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Archives for April 4, 2013

Good fire, bad fire: the myth of the mega-blaze

Last summer, talk of wildfires filled newspapers and dominated the headlines. Wildfires were “trending,” as they say.

Blazes were burning the western forests in record numbers, announced policy officials and reporters. Every news and science organization from USA Today to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was calling 2012’s fire season one of the worst on record.

“Records maintained by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and NASA both indicate that 2012 was an extraordinary year for wildfires in the United States,” NOAA wrote in a year-end review.

Weather Underground co-founder Jeff Masters blamed the growing threat of wildfire on “rising temperatures and earlier snow melt due to climate change” and added that “fire suppression policies which leave more timber to burn may also be a factor.”

In August, as fire season continued to rage in most of the West, National Public Radio ran a five-part series calling mega-fires the “new normal.” This new reality has been attributed to excess forest growth, an overly abundant accumulation of combustible materials – all resulting from an overzealous Forest Service that put out too many fires. NPR dubbed it the “Smokey the Bear effect.”

But a growing body of empirical data suggests these superlatives might be more storytelling than science. “Those terms, ‘mega-fire’ and ‘catastrophic fire,’ are not scientific terms,” says forest ecologist Chad Hanson, executive director of the John Muir Project. “And such hyperbolic and extreme terms are not going to lead us to an objective view of the evidence.”

An objective view of the evidence, Hanson argues, reveals that the vast majority of wildlands and forests aren’t burning hotter and faster.  They’re actually starved for high-intensity fires — fires Hanson says are more ecologically valuable than they’re given credit for.

As Hanson argues in his most recent study, The Myth of “Catastrophic” Wildfire, high-intensity fires are the exception in the U.S. today, not the norm. And he finds no correlation between increased fire-suppression activity and high-intensity fire. Hanson says the opposite is true: the longer a forest goes without fire, the more mature it becomes, the higher its canopy grows, and the less susceptible it is to fire damage.

Matthew Koehler, executive director of the Wild West Institute, a forest and wildland advocacy group, also thinks both the intensity and the extent of wildfires are being overstated.

“Every year since 2000 has been called the worst fire season on record,” Koehler says. But the historical data show otherwise.  “Last year, we burned about ten million acres,” says Koehler. In 1934, we burned 52 million acres. In the 20’s and 30’s, we were averaging 35 or 40 million acres a year.”

Good fire, bad fire: a false dichotomy

The idea that fire is beneficial to forests isn’t new. As A. Sydney Johnson and Philip E. Hale of the University of Georgia point out, the Forest Service has embraced the idea that fire is healthy for certain types of forests and the species that live in them. But critics say the agency continues to create a false dichotomy between good and bad fire — claiming that small and medium low-burning fires are good, but large high-intensity fires are bad.

In 2004, in a pamphlet addressing the challenges of managing the Sierra Nevada forests in California, the Forest Service put it this way: “Fire is natural to the forest. But not the kind of fire that burns so hot, and shoots up so high, it destroys everything.”

A major part of the problem is education, Hanson, Koehler and others say. Though it sounds simplistic Hanson and Koehler says pop culture staples like the movie Bambi fan the flames of our ignorance — teaching Americans at a young age that fire is destructive and unnatural. And the media’s presentation of the facts — designed to attract readers, viewers and clicks — continue to make matter worse, reinforcing common misconceptions about the nature of wildfires.

Richard Hutto, forest ecologist and director of the Avian Science Center at the University of Montana, says our aversion to wildfire may be unavoidable. “It’s a chromosome problem,” he jokes. “We, as human beings, are programmed to fear and hate fire.”

He says most Americans think severe fires are destructive to the natural environment. Allow Hutto to take you on a nature hike, however, and he promises he’ll convince you of the exact opposite. “Ninety-nine percent of people that go out in the forest with me are converted,” he claims. “They change their mind.”

Hanson and Hutto are part of growing chorus of scientists that suggest severe fires are not detrimental to forest ecology, but are, instead, a natural biodiversity booster shot — a boon to forest health.

And they’re not just talking about trees.  For a variety of animal species, forest fires (severe, moderate, and otherwise) are more Godsend than nuisance or calamity. They’ve adapted and then some, having come to rely on sizable pockets of scorched forest, or snag forest. Rare indicator species — animals that signify the forest’s broader health — including birds like the Olive-sided Flycatcher or Red Crossbill, insects like wood-boring beetles, and even mammals like the Sierra Nevada Snowshoe Hare have all been observed to thrive in and around severely burned forest habitat.

It looks like this ecological truth is not yet understood by the general public.  But the Forest Service also seems to be gripped by an old-fashioned view of fire’s functions. “It’s still a good old boy network,” says Hutton, “full of rangers who honestly believe in their heart of hearts that their job is to keep trees green.” Their idea of a healthy forest is “no beetles, no fire,” he explains. “And they’ll thin and cut away trees to prevent fires or any other disruption that might prevent trees from being green.”

Making matters worse is the fact that the agency remains underfunded. And when the Forest Service is strapped for cash, Hutto points out, it’s the younger, better-educated, more ecologically-minded rangers that get the ax – and the trees follow.

“What’s missing,” says Hutto, “is ecology, in a word. There are too few ecologists in the forest service.”

And it’s this lack of ecology, forest ecologist Chad Hanson explains, that has the Forest Service relying on “a wildly outdated wildland fire philosophy.”

Thinning a forest to save it

The narrative around supposedly catastrophic fires and the difference between good fires (small to medium) and bad fires (high intensity) has not simply become the fodder for standard media reportage. It has become the scientific backbone for the Forest Service’s wildfire management policy — a policy that includes a mix of forest thinning and controlled burns.

“Some forests have experienced a buildup of trees and brush due to a lack of fire or other active management,” the Forest Service recently told GIMBY in an e-mail from their public information officer, Mike Ferris

Public Information Officer. “In some areas where low intensity fires were historically the norm, fuel loads on the forest floor have increased.  These forest types are now seeing high severity fires under even moderate weather conditions.”

The Forest Service says they want to be sure fire patterns remain consistent with historical norms, but also to make sure forests “are fire resilient; so that they can withstand the effects of fires and still provide clean water, recreation, habitat to wildlife, and many other uses post-fire.”

And that’s why, according to the Forest Service, thinning operations are necessary.

One of the biggest of those thinning operations is set happen in the forests of the Southwest. It’s called the Four Forests Restoration Initiative. The project aims to “restore” one million acres, from the Grand Canyon to the New Mexico border, over 20 years to a more historically accurate, sparser state by removing small ponderosa pines.

Richard Hutto says the thinning operation in the forests around Flagstaff, Arizona might be one of the few cases where the strategy is actually on-point.

“The forests are kind of out of whack there,” he admits. “But to apply that standard to other forests, throughout the country, like the ones I’m looking out my window at in Montana, or in Florida, or over California’s Yellowstone, is hogwash.”

Hutto says 85 to 90 of forest fires are low to moderate in severity, and that the vast majority of forests need more severe fires, not less, to fall back in line with historical norms and restore their natural state.

Thinning means money for timber interests

But a lack of ecologists in the Forest Service isn’t the only problem critics see; they also describe the agency’s cozy relationship with the timber and logging industry. Hutto believes most rangers think they are doing doing the right thing by thinning forests and using other questionable suppression strategies. But even so, Hutto argues that the influence of the timber industry is ever-present. “It’s subtle and indirect, but very large,” he says. “The pressure is most definitely on.”

Letters from logging company CEOs and lobbyists pour in to Forest Service rangers every week, Hutto explains, congratulating them on the successes of their forest thinning operations and calling for more of the same. Members of Congress from states where loggers far outnumber electoral votes — and where campaigns are regularly assisted by logging industry donations — are keen to fund forest thinning operations. And when severe fires do happen, these same politicians are quick to call for salvage logging operations to remove any timber that can be processed and sold – ignoring the fact that burned and fallen timber helps replenish the forest.

Wildland advocate and forest restoration expert Matthew Koehler brings a more cynical interpretation of the Forest Service’s timber-thinning approach.  He says the Forest Service and cronies in the timber industry are purposefully hyping the threat of catastrophic forest fires as way to encourage more logging — and as a way to circumvent the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and other regulations.

Koehler says he and his group, the Wild West Institute, have had difficulty getting the Forest Service to listen to their ideas. The Forest Service has been holding regional meetings to discuss this year’s wildfire management strategy. But Koehler complains that “it’s been impossible to participate in the process.” And while the meetings have been packaged and sold as a collaborative, he says “it’s more like cooperation among like-minded individuals.”

Real change begins at home

Ecologist Chad Hanson agrees that the financial incentive for forest thinning and the influence of the timber industry remains problematic for the Forest Service. But he’s hopeful that change is on the way.

“Back in the early 1980’s, the prevailing view among the Forest Service was that old growth forests were biological wastelands,” Hanson says. “That was the dominant paradigm offered by experts, and given without a trace of irony.”

But Hanson says by the 1990s, the conversation had shifted, and a more holistic and nuanced appreciation of the forest and wildland management had emerged. Hanson senses that things are again beginning to improve. “On a number of ranger districts, we’re seeing relatively more prescribed fire alone, and relatively less thinning,” he says.

Still Hanson, Koehler and Hutto, as well as many other scientists, ecologists and environmentalists, say millions of scarce federal dollars are being wasted on forest thinning operations — a flawed technique to address a problem they say doesn’t exist.

In addition to educating the public about the biological and ecological value of wildfire – especially severe fires – Hanson, Koehler and Hutto say wildfire management strategists should focus on preventing damage to people, property and communities, not the forest.

That means starting at the home and going out from there. It also means regulations requiring homeowners to have metal roofs and to use fire-wise landscaping. It means putting leaf guards on rain gutters, and removing nearby brush and small trees.

“Focus fire suppression activities on land immediately adjacent to people’s homes and properties, 100 to 200 feet,” says Hanson.

Hutto puts it even more succinctly: “We need to learn to live with fire.”

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Food & Wine Spring 2013

As Santa Cruz emerges from its wintry slumber, the sights, sounds and sumptuous flavors of our vibrant home come alive with the sunshine of spring. There’s plenty to keep you and your appetite busy, but if you need some inspiration, take note of the tasty ideas on the following pages. We have bites and sips that will satisfy you no matter the mood you find yourself in as the weather warms up. Feeling stressed? Slow down with a traditional tea ritual at Hidden Peak Teahouse (page 52), or unwind over a pint of organic brew at the mellow new beer hotspot Discretion Brewing (page 44). Enjoying an adventurous streak? Try a Beer Float from The Picnic Basket (page 34), or consider stopping by the Young Farmers and Ranchers annual Testicle Festival (page 59).

On a health kick? Dine at Golden Carrot-winning eateries (page 14), sip on locally made kombucha wine from Brew Dream (page 38), and find sweet satisfaction in raw, vegan, gluten-free Coco-Roons (page 30). And if, after considering all of these options you find yourself feeling indecisive, sign up for a Santa Cruz or Capitola Food Tour, and let history buff Brion Sprinsock take the reins on your culinary journey (page 6).

But the best way to celebrate both the spring season and your local food community is with—what else?—a delicious picnic. Check out page 10 for an example of how to pack a picnic basket to the brim with Santa Cruz-made delights. 

Now dig in. | Elizabeth Limbach, Editor / View as PDF

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Penguins practice and a home show all at Iceoplex

Both home show enthusiasts and hockey fans may find something of interest this weekend at the Iceoplex at Southpointe.

Offering ideas and advice on home improvement, decorating and landscaping projects, the South Hills Home Show will be held Friday through Sunday at the Iceoplex in Cecil.

For hockey fans, the Pittsburgh Penguins are tentatively scheduled to practice at the Iceoplex’s skating rink Saturday and Sunday morning.

Attendees can watch the practice free those days, then go to the home show in the same indoor facility for $5, with children age 12 and younger admitted free. Admission to the show on Friday is free for everyone, compliments of co-sponsor Clearview Federal Credit Union.

The hours for the home show are 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The show will include more than 80 exhibitors, hands-on demonstrations and advice from local experts on organic gardening, home improvements and healthy living.

Giant Eagle dietitians will answer questions from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The dietitians will discuss “Nutrition Food Ideas for Health-Smart Living” at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

Other experts will include Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gardening columnist Doug Oster, who will present “Secrets of Successful Organic Gardening” at 1 p.m. Sunday.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, home remodeling expert Andy Amrhein of Evey True Value Hardware in Bethel Park will conduct “Ask the Expert,” sharing advice on common home improvement projects and problems from painting and tiling to gutters and grills. A question-and-answer session will follow.

Mr. Amrhein said he will speak about “basic spring stuff,” such as how to prepare a lawn, clean siding and store snowblowers as well as new regulations on paint and more.

One of his tips is how to tell if it’s too early to start a garden: Stick a shovel in the ground; if dirt sticks to it, wait until the ground is not as wet.

“There is nothing at all somebody cannot do,” he said of do-it-yourself home improvements. “All it takes is patience.”

The East Coast Turnaround Band Entertainment will present a free concert from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday as part of the event.

The Iceoplex is at 114 Southpointe Road, Cecil. Parking is free. Show discount coupons are available at Eat’n Park restaurants in the South Hills and at

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Learn native gardens

Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013 2:47 pm

Learn native gardens


Native Gardens for Home Landscapes will be presented at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, April 11, at the  Northland Aboretum, Brainerd.

It’s hosted by Brainerd Chapter Wild Ones and Eleanor Burkett.

Native gardens don’t have to be huge land restorations. This session will focus on incorporating native gardens of small to moderate size into a home landscape.  In addition to “how to” tips, there will be a discussion of surprises and “lessons learned” based on Burkett’s experience with home landscape and her work designing, implementing and maintaining native gardens.

Burkett is an Extension educator in water resources for the University of Minnesota Extension and a founding member of the Brainerd Chapter of Wild Ones.

Wild Ones promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities. Visit or e-mail brainerdwildones@ for more information.

Cost is $3, free for Wild Ones members.


Thursday, April 4, 2013 2:47 pm.

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Green Thumb Alerts

Crimes Against Horticulture

Billy Goodnick

Billy Goodnick

Landscape architect, writer and speaker Billy Goodnick will speak at the upcoming meeting of the Laguna Beach Garden Club, 9:30 a.m., Friday, April 12, at Laguna Presbyterian Church.

As an award-winning designer who worked his way up from swinging a pick to landscape architect, his presentations are enriched by years of professional design practice and animated by his earlier life as an entertainer.

Goodnick, Santa Barbara’s 22-year landscape architect, will treat members to tales and images of pruning gone wrong and provide guidance for garden design and maintenance. His book, “Yards: Turn Any Outdoor Space into the Garden of Your Dreams,” will be available.


What’s Coming Up in the Garden?

Corky Peterson’s culinary presentation last month.

Corky Peterson’s culinary presentation last month.

Carly Day Andrews and Ruben Flores will present their popular workshop on growing tomatoes, Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m., in the South Laguna Garden, at Eagle Rock Way and Coast Highway.

Thanks to their tips and warmer weather, last year’s crops were the best yet. Flores will bring some promising tomato varieties, along with grafted tomatoes that combine disease and nematode resistant root stock with tasty heirloom types.

Potluck, music, and lots more should sprout for Spring Fling on Sunday, April 28, at 2-5 p.m.

YogaWorks is partnering with the garden, which will offer 9 a.m. yoga classes on Saturdays April 13, May 11, and Sunday, June 2. Refreshments by 118 Degrees will be provided afterwards.  All proceeds will be donated to the fund to buy the garden. Sign up at Yogaworks Laguna Studio 949-415-0955.



LBCF and Massen Greene Plant Grant

Laguna Beach Community Foundation provided a $5,000 grant in partnership with Massen Greene Foundation to Glennwood Housing Foundation for developing landscaping and organic and occupational gardens on site.

Glennwood House is working with Transition Laguna and Bluebird Farms to create organic gardens on site and job opportunities at the farm.

The grant will help purchase plants for both the garden project and general landscaping, to be installed in April and May.

Glennwood still hopes to open by June.

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Category: News, Town Crier


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Centenarian shares his gardening tips on Twitter

3:31pm, Thu 4 Apr 2013

Last updated Thu 4 Apr 2013

  • And Finally
  • Ralph Hoare
  • Gloucester
Keen gardener and golfer Ralph Hoare celebrating his 100th birthday in 2008 Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

A green-fingered 104-year-old is taking to Twitter to share his horticultural tips. Ralph Hoare from Longlevens in Gloucester took up gardening back in 1914 at the age of six. He still grows vegetables and has around 200 rose bushes.

He has decided to share almost a century of experience with the Twitter generation. The former bank worker and RAF veteran, who says gardening is the key to his long life, will answer questions with the #askralph hashtag.

You can put questions via Furniture Village’s Twitter account

ity of Bristol College

College principal: we must do better

City of Bristol College has received the lowest Ofsted rating in several areas, including quality of teaching.

2:33 pm, Tue 02 Apr 2013

Easter Monday football round-up

All our league sides have been in action today. Yeovil, Cheltenham and Bristol Rovers all won, but Bristol City drew and Swindon lost.

7:50 pm, Mon 01 Apr 2013

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April Gardening Tips from Briary Garden Services

April again, time to make the most of the longer days and get out into the garden. Work done during fine spells now pays off in spades later in the year.briary garden services tips

Weeds that are dug out now are gone forever.  They won’t spread and won’t seed. Timely pruning of shrubs can produce a better shape with larger flowers in the months ahead.

Hardy perennials (mostly plants that die back to ground level over the winter) can be lifted and divided while it’s also time to plant your summer flowering bulbs.

Deadhead daffodil flowers as they fade but leave the foliage for a few weeks so that the bulbs get more goodness for next year.

Shrubs should have damaged shoots removed and be pruned as flowers fade.

It’s your last chance to plant bare-rooted shrubs before sap starts rising and it’s also a good time to treat lawns with weed feed to help them recover from the difficult winter.

Gardens can be smartened up by painting fences and sheds when they’re dry. Power-washing algae off paths, patios, drive and decking is also a great idea.

There’s a fair bit to do this month but it is worth the effort so you can enjoy your garden over the Summer. Let’s hope we get a good one this year!

For more information please check out our Monthly Garden Planner at

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Tips, tricks and small miracles ? a gardening potpourri

On serious gardening days, I pull off the wedding rings, pull on the garden gloves, and head outside with my tools and my goals. • I become a purpose-focused machine. I get hot, tired, and yes, after a few hours, bored. But I get ‘er done. • Other days, though, I give myself permission to wander aimlessly. I weed here, prune there, act on inspirations. I forget the gloves and abuse the jewelry, but wow, I feel really good when I’m done! • In a salute to short attention spans, today I give you three short, unrelated garden vignettes. A little prune, a little weed, a little inspiration. Hello, spring!

Advice from my 93-year-old pen pal

Frances Mallett is a Port Richey native who’s been gardening for as long as she can remember.

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For a few years now, we’ve been email pen pals. I love Frances’ feistiness, her fun-loving good nature, and how she has found gardening work-arounds to accommodate the infirmities of age.

I asked her to give some thought to her nine decades of gardening. What advice could she offer that I can’t find anywhere else?

“I’m always learning,” she replied. “I only wish I could do more. … I am not a know-it-all. I can learn from you ‘kids.’ “

See why I love this lady?

Despite her disclaimers, Frances has some great tips:

• “First, I do most of my gardening in containers — juice barrels cut in half and holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. It saves on water and fertilizer.

• “You have to be ruthless. If a plant comes up and doesn’t grow well and fast, just pull it up and try something else in that spot. Or move it.

• “Always plant flowers to attract bees. The coral vine is the best I’ve used. The bees really love it.

• “Do not spray your garden with anything that will kill the bees. The University of Florida recommends 2 tablespoons of Ivory dish detergent with 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to a gallon of water. That should take care of the worms and chewing bugs, and it isn’t harmful to the environment.”

(Thanks to Frances’ daughter, Susan Eckstein, who facilitates our emailing, and to her garden helper Sue Wilson, who makes sure Frances stays grimy.)

Holiday symphony of angel’s trumpets

The wonders never cease, no matter how long you’ve been gardening!

Late last month, as the faithful of one religion celebrated Passover and those of another celebrated Holy Week, master gardener Norma Bean of South Tampa watched in awe as her enormous angel’s trumpet tree burst into hundreds of golden-yellow blooms.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she says. “No one would believe me if they didn’t see it themselves!”

Norma’s tree, less than 4 years old, is about 18 feet tall and even bigger around. And — get this — she started it from a cutting. In the past 12 months, she says, it doubled in size. And then BAM! A starburst of pendulous foot-long blooms.

“Angel’s trumpets are supposed to be heavy feeders, but I don’t fertilize it at all,” Norma says. “I don’t understand it.”

Happy accident or small miracle? Sometimes, it’s nice just to wonder.

Snap judgments

Most gardeners I know eventually become pretty good photographers. It’s hard to see something amazing —a blossom, a butterfly, a clever bit of yard art — and not want to share.

I’m just such a gardener and recently, I had to buy yet another camera, my third in three years. I really liked Kodak’s affordable Z-series, but they don’t last, and Kodak doesn’t make them anymore.

My search for something reliable, easy to learn, and with great macro (super close-up) capability made me think I surely can’t be the only gardener with this problem!

So I contacted Jerry Pavia, the national garden photographer who shoots for top publishing houses like Timber Press and Taunton. He came to Tampa a year ago and visited a couple dozen local gardens. (His photos of Rick and Flip Miller’s garden are featured in Container Gardening magazine, which hits newsstands this month, and he put Mary Mirabal, of Garden Whimsies by Mary, on the cover of Flea Market Gardening magazine.)

What does Jerry recommend?

“I would not purchase a point-and-shoot but an SLR camera from a reputable company like Canon, Nikon, etc. And buy one lens, a zoom that goes from 24mm to 105mm,” he says.

Save up for a brand-name 100mm macro lens for super close-ups. Don’t be tempted by cheaper off-brands, he says

But it’s not just the camera.

Shooting is all about the light, Jerry says, and you can’t fix that with computer software.

“The light in Tampa is so harsh that to capture a garden in its best possible light means shooting at dawn and sunset, unless you get a rare cloudy day,” he says. “When I was in Tampa, I was up at 3:30 a.m. to get to a garden by sunrise.”

Bottom line: No matter the camera, pay attention to the light.

For the record, I got a Canon Rebel T3. Love it!

Penny Carnathan can be reached at Find more garden stories at at Diggin Florida Dirt. Follow her on Twitter @DigginPenny.

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Good garden designs balance color, texture, form

Most gardeners are drawn to a plant’s flower, particularly its color. Often, we think more is better. While colorful gardens are dynamic and fun, the real beauty lies in how colors appear in combination. And in how these plant partners look even when they are not in bloom. Foliage color and texture and plant forms give borders a well defined, interesting look even when few are blooming.

The choice of color schemes is yours. Some gardeners select plants with flowers that echo the colors and style of their house. White flowers near a house with white siding, or yellow and orange flowers near brick facades tie the structure to the landscape.

Knowing how colors work together will help you create interest and movement through the garden. Repeating colors or forms helps unify it.

Yellow, orange and red are warm colors that add vitality. Red energizes, but too much can be overstimulating. Cooler colors of blue and violet are soothing. Using only cool colors would be boring and lack focus, says Tracy DiSabato-Aust, author of “The Well Designed Mixed Garden.” For balance, she recommends using two-thirds cool colors and one-third warm colors.

DiSabato-Aust, gave a primer on color and design at the North Central Wisconsin Master Gardeners’ Garden Vision seminar in January. Color has three dimensions: hue, value and intensity.

The rest of this content is only available in our print edition.

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Local firm wins landscape design award – Wicked Local

A Holliston firm was one of the winners at the 2013 Boston Flower Garden Show.

Ahronian Landscaping Design Inc. of Holliston and Medway Garden Center, which joined forces on the exhibit entitled “Today’s Living Room,” won the Landscape Design Award I. The Landscape Design Council gives this award for excellence in landscape design of a professional garden exhibit. The exhibitors say their garden featured “a May time period full of fragrant flowering trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals” and highlighted “gardening with edibles; an outdoor kitchen; a garden room with an outdoor fireplace and waterfall curtains; vertical gardens; a green roof; permeable surfaces; and rain gardens.”

Ahronian Landscaping Design is a custom landscape design-build firm. For more information, visit

Medway Garden Center is a nursery, florist and garden center located in Medway. For more information, visit

The Landscape Design Council panel of judges was made up of board members Jana Milbocker of Holliston, Joyce Bakshi of Andover and Mary Bowen Nokes of Lexington.

The Landscape Design Council of Massachusetts was organized in 1963 under the auspices of National Garden Clubs Inc. The council provides landscape-design education through speakers, workshops, and tours of public and private areas, according to a press release. The Massachusetts chapter is the largest in the United States. It provides judges for the Boston Flower Garden Show and presents three landscape-design awards of its own.

Design council members have completed the Landscape Design study program, four 10-hour courses, and passed required examinations, entitling them to become National Garden Clubs-accredited Landscape Design Consultants. Council members promote environmental interests through work on town committees and boards. Members have been responsible for many landscaping projects at municipal buildings and other public areas in their cities and towns. A number have gone on to earn certificates in landscape design or master’s degrees in landscape architecture, and to establish their own businesses.

For more information about the Landscape Design Study Program, contact program Chairman Jane O’Sullivan at 781-659-4423 or For more information about LDC, contact chairman Joan Butler at 508-429-2739 or


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