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Archives for April 9, 2013

The creativity conundrum

Life requires innovative thinking — but setting creativity as an academic requirement saps the spirit from imaginative pursuits

Recently, several American universities have started to revamp their degree programs by incorporating creativity into the curriculum in order to encourage innovation and clever thinking in real-world scenarios. Schools such as Oklahoma State University have implemented initiatives such as “creativity challenge[s]” to their campuses. The idea behind these new creativity programs is that students need think about new approaches and original methods of problem-solving in their courses. The more creatively a person can think about subject matter, the more beneficial he or she would be to his or her field of study. And while students express themselves through creative means like art and performance, these are often done outside of the classroom as opposed to being incorporated into an assignment. These new innovation-driven curriculums are useful in theory, but teaching students to apply creative thinking to their studies via additional classes is immensely hard.

One of the main reasons for this difficulty is that creativity encompasses many different things. A set definition, aside from thinking in an original way, is hard to come by. From photography to poetry writing, there are countless ways of thinking in an inventive manner. Because of the various ways creativity can be expressed, teaching students precisely how to do so is highly complex.
Seeking to help students apply creative skills to their learning is a necessary goal — whether you’re making a product to sell or designing public policy, original thinking is fundamental to careers and to life. But creativity is not something that can be taught easily when it is regimented into the curriculum as an academic requirement.

Students often view requirement courses as obstacles to overcome rather than opportunities for introspection. A course on creativity, or a course that is explicitly designed to teach students how to be creative in their work, should fall into the latter category. But how can universities mandate teaching creativity without sacrificing the liberating attitude that should accompany courses that allow the imagination to flourish?

The most comprehensive solution is an overhaul of course instruction. If innovative and original reasoning were surgically implemented by all instructors to their courses, creativity could be taught on a holistic level, and in a way that would be highly applicable to the subject matter. For instance, an introductory environmental sciences class could discuss innovative methods of data-taking or ecosystem monitoring, thus encouraging creative thinking that simultaneously requires ample knowledge of course material as well.

University of Kentucky faculty have come up with a somewhat similar approach, in that “faculty members must arrive at their own definition of creativity and build their courses around it.” Even though the Kentucky creativity program applies creative thinking to a wide range of fields — from landscaping to geography — the university still designates creativity as a requirement. This method of teaching satisfies some students: “this is the only [class] that asks me about myself.” It angers others: “why are you making me take this worthless, do-nothing class?” The second quote says much about the nature of creativity in that its hard to define, elusive character often provokes frustration, particularly when forced.

Teaching creative habits in colleges must be done discreetly, by forcing students to work with subject matter and concepts in clever, new ways. This strategy prevents creativity from being taught as a distinct concept or separate skill that students can simply dismiss as an area in which they are weak. Instead of making creative thinking something that lasts for a semester, in a specific class, universities should strive to implement it into curricula in such a way that it is mandatory and learned by practice, rather than by discussion.

The main problem with teaching creativity in universities, however, is that the concept of creativity itself is very hard to grasp. John Cleese, when asked where he got his ideas, replied “I get them from a Mr. Ken…who sends them to me every morning on a postcard. I once asked Ken where he got his ideas from and he gets them from a lady called Mildred…he once asked Mildred where she got her ideas and she refused to say. The point is, we don’t know where we get our ideas.”

All people have a capacity for creativity, but some are more apt at expressing it. Perhaps cultivating creative thinking and reasoning in youth would lead to more innovative thinking and problem-solving in students and less confusion about how to generate or enhance this thinking at the university level. Until educators carry out this type of cultivation before college, however, students will continue to need creative instruction in higher education, in order to be successful. The ideas behind this instruction are benevolent, but unless they can be administered in a way that is requirement-free, they will fall very short of their goals.

Walter Keady is a Viewpoint writer for The Cavalier Daily.

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Officials wowed by ideas for proposed park

10 hours ago  |   

University students present concepts for Penetanguishene waterfront

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Photo : Nikki Million-Cole

University of Guelph students Emily Kitamura, 19, and Jonathan Behnke, 22, explain their vision for the proposed Champlain Park to Penetanguishene Mayor Gerry Marshall.


10 hours ago University of Guelph students Emily Kitamura, 19, and Jonathan Behnke, 22, explain their vision for the proposed Champlain Park to Penetanguishene Mayor Gerry Marshall.

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Midland Mirror

by   Nikki Million-Cole

PENETANGUISHENE – A permanent structure focusing on town history and bringing together land and water was one of 11 plans for the proposed Champlain Park presented last week in Penetanguishene.

Fifty-five students from the University of Guelph’s architectural landscaping program spent the last few months working on designs for a new waterfront park to commemorate the 400th anniversary of French explorer Samuel de Champlain’s landing in the area. The students were on hand April 4 at Brian Orser Hall to explain their visions.

“They’ve given us a lot of food for thought,” Dave Dupuis, a member of the Penetanguishene Champlain 2015 committee, told The Mirror. “A lot of them have amazing uses for different sections of the park.”

Mayor Gerry Marshall said he was awed by what the students managed to put together in a few months.

“A lot of the new concepts the students came up with were never thought of before and were pretty impressive,” he said. “They (also) thought how to mask some of the eyesores … and I like how they thought their way through the history.”

Dupuis said he saw good parts in many of the presentations that the committee will consider incorporating: “We definitely intend on using some of the ideas. It’s going to take a while to take it all in. There’s so much information.”

Marshall added the students’ work will be displayed for citizens to view, in the hopes of generating some feedback.

“Council needs to look at Rotary Park and decide which one of these concepts best matches the vision for moving forward, then take elements of other designs that fit into it,” he said.

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“A New Identity For Vauxhall” Ideas Go On Display At The Garden Museum

Entries from a competition organised by RIBA and the Landscape Institute, imagining the future of Vauxhall and Nine Elms, go on show from today at the Garden Museum. The competition attracted entries from 21 countries, including professional architects and students.

We’re going to be hearing a lot about Vauxhall and Nine Elms over the coming decade. The new US Embassy, dozens of new residential and commercial buildings, a new Tube extension, and the nearby regeneration of Battersea Power Station make for a heady brew of construction that will see the area transformed — so developers hope — into a continuation of the Southbank.

But it’s not all about buildings. As the Olympic Park demonstrated, open spaces, decent landscaping and coherent design are vital. Without them, new developments attract words like ‘soulless’, ‘identikit’ and ‘windswept’.

The images above show a few of the entries to the competition. They range from the fanciful (giant flowers over the rail tracks), to the historic (a resumption of balloon rides and the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens), to the pragmatic (arches and parks turned to general cultural use).

The exhibition runs at the Garden Museum in Lambeth until 19 April.

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Free Gardening Seminar to Feature Expert Melinda Myers

Does your thirsty landscaping need some TLC?

Learn great tips on how to bring your landscaping back from last year’s drought from Melinda Myers, a nationally-recognized gardening expert, TV/radio host, author and Birds Blooms columnist.

The free seminar “Graden Revitalization” will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 13, at Pasquesi Home Gardens in Lake Bluff.

After the heat and drought of 2012 left many landscapes and gardeners stressed, this seminar is designed to revive gardeners’ spirits and give people lots of ideas for revitalizing their landscapes.

Myers will showcase possible plant replacements, stress tolerant low maintenance plants, and plant combinations to give landscapes a seasonal facelift after last year’s challenging season.

“I’m excited about being able to present at Pasquesi this spring especially after last year’s tough growing season,” said Myers. “Now is a great time to plan new additions, replacements, and strategize for increasing the seasonal beauty and enjoyment of your garden and landscape.”

For more information call (847) 615.2700 or visit

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Spring Garden Show offers plants, products and information for gardeners of …


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April is one of the nicest months of the year. We are through with freezes, yet the weather is still mild and working outside is a delight. Landscapes look especially nice, as the fresh new leaves of deciduous trees and shrubs provide a shimmering green backdrop for the abundant flowers of spring.

There is an undeniable urge to get out into the yard and plant. This time of the year gardeners are irresistibly drawn to nurseries and garden centers full of trees, shrubs, colorful bedding plants and vegetable transplants. We call this urge to garden “spring fever,” and it generally lasts until May, when summer heat arrives. There is no cure for spring fever – it just has to run its course. But, you can take something to help with the symptoms.

On my Saturday morning radio show on WWL, I’m known as the “Plant Doctor.” No, I’m not really a doctor. But if I were, I’d say the best prescription for a bad case of spring fever is the 2013 Spring Garden Show. It is the premier spring gardening event in our area, and with more than 70 vendors and exhibitors, this year it will be better than ever.

The 34th annual Spring Garden Show will take place April 6 and 7 at the New Orleans Botanical Garden on Victory Avenue in City Park. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

The purpose of the show is to help the gardening public find out where to obtain garden products and services, what plant clubs or societies are located nearby, and the best and newest plants for our area and how to grow them. During a leisurely stroll, you can talk to experts on a one-to-one basis about vegetable gardening, planting trees or pest problems; chat with representatives from local nurseries about their selection of plants and prices; check out local landscaping companies and businesses selling garden soil; and find others who share your special interest in a particular plant at one of the plant-society booths.

The show also provides opportunities to buy plants and gardening products. Thousands of area gardeners and their families come to the show each year.

The New Orleans Botanical Garden is a perfect location for the Spring Garden Show. To be outside in beautiful spring weather and surrounded by beautiful gardens, sculptures and colorful flowers is a delight in itself.

Be sure to check out the Botanical Garden’s beautiful permanent garden exhibits that are both attractive and educational (bring a camera and notebook to record interesting landscaping ideas, plant combinations or noteworthy plants). Take time to see the Japanese Garden, PLANO Garden (food gardening), Miniature Train Garden, Palm and Cycad Garden, Conservatory, Butterfly Garden, Parterre Rose Garden, Shade Garden, Native Plant Garden and Azalea and Camellia Garden.

When you add the beautifully designed exhibits of the Spring Garden Show to the already attractive Botanical Garden, it creates an amazing visual experience to relieve even the most virulent cases of spring fever. From the numerous plant vendors, you will find roses, bromeliads, orchids, tropical foliage, ferns, camellias, plumerias, daylilies, herbs, perennials, vines, azaleas, Louisiana native plants and much more. The Botanical Garden has been propagating many of their plants, and will have a large and diverse selection for sale as well.

Vendors also will be selling a wide selection of garden art, bird houses, pottery and furniture for outdoor living areas.

The LSU AgCenter will sponsor a Plant Health Clinic, located in the Lath House. If you have insect, disease or cultural problems, you can bring specimens in for diagnosis and control recommendations. There will also be an LSU AgCenter weed specialist on hand, so bring weed samples in for identification and control recommendations.

In addition, you can bring a pint of soil and submit it to the LSU AgCenter Soil Testing Laboratory for analysis. The cost is $10; bring a check. Or, you can pick up a soil test box to take home and submit a sample later. If you have never had your soil tested, you are missing out on important information that affects how plants grow in your landscape.

Three educational programs will be presented each day in the Garden Study Center to help you learn how to garden in New Orleans. The programs last about 45 minutes and are free with admission to the show.

This is a great event for the whole family. Kids of all ages are welcome at the Kids Discovery Area, where hands-on activities will keep them occupied and teach lessons about nature.

There are lots of shady spots where you can sit, enjoy the beautiful surroundings and relax. And while you are relaxing, enjoy the music from live bands both days – including Ms. Emily and the Collard Greens old timey string band from New Orleans and The Swamp Lilies Americana band from Lafayette.

City Park Catering will have jambalaya, grilled chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, beer and soft drinks.


I’m an avid reader of your column and depend upon it for helpful information. I was interested in the question about the night-blooming cereus in a recent column, and noticed you made a mistake in the answer you gave. You gave the Latin name as Epidendrum oxypetalum, but from what I can tell the proper name is Epiphyllum oxypetalum. Thanks again for your great column.

Nancy Adams

You are absolutely correct. My mind said Epiphyllum and my hands typed Epidendrum. The genus Epidendrum is incorrect and designates a genus of orchids. Epiphyllum is the genus of cactuses that includes night-blooming cereus. Thanks so much for catching this and letting me know.


Lilium longiflorum-Easter Lily.jpeg

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Once the flowers have all faded, you can plant your Easter lily outside in a garden bed. Choose a location that receives morning sun and some afternoon shade. Easter lilies go dormant in midsummer. When the foliage yellows in midsummer, cut the plant back down to the ground and mark the location so you will remember where it is.


I purchased a couple of Easter lilies to decorate for Easter. When the flowers have all faded, I’m wondering if I can continue to grow them or if I should just discard them.

Belinda Robinson

Once the flowers have all faded, you can plant your Easter lily outside in a garden bed. Leftover Easter lilies in stores and nurseries at greatly reduced prices are an excellent bargain to obtain plants for your gardens. Remove the plant from the pot and plant it into a well prepared bed enriched with compost. Choose a location that receives morning sun and some afternoon shade. Easter lilies go dormant in midsummer. When the foliage yellows in midsummer, cut the plant back down to the ground and mark the location so you will remember where it is.

Easter lilies will begin to grow again in fall, around October. Fertilize them at that time. They will grow over the winter (don’t worry about freezes) and should bloom next year in late April. Every year the clump will get bigger and produce more stalks of flowers. Divide the clump every three to five years in mid to late summer when the foliage yellows. Dig up the bulbs, separate them and replant them immediately, spaced 10 to 12 inches apart and about 5 inches deep.


I planted my queen palms in one-half wine barrels. As they grow larger, I’m sure the next transplant will have to be in the ground. Two questions, will queens survive on the north shore planted in the ground? And second, since the barrel is large with lots of soil, could I plant some small annuals in the barrels with the palms? If so, would vinca or some other flowering plant be recommended? I have pretty good sun for a few hours a day on my patio.

David Karl

Cold hardiness is one of the most important considerations when we want to add palms to our landscapes. Queen palms (Syagrus romanzoffiana) are hardy down to about 20 degrees — maybe the upper teens. Since it gets that cold on occasion on the north shore, queen palms are not considered reliably hardy. But, no one can predict when temperatures in the teens may occur, and many years may go by before the trees are killed. The last time it happened was 2010. If you can dig into the soil of the pot without digging into the roots of the palm, you can plant some bedding plants in the pot. One of the trailing vincas would look nice cascading over the sides of the pots.


Dan Gill is extension horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter.

Send mail to:

Dan Gill, garden columnist

The Times-Picayune Living Section

3800 Howard Ave.

New Orleans 70125-1429

Send email to Please include a phone number.

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JOSHUA’S COLUMN " Handy spring gardening tips

  • The Gazette has always insisted its annual spring home, lawn, and gardening articles be written by people who actually know something about homes, lawns, or gardens.

    In the spirit of true tolerance and diversity, they let me have a whack at it, too:

    • Houseplants will die if they are neglected. Four out of five dentists recommend arranging playdates for your houseplants with the neighbors’.

    • Mold in houses can irritate those with allergies. A common solution is to make those people go and live with other relatives.

    • Trees growing out of your basement floor should be cut down before they reach the ceiling and damage the tiles.

    • When building a home, it is best to start with the foundation and work your way up. Don’t procrastinate and save the basement for last!

    • Peeling paint on an exterior wall can quickly and easily be concealed with duct tape. Use the shiny type, and you can cut your cooling costs in the summer.

    • To brighten your neighborhood’s gutters, be sure to paint your house with water-based paint.

    • Elves can be caught in standard live traps, but be sure to release them into the wild.

    • Change the filter on your furnace at least three times a year. Something in a chartreuse or teal works best.

    • Dandelions in your lawn were put there by God Himself. Do you want to risk His wrath by going to all the time and trouble of removing them?

    • Squirrels who damage your lawn digging for nuts can also be used to scout for land mines. Send captured squirrels to the Pentagon as part of your patriotic duty to keep America safe.

    • Potato trees should be covered with canvas in case of a frost.

    • When I was in kindergarten, studying the first Thanksgiving, I learned the Native Americans used to fertilize their corn plants by tossing a dead fish into the hole when they planted a kernel. In today’s modern world, cans of tuna can serve much the same purpose.

    • Never underestimate the effect of an exorcism for eliminating damage from deer and other wildlife.

    • When planting trees, stop digging if you suddenly break through into empty air and see upside-down Chinese people staring back at you.

    • Water in the basement is often the result of moisture.

    • Lightning strikes put nitrogen into the soil. If you lawn looks like it hasn’t been struck by lightning enough recently, go outside at night and set some magnesium hubcaps on fire.

    • A common pair of dull sissors is an effective alternative to a lawn mower, especially in summer when the kids are bored and complain there’s nothing to do.

    • Even in emergencies, maple syrup is not a recommended alternative to laundry detergent.

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    Monthly home garden and landscape tips from Wayne County Master Gardeners

    Increasing daylight hours indicate that outdoor gardening activities are just around the corner. Our Master Gardeners will be continuing our vegetable trials at our demonstration site located at the CCE office in Newark again this year. If you stop by later this spring you’ll be able to see what vegetables we’ve planted, plants to attract beneficial insects, our trellis and straw bale garden systems, and several composting systems.

    We want to encourage you to include plants that attract beneficial insects too. Beneficial insects can have a significant impact on populations of pests in home gardens and landscapes. To learn more about these important garden helpers call our Master Gardeners.

    We also have a new Beneficial Insects presentation that is available to groups of 10 or more in Wayne County. If you’re group and would like to learn more about Beneficial Insects please contact us to get on our presentation schedule.

    Those of you interested in trees might want to take part in Project Budbreak. A network of citizen scientists is being established in central New York to observe the timing of flowering, leaf development, fruiting, and leaf drop in populations of common native trees and herbaceous species. This site will help observers to enter their data on the timing of important plant events through the growing season.

    This project would be a great way to involve our youth in nature too!

    Below we have included information about our upcoming events, garden and landscape tips for March, an article written by one of our Master Gardeners, and a list of pollinator plants attractive to beneficial insects.

    Monthly garden and home grounds tips:

    Tips for Helping out our pollinators

    • Flowers clustered in clumps of at least four feet in diameter are more attractive to pollinators than scattered individual flowers.

    • A succession of flowering plants that lasts from spring through fall will support a range of bee species.

    • Flowers of different shapes will attract different types of pollinators.

    • Pesticides are a major threat to insect pollinators.

    Tips from Dave Reville, CCE Wayne County Master Gardener:       

    Bring a touch of spring into your home by saving the pruinings from your flowering shrubs and forcing them into bloom indoors.

    This is a good time to check the stakes around your burlap wind barriers, which you erected to lessen wind damage to newly, planted evergreens. Drive the stakes in deeper to tighten the barriers as necessary as windy, cold weather will still be with us.

    Gently push any plants that have been heaved out of the soil back into the soil to prevent further winter damage to root systems.

    Keep checking the trunks of your new trees and shrubs for rodent damage. If you surrounded the trunk with a hardware cloth wire cylinder, be sure that it is still in place and doing its job.

    Check fruit tree guards and other determents to mice, vole and rabbit damage. Trim and broken limbs you find, and if you are using soap bars as a deterrent to deer grazing, add new ones now. Remember that they need to be replaced frequently.

    Fruit trees-apple and pear- are pruned during February and mid-March. When performing this chore, remember that fruiting is most prolific on wood exposed to ample sunlight and it is advisable to not remove any more than one third of the tree growth in any one year. The trees can be pruned in dormancy up to “bud Swell”.

    For a larger fall crop, ever bearing raspberries can be cut to the ground now. For all other varieties pruning can be postponed for a while.

    If you are planning to add new fruit plants to your garden, check carefully for varieties that are disease resistant and hardy. In terms of the fruit trees, know the rootstocks.

    This is an excellent time of year to think through what vegetables you will be planting and, based upon your garden journal, what varieties did not perform well or had succumbed to pest problems.

    Houseplants tend to suffer abuse from lack of humidity inside our winter homes and exhibit various forms of leaf and tip browning. The easiest way to add humidity to plants is to place a pan of water near the plants and, as it evaporates, moisture is added to the atmosphere immediately surrounding the plants. Portable humidifiers also help as does a humidifier installed on your furnace. Another technique, which works for some gardeners, is to take a large-baking pan or cookie sheet, add a layer of gravel on top. Place the plant pots on top of this and add water almost to the top of the stone layer. Don’t allow plants sit in water.

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    Tips: Potted Vegetable and Herb Gardens

    Who knew you could have a garden in pots?

    Geri Van Wezel-Bolen in the Dearborn Market Gardening Center said it’s easy to have a small vegetable or herb garden, even when living in an apartment. All you need are the right ools and plenty of sunlight.

    Potting soil, rather than top soul, is key to a successful potted garden. A heavy concrete or plastic pot will keep the soil at the right temperature through potential chilly nights.

    Dearborn Gardening Tips on Patch:

    Dearborn Market has been in Holmdel since 1925, serving the community with everything from local and fresh produce, bakery goods and gardening supplies and experts.

    Check our Patch Community Calendar for upcoming gardening classes and community events.

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    Metallica donate to fan’s garden design project

    Rockers METALLICA have made a green-fingered fan’s dreams come true by handing out funds to help him develop his garden design for a prestigious British horticultural competition.

    Arek Luc’s garden design, inspired by the band’s track I Disappear, was accepted to go on display at the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual flower show at Hampton Court in England in July (13), but the project was in jeopardy due to lack of funding.

    The rockers were alerted to Luc’s plight by their manager Peter’s wife, former British politician Louise Mensch, who read about the design in a local publication, and the stars decided to dip into their own pockets to ensure the project went ahead as planned.

    Luc tells Britain’s The Times newspaper, “Louise e-mailed me and asked how much I still needed. I couldn’t believe it when they sent me several thousand pounds.”

    Mensch adds, “The whole band was tickled pink (delighted) by Arek’s garden. The band does a colossal amount of work for charity but it’s not usually associated with gardens.”

    Copyright 2013 World Entertainment News Network. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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    Another garden win for DNE!

    About this blog

    An insider’s look at must-have products, fresh trends, and inspired spaces from the team at Design New England magazine.

    Gail Ravgiala is editor of Design New England and a fan of both the region’s historic architecture and its growing inventory of modern houses and public buildings.

    Courtney Kasianowicz is associate editor of Design New England who scouts the area for new design, charming products, and local artisans both innovative and daring.

    Danielle Ossher expands our market watch, scoping out trends, products, and all things new and exciting from NYC and beyond.

    Jill Connors, Design New England’s editor-at-large, is an antiques maven and design scout and will post about trends and discoveries in the field.

    Bruce Irving, Design New England’s contributing editor for architecture building, is a renovation specialist who will share his insights on design and construction.

    Estelle Bond Guralnick, Design New England’s style interiors editor, will post about interior design and interior designers and her favorite finds.

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