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Archives for March 18, 2013

‘Restoring the Magic’

Spring is just around the corner. The corner may not yet be in sight, but the days are getting longer and enthusiasm is in the air at the 38th Annual Home Garden Show. The two-day event got underway yesterday at the North Dakota State Fair Center.

The theme of this year’s show is, “Restoring the Magic,” a reference to home building and home improvements both planned and underway in Minot, the Magic City. Hundreds of interested homeowners, and future homeowners, visited the many booths at the Home Show Saturday. The mood of the crowd was noticeably different from a year ago when many homeowners were desperate to recover from the 2011 flood.

“There’s not as much urgency as there was last year. Those poor people were panicked with the flood and the like,” said Melissa Roberts, Graphic Custom Homes and Landscaping.

Article Photos

Kim Fundingsland/MDN
?Brian Bushnell visits with a customer at the Gutter Topper of North Dakota booth at the 38th Annual Home Garden Show in Minot. The event continues today at the State Fair Center.

Kim Fundingsland/MDN
Prospective home buyers sought information at the Dakota Custom Homes booth at the Home Garden Show. At left is, John Walen, Custom Homes specialist.

Kim Fundingsland/MDN
It shouldn’t be very many days before the sound of lawn mowers will once again be heard in the Minot area. The Titan Machinery display is one of many exhibits at the Home Garden Show.

Roberts called the Minot show “exceptionally wonderful,” noting that foot traffic Saturday was similar to what she recalled from 2012.

“They know what they are doing here. They have some specific questions. They are very oriented on what their goals are,” noted Roberts. “We are happy to speak with them.”

There is a little of everything for a homeowner to consider and see at the Home Show, from basement flooring, framing, insulation, windows and gutters to patios and lawn and garden care. The event annually helps people prepare for the spring and summer projects that will commence as soon as the weather permits.

“It’s been a very good show. Attendance is up and there are more booths this year,” said Mary Lingelbach at the Gutter Topper display. “It’s been great.”

Nearby, Brian Bushnell of Gutter Topper was explaining his product to an inquisitive customer.

“They ask how they can not have to clean their gutters again, and about ice problems,” said Bushnell. “We solve whatever we can. This show has been great. People are showing a lot of interest in everything. The attitude is good. I believe this will be a banner year.”

Minot has seen a furious pace of building and remodeling projects on the heels of the 2011 flood and expansion of oil patch personnel into the region. The summer of 2013 could very well see a continuance of a variety of building and improvement projects.

One home contractor that has been a part of the ramped up building activity in Minot is Dakota Custom Homes of Washburn. John Walen and Wayne Weiss were staffing the Dakota Custom Homes booth at the Home Show Saturday. According to Walen, it is a very good time to visit with people eager for warmer weather and a chance to begin the construction season.

“This is tremendous,” said Walen. “This is excellent for us. People are starting to get ideas, checking on costs and that type of thing. What we do is a little bit unique. We do custom-built homes in Washburn and then move them to a site. We’ve done several in the Minot area in the last two years.”

Whether it be to purchase or design a home, rebuild or re-design a patio or finally replace those old windows, a visitor to the Home Show could find an answer or discover a completely new idea.

Three seminars on landscaping, floral designs and kitchen and bath design were held Saturday. A seminar on “New Trends in Kitchen and Bath Design” is scheduled for noon today. The Home Garden Show runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.

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Bubil: What we build on the water – Sarasota Herald

The recently completed Manasota Beach pavilion features a similar design to that employed by Sweet Sparkman Architects at its Caspersen Beach Pavilion in Venice. In February, Sarasota County balked at spending $ 1.3 million for a similar restroom facility at Lido Beach in Sarasota. It's a toilet! cried critics. The commission considered the matter after hearing from architect Todd Sweet and approved the Lido facility, 3-1. Staff photo / Harold Bubil; 3-8-2013.

The recently completed Manasota Beach pavilion features a similar design to that employed by Sweet Sparkman Architects at its Caspersen Beach Pavilion in Venice. In February, Sarasota County balked at spending $ 1.3 million for a similar restroom facility at Lido Beach in Sarasota. “It’s a toilet!” cried critics. The commission considered the matter after hearing from architect Todd Sweet and approved the Lido facility, 3-1. Staff photo / Harold Bubil; 3-8-2013.

The recent Herald-Tribune story on the objection by some Sarasota County Commissioners to a $1.3 million Lido Beach bathroom facility came to mind when I happened upon the new facility at Manasota Key’s public beach last week.

A beach-going man noticed me and my big Nikon camera and said, “Now you know what a $1 million bathroom looks like.”

“It’s worth it,” I replied.

“It’s just a bathroom,” he countered. I let the conversation go at that, but his opinion got me to wondering.

So why is great architecture — and this design, just like the one at Caspersen Beach, by Sweet Sparkman Architects is great architecture — considered a waste just because the structure primarily houses toilets? (The building also has offices for lifeguards and volunteers, and the site has shower stations and appropriate landscape architecture, including pathways, walls and plantings.)

When you remodel the inside of your house, where do you spend the most money?

Kitchens and bathrooms, of course.

But at the beach, apparently, it is OK to put a bamboo screen around a hole in the ground and call it a day.

We can’t be wasting “taxpayer dollars” on good architecture now, can we?

I, for one, admire the built environment, and I applaud the county government’s efforts to promote outstanding architecture, just as the city, county and school board did 50 years ago.

And as it turns out, the Lido bathroom building will cost about half of that $1.3 million, with the rest going to landscaping, site work, salaries and other costs. The project was approved by a vote of 3-1.

Indian Beach tale

My March 8 story about the architectural competition to design a residence for a 5-acre property along the north bay in Indian Beach elicited several interesting reader responses.

One reader asked if I knew the property was right next door to the mansion-for-rent that I profiled that day on page 1A. Yes, I knew that. Coincidentally, those stories ran the same day.

Meg McDonough, president of Luxury Hospitality Consultants LLC in Sarasota, also opined that the competition was nothing more than a publicity stunt. Of course it is, but I can’t offer that opinion in a news story.

“Interesting idea, but I would not hold much hope of getting a decent design from an architecture student,” wrote McDonough. “From what I see in the professional architecture magazines, they seem to teach them to have far-out ideas and a lot of nothingness that cannot be built.

“This particular angle appears to be more about hype in bringing attention to market the property. The meager $2,500 is an insult for award money.

“I don’t see the validity of having a student design become the springboard towards actual design-build, as it is typically the state-registered architect’s plans that are held as legally binding.”

Twitter: @haroldbubil.

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Building excitement: Local home show highlights improvement ideas

Building excitement: Local home show highlights improvement ideas

Building excitement: Local home show highlights improvement ideas

Published on March 17, 2013

By Courtney Mabeus
News-Post Staff

Alberta Issaq stood before the outdoor brick-oven on display at the Frederick County Fairgrounds Saturday and spoke of love.

“It’s a pizza oven,” Issaq said. “However, my husband wants to buy it to make bread in it.”

Issaq was one of many home improvement-minded people seeking ideas who turned out Saturday for the 38th annual Frederick County Building Industry Association’s Home Show and Builder Olympics. She stood outside a display set up by Frederick-based landscape design-build firm PorterBrook II that included the brick oven and a rain chain water feature under a wood awning.

The company’s set up won Best Landscape at the event earlier in the day.

“I think it’s so cute,” Issaq said as she gushed about the brick-oven display. “I love it.”

Issaq was accompanied by her husband, Haleem, and son, Sam. The family is renovating its living room, so they turned out to the show to gather ideas, Issaq said.

Saturday’s chilly wind and clouds provided the perfect backdrop for the event. It wasn’t so nice outside that people would have preferred to start their home-improvement projects, but it also wasn’t so dreary that people chose to stay home.
Kitchen and bath remodeling and landscaping were among the popular projects Donna Kraft, the association’s executive administrator, said she was hearing about.

“People that are coming are here for specifics,” Kraft said.

About 160 exhibitors set up for the two-day event, just slightly below the number of vendors that turned out last year, Kraft said. Exhibitors ran the gamut of home improvement — from builders to vendors offering energy efficiency, roofing, counters, cabinets and landscaping.

Exhibitors said they were pleased with the turnout, too. Dave Marvel, a lead generator from Gaithersburg-based Capital Remodeling Inc., said he had already booked about 15 appointments with potential customers.

“It’s because we have a bathtub here, that’s the attraction,” Marvel said.

Steph Butts and Keith Kohr stopped at MTV Solar. The couple said they were looking to add solar panels to their Market Street home and had already visited several exhibits offering such products Saturday.

Butts said she likes solar because it’s “better for the environment, theoretically cheaper in the long run.”

In one building, Stephanie and Kenny Whitmore of New Midway gathered information from Dorcus Construction Co. The couple is planning to remodel and add on to their home. The work will also include moving the laundry from the dining room, Stephanie Whitmore said.

“I have to fold my laundry on the dining room table,” she said.

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5D theatre facility at Bagh e Bahu soon Peerzada

Rs 47 Cr for construction of Mubarak Mandi cable car project: Bhalla 

JAMMU, MARCH 16:Minister for Public Enterprises, Haj and Auqaf and Floriculture Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed accompanied with Minister for Housing, Horticulture and Culture Raman Bhalla today visited Bhour Camp recreational garden and Bagh-e-Bahu to review the pace of progress on various development works and facilities being provided by the floriculture department to tourists at both the spots.

Director Flouriculture K K Sharma besides other senior officers of floriculture, roads and buildings, flood and control, public health engineering and power development departments accompanied the Ministers.
Interacting with the locals, Sayeed said that Government is making all out efforts to develop both the recreational gardens with all facilities like illumination, landscaping, toilet block, parking, mali huts, entry gate plaza, children corners, irrigation, drinking water, walkways.
He said that Bhour Camp garden coming up in 563.5 kanal land, adding that for creation of modern line facilities for tourists there, Government has formulated a plan involving Rs 28 crore, adding that the work on the project is under progress on war-footing.
The Minister asked the Director Floriculture to plant variety of flower species and medicinal plants in the gardens. He issued instructions to him for personally monitor the development as well as recreational facilities in the recreational gardens.  He went around the gardens and asked for expediting the work on channel fencing and landscaping, besides development of nurseries for flowers and medicinal plants in both the places.
Responding to the locals demand, Sayeed said Government has earmarked Rs 10.22 crore for development and extension of Bagh-e-Bahu recreational garden in 35 kanals available site. He asked the executing agency to speed up the allied works like creation of landscaping, illumination, musical fountain, walkway, irrigation beside construction of gate plaza facilities there for the convenience of lakhs visited the spots every year from across the country.
Regarding 5-D theatre facilities at par with fun city recreational garden at Chandigarh, the Minister asked the Director Floriculture to prepare the project and submit the same for funding so that the facility could be provided to the city of temple people as well as tourists and pilgrims visited across the country there. He issued instructions to provide six boats in developed pond in the garden so that the children as well as adults could enjoy their spare time in available boats. He said Government is making all out efforts to increase all infrastructural facilities in tourist spots so that the visitors could enjoy the places without any problems.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Housing, Horticulture and Culture Raman Bhalla thanked the Floriculture Minister on taking the keen interests in developing both the places with all infrastructural facilities. He asked for exploring the possibilities of construction of auditorium, cafeteria and other facilities in both the spots. He said Government has earmarked Rs. 3.80 crore for construction of 990 meter long Balol nallah embankments near Bhour Camp recreational garden. He said the project is under execution on war-footing by Flood control depart and would be completed within stipulated time frame.
Bhalla asked the concerned to immediately fence the demarcated garden area and grow all seasonal plants in a systematic manner in the garden so that the visitors could enjoy the place. He hoped that the place would become a source of major attraction for the tourists and help in diverting those visiting Shri Mata Vaishno Devi ji and other tourist as well as religious places. He said that all out efforts are being made to develop Bhour Camp and Bahu Fort areas as tourist spots by developing tourist places with all infrastructures. He said Government was keen to divert Shri Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrims and tourists to Bahu Fort and the upcoming Bhour Camp garden.
The Minister said Government has earmarked Rs. 2 crore for construction of approach road to the garden, adding that the all the allied works of the link road is completed and black topping to be started soon. He said Government has spent Rs. 1.27 crore on steel bridge, adding that with the inauguration of the bridge, the journey to Bhour Camp garden has been reduced to a large extent.
Bhalla further said the Government has earmarked Rs. 75 lakh for construction of darshani deodi, views points and development of open spaces along the link road to Bawe-Wali Mata in providing seating, illumination, landscaping and drinking water facilities. He said Government has also sanctioned Rs. 1 crore for road widening of Harki Poodi-Bahu Fort approached road besides construction of viewpoints with illumination facilities. He said that Government has earmarked Rs. 47 crore for construction of cable car project from Bagh-e-Bahu to Mubarak Mandi, adding that the project would be started soon after completing tendering formalities.     He said focused was being paid for conservation and restoration of pristine glory of Bahu-Fort and other heritage places, besides upgradation of tourism related infrastructure, in order to attract domestic and foreign tourists towards city of temples. He said Bahu Fort and Bhour Camp areas and other tourist resorts of the region that will not only generate economic activities but will also go a long way in bringing these spots on the tourism map. He said that a number of measures have been taken to develop new tourism spots and conservation of century old monuments of the region.

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Learn pruning fundamentals at Leonard J. Buck Garden in Far Hills

FAR HILLS – Somerset County Park Commission Leonard J. Buck Garden staff will welcome spring with “Pruning Fundamentals,” a workshop that will help the homeowner improve landscaping techniques.

The Workshop will be presented at Leonard J. Buck Garden, 11 Layton Road, Far Hills, New Jersey, on Wednesday, March 20, from 9-11 a.m.

Leonard J. Buck Garden staff will demonstrate the basic pruning techniques that are used in the Garden. Proper pruning tools will be discussed. Participants will learn how to maintain the health and beauty of their home garden.

Fee for the session is $12. Pre-registration is required by calling 908-234-2677, ext. 21.

Leonard J. Buck Garden is one of the premier rock gardens in the eastern United States consisting of a 13-acre alpine and woodland garden situated in the wooded stream valley.

Buck Garden is a naturalistic rock garden situated within a woodland stream valley. The garden contains a series of planted rock outcroppings, planting beds, a fern garden, and glimmering ponds and streams. Tucked among the rocks are rare and exotic rock garden plants. The wooded trails connecting the outcroppings are lined with beautiful wild flowers that have flourished and multiplied through the years.

Information on this event and other Somerset County Park Commission activities may be found on the Internet at

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Malibu’s new ocean friendly garden to get ribbon-cutting ceremony

Malibu Ocean Friendly Garden Dedication

Malibu Ocean Friendly Garden Dedication

Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2013 4:00 pm

Malibu’s new ocean friendly garden to get ribbon-cutting ceremony

By Eric Thomas / The Malibu Times

The Mailbu Times


The City of Malibu has partnered with West Basin Municipal Water District the Surfrider Foundation to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new Ocean-Friendly Demonstration Garden on Wednesday, March 20, 10 a.m. at Bluffs Park.

“This garden is one of many ways the City of Malibu continues to deliver on its commitment to environmental stewardship, specifically our ongoing quest to protect ocean water quality,” Mayor Lou La Monte said. “This garden will allow the public to witness ocean-friendly garden principles in action and empower individuals to implement them in their own yards. We thank the West Basin Municipal Water District and the Surfrider Foundation for working with us to develop this educational community resource.”

A key benefit of an ocean-friendly garden is that it traps rainwater and uses water efficient irrigation systems to provide for plants, conserving water and reducing polluted runoff, said a city release. These gardens also lower pesticide use and make natural habitats for native wildlife such as birds and butterflies.

“West Basin is pleased to be working with the City of Malibu to install this ocean-friendly demonstration garden in one of the most outstanding local parks in the City,” said West Basin Director Edward C. Little. “This new garden will show residents that ocean-friendly gardens are nice-looking, water efficient and something they can incorporate in their own homes to reduce water use and costs.”

The goal of the demonstration garden at Bluffs Park is to display how a private yard can be a sustainable and beautiful ocean-friendly alternative to traditional turf and high-water-use landscaping. The City of Malibu, West Basin and Surfrider hope that this garden will inspire residents to do the same.

Beginning March 23 through April 30, the city will be promoting a series of events as part of its “Earth Month” celebration, including a Smart Gardening workshop on April 20.

The demonstration garden at Bluffs Park was funded through a Proposition 50 grant from the California Department of Water Resources with other contributions from the City of Malibu, West Basin Municipal Water District, Los Angeles County Waterworks District 29 and the Metropolitan Water District, in addition to generous support of materials and services from the community.

More information about ocean friendly gardens, incentives and pollution prevention can be obtained by visiting , as well as , and .


Sunday, March 17, 2013 4:00 pm.

| Tags:

City Of Malibu,

West Basin Municipal Water District,

Surfrider Foundation,

Ribbon-cutting Ceremony,

Ocean Friendly Garden,

California Department Of Water Proposition 50 Grant

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Weather Garden Tip: Still time to prune fruit trees, and last chance to prune oaks

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Fruit trees need to be pruned for quality fruit. This tree has too many branches, and will try to make too many fruits.


A fruit tree such as an apple tree can only produce so many apples to have quality fruit. Pruning achieves a reduction in apples, and creates quality fruit.

Pruning fruit trees is almost an art that is learned over several years.

I’m going to help you get started on pruning fruit trees. You may want to contact your MSU county extension office to learn more about completely pruning fruit trees.

If you have an apple tree like the first picture, it has too many branches and needs to be pruned. In fact, fruit trees need to be pruned every year.

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The first limbs to remove are any dead or broken limbs. Here one limb is broken and hanging down.


Let’s get started. Obviously you need good, sharp pruning shears and a sharp saw.

The first limbs to remove are the easy ones. Remove any dead or broken branches. That is simple.

The broken branches are a disease entry point.

Some limbs are hard to visually see if they are dead. I just snap the end. If it snaps easily and is brown inside, it is dead.

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Water shoots are the next to remove. Water shoots are thin branches that grow straight up off of main branches. These will never produce fruit.


The next branch type to remove is pretty easy to recognize. They are called water shoots. Why? I have no idea.

They will never produce fruit, and just take away energy from fruiting limbs.

Water shoots look different than the other branches. They are skinny, usually reddish colored, and have few buds.

You’ll notice the tree starts to instantly look better without those water shoots.

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Branches that are touching each other are not good. Remove one of the branches all of the way back at the main trunk.


Now the pruning starts to get a little tougher, but you should already be noticing a difference. Any branches that are touching and crossing over each other need to have some work done.

Take out one of the branches all the way back at the main trunk of the tree. Which one? Now you start to develop your eye for the art of pruning.

Remove the branch that doesn’t look like it would grow in the right place in the future. Look at how the crossing branches relate to the surrounding branches. Keep the branch that will have a good space between the neighboring limbs.

Now the obvious to prune limbs are gone. How much should you prune after this? There is an old rule of thumb. You want to be able to throw your winter hat through the tree and have it come out the other side.

Yes, that’s a bizarre rule of thumb. It illustrates how skimpy a fruit tree should be when talking about the number of branches.

Start cutting out more branches at the main trunk.

Think about what direction the branches you leave will grow this coming year.

Will they stay separated from other branches?

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This tree is half pruned. The bottom half is pruned and the top half isn’t. You can see the limited number of branches on the bottom of the tree.


The final picture shows a tree that is half pruned. The bottom half is done, and the top still needs pruning.

This also shows why I like drawf fruit trees, and not semi-dwarf or standard sized trees.

The taller they get, the harder it is to properly prune and spray the trees.

Most of my apples trees are dwarf, but this example is a semi-dwarf. I have to get on a ladder to prune the top of the tree. That’s not fun in the cold wind at this time of year.

This is just a good start on your way to having your own home-grown fruit.

For those of you wanting to start some fruit trees, I can tell you it’s a great challenge if you want to tackle “harder” gardening.

To bite into an apple you grew is a great reward. You can also choose to spray the trees with organic insecticides, giving the apples less traditional chemicals.

Last chance to prune oaks

If you have a limb on an oak tree you want to remove, you have to do it now.

Oak trees shouldn’t be pruned when it has warmed up. The oak wilt disease can invade a cut in an oak tree and kill it. It’s too pretty and valuable of a tree to lose!

If you are going to have your winter coat on when pruning the limb, and the weather is expected to stay cold for a few weeks, it is okay to prune an oak tree.

That is why I say now is the last chance to prune your oak trees until next winter.

Master pruners please teach us more

This is just a start, and there are many tips to fruit tree pruning. Any readers that have suggestions to help us all, please post your comments below.

Mark Torregrossa has been the Chief Meteorologist for three television news stations in Michigan. A resident of the state for 20 years, he is also a master gardener and avid hunter. Email him at and find him on Facebook at and Twitter @weathermanmark

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Spring greening: Ventura County gardeners share tips, plant suggestions

If Daylight Saving Time just happened, can the first day of spring — and the semiofficial start of gardening season — be far behind? Read on for tips and plant suggestions from local experts that will inspire you to get digging. (Psst! You might also want to draw a big ol’ red circle around April 13.)



The person: Quin Shakra and fellow Ojai Valley farmer Justin Huhn started All Good Things Organic Seeds in 2011, using open-pollinated seeds saved from herbs, flowers and vegetables grown at Mano Farm. The 1.3-acre property near Meiners Oaks also is the site of their Mano Farm CSA, or community supported agriculture program.

The plant: Grown from seed, Riverside onion (allium cepa) is a yellow Spanish onion with a sweet flavor and thick skin that makes it a good candidate for storage, said Shakra.

“An open-pollinated, short-day onion seed can be hard to find,” he added. The reference is to plants that have been pollinated by bees, wind or other natural processes, and to onions that start to bulb when day length reaches 10-12 hours.

Riverside Onion (Allium cepa) is available from All Good Things Organic Seeds.Lisa McKinnon/ The Star

Riverside Onion (Allium cepa) is available from All Good Things Organic Seeds.
Lisa McKinnon/ The Star

For best results, sow the seeds in flats six to eight weeks before the last frost in spring, or direct sow after the last frost. Harvest the mature bulbs when the tops begin to dry down.

Mark your calendar: Huhn will present a free lecture on “Planning and Planting a Seed Garden” at 11 a.m. April 13 at Flora Gardens Nursery, 245 Old Baldwin Road, Ojai (call 640-0055). For information about or to place orders for All Good Things Organic Seeds, visit the website at

Here’s a tip: Learn by doing by volunteering at the farm. Shakra might reward you by knitting you a colorful hat like the one he’s shown wearing here.




The person: Jo O’Connell earned degrees in horticulture in her native Sydney, Australia, before opening the Australian Native Plants Nursery in the Casitas Springs area of Ventura in the early 1990s. She has worked on revegetation projects in the Australian outback and in South Africa, and helped create what is now known as the Conservation Endowment Fund of Ojai’s Taft Garden.

The plant: Grevillea ‘Superb’ and any of the more than 350 versions of the evergreen flowering plant in the protea family are good choices for Ventura County gardeners, said O’Connell.

“They come in all sorts of colors, are available as everything from a ground cover to a hedge, and hummingbirds love them,” she said. The nursery’s selection of grevilleas includes ‘Casitas Pink,’ an O’Connell creation that produces pale pink, cone-shaped blooms.

Grevilleas are drought-tolerant and prefer little to no fertilization. If you must use plant food on or near a grevillea, chose one that is very low in phosphorus, said O’Connell.

Mark your calendar: Normally open to the public by appointment or when the gates happen to be unlocked, the Australian Native Plants Nursery will have an open house and spring plant sale from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 13 and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 14. The nursery’s address is 9040 N. Ventura Ave., but the entrance is off Nye Road (call 649-3362 or click on

Here’s a tip: “Never put a dry plant in a dry hole,” said O’Connell. “We haven’t had a lot of rain this winter, so it’s important to fill your planting hole with water and allow it to drain into the surrounding soil before adding your plant,” she said. After planting, follow with an organic mulch like broken-down oak or eucalyptus leaves.


Bob Sussman

Bob Sussman

Lisa McKinnon/The StarAlso known as southern island mallow, the California native plant lavatera assurgentiflora ssp. ‘glabra’ is available at Matilija Nursery in Moorpark.

Lisa McKinnon/The Star
Also known as southern island mallow, the California native plant lavatera assurgentiflora ssp. ‘glabra’ is available at Matilija Nursery in Moorpark.

The person: Bill Sussman is a former banker turned California native plant specialist and iris propagator who opened Matilija Nursery in 1992. Its current Moorpark location has been in operation for 18 years.

The plant: Show some California pride by growing a variation of lavatera assurgentiflora, also known as island mallow because it is native to the Channel Islands.

The shrub with maple-leaf shaped foliage and hollyhock-like blooms needs little water, can handle semi-shade to full sun and attracts bees and butterflies by flowering nearly year-round, said Sussman. Lavatera grows fast, making it a good choice for wind breaks and privacy hedges.

Lavatera blooms in a range of hues, from the deep pink of assurgentiflora to the cream-with-purple-stripes seen on the lavatera assurgentiflora ssp. glabra growing at the nursery. Planted four years ago, the bush is now about 10 feet tall by 8 feet wide.

Mark your calendar: Workshops will be available during the nursery’s fifth annual Carnival de Iris focusing on Louisiana, Pacific Coast and tall bearded reblooming varieties from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 13. The nursery is open from 8:30 a.m. to noon Mondays through Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and by appointment at 8225 Waters Road (call 523-8604 or click on

Here’s a tip: Like many plants, California natives look best when arranged according to a “big stuff in back, little stuff in the front” plan, said Sussman. It’s also a good idea to group fewer types of plants together instead of attempting to grow one of everything, he added. For an example, visit the Meadow Display at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.




The person: Scott Daigre is owner of Powerplant Garden Design based in Ojai and co-founder of Tomatomania!, a seedling sale that started at a Pasadena nursery in the 1990s. The event now features more than 100 varieties of hybrid and heirloom tomato plants as it tours California, Maryland and Virginia.

The plant: What’s not to like about a tomato named for an alien species from the TV series “Babylon 5”? Vorlon is “a phenomenal tomato, a gorgeous black beefsteak on a big, tough and productive plant,” said Daigre. “The taste? Can’t even describe it. Too good.”

Mark your calendar: Tomatomania! will visit Otto Sons Nursery in Fillmore from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 12-13. The address is 1835 E. Guiberson Road (524-2123). If the supply of Vorlon seedlings runs short, Tomatomania! staff will be on hand to suggest alternate varieties. Daigre will present a free tomato-gardening class at 10 a.m. both days. For information about other stops on the tour, visit the website at

Vorlon, a beefsteak variety, will be featured at Tomatomania! in Fillmore.Photo courtesy of Scott Daigre

Vorlon, a beefsteak variety, will be featured at Tomatomania! in Fillmore.
Photo courtesy of Scott Daigre

Here’s a tip: If you’re growing tomatoes in the ground, soak the rootball every three or four days for the first few weeks. Once tomatoes start growing, water deeply and even more infrequently. The plant will inevitably yellow in places, but more water won’t fix that and may even dilute taste, said Daigre. Feed around the roots at planting, and again once the plants begin to flower.

If you’re growing tomatoes in containers, water the plants as often as every day when the weather is hot. You’ll need to feed more often, too — every 10 to 14 days.

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Master Gardner’s give gardening tips to community


The Master Gardner’s held an Exhibit this weekend at the Albany Mall.

They invited people in the community to come out and get gardening tips and expert advice, learn about various plants, and they even had activities for kids to participate in.

Suzanna MacIntosh, the president of the Master Gardner’s, says it’s really important to her to show outsiders, and people that live here, just how beautiful southwest Georgia is. MacIntosh says the Master Gardner’s are working on several community projects that she thinks will really highlight the area.

Stay connected to as stories develop and the FOX 31 Newscast at 10 PM. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter to join in on the conversation and connect with FOX 31!

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Gardening tips to spring into spring

WTNH– Today we visited “Life on Mar’s” and were joined by Mar Jennings, a lifestyle expert and best selling author. 

Mar is a master at creating a casual luxury lifestyle made simple, smart, and easy-to-apply, through his trademark tips and tricks.

Today he showed us some design details that will help us spring into spring. These details will work in any garden.

Mar also discussed his book, which talks about a four season garden. It is a resource that offers gardening tips and designs that have both national and global appeal.

For more information, go to .

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