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Archives for March 23, 2013

Pecking away at good deeds in Milford

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I don’t know why seagulls frequent the Kmart parking lot in Westfall, but they have for as long as I can remember.

Are they attracted to the Delaware River behind the plaza? Is that enough water to attract a flock of seagulls? I don’t know.

Through the years, I have spent too much time worrying about seagull cholesterol levels as folks occasionally feed them cold French fries from Wendy’s and now Jake’s Way Back Burger in the same shopping complex. You know, the one where Fashion Bug (may it rest in peace) used to be.

A vehicle zipped into the parking lot there Friday. The driver opened the window and dropped a half eaten Subway sandwich roll in the parking lot and sped away.

It was a drive-by feeding. Seagulls from all directions dove for the single wad of bread.

The bird that got to it first tried to take flight, but the other birds bombed his beak bounty and he dropped it. Other seagulls had similar experiences. Some were able to lift off the ground, barely, because it was heavy. But the hungry flock knocked it out of beak after greedy beak, and rushed to the fallen treat.

Squawking. Pecking. Flapping. It was every bird for himself.

And then, the whole flock changed its strategy at once. The bread was left on the ground and they all tore into it. Like piranhas of the sky. Crumbs flying everywhere. Everyone who participated got at least a bite.

We humans sometimes approach projects like a flock of seagulls on a big hunk of bread.

Human nature sometimes makes us want to lead projects, come up with the most creative ideas, and, if we can get it off the ground, hog all the credit.

But this week, I ran into a number of folks who have learned how to work so well as a team that they don’t get much credit. And they should.

The Milford Enhancement Committee is a group of volunteers that work to make the Milford an appealing place.

The committee is responsible for new sidewalks, curbing, landscaping and historic-style pedestrian lighting throughout much of the commercial district.

The nonprofit group’s work is funded by more than 1,000 people, plus state and local grants. No local tax dollars are spent on improvement projects.

Working together, bit by bit, they have made Milford more charming and more walkable.

The committee held its annual community workshop this week, with speeches from Committee Chairman Richard Snyder and representatives from other like-minded groups including the Milford Garden Club; The Historic Preservation Trust; Black Bear Film Festival; Milford Business Council; Milford Music Festival; Pike County Chamber of Commerce and economic development; Pike County Power and Light; Pike Historical Society; Pike Library Board and Friends of the Library; Safe Haven of Pike County; The Marie Zimmermann House; Grey Towers and the Pinchot Institute; and the National Park Service.

That long list represents a lot of volunteers. Most are thinking in the same general direction. It is a credit to the Milford Enhancement Committee that in addition to the work it does on local infrastructure, it also facilitates this annual meeting between groups.

Together, all are adding to the community.

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‘Better Manatee Day’ comes to Palmetto

PALMETTO — For the last 35 years, the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton has picked a day in March, called it “Better Manatee Day,” and brightened a different locale in Manatee County with its labor and ingenuity.

The recipients are understandably pleased as their buildings get painted by Kiwanians, their school gets trees, their park gets a running track or their neighborhood gets cleaned up, thanks to this 90-year-old civic organization.

But last summer, when Kiwanis Club of Bradenton President David Bishop informed Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover-Bryant that from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. today,30 to 40 club members would like to clear debris, put in Florida-friendly plants and add 16 palm trees as part of a $10,000 landscapingdonation including a new gateway to the city sign on the northeast corner of Eighth Avenue West and Riverside Drive in Palmetto, Groover-Bryant zoomed right past pleased to over the moon.

“When I got the call from David, it inspired me and others,” said Groover-Bryant, who was at the site, just north of the Green Bridge, Friday afternoon as workers from Turner Landscaping planted the palms, too big of a job for Better Manatee Day volunteers.

Officials with the City of Palmetto and its Community Redevelopment Agency got city work crews to find some good dirt to build a platform at the site for the sign and, eventually, the sign will carry the city’s new branding slogan, which hasn’t yet been chosen, the mayor said.

“It has to express that we are hometown small but business big, we love the red, white and blue, we are the oldest city in the county and this is a great place to raise a family,” said Groover-Bryant, who says people can email slogan ideas to her at

Kiwanis Clubs fromBradenton, North River,Sunrise-Anna Maria along with the Key Clubs from Manatee and Palmettohigh schools, all decided north of the river was the best choice for Better Manatee Day this year, the mayor said.

“We just felt the opportunity was perfect to work with Palmetto,” Bishop said.

Groover-Bryant made sure the east side of Riverside Park near the new site was repaved and re-striped in time for today’s volunteers.

She put up an electronic sign advising motorists to slow down today due to the work and safety vests will be dropped off for volunteers, the mayor said.

“Better Manatee Day” creator Dave Bassett, a past president and past chairman of the Kiwanis Foundation, likes the Palmetto project, which has enthusiasm on a scale reaching that of some projects years ago.

“We put in a large fit-ness trail at G.T. Braypark and we members built fitness stations out of lumber where you stop and train,” Bassett said Friday, adding that the trail has since been removed.

“It has ebbed and flowed through the years,” Bassett said. “It’s not quite as large as it used to be. But the whole theory is many hands make light work and if we all contribute a half a day once a year, what kind of results can we have?”

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686.

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Helendale CSD to host water-smart landscaping workshop

HELENDALE • The Helendale Community Services District in conjunction with the Mojave Water Agency will host a free workshop about landscaping techniques for High Desert homeowners, according to a Mojave Water Agency news release.

The class will teach residents about how to improve and design their landscape with water-smart ideas and which plants do well in the area.

Attendees will also hear an update about the Helendale CSD and water in their service area.

Refreshments will be served. Reservations are required by Monday.

The Helendale CSD is at 26540 Vista Road, Suite C, in Helendale.

To register to attend, call Gloria Golike at 760-946-7001, or email

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Home Items: Mountains Restoration Trust’s native plant gardening festival … – Long Beach Press

Native plant sale

Take your family to Mountains Restoration Trust’s native plant gardening festival from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, Saturday, March 23, at Headwaters Corner, 3815 Old Topanga Canyon Road, Calabasas.

More than 500 native plants will be for sale with proceeds going to protect and restore the Santa Monica Mountains.

In addition, experts will be on hand to provide gardening technique and landscaping tips, and there will be tours of the historic Masson Homestead House, self-guided nature walks, a kid’s scavenger hunt and an art exhibit.

Admission is free. 818-591-1701.

Straw Bale Gardening

Did you know straw bales are a perfect medium for growing vegetables?

All it takes are some bales, fertilizer and seeds or plants to create a weedless garden anywhere.

In “Straw Bale Gardens,” author Joel Karsten provides step-by-step instructions and offers up useful tips, from pest management to applying the principles of vertical gardening to straw bales.

The book is $19.99 from Cool Springs Press.

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38th Annual Central Kentucky Home, Garden & Flower Show Heads To …

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Central Kentucky Home, Garden Flower Show is the largest and longest-running show of its kind in Central Kentucky, introducing new ideas to homeowners since 1976 at Lexington Center’s Heritage Hall and Rupp Arena. Doug Hart, consulting show manager says, “The 2013 show is truly a streamlined experience where you, as our guest, can find everything for the home and garden at one time, in one place, all under one roof. Heritage Hall and Rupp Arena will be segmented into major categories, each of which could be a weekend show in itself.”

Here are a few examples:

• “The Remodeling Showcase”, powered by LGE/KU: Discover new ideas for painting a room or your entire house to installing a deck or skylight, and all kinds of remodeling projects in between. These vendors have the expertise to save you time and money in the Remodeling Showcase, a new feature this year.

• “Small Space Gardens,” presented by Meade Concrete Products: Here you’ll find landscaping advice, as well as products and design ideas to make the most of your outdoor space, no matter how big or small your project is!

• “Kitchen and Bath Showcase”: If you’re remodeling either or both of the most important rooms in your house, the exhibitors in the Kitchen and Bath Showcase have the latest trends in lighting, cabinetry and energy-saving appliances.

• The “Green Zone,” presented by GreenGuide Sustainable Living in the Bluegrass: It’s all about sustainable living in Kentucky for these exhibitors in the Elkhorn Room of Heritage Hall. Learn about green and environmentally friendly products and resources available to you in Central Kentucky.

• “Outdoor Living Market”: Local produce and products are good for you and good for the local economy. Local producers from the Lexington Farmer’s Market in Rupp Arena have a wide variety of locally grown and manufactured products for visitors to purchase while at the show. In addition, you’ll find gardening tools to purchase from Horizons Ltd., outdoor products from Reel Barrels which are crafted from Kentucky Bourbon Barrels and plants and landscape products from Springhouse Gardens.

• “What’s Up in Rupp,” presented by the Better Business Bureau: the BBB’s silent auction has hundreds of items worth tens of thousands of dollars donated by BBB accredited businesses. Nearby, stonemasons from the Dry Stone Conservancy will be building a dry-laid stone pillar throughout the show. Students and faculty from the University of Kentucky’s Department of Landscape Architecture will be exhibiting an urban environment landscape.

• “Outdoor Living Showcase”: Exhibiting in this showcase is a 2,400 square foot display of outdoor wonders from Nature’s Expressions. Whether you garden for pleasure, to put food on the table or both, the Outdoor Living Showcase exhibitors help you make the most of the great outdoors in your own home. Show Hours: Hours of the show are Thursday and Friday, April 4 5, 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; Saturday, April 6, 10a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, April 7 from noon to 6 p.m. Tickets are $8 at the door, $2 ticket discounts are offered online at

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Bloomers plan annual Tour of Back Mountain Gardens

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Monty Don’s gardening tips: Love your lawn! Simple tricks to bring it back to …

Monty Don

17:30 EST, 22 March 2013


17:30 EST, 22 March 2013

Monty Don's tips for lawn-loving

Monty Don’s tips for lawn-loving

After the soggy, miserable winter we’ve had, your lawn might be looking a little sad, but it’s starting to grow again and will soon be flourishing.

However, there are a few things that are easy to do to get it looking its best, whether it is a long-established lawn or a brand new area you are planning to make – because the next few weeks is the best time to sow or turf any new grass.

If you are growing grass from seed you must decide first between a perfect lawn or one that will withstand hard wear and tear. The two are pretty much incompatible.

A hardwearing lawn, suitable for family rough and tumble and more casual care will be based upon ryegrass, while the perfect, sacrosanct swathe of green will be mainly chewings fescue.

Shady soil needs a special mix of seed. If in doubt, ryegrass mixes are much cheaper than grass for fine lawns and price is likely to be as accurate an indicator of what you are buying as anything else.

When you buy turf it should be moist, green, reasonably thin and weed-free. Long rolls are better than short slabs of turf because they dry out more slowly.

Try to get your turf delivered on the same day as you’re planning to lay it, but if you have it delivered more than 48 hours before you can use it, unroll the turf on any surface and then water it well.

The secret of a good lawn is lots of sun, moisture and good drainage.

Provide those three things and the grass is guaranteed to thrive, and where grass thrives almost all else will play second fiddle, including moss, daisies, thistles, bents, buttercups and dandelions.

Sunlight can be increased by cutting back shading branches, moisture is rarely a problem in this country but drainage is the hardest to provide and maintain because the very act of walking on a lawn – let alone riding bikes or playing football or whatever else you may use it for – will compact the soil.

This is why it’s a good idea to aerate the turf each autumn and spring by prodding it all over with a fork and brushing in sand if the soil is heavy.

When it comes to mowing the lawn, the most harm that you can do is to cut it too short. The healthiest height for grass is about 2½cm (1in) – much longer than most people regularly mow down to.

Also, do not take too much off in one go, especially at this time of year. A light trim will make a dramatic difference – and be much quicker than a less frequent scalping.

ASK MONTY: Our gardening expert answers your toughest questions


Q I recently moved and took two cuttings from my beautiful wisteria. Miraculously, they took and are now growing in 3in plastic pots. I water them once a week. What should I do next?
Mrs SE Hughes,  Broughton in Furness, Cumbria

A I suggest repotting into a (23cm) 9in pot and letting them develop this year in a sunny, sheltered spot. They can then be planted in their final position next spring.  

Q I cut back my winter-flowering jasmine to a few inches after flowering last year and it has regrown to only a third of its normal size with few flowers. Did I cut it back too much?
Mrs GA Knight,  Southend, Essex

A Normally a hard prune would mean cutting it back to within a couple of feet of the ground – rather than a few inches – but it will recover its normal size and floriferousness in a year or two.


Q I have had an aspidistra for 25 years and had flowers on it on occasion. But 15 years ago I divided and repotted it and have not had any flowers since. How can I encourage it to flower again?
Mrs JM Hartland, Sutton Coldfield,  West Midlands

A Aspidistras produce their flowers only very rarely, so you were lucky to get what you did. It would be most likely to flower in good conditions of warmth and light. Feed it diluted seaweed in summer and let it rest in winter. The flowers will normally appear in early spring.


SWEET VIOLET (Viola odorata)


Violets have one of the richest colours of  any flower and their scent is powerful and intoxicating – a little bunch of violets will infuse a room with their gentle, persuasive fragrance.

They spread by runners just like strawberries and along their length new plants root into the soil.

The combination  of seed and runners means that given the right conditions – which is essentially deciduous woodland – they will spread quickly.

They are happiest in slightly damp, shady places and in my own garden they run happily along the bottom of hedges.

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Spring gardening and lawn tips

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Though it may not feel like spring, it is that time of year for lawn maintenance.

“Right now is the best time to do it,” said Andreas Dambakakis with “Yards by Us” who recommends putting fertilizer and pre-emergent on lawns now.

“It’s going to basically prevent crabgrass and weeds from germinating in your lawn and also green up the grass.”

Dambakakis says those key ingredients in early spring help prevent crab grass from suffocating your lawn and help build a strong root system for those hot summer days.

Homeowners biggest mistake is mixing up seasons. Fall is the best time for aerating and over seeding your lawn.

“A lot of people will try and do spring seeding and pre-emergent at the same time. Obviously you can’t mix the two as it’s not going to let your seed germinate.”

Experts also suggest waiting until your lawn is fully green before making your first cut. Cutting the lawn too early could kill new shoots before they have a chance to mature.


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Get ready. Get Set. Grow! Tips for garden planning

If you haven’t already noticed spring is here, officially kicked off earlier this week. That means it’s time to map out your garden. Advanced planning will save you money and time each year. Your local greenhouse and other stores will soon be set to display the very best varieties of vegetables and bedding plants as well.

Selecting the varieties that are best to grow in our Zone 5 conditions will save you money and headaches in the long run. Selecting the plants that your family likes to eat is entirely up to you.

Take the time to plan and map out your garden area, and get a sense of what you will be planting and where.

For instance, there are certain plants that don’t like to be grown next to others. If you need help with laying out your gardens, you can go to the Better Homes Gardens gardening website ( I find this can be a huge help in having a successful garden.

It’s time to plant your cool weather crops such as peas (Little Marvel), broccoli (Comet), cabbage (Danish Ball Head), beets (Detroit Red) and cauliflower (Snow Crown).

Peas can be planted ½-inch deep in rows around St. Patrick’s Day every year. You could plant these earlier if spring arrives sooner, or even if winter hangs on.

The broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower seeds can be planted in a 4-pack, 6-pack or 4-inch pot inside your home right now. Plant these about 1/4-inch deep and water well. Be sure to place them in a bright, sunny window during the day. You should be able to transplant these into your garden in April.

Make sure to plan your garden rows so they run north and south for the best sun exposure. Plan out your garden plot on grid paper, drawing it to scale, so you know how much space you have for each variety. Make certain that you look at maps on the Better Homes Gardens website mentioned above. This will help you with proper placement of the plants that love more water than other plants.

If you want some additional color in you garden, be sure to plant some marigolds or snapdragons, or even some petunias. These flowers help to scare away bugs.

Here’s some final hints on having a successful garden plan: Make sure you have a nice level planting area, soil with some good organic matter, water readily available, full sun and a basic garden fertilizer (16-16-8). Make sure not to use lawn fertilizers on your garden, or you’ll have lots of foliage and less veggies.

If you have any questions about gardening needs, contact me at Remember, weather forecasters are forecasting a warmer than usual spring, so I’m sure you will be getting spring fever before long, if you haven’t already.

And remember, there’s nothing more therapeutic than spending at least 30 minutes a day out in the garden or yard digging in the dirt.

Until next time, come see me in the greenhouse!

“The Garden’s Edge” is written by Mark Van Wagoner, greenhouse manager at Landmark High School. If you ever have a gardening question, email Mark at for quality guidance. And you are always welcome to come to the greenhouse at Landmark High School and see what he and the students are doing there.

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Gardening Tips: Great staff, care at Halifax Regional

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013 11:41 am

Gardening Tips: Great staff, care at Halifax Regional

Matthew Stevens

RR Daily Herald


If you are like me, the warm weather we enjoyed last week has got you itching to get out in the garden. Garden centers and the big box stores have started getting in shipments of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and vegetables, and it’s hard to resist the urge to start planting. Many of these items are safe to plant now, but we are not past the threat of frost, making some things, particularly annuals and vegetables a bit trickier.

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Friday, March 22, 2013 11:41 am.

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