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Archives for May 11, 2013

Skate park planned for Old Memorial in Northfield

Northfield’s Park and Recreation Advisory Board switched to the backup plan for a permanent skateboard park, Old Memorial Park, at a special meeting Thursday.

Soil borings showed that the Northfield City Council’s first choice, Riverside Park, is impractical with at least $350,000 of excavation and other work that would have been required to make the silty ground suitable to build on, said Brian Erickson, assistant public works director and assistant city engineer.

He said that the park board passed the resolution as primarily informational, showing that the change was in line with the council’s wishes to build it at one of the two sites in 2013.

The park board is considering an 8,000 square-foot park at the southeast corner near the current pool office, he said.

City staff, members of the Northfield Skateboard Coalition and the group’s preferred designer, Spohn Ranch, will now start drafting plans to construct the project near the city pool.

“It has been kind of a controversial project, probably for no good reason other than that nobody wanted it in their backyard,” said David Hvistendahl, a PRAB member.

He said that some people may also be concerned about the young people that a skateboard park would draw, but that it makes sense to build it an area that already has activity, along with first aid, staff and a concession stand at the pool.

“Both of them are about outdoor physical activities,” Hvistendahl said. “As a city and as a park board, we need to encourage that.”

He said that the board will gather more information to make sure that Old Memorial is actually the best option. The most recent soil test at that site was conducted in 2005.

Charlie Hussman, who has been part of the group of skateboarding enthusiasts before it was called the Northfield Skateboard Coalition, is working closely on the design.

“People from different groups were saying they want more interaction and input on design,” he said. “That’s absolutely welcome.”

The design should utilize the natural landscape, he said. Hussman’s ideas are to include elements of famous skating sites from around the world and a place to display art.

“It’s not going to be a skate park that you saw in a late 80s punk rock music video with graffiti and quarter pipes,” he said. “It’s going to be architecture and sculpture.”

As one of the first to be involved with the process, Hussman has seen changes in the coalition’s members and what drives them to continue. And what has driven some skateboarders to give up.

“A lot of those kids are the younger brothers or siblings of people that went to those meetings and the discouragement level, after they went off to college and didn’t see anything from it, was so high,” he said.”That’s so wrong of a city to have caused that. It’s just because of the lack of understanding and preconceived ideas of what something is and not being curious about learning from children.”

The site for the skateboard park has been debated and rehashed dozens of times since 2006. The following is a timeline with some highlights from the process so far, as detailed in city documents:

Late June 2006: First interest meeting about skateboard park is held at the Key (Northfield Union of Youth).

Summer 2006: Skateboard Coalition is formed. The group starts meeting every Wednesday at the Key.

July 2006: Coalition members brainstorm what they want in a park. Charlie Hussman turns the ideas into a first concept design.

October 2006: Members speak at an open mic at the Park and Recreation Advisory Board meeting about the need for a skate plaza.

December 2006: Coalition presents a 45-page proposal, including a list of what they hope the new park can have, as well as letters of support from community groups.

May 7, 2007: Council directs park board to work with the Coalition to develop a site selection process, design and cost for a future skate park and to include it within the Park System Master Plan. Potential sites: Ames Park, Babcock Park and Old Memorial Field Park.

January-October 2007: Coalition members volunteer at numerous city events, design donation jars and distribute them to 15 businesses, attend a grant workshop and collect signatures from local youth, along with several other fundraising efforts.

November 2007-March 2008: Members meet with an architect, discussed final features for the plaza, receive a matching grant of up to $10,000 from the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative, are featured in a national video profiling outstanding youth development efforts in Northfield, receive a Red Wagon Award from state representatives, continue fundraising.

Jan. 17, 2008: PRAB has open house and rules out Babcock Park. Letters, petitions and comments are received from residents near Old Memorial Park, stating opposition to the park at that location.

March 17, 2008: Council approves Ames Park as the location. The estimated design size of the plaza is 12,000 square feet, concrete with urban streetscape items, costing between $180,000 and $240,000. Coalition is raising money and $30,000 of city funds is set aside.

March 2008: A petition with more than 150 names is documented. Signers say they are against putting a skate park at Old Memorial Field, as it was not included in the approved park master plan that aimed to leave green space, a walking path, landscaping for noise control and aesthetics and seating along the path.

April 7, 2009: The council is told that it would cost between $628,460 to $803,829 to complete the Ames Park Master Plan that would include building the plaza, making modifications for safety on the Fifth Street Bridge and planting vegetation.

June 1, 2009: The majority of the council does not support the park board’s recommendation of Ames Park for the skate plaza location.

July-August 2009: Skateboard Coalition recruits volunteers to help build temporary location at Babcock Park.

Sept. 21, 2009: Council resolution removes Riverside Park, Sechlar Park, Sibley Park, Washington Park and Way Park from further consideration. Remaining sites still under consideration: Babcock Park, Memorial Field, multiple sites mini-area, school district areas and Spring Creek Park.

May 1, 2012: Council adopts motion to establish a temporary skateboard facility in Riverside Park until Oct. 15, 2012.

May 20, 2012: The council nixes Ames Park as a potential spot for a new skatepark.

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Two Richards’ DIY gem years in making – Leader Post – Regina Leader

When interior designer Donna Morrison had her hair cut in the home salon of Richard Pomerleau and his partner Richard Krulick, she got more than a chic new coiffure. She saw one of the most stylish home designs of her career.

“I am a designer myself, with close to 30 years in the industry, and I’ve seen my share of fabulous houses, and done lots of custom and high-end show homes … but I have never seen a house like this,” said Morrison.

“What’s most amazing is that Richard and Richard did it all themselves. They designed their house inside and out, did all the stonework, made the curtains, upholstered the furniture and a wall, yes a whole wall, did all the landscaping and even built an outdoor fountain.

“I was gobsmacked. I came home feeling like a slug,” joked the expert at Design District Studio.

What makes this house extraordinary is the attention to detail that the two Richards have lavished on their project – Krulick is also a talented painter, who has created many of the home’s artworks.

Both owners had a grand vision when they conceived this home, and as you gaze around the house, there is nothing you could think of adding; nowhere have they skimped. It’s a polished example of a modern new home with old-world character “because both of us really like the European look rather than West Coast, and we love mouldings,” said Krulick.

To really grasp the extent of their design scope, one must apparently visit over and over, because the decor changes with the seasons. “Last summer we used a lot of orange, and this summer we’re thinking it will be chartreuse green.”

The home is untouched by any interior designer or architect, although they did hire a draftsman to execute the plans, and at its heart is a kitchen that would make Martha Stewart drool. It has a long, gleaming island, two focal-point mantels – one over the range and another above the farm-style sink – and a skilful scattering of objets d’art.

The owners didn’t want lots of upper cupboards and decided instead to have a walk-in pantry. A coffee and martini bar, as well as the generous butler’s pantry, are located down a short hall off the kitchen. It ends in a small, sunny, upholstered window seat created by Pomerleau, whose mother taught him how to do upholstery.

On either side of the cook-top are narrow windows and glass-fronted cabinets, which frame a pair of Grecian-style urns.

“We like the sculptural look, which is a bit out of character for a kitchen,” said Pomerleau.

A huge island is the favoured spot for dinner parties, and on the third side of the kitchen is an accordion wall of folding windows that slide away on warm days to reveal an adjacent terrace complete with fireplace, gas ceiling heaters and television. Candles, furniture from Restoration Hardware and trimmed topiary shrubs complete the look.

“It’s a great kitchen to work in and we love having people over for Iron Chef parties and cook-offs,” said Krulick, who noted they had 16 people at a recent party. The eight-course meal involved each couple making a course.

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Play equipment updates considered as village develops its parks plan

By Dave Fidlin


Playground equipment at municipal-run parks within the Village of Waterford, such as Whitford and Ten Club parks, could be enhanced in the years ahead as part of a top-down review.

The Village Board’s Public Works Utilities Committee recently heard a presentation from John Hackbarth, an expert in planning and design. Hackbarth’s visit was in conjunction with a parks plan document that is being drafted at Village Hall.

During his brief presentation, Hackbarth discussed what the village might want to consider as new play structures are installed at parks throughout the community.

He recommended against most fencing around green spaces, except for baseball diamonds. The safety and durability of swing sets, slides and other types of equipment also entered into the discussion.

In terms of landscaping, Hackbarth said mulch material works well throughout parks because it assists with drainage.

“I believe in looking at everything from a long-term perspective,” Hackbarth said of his thought process when planning and designing green spaces.

Hackbarth attempted to bring committee members on board with his ideas, stating, “Parks are a great asset to the community.”

The committee was receptive to Hackbarth’s comments, but a cart-before-the-horse scenario entered the discussion during deliberations.

“I’m not sure we’re at the point to make any decisions,” said Trustee Stephen Denman, who serves on the committee.

“I think this is something we need to talk about a bit more.”

Director of Public Works Jeff Dolezal agreed, pointing out the parks plan remains a work in progress.

“I think we need to have that park plan solidified to help determine where we’re going to go,” Dolezal said.

The issue, and the possibility of using Hackbarth’s consulting services, is expected to be revisited at a future committee meeting.

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Living pictures a fresh way to liven up garden walls – Colorado Springs Gazette

Looking for a fresh way to liven up your garden walls? Living pictures – cuttings of assorted succulents woven together in everything from picture frames to pallet boxes – have caught on among garden designers and landscapers this spring as an easy, modern way to add color and texture to an outdoor space.

‘Living pictures composed of succulents have a gorgeous sculptural quality that work surprisingly well in a number of different aesthetics – contemporary, bohemian, Southwestern and more, ‘ said Irene Edwards, executive editor of Lonny home design magazine. ‘They’re great for urban dwellers with limited space. ‘

Living pictures are also nearly maintenance-free (i.e. hard to kill). So even beginners or those with the blackest of thumbs can look like the master gardener of the neighborhood.

How you can create your own living succulent picture:

Pick your style

There are a few ways you can go.

For a larger living picture, you can use a wooden pallet, framing out the back like a shadow box. Large, do-it-yourself living wall panels are also for sale online through garden shops like San Francisco’s Flora Grubb Gardens and DIG Gardens based in Santa Cruz, Calif.

But going big right away can be daunting, and bigger also means heavier, so many newbies like California gardening blogger Sarah Cornwall stick with smaller picture or poster frames.

Go vintage with an antique frame or finish, or build your own out of local barn wood. Chunky, streamlined frames like the ones Cornwall bought from Ikea give a more modern feel.

You’ll also need a shadow box cut to fit the back of the frame and wire mesh or ‘chicken wire ‘ to fit over the front if you’re going to make your own.

First, nail or screw the shadow box to the back of the frame. A depth of 2 to 3 inches is ideal. Set the wire mesh inside the frame and secure it with a staple gun, then nail a plywood backing to the back of the shadow box.

Take cuttings

Almost any succulent can be used for living pictures, though it’s usually best to stick with varieties that stay small, like echeverias and sempervivums, DIG Gardens co-owner Cara Meyers said.

‘It’s fun to use varieties of aeoniums and sedums for their fun colors and textures, but they may need a little more maintenance, as they may start to grow out of the picture more, ‘ she said.

Cut off small buds of the succulents for cuttings, leaving a stem of at least 1/4-inch long.

No succulents to snip? You can always buy some at a nursery or trade with other gardeners in your neighborhood.

‘They grow so easily, don’t feel embarrassed knocking on a door to ask for a few cuttings, ‘ Cornwall said.

Make sure any old bottom leaves are removed, then leave the cuttings on a tray in a cool, shaded area for a few days to form a ‘scab ‘ on the ends before planting.

Add soil

Set the frame mesh-side up on a table and fill with soil, using your hands to push it through the wire mesh openings.

Be sure to use cactus soil, which is coarser than potting soil, for better drainage.

Some vertical gardeners place a layer of sphagnum moss under and over the soil to hold moisture in when watering.

Fill in with plants

Now comes the fun and creative part.

Lay out the succulent cuttings in the design you want on a flat surface, and poke them into the wire mesh holes in your frame.

You can start either in one corner or by placing the ‘focal point ‘ cuttings in first and filling in around them. Waves or rivers of color are popular living-picture designs, although Cape Cod-based landscaper Jason Lambton has gone bolder with spirals of green and purple.

‘We painted the pallet different color stripes to go with the color theme of the back of the house, ‘ said Lambton, host of HGTV’s ‘Going Yard. ‘ ‘It looked like a cool piece of living, reclaimed art. ‘

Using just one type of succulent is also a simple yet elegant option, said Kirk Aoyagi, co-founder and vice president of FormLA Landscaping.

‘Collages with some draping and some upright plants can create a more dramatic look and feel, ‘ he said.

Care and maintenance tips

Keep the living picture flat and out of direct sunlight for one to two weeks to allow roots to form along the stems, then begin watering.

‘If you hang it up right away or it rains a lot, that dirt will just pour right out. . I made that mistake once, ‘ Lambton said.

Mount your living art once the succulents are securely rooted, which can take four to eight weeks depending on climate.

After that, water every seven to 10 days by removing from the wall and laying it flat.

Be sure to let the water drain before hanging your living picture back up to avoid rotting.

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The AZ of the Chelsea Flower Show

Alliums and astrantias

If we had to name two must-have Chelsea plants, it would be these. Few gardens are complete without a sprinkling of alliums, aka the onion family. Usually it’s the ornamental alliums such as Star of Persia (Allium christophii) and ‘Purple Sensation’ that star, rather than the edibles, but with the grow-your-own trend still building, expect to see some of the tastier alliums on display: Adam Frost’s Sowing The Seeds Of Change garden for Homebase includes garlic chives (A. tuberosum). A new astrantia variety called ‘White Giant’ will feature in Chris Beardshaw’s garden for Arthritis Research UK, while Ulf Nordfjell will use the much-loved cultivar ‘Shaggy’ in his Laurent-Perrier garden.

Big-name designers

Some recent winners are noticeably absent this year, with Cleve West, Tom Stuart-Smith and Andy Sturgeon all taking a break. And if you’re wondering what’s happened to Diarmuid Gavin, he of the brash pyramid-with-loopy-slide job you either loved or hated, he’s eschewed Chelsea in favour of Hampton Court this year. The Marmite moment may well be provided by The Sound Of Silence, designer Fernando Gonzalez’s take on Japanese zen gardens: it features a single bonsai tree, ripples of acrylic “stone” and very little else.


From fears of overcrowding and overcommercialisation to rows between designers and disagreements over judging methods, controversy is never far away. One classic example involved Top Gear presenter James May’s plasticine garden in 2009, which was shockingly free of live plants. The disagreements haven’t always been so trifling, though: in 1986, Newham council withdrew a planned exhibit in protest at a South African government stand.

Death and destruction

Not, it’s true, something instantly conjured up by Chelsea, but perhaps the mounting threats to the world of horticulture – from ash dieback disease to the plight of the honeybee – have prompted some designers to take a more downbeat approach this year, albeit with a positive message at the core. Kate Gould’s The Wasteland garden will show how salvaged objects from corrugated steel panels to (brace yourself) crazy paving can be used to create havens for wildlife and people in unloved urban areas. Stop the Spread, Jo Thompson’s garden for the Food and Environment Research Agency and the National Trust, includes an avenue of dead trees, representing the threat to our landscape posed by newly rampant pests and diseases and invasive non-natives.


The Guardian’s John Vidal caused a stir last year when he called the show “nature for the 1%”, but he’s far from the first to berate Chelsea for its excess and the size of its carbon footprint: trees and hard landscaping materials shipped from all over the globe to create a six-day wonder. John Walker, author of How To Create An Eco Garden, says some exhibits do showcase greener ways to garden, but he wonders about their impact. “It’s good to have Chelsea gardens that show what could be, but how many people who come through those gates have done something in the garden to make a difference to the world – building a rain garden or a green roof, or started growing vegetables? I don’t think many do.”


The 15 show gardens always draw the most attention, but don’t forget the smaller plots. The 11 gardens in the “fresh” category are where you’ll find the most far-out designs, while the eight artisan gardens are probably the most useful for the average punter, providing small-scale ideas you can put into practice in tiny spaces: expect wall-to-wall rustic shacks and cottage garden planting.


A gnome
Gnomes were banned, but this year the RHS has embraced them. Photograph: Alamy

They’ve been a no-no up until now (the rules state no coloured sculptures, as well as no balloons, bunting or flags), but this year the RHS has relented and allowed gnomes to feature. In fact, it has embraced the gnome theme, auctioning off figures decorated by celebrities to raise cash for the RHS Campaign for School Gardening. A gnome called Borage did creep into Jekka McVicar’s stand in 2009.”I have never understood the prejudice against gnomes,” McVicar said. “To me, they just represent our search for a bit of magic.” Gnome lovers shouldn’t get too excited, though – the ban will be back in 2014.


At the time of writing, the stone for Ulf Nordfjell’s garden is stuck on a container ship docked for repairs in Malta, when it should have reached the UK three weeks ago. Mark Fane of garden builder Crocus blogged: “It’s going to be a stressful few weeks. Without the stone, we have no garden…” And yet somehow the gardens come together, even if it involves a last push conducted under the headlights of the vans.


This spring’s cold start means there’s a question mark over whether all the plants will be blooming in time, including that Chelsea icon, the bearded iris. “It’s all about the timing and holding your nerve – an awful lot happens in the last week before the show,” says Robin Wallis of Hortus Loci, which is supplying 70,000-80,000 plants for some of the top designers, including Chris Beardshaw, Jinny Blom and Nigel Dunnett. Nurseries use all kinds of tricks to bring on or hold back plants from flowering, Wallis says. Iris buds are held closed using cotton wool and string, and boiled egg tops put over the top of peony buds will stop them opening. But most techniques are more obvious: moving plants between different areas of the nursery, some warm, some cooler. “You can hold things back by about a week and you can push things forward by two to three weeks if you have plenty of warmth, but if you push plants too hard, when they come to the show, they’ll flop.” Rusty red irises are a favourite, something Gardens Illustrated magazine dates back to Christopher Bradley-Hole’s modernist garden of 1997. This year will be no different: Beardshaw will be using a maroon and golden iris called ‘Supreme Sultan’.


Probably the most keenly awaited of the 15 show gardens is that of Bradley-Hole, back after an absence of eight years. RHS historian Brent Elliott called his 1997 garden “a turning point in modern British garden design, showcasing a minimalist style and sparse planting”. This year he will be offering “a Japanese-inspired abstraction of the English landscape”. Let’s hope he can produce another mould-breaking design.


Dozens of plants make their debut at Chelsea, and among them is always a clutch of clematis – one of the most enduringly popular of garden plants. The trend seems to be compact plants, suitable for containers and among low-growing shrubs; one of the best-looking is ‘Kaiser’ from Thorncroft Clematis, with dark pink double flowers that sport a lighter pink, spiky centre. Breeder Raymond Evison is debuting a compact, single-flowered form in creamy white called (predictably) ‘Chelsea’.


This variety of the Himalayan blue poppy (Meconopsis) is set to become one of Chelsea’s most desirable plants. Its sky-blue blooms will nod effortlessly in the wetlands of Nigel Dunnett’s RBC Blue Water roof garden, but beware: to replicate the look at home, you’ll need dozens of plants, and a moist, humus-rich spot to put them in.


The plant nuts make a beeline for the marquee. This huge space, heavy with pollen and petals, is where nurseries put on their show. Before 1951, nurseries exhibited in a hodgepodge of tents, but then along came the Great Marquee, all 3.5 acres of it, named in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest tent. A new millennium meant a new tent: the Great Marquee was replaced in 2000 by a more modern modular structure, and the fabric of the old shelter was used to make 7,000 bags, aprons and jackets. (If you missed out on those, Liberty sells satin inspired by the marquee.) Three nurseries that exhibited at the first Chelsea in 1913 are still showing: McBean’s Orchids, peony and iris growers Kelways and begonia and delphinium growers Blackmore Langdon’s.


It’s a trend that’s been building for a few years, but 2013 may be the peak of Chelsea’s obsession with native plants. From pongy wild garlic in Jamie Dunstan’s garden to the rare, green-winged orchid (Anacamptis morio) in Robert Myers’s, they’ll be everywhere.

One hundred years

It’s the show’s centenary, so expect nostalgia all round, but don’t expect many replicas of the rock gardens that dominated the first few decades. However, rhododendrons, much favoured in Chelsea’s early years, are undergoing a revival: R. yakushimanum is one of the contenders for the RHS’s plant of the centenary award, and R. macabeanum will be on show in the East Village garden designed by Michael Balston and Marie-Louise Agius.


Pleached trees in the Laurent-Perrier garden 2012
Last year’s Laurent-Perrier garden made the most of topiary and pleaching. Photograph: Alamy

You may not know your pleaching from your cloud pruning, but spend any time at Chelsea and you’ll see the range of ways to train a tree, from balls of box to espaliered apples. The trend seems to encompass the current enthusiasm for native plants: Myers is pleaching (training trees to produce a narrow screen or hedge) the humble field maple (Acer campestre), Paul Hervey Brookes has hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) “cubes” in his BrandAlley garden, and Bradley-Hole promises hazel (Corylus avellana) in a new “designed” form, whatever that means.


The show is forever wooing its patrons, the royals: the RHS sent the then Princess Elizabeth, aged 10, tickets to Chelsea after hearing that she had started to plant a little garden of her own. The tradition continues: the Sentebale charity founded by Prince Harry has a Lesotho-inspired garden designed by Jinny Blom, so we can expect a visit from the red-haired one.


The show can stand or fall on the weather – quite literally. In 1932, a summerhouse on display fell to pieces in heavy rain. One year, a particularly wet and disgruntled nurseryman called Clarence Elliott declared that the show should be renamed the Chelsea Shower Flower; 1971 and 1995 were particularly wet, while 2010 was blazing hot. If rain does arrive, it’ll be good news for the Trailfinders Australian garden, which is packed full of water-saving features, including a tank for collecting rainwater and a billabong that doubles as swimming pool.


There would be no Chelsea without sponsors willing to splash the cash (roughly £150,000 to £300,000, depending on plot size) to build a show garden. They vary from the glamorous (Laurent-Perrier) to the mundane (pipeline manufacturer Stockton Drilling). Some sponsors give designers a free rein; others have a specific brief and want them to include plants that can be sold to the public.


It’s hard to imagine Chelsea without Alan Titchmarsh on TV – he started co-presenting the show way back in 1983 and hasn’t missed a year since. At least you can say he knows how it feels: he’s made two show gardens, and won a gold in 1985 for a country kitchen garden.


Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ – that’s posh purple cow-parsley to most of us – is a Chelsea staple. The show has been awash with umbellifers the past few years, from Tom Stuart-Smith’s favourite Cenolophium denudatum to two-time best-in-show winner Cleve West’s parsnip flowers. Why? Because they’re semi-transparent, a handy quality in a garden that visitors can see into only from the side, and because they chime with the zeitgeisty mood for “wild” flowers.


Nicking a successful formula from the London Olympics, the RHS has recruited 130 volunteers as “show makers”, to greet visitors and “create a buzz”.

Women designers

Gertrude Jekyll, Vita Sackville-West, Margery Fish – there’s no shortage of influential women in horticulture. Women also outnumber men more than two to one in the Society of Garden Designers. Yet when it comes to designing a garden at Chelsea, it’s a bit of a boys’ club, with a few notable exceptions such as Kate Gould, Jinny Blom and Jo Thompson.

X Factor

Alan Titchmarsh warned earlier this month that Chelsea is in danger of dying out because young people brought up on a diet of The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent are unlikely to pick horticulture as a career. He may have a point: scan the crowds at Chelsea, and you’ll find a lot of grey hair in evidence. The Chelsea Fringe festival, now in its second year, may help by offering younger gardeners a hip alternative.


Topiary was everywhere in 2012, but will 2013 be another bumper year? Such a staple is unlikely to disappear completely, but this year it’s all about fruit trees: from the crab apple ‘Evereste’ in Roger Platts’ MG garden to the apples and pears in Adam Frost’s family garden.


Lions, goblins, prancing children… If you’re looking for a piece of sculpture for your garden, you’re spoiled for choice at Chelsea’s array of trade stands. There will not, however, be live animals on display. Chelsea’s “no livestock” rule is waived only on exceptional occasions: 25 koi carp were permitted in 2002 for the World of Koi garden, and last year a corgi called Cawdie modelled a dog kennel in Thompson’s romantic garden for the Caravan Club. RHS historian Brent Elliott reports a legend that the models in swimsuits posing in one of Winkfield Manor Nurseries’ show gardens in the 1950s were removed on the orders of the RHS’s assistant secretary, who invoked the no livestock rule. How times change: these days, no Chelsea press day is complete without several women clad in little more than a thick layer of body paint.

• For more information on the Chelsea flower show, visit, and for full coverage go to

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Simple ways to save water, money and your landscaping this summer

(BPT) – With many states facing drought this summer, homeowners across the country will be looking for ways to save their landscaping while conserving water at the same time. Even if you’re not in a drought-affected area, it pays to keep conservation in mind when it comes to watering outdoors. Using less water is good for the environment and your wallet.

Fortunately, maximizing the efficiency of your watering efforts and taking steps to conserve water outdoors can help trim your water bill this summer, even if you live in a severe drought area, such as in the western regions of the country. Here are simple ways to conserve water, save money and preserve your garden, lawn and landscaping this season:

Efficient, effective irrigation

Traditional watering methods for lawns, gardens and flower beds waste a lot of water through run-off, over-saturation and evaporation. Rather than spraying water over plants, use a method that delivers the right amount of water where it will do the most good – the roots of plants.

Drip irrigation systems, like those offered by Mister Landscaper, can help you water more effectively. These systems deliver water as close as possible to plant roots, allowing you to achieve better results with less water used. You’ll also lose less water to run-off and evaporation. Place the system on a timer, and you can also ensure you’re watering at optimum times of the day to reduce evaporation and waste. A starter kit with 50 linear feet of tubing – ample enough to handle most gardens and planting beds – costs less than $1 per foot. Visit to learn more.

Water lawns, gardens and flower beds either early in the morning or as evening approaches to ensure you don’t lose moisture to the hot sun. And if a day is windy, hold off watering lawns altogether as the breeze could leave you watering the sidewalk or driveway, rather than your grass.

Reuse, recycle and preserve

Even during a drought, some rain and condensation will occur. Take steps to capture natural moisture. A rain barrel situated beneath a downspout ensures you can catch run-off from your home’s roof. While using barrel water may not be practical with most irrigation systems, it’s a great option for watering container gardens or even indoor plants. You can also use household water, such as water left over from boiling vegetables or pasta, to water potted plants. Just be sure to let the water cool completely before using it.

You can help plants retain more moisture by placing organic mulch around the roots. The mulch will also help keep down weeds that would compete with plants for much-needed moisture. Depending on where you live and the type of mulch you choose, you can buy a bag of mulch for just a few dollars.

Finally, adjusting the type and location of plants is a great way to grow a drought-resistant garden or landscaping bed. Check with your local agricultural extension or search online for naturally drought-resistant species that do well in your area. By planting these hardier varieties, you can help keep your environment green and growing through a long, dry summer – and avoid the money drain of high water bills.

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Special Plant Sales

By Carol Stocker
Mother’s Day weekend is the best time of the year to find plant sales by garden clubs and plant societies. Rarities and bargains dug from thousands of local backyards are yours to seek out:

May 11, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and May 12, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Historic New England’s Casey Farm, 2325 Boston Neck Road, Saunderstown, RI.

May 12, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Robin Hollow Farm, 1057 Gilbert Stuart Road, Saunderstown, RI, is having its annual open house this weekend in cooperation with Casey Farm. Usually not open to the public,Robin Hollow is a charming privately owned farm which grows herbs and specialty cut flowers of exceptional variety and quality, and is known for its wedding work. You can buy plants here that you will find nowhere else – and at very reasonable prices. A perfect day trip for Mother’s Day. 401-294-2868.

May 11, 8 a.m.-noon, The Milton Garden Club Perennial Plant Sale, in front of The Milton Library on Canton Ave.

May 11, 8 a.m.-noon, The Amateur Gardens of Milton Annual Plant Sale, in front of Milton Town Hall on Canton Ave.

May 11, 9-11 a.m., The Marblehead Garden Club’s 82nd annual plant sale, benefiting the Jeremial Lee Mansion, at the Gerry 5 VFA, 210 Beacon St., Marblehead.

May 11 9 a.m.-1 p.m.: Billerica Garden Club Plant Sale, 25 Concord Road, Billerica.

May 11, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., The Garden Club of Concord Plant Sale, Middlesex Bank, Main St., Concord.

May 11, 10 am. to 1 p.m., Kingston Garden Club annuual spring plant sale, Faunce School, 16 Green St., Kingston.

May 11. 9 a.m. to noon, Bridgewater Garden Club Plant Sale, Bridgewater Cole-Yeaton Senior Center, 10 Wally Krueger Way, Bridgewater off Rte. 18/28.

May 11, 9 a.m.:Easton Garden Club Plant Sale, Yardley-Wood Rink, 388 Depot St., S. Easton

May 11 The New England Daylily Society [] is holding a Plant Sale on in Wakefield at the First Parish Congregational Church, 1 Church St. Sales tables open: 10:30-12:30. Auction of more expensive daylily hybrids at 12:30.

Members of the New England Daylily Society will be there at the sale to answer your questions or help you to choose a daylily for your gardens. Hundreds of daylilies will be available for purchase. Be there at the start of the sale for best selection.

Daylilies are not Lilies or bulbs. They are herbaceous perennials. Daylilies grow very well in average garden soil and although they perform better when watered during the growing season, they are drought tolerant.

If you have questions about the sale, please contact NEDS president, Adele Keohan at
For more information about daylilies, visit the American Hemerocallis Society at

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Gardening Tips: Wet weather pushes plant growth back

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2013 11:03 am

Gardening Tips: Wet weather pushes plant growth back

By Matthew Stevens

RR Daily Herald


For the past three weeks or so, we’ve been stuck in a period of cooler than usual temperatures with a fair bit of rain.

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Growing Marijuana: California Medical Cannabis Gardening Tips from Jorge …

Monday’s California Supreme Court ruling that cities like Riverside can ban medical cannabis dispensaries re-emphasizes the importance of personal cultivation for the state’s estimated 750,000 marijuana patients. So we Skyped with Jorge Cervantes, author of “Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower’s Bible”, now in its fifth edition, to put together this primer on the basics of legally growing medical marijuana in California.

The Law
Marijuana is still federally illegal, of course. But Californians in 1996 crafted defenses for qualified medical marijuana patients and caregivers prosecuted in state courts for crimes like marijuana possession and cultivation. Qualifying medical conditions include: “cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.” A 2010 survey of patients at an Oakland medical cannabis clinic showed the most common conditions for which marijuana was providing relief were pain, insomnia, anxiety and depression. In practices that’ve been going on globally for at least ten thousand years, patients smoke, vaporize, ingest or topically apply the active ingredients in cannabis – cannabinoids – for symptom relief. Cannabinoids like delta-9-THC and CBD are created in the unfertilized female flower tops of the plant.

Qualified patients with a valid recommendation have a medical defense in court for growing up to six mature plants or 12 immature plants – unless a doctor determines more is needed. Some localities have also placed local restrictions on the annual, sexual reproducing bushy plant, which can grow to 15 tall and yield a pound of medical marijuana per year. Cities like Concord, CA., have banned outdoor growing, while places like Berkeley, CA. limits outdoor gardens to ten plants. NORML has a handy guide to local growing regulations.

Grow cannabis in the full sun, Jorge Cervantes argues

Grow cannabis in the full sun, Jorge Cervantes argues

Assuming your city or county allows it, grow outdoors, says Cervantes. “Growing outdoors is 100 percent easier than growing indoors. It’s much, much easier, it’s a lot cheaper and it leaves a very small carbon footprint, which is a huge factor.”

‘But isn’t outdoors risky?’ we asked. ‘Each plant could be worth a couple thousand dollars.’

“You just have to have a locked gate,” Cervantes said. The master farmer based in Spain has grown during three consecutive California summers. He also recommends trail cameras, and maybe a dog, and motion-detector activated security lights. Several companies also insure cannabis grows, he said.

Marijuana plants get stinky during their Fall Harvest, which can attract thieves or neighbor complaints.

“Some people, anything bothers them. I had an odor problem so on one side where the neighbors were I just put some carob seed mulch, which smells like chocolate and it sweetens up the air. The smell only lasts for a few weeks anyway.”

“There are pluses and minuses for both of them,” he said.

Cuttings are readily available at dispensaries, and they’re real easy, he said. “It’s already a little plant and you don’t have to go through the first six weeks of growth.”

The problem is unsanitary cutting rooms, he said. Dirty clones contain hitchhikers like powdery mildew, or spider mite eggs. “It’s really difficult to tell if there’s a problem [with a cutting]. Buying cuttings is very related to trust,” he said.

Seek out dispensary reviews and determine the reputation of your clone’s source.

Seeds on the other hand, don’t contain such pathogens. Fungus may be on the surface of the seed, but hand washing or disinfecting before planting solves that problem. A good, first-generation hybrid seed will grow 20 percent faster and stronger than a clone, he said. Californians can still germinate from seed and get plants in the ground for this growing 2013 season, which runs April to October. “You’d have a very late crop,” he said.

Cannabis seeds sell online for about $50 for packs of five.

Cannabis seeds sell online for about $50 for packs of five.

Young marijuana plants grown from seed will need to be sexed, unless customers buy feminized seeds widely popular in Europe and available online.

“Pretty much everything is going to feminized seeds, and then auto-flowering is huge right now and has been for five years,” Cervantes said.

Auto-flowering marijuana plants automatically begin flowering after about ten weeks of growth. Natural marijuana needs the shorter daylight of the Fall to kick off flowering. Auto-flowering seeds can finish in mid-Summer, before neighbors even notice the odor.

“I would grow short plants and harvest in the middle of the Summer. Those auto-flowering plants are ready in 70-80 days and are just a meter tall,” he said.

Cervantes said the most popular strain – OG Kush – can be finnicky to grow. “Jack’s Cleaner was a good one. Apollo 13. Chemdog. Blue Dream was really a nice one. And Jack Herer.”

Cervantes says keep it simple with organic soil and fertilizers, as opposed to soil-less “hydroponic” set-ups and synthetic, petroleum-based plant food called “nutrients”.

“Organic soil outdoors is much easier to deal with. You just have to keep it alive and growing well. It can take a couple of years to build it up,” he said. “But you can also buy it.”

Grow it in soil, advises Cervantes.

Grow it in soil, advises Cervantes.

Amend the organic soil with “activated, aerated compost tea. It’s concentrated compost that comes in a dry powder. That’s about it, and water. Also, a big ingredient is air. Pump air into the solution and the bacteria and microbes just explodes. You can go spread this in your garden and it’s dynamite.”

Avoid synthetic chemical nutrients, he said. A healthy organic soil should have nutrients, and nutrient levels are only part of it. “There’s a lot more biology in there, the whole rhizosphere, bacteria, microbes, a lot of fungus, good ones, bad ones, all the other soil life; a lot of worms, little and big beetles, larva, eggs, all kinds of stuff. They have to get in balance.”

Cannabis functions between 55 and 85 degree Fahrenheit, Cervantes notes.

Cannabis functions between 55 and 85 degree Fahrenheit, Cervantes notes.

Buy a gardening thermometer. Marijuana plants stop functioning above 85 degrees and below 55 degrees, Cervantes said. Keep the soil cool with mulch on top. “A layer of mulch works wonderfully and it’s really inexpensive.”

Decay breeds decay, Cervantes said. So make sure there’s no puddles of standing water – which can breed pests. Pick up any rotting debris in the yard.

“Just keep everything clean around the garden in general. Don’t let anything rot on the soil, remove debris and dead growth that is going to attract scavengers. A lot of insects will start on the dead stuff – crickets, beetles, fungus nats, earwigs – when the dead stuff runs out they start on the live things. The dead things also attracts fungus too.”

Marijuana-Horticulture LEARN MORE, BUT DON’T OVERDO IT
And by all means buy the well-reviewed and beloved “Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower’s Bible”, but just remember:

“Ask ten gardeners how to grow marijuana and you get 20 opinions,” Cervantes said. “There’s a million ways to grow it. It’s a plant and it’s a survivor. It was here before we were and it’ll be here after we are gone.”

“The plant is really quite an easy plant to grow. It’s not hard to grow well, though there a lot of people that are trying too hard or they listen to a lot of different experts and usually get confused. Many times the experts have something to gain.”

Read up on more gardening tips here: ‘Growing Killer Weed: Ed Rosenthal’s Tips from ‘The Art of Doing

Or share some of your own lessons and resources in the comments.

Medical marijuana strain Blue Dream

Medical marijuana strain Blue Dream

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Garden Tips : Hanging Baskets And How To Keep Them Healthy

(WHNT) – Hanging baskets are beautiful – and they make a wonderful gift for Mother’s Day.

(It’s Sunday, May 12!)

To ensure your hanging basket will last through the summer, start with more soil to make sure the plant keeps growing.

George Bennett of Bennett Nurseries says plants in hanging baskets are ‘hungry’.  You need to water them nearly every day, and because of that, the fertilizer will often get used up more quickly.  So, fertilize your hanging baskets more often to account for this.

Bennett suggests you use an acid-producing fertilizer to offset the pH of the water you’ll be giving the plant so often.

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