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Archives for May 22, 2013

Residents oppose new construction

Community residents gathered during Monday night’s special city council meeting to oppose a request that would allow for construction of apartment buildings near East Allen Road and North Cedar Avenue, south of the Bertha Parker bypass.

Joseph Meadows, of Fort Smith, requested the 23.6 acres be changed from single-family zoning to multi-family zoning. But neighboring residents expressed concern the apartment buildings would create a number of issues, including increased traffic and storm water runoff problems.

Residents said Tahlequah has an abundance of apartments already in place with vacancies.

Other concerns raised during the meeting included an increase in trash, noise and drugs to the area; and worries of a decrease in property value for neighbors.

Scott Wright spoke first on behalf of Meadows and said engineers would be required to prevent any increase in storm water runoff.

Wright said Meadows would place the entrance and exit to the apartments on Allen Road, which is set to be expanded. Plans call for about 480 parking spaces on the property, and apartments would be built in phases, as demand for them occurs.

Meadows told the council his apartment managers are always strict, and criminal background checks are conducted on all tenants. As for concerns of a decrease in property values to those surrounding the proposed apartments, Meadows said his company has never seen that happen.

He believes a need for apartments exists in Tahlequah; otherwise, he wouldn’t be risking millions of dollars on the proposed project, he said.

Meadows also pointed out the apartments would bring in thousands of tax dollars to city and school coffers. He estimates 40-50 percent of the tenants at the apartment would be students at Northeastern State University.

“We hope to make this an asset to Tahlequah,” said Meadows.

Council members were unable to approve or deny the rezoning request, but decided to remand the issue back to the city’s planning and zoning board.

Building Inspector Mark Secratt told the council the matter had been placed before the planning and zoning board, but no motion was made to make a recommendation to the city.

Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols expressed a desire to have the planning and zoning board “do their job” before the council takes action, and fellow councilors agreed. Nichols said a special meeting of that board will be called before its next regular meeting, and the council can again take up the rezoning request at a future meeting.

Ordinance outlines    brush removal

Councilors passed a new ordinance that outlines the collection of yard waste within the city. Yard waste, such as limbs, will be collected by the Street Department at the request of a property owner, who can have one request per week. Collections will be limited to 2-1/4 cubic yards of waste material, with wooden material not to exceed more than 12 inches in diameter or 4 feet in length.

Material must also be free of wire, nails, plastic bags, tacks, or other foreign objects; and no materials as a result of construction or demolition will be collected.

Those who place yard waste for collection must do so directly behind and parallel to the curb or street edge with no limbs, branches, vines or other pieces of the waste material resting on or overhanging the curb or street edge. Yard waste cannot stay on the curb or street edge awaiting collection for more than 72 hours without having arrangements made with the Street Department for collection.

The ordinance also establishes fees for additional collections or for excessive yard waste. Each additional collection beyond the single free collection will be subject to a $50 feet for each additional yard of material collected. Street Department officials can provide a cost estimate to any property owner requesting additional or excessive collections.

Details of the ordinance, such as who collects the fees for excessive waste, will be determined later.

Nichols said the city can consider holding free disposal days at various points in the year to help residents who might have trouble meeting the ordinance requirements.

Councilors also discussed two new proposed ordinances, but were ultimately unable to take any action on them. One would regulate commercial landscaping, and another would establish rules for placement and enclosure of dumpsters.

Councilors deny          more stop signs

Nichols introduced a request from local residents who believe a speeding problem exists on East Ross Street. The residents requested stop signs be added where Ross meets Oakwood Drive, and another where Ross meets Ransten Avenue.

Chief of Police Nate King told the council that officers have been placing a special emphasis of enforcement on the area, but said stop signs likely won’t deter those who speed in the area.

“The most effective way to slow people down is to have consequences,” said King, who mentioned citations and warnings.

Councilors agreed the stop signs wouldn’t fix the problem. Ward 3 Councilor Maurice Turney successfully asked fellow councilors to deny the request.

Nichols suggested the city may consider installing a speed table to slow traffic, or look at other ideas, along with enforcement of speed limits.

Grant funding source      of conversation

King sought and received approval from councilors to participate in a paid-overtime program from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. City officers who work 40 hours, and risk overtime when they work on federal cases, can receive overtime pay from the ATF.

King said the program would be “advantageous for the department” and a “win-win for the city.” The city will pay officers the accrued overtime, and the ATF will reimburse the city for qualifying work on federal cases.

Councilors also begrudgingly OK’d a budget decrease of nearly $54,500 from a Community Solution to Violence Against Women grant. Those funds were not used by the end of March, and were part of a “use-it-or-lose-it” grant, according to Assistant City Administrator Kevin Smith.

Ward 4 Councilor Linda Spyres asked why the funds weren’t used, and Smith said she would have to ask the former chief of police.

Funding was granted by the Department of Justice, and provided for salary expenses, fringe benefits, travel expenses, and supplies. The District Attorney’s Office could have received about $18,000 of the funds, and Help-In-Crisis about $11,000.

“That makes me mad,” said Spyres. “I don’t like to give back money. That’s ridiculous to me. I’m very upset.”

The council also approved a separate $1,686 Encourage to Arrest Grant fund decrease, because the grant expired March 31.

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Changing Current

The Uptown waterfront along the Wolf River Harbor – the area of the rejuvenated Uptown neighborhood that has for the most part been left out of the revitalization – could soon become a bustling waterfront village, according to a recently released master plan for the area.

Front Street looking south toward Keel is part of an area of Uptown that is being considered for a new master plan to stimulate private investment in new commercial, residential and mixed-use buildings.

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

The Uptown West Master Plan, developed by LRK Inc., covers some of the city’s oldest settlements, particularly the area between the harbor, A.W. Willis Avenue, Second Street and Island Drive.

The master plan outlines potential public improvements to the waterfront, streets, drainage ways and parks that can better connect the Uptown West neighborhood and bring private investment – and Uptown as a whole – to the Wolf River Harbor.

Uptown West
Master Plan

“This is the Uptown neighborhoods that had heretofore been left out of the Uptown revitalization,” said Steve Auterman of LRK.

In 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Memphis District along with the Riverfront Development Corp. and the Memphis and Shelby County Community Redevelopment Agency commissioned the master plan.

The overarching goal of the plan is to turn the area into a more active neighborhood, improve accessibility, build on its diversity, and improve the quality of life for residents while maintaining or increasing real estate values.

“We worked together with all these people in developing these concepts and hopefully over a period of time we’ll be able to implement some of the ideas,” said John Dudas, director of strategic planning at Belz Enterprises Inc.

“One of our goals is to work with property owners to visualize how that area can be developed and show how the public improvements can help lead the private improvements,” Dudas said.

The master plan acknowledges, “time and again, public improvements often are required to spur private investment in a location where revitalization is not occurring on its own.”

Organizers think the opportunity exists to use public funds to leverage private dollars to rejuvenate the Uptown West area, long overlooked by the city and urban planners. The effort won’t happen overnight, as planners envision the Uptown West Master Plan to be implemented in phases over the next 25 years.

Currently, Uptown West is a mix of industrial, commercial and residential properties, including many that are underutilized or vacant. The area is currently home to river-based agricultural and transportation businesses, including Cargill, Westwat, LaFarge and Bunge.

Vacant and underutilized land dots the area, and streets with crumbling pavement are prevalent. The same goes for sidewalks and lighting. In some areas, sidewalks are broken while in others they are completely missing.

“The Uptown West area was put on the backburner for a while and it’s been brought to the forefront again,” Dudas said.

While Uptown has improved in many ways over the last decade, enhancing connections to the waterfront have lagged far behind.

“We only have a few areas where we can get to the water at all,” Auterman said.

To make the daunting job a little easier to handle, Uptown West has been divided into six sub-areas: Gayoso Bayou, North Front Street, Henry Avenue Neighborhood Avenue, Washington Park Landing, Harbor View Landing and Levee Harbor.

One major component of the plan is a new system of trails. Tying into existing trails near The Pyramid and on Mud Island, a new Wolf River Harberfront Trail will create a multi-purpose trail connecting Uptown to the harbor.

A water taxi system will be introduced to the Wolf River Harbor to allow for new connections to Beale Street Landing, Mud Island, the Bass Pro Shops development and Uptown as a whole. An improved North Second Street will create a landscaped boulevard north of Henry Street while connecting with Third Street south of Henry with a roundabout.

The Gayoso Bayou sub-area is likely to see increased investment and development because of the Bass Pro redevelopment project. Proposed public improvements include landscaping, expanded sidewalks and basin enhancements to the Gayoso Bayou ponds and a new Harborfront trail routed around the Coast Guard facility, beginning under the Willis bridge to Willis Avenue and Front Street to Saffarans.

One of the areas that could see the most improvement is the North Front Street sub-area. Currently, Front Street between Saffarans and Henry Avenue is a wide track tailored for trucks serving several industries. Conwood is vacating a number of buildings there, including a six-story warehouse, which planners say presents a unique opportunity for adaptive reuse.

Planners see Washington Park as a hidden gem. Park usage could be increased by connecting the park westward with the Wolf River Harbor.

Just as it has taken a decade for Uptown to become a reality, the transformation of Uptown West also will take time.

“These kinds of projects do take time and there are many people and organizations involved so everyone needs to be patient,” Dudas said.

To realize the completed project, LRK planners estimate it would cost $72.8 million over a 25-year period. The resulting private sector investment could reach $175 million to $268 million over the same period of time.

“Uptown wasn’t turning itself around,” Auterman said. “It took some public investments in the area to lure private investment. We’ve seen success in the heart of Uptown and little success in the Uptown West area and we’re trying to turn some of our focus to that area.”

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Uniting All That Has Been Separated

The New Group of World Servers has been holding in safeguarding the Wesak blessing (the Will-to-Good for humanity) since the last full moon in April (Wesak). At Friday’s full moon lunar eclipse (an outer reality disappears), the Gemini Festival of Humanity Goodwill (and World Invocation Day), this blessing will be dispersed to humanity for the purpose of creating Goodwill Right Relations throughout the world. It’s a vital and important solar festival, working with the Forces of Reconstruction who appear in times of need to help humanity “restore the Ancient Mysteries and the original Plan on Earth,” hidden and obscured by the Forces of Materialism.

The full moon occurs in the evening and into the night. Beforehand, the Gemini’s planetary rulers (intermediaries), Mercury (messenger) and Venus (synthesizing dualities) unite in Gemini (19 degrees). It’s a most auspicious festival, for Gemini (along with Pisces, the saving force and Venus) “bring together all that has been separated”.
During the festival, the Sun and moon (on each side of the Earth), receiving the Light of Gemini (Interplaying Lightbeams revealing all that opposes), bathe the Earth in Gemini light (Ray 2, Love/Wisdom) that harmonizes all that opposes. Then a prayer goes out into the world from the New Group of World Servers.

“Let our sustained, daily, meditative, group, Ashramic, rhythmic efforts, radiated to humanity, be the seed of synthesis, the force that binds together all that has been separated.” Join us everyone in this prayer, and in reciting the Great Invocation, during the Festival. They uplift and transform humanity.
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Esoteric Astrology as News for the week of May 23-29, 2013 For Sun and Rising Signs

Aries-March 21–April 20
You are cheerful these days, feeling companionship with others. You talk a lot about what’s interesting to you, finding great value exchanging information and ideas. Be sure to listen as well to others. Provide them time to think, to share with and to trust you. You’re attracted to things witty and entertaining. You may be called to harmonize conflicts, bring diplomacy to the table. You’re learning.

Taurus April 21–May 21
No matter what others say about their life needs, especially relationships, you feel comforted and at home with your own environment and life choices. If others are restless, simply listen and carry on with your chores. You seek financial security, comfort and enjoyment primarily. Not everyone seeks these things. A partner may not. Careful to relate kindly with others. Consciously learn the art of cooperation.

Gemini May 22–June 20
It’s difficult to say no to yourself about anything desired at this time. You seek things that are pleasant, fun-loving and playful. If you’re not, then you must begin or you will lose this time to seriousness that is not appropriate. Pay attention to your appearance. Make yourself handsome and beautiful each day. Allow your heart to show no matter what the situation. And don’t hide from vulnerabilities. Be real (not clever). Real is more attractive.

Cancer June 21–July 20
cancer Jun21–Jul20
It’s a time of reclusiveness – like white polar bears during hibernation—hiding away at home tending to life needs, hoping not to be interrupted from your focus and concentration. Sometimes you experience very personal and private longings—feelings you don’t share with others. You miss someone very deeply. You don’t share that either. Sometimes you cry. Sometimes you’re lonely. Then it passes. Angels are around.

Leo July 21–August 22
It’s time to form friendships with others who contribute harmony to your life. It’s time to be part of a group (or several) where you meet people to share your life with, people with your same ideas, values and interests, people you can laugh with and form close associations. Your need for these is important and should you enter groups they would embrace you, finding you charming and a stable peacemaker.


Virgo August 23–September 22
Your qualities of responsibility, tending to details, ability to organize and order things in disarray are deeply appreciated. Social opportunities open up when you exhibit excellent managerial skills. It’s important to wear good shoes, for climbing the ladder socially and professionally can be hard on the soles of your feet. It can also be hard on your Soul, too, if you’re not focused deeply and primarily on serving others. You have artistic talent.


Libra September 23–October 22
Are you feeling rather unsatisfied? Do you feel that after this next project you must make a major change? Things routine become difficult. Your eyes seek far horizons, cultures and people far away. Your spirit’s a bit eccentric and exotic. You’re charming when out in the world traveling and when romance is involved. You’re generous with those you love. Let the exotic in you guide you toward the arts, dance, theatre, travel and things unusual.

Scorpio October 23–November 21
It’s a good time to consider finances. This includes legacies from family, which includes the values taught you as a child—a deep and intimate subject. Know that you are beautiful and wonderful and not alone, and every step in your life has developed your values that reach beyond childhood. All relationships are intensified now. You seek depth with those you love, harmonizing all differences. You also study family origins.


Sagittarius November 22–December 20
You’re happiest with one-on-one relationships more than in groups or with acquaintances. It’s important for you to be close to the ones who love you, providing them with praise and recognition, gratitude and acknowledgement of their presence in your life. Should there be any relationships or difficulty this is a valuable time to create a bridge of harmony, from you to them. You’re the peacemaker here.


Capricorn December 21–January 20
Wherever you are, with everyone, it’s important to establish harmony in the environment and Right Relations with family, relatives and with co-workers. Everything seems to revolve around and between family and around work. You’re best when working in cooperation with others at this time. Whatever group or team you’re in charge of, create aspects of harmony. Teach them (and know yourself) intentions of Goodwill to create Right Relations.


Aquarius January 21–February 18
This is a time of creative expression, the building of aesthetic forms in all of the arts. Whatever your creative self-expression, this is an auspicious time to bring forth your inner gifts. Instead of allowing corporate structures to create realities around us, Aquarians are called to bring forth the many different possible futures so humanity can have a template to work from. Love affairs, children, cheerfulness and lightheartedness all come into play. And appreciation of all relationships.


Pisces February 19–March 20
You survey your home considering ways to make it more nurturing, more beautiful, more comforting. You think about your family wanting to care and serve them better. You value the art and aesthetics of architecturally designed homes and seek to employ their ideas. Especially natural pools and landscaping. Creating a peaceful, consistent, stable atmosphere is your task. Notice the small pleasures of each day.

Risa is Founder Director of the Esoteric Astrological Studies Research Institute, a contemporary Wisdom School in Santa Cruz, CA.

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Geneva’s Western Avenue School students work in garden

Each time the 300 students at Western Avenue School in Geneva pass their school this summer, they’ll see the pumpkins and gourds they planted in the front yard last week grow a little larger.

About 50 families have signed up to keep the gardens tended during the summer, stopping by each week to pull a few weeds and water the seedlings.

By the time students return in the fall, the “edible schoolyard” will be filled with pumpkins and gourds, and the fruit trees in their orchard will be bearing fruit, while the community planting beds will have provided produce all summer to the families who helped maintain them.

Fourth-graders Arthur Maiorella and Raegan Lubben paired up with kindergartners to help plant pumpkin seeds recently. They agreed that the garden of about 3,200 square feet, the only one like it in Geneva Community Unit School District 304, is a point of pride for them and their classmates.

“The kids get to help out,” Raegan said.

“And we get to see the plants grow ourselves,” Arthur chimed in, adding that he and his family have come to the garden in previous summers to help tend the plants.

“It’s really cool to know that those big pumpkins will come from this tiny hard seed,” said Meg Chaon, a fifth-grader, as she planted.

The day marked Western’s third planting, and all of the classes chipped in this year. Some students dug the holes, tipped in the seeds and watered. The fifth-graders planted grasses native to Illinois, with a little science and history lesson thrown in for good measure. The first-graders transplanted little carrot seedlings they had started indoors into the soil as part of their science unit.

It was just what Jen Kelley and Lisa Goewey had envisioned as they walked their children to school one day more than three years ago. The pair chatted about how great it would be to incorporate a large garden into Western’s expansive front lawn.

Principal Ron Zeman gave tentative approval to the idea, and over the next several months, Kelley investigated and researched. There was some pushback, she said, as people wondered whether the time and money could be better spent on a different school initiative.

But as more families bought in and more local businesses and community members pledged support, the idea grew. A $4,000 Fit Kids grant from Kane County helped buy 15 fruit trees and berry bushes, along with a garden library and supplies.

Now the gardens feature thousands of brick pavers donated by Paveloc and installed at reduced cost by Great Impressions, a division of Sebert Landscaping. Jay Womack, a Geneva landscape architect and Western Avenue graduate, donated a landscape plan. Midwest Groundcovers helped with the cost of the native grasses and Great Impressions with the seeds. Parents and residents threw fundraisers to cover the upkeep.

“This is a built-in field trip,” said Kelley as she watched second-graders plant. “We’ve added a resource to the school.”

They’ve also added to the school’s — and district’s — sense of community, Kelley said. Students at Harrison Street School donated money from a fundraiser to help the garden, and students from Geneva High School’s Environmental Club have assisted, she said.

Zeman, clad in a T-shirt and work boots as he helped the students plant, agreed. The educational benefit is obvious, but the best consequence of the garden is the sense of community it fosters, he said.

“We’ve been overwhelmed” by the generosity of businesses and the willingness of parents to keep the garden growing, he said.

“That’s your plot,” Zeman told the kindergartners after they had watered. “I hope you visit this summer. Come and check it out, and see the flowers that will become.”

He paused, then asked, “Who knows what the flowers will become?” — and hands shot into the air.

Article source:,0,1299934.story

16th Great Gardening Weekend – The My Space for Life Garden is coming over!

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Lake Forest focuses on native plants

In a community known for nature preserves, prairies and dedication to open space, Lake Forest city officials and residents are focusing on the importance of native planting to help conserve water, promote a healthy ecosystem and connect better with nature.

“Native planting is a subject that’s growing in momentum, not just communitywide but I think on a larger scale,” said Ald. Michael Adelman, 4th Ward. “What we’re trying to do is bring an awareness to residents of a possible new direction that we should all be thinking of going, even as we have evolved into a populated community.”

Adelman led a community forum last week that centered on native plants, the benefits they provide to natural habitats and ecosystems and the ways individuals can incorporate them into the manicured landscapes of their homes.

Four main speakers led the discussion, including Nathan Aaberg of Conserve Lake County, Trish Beckjord of Midwest Groundcovers, John Sentell of Lake Forest Open Lands and John Mariani of Mariani Landscape.

“It’s very encouraging that the City of Lake Forest would have a community forum focused on native plants and that we had people from a variety of age groups there with a lot of interest,” said Aaberg, associate director of Conserve Lake County. “The fact that the village is being proactive and thoughtful about this says a great deal about the city.”

Conserve Lake County helps people in Lake County preserve open land and take care of natural habitats in their communities and homes. It also offers education and advocacy for nature.

Aaberg’s presentation centered on using native plants to conserve natural habitats and species as well as ways to connect people with their environments through a program that offers free consultation on their properties.

“There’s just a lot of people in Lake County who care about nature, and we just want to be the hands and feet that help them to really act, engage and take care of nature,” Aaberg said.

Aaberg also mentioned that Conserve Lake County is holding weekend plant sales throughout May and early June at the Almond Marsh Forest Preserve in Grayslake, with more than 100 species of native plants.

Discussing how people can introduce native plants to their home gardens while maintaining the manicured look of traditional landscapes, Beckjord and Mariani emphasized that native and non-native species can coexist.

Beckjord specializes in sales, consultation and market development for native plants with Midwest Groundcovers, which provides plants and landscaping services to contractors and garden centers, according to its website.

Mariani is design director of Mariani Landscapes, a family-run business in Lake Bluff offering landscape design and maintenance to residential and commercial clients, according to the firm’s website.

Sentell, president of Lake Forest Open Lands, said the mission of his organization is to care for Lake Forest’s natural heritage and environment. In an effort to protect these natural habitats, Sentell said native plants are more cost-effective, require less water, nurture the soil better and can be just as beautiful as non-native varieties.

“With the advent of the emerald ash borer, it’s going to take a toll on our tree population,” Sentell said. “When replacing these trees, planting a native oak tree is one of the best things you can do for nature. I think we’d like to see that Lake Forest can demonstrate to other communities a sense of responsibility to nature.”

Chuck Myers, the city’s superintendent of parks and forestry, said he wished more people had turned out for the forum but that the speakers had done well.

“I thought it was excellent,” Myers said. “They brought awareness to the people that were there, and I think they did a pretty good job of dispelling some myths about native planting, including that a bunch of overgrown weeds shouldn’t be confused with prairie. Beautiful plantings can be had through using natives.”

Article source:,0,7064899.story

Gardening Tips a Click, Phone Call Away


Not sure what to do about those bugs chewing up your flowers? Concerned about selecting the right plants for your yard? Wondering what kind of grass is the most drought tolerant?

Help is a phone call and click away at the Hillsborough County Extension Service.

The Master Gardener Help Desk is staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with gardening pros ready to answer landscape-related questions for local residents.

“They can assist homeowners with lawn and pest problems, what to successfully grow in their landscape and vegetable gardens, and when and how to water effectively,” the extension’s website says.

These gardening experts don’t stop with over-the-phone advice either.

“Insect and plant samples may be taken to the Help Desk for identification and for solutions to problems,” the website says. “Soil samples can be tested for a nominal charge to determine pH.”

Have a question you need answered?

Just call 813-744-5519. Questions can also be emailed to:

For more information, visit the extension’s website. The extension office is located at 5339 County Road 579 in Seffner.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your garden? How did you beat it? Tell us by commenting below!

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May gardening tips – Stephenville Empire

Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 10:28 am

May gardening tips

By Whit Weems

Stephenville Empire-Tribune

This week I wanted to share with you a few gardening tips for the month of May from Dr. William C. Welch, who is a Professor and Landscape Horticulturist with Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service office in College Station.

• Spring Flowering Shrubs – If you have any spring flowering shrubs, you can prune them after they bloom. Remember to keep the natural form of the shrub in tact and avoid excessive pruning.

• Roses – they have very high fertilizer requirements. For most soil types you can use a complete fertilizer on the first application, which can be applied when spring growth starts. Then, apply nitrogen only fertilizer every 4-6 weeks (usually after a flowering cycle). When selecting fertilizers, Nitrogen is the first number represented. For example, a 21-0-0 would mean there is 21 pounds of Nitrogen per 100 pounds of product, 0 pounds of Phosphorus and 0 pounds of Potassium. For organic sources of fertilizer, you could consider products such as cottonseed, composted manures, rotted manures and/or alfalfa pellets.

Many rose varieties are also susceptible to black spot fungus. If you are growing the susceptible varieties, spray with a rose fungicide every 7-10 days. Some of the old garden varieties and the newer varieties (especially KnockOut) are considerably resistant to the fungus and would not require fungicide applications.

As soon as climbing hybrid tea roses have completed their blooming cycle they can be pruned back.

• Trees – you may begin to see bag worms show up on junipers and narrow leafed evergreens. If so, you can use products like seven dust, or spray to control only if the insect and bags that are 1/2 inch in length or less. If they get much larger they become difficult to control.

Caterpillars may begin to attack live oak trees. When they do, they can be alarming, because they will be in large numbers and remove many leaves. There is not a good option for homeowners to control the caterpillars, but most healthy trees can regrow their leaves and return to normal after the cycle.

• Insects – Begin watching for aphids. These insects are very small and feed on many different plants. They secrete a sticky substance that leaves behind a residue on plants, sidewalks, vehicles, etc., depending upon the host plant and location. One of the most common aphid attacks each year is on Pecan trees. If they appear in large numbers, then control measures should be implemented. There are many insecticides available that can be used, but just washing them off with a strong spray of water can provide adequate control for the home landscape.

• Annual flowers – consider purchasing annual flowering plants to add instant color to the landscape. When planting, pinch off the flowers and buds to allow the plant to become better established. This will allow the plant to use its energy reserves to establish roots instead of supporting the blooms on the plant.

Whit Weems is an Erath County extension agent. His column appears weekly and online at

Sara Vanden Berge is the managing editor of the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ETeditor.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013 10:28 am.

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Whit Weems

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Boggy bliss for your garden

Bog plants may be the saviour for gardeners battling with soggy ground, Hannah Stephenson discovers

The other week, maverick designer Diarmuid Gavin advised gardeners that they would have to roll with the weather to ensure their gardens survived and thrived the extremes.

That advice may prove useful to people who are looking out on yet another rainy day and wondering which plantings will withstand consistently soggy conditions and come to life in very wet soil.

Look at the positives of having a boggy site. Damp ground is a valuable wildlife habitat and there are plenty of plants which will thrive happily with wet feet, including bugle (Ajuga reptans), Siberian iris, lobelia, Arum lily and globeflower.

As for trees, native willows and alder are at their happiest in damp conditions if you have plenty of space to plant them a safe distance from your house.

Quite a few perennials and shrubs will thrive, such as hostas (although be vigilant against slugs and snails) and Jerusalem sage (Pulmonaria saccharata), an evergreen with white spotted foliage and red, pink or white flowers that bloom from late winter to late spring, while the foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia) is a spreading perennial with spikes of creamy white.

Popular shrubs which will tolerate a lot of water include many viburnums, dogwoods and spiraea. For those with big bog gardens which are wet throughout the winter and damp in summer, go for the enormous Gunnera manicata, which has dark green deciduous leaves spanning up to 2.5m (8ft) and provides a great backdrop for seasonal flowers.

If you haven’t much space, it may be better to plump for smaller specimens such as houttuynia and mimulus, which go well together.

Another plant that boasts impressive foliage is the skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus), which grows 1m (3ft) high by 1.25m (4ft) wide. But try not to plant it too close to nose level, as its big yellow flowers have a striking odour.

If you are creating a bog garden, bear in mind that bog plants look best in bold groups. Combine a good clump of foliage with some smaller, more colourful choices.

For those who want more colour, astilbes love wet soil and produce delicate plumes in white, pink, mauve, red and crimson in summer.

For a splash of green and yellow in spring, Euphorbia palustris is the one to go for, although beware of the milky sap which can irritate skin.

Cowslips should also be included in your bog garden border. Among the best is the giant cowslip (primula florindae), which grows to around 1m (3ft) and carries stunning tubular pendant yellow scented flowers in summer.

Another wonderful variety which is easily sown from seed is Primula denticulata, which bears beautiful flowerballs in lavender, cerise, mauve or white. And candelabra primulas are also bursting with colour in early summer, in a vast range of colours.

For a tall, elegant perennial, try Ligularia przewalskii, which has 2m (6ft) high stems and produces spires of yellow flowers in mid to late summer.

If you want your colour scheme to last longer, plant some Rodgersia podophylla, which has creamy white flowers in the summer and leaves which change colour beautifully in the autumn.

Remember that with plants which love soggy conditions, weed carefully as many of them will seed around the parents. If primulas do this, they have a tendency to produce a lot more colours.

If you want your wet garden to look natural, plant around existing features such as logs or mossy tree stumps. And make sure you dig in plenty of organic matter to help them along.

With a little imagination, you can soon reap the rewards of consistently wet soil and it should help stave off the misery of looking out at the rain.

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Gardening with kids: Tips and advice for starting an active and healthy habit


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Hoai-Tran Bui, special to

WASHINGTON – For adults, gardening can be one of the most rewarding activities
summer. However,
getting kids to enjoy the same activity may present challenges for some parents
and caregivers.

With rising levels of
, and more youth engaging in increased screen time, sedentary
lifestyles in children and adolescents
is concerning. But gardening may offer the perfect middle ground
between a fun,
outdoor activity and a pastime
that offers exercise and promotes healthy habits.

“We see gardening as being a holistic activity for youth,” says Julie Parker-
Dickerson, the director of youth
education programs at the National Gardening
. “You
can garden in a very small space, you can
do it in an urban space, you can do it in containers.”

Gardening with Kids, a subset of
the National Gardening
Association, emphasizes the role of gardening in
the formative years of children. The organization uses gardening to teach students
about science and nature, and it strengthens their connection with nature, in

“Anyone around kids can see the difference it makes for them to have time outside
in fresh air,” says Sarah
Pounders, education specialist at the NGA. “It is relaxing, provides exercise
(and) stimulates their senses
and minds without being over-stimulating.”

Melinda Kelley, program manager at We Can!
® from the
National Heart, Lung and Blood
Institute at the National Institutes of Health, agrees that introducing gardening,
and the healthy foods that
result from gardening, gives youth a better chance of become healthy eaters later
in life. We Can! stands for
Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition. It’s a childhood obesity
prevention program that focuses
on improving healthy eating choices, increasing physical activity and decreasing
screen time, which includes
time spent on computers, games and television.

“It’s just a great way to bring people together,” Kelley says about gardening with
children. “When you take kids
to a farm, or take kids to a
garden or take them even to your backyard, you’re getting them away from the TV
and getting them up off
the couch and getting them to do something active.”

For parents who want to find a unique way to spend time with their kids, and for
those who just want to get
their kids outside this summer, try these tips for gardening with kids.

Don’t assume kids need “kid-friendly” gardening.

WTOP’s Garden Editor Mike McGrath says the smartest thing adults can do is
introduce children to
“real gardening.” He says trends and gimmicks — such as upside down tomato
planters or gardening in
straw bales — may seem fun and creative, but they are just trends that may not
even be safe to have around
small children.

“I think it’s degrading to pretend that children don’t have intelligence, that
they can’t be part of the real
world, that they can’t learn to do something correctly,” McGrath says. “If you
make them some sort of
bizarre playground of plants that has nothing to do with real gardening, you may
amuse them for about 20
minutes, then they’re going to get bored and they won’t have learned anything
about real gardening.”

Instead, Pounders recommends starting kids off
with raised beds or
container gardens, since they are much easier to plant and maintain.

Ask your kids what they want to do or plant.

Take your kids to the store and let them help pick out the seeds. Then, engage
them in planting the
seeds and watering the plants. Pounders says to choose seedlings for immediate
gratification and seeds for
delayed gratification.

Kelley says kids are more likely to be engaged in gardening if you frame it
around some of their

“Maybe some foods they’d like to try, (and) maybe just some plants they would like
to see what they’d look
like when they grow,” Kelley suggests.

Encourage them to eat the food they grow.

McGrath recommends growing small fruits and vegetables for children to munch
on, such as
raspberries, sugar snap peas or carrots.

“It’s really that first spring when the first peas come in, and the first little
fruits come in, that’s when you
say, ‘Hey do you want something really sweet, do you want to taste something
really delicious?’ And it’s not
in the fridge, it’s not in a box, it’s not in a store, it’s growing in our
backyard,” McGrath says. “And you take
them out, and once they have their first bite, they’re hooked. And there’s a kid
that suddenly, is always
going to have at least an acceptance of fresh food and an understanding of fresh

Pounders and Kelley agree that growing your own vegetables is the perfect way to
introduce children to
healthy, varied foods.

“The more you expose kids to healthy foods, I think you’re increasing the
likelihood that they’re going to be
receptive to those foods later,” Kelley says. “Just introducing foods to kids
numerous times can help them
overcome the picky eater issue that a lot of parents deal with.”

“Gardening is an activity that parents and kids can share while outdoors,”
Pounders says. “It teaches them a
lifelong skill — it can be a hobby or more fundamentally, it gives them the
knowledge to be able to obtain
their own food.”

Don’t expect to get a lot accomplished.

Children are naturally prone to distraction. Rather than tasking them with
pulling weeds or carting rocks, encourage them to do something creative.

“Let them enjoy what they are doing,” Pounders says. “They may get as much joy
just digging in the soil as
actually planting something.”

And while gardening is a slow process that many impatient children will find
frustrating, McGrath insists that
it is all worth it.

“There’s no plant you put in the ground that you get to eat the next day,” McGrath
says. “But there’s no kid
on the planet that doesn’t like fresh raspberries and blueberries and
strawberries. And to pick them from
your own yard, all of a sudden their parents are much more capable beings, they’re
much more important,
they’re much more interesting than any parent that takes them to the Whole Foods,
or takes them to the CSA
to pick up or takes them to the farmers market on Saturday or Sunday.”

Make it a family outing.

If you don’t have room in your home for a garden, try going to a community
garden. Churches, schools
and neighborhoods often have gardens on their grounds that are open to the public.

“A lot of communities have a little community gardens that you can sign up for and
have a little garden plot,
and that’s a really great way for some people to have access to a spot to garden,”
Kelley says.

Another option is to go out to a farm or an orchard to pick vegetables or fruits.
There are plenty of orchards in Virginia and Maryland that
visitors pick
strawberries in the summer, or apples and pumpkins in the fall.

“Ask the kids what they would like to pick, find out if this is a good time to
look and see what’s available in
your community in terms of gardens and farms to visit,” Kelley says.

Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.

© 2013 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

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