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Archives for May 2013

Making some noise about a quiet volunteer





SHE GETS THINGS STARTED – Evelyn Bassett has helped begin a variety of village traditions.

Candy will figure significantly in the reign of Evelyn Bassett as the Grand Marshal of the Barnstable-West Barnstable Fourth of July parade. Because she doesn’t want to ride alone, and because her grandchildren like to scramble for the treats that paraders toss onto the road, she’s found a way to entice her six young family members to keep her company in the lead car.

“I bribed my grandchildren to ride with me,” she said. “I’ll buy you candy, and you’ll get to throw candy” to other children, she reported of her deal with her progeny.

When Bassett, a native of Avon, married her husband Wayne, who was born and raised in Barnstable, “I had no choice in the matter” of where they would live. Their daughter Tara and son Dana (of Millway Marina) attended Barnstable-West Barnstable Elementary School, Barnstable High School, and Cape Cod Academy. Dana lives in the village, Tara in Sandwich, and each has three children.

Bassett, a hairdresser, is known for her many community activities. Town Councilor Ann Canedy calls her “the longest active member” of the village civic association

Bassett credits the late Greg Smith, with whom she got the Fourth of July parade started, as a role model. “It’s nothing political. You just get wrapped up in it,” she said of village activities such as the Christmas stroll, the village improvement association, the water district, polling place services, Friends of the Schoolhouse, and Tales of Cape Cod.

She has also volunteered at the CapeAbilities thrift shop and as a leader of a weight-training program for seniors. “I like people,” she said of her involvement in the community.

“Evelyn and I go way back,” village resident Marilyn Fuller said of work they did together on the civic association. “I said that you need to meet people.” Soon, Bassett became “absolutely indispensable” in local events.

Bassett loves to garden and has tended flowerbeds at the harbor, at the corner of 6A and Millway, at Cape Cod Lane with Carol DiVico, and at Braggs Lane. “But now,” she said playfully, “I’ve embarrassed three young men in landscaping to take over.”

Barnstable Village’s young people are “doing a great job” in assuming responsibility for leadership, she said.

“I am humbled’ to serve as parade marshal, Bassett said, because “so many people do so much” in the village. “There’s a very different experience living on Cape Cod. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you’re from – we all look out for each other,” she said of her 45 years here.

Barnstable Village’s Fourth of July parade still can use a lot of volunteers. They need people to sell T-shirts with a logo by local artist Kate Gruner to benefit Arts in the Village, as well as floats, bands, fife and drum corps, and volunteers for a dog parade.

“Just show up at 8 or 8:30 behind Probate Court” on the Fourth, said Canedy.

The event also needs volunteers for celebrations in the hollow behind the Unitarian Church, according to Canedy, who said that the person to contact for those jobs is Kara Beal, at
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Canedy also would like to recruit people to sell tee shirts.

There will be a meeting for Fourth of July volunteers on June 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cape Cod Art Association on Route 6A. Everyone is invited to come with ideas; the contact person at the association is Roberta Miller.

“This is a lovely, lovely village,” Bassett said. “We’re so lucky here.”

Part of that good fortune is having a neighbor like Evelyn Bassett.

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Northwest Beach Community To Launch Sunset ‘Idea Town’

A true sign of a town’s maturity is to have enough diversity to develop specific neighborhoods — not an easy task for one less than 10 years old. However, in the coastal town of Seabrook, Wash. (est. 2004), a very distinct and sustainable district is being planned with the help of Sunset magazine, which will help promote its development.

Called the “Idea Town,” the group of buildings is the latest iteration of Sunset’s annual “Idea House” project, which showcases various green technologies and designs in gorgeous homes around the country. In this instance, the magazine will focus on not just one but several homes that are nearing completion in Seabrook and should be completed by August.

An artist's rendering of one Seabrook's completed Idea Town homes on the Washington Coast. Image via Seabrook.

An artist’s rendering of one Seabrook’s completed Idea Town homes on the Washington Coast. Image via Seabrook.

The Idea Town section of Seabrook, located just a few yards away from the beach access stairs, the 2013 Sunset Idea Town will include two new houses, a courtyard and some guest cottages that will be sited near Seabrook’s small but growing retail district, with a restaurant, a market and other shops. The homes will comply with Seabrook’s already existing sustainability protocols that apply to the rest of the town.

The Idea Town currently under construction, as seen from Seabrook's retail district. Image via Seabrook.

The Idea Town currently under construction, as seen from Seabrook’s retail district. Image via Seabrook.

The demonstration homes will include tight thermal envelopes to prevent heat loss, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, Energy Star appliances and lighting, and the use of low-VOC-emitting materials to protect indoor air quality. In the courtyard, landscaping will be planted with native and drought-tolerant vegetation to reduce the need for irrigation.

Computer drawing of completed Idea Town house. Image via Seabrook.

Computer drawing of completed Idea Town house. Image via Seabrook.

The homes were designed by a group of architects, including Brian Paquette of Seattle’s BP Interiors, Peter Brachvogel of BCJ Architects and other contractors who are building the rest of Seabrook, such as  garden designer Stephen Poulakos.

Idea Town should be available for tours starting in August and will continue through October. Sunset magazine will also feature the homes and designs in its October 2013 issue. Sunset editor-in-chief Kitty Morgan described Seabrook as “a charming seaside town built on big ideas that promote a true sense of community.”

Located about three hours west of Seattle on Washington state’s wild and scenic Pacific Coast, Seabrook itself can be seen as an ongoing green building experiment that’s being played out in real time. Town, the brainchild of local developer Casey Roloff, is part of the New Urbanist trend that focuses on efficient building methods, energy conservation, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and close proximity between commercial and residential properties.

Carved out of an undeveloped and rarely visited forested property in 2004, Seabrook today has 200 houses built, with about 100 available for summer rentals, and continues expanding inland with a final goal of more than 300 single-family houses ad 450 total units.

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Southern Living Idea House spotlights classic regionalism

The Southern Living Idea House spotlights Page|Duke Landscape Architects, Castle Homes, Historical Concepts and Phoebe Howard Interior Design.

— Michelle Morrow | Nashville Ledger

When local landscape architects partners Ben Page and Gavin Duke were tapped to design the gardens and courtyard at the soon-to-open Southern Living Idea House at Fontanel, they knew right away what they wanted to do.

Their mission was to show off some of the classic techniques, plantings and elements unique to the Nashville area, particularly drawing from the past for a “greatest hits’ in local landscaping.

“This is the new South,” says Page of Page|Duke Landscape Architects. “This new version encompasses this whole thing of farm-to-table, home-grown food and local, native plant communities. It is all going back to early 20th Century, late 19th Century ideas.’’

Southern Living Idea House

Fontanel Mansion

June 29–Dec. 29, Wed.–Sun., 9 a.m.–3 p.m.

Tickets: Adults $12, seniors 60 and up $10, children 6-15 $5, students and retired military $10, active military and children under 6 are free.

A portion of the profits will go to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.


“Regionalism has gotten to be a very exciting thing for everybody,’’ he adds. “It’s appropriate, and much more environmentally sensitive, and more cost-effective. It showcases our deep roots. There’s nothing wrong with having a plant that has done well for 200 years in this area and use it creatively and in a new way.”

Their traditional work was then overlaid with the latest Southern Living Plant Collection flowers to showcase the color trends of the season, with many of the plant varieties used just a few years old. The result is a perfectly curated space for consumers to glean dozens of ideas.

Landing the Southern Living Idea House puts a spotlight on Nashville, Fontanel Mansion and all of those involved, including Castle Homes, Historical Concepts and Phoebe Howard Interior Design.

It will be open to the public June 29-Dec. 29, Wednesdays through Sundays. Southern Living will publish a complete tour of the project in its August issue.

The magazine’s Idea House in 2012 was in Senoia, Ga., a historic farmhouse renovation. The idea house program has been ongoing for more than 20 years, building and renovating homes from “brownstones to beach houses,’’ according to the magazine’s website.

Page and Duke were given strict budget parameters, resulting in ideas that any number of homeowners could find room for in their budgets.

Not that Page doesn’t still think about elements that didn’t make the cut.

“We had a very wonderful rustic picket fence that was going to go across the front of the courtyard that got value engineered out, but I would say that about 80 percent of what our vision was got put in place,” Page says. “You’re going to see a lot of things that are appropriate for even modest scale budgets.”

They were, of course, awarded some luxuries most homeowners don’t have, unless they are building from the ground up, like being able to orient the house and gardens to best take advantage of sun exposure and wind patterns.

The house, which was built by Castle Homes and will be converted to a bed and breakfast when its stint as an inspirational structure is over, features five farmhouse-style buildings forming a compound with nearly 3,000 square feet of porches and patios – perfect for outdoor entertainment.

“Everything you see out there is predicated on double use with the big porches going to be used as gathering places for artists,” Page says.

And while the gardens look great now, Page says they will really hit their stride in a couple of years, just like any garden space they create for a client would.

“This is only 20 minutes old,” he says. “It takes about three years to get it all to settle down. The first year is a trial run of things, the second year things really start to settle down, and the third year you get a real garden out of something.”

Also on site are “Porter’s Pond” and “Beverly’s Waterfall,” which were dedicated on May 30. The waterfall, donated by Gary Yamamoto in honor of his wife Beverly, was mandated for water runoff.

The decision was then made by Gary Shiebler, key promoter of the annual Porter Wagoner Memorial Artists and Anglers Fishing Tournament, to turn the pond into a catch-and-release fishing pool.

“It is a really cool facility that we feel very fortunate to have worked on because the architecture is very keenly in the Southern vernacular,” Page says. “And our landscape imaging evolved into something that felt very regional in imprint.”

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YMCAs will conduct free guided walks in WB, Hazleton

The YMCAs in Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton will kick off a series of free, guided, evening walks on June 12 featuring downtown neighborhoods, history, architecture, wildlife, nature and new developments in the two cities.

All walks begin at 6 p.m., leaving from either the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA, 40 W. Northampton St., or the Hazleton YMCA, 75 S. Church St. Walks are approximately 90 minutes and are led by volunteers. Participants should wear comfortable clothing and shoes and bring water. In case of rain, walks will be postponed until the same time the following evening.

For information, contact the Wilkes-Barre YMCA at 570-823-2191 or the Hazleton YMCA at 570-455-2046, or visit Keystone Active Zone Passport’s website at

Scheduled walks include:

June 12: Diamond City Architecture Now and Then, Wilkes-Barre. Walkers will see and learn about historic buildings, old and new, in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Guide: Larry Newman.

June 19: A Walk on the Wild Side, The Kirby Park Natural Area, Wilkes-Barre. Walkers will explore the natural and wild side of Kirby Park, learning about the park’s history, its riparian forest, wildlife that inhabits it and its connection to the Chesapeake Bay. Guide: Vinnie Cotrone.

June 26: Growing Gardens, Nurturing Neighborhoods, Wilkes-Barre. Walkers will wander through several different community gardens throughout the city and see how these gardens benefit the neighborhoods. Guide: Ted Kross.

July 10: King’s Campus Stroll, Wilkes-Barre. Walkers will explore the campus, inside and out, focusing on its historic and new buildings, landscaping, monuments and memorials. Guide: Tish Last.

July 17: Review the New in Hazleton. Walkers will learn about the changes that are transforming Hazleton’s downtown streetscape. Guide: Marijo Penkala.

July 24: Wings Over Wilkes-Barre. Walkers will enjoy breathtaking city views and sweeping river vistas from city rooftops and along the River Commons. Guide: Mayor Tom Leighton.

July 31: What’s New at the Old Y? Learn about the changes at the Wilkes-Barre YMCA, built in 1934, since its recent $15 million renovation. Guide: Joan Angeli.

Aug. 7: Hazleton’s Hispanic Eateries Bodegas. Walkers will discover where to find a wide variety of tastes exploring the many small markets and shops that the city’s newest neighbors are establishing throughout downtown. Guide: Marijo Penkala.

Aug. 14: Walk Wilkes U, Wilkes-Barre. Walkers will discover what a great place a college campus is to walk as they enjoy the grounds and gardens and see what’s new at Wilkes University. Guide: Jill Price.

Aug. 21: Nature in Your Neighborhood, Wilkes-Barre. Walkers will enjoy a summer evening discovering some of the plants and wildlife along the River Common. Guide: Diane Madl.

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Look into someone else’s backyard

SUSTAINABLE HOUSE TOURS: Take a tour of the LEED Platinum Archetype Sustainable Houses, two of Canada’s most sustainable homes. Learn the latest on interior design, insulation, windows, high efficiency heating systems, landscaping, green roofs, and green building materials. Free with admission and parking. Saturday, June 1, 11:30 a.m., 1:30 and 3 p.m., at the Living City Campus at Kortright, 9550 Pine Valley Drive, Woodbridge. To register, visit

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Featured Garden: An oasis in Bearspaw that uses what nature offers

A tasty, gluten-free way to take advantage of local strawberries

In about 25 minutes, you could be enjoying these simple gluten-free classic strawberry shortcakes, topped with sweet, juicy berries and airy whipped cream…

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Experts offer tips for beginning gardeners

This could be the year you grow the tomatoes you use to make your BLT. And that will likely be the best BLT you ever eat, knowing that juicy tomato was plucked from your backyard garden just minutes before you laid it on a bed of lettuce and topped it with bacon.

Or why not grow a bodaciously big sunflower that will impress the heck out of the kids. You can do it. You just need a little guidance.

So Jodie Visker, woman of many gardening projects at the Onalaska schools, and Onalaska master gardener Marilyn Rebarchek have gathered their resources and are sharing their knowledge about what you need to get off the couch and out to the garden.

First, you need a plan.

How big will your garden be and what do you want to grow? If it’s vegetables, you need at least six hours of sun, so monitor your yard and figure out how much sun you get.

Many perennials and annuals need sun, too, so read plant tags before your load up a cart at the garden center. Those plant tags are important because they’ll tell you a lot about what the plants need — how much sun, how much water, how much space. Also, it should list how tall and how wide the plant will grow.

Let’s get started:

  • You should begin where your plants begin — in the soil. If you don’t have good soil, you won’t grow good plants. Rebarchek recommends amending with compost, which can improve any kind of soil.
    If you don’t have your own compost pile — and you should — then you can get free compost from the yard waste site at Isle La Plume. Just bring a bucket and a shovel. But plan on starting your own pile in your own yard as soon as you start gardening. It’s ecological and your plants will thank you. It’s like Mother Nature on organic steroids.
    To learn more about how to do it and why you should do it, go to And if you’d like a soil test, contact your local extension office. In La Crosse County, that’s 785-9593.
  • Visker recommends starting with “All New Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew. It tells you how to get the highest yield from the smallest amount of space. “People start big and take up a lot of space,” she said. “That book is all about gardening in the least amount of space for the least amount of work.”
  • If you don’t read that, read something else, said Rebarchek. “Do your research.” If tomatoes are your passion, look that up on the Internet and study how to grow that plant well and what type of tomato you want to plant. Tomato lovers can learn most of what they need to know by going to gardening.about .com/od/growingtips/tp/Tomato_Tips.htm
  • Visker also recommends starting small with a flower or vegetable garden so you don’t get discouraged by the weeding and watering.
    “If you want to start with seeds, zinnias are a really good choice. They don’t need real fertile soil and they’re vigorous growers. And for shade, coleus is really easy and provide a lot of color. For perennials, Russian sage is foolproof and drought tolerant. So is sedum Autumn Joy and the good old daylily.”
  • If you’re looking for success in the vegetable garden, Visker recommends beans.
    “Green beans are good and bush beans that don’t need any support are easy.”
    And if you’re going to grow tomatoes, Visker added, “make sure you have enough space for them and support for them.”
  • Watering is where many people go wrong. Your plants need an inch of water a week. So if it’s not falling from the sky, you have to supply it, Visker said.
  • If you don’t have much space or only want to garden a little, try container gardening. It cuts down on weeding. But Visker said you have to be more vigilant about watering.
  • The easiest starting place, especially for cooks, is probably herbs, Visker said.
    “I really like to grow oregano. It is very easy, very common and a well used herb and that’s a perennial. It will come back three times as big. That’s really great and really low maintenance.”
    Another easy one, she said, is basil, which is an annual so you’ll have to plant it every year.
    “Sometimes I will put sage and thyme in my flower pots, then it’s convenient,” she said, if she wants to step out the kitchen door and snip some for cooking.
    Another plus, most herbs don’t require quite as much sun as vegetables.
    And except for basil, most of them don’t require really good soil, either. “Most of the herbs are fairly drought tolerant. It’s crazy not to grow them. It’s very money saving.”
    West Virginia University Extension has a handy online guide that explains about growing herbs. It allows you to click on an herb, such as basil or oregano, to learn what to do for that herb. Go to www
  • Don’t forget the shrubs. Rebarchek said they can provide great structure in the garden and once they are planted and established, they don’t require as much care as perennials, annuals and vegetables.
  • Consider the daylily. Rebarchek said Happy Returns and stella d’oro are among the most reliable, but if you don’t like yellow, find a daylily you do like.
    “The problem is, the deer will eat those,” she said, so she no longer plants them. But if deer aren’t a problem for you, invest in daylilies.
  • If you’re looking for something that doesn’t appeal to deer, Rebarchek recommends ornamental grasses. They come in a variety of sizes and growing habits. But if you’re living in deer country, skip arbor vitae. “You don’t dare plant arbor vitae around here. And any of the Asiatic or daylilies, those are like candy to deer. But, an alternative is any of the iris. Bunny rabbits and deer do not eat any of the iris.”
  • Plant your food among the flowers. If you plant something with a big, ornamental leaf like rhubarb, you can be harvesting for rhubarb pie while the leaves interact with finer foliage plants like zagreb coreopsis. “Rhubarb is a beautiful ornamental,” Rebarchek said. You should be aware of foliage, she said, because that sticks around a lot longer than the flowers do.
  • And lastly, plant some bulbs. If you’ve been impressed by all the tulips, daffodils, squill and hyacinths blooming in your neighbors’ yards, you’ll want to plant bulbs this fall for bloom next spring. “I would recommend daffodils because deer don’t eat them,” Rebarchek said.

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Get landscape gardening tips at library

Mamie George Branch Library, 320 Dulles Avenue in Stafford, will present the program “Landscape Gardening in the Texas Heat” on Monday, June 10, beginning at 6:00 pm.

Fort Bend County Master Gardener Tricia Bradbury will discuss landscape plants that do well in this area. She will explain the different heat zones and winter-hardiness zones, and how to select hardy plants that will thrive in the Texas Gulf Coast area. This presentation will not cover vegetable gardening.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call the branch library at 281-238-2880 or the library’s Public Information Office at 281-341-2677.

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Gardening news and notes: Tips for saving time; straw bale beds; ornamental …

I’m all for saving time in the garden. Not because I don’t love gardening, but I’d like to spend more time just sitting there enjoying it.  I’m not convinced that will ever happen, but who knows?

Tony Fawcett, who wrote a story for the Herald Sun real estate page, thinks it could. He shares “… sneaky ways to spare ourselves some toil.

“I know most of them,” he says, “because I’ve put a lot of hard work into becoming a lazy gardener. For starters, stop beating yourself up about your lack of garden energy. It’s OK. The world won’t end.”

GARDENING IN STRAW: Sacramento Bee reporter Debbie Arrington interviewed Joel Karsten, author of  “Straw Bale Gardens: The Breakthrough Method for Growing Vegetables Anywhere, Earlier and With No Weeding,” which made it to Amazon’s top 10 best-selling garden books this spring.

He told her, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” said Karsten, who was initially inspired by straw bales on his family’s farm. “For the first 14, I couldn’t get anybody to care about it no matter what I did. But in the past six years, it’s just exploded.

“People see it and they’re fascinated by it.”

EDIBLES ARE PRETTY, TOO: Edibles can be just as beautiful as any other ornamental in the garden. In fact, Read more: why are vegetables, herbs and fruits not included in the “ornamental” designation?

In his Gardening With Tim column, Seattle meteorologist Tim Joyce makes my point: “From the color pops on the edges of the leaves of lemon thyme to the red hues of some basil varieties it’s proof there is color to be had from edible plants. Lots of texture too – from the spiky leaves of the artichoke to the fragile fern-like fennel. And mixing in edibles into the yard and garden remains a growing trend here in the Northwest.”

— Kym Pokorny

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Five Tips on Gardening With a Living Safety Net

  • 1. I don’t spray for pests. I don’t use anything, not even garlic, cayenne, diatomaceous earth or other tried-and-true organic methods.  Why? Because I don’t want to discourage helper species like ladybugs, toads, frogs, wasps, lizards, lacewings, predatory beetles, parasitic wasps, snakes and other soldiers fighting on my side. There are times when things hit plague levels – but usually by the time that happens, I’ve harvested what I want and am ready to put in the next set of crops.

    2. I leave lots of weeds around. WEEDS? Sure. I don’t let them starve out my plants or drop their amazing amounts of seeds into my nice beds, but I do let them grow all around the edges of my garden and my yard. There are wild patches everywhere for lots and lots of insects to live. This means that for every pest, there’s most likely a predator. I also get the benefit of seeing lots of butterflies, bees of all types, neat moths, beetles, and other interesting visitors.

    3. I plant lots of things together. Sure, sometimes I put in rows of corn, beans, etc. for convenience; but for a lot of plants, I put a ton of variety into small spaces. One of my beds in spring might have cabbages, peas, tomato seedlings, collards, mustard, beans, basil, tobacco and other disparate species all sharing the same real estate. If you were a sphinx moth, say, and you wanted your little hornworm babies to feast like kings… my beds wouldn’t be the best place. Pests will build up according to the quantity and availability of their favorite foods. If your tomatoes aren’t all next to each other, it’s harder for pests to jump along and eat them one after the other. Many of our garden enemies only eat one thing… or one family. Put a crucifer next to a nightshade next to a legume and they’ll be lost in the woods.

    4. I feed the soil and plants like crazy. Healthy plants don’t seem to attract pests like unhealthy plants. Sometimes they’ll totally outgrow a problem, too. I believe God made “pests” to be little clean-up machines that ensure strong genes are passed on to the next generation. If you’ve got struggling little Brussels sprouts that are low on water and food, they’re more likely to get attacked. Tend them. Feed them.  Water them. Make sure they have good immune systems and they’ll be better equipped to ward off assault.

    5. I let some pests live. Yes – I do blast the aphids off tender growth with the hose now and again, but I often leave them for a while. Many pest species have a shorter and quicker life cycle than many predator species. A case in point: a very friendly USDA inspector visited my house a while back to get me approved for a nursery license. She happened to notice my grapes while she was there and said “Look at this – you need to flip these leaves over. See the aphids?” I had in fact seen the aphids and let them be. I told her as much… then flipped some more leaves over. In about 2’ of vine, I pointed out five ladybugs, two of which were in the act of mating. “Look at these,” I said, “ladybugs everywhere. And these two are making more ladybugs. They’ll catch up to the aphids soon.” She rolled her eyes and laughed, “you organic people …” The really funny thing? I looked for aphids on those grapevines a couple weeks later … and couldn’t find a single one.

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