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Archives for April 30, 2013

President Obama speaks at the 2013 White House Correspondents Dinner is a content destination powered by over 100,000+ independent contributors. Every week our contributors post thousands of informative and entertaining articles designed to feed your curiosity on the subjects that you crave.

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Management of water resources will impact Colorado’s economy and quality of life

Despite increasing pressures on Colorado’s fragile water supply in the coming decades, competing interests — cities, industries, agriculture, recreation and environmental groups — could all be satisfied if the state takes a smart approach to growth combined with revamping antiquated policies governing how the precious resource gets used.

That’s the conclusion shared by a panel of water experts who discussed the topic at forum on Tuesday at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. The panel featured Colorado Department of Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar, Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead and Bart Miller, who directs the water program at Western Resource Advocates. It was organized by the Denver-based law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and moderated by the firm’s Michelle Kales.

Michelle Kales, chair of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck’s renewable energy practice, James Lochhead, CEO/manager of Denver Water, and John Salazar, Commissioner of Agriculture, participate in the law firm’s panel on water’s impact on economic and agricultural growth, which was co-sponsored by the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

“Water is a finite and ever-scarcer resource, and regardless of the industry you represent, or your personal position, how the state manages the water resources it has will be critical to the economic success and the quality of life in the state of Colorado,” Kales stated at the outset.

In light of Denver’s stage 2 drought and concerns about water shortages across the state, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and The University of Denver Sturm College of Law co-sponsored the panel on April 23.

While the “ongoing push-and-pull between urban use and rural use” described by Kales has been an undercurrent of Colorado politics since statehood — “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting” might well be the unofficial motto of the arid state — a rapidly growing population and an unpredictably changing climate mean that traditional planning no longer cuts it, the panelists agreed.

Riley Combelic, Lauren Hammond, unidentified guest, Cortney Brand and Andrea Cole pose for a photograph at the reception following the panel on water held on April 23.

Colorado is projected to grow by another 3 million residents by 2040, a 60-percent increase that far outpaces the country’s or the world’s population growth over the same period. And much of that growth will be concentrated in the dozen Front Range counties — stretching from Larimer and Weld south to Pueblo — which, by 2040, could constitute 80 percent of the state’s population.

Susan Daggett, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute at the University of Denver, and Bart Miller, water program director at the environmental group Western Resource Advocates, chat after a panel discussion on April 23­ at DU’s Sturm College of Law about the future of water availability in Colorado. epartment of Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar.

While the vast share of Colorado’s water is used for agriculture — currently 85 percent — the addition of so many new residents is projected to boost annual demand for water by as much as 630,000 acre feet, more than twice what Denver Water currently supplies to its 1.3 million customers. (The utility provides water for its namesake city and 14 surrounding suburbs.)

Sabrina Garvin and John Yelenick of Porosity Storage Reservoir Systems, and Dorothy MeNeese, a cartographic technician at USDA Forest Service, enjoy a reception following the water panel at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law on April 23.

“Is it possible to meet that demand?” Salazar asked. The answer, he said, lies in conservation and efficiency, citing Australia as an example of the kind of low water use Colorado can emulate. That country only uses 36 gallons of water per capita every day, while the average Coloradan goes through 121 gallons every day — significantly higher than the average U.S. per capita consumption of 98 gallons a day.

The conversation, Salazar maintained, has to change. Instead of saying so many people are moving here, and they’ll each need a certain amount of water, he said, the discussion should start with how much water is available and proceed to how the newcomers can use it.

“Water should not be a limiting factor for growth. It’s how you use that water,” he said. “As long as that water’s not used consumptively, it can be used over and over and over again to infinity,” he said, pointing to the reuse of “every single molecule” of water on the space station.

Although farms and ranches use most of the state’s water, Salazar said, the equation could change in coming years as the state loses as much as 3 million acres of agricultural land over the next decade. And as urban and industrial users gobble up water rights, that could dry up an additional half million acres of agricultural land by mid-century.

“We have to make every single effort we can possibly can to make sure that we keep water on the land, farming and raising crops,” he said, noting that agriculture makes up the second-largest slice of the state’s economy.

Coloradans have to stop encouraging urban sprawl, Salazar said. “Instead of growing out, we should talk about planning our cities and growing upwards,” he said, noting that condominium dwellers, for instance, use as much as 70 percent less water than their neighbors in single-family homes surrounded by thirsty lawns.

Lochhead made a similar point later.

“If we continue the western ethic of sprawl, if we are developing quarter-acre, third-acre, half-acre lots half way out to Kansas, we will not have a sustainable environment, both environmentally, and particularly from a water-use standpoint,” Lochhead said. He added, “Sprawl will destroy what makes Colorado Colorado.”

But make no mistake, the panelists agreed, there’s likely to be even less water available in a state already buffeting between droughts as the climate changes.

Scientists are projecting significant increases in temperature, particularly in the spring months, which could have a devastating effect on snowmelt, Miller said. Add in a future where “decreasing snowpack is the norm” and the West’s water landscape could change dramatically. “We are facing a future where Lake Powell and Lake Mead may not function the way they have,” he said.

“What climate change does is forces us to think longer-term,” Miller said after the discussion. “On top of the fact it’s more people, we have to deal with this long-term drought issue. I think it heightens the need for us to have smaller water footprints, have new developments that don’t use as much water so they won’t be impacted by drought or climate change as much. If your dependency on water is lower, you won’t be as affected by climate change.”

“Water is not only a scarce resource but it is potentially a diminishing resource if you look at the effects of a warming climate,” said Lochhead, noting that Denver Water recently hired a climate scientist to help grapple with the looming challenges.

“If we’re going to sustain Colorado and its values as a state beyond the next few decades and survive in a changing climate, we need to move beyond traditional thinking of supplying water to whatever development might occur,” he said, making another case for limiting suburban sprawl.

A changing climate is just one recent development among many that throws a wrench in what has been a stable, if contentious, endeavor: predicting how much water customers might need.

In the past, Lochhead said, water planning was “linear” — based on past data about the availability of water combined with projections about population growth and anticipated usage.

“I think we’ve seen in the last 10-plus years that the complexities and the uncertainties make this approach unsustainable,” he said, adding that “a more dynamic approach” will be required.

Among the shifting uncertainties he listed are changing drought patterns, the devastating effects of more forest fires — the resulting change to run-off adds tremendous strain on water treatment and storage systems — plus potential terrorist threats and even the lingering impact of economic downturns.

Conservation and efficiency are key, he said, including an eventual goal of reusing every drop of water before returning it to streams. In addition, he said, the utility has adopted a different understanding of its own infrastructure. Instead of just counting its dams, pipes and treatment plants, the concept also encompasses the water sheds, equipment inside customers’ homes such as high-efficiency appliances and fixtures, and outdoor landscaping that uses less water.

Miller stressed that it’s critical to “decrease the water footprint” of new customers, while also exploring innovative water projects, and making it easier to reuse water and for agricultural and urban customers to share water depending on their needs.

“They’re not brand-new ideas. The question is going to be how aggressively we implement things,” he said.

The panelists agreed that water law needs reforming, with Lochhead — himself a former water lawyer — calling it “way more complicated than it needs to be.”

As the only panelist who isn’t a water lawyer — although his brother, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar more than makes up for it — Salazar said that complex and expensive water law too often stymies practical solutions to water problems.

“If there was less water attorneys in the state, I think we’d get along a little better,” he said. “You can get two people in the room, and you can discuss and figure out a solution, and then one water attorney walks in the room and everything goes to hell in a hand basket.”


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Volunteers Work Together to Better Temecula

TEMECULA, CA—Hidden underneath a baseball cap, mask, and hearing protection and surrounded by a cloud of dust, Chaparral High School’s principal, Gil Compton, swung the arm of a powerful blower back and forth. Working all around him were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, community members, and students. With the blower still strapped to his back, Principal Compton expressed his thanks for the 169 volunteers that spent a few hours this morning doing a wide variety of work around Chaparral’s campus.

Speaking on the need for service, Principal Compton said, “Over the last few years with the budget cuts, we’ve cut our grounds team by 33%, and our custodial team by 33% and at Chap we have lost 18 teachers, but we have stayed roughly the same in the size of student body.” In appreciation for the work done by volunteers today, he also said, “I’ve been here 4 years and this campus has never looked better.”

Just miles away, in the heart of Temecula’s Rancho Estates, volunteers had the privilege to experience the kindness, compassion, and hope that is in abundance among the founders and supporters of Jacob’s House. This unique facility, founded by Shawn Nelson, former Temecula City Manager, is dedicated to the memory of his son, Jacob Andrew Nelson, who was killed in an automobile accident in 2006. In his welcome to volunteers, Shawn said, “We’ve been able to get to this day, six and a half years later, because of the support we have had from our family, our faith, and of course, an amazing community and all of you.”

A total of 155 volunteers, including LDS Church members, painted, weeded, pruned, cleaned and organized Jacob’s House in preparation for their upcoming Open House on June 15.Mormon Helping Hands volunteers joined the ranks of other supporters of Jacob’s House including: Excel Landscaping, Ponte’ Winery, Temecula Pool Supply, AB Windows, CRR and several other local businesses and individuals.

Shawn Nelson, concluded his remarks saying, “The work you do here today is going to be remembered for years to come because I believe we change the world one life at a time, one family at a time and that hope lives where visions connect into one goal of helping families in crisis.”

The “City of Temecula-Old Traditions/New Opportunities” Entry Monument is positioned just west of the I-15 freeway. In 1989, when the city incorporated, residents of the valley overwhelmingly chose the name “Temecula” over the proposed “Rancho California” and our current entry monument was created.

Last Saturday morning, this area was abuzz with activity as well. One hundred forty-eight volunteers in yellow vests, worked together to put a fresh coat of paint on the monument. Workers also cleaned up the surrounding area by gathering debris, trimming trees and painting the wall that surrounds the area. 

The monument, bearing the seal of the City of Temecula, was meticulously painted under the supervision of Jacob Anthony Martinez, Lead Maintenance Supervisor for Temecula Public Works. Volunteers were also assisted by professional painters from South Bay Coatings.

The owner of South Bay Coatings, Steven Anthony, remarked that, “Everyone’s doing really well and we’re making quick work of it. The more people you get involved, the easier the project. When you have plenty of volunteers you can get it done!” For years to come, volunteers will remember their part in preserving this important “Welcome Mat” to our wonderful city.

Mormon Helping Hands has been contributing to communities world wide since 1998. They are most widely known for their relief efforts during several major natural disasters. However, each spring, local Mormon Helping Hands coordinators search for meaningful service projects that can be done by local church members, along with neighbors and friends and community partners. For more information on how you can participate in Mormon Helping Hands, to find projects, or to submit project ideas for April 2014 visit

—News release submitted by Cathy Dunford for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Temecula

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Haverford Homes Will Open Gardens to the Public

The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program in the Philadelphia region features 15 private gardens open to the public on Sunday, May 5.

Admission to each private garden is $5 and benefits the Garden Conservancy. The gardens are open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Reservations are  not required, but you can call1-888-842-2442 or visit for descriptions of the gardens and driving directions.

Related: Bryn Mawr, Gladwyne Homes Open Gardens to Public

Haverford Garden Descriptions

From the Garden Conservancy website.

The Garden of Dr. and Mrs. Joel Wasley 

Enter the driveway to the right of the house, turn left and cross the front of the mid-1800s carriage house from the William A. Fisher estate. The mid- and right section of the house was added in 1989; a major addition. Note the long view through the front doors. The Wasleys fell in love with the formal gardens of Italy and France and have partnered their style accordingly, turning to Ed Lindemann (PHS flower show manager for many years) for the original layout and payment design. Note the intensely planted low gardens designed to be looked down upon. The collection of dwarf boxwood includes many varieties with a special one from the Rose Garden at the White House. Handsome ironwork includes a garden gate from the Riddle estate (owner of Man of War) and a trellis behind the garden pool is composed of elevator doors from a brownstone in Manhattan made years ago. The garden has been developed along strong architectural lines, taking advantage of changes in elevation to underscore the division of the garden into separate rooms. Annual plantings give summer color; the urns and garden figures add to the green architecture and views from the house. Dr. Wasley does all the gardening work himself; a labor of love. Retrace your steps and exit the garden to the left of the house.

The Garden of Reggie and Frank Thomas

The Thomas garden is about twenty five years old. Originally, the site offered many challenges. It was located over the ruins of Cheswold (The Alexander Cassatt Mansion), and had virtually no landscaping except for a few specimen trees. The area around the cottage-style house was either paved or steeply sloped. Over the years, the site has been substantially changed to create a series of garden rooms seamlessly flowing from the house to a hidden pool with its own summer landscape. In spring, drifts of daffodils and tulips reign over the landscape. In summer, hydrangea and clematis provide delightful sweeps of color as roses clamber over the house and fences. While the gardens have a formal structure, they have been planted to achieve a sense of romance, profusion, fragrance, and privacy. Benches throughout the property offer quiet places to sit and observe nature. The newest bench in the rose garden is situated within a box hedge that is being trimmed over time to mimic the shape of the bench. The stone wall in the front terrace garden is made from salvaged face stone from the original mansion and the grass steps down the sloping back garden transverse Cheswold ruins under the slope. The garden was designed to be viewed from various central window axes and upper-floor decks.

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Heirloom Gardens, Llc

Gardens Landscaping

Enjoy the beauty and benefits of an organic landscape!

We are a full service design, installation and maintenance company, specializing in organic landscapes.

Heirloom Gardens has the only fully accredited organic land care professionals exclusively servicing the East End of Long Island for over 10 years. We provide sustainable and traditional landscape design, installation and complete maintenance services.

When Heirloom Gardens designs, installs or maintains your outdoor environment, you enjoy impeccable service, deep caring personell and stunning results. From day-to-day details, to striking outdoor organic landscapes, you’ll appreciate your surroundings and know that you’re doing the right thing for your family and pets.

Every year, more and more Eastern Long Island homes improve their properties with Heirloom Gardens – let us do the same for yours.

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Landscape and Garden Costs Causing Homeowner Distress: Groundbreaking … – Virtual

Rising costs of landscape and garden care are causing financial distress for homeowners across the United States. offers groundbreaking solutions for homeowners and landscape developers alike, by creating a real time virtual marketplace where both can greatly benefit, keeping gardens and wallets green.

Houston, TX (PRWEB) April 29, 2013

With economic stresses placed upon homeowners and business owners these days, the last thing they need is a huge bill for garden and landscape work. At the same time, there are many landscaping companies that are seeking new business opportunities and would gladly offer their services at a lower cost if they could obtain more business. That is where comes in. is a new virtual marketplace, that matches homeowners and businesses in the United States and Canada who have landscaping needs with landscapers who can fulfill those needs. lists over 275,000 landscapers in the United States and Canada. “Customers can register with our site and Landscapers can claim their business, or list a new business on our site,” states Ravi Brahmbhatt, Chief Marketing Officer for “Once registered, a customer can post their landscaping needs which landscapers can see and bid on, essentially competing for the customers business. At the same time, landscapers who have registered can not only bid, but they can post special deals they are offering. Although the basic services are free for all, landscapers can register for the premium service, which gives them earlier notification of new potential jobs, much greater exposure to the public, and better reputation control, in addition to editing and writing services to assist with their web presence.”

Chintan Shukla, the Chief Technology Officer, noted that “…one of the core features of is the ability of landscapers to post their profile page, which allows customers to see what services they perform, learn about the company, and see images and videos related to the landscaping service. Customers can also rate the landscaping service they received. The advantage of our technology is that it truly connects, in real time, those supplying a landscaping service with those in need of it.”

After purchasing a house and a car, a significant, recurring expense facing home and business owners is the cost of landscaping and lawn maintenance. According to the New York Times article “Estimating Expenses Before Buying your First Home” (Nov 8, 2011) a homeowner can expect to pay on average $83/month (annualized) for lawn and landscape, $67/month for snow removal, $20/month for tree trimming, and $8/month for sprinklers, which amounts to $2136 yearly. Paul Popp, PhD, Chief Operating Officer for stated that “…the amount of investment made annually in landscaping/lawn and garden maintenance is usually a function of the home or business owners’ personal desires. However, in many subdivisions or neighborhoods where certain landscape/lawn maintenance requirements must be met, the cost can exceed $10,000 annually. Commercial landscaping in response to zoning requirements can be very costly as well. With the real time virtual marketplace created on, a landscaper can bid on services at a reduced price, because they know that each new customer that receives high quality service will likely be a loyal client for years.”

Some of the services covered include lawn services, leaf removal, patios and entertainment areas, outdoor lighting, pool and water feature design and construction, irrigation systems, drainage solutions, plants and flowers, rock work, tree trimming and removal, snow removal, pesticide applications and stone and paver installations, for both residential and commercial customers. is a real time virtual market place for connecting those in need of landscaping services with businesses supplying those services. Ultimately, customers benefit from high quality services at an affordable price, and landscapers benefit from the addition of new customers. Started in 2013, is “keeping gardens and wallets green.”

For more information, contact sales(at)landscape(dot)com

For the original version on PRWeb visit:

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Grow your own: top tips for gardeners who don’t want to break a sweat

Forest gardening is a great way to grow food and useful crops. Because you use all of nature’s tricks and let it do the hard work so you don’t have to. You end up with a garden which is fertile and productive without you needing to break a sweat. Now that’s my kind of gardening!

The technique goes back to prehistoric times and is the world’s oldest and most resilient way of growing food. Many people around the world still produce most of their domestic fruit and vegetables – and a whole lot more like firewood, herbal remedies and materials for basket making – thorough backyard forest gardening. And while they may have the advantage of a positively tropical climate, there’s nothing to stop you giving forest gardening a go on your own little patch of Alba. Don’t worry that you don’t have enough land – forest gardens can work on any scale – from a country estate to a wee corner of a pocket handkerchief-sized plot.

What’s excites me about forest gardening is its potential to provide food for the future without costing the earth. In fact, because once it’s established there is very little digging to do and no bare soil, it’s a great way to capture and lock away carbon and reduce your carbon footprint, making your gardening very Lo-Carb indeed.

Design is everything in forest gardening. It may look natural because it is based on the natural form of young native woodland, but every successful forest garden is in fact very carefully designed.

In any young, native woodland you’ll see growth at different levels – big and small trees; shrubs and bushes; lots of perennials and a few annuals; ground cover and climbers; bulbs, tubers and the occasional fungi. Forest gardening uses this idea of layers but instead of native plants you use lots of productive – mostly edible – plants at each of these levels. Fruit trees instead of oaks, for example; blackcurrants instead of rhododendrons or alpine strawberries instead of grass.

This has lots of advantages:

– Because it’s based on permanent planting it’s a lot less work than planting a whole new crop of fruits and veggies every year and you have the excitement of watching it grow up and mature. In no time the plants more or less look after themselves – more produce for almost no weeding – my idea of gardening heaven!

– You’re growing at ground level and upwards too – so you can grow masses of food in even the smallest space.

– Your garden feeds and waters itself – plant roots draw nutrients and moisture from deep underground, building a soil that gets richer and more fertile every year.

– One of the real strengths of forest gardening is in designing it to have multiple crops – so if your James Grieve doesn’t do too well one year, other trees and shrub fruits and veggies will step up to the mark. This is really important as we start to face up to increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. All of that diversity also helps to improve plant health and create a haven for wildlife too.

If you fancy having a go yourself, there are a number of things you’ll need to think about.

As we said, the design is based on young, natural forest – the most important word there is ‘young’. Your trees will need to be planted far enough apart to let light down to the ground or nothing will grow. If you only have space for one tree, that’s fine – you can still have a forest garden in miniature! If you share a communal back-green garden or just have a bit of grass outside your flat that the Council owns, planting a forest garden is a perfect way of filling those spaces and getting to know the neighbours better at the same time. Obviously, you’ll need to get permission from the landowner first.

You’ll need to decide what plants will take the place of the forest layers. Your ‘canopy’ will usually be fruit trees like apples or plums. There’s a host of productive plants like blackberries, blueberries and gooseberries that can take the place of the shrub layers and you can include lots of useful groundcover plants like strawberries, wild garlic and creeping thymes. There are lots of books on forest gardening that can give full lists of useful plants for each of the layers.

You’ll be fed up with me saying this by now, but it’s important to keep the soil in your forest garden covered with plant growth (like ground cover) or plant matter (like mulches) – yes, it’s that cardboard and woodchip trick again! This keeps the soil healthy and stops weeds. It also locks away carbon and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from soil cultivation.

Tempted yet?

It’s a design technique that we are trying here and we’re really excited about the potential to grow produce for our fruit and veg bag scheme.

There’s a burgeoning forest gardening movement in Scotland right now, so if you do get involved, you’ll be in at the beginning of an exciting (old and) new way of growing. Because of that (and because it takes quite a bit of expertise to design a forest garden so it works well), ask around for local experts in your area, or contact me for a list of people who can give advice.

Have fun with your growing this week!

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Spring Gardening Tips

    Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) — With the warmer temperatures, many of you may be anxious to get in your gardens. But for those of you with the gardening itch, it may be best to wait.

    Although the sun is shining some yards and gardens aren’t ready to be started quite yet, but there are some things you can be doing to prepare.

    Angela Bartelson/Baker Garden Gift: “If your ground is squishy and you still have standing water you certainly don’t want to be tilling it up at this point.”

    Soil is ready for gardening once it is free of ice crystals and crumbles easily. Once soil is beginning to dry up you can prep it with fertilizer.

    Once your soil is dry it’s best to start seeds for things like peas, spinach, and lettuce. These vegetables do better in colder temperatures.

    For things like tomatoes and peppers, it’s best to wait until the weather tracks with more consistent warmer temps. If you started tomato plants inside, you can start acclimating them now.

    Angela: “With the warmer days and the warmer nights they can think about anything that they started growing, getting it outside, under their patio and their decks, starting to get it used to the temperatures, getting it used to being outside, we do need to think about that we’re going to have some of those frost days to be bringing them back into the house.”

    It’s also a good idea to start acclimating perennials now, but keep an eye on the forecast before you plant to ensure you’ll have blooming May flowers.

    If there is still snow on your lawn, you should move it around to prevent snow mold and start placing fertilizer.

    danielle miller, reporters, city, news, garden, outdoors, updates

    More from around the web

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    Tips for getting your kids into the garden

    Tips for getting your kids into the garden

    With summer school holidays fast approaching, it is time to put a plan in place for keeping little hands free from technological gadgets in favour of the great outdoors.

    Vegetable gardening is definitely a productive proposal as not only does it tear children away from tv screens but it also allows families to exercise, absorb vitamin D and grow their own food together.

    To assist and encourage families to get out and grow, GIY Ireland is running an inspiring initiative called Operation GIY Nation. Its aim is simply to get as many families as possible to start growing together this year and their strapline says it all: “6 projects, 6 months, 1 Happy, Healthy Family”.

    Taking part is free and once families sign up on the Operation GIY Nation website, they will be emailed a monthly growing project, from now until September. The projects are simple and easy to understand and accessible to all, regardless of growing experience and space available. They start at a very basic level, (growing cress), and each month will build up experience level. All six projects can be done with the minimum of fuss and investment and are designed to be easily managed by families, to involve everyone, to be productive and most of all, to be fun. There is also an online forum ensuring support is to hand and photos, videos and blogs of other families taking part can be viewed for inspiration.

    Depending on the size and age range of a family, the practicalities of growing together differ as toddlers, primary schoolers and older children will have different expectations and learning experiences. Safety with equipment, tools, fences, gates and paths are clearly vital and younger children will require careful supervision during activities, whereas older children are more physically capable of handling a variety of activities including lifting, carrying and mulching. Always encourage children to wear suitable clothing and sunscreen if necessary and be extra careful with buckets of water around very young children and toddlers.

    Children love to help and this really needs to be encouraged by allocating appropriate practical, useful tasks. My early gardening memories include topping and tailing gooseberries, raking up lawn mowings, holding seed packets and picking potatoes while incessantly chattering into my father’s ears. The trick with children is to keep the jobs varied and if you have the space, give them their own little plot or pot for sowing seeds. Invest in some kiddies’ tools such as a hand fork, trowel and watering can and work with quick growing crops such as radishes or fun crops such as pumpkins and sunflowers. Consider using plants with sensory and textural qualities including scented herbs like lavender or jerusalem sage with it’s soft, downy leaves. There are plenty of projects that both your garden and children will benefit from such as planting flowers that attract butterflies, ladybirds and other interesting insects or making a scarecrow or bug hotel. With a little imagination, it is very possible for plant-adoring adults and exuberant children to successfully co-exist in a garden and produce food without every flower head being prematurely pulled or seedbed trampled on.

    In her latest book and inspiring informative collection of vegetable growing memoirs Just Vegetating, Joy Larkcom includes a very practical and humorous chapter entitled ‘Tips to Tame Toddlers’, an article first published in 1974. Joy, being both a passionate gardener and mother describes the frustrations that can go with children and gardening and offers some very practical solutions and insightful tips such as dressing children in bright clothes to ensure they are easy to keep an eye on and digging up self-seeding flowers such as nasturtiums and calendulas for children to include in their own patch. Joy’s recount of her first gardening memory exemplifies a delightful diversionary garden strategy based on encouraging children to perform small, useful tasks such as bringing small clumps of weeds to the compost bin or feeding unwanted garden predators to the hens. By the time eager beaver helpers have returned, a row of seeds might just have been sown or thinned. For more of Joy’s timeless articles, musings and insightful information on vegetable growing over the last 40 years, Just Vegetating is a must for everybody with an interest in growing and eating food.


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    Garden city a plan for capital future

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    NEWS - Chief Minister Katy Gallagher announces The City Plan, City to Lake plan's to transform the city centre and surronds in the future at the National Museum ,  Acton, Canberra.                                                                                                             26th March  2013.                                                                                                                                                                     Photo by, Colleen Petch of The Canberra Times.

    Chief Minister Katy Gallagher announces The City Plan to transform the city centre. Photo: Colleen Petch

    The City Plan and City to the Lake project, which ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher unveiled for public consultation on March 26, provide the opportunity for Canberrans to express their ambitions for our city centre to 2030 and beyond.

    My particular interest is in the City Plan consultation, which comes at an important time in our history. We are entering Canberra’s second century and, as the Chief Minister noted just after the ACT election last year, after 25 years of self-government, Canberra has grown up.

    As an architect, I see this maturity in all sorts of places. In particular, I see a new generation of young entrepreneurs setting up businesses in Braddon and elsewhere. There is a confidence and energy among them which bodes well for the vitality and development of the whole city centre.

    Perhaps ”growing up” is a consequence of Canberra reaching a population of 375,000, which can now sustain a diversity of businesses and creativity beyond our traditional government base. With Canberra’s population projected to grow to 500,000 by 2043 – and the region’s to more than 600,000 – what facilities will our city centre need to support that population?

    Any decisions on the future of the city must be guided by the community. This consultation began in 2010 with Time to Talk Canberra 2030, which gave Canberrans the opportunity to have their say on the development of the whole of Canberra. It continued with the ACT Planning Strategy, which is also very relevant to any future city development.

    The City Plan will build on previous consultation but also wants Canberrans to have their say on the city centre in particular. To make it easy, the ACT government has an online survey and discussion board on

    The discussion on the City Plan is arranged around five themes: the role of the city centre; growth in the city; transport and movement in and through the city; design of public spaces and buildings; and implementing change.

    The City Plan also provides the context for other projects the ACT government is currently considering, such as City to the Lake and Capital Metro.

    So how do we envisage our city of the future? What public facilities do we think we will need? And how do we want it to look and feel?

    Much of our current public infrastructure was designed and built in the 1970s, when Canberra had a population of 150,000, and much of it is struggling to cope with current demands.

    Much of the city’s commercial property is the product of the property boom of the early 1980s, when office buildings were erected quickly and cheaply without great consideration of quality or their relationship to the street.

    When I raised these issues with NCDC’s chief architect at the time, the answer was ”the quality was all right because these buildings were the ‘first round’ and it would get better the second time around”. Well, it’s now time for that second round as some of these buildings become ripe for redevelopment. Let’s make the most of it.

    Public facilities like the Supreme Court and the Canberra Theatre are creaking at the seams and need redesigning to suit our growing population. The Canberra Stadium at Bruce is in a similar situation, and we must ask whether a new stadium should be constructed in the city centre.

    One of the curiosities of the city is the number of plans that have been developed for parts of it, yet until now, none has taken a holistic view of the city centre’s function and design since the early 1980s.

    Even the National Capital Authority’s Griffin Legacy of 2004 only deals the national components of the city centre, not the whole.

    The outcome I would like to achieve from the City Plan is a clear narrative that describes the role and urban design quality of the city centre, so that it is an equal partner with the Central National Area in terms of design quality and attractiveness.

    The vitality of the city centre will derive from a range of interesting and quality businesses, not just a single mall of shopping.

    Already, we are seeing the diversity of businesses in Braddon and New Acton providing energy and choice in shopping and social activity.

    Can we do this for our iconic Garema Place, too?

    Vitality also comes with more facilities. We need to consider what cultural and sporting facilities will attract more visitors – even to the same extent as some of the national institutions.

    New public facilities should give us high-quality public architecture that will be landmarks of innovation and quality. As a mind picture, I think of the impact that a Bilbao-style Guggenheim Museum or a Federation Square would have on the dynamism of the city centre. I certainly think both of those complexes are examples of the cultural opportunities for which we should be striving.

    But designing new architectural attractions is only part of the outcome. We experience cities at street level. Our visual and spatial experience is often limited to the underside of the tree canopy or the first two or three storeys. Therefore, how our public places look and feel at street level is critical to the way people use them. Part of the City Plan will look critically at all the design and hierarchy of streets and public spaces.

    I would like to see a clarity and hierarchy in the way we experience our streets and public places.

    In my view, when we walk around the city centre it should be clear that we live in a ”garden city” and a ”designed city”, which should be expressed in the quality of the soft and hard elements of landscape of our streets and in the quality of our gathering places. In their own ways Garema Place and Civic Square have a bleakness due to being too large for the buildings that enclose them. So in some ways, better spaces might be smaller and more intimate places.

    I have raised only a few issues that the City Plan hopes to address, but I encourage everyone with an interest in Civic and the city centre to take the discussion further.

    Professor Swayn is the ACT Government Architect. You can comment on the City Plan and the City to the Lake proposal through or the City to the Lake displays. More information:


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