees are beginning to carpet the pavements
below with heavy leaf fall. Is it spring or autumn you begin to
wonder? Trees like the pilkhans and the kusums have a
peculiar trait of profuse leaf-fall during the month of March. As the
old leaves fall, the new leaves begin to sprout on the tree boughs.
Tiny, tender new foliage of copper-red colour appears at first, which
changes rapidly to pale green, and then to dark green leaves.

The closing notes of the
splendour of the seasons that began with the seemul trees
reaches its crescendo with the golden blaze of amaltas trees
along with the scarlet-red canopies of the grand gulmohars. Almost
the last ones to flower, before summer is well entrenched are the pink
cassias, called java-ki-rani. Unfortunately, over the years
there has been such a paradigm shift to planting of only evergreen
foliage trees in the city; that barring a few remains of the early
splurge, there is little further effort to enhance the richness of
flowering species now.

Exotic and

It is often criticised
that the flowering trees in Chandigarh are exotic, not native to this
region, and therefore fragile. It is believed that they also cause
allergies. But according to experts in the PGI, the cause of
pollen-triggered allergies is not only because of the flowering trees.
All trees, except coniferous, flowering or evergreen, native or
exotic; even shrubs and grasses, can cause allergies. The wheat crop
during harvesting season is also a major cause. In any case, there are
no authoritative studies to prove the link between flowering trees and

Similarly on the issue
of “early mortality” or fragility of flowering trees, the
causes are multi-fold. Widening of roads damaging the roots, lowering
of the city’s water table and rising vehicular pollution and
environmental stress are equally to be blamed. Moreover, the flowering
species introduced in the city have been doing so well for years in
the region, that they are fairly acclimatised; and not truly

The lilac spread of kachnar trees is eye-catching.

City tree planting is
too sensitive a matter just to be left to the skills of
horticulturists, foresters or engineers alone. Urban landscape design
is much more than just planting hardy, shade-giving trees in large
numbers and enhancing tree canopy cover and hoping for rain gods to do
the rest. It is visualising complete urban profile, avenues, vistas,
pedestrian and open space detailing, establishing scale; and blending
the architectural forms to the characteristics of the trees. The image
of the city should be one comprehensive, unified entity of built-form
and nature.

At present, most of the
new urban development authorities, though doing laudable work, leave
landscaping to horticulturalists alone, and do not employ
professionally qualified landscape architects to play this role. The
private builders developing elite townships on the other hand, merely
market pretty “golf estates” to seduce investors, that have
limited ecological benefits to cities. Chandigarh showed the way
forward for a garden city six decades ago. Let it be an exemplar for
others to inspire and emulate.

Let there be trees for
the coming generations of city-dwellers, children and grand-children
to play and climb on. The writer is former Principal of the
Chandigarh College of Architecture and co-author of the book: Trees of
Chandigarh, other publications on the city

Trees in the Indian

In Manu Smriti, the famous Indian treatise written by Manu in 100-200
AD, fines of various degrees were prescribed for felling of fruit and
shady trees. Tree plantation along avenues in gardens and around
temples has been practiced in India from pristine times. Ancient
Indian writings prescribed planting of broad leaved trees of bargad,
gular and peepal along the boundary of villages. Kalidasa the great
romantic poet and playwright of 1600 AD, described a scheme of
flowering trees in his play Raguvansham.

The flowers of palash or the flame of the forest (Butea
frondosa) trees were used for making organic colours for Holi.

Interestingly, some remnants of these trees, ablaze with orange
flowers in spring, can still be seen in the forests of Chandigarh. The
Mughals too planted shady trees along major roads in the plains.
Plantation of fruit and shady trees in the famous Mughal Gardens of
Pinjore, Delhi and Agra in northern India establish the scientific use
of employing vegetation along water features to have a cooling effect
surrounding their summer pavilions.

Similarly, the British too planted many tree plantations in civil
lines and Army cantonments; but the old walled cities were neglected.
Their most stupendous effort is visible in New Delhi, the Capital of
India planned by them in 1878. Its architect Edward Lutyens and
landscape planner William Robertson Mustoe, planned tree plantations
along each individual avenue and introduced some exotic species,
besides also making extensive use of the hardy native trees such as jamun,
neem, arjun, tamarind, sausage trees, mahua,
river red gum, etc.

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Exhibitors sought for seminar on landscaping with native plants

A limited number of for-profit organizations will be accepted to demonstrate their products, services and materials at Nature Meets Design, a lakescaping and rain garden event organized by the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations (OTC COLA).

Native plant nurseries and landscape professionals (who design, install and maintain ecologically healthy shorelands, wetlands and rain gardens) are invited to submit a proposal to exhibit at the event that will take place in the afternoon of April 27 at Thumper Pond in Ottertail.

Exhibitors will be selected on the basis of appropriateness and level of expertise as it relates to landscaping with plants native to this region.

If accepted, you will be asked to submit a $100 registration fee. In return, you will be provided with an opportunity to market your organization to property owners interested in seeking information on how to control erosion and protect water resources by using plants native to this region.

Space is limited, so it is imperative that exhibitors respond quickly. For further information on submitting a proposal, please contact Shawn Olson, Past President of the OTC COLA, by phone at 218-334-3004 or by email at In your email, please briefly describe your organization and provide your full contact information.

The OTC COLA is a nonprofit charitable corporation organized to facilitate cooperation among member lake associations and to assist in the fostering of the wise use of the lake and stream areas.

For further information on joining the OTC COLA, please contact Pat Prunty, Membership Committee Chairman of the OTC COLA, by email at

news, updates

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Naumkeag gardens in Stockbridge get $2.8 million sprucing up

Saturday March 9, 2013


Looming from Prospect Hill over a picture-postcard landscape with one of the best views in town, the Gilded Age-era “cottage” known as Naumkeag holds pride of place as one of the community’s most-treasured sites.

The National Historic Landmark that’s undergoing extensive property restoration was built in 1886 as a 44-room, three-season country estate designed by prominent architect Stanford White for well-known attorney Joseph Choate, later the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, and his wife, Caroline Sterling Choate. It cost $100,000 at the time — about $2.5 million in today’s dollars.

Now, thanks to an anonymous benefactor’s $1 million challenge grant being matched through fundraising

by The Trustees of Reservations, which owns the property, an ambitious landscaping project to spruce up the gardens is under way at a cost of $2.8 million. Separately, a new $500,000 roof for the mansion is under construction.

The goal is to restore the shine and splendor of the original gardens created by noted landscape designer Fletcher Steele, working with Mabel Choate, the ambassador’s daughter who inherited the property in 1929 and owned it until she bequeathed it to the trustees before her death in 1958.

The project is designed to reverse the ravages of time, including damage from winter weather, the aging of original plantings, and obscured views caused by unhealthy and overgrown trees.

At least 200 damaged or overgrown birches and other trees are being removed, to be replaced by at least 250 trees, including 14-foot high plantings, as the five-phase beautification project aims for a spring 2016 completion target.

“Some viewscapes have been opened up throughout the property,” project manager Mark Wilson said during a walkthrough this past week. “Trees had grown in and blocked views. There will be views opened up that have not been seen for many years.

Wilson called the large-scale project “beyond the scope of anything we’ve done at Naumkeag before. We’re looking to work with local contractors. We want to make sure the local community is as involved as possible.”

To restore the landscape so it replicates what they would have seen from the 1920s to the 1950s, “We’re going by the records, but we’re also thinking and trying to feel like Mabel Choate and Fletcher Steele,” he added.

A landscape firm to handle the installations is about to be chosen. Plans have been completed by landscape designer Cindy Brockway, the trustees’ director of cultural resources and a specialist in restoring and creating gardens.

The project includes an update of Steele’s famed and often-photographed Blue Steps, as well as the Peony

Terrace, Chinese Temple, and Evergreen Garden. In all, there are 16 projects to rebuild or reproduce fountains, water systems, masonry, decorative arts and original plantings.

“After more than 50 years, the gardens need a refresh and a rejuvenation of the intricate details of scale, furnishings and plantings that made Naumkeag a work of fine art,” Brockway stated. “By the end of the project, few landscapes in the country will have seen such a detailed restoration.”

Wilson, a full-time trustees staffer based in Stockbridge, said that nearly $400,000 has been raised so far to match an anonymous $1 million donation by Sept. 30.

Naumkeag has applied for $250,000 in state funding through a cultural facilities grant to complete

a re-shingling of the mansion according to 1886 specifications. A gala fundraiser is scheduled at the property on July 20.

There’s a potential of $35,000 more if Stockbridge Town Meeting voters approve Community Preservation Act funding at their annual meeting in May.

So far, designs have been completed to replace plantings according to hundreds of plans, vintage photos, letters, notes and documents left by Steele and Choate, with special attention to restoring the Linden Allée, a pathway modeled after the wooded walks of Germany.

“By rejuvenating the gardens, we’re looking to create greater interest in Naumkeag,” Wilson acknowledged, pointing out that the site, along with the Mission House and gardens down below, is among the few among the 700 designed by Steele that are still open to the public.

“By rebuilding and putting back plant material that had been lost, we just need to refresh [the design] since the bones and the framework of the garden are good,” said Wilson. Wilson also serves as statewide curator and western regional cultural resources manager for the Boston-based Trustees organization.

The gardens, completed after 30 years of collaboration between Steele and Mabel Choate, are considered a leading example of early American-modern landscape architecture.

According to the Library of American Landscape History, Naumkeag’s gardens represent “a playground for the imagination which boasts some of the most vibrant, original and luminous gardens on the North American continent.”

“We take our responsibility as caretakers of these magnificent National Historic Landmarks very seriously,” Barbara Erickson, president of The Trustees of Reservations, said. “The iconic gardens at Naumkeag are one of only a few Fletcher Steele-designed gardens viewable to the public and we want people to be able to experience them in their full and original brilliance.

“Mabel Choate chose to bequeath her family home to the trustees knowing it would be lovingly maintained and shared with generations to come,” she added. “It is part of our mission and true passion to ensure their exemplary care for everyone, forever.”

To contact Clarence Fanto:
or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto

About Naumkeag

Location: 5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge.

Origins: Built in 1886 for $100,000 (now $2.5 million), it was named for the term used by native Americans to describe the Salem area where they lived and where Joseph Choate grew up. It was the three-season country home for the Choate family until 1958.

The property: The shingled mansion includes traditional European elements — brick and stone towers, two-tone brick patterns and wrought-iron architectural details. Interior decorations: Elegant cherry, oak and mahogany paneling, ornate plaster, decorative flooring, brass and silver hardware, and a three-story hand-carved oak staircase. Original late 19th century furnishings, arts and antiques collected from around the world by the Choate family. Exterior features: Flower gardens, a linden walk, an orchard and pastures.

Ownership: Trustees of Reservations, the Boston-based nonprofit that tends 103 properties statewide. Naumkeag is one of the few remaining intact historic house museums in Massachusetts.

Restoration project: $2.8 million (gardens, landscape); $500,000 (roofing).

Visitation: The 48-acre property, including the mansion, eight acres of gardens as well as pastures hosting cattle in the summer, will open for its traditional season from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. About 12,000 visitors tour the site each year.

Financing: The property derives its operating costs in equal thirds — revenues from admission fees; a 4 percent annual draw from interest on the $3 million endowment from Mabel Choate’s original $900,000 bequest, and membership combined with annual support.

Information: (413) 298-3239. On the Web: naumkeag

Source: The Trustees of Reservations

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Garden pests: Tips for dealing with insects and animals – Wickedlocal

There are few things more frustrating than spending hours cultivating a top-notch garden only to have it taken apart by garden pests.

Stop the pests now. Here are some tips from the National Gardening Association.


Bacillus thuringiensis sprayed on the underside of leaves takes care of small caterpillars. Hand-pick big caterpillars and toss them aside or squash them between bricks.


Spraying leaves briskly with water takes care of most aphids. If this doesn’t work, insecticidal soap or horticultural oil will. Be sure to get the undersides of leaves. Be careful not to overdo it and kill the parasites and predators that feed on aphids.


These pests have been known to destroy acres of crops. That’s why baiting them and killing with Nosema locustae shouldn’t make you feel bad. A more effective method involves covering plants with fabric row covers.

Chipmunks and squirrels

Take a varied approach to ridding yourself of these rodents. Trapping especially pesky ones will control very small populations. Chances are, however, that there are plenty more chipmunks where those trapped ones came from. Possible solutions include animal repellents such as cayenne pepper mix, predator urine, mothballs and commercial formulas on or around plants.


Playing “Bambi” on a constant loop does not work. Surrounding deer-friendly plants with succulent plants, poisonous plants, pungent-flavored plants, and plants with hairy or furry leaves will keep them from getting the good stuff.

Mice and rats

The most effective method is to create a mouse-unfriendly environment. Clean up the area. Block mouse access. Keep garbage cans secure. Clean pet dishes. Avoid fluffy mulches until late in the season. Mouse traps remain the most effective way to control these garden thieves.


It’s easier to prevent their arrival by cleaning up the garden at the end of the season and controlling weeds. Normal insecticides will take care of most stinkbugs. If you prefer not to use insecticides, get up early and pick them off leaves in the morning when they’re slowest.


Moles are best controlled by trapping. Other methods include placing moth balls, human hair, ultrasonic noise emitters or predator urine in their tunnels.

Snails and slugs

Remove natural hiding places from the garden to prevent their proliferation. Hand-pick and destroy them upon discovery. Hidden, shallow containers of beer will eliminate them as well.


Once the gopher tunnel is built, you have gardening problems. The best method is to eliminate gophers at first sight. Once the gophers have arrived, you can try putting substances in the tunnels, such as used kitty litter or rags soaked in predator urine or pine oil. The most effective control is trapping.

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Clive Edwards’ gardening tips

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Boston Flower Show March 13-17

Get Daily discounts and offers on sporting events, plays, concerts, museums and other events around town

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Monty Don’s gardening tips: Looking for a solution for that tricky sun-free …

Monty Don

17:34 EST, 8 March 2013


17:34 EST, 8 March 2013

There is a corner of my garden that has gradually become a problem.

This is because 15 years ago I planted Portuguese laurels, Prunus lusitanica, then just 1.2m (4ft) tall, in the centre of each of the four L-shaped box-edged beds that surround a central paved area with a table. Now the biggest is about 6m (20ft) high and almost completely shades its bed.

In summer, this means the area is pleasantly shady, with the evening light especially slanting in underneath the branches.

Plant elegant, shade-loving ferns in the shade, says Monty Don

Plant elegant, shade-loving ferns in the shade, says Monty Don

But the roots take up most of the moisture and goodness, and it is in almost total shade from October through till late April. For the past few years everything I have planted in the beds has struggled to survive – let alone thrive.

Yet it is right outside the house and an important part of the garden. It has to look good.


Q. I’ve grown a satsuma tree from a pip and it’s now 30cm (12in) high. How can I keep it in tip-top condition?
Len Brown, Bridlington, E. Yorks

A. Satsumas are Citrus unshiu, a Japanese mandarin. Slow growers, they’re fairly hardy and more tolerant of cold than many citrus. They need maximum sunshine, winter and summer, and protection from all but light frost. Use a rich, well-drained compost and feed weekly from spring to autumn with liquid seaweed. Water weekly in summer, and monthly in winter.

Q. I have three apple trees, all with  grey-green mould on the bark – many smaller branches have died back. Shall I spray them?
John Lancaster, Newmarket, Suffolk

A. Although I strongly discourage posting diseased material, you have sent me some of the beautiful lichen from your trees. Lichen is harmless, attractive and a tribute to the clean air in your garden! The die-back is probably canker, due to recent wet weather.

Q. I have a 60-year-old ‘conker’ that I’d like to plant. Is there any chance that it would germinate and grow into a tree?
Dennis Winton, Bognor Regis, W. Sussex

A. Conkers (horse chestnut seeds) are viable for only a short time. Once they start to dry, the chances of germination diminish. Best to wait until next autumn and plant a fresh conker in a pot. It should germinate within weeks.

However, I visited Seville in Spain a few weeks ago and was really taken with the way they used ferns as a kind of bedding. They planted them en masse within tightly clipped hedged beds, and their soft fronds contrasted really well with the neatness of the clipped myrtle hedges.

My hedges are of box, but the effect would be just the same and many ferns will be completely happy in the dry shade of these beds. If your garden is shaded by neighbouring trees or large buildings, or is just too small to get sun for much of the day, it could well be that ferns will love growing there and you might well grow to love them.

For my borders, which I shall be mass planting, I have chosen two types of dryopteris, both of which are herbaceous, so will go brown and die back in winter, then grow new fronds in May.

The male or Buckler fern, Dryopteris felix-mas, will grow almost anywhere given protection from wind, sending up croziers (unfurled fronds) 1m (3ft) tall that smell of freshly cut hay.

It is one of the few plants that will be perfectly happy planted hard against the walls of a building, which is against all the normal rules of planting.

I am growing a variety called ‘Barnesii’, which is extra tall and has rather narrow fronds. The other is its golden-green relative, Dryopteris affinis, another very tall garden fern using two subspecies called ‘Polydactyla Mapplebeck’ and D. affinis x complexa ‘Stableri’, both of which are tall and – I hope – will waft elegantly rather than flop.

It is a sheltered corner, so should not be too bashed by winds and these ferns are good and hardy, so they cope with cold gardens.

The polypody, Polypodium vulgare, will grow in dry shade, although it is most often seen growing straight out of the trunk of old moss-covered trees in a wood.

The soft shield fern, Polystichum setiferum, will grow luxuriantly in the corner of a dry, dark yard untended and come back year after year. I have one in the dry, north-facing  corner of two walls and it seems to be very  comfortable in this position.

Most ferns for dry shade will grow in any kind of soil, but they do like good drainage. A shady bank of some kind is ideal for this. Plant them in a slight depression so that the soil does not get washed away from their roots.

Overfeeding will result in lush frond growth but weak roots, and consequently they will suffer badly in windy or dry conditions. Nearly all ferns do perfectly well with an annual mulch of leaf mould (not compost), or a feed of weak liquid seaweed solution once a month in the growing season. This latter is particularly suitable for ferns in containers.

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