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Archives for April 19, 2013

Small businesses: Rule-breakers get an edge

She could save money, and there’s a good chance she wouldn’t get caught, but Consuelo Gomez says she won’t hire people who aren’t authorized to work in the U.S. to work for Marty K, her cleaning and landscaping business.

Gomez says she believes that she’s being undercut by competitors that hire workers who are in the U.S. without permission from the government. When potential clients tell her that her competitors can do the same work for a lot less, it makes her suspicious.

“I’ll hear, ‘they’re $2,000 cheaper than you,’ and I say, ‘that’s impossible,'” says Gomez. “I can’t fathom how they do it because we would lose money.”

If Gomez’s hunch is correct, she’s dealing with a little talked about problem that a lot of small business owners say makes survival difficult. Competing with companies that hire immigrants who aren’t authorized to work in the U.S. is tough for a small business that follows the law because of the cost. Often, businesses pay ineligible workers less and they also save on taxes.

Sixty-eight percent of business owners surveyed last month by the advocacy group Small Business Majority said too many companies gain an unfair advantage by hiring immigrants who aren’t eligible to work in the U.S. In 2008, the Pew Research Hispanic Center estimated that 8.3 million people were working in the U.S. without permission. Current estimates put the total number of people in the U.S. without permission at about 11 million. The issue is in the forefront now as lawmakers propose ideas to reform the country’s immigration laws.

“What small businesses want the most is a level playing field where they can compete fairly,” says John Arensmeyer, CEO of Small Business Majority. “Unless we fix the immigration system, small businesses are going to continue to operate at a disadvantage with companies that aren’t following the law.”

The use of ineligible workers divides small business owners. Many don’t want to speak openly about whether or not they hire people who don’t have permission to be in the U.S. Those who do hire ineligible workers don’t want to say publicly that they’re breaking the law, and that they benefit from paying them less.

“Our members have told us that while they follow the rules – committing time and resources to the hiring process – they remain frustrated with their competition when they cut corners and don’t adhere to the same rules,” said Kate Bonner, manager of House legislative affairs for the National Federation of Independent Business.

The number of businesses that hire ineligible workers is hard to pin down, although a study last year by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta found that 1.6 percent of the 365,000 businesses it examined in Georgia had employees who weren’t authorized to work in the U.S. It also showed that those employers had an advantage. Companies that employed people not legally authorized to work in the U.S. had a 23 percent chance of failing, compared with an average for all companies of 28 percent. The study confirmed what anecdotal evidence has shown: Businesses get a competitive benefit from hiring people who don’t have permission to work in the U.S., says Julie Hotchkiss, one of the study’s three authors.

“If you employ undocumented workers when your competitors aren’t as well, that gives you the biggest boost,” she says.

The study examined records of Social Security numbers at companies to find workers who weren’t eligible. Hotchkiss noted that because the study used company records, it could not count the number of workers who were paid off the books — so the total number of companies hiring unauthorized workers was likely higher.

It’s widely believed that ineligible workers earn far less than people who are eligible to work in the U.S. That’s not always the case. A 2002 study by researchers at University of Illinois at Chicago found that the average hourly wage earned by ineligible workers was $7, higher than the minimum wage of $5.15 at the time. To reach that average amount, many workers had to be earning below $7. But the competitive advantage that comes with hiring people not authorized to work in the U.S. is not just about salary. Companies also pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on each worker. For example, a company with a $500,000 annual payroll is required to pay more than $38,000 in federal taxes. States may collect additional payroll taxes from businesses. Soon, many small business owners will be required to provide affordable health care insurance, or pay a penalty. If a business is paying a significant number of workers off-the-books, it can save it thousands of dollars a year.

History shows that employers are underpaying workers who are not authorized to work in the U.S., says Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, a University of California, Los Angeles professor who has studied the integration of immigrants into the U.S. population. He wrote a 2010 study about the impact of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which gave permanent resident status to 3 million people who were not authorized to be in the U.S. Pay for workers in that group rose sharply when their status changed, Hinojosa-Ojeda says.

“All of a sudden, boom, wages pop up about 18 percent and in some states, even higher, and among women, higher because they were getting even lower wages,” he says. “It’s the difference between being below the poverty line and being above it in many cases.”

But paying higher wages to workers who became permanent residents didn’t hurt many businesses, Hinojosa-Ojeda says. Most adjusted, but some of those that were dependent on paying below-minimum wages failed.

“In Los Angeles we know that 10 percent of the garment industry shut down and most of it moved to Mexico — the only way they could survive paying sweatshop wages is in a foreign country,” he says.

A bipartisan Senate bill revealed Tuesday could chip away at the issue. But if enacted, some measures would take time that many small business owners don’t have to spare. For instance, the bill would put the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally on a 13-year path to U.S. citizenship and would begin only after steps have been taken to secure the border, according to an outline of the measure. Only about half of new businesses survive for five years or more, and one-third survive 10 years or more, according the Small Business Administration.

Another proposal in the Senate bill, called the “W” visa would admit 20,000 low-skilled foreign workers starting in 2015 and could gradually grow up to a cap of 200,000 after five years. The number of visas would fluctuate depending on factors including unemployment rates, job openings and employer demand. The existing H-2B visa program for low-wage nonagricultural workers is capped at 66,000 per year and applies only to seasonal or temporary jobs. Business groups that support the W visa idea say that the number of workers it’s targeting is too low.

“That is nothing compared to what we need,” says Eric Stafford, senior director of government affairs for the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. “There’s a shortage of workers in this country.” Some businesses consider using ineligible workers not so much because they want to save money, but because it’s hard to find people willing to do jobs that are unattractive, like being janitors or doing other low-skilled work such as harvesting crops or cleaning tables in restaurants.

It’s hard to say whether the difficulty finding workers or plain old greed drives business owners to break the law. If they get caught, there are hefty penalties. Companies that knowingly employ people not authorized to work in the U.S. face federal fines of $375 to $16,000 per worker. But studies show that many companies decide it’s worth the risk because they save money. Also, the number of convictions of employers who violate the law is relatively low when compared with other immigration enforcement actions even though the government is making a bigger effort in this area. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement increased audits of worker eligibility to 3,000 in 2012 from 250 in fiscal year 2007. In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2012, the government arrested 240 employers for knowingly hiring unauthorized workers, and 280 employees were arrested.

The government has removed far greater numbers of people from the U.S. who don’t have permission to be in the country and also have criminal records, are threats to national security, are repeat violators of immigration law or are court fugitives. According to ICE, it removed nearly 400,000 people in fiscal 2011. About a month before the end of fiscal 2012 it had removed more than 366,000 people. In 2007, it removed roughly 291,000 people.

For her part, Gomez, the cleaning and landscaping service owner in Washington, says she won’t succumb to the pressure to hire workers who aren’t supposed to work in the U.S.

“I’m going to follow the law,” she says.

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Ex-Rollergirl volunteers with children, arts council

Shannon Eaton, 30, of Houma, retired from roller derby in May, a league she co-founded.

But leaving the sport cleared up lots of time on her calendar, she said — time she spends volunteering for the Houma Regional Arts Council.

“We worked very hard,” Eaton said. “We had practice three nights a week, not including nights spent planning for charity events, fundraisers, etc. So, after coming out of that, to make the free time to give back was no trouble at all.”

Working with children comes naturally to Eaton, an eighth-grade English teacher at Montegut Middle School. She describes her evening and weekend transition to the younger learners as “a breeze.”

Her devotion to the Houma Regional Arts Council is important, she said, as the agency plays a vital role in keeping art at the forefront of the local community and culture.

“I didn’t realize this when I was younger, but I’ve come to notice we are surrounded by creative people in our community,” she said. “There is beauty seen and unseen. That’s part of our local ecology. We come into contact with people who are going to do beautiful things — landscaping, painting, acting and, of course music — and all of it needs to be seen. Beauty shouldn’t be hidden away from the world. And the Arts Council facilitates that and protects artists — even those who don’t know their art is beautiful — instead of exploiting them. That’s a great thing to be part of.”

Eaton has volunteered for the Arts Council for about five years.

The nonprofit’s executive director, Glenda Toups, refers to Eaton as one of the agency’s most “passionate volunteers.”

“She assisted with our Green Tunes children’s section for Houmapalooza and led the hourly kids parade during Houmapalooza,” Toups said.

The Green Tunes section operates by the old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” Eaton said, as the booth is set up for kids to create musical instruments from garbage.

“The adults are just there to make sure everything is safe and sanitary,” Eaton said, humbly, “but the kids are the real creators. The grown-ups are just the duct tape cutters so the kids don’t make any painful mistakes.”

The parade took place every hour for the children to show off the instruments they created. Eaton said she used the time to attract more Houmapalooza attendees to the booth.

Toups said Eaton’s next venture with the Arts Council is her role on the newly formed Creative Communities Initiative Team.

The group’s focus is Houma’s historic district downtown.

“When I was asked to join, they told me it was called ‘Creative Place-Making.’ It basically is what it sounds like. We make a place already there a little more creative than what it was before,” Eaton said. “Expect creative ideas and visually inspiring ideas within the historic district of Houma around the Main Street area. It’s a great form of community outreach.”

Eaton doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon, she said, because she’s “always been a fan of the arts.”

“It’s therapeutic to be creative,” she said.

Staff Writer Kris Johnson can be reached at 857-2207 or Follow her on Twitter @krisLjo.

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New Site Offers Calgarians Savings and Practical Ideas on Landscaping …

Splash Press Release April 18 2013 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Homeowners in Calgary can now get landscape ideas and huge savings on landscaping Calgary properties.

Five Star Landscaping is pleased to announce the launch of, a website devoted to the latest ideas around landscaping in Calgary, landscape ideas and how to get substantial savings for those looking to embark on new projects this year.

“Not only will homeowners and commercial property owners get inspiring ideas”, said Troy Ryz, owner of Five Star landscaping, “but they will be able to register for automatic updates detailing the latest deals and inspirations directly from landscapers in Calgary.”

If you would like to meet Troy and his team and learn more about Five Star Landscaping, you can visit with them at the upcoming Calgary Garden Show, April 13th and 14th, at Spruce Meadows.  Tickets can be purchased here:

Five Star Landscaping has been serving Calgary home and commercial property needs since 1997. We design, build and maintain. We also maintain properties year-round, with lawn maintenance, snow removal and property clean ups.

For more information, please visit

Five Star Landscaping Troy and Lori Ryz (403)203-4058 Owners

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Bay Area’s spring home and garden tours

Here are Bay Area home and garden tours that will kick off the springtime tour season. Please check back regularly for later additions.

April 20

Oakland Heritage Alliance’s ‘Great Estates’


When: 1-4 p.m. Saturday, April 20.

Who benefits: Supports public education and preservation advocacy.

What you’ll see: This self-guided walking tour offers a rare opportunity to see examples of Tudor and Mediterranean revival style homes, including residences designed by Oakland architects William Schirmer and Geoffrey Bangs.

Extras: Light refreshments.

Details: Tickets are $35 if purchased in advance or $40 at the door; $30/$35 OHA members. On-site purchases and advance purchase check-in begins at 12:30 p.m. at St. Peter’s Angelican Church, 6013 Lawton Ave., Oakland.

April 26-27

Gamble Garden

Spring Tour (Palo Alto)

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 26-27

Who benefits: The Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden, a nonprofit community horticultural foundation

What you’ll see: Six private Palo Alto gardens ranging from large estates to corner properties to narrower plots, each showcasing beautiful and innovative landscaping designs.

Extras: Marketplace and plant sale, horticultural resources, live music, box lunch prepared by Cafe Primavera.

Details: Tickets are $35; $30 members; $40 day of tour. Lunch is $15, served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch must be ordered by April 22. 650-329-1356,

CSL Heart of the Home Tour

(Piedmont and Crocker Highlands)

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 26-27

Who benefits: Nonprofit agencies in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

that serve at-risk children.

What you’ll see: CSL’s Silver Anniversary Home Tour in Piedmont and Crocker Highlands features five architectural gems including a Tudor mansion by Hearst Castle Architect Julia Morgan; an Albert Farr Georgian Colonial with a two-plus story designer showcase; a William Schirmer French Normandy with Hollywood ties and allure; a Newsom Newsom Traditional with designer decor and art; and an award-winning, Platinum LEED Mid-Century Modern.

Extras: Lunch at Piedmont Community Center, boutique, food trucks. VIP Tour Packages available.

Details: Tickets are $45 in advance or $50 on tour days: $55 with lunch. $5 off each ticket for groups of 10 or more.

April 27

Naglee Park Vintage Home Tour

(San Jose)

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, April 27

Who benefits: Preservation of the San Jose Woman’s Club building.

What you’ll see: Four homes in a five-block area of Naglee Park, including a landmark once owned by former San Jose Mayor Ernie Fenzel and architectural styles that include ranch, craftsman, Tudor and Spanish Colonial Revival.

Extras: Boutique, talk by historian April Halberstadt, Tea on the Terrace.

Details: Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 day of tour; $25 for SJWC members; $25 for groups of five or more. Tickets for Tea on the Terrace, which must be ordered by April 22, are $30. Tour and Tea cost $55. 408-294-6919,

April 28

Bay-Friendly Garden Tours

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, April 28

Who benefits: The Bay-Friendly Landscaping Gardening Coalition’s program to promote sustainable landscaping and gardening practices throughout the Bay Area.

What you’ll see: Diverse home gardens in Oakland, Castro Valley, San Leandro, Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore, showcasing natural gardening techniques.

Extras: The guidebook includes coupons, including up to 20 percent off at several local nurseries.

Details: Visit to purchase a guidebook with garden descriptions, directions and entrance tickets. Cost is $5 for digital guidebooks or $10 for a hard copy. Purchase hard copies by April 19.

May 4-5

Willow Glen Lifestyles Home Tour

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5.

Who benefits: San Jose Day Nursery scholarships for low-income families.

What you’ll see: Six homes and one spectacular garden, including a new resort-inspired home with state-of-the-art amenities, a recently renovated family ranch-style home. A garden home, open for touring inside and out, will be the setting for box lunches, refreshments, wine tasting, artists and boutiques.

Extras: Boutique, raffle.

Details: Advance tickets are $35 for the tour and $15 for lunch. Available online at and Able Printing, Grace on the Avenue and Willow Glen home and Garden. Tickets can be purchased day of tour for $40 (lunch $17) at 1448 Newport Ave., on the tour route.

May 5

The Ups and Downs of Hillside Gardening


When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, May 5

Who benefits: Proceeds help fund scholarships and grants and ongoing efforts to tend public gardens.

What you’ll see: A range of eight Oakland gardens, from a small, native-planted front yard to a meticulously designed serenity garden, each with unique features such as mosaic art and sculpture, clay chickens, a country cabin, decorative metalwork and more.

Extras: A garden-theme boutique offering art, plants and gardening tips.

Details: Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 day of the tour. 510-898-6872, You may also mail a check, made out to Hillside Gardeners of Montclair, to 3811 Monterey Blvd., Oakland, CA 94619. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Bay-Friendly Garden Tours

(Napa County)

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, May 5

What you’ll see: Diverse home gardens in Napa County showcasing natural gardening techniques.

Extras: The guidebook includes coupons, including up to 20 percent off at several local nurseries.

Details: Visit to purchase a guidebook with garden descriptions, directions and tickets. Cost is $5 for digital guidebooks, or $10 for a hard copy. Purchase hard copies by April 26.

Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour

(Alameda and Contra Costa counties)

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday May 5

What you’ll see: A delightful collection of 50 Alameda County and Contra Costa County gardens ranging from a 30-year-old wildlife oasis to brand new installations, five-acre lots to small front yard gardens, local native plants to natives from throughout California, gardens designed and installed by owners to those designed and installed by professionals.

Extras: Garden talks throughout the day. Companion event: Native Plant Sale Extravaganza, Saturday and Sunday, May 4-5.

Details: Free. Register at

May 10-11

AAUW Garden Tour

(Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek branch)

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, May 10, and Saturday, May 11.

Who benefits: AAUW Funds supporting aspiring female scholars.

What you’ll see: Five superb gardens in Alamo and Danville.

Details: Tickets are $30 if purchased before April 30, or $35 at the door; $25/$30 for ages 65 and older. 925-743-1838,

May 11-12 Gilroy Impressions Home and Garden Tour

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 11, and Sunday, May 12.

Who benefits: Youth programs of the Gilroy Assistance League.

What you’ll see: Four showcase homes in the South Valley with designer touches and extensive gardens or landscaping: a Mediterranean style residence, a Spanish Colonial Revival, a traditional home design and one that blends traditional and contemporary.

Extras: Boutique, appetizers, no-host wine at the tour’s conclusion.

Details: Tickets are $25 if purchased before May 8, or $30 at the door. Presale tickets will be held at check-in at 1975 Mantelli Drive, Gilroy. 408-706-6235;

Vintage Home and Garden Tour


When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 11.

Who benefits: Benicia Historical Society programs.

What you’ll see: Six vintage homes representing an array of architectural styles, and one charming garden, within walking distance of downtown Benicia.

Details: Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 the day of the tour available at Benicia Main Street, Bookshop Benicia, Camellia Team Room and Steve’s Hallmark. 707-315-6434, 707-746-6689;

May 18

Lafayette Juniors Kitchen Tour

When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, May 18.

Who benefits: Five local nonprofit organizations: Day for Children, Coach Art, Contra Costa Interfaith Housing, Lafayette Library and Learning Center and We Care.

What you’ll see: Six unique Lafayette kitchens in homes ranging in style from farmhouse rustic to Mediterranean.

Extras: Kitchen tour program detailing special design elements and information on the architects, designers and contractors who created the kitchens.

Details: Tickets are $40 ($30 tax deductible), with a box lunch available for $12. Tickets can be purchased from Douglah Designs, and Premier Kitchens, Lafayette;

May 18-19

Clayton Gardens Tour

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19.

Who benefits: Clayton Historical Museum.

What you’ll see: Six gardens representing various landscape styles: Creative pathways, secret gardens, outdoor rooms and kitchens, country-style chicken coup, compost areas and container vegetable gardens.

Details: Tickets are $25 in advance. Purchase online, at RM Pool, Patio and Gardens, or send checks, payable to Clayton Gardens Tour, to Clayton Gardens Tour, P.O. Box 94, Clayton, CA, 94517. Tickets sold day of tour, $30, must be purchased at the Clayton Museum. 925-672-0240,

May 19

Berkeley Heritage Spring House Tour

When: 1-5 p.m. Sunday, May 19.

Who benefits: Historical preservation in Berkeley.

What you’ll see: Ten spacious historic homes and their parklike gardens above the Claremont Hotel. The houses were constructed between 1909 and 1941, and are all survivors of the 1991 Oakland Hills fire.

Extras: Garden reception.

Details: Tickets are $40; $30 for BAHA members. 510-841-2242,

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RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013 – preview

Every year the very best in garden nurseries, florists and designers come together to create a show bursting with colour, originality and flair. This year, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (May 21-25, at the Royal Hospital Chelsea) celebrates its centenary, and has promised visitors stunning show gardens, inspiring artisan gardens and flower arrangements, plus a few new surprises.

RHS Chelsea acting show manager Sarah Easter explains that both professional horticulturalists and total amateurs will find something to enjoy this year. “The history is what makes it special – it has been running for such a long time and we have very strong traditions within the show. I think people like that we uphold those traditions but, at the same time, it is also the place to go to see what’s new. It really is at the forefront of the industry.” While the organisers keep most details firmly under wraps until the show opens its doors, we’ve uncovered a few special details from this year’s event that both beginners and expert gardeners will enjoy…


No trip to the gardening extravaganza would be complete without looking round the fifteen show gardens, which this year includes an entry from Prince Harry’s Lesotho-based charity Sentebale – meaning ‘forget-me-not’ in Lesotho’s language Sesotho, which inspired the garden’s designer Jinny Blom to use forget-me-nots in her planting this year. Also among the show gardens are offerings from Arthritis UK, whose garden – designed by Chris Beardshaw – aims to show the journey of arthritis sufferers, as well an excellent ‘urban rooftop garden’ designed by Nigel Dunnett.

In the fresh gardens, take a look at the art installation from Martin Cook, which promises to depict ‘calm and chaos’, and in the Grand Pavilion, the RHS Environment Area will have floral displays from Blackmore Langdon, McBeans’ Orchids and Kelways – they exhibited at the first ever show in 1913, and 100 years later are all back for more.

Grow with Radio Times Gardening, plants from as little as 99p, see here for more info


See: displays from award-winning gardeners

Visitors can expect to see creations from past award-winners such as Roger Platts, who is responsible for the sponsor MG’s Centenary garden at this year’s show. “This year, I will be using a huge variety of plants, and we have an awful lot going on with this garden because it is the centenary and I am trying to give the visitors a sense of time,” Roger says. “Although we are all concentrating on our own gardens, as an exhibitor at the show the camaraderie really is fantastic – it is one of the things that make Chelsea so special.”  

Designer Jinny Blom, adds: “All of us designers are like family – we are not in rivalry with each other because we are all in the same boat. We all have such different approaches to design that we can’t really be competitive. As we near the end of the build up week, we are all frantically swapping plants and borrowing mulch and so forth. My favourite thing at the show is the contents of the great marquee. It smells so good and is full of treasure.”

Grow with Radio Times Gardening, plants from as little as 99p, see here for more info

This year’s award winners will find they’re up against some tough competition. Not only are all of the garden designers going all-out for the centenary, but the judging process is a strict one, says Sarah Easter.

“At the RHS we feel a lot of responsibility that what’s on display should be showing good horticulture,” she explains. “The judging panel will look to see that gardens are not showing shade-loving plants in sunny areas, that the right plants are in the right soil types. But the biggest marks in judging are given for the plants themselves. So despite all the beautiful landscaping and structures, the biggest percentage of marks is still given to the planting because that is the core of the RHS.”

Do: vote for the plant of the centenary

As usual, awards will be offered up to those with the best show garden and artisan garden, plus product of the year, flower of the year and fresh garden. And this year visitors at the show will get to vote in one of the categories – the Plant of the Centenary award. Judges have delved through the show’s plant introduction archives, all of which have featured at Chelsea or have been exhibited by Chelsea exhibitors and the experts have whittled them down from hundreds to 20 finalists.

Grow with Radio Times Gardening, plants from as little as 99p, see here for more info


See: the Great Pavilion

“The Great Pavilion is fantastic, you can’t fail to fall in love with plants in there, the smell is absolutely sensational,” explains Sarah Easter from RHS Chelsea. “When you walk in it really hits you and I think everyone can get inspired in there.” She also points new gardeners towards the artisan gardens, “which are fantastic because they are nice and small and feel a lot more achievable”. Those without gardens can still take inspiration from the show. Sarah explains that the exhibition will appeal to those who don’t even have a garden; the displays will arouse their senses. “We have a lot of floral arrangements at the show and floristry, so there are lots of things to inspire,” she says.

Do: get free help and advice

Amateurs looking for top tips will find plenty of professionals at the show that are happy to share their knowledge. Sarah explains: “The individual nurseries are more than happy to talk to people to tell them what is good for different areas of their garden, and we also have our advisory team at the show that gives free advice for all visitors”. To those feeling encouraged by the show, Roger explains that even the biggest gardens on display can be scaled down to suit an amateur’s skills. “Garden structure is important – time and time again if people struggle and are dissatisfied with their work, it is because they haven’t got the layout right, so ideas for layout and what plants are being used to create the structure are so important.” The most important tip for amateur gardeners is to keep it simple, Roger adds. One handy professional tip is to use repetitive planting to create stunning designs similar to those at the show “Don’t use too many plants just because you like them,” Roger says. “The things to aim for with gardens is cohesion; if you have one type of colour or shape then you should aim to repeat it in another part of your garden.”


See: the show gardens

“These are a real highlight,” Sarah urges. “[This is the chance] to see designers at the pinnacle of their careers and see what sort of things they are coming out with.”

Do: learn about new plants

Many horticulturalists launch their new hybrid plants at the show; this is a rare opportunity to see what’s new in the plant world. “Chelsea is one of the biggest places for new plant instruction. Our Great Pavilion is made up of around 100 specialist nurseries who each have a different plant specialism,” Sarah says. “It is like a sweetshop…to get access to those hundred specialist nurseries, you would have to travel all around the country and the world; they are all in one place, and it is one of the best things about our show.” The show also features the newest and best gardening products on offer to help you achieve your dream garden.


BBC series producer Rosemary Edwards explains: “With Chelsea we aim to entertain and inform as well as cover the event, because there are viewers who are serious gardeners. What I hope is that it encourages viewers to say I must go and get that hanging basket or plant; I hope it encourages people to look out of their window and get inspired.” The show has certainly made an impact on the team at the BBC. “It’s the greatest flower show in the world,” Rosemary says. “I’m a very keen gardener and I’d been waiting for so long to work at Chelsea. It is still a dream come true to work on the show.”

Do: press the red button

If you can’t make the show, Rosemary explains that keen gardeners can get tailored gardening information from the BBC by pressing the interactive red button on their remote control. “We try to film every single garden and exhibit at the show, so with the red button it means we can spend more time on each one.” 

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from 8am-8pm, May 21-25, and 8am-5.30pm, 25 May at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London SW3. Tickets start from £28, see for more info.

Watch the RHS Chelsea Flower Show lunchtimes on BBC1 and evenings on BBC2 (times TBC) throughout the week of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (May 21-25)

Grow with Radio Times Gardening, plants from as little as 99p, see here for more info

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Noe Valley’s 2013 Garden Tour Features Janet Moyer Landscaping – Marketwire

Technorati Keywords:

landscape design   landscape company   urban gardens   sustainable gardening   smart water management  

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Tips for spring gardening in winter weather

By: Jenn Schanz

It’s almost may, but dismal winter weather has many shying away from grabbing their gardening gloves.

Andy Campbell of Campbell’s nursery urges reluctant gardeners to prep their gardens by trimming and mulching while we wait for spring to arrive.

“It’s a great time to prep for spring, get everything set,” he says. “Tilling up those gardens, compost and peat moss into those areas, plenty of perfect time to do that, and plenty of time to do it before…before spring really actually shows up on things.”

Campbell says planting cool season crops, pansies, trees or shrubs is a safe bet even in this weather. By mother’s day, the ground should be safe for all seeds, including perennials.

“I keep telling people that mother nature will arrive, she will bring spring to us, she just hasn’t done it quite yet,” he says.

If you’ve already put some grass seed down on your lawn, Campbell says be patient.

Until it gets warmer, that seed isn’t going to do much.  


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Gardening and Living in Grand Style April gardening tips…

Over the last couple of weeks, people have talked with me about the cool-season vegetables they have been planting, many of which can still be planted. This is especially true if those crops don’t take long to mature.

Cool- and warm-season plants

Should hot weather arrive too quickly, many cool-season crops that are planted too late won’t mature well. Also, there are always those people who “roll the dice” and plant warm-season crops such as tomatoes as soon as the air temperatures warm up. Hopefully, they covered all those warm-season plants last week when we experienced those freezing temperatures.

Generally, our last average temperature of 32 degrees Farenheit occurs around April 15, but that changes a day or two back and forth since it’s a 30-year average. As such, with warm-season vegetables, I rarely would consider planting them before the middle of April, and usually not for a week or two after since the soil temperatures are as important as the air temperatures for good growth. Warm-season plants are just that – they love the warm soil and air temperatures.

While I know people want to have that first ripe red tomato before their neighbors if you truly understand your plant’s needs as relates to soils and fertility, and you practice good watering habits, you can plant a tomato plant in the latter part of April through the very first of May, and often your plant’s growth, since you planted them at prime conditions, will catch up to those that were planted early. If you are someone who buys their plants from nurseries, I know the nurseries love those early planters since they will often be back buying new plants when those early plantings don’t survive.

Lawn care

This time of year I also always get questions about lawn grass – whether it’s putting in new grass or fertilizing. Now is a good time to fertilize, but as I have said before, always be careful with the amount of fertilizing you do for any plants. While many companies and salespeople will strongly suggest you use a specific system of fertilizing and/or say you need to fertilize often, it’s rarely truly necessary.

At most, for a spring fertilization use one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet this month or by early next month, then another one-pound application in September and another the last time you cut your grass in the fall. That is more than enough. You do need to determine what an actual pound of fertilizer is for the product you use. For example, one pound of actual nitrogen using a 21-0-0 fertilizer actually amounts to about five pounds of the product. Assuming you water correctly and your soil isn’t too compacted this fertilization schedule will result in good grass growth.

Also it’s important that we all understand that over-fertilizing is becoming a problem across our country. We want to be careful with our environment and resources.

All that being said, if your lawn is very old (say 15 to 20-plus years) your grass often won’t grow well by just fertilizing and watering. Or perhaps I should say without the overuse of resources, due to issues such as compaction. So if your lawn is older and nothing seems to work you really need to consider starting over by tilling or plowing and planting in the fall. Also be aware that rarely will just removing the old grass and laying sod improve the situation.

Thought for the day: “I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I worked in the garden.” —John Erskine

For more information about these topics, call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 259-7558, or email Mike Johnson at

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Five Tips for Weeding Your Garden

Picking Weeks

Weeding a garden is more than just pulling weeds!

With the help of Columbus, Ohio area landscaping experts Jim and Mary fromOld World Garden Farms, we are bring you five tips for eliminating weeds in your garden. With consistent maintenance (only 10 minutes per day!) and some smarts, your garden can be weed free. You can enjoy higher produce yields and less back-stressing labor by following these tips for removing and preventing weeds in your garden.

1. Mulch, mulch, mulch: According to Jim and Mary from Old World Garden Farms, bare soil is an invitation for weeds to seed and take root. By covering the soil with mulch, you can prevent future weeds from growing. Jim and Mary use straw and shredded leaf mulch in their walking rows, and compost around the plants. Organic materials like straw and leaves are the best mulch for your vegetable garden. They decompose to enrich the soil with nitrogen. Be sure that you are getting straw and not hay. Hay contains grass seeds that can blow around and sprout all over your yard. Straw is just the hollow stems of wheat plants.

2. Aerate your soil by hoeing: Jim and Mary recommend that you hoe around the base of your plants once a week, to a depth of only three to five inches. If you loosen any weeds when hoeing, collect them in a bucket and let the sun cook them to death (if you have chickens, you can feed the weeds to the chickens, who love to eat them). Avoid over-hoeing your soil, as it can plant above-ground weeds into your soil. Tilling plants even more weeds than hoeing, so mulch and plant cover crops instead of tilling.

3. Spend 10 minutes a day weeding: Most home improvement experts will tell you that slow and steady wins the race. You won’t need to spend hours weeding on the weekends if you go out into the garden and weed for 10 minutes every day. Weeding every day prevents the roots of weeds from having time to grow big. When you are out in your garden, you can also weed as you go. It’s a good way to make the most of limited gardening time.

4. Keep walking-rows weed free: The weeds in those walking rows will transplant themselves into your garden beds, so it’s extra important to keep walking rows free of weeds. You can cover walking rows with black plastic, with stones or gravel, or with straw. Just make sure that your ten minutes of weeding time per day includes walking rows.

5. Plant cover crops: Jim and Mary say that planting cover crops in the fall prevents spring and summer weeds. Why? As I said, bare soil is an invitation for weeds to take root. Cover crops sharply reduce the amount of bare soil in your garden. They also form a buffer between the garden bed and any weed seeds that might fall on it. Cover crops do double duty as fertilizers for the garden, and also can act as an ecologically-friendly alternative to grass lawns.

What are your weeding secrets? Please share with the community in the comments.

Chaya Kurtz writes for

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Video: TV builder Tommy Walsh helps with Harpenden garden design for the …

Video: TV builder Tommy Walsh helps with Harpenden garden design for the Chelsea Flower Show

By Kathryn Snowdon

Ground Force star, Tommy Walsh, has been offering his expertise in the construction of the garden in Ayres End Lane.

A celebrity builder has been lending a helping hand to create a garden fit for the Chelsea Flower Show in Harpenden.

Ground Force star, Tommy Walsh, has been offering his expertise in the construction of the garden in Ayres End Lane, which has been designed to raise money for WaterAid.

The garden, which has been inspired by work in parts of India that experience flooding, will be covering an area of 7m by 4.5m, featuring a house on stilts with a veranda, surrounded by marigolds, roses and hanging garlands.

Mr Walsh became involved in the project when he found out the garden was being designed for the charity, which he feels very passionate about.

He said: “I feel that everyone has the right to a source of fresh water, and I think shame on any government that doesn’t give its citizens fresh, clean running water.”

The TV personality said he found it amazing how creative people in such poor countries can be when they are working with the most rudimentary of materials.

He added: “People use what’s local and what they can get their hands on.

“What I find most amazing is how basic and simple the materials and tools they use are, but the engineering principles behind it are very interesting and quite phenomenal.”

Russell Brook, who owns the garden and business Rupert’s Landscapes, said: “This is such a different project to be working on – we’ve had to go back to basics and we’re not allowed to use modern ways of attaching things. This has been a bit challenging.”

He added: “The gardens are all really different and it’s such a different way of working from our normal landscaping way of life, but it is good fun and the design is really creative.”

The garden has been designed by Patricia Thirion, of Merry Hill Road in Bushey.

This is the fifth year that she has entered Chelsea Flower Show with her business partner Janet Honour.

Ms Thirion said: “We take everything for granted in the UK.

“The opportunity that we have at the show will go some way to explaining what it is like for people who live in India.”

She added: “Once people have a clean source of drinking water they can then move onto getting an income. It is about the transformation that WaterAid can bring to these communities and how we can help.”

With 93 million people living without access to clean water in India, Water Aid’s work is something that the designers and builders feel very strongly about.

The garden’s buildings are almost complete, after taking about four weeks to put together.

Once Mr Walsh and Mr Brook finish constructing the garden, the next stage will be adding 3,500 marigolds, and dozens of red roses, jasmine flowers and bamboo shoots to the design.

The building itself has been constructed so it will dissemble into ten parts and be put back together for the show, which starts on May 20.

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