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Archives for March 21, 2013

Library Lowdown: Books for garden inspiration – Exponent

Sharon Saye

Sharon Saye

Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 2:10 pm

Updated: 2:12 pm, Wed Mar 20, 2013.

Library Lowdown: Books for garden inspiration

by Sharon Saye, Library Director


Spring is finally here, and although it has not been a bad winter, it has just seemed endless. So with the daffodils starting to sprout and lawns turning a darker green, many people begin to plan for their gardens.

Inspiration is often the real first step and a brand new book may just provide that: “1001 Gardens You Must See before You Die.” Not exactly the niftiest title to remind one of one’s mortality, but the information in the book is certainly worth the look.

This volume is a stunning guide to the most outstanding gardens flourishing in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. These gardens are startling, unusual, interesting and beautiful. From famous gardens like Granada’s Alhambra to private, hidden gems, this magnificently illustrated guide is packed with vivid photographs and detailed descriptions.

For those looking for new ideas or those who just like to armchair travel, “1001 Gardens You Must See before You Die,” is a remarkable companion.

“Patio Stone: A Sunset Design Guide” provides the latest ideas on materials and plans to create perfect outdoor living spaces. It includes expert advice from landscaping professionals as well as real-world solutions to practical problems. It contains clear, concise charts to choose materials that meet your needs regarding appearance, durability, ease of installation and price. And if you are concerned with the environment, there is the latest information on green materials and landscaping techniques.

Another new book is definitely for the person who likes architecture and the unique. “1000 Details in Landscape Architecture” emphasizes forward design with real-life projects that demonstrate “the pinnacle of progressive design and eco-restraint from around the world.” With photographs, site plans, drawing and sketches, this is a book that looks at landscape architecture as a function of artistic design.

The library has shelves of books on gardening from the needs of everyday to the large, coffee table size book of the most beautiful flowers. So if you need to plant shrubs, grow herbs, plant tomatoes, there is a book for you on our shelves.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013 2:10 pm.

Updated: 2:12 pm.

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Home News City of Toronto staff and residents talk ideas for…

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Toronto city staff and neighbourhood residents bandied about ideas March 20 at the Frankland Community Centre regarding the upcoming revitalization of Withrow Park’s south area grounds.

Alex Mut, a landscape architect with the City of Toronto, presented potential uses for the playground and invited ideas from residents and their children.

“The park has a nice canvas to do something exciting,” said Mut, but remarked the neglected grounds are due for a major facelift.

“It seems to be the lesser-known playground or, at best, the playground with the swings because that is all it has to offer,” Mut said.

The playground, on the west side of Logan Avenue in Riverdale, will receive new equipment and landscaping with funding from the city’s capital projects and an additional levy from Parks and Recreation. The project has a budget of $250,000.

A presentation of potential uses for the land was displayed for residents and children to examine followed by an interactive group workshop allowing small groups of people to share their ideas with the city.

According to Mut, it was important children were included in the process and he said he was pleased that several parents brought their kids out to the meeting.

“I think it is very important to get a full range of ideas, obviously we can’t accommodate everyone’s ideas, but to hear them all and learn about the park is very valuable,” Mut said.

The feedback will be gathered, refined and again presented to the community for further discussion.

The selection process will transpire over various stages of planning and presented to the community in subsequent meetings.

“We will review the information gathered tonight and determine where the priorities seem to be,” Mut said.

Longtime resident Sandra Lester said she was excited to be a part of the process and put forth an array of ideas.

“I’d like to see interactive, naturalized learning so kids can learn about science, nature, issues like producing your own power and pumping your own water. I’d like them to feel empowered to interact with their own landscape,” Lester said.

Her focus, which strongly appealed to all present at the meeting, centred around educational and environmentally responsible play with an emphasis on adventure and fun for children of various ages.

“I’ve been in the neighbourhood for a very long time, over 20 years. I remember being a nanny in this neighbourhood and a little girl, who is now in a master’s program, climbing on equipment that is still in the park. That means this equipment is over 20 years old and it hasn’t changed since then.

“It’s time to revitalize it. My son is getting to the upper age limit, he’s nine, and I think kids should still play a lot at nine, but he’s not finding it adventurous anymore. There’s a lot of opportunity to do something really different here,” Lester said.

Ward 30 Councillor Paula Fletcher was also on hand to take note of what her constituents had to say.

According to Fletcher, a common complaint is that city equipment has been dumbed-down, so the city is working toward finding equipment that is both fun and challenging.

“I think adults pick pieces of equipment that they think look interesting and then the kids have to say, ‘That’s the one I like,’” Fletcher said.

Mut and city staff will work toward compiling the information garnered from the meeting and present a conceptual design by late April.

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Home, Remodeling & Garden Show March 22-23 in Hudson

Talk about it

    Looking for fresh ideas in new home building, home remodeling and improvement, home decorating, design, and landscaping? With over 60 vendors at the upcoming St. Croix Valley Home Builders Association Home, Remodeling Garden show you’ll be able to gather a multitude of ideas to help you create your dream home—from the ground up or by re-inventing the home you’re in!

    Find everything you need under one roof at the Hudson Sports Civic Center on Hanley Road in Hudson. The show will be open to the public on Friday, March 22, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, March 23, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    From top to bottom, inside and out — finding the right contractor and company for your project has never been so easy! At this event you will find home building and remodeling, landscaping, garden and lawn care, designs and trend ideas, windows, doors, floors and more! Come get new refreshing ideas for 2013 and first hand information from our builders, remodelers and subcontractors about your new home construction or your home projects…all under one roof!

    Get expert advice! Don’t miss this great opportunity to speak directly with the St. Croix Valley Master Gardeners about any planting issues we may experience this spring, ways to combat your worst weed nightmares and much, much more! Take advantage of our onsite demonstrations and seminars on Saturday including topics such as conquering the clutter, design and remodeling trends for 2013 and easy ways to keep your home in tip-top shape.

    Make it a family event! Bring the kids for a fun filled day complete with a visit from the Easter Bunny!

    Prizes, prizes, prizes! We are proud to have vendor-sponsored prize give-aways as well as multiple cash prizes this year. The drawing for the grand prize will take place on Saturday at 3:45 pm. Winner need not be present to win, however, must present winning ticket upon grand prize collection.

    The 2013 show is made possible by the St. Croix Valley Home Builders Association, its Home Show Committee and major sponsors, Erskine Interiors, County Materials, Xcel Energy and WESTconsin Credit Union, Admission is $4 at the door and children under 18 are free.

    For questions or additional information, please contact Bonnie McCormack at 715-796-5377

    area news, news, business, hudson, events

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    A Boston Palace Where Greenery Ties Old to New

    BEFORE Isabella Stewart Gardner died, in 1924, she made it clear that the permanent collection in the Venetian palace she had built along scenic swampland here was never to be significantly altered. With the exception of the 13 works of art removed by thieves in the 1990s, this has been the case.

    But Gardner, an aptly named horticulturalist, was less clear about what should happen to the gardens she viewed as a critical part of her home’s artistry — a rarity for museums, where landscape is often a backdrop for other art forms. And so, over the years, they have been tweaked, replanted and in some cases utterly overhauled, an evolving and expanding foundational element within this time capsule of a museum.

    Landscape was central to Gardner’s creation before she built anything here. The space she chose for the museum faced the Back Bay Fens, which had just been designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who was at the time pioneering American landscape architecture. “It’s not coincidental,” said Charles Waldheim, the museum’s consulting curator of landscape — a rare role in American museums. “She gathered her collection precisely at the moment that landscape architecture was invented in the United States.”

    Bonnie Thryselius is among the gardeners charged with keeping greenery at the fore here today. Most mornings, she arrives by 7 and begins the century-old ritual of tending to the abundant garden that fills the central courtyard of the museum. She mists orchids and greenery and takes a feather duster to the leaves of fishtail palms, keeping a merciless eye peeled for tired petals that need deadheading.

    The courtyard is the most famous aspect of the Gardner’s landscape programming, with nine effulgent displays shown over the course of the year, framed in Renaissance architecture and dotted with antiquities. “That combination is such a confrontation with beauty and art, if you aren’t moved by it, you’re really not alive,” said Anne Hawley, who has been the director of the museum for more than 23 years. “I think that’s the magic of the place, and something we are so determined to preserve.”

    The museum spends roughly $750,000 annually on horticulture and landscape, and it employs five full-time gardeners to maintain the interior courtyard and greenhouses. The museum in 2011 brought on Mr. Waldheim, who has developed programming around gardening and landscape. This year, his offerings will include two installation shows. The museum expanded its exterior garden space as it added a Renzo Piano-designed wing in 2012, and it will soon unveil and construct a new design for its Monk’s Garden by the landscape artist Michael Van Valkenburgh.

    Like the museum’s continuing arts and education programming, the landscape and related events here have been able to reflect a contemporary reality, counterbalancing the frozen-in-time quality of the museum’s permanent collection. “We have a relationship to history in which we need to honor the legacy of Madame Gardner by being absolutely of our time,” Mr. Waldheim said.

    Contemporary landscaping gives the museum’s new wing — a glass cube set 50 feet back from the museum — an ethereal feel of its own. When visitors enter, they face layers of gardens. There is a small one, straight ahead, that straddles two sides of an enclosed walkway, where thin Chinese elms grow straight up from a bed of witch hazel. To the left, there is the long, on-site greenhouse, its contents fully visible to passers-by. And to the right, through a glass wall, the visitor can see an exterior events garden.

    “Giving the visitor a sense of lightness and poetry was part of the concept from the start, and thus the gardens became very foregrounded,” Ms. Hawley said. “When you confront just a very well-designed and harmonious garden, it’s sort of like an Arcadia, with glass making the building float, in a way. It feels like you’re always in the garden.”

    In some ways, the gardens also relate the old and new wings, which are intentionally distinct — the original wing opaque and mysterious, the new wing full of light and transparency and undeniably contemporary. Plants for the courtyard are readied in the on-site greenhouse in the new wing; there is an additional 9,000 square feet of greenhouse space in Hingham, Mass. And Mr. Piano lined with trees the outside of the glass walkway that connects the two wings, to eventually give visitors the impression of walking through a forested tunnel from one to the other.

    “He was really trying to get the conversation between the structures just right,” said Ms. Hawley, of Mr. Piano, “and of course that begged that the gardens be part of the conversation in a way that was logical.”

    While it was not part of the new wing’s design, the Monk’s Garden — an enduring plot contained by the museum’s Chinese Loggia and the wall Gardner built around the property — seems central to that conversation, too. Gardner planted it in an Italianate style, with tall evergreens and a vine-covered pergola. After she died, the director of the museum brought in a Japanese-style garden with New England wildflowers. It was overhauled again in the early 1970s, and, over time, it appears to have sunk about two feet into the swamp that lies beneath it.

    Today it is covered in blueberry sod, where a few stray construction materials hint at Mr. Van Valkenburgh’s impending redesign. It was inspired in part by a Venetian mirror and tapestry from the museum’s collection, which will be reflected in meandering schist-brick paths through the garden — relating back to Gardner while offering museumgoers a brand new, contemplative design. “I think that Gardner understood that gardens are always evolving,” Ms. Hawley said. “Each generation remade the gardens.”

    Construction is scheduled to begin later this month, with an opening expected this summer.

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    Garden events: Learn the keys for rose success

    AFRICAN VIOLET SALE: Three Dallas-area violet societies will host the annual judged show and sale. Members also will offer growing advice and instructions. 1 to 4 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Growing African violets workshop,10 a.m. Saturday; growing gesneriads, 2 p.m. Saturday. North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Road, Dallas. Free.

    ROSES: The monthly meeting of the Dallas Rose Society will include a presentation on Fortuniana grafted roses by champion rose growers from Arkansas. 7 p.m. Friday. Farmers Branch Recreational Center, 14050 Heartside Place, Farmers Branch. Free. 972-727-3007.

    OWL PROWL: The Indian Trail Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists and Midlothian parks are co-hosting a night hike and owl prowl. 8:30 p.m. Friday. 1361 Onward Road, Midlothian. Free, but advance registration requested. 972-291-2868.

    GARDEN ED: Free classes at North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Road, Dallas. 214-363-5316. Lawn care, noon Saturday Peonies, 1 p.m. Saturday

    ROSE FESTIVAL: The rose festival will include a variety of roses to buy, including antique, English, climbing, hybrid, Knock Outs and more. Rose experts will answer questions and share advice from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Festival is 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Calloway’s locations in North Plano, 2460 State Highway 121; South Arlington, 4940 S. Cooper; and Hurst, 760 Grapevine Highway. A rose clinic describing best practices is 10:15 a.m. Saturday at all Calloway’s locations. Free.

    URBAN CHICKENS: Learn about caring for chicks and nurturing them to adulthood. Class also will cover housing, feeding, watering and proper hygiene. Marshall Grain Co. 10:30 a.m. Saturday, 2224 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth, and 1 p.m. Saturday, 3525 William D. Tate, Grapevine. Free.

    NATIVE PLANTS: Learn how to create a sustainable landscape with native plants from well-known North Texas practitioner Gailon Hardin. Redenta’s Garden. 10 a.m. Saturday, 111 W. Arkansas Lane, Arlington, and 2 p.m. Saturday, 2001 Skillman St., Dallas. Free.

    ARBORETUM EDUCATION: Upcoming classes at the Dallas Arboretum, 8525 Garland Road, Dallas. Advance registration required. Bulb trial walking tour, 9 a.m. Saturday, $25 Container gardening, 9 a.m. Saturday, $48

    DROUGHT-TOLERANT LANDSCAPE: Two free landscaping seminars will cover ideas for installing drought-tolerant yards. Water-wise landscape design will be 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Suitable plants for North Texas will be 1:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday.

    The first 100 attendees at each session will receive a copy of landscape designer Bonnie Reese’s book, Common-Sense Landscaping. Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 17360 Coit Road, Dallas. Reservations required. 214-670-3155.

    WETLANDS: Learn about the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center in Seagoville at a meeting of the Indian Trail Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists. 7 p.m. Monday. Red Oak Library, 200 Lakeview Parkway, Red Oak. Free. 972-825-5175.

    ROSE LIBRARY: The Dallas Area Historical Rose Society’s monthly meeting will include a presentation on the 25 books rose gardeners should own. 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Farmers Branch Recreational Center, 14050 Heartside Place, Farmers Branch. Free. 972-620-1131.

    POLLINATORS AND PROPAGATION: Learn about pollinators and propagation at the monthly meeting of the Grapevine Garden Club. 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Stacy Furniture, Community Room, 1900 S. Main St., Grapevine. Free.

    BUNCHGRASS PRAIRIE: The Trinity Forks Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas’ monthly meeting will include a presentation on the largest bunchgrass prairie in North America. 6:30 p.m. March 28. Texas Woman’s University, Ann Stewart New Science Building, Denton. Free.

    HERBS: The Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club welcomes Texas magazine publisher Judy Barrett for a presentation on herbs and how they can be used in the garden, kitchen and around the home. 6:30 p.m. March 28. REI, 4515 LBJ Freeway, west of the Dallas North Tollway. Free.

    IKEBANA DEMONSTRATION: A presentation on creative ikebana, featuring sogetsu trends and techniques, will be offered this month. 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 28. Bent Tree Country Club, 520 Westgrove Drive, Dallas. $45 or $65. Advance registration requested. 214-750-7236 or email

    SQUARE-FOOT-GARDENING: Learn how to grow vegetables in a raised box. This class will offer tips for square-foot-gardening in Texas and working with a small space. 9:30 a.m. to noon March 30. 1106 Almond Drive, Mansfield. Advance registration required. 682-234-3873

    BECOME A MASTER GARDENER: The Dallas County Master Gardeners are accepting applications through May 28 for the 2013 Master Gardener Training School. Classes will meet 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, July 29 through Oct. 28. In addition to the 78 hours of class time, participants must contribute a minimum of 72 hours of approved volunteer work through the DCMG over 12 months. Applications are available at or by calling 214-904-3053.

    WATER-WISE LANDSCAPE: Enter the 19th annual Water-Wise Landscape tour. The event, which is sponsored by Dallas Water Utilities, is open to all landscapes within Dallas city limits and the city limits of Dallas’ wholesale customers or reciprocal cities. Judging criteria includes design (aesthetic appeal; composition; use of color and plant variety) , water conservation (water use; non-vegetative materials such as fences, walls, walks; use of native or adapted plants; reduced turf area; and use of mulches) and appropriate maintenance landscape (healthy, disease- and pest-free plants; no weeds; plants pruned as appropriate). Entry deadline is April 12. Visit to apply online. Entries will be judged in mid-April. The public tour of landscapes will be June 1.

    AZALEA TRAIL: See 10 miles of azaleas, dogwoods and spring flowers in Tyler during its 54th annual event. Friday through April 7. 315 N. Broadway, Tyler. Complimentary visitor packets are available by calling 1-800-235-5712 or at

    ROAD TRIP: The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will host a public plant sale. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 13 and 14. 4801 La Crosse Ave., Austin. For a list of plants that will be offered, visit

    Submit calendar information at least 14 days before the Thursday publication date to


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    Green gardening tools and techniques that really work

    Americans have embraced recycling and are enthusiastic about cleaner energy sources. Yet when it comes to caring for their outdoor environment, many people still use less earth-friendly tools and techniques. So what’s standing in the way of Americans going green in their gardens and landscapes?

    One answer may be the common misconception that eco-friendly products and practices don’t work as well as less environmentally conscious ones – such as chemicals that repel common garden pests, but can also cause groundwater contamination.

    “Advances in environmentally responsible products have made it possible for homeowners to effectively care for their gardens and landscaping, while protecting the environment at the same time,” says Elizabeth Summa, president of Repellex, which makes eco-friendly lawn and garden products.

    Some greener gardening tools are time-honored, like rotary lawn mowers. Others are leading-edge, such as pest-control products that are eco-friendly. Here are a handful of environmentally safe, effective ways to keep your landscape and garden green this spring and summer:

    Responsible repellent – Deer, rabbits, squirrels and gophers – animals munch on landscaping and garden plants because they’re hungry and the vegetation tastes good to them. Eco-friendly repellents, like those made by Repellex, use taste aversion and natural ingredients like pepper, dried bloodmeal and egg to make non-edible plants less appealing to foragers. Repellex Systemic Tablets deliver a dose of pepper to the roots of plants – just place in soil, water and walk away. The flavor gets absorbed through the roots into non-edible plants, making them taste unappealing to garden pests. For edible plants, Repellex Fruit Vegetable uses a combination of putrescent eggs and plant extracts to keep animals and insects away from fruits and vegetables all season long. Log on to to learn more.

    Friendlier mowing – Long before combustion engines made it possible to mow your lawn quickly and easily, people relied on rotary mowers – also known as reel mowers. Environmentally responsible gardeners have rediscovered these people-powered mowing machines. Reel mowers have many positive attributes: they are pollution-free, quiet and very economical to operate. Modern reel mowers are lighter, smaller and with fewer working parts that require maintenance and repair. They’re also a great way to exercise; walking behind a rotary mower burns more calories than pushing a self-propelled mower.

    Organic fertilizing – Chemical fertilizers are a well-known source of groundwater contamination, yet some form of additional nutrients is almost always necessary for successful gardens and lawns. The EPA says composting can eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers and results in higher crop yields. You can compost food waste from your own kitchen, as well as grass clippings and other yard waste. Composting your own organic waste at home not only reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, it can provide you with an effective, eco-friendly and essentially free way to fertilize gardens and flower beds. For lawns, you can find a variety of organic fertilizers – based on natural ingredients rather than chemicals – at most hardware, big box stores and garden centers.

    Kinder weed control – Weed killers are also well-known contaminants, and can be hazardous when used around small children or household pets. Before you bring out the spray bottle, consider weed-elimination alternatives that are kinder to the environment. Some very effective options include using a mixture of vinegar and water, boiling water and even pulling weeds by hand. Removing weeds by hand also adds a health benefit for you – you’ll burn more calories pulling weeds than simply spraying them.

    Bug-free without bugging the environment – Chemical insecticides can be harsh on the environment – not to mention skin if you use a chemical repellent to ward off mosquitoes and other biting bugs. Instead of chemical insecticides, consider natural alternatives. Repellex’s Mosquito Tick product keeps mosquitoes, ticks and other insects off you by keeping them out of your lawn and garden. The all-natural repellent sprays on your lawn, garden, patio, deck and home exterior to ward off these disease-carrying insects.

    Choosing to go green with your lawn and garden care doesn’t mean you have to give up effectiveness. With the right tools, it’s possible to accomplish your lawn and gardening goals while protecting the environment at the same time.

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    Spring Gardening Tips

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    Updated: Wednesday, March 20 2013, 07:24 AM EDT

    The start of Spring brings the start of gardening excitement.  

    People are looking for ways to spruce up their lawns and turn gardens into their own private produce markets. 

    The team at B.B. Barnes showed us some secrets for success with gardening . 

    The tips include the fact that now is the time to get some cool weather vegetables in the ground, but you need to wait for more tender plants like tomatoes.  

    Click here for links to Spring Gardening tips and a list of special gardening workshops.

    By Victoria Dunkle
    Follow Victoria on Twitter @victoriadunkle

    Spring Gardening Tips

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    Tim’s Tips: Sharpen garden tools for spring

    March 20, 2013

    Tim’s Tips: Sharpen garden tools for spring

    Tim’s Tips

    Tim Lamprey
    The Daily News of Newburyport

    Wed Mar 20, 2013, 03:00 AM EDT

    Winter just doesn’t want to let go. I guess spring will come eventually. While you are waiting for the snow to melt, take time to get your gardening tools and equipment ready for spring.

    You should have a sharp blade on your lawn mower. If you haven’t replaced the blade on your mower in several years, now is a good time to do so. You can put on a new blade if you follow the instructions in the mowers’ owner’s manual. If you don’t want to do it yourself, schedule a time to have your mower go in for service. An oil change and tune-up isn’t a bad idea either.

    The hand pruners and loping shears also need to be sharp if they are going to do a proper job. Sharpening tools on a regular basis is easy to do and it will make pruning chores much easier. We sell sharpening tools at the store. Check your shovels too. A hand-held file will put a sharp edge on the shovel, which will make digging holes so much easier.

    If the snow is off the garden and the ground is thawed, put some pea seed down. Peas are one of the first seeds that you can plant in your garden. They prefer the cool temperatures of early spring. Peas don’t like the warm summer weather. If you plant peas too late, the oncoming summer heat will ruin your crop. However, peas can also be planted in late summer to give you a nice fall crop.

    As spring approaches, and new growth begins to appear on your trees, the winter moth caterpillar will hatch and eat the leaves. If you remember seeing moths flying around the windows after dark in December, then you will probably have a problem with this caterpillar. The moths mate in early winter and lay eggs on your trees.

    The eggs hatch out as soon as leaves appear in spring. They attack our flowering cherry tree each spring. An application of horticultural oil now will kill many of the eggs. As soon as the leaves appear in spring, an application of Bt will kill the caterpillars before they can do a lot of damage.

    Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

    Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.

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    Tips to help guide your spring planting

    As the weather grows warmer and the snow continues to melt, a new disease has begun to circulate. Fewer cases of the flu may be spreading, but spring fever is in full force.

    If your plans for the summer involve a large, delicious supply of freshly grown produce, you might be ready to begin planting. But there are a few things to consider before you put down roots. Robyn Webb, assistant manager at McCoard’s Garden Center in Provo, offers seven tips to help you get the most out of your home garden.

    1 Take it slow: Many people fall into the trap of thinking everything has to be done at once — that landscaping your yard is a one-time task. But that kind of thinking can be overwhelming and curb success.

    “Rather than trying to tackle landscaping as a project to be completed before the snow flies, see your yard as a work in progress,” Webb said. “Choose parts of the yard to work on this year. That will make it a lot more fun, affordable, and reasonable to accomplish.”

    2 Tackle the weeds now: Unfortunately, weeds are always a concern. But you can significantly prevent weed growth by taking a few measures early in the year.

    “Pulling and hoeing weeds now will be a piece of cake compared to waiting until the weather warms and the weeds have become longer, stronger and more entrenched,” Webb said. “This really is a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” You can also apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your soil to keep weed seeds from germinating — just don’t use it where you plan to plant flowers or crops from seed.

    3 Mulch: Sure, it improves the look of things, but mulching provides your garden with more than a pretty face. “Covering exposed soil areas between plants with a two- to three-inch layer of shredded bark or another covering will keep moisture from evaporating too quickly in the heat and will keep weed seeds from finding an easy place to anchor and grow,” Webb said. “And anything you can do to discourage weeds is worth doing.”

    4 Fertilize: Fertilizer is your garden’s food and will help it flourish. But even if you’re not sure how to go about it, doing something is better than nothing at all. “One feeding in March or April will put you miles ahead of your neighbor who never fertilizes at all,” Webb said. She suggests Utah gardeners use a bag of 16-16-8 granular formula.

    5 Plant cold season crops now: As much as we’d like to believe summer is nearly here, the ground temperature isn’t quite where it needs to be for all crops. But there are a few things you can plant now that will be unaffected by a late-season freeze. “Right now is the time to be planting cold season crops,” Webb said. “Beets, radishes, peas, leafy greens. In fact, we could have planted them a month ago if there wasn’t snow.”

    6 Hold off on tender crops: In Utah, there is a specific date for gardeners to look toward: May 15. “We wait until then to plant tender crops because we’re pretty sure the ground won’t freeze after May 14,” Webb says. “After that, you can plant crops like tomatoes, peppers and squash.” These crops grow best in soil that is around 55 degrees, so even if you were to plant them now, they wouldn’t do much until the ground is warmer.

    7 Plant in phases: While you’re waiting for May 15, consider planting a few crops now and a few more in a week or two. This technique is called “succession planting,” and it allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labors for much longer.

    “This works especially well with peas, but you can do it with most cold-season crops,” Webb said. “Plant a row now, then another row in two weeks, and maybe another row two weeks after that. When the older plants are done producing, the younger ones will still be thriving.”

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    Thrifty garden tips to save money

    Experts share their top ideas for budget-conscious green thumbs.


    “Using kitchen scraps for new plants and using them in worm farms and compost bins ensures that all the money spent on top-quality produce is not wasted,” Habitat garden columnist Trevor Cochrane said.

    The key was to get them off to a good start, usually in a pot or tray.

    “Starting potatoes off from peel or sweet potatoes from off-cuts or eyes can be done easily using matchsticks, cotton wool and a glass of water,” he said.

    “The matchsticks run through the vegetable acting like a plank (across the top of the glass), holding the vegie atop cotton wool so water is only in contact with the bottom.

    “The same principles apply for plants like celery tops and carrot tops, although pineapple heads can go straight into potting mix.”


    Just like our parents and grandparents knew, Masters green life buyer Ann McKeon said one of the best thrifty tips was to collect seeds and sow them at the appropriate season.

    Mr Cochrane agreed, adding that seeds from pumpkin, watermelon and rockmelon could be collected now and sown in October for best results.

    “A great one to plant now is avocado seeds,” he said. “The seedlings often take much longer to fruit than a grafted plant but … it’s top-quality fruit you will enjoy.”

    Nurseryman and sustainable gardening advocate Steve Wood said heirloom varieties were a good seed-saving option because they were open-pollinated, meaning the seed could easily be collected and sown each season.


    Another tried and tested way to get plants free was by propagating, said Mr Wood.

    The secret to successful cuttings was to keep them small (under 5cm), watered daily and kept in a shaded location.

    “The best medium to strike the cuttings in is pure coco peat, also known as coir, and a root system will start to develop in seven to 10 days and at 21-28 days, the cutting is ready to plant out.”


    Beyond Gardens’ Garry Heady said there’s no better – or cheaper – garden tonic than home-grown worm castings, liquid fertiliser and compost.

    “My first bin was a 44-gallon drum with a lid. I would fill it with kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, shredded newspaper and whatever I could find, moisten it with the hose and with the lid firmly on, roll it out onto the lawn and back again every day for two weeks and so had my very own homemade version of what later in the 1970s became known as a compost tumbler but mine was free.”

    Ms McKeon said mulch was particularly easy to make yourself. “You can create great fine-leaf mulch using a lawnmower over deciduous trees leaves, while a shredder will make light work of small branches after pruning.”


    “By far the most reliable and probably the most environmentally friendly form of pest control is exclusion netting or some other form of barrier,” Mr Heady said.

    Kitchen scraps placed in strategic locations could also help.

    “Many bugs are eating seedlings because they are hungry, so give them food away from the seedling and many will be diverted.”

    Helen Martin-Beck, of the WA Horticultural Council, said home-made pest solutions could be just as effective as store-bought products.

    Try making an all-round insecticide from four onions, two cloves of garlic and four chillies, all chopped.

    “Mix together and cover with warm, soapy water and leave it to stand overnight,” she said. “Strain off that liquid and add it to five litres of water.”


    Another way to get plants on the cheap is to scour markets or verge pick-ups, said Jo Taylor, of Taylor Landscaping.

    Mr Heady warned it was also important to ensure plants or seeds were from a reliable source to avoid importing diseases into your garden.

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