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Archives for June 2, 2013

Fresh cuts

To listen, go to I know, I know, the winters can be terrible. But here’s the upside of living well north of the Mason-Dixon: As the weather warms, it rarely warms too much. So we can throw open our windows and just live like that, for months, letting the inside and outside worlds merge into one. This always invites new sounds and smells into the house, including one particular pairing that summons sweet memories of sitting near the window in my childhood bedroom: the hum of a lawn mower and the scent of freshly trimmed grass. I realize the sound of gas-powered machinery can cut both ways; indeed, the mower is like a summer cousin of the dreaded leaf blower, whose racket is inescapable come fall. For me, it’s a glass-half-full kind of thing. That persistent, low-grade motor growl simply says that the best days of the year are upon us. It’s most apparent in the suburbs, of course, especially where people have the money to hire landscaping companies, whose creaky trailers line the roadsides. On a recent afternoon, I found what I was after in Wellesley, listening as a small crew made quick work of a plush lawn on Oakland Street. I’ll submit that it’s something best enjoyed from a distance, unlike the grass itself, which beckons bare feet until the cold returns.

WHAT SOUNDS TELL YOU THAT SUMMER IS COMING?Send ideas to or via Twitter @swhelman.

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SMITH: Why schools need outside-the-box ideas

Believe me, this wasn’t simply a bit of routine weeding and pruning. The SRHS students, whose hands-on program aspires to teach them life skills essential to becoming employed and as self-reliant as possible, restored and beautified Steele Lane School’s front yard.

They pulled trash out of the shrubbery and spread yards of wood chips in spots that were bare or weedy. And they placed potted plants to brighten the view of Steele Lane office staffers whose windows look out onto the back of an ugly wall.

When would the groundskeepers whose union filed a grievance over the kids’ project have performed that same work? Precisely never.

The essence of work — being diligent and thorough, taking and giving orders and functioning as a team — is what the inventive SRHS program tries to teach these students. kids. They don’t sit idle at desks but perform all sorts of creative, entrepreneurial tasks devised by themselves and by teachers seeking better ways to equip them for life.

The employees who could never hope to complete all of the landscaping work that needs to be done on school grounds aren’t in jeopardy of losing their jobs to these special-needs kids.

And even if they were, why are the schools there? To provide instruction and training children need to be prepared for adult life, or to provide contractual job security for groundskeepers?

Here, the teachers are striving to think outside the box, and they find themselves named in a union grievance for stepping on someone’s toes.

It seems the people griping about the move at the French-American charter school to substantially upgrade student lunches are doing the same thing as the union. They’re stifling creativity, complaining that what could become an model for schools everywhere isn’t fair because it’s not being provided to all the kids at all Santa Rosa’s schools.

Stay inside the box, the critics of the inventive SRHS living-skills program and the French-American school’s lunch program are saying. Keep all public-school kids inside the same box.

But drive past Steele Lane and imagine the endeavor and pride that went into that work, and get a sense of what can happen if we stand up for students to become unboxed.

SCREAMIN’ MIMI’S, possibly the coolest and creamiest ice cream parlor on Earth, came close to a disastrous meltdown the other morning.

Maraline “Mimi” Olson is so grateful that Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Vince Mestrovich noticed at about 2 a.m. Friday that the downtown Sebastopol shop was filled with smoke.

A ceiling vent fan had fried, dripping melted plastic onto a rack of paper supplies and igniting them.

Mestrovich alerted Sebastopol Fire, which got an engine there so fast that firefighters carried out the storage rack without spraying any water.

The relatively minor smoke and soot damage closed the shop on Friday, the last day of school and first day of ice cream season. But Mimi and her crew celebrated a catastrophe averted by lugging the goods outside in ice chests and dispensing free scoops and cups.

“The deputy and the fire department,” she rejoiced, “saved summer.”

THOSE FIRE ENGINES streaming along Highway 101 on Friday were bound to or from a memorial service at the Wells Fargo Center for Alexander Stevenson.

The ’91 Casa Grande High alum loved serving as a firefighter in Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties and never allowed brain cancer to dim his spark.

AT 2 P.M. SATURDAY the spirit and music of John Philip Sousa will fill the Healdsburg Plaza in an unusual, and free, concert.

The Healdsburg Community Band and the New Horizons Band will come together — 70 musicians, bedecked in black-and-white — to re-create a 1920s-era Sunday Sousa concert in a park.

They’ll play 14 greatest hits. That’s a lotsa Sousa.

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and

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Rethinking the lawn: Class will educate homeowners about drought-tolerant …

The city of Mesquite will go under Stage 3 water restrictions on June 1. The water restrictions are being implemented to comply with the North Texas Municipal Water District’s water management plan.

As part of the new restrictions, lawn watering will only be permitted once a week on a specific day assigned by your address. The city of Mesquite, in conjunction with Keep Mesquite Beautiful, will be hosting a drought-tolerant landscaping class from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 1, at Rutherford Recreation Center, 900 Rutherford Drive.

“This is going to be a good class where people can learn what they can do to maintain their yards in drought conditions,” said Paige Swiney, executive director of Keep Mesquite Beautiful.

The class is part of the sustainable series that has been ongoing since the start of the year. This class will focus on sustainable landscape solutions that are beautiful, colorful, innovative, earth-friendly, cost-effective and drought tolerant. The workshop will include basic design, plant selection, proper watering techniques and other water-wise landscaping ideas. Attendees will receive free moisture meters and a plant selection guide.

The class will be taught by Lauren Miller, a landscape architect for the city of Mesquite. As part of the class, Miller will show before and after photos of a couple of yards that received makeovers to make them more appealing and drought tolerant.

“The use of native and water-wise plants in landscaping doesn’t mean your yard has to look like a desert hardscape. Learning to use irrigation wisely means you can have a beautiful landscape that will last through a hot summer,” Miller said.

Residents are invited to bring electronic photos of problem spots in their own yards to share as well. To preregister for the class contact Kathy Fonville at 972-329-8300 or by email at

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Master Gardeners, Library celebrate completion of gardens

Two-year-old Harper Wells helps her mother, Serina, a member of the Putnam County Master Gardeners, tend to the gardens at the Putnam County Library.Ty Kernea | Herald-Citizen


Library staff members and Putnam County Master Gardeners gathered to show off the completed gardens at the library. Pictured kneeling, from left, are Chris Phillips, front desk clerk at the library; Stacie Johnson, assistant director; two-year-old Harper Wells and Master Gardeners Kathy Johnson and Serina Wells; and in back, Terry Robinson, Master Gardener; Amanda Yother, children's services coordinator;  Master Gardeners C.B. Coburn, Fran Hutchinson, Glennys Ulschak and Anita McCawley and Friends of the Library member Joanne White.Ty Kernea | Herald-Citizen


COOKEVILLE — The library is a place of learning that anyone of any age can visit.

But any library can be made up of more than a building and books, as shown in the recent partnership with the Putnam County Master Gardeners.

“It’s been a great beautification project,” Stacie Johnson, assistant director of the Cookeville Library Branch said.

The Putnam County Master Gardeners teamed up with the Cookeville library staff last fall to design a garden to beautify the outside of the building.

“The Library had a concept for a garden,” Master Gardener member CB Coburn said. “We met and talked about the concept.”

After soil tests and other preparation, the work started.

“Since it’s a tricky area, we had to find good plants to put there,” Master Gardener Serina Wells said.

The area is tricky in the fact that the garden area has areas of sun and shade mixed in.

“We look at the hardscape and saw that a path could be worked out as well,” Coburn said. “The bench that is set outside the path was originally supposed to go on the path, but it wouldn’t fit.”

The bench is dedicated to Dale Stapp, the former children’s librarian who died a little more than a year ago following complications from removing a brain tumor.

The plants were all bought locally and are all dry/shade tolerant plants.

“We have a lot of Tennessee natives,” Wells said. “We have hydrangeas, hoffstras, dogwoods, ferns, azaelas and different ground covers. Pencil hollies will also frame the building.”

Amanda Yother, children’s services coordinator, said the staff has received numerous compliments on the gardens.

“We even got the attention of the state librarian on a recent visit,” she said. “Library patrons complimented the colors as well.”

Wells noted that the view from the window was a big part of the design.

“We had a lot of people working on this project,” she said. “The staff will maintain it with our help.”

The Crazy Quilters are also working on projects to coordinate with the gardens.

To add to this new feature, Friends of the Library member JoAnn White won an award from the Friends of Tennessee Libraries and donated the winnings to the landscaping project.

“She has been a big advocate for the Master Gardeners,” Johnson said.

To show off the gardens and to kick off the Summer Reading Program, the public is invited to attend a “garden party” Saturday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to noon in the front area of the Library.

The Summer Reading Program will be garden-themed. Participants in the adult summer reading program will be learning about things beneath the surface, while those in the teen summer reading program will be participating in groundbreaking reads and the children will be digging into reading.

Other educational projects include working with the students at White Plains Academy and maintaining the gardens at the Farmers Market, entrance to the fairgrounds, the Agricultural Extension building on Walnut Avenue and the Butterfly Gardens at Burgess Falls State Park.

“We hope this is the beginning of something new between the library and the Master Gardener group,” Coburn said. “We’re all about education.”

For more information about the Putnam County Master Gardeners, visit

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Gardens on all sides with room for landscaping

WITH vacant possession this four-bedroom home in Derriford has two garages and driveway parking.

The entrance porch has self-cleaning glass and the reception hall has parquet flooring, a walk-in cloak cupboard housing meters, an attractive staircase to upper floor and a cloakroom with wc.

The sitting/dining room has a wall-mounted slimline remote controlled flame-effect electric fire and French windows to the side and rear.

The open-plan kitchen has an extensive range of fittings, including base units and worktop surfaces, stainless steel sink unit, wall cupboards, integral hob and oven with extractor unit over and Travertine flooring.

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The breakfast/utility room has fixed cupboards, radiator, cupboard housing gas-fired combination boiler supplying central heating and domestic hot water, space and plumbing for washing machine and Travertine flooring.

On the first floor is a landing with contemporary staircase feature, linen cupboard and radiator.

The are four bedrooms and a bathroom.

The bathroom has a bath with shower fitting and hot and cold mixer tap, pedestal wash hand basin, wc, low-level suite, wall-mounted towel rail and radiator combined, tiled walls and tiled floor.

Outside the gardens on all sides are mainly laid to lawn but providing an opportunity for further landscaping.

There are also patio areas for al fresco dining.

There are two garages, one with a workshop recess.

The property also benefits from double glazing and gas-fired central heating.

Available through Shobrook Co (01752 663341) for £375,000.

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In the Garden: Landscaping with prairie beauties

Prairie plants deserve more use in home landscapes. They can transform an “Anywhere, USA” yard into a place that preserves the unique beauty of Nebraska’s plains heritage. And natives play a vital role for pollinators as both habitat and food source. Many of these plants are lovely in their own right, so we’ll give some attention to a few lesser-known beauties. Some may be hard to find at a garden center, but they should be available from local or mail-order nurseries specializing in native plants.

Western sandcherry (Prunus besseyi), The airy, fountainlike habit and gentle, swaying plumage of this shrub bring a peaceful mood to the garden. White flowers in April or May; leaves turn mahogany red in fall; August fruits can be enjoyed in pies, preserves and wine. Works best en masse. Grows 4 to 6 feet high and wide; smaller ‘Pawnee Buttes’ grows to 3 feet high. Prefers full sun and sandy soil with good drainage.

White wild indigo, (Baptisia lactea, B. alba), is perhaps the most architectural of prairie plants, with bundles of smooth, regal stalks that rise up and fan out into elegant stems with velvety foliage. Snow-white flowers on ink-blue spikes in June; black seedpods add winter intrigue. Nice in a border or as a specimen plant. Grows 3 to 4 feet high and 2 feet wide. B. australis blooms azure blue and B. minor stays under 3 feet. Prefers good drainage and full or part sun; tolerates clay and drought.

Fox sedge, (Carex vulpinoidea), has glossy, vivid green foliage that emerges early in spring and persists into late fall. Soft, wispy blades and a fountain form offer refined structure and texture. Deep roots filter water pollutants and improve the soil. Great among flowers and in rain gardens. Grows 1 to 3 feet high and 1 to 2 feet wide in full sun to part shade and tolerates heavy clay. It prefers consistently moist soil but C. brevior is an alternative for drier conditions.

American hazelnut, (Corylus americana). This handsome, adaptable shrub produces edible nuts (two plants required for nut production) encased in a peculiar, ruffled wrapper and relished by birds and other wildlife. Leaves turn orange, yellow and red in fall. Makes an excellent specimen or screen along borders and background plantings. Grows 6 to 8 feet high and wide. Prefers part shade and protection from wind and tolerates sun, drought and clay.

Blue grama, (Bouteloua gracilis), has grey-green foliage that is soft and fine, curling happily beneath eyelash seedheads that shine in the summer sun and remain as winter interest. A shortgrass that serves well as a specimen, en masse or even as a low-input lawn with buffalograss. Grows about 1 foot high. Extremely drought tolerant; needs full sun and dry, well-drained soil.

Dotted gayfeather, (Liatris punctata). Prime time is late summer when this short and stout gayfeather dresses in show-stopper amethyst flower spikes to attract a buzz of butterflies and bees. Pair with complementary blooms like false sunflower for a superb landscape display. Grows 1 to 2 feet high and 1 foot wide in sun and well-drained soil. Extremely drought-tolerant.

Indiangrass, (Sorghastrum nutans). This statuesque grass brings movement and texture into the garden with its attractive, rustling foliage. In late summer, radiant flower plumes rise from towering, golden wands to waltz with the Nebraska wind. Blue-green blades turn yellow in fall. A fantastic back-of-the-border plant or informal screen. Grows 5 feet high and 3 feet wide. Full sun and dry soil keeps it upright.

Shining bluestar, (Amsonia illustris), is a superstar of the plant world, exhibiting soft blue flowers in spring and a perfectly mounded form with clean, willowy foliage that burns a fiery yellow in autumn. They serve as fine companions to bold foliage and flowers and polish off any border. Grows 3 feet high and wide in sun or shade. Tolerates drought but prefers fairly moist soil.

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Planting for Wildlife

By Carol Stocker
The Garden Club of America is helping to fund a 3300 square foot native shrub garden which will be planted June 2 at the Trailside Museum in Milton by the Milton Garden Club.

The New England Wild Flower Society grew the trees and shrubs and made a selection based on native plants found in New England woods, that create food and habitat for birds. If you are interested in doing this kind of planting yourself, here’s their list:

Amelanchier canadensis, shadblow tree, two, berries, 25×15.

Aronia arbutifolia, two, berries 6×6 (suckers)

Aronia melancarpa, two, berries 4×6 (suckers)

Cercis candensis var candensis, redbud, two, 25 x 25

Clethra ainifolia Hummingbird, 3×5

Cornus florida Heritage, a GCA anthracnose resistant selection.

Hamamelis virginiana, suckers, likes a moist spot, 15 x 2

Hydrangea arborescens Annabell, wants shade, 4×6 (from Missouri)

Ilex glabra Compacta, five, moisture, evergreen, 4×5

Ilex verticillata, Southern Gentleman, pollinator male, 9×9

Ilex verticillatam Winter Red, three females, bright red berries, 7×7

Kalmia angustifolia Kennebago, sheep laurel, moist, likes peatmoss, 2×4

Kalmia latifolia Carousel, two, mountain laurel, evergreen, likes moisture and rocks, 10×10

Salix discolor, pussy willow, catkins in late winter, suckers, 10×15

Sanbucus candensus, three,berries, including one dark leaved, 9×9

Viburnum acerifolium, suckers, two, berries, 5×5

Vaccinium corymbosum, highbush blueberry, berries, seven, two kinds for cross pollination, 7×7

Viburnum dentatum, straight branches used for Indian arrows, hence the name arrowwood, two, berries, 8×10

Don’t have 3300 square feet? Proven Winners, the company that has introduced so many high performance annual flowers for containers, has been expanding into shrubs bred for compactness for backyard gardens.

They are introducing two new varieties of Arrowwood Viburnums that only grow to 5X5, called “All That Glitters” and “All That Glows.” The reason for two different varieties is so they can cross pollinate and produce loads of the gorgeous blue berries that are so popular with birds. This is a great way to attract birds to your yard in a small space and would make an ecologically sound foundation planting. And they are deer resistant.

To clear up any confusion, these are not our native New England arrowwood, V. dentatnum, but a south eastern plant called limerock arrowwood, or V. baracteatum. But it is cold hardy here, and is endangered in the wild. And it seems to do ok in our acid soil, too.

Other new shrubs being introduced these years by Proven Winners includes a yellow needled minature arborvitae, Filip’s Magic Moment, which could substitute for Dwarf Alberta Spruce if you have a couple of yours that have outgrown their containers. There is also a new Spirea (yawn!) called Glow Girl with lime foliage that is 4×4, which still seems too big for me – I’d like to see a really small one. And of course PW has a new version of the ever popular blue reblooming Hydrangea Macrophylla. Let’s Dance Blue Rhapsody blooms amethyst blue and stays small enough for gardens (3×3).

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Twinkle’s Garden | Hip Tips For Growing Herbs – KSN


Growing your own herbs is one of the easiest and tastiest gardening projects you can undertake.

Stepping out the back door to pick your own fresh basil or rosemary can bring you and your friends and family some sweet and savory satisfaction.

It can also save you a lot of money in the long run, since herbs bought at the grocery tend to be pretty pricey.

Start with some basics, choose your plants and follow these helpful tips.

Happy, happy plants:

Before you even plant a seed, prepare your soil. Organic compost is one of the simplest ways to improve your soil. However, don’t mix garden soil into containers. Instead mix organic hummus and organic potting fertilizer for a loose, well-drained mix.

Let the sunshine in:

Most herbs love, love, love sunshine, so pick a spot where they will get plenty of it. Only a few herbs need shadier areas – like cilantro  and mint.

Although realistically, mint is the Gengis Khan of herbs. Shade or sun, this herb grows like a weed and can take over the entire garden. Plant it separately or in a area where you will want the coverage it can give. It’s a perennial, so make sure to look for it each year when it pops back up  in the spring.

Just a sip:

Only water every few days when the top inch of soil feels dry. Herbs thrive better in a semi-dry environment.

It also helps to plant them in area of the yard or containers that drain well and don’t hold in too much water.

Easy on the fertilizer:

You should only fertilize once a month at the most. Too much fertilizer can make the herbs overproduce and the flavor will be dulled.

Lots of times, just adding garden compost to the top layer of the soil is all the fertilizer your herbs will need throughout the growing season.

Harvest time:

Harvesting your herbs promotes their growth and keeps plants in a growing cycle instead of maturing and going to seed. Snip and clip a little to prep up some delicious meals sprinkled with fresh herbs every night and your herbs will last all through the spring and summer.

On the other hand, don’t go to town and harvest it all, it will take a few weeks for your herbs to replenish.

What’s Twinkle growing?

This year I’ve planted a salsa garden – cilantro, peppers, tomatoes and other herbs. Check back for tips on growing your very own!


Twinkle VanWinkle has over 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks. She baked apple pies for the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and has appeared on Food Network’s “The Best Of…” Along with producing dynamic lifestyle content for LIN Media, she is a mother, urban gardener, chef, musician and social media fanatic.

Find out more on or  Foodspotting, Tumblr and Twitter.  by Twinkle VanWinkle

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FarmGirls offer garden tips



Posted: Saturday, June 1, 2013 5:04 pm

Updated: 5:12 pm, Sat Jun 1, 2013.

FarmGirls offer garden tips


Waxahachie Newspapers Inc.

The FarmGirls have hustled all spring weeding, digging, planting seeds and vegetable transplants. Spring has been kind and delivered timely garden rain showers. Donelle has headed up all the gardens, while I have been healing from an injury to my leg and foot. We have four ground vegetable gardens. Many square foot gardens, an herb garden, and a tower garden. They are all teaching gardens. We have interns that come and work beside Donelle and learn gardening skills. Among the variety of gardening subjects we teach  “Shovels in the Soil” a hands- on learning experience in the gardens. The students experience planting, foliar spraying, mulching, bug patrol and many gardening techniques. 

The FarmGirls are always working with nature. Farming organically and avoiding the use of chemicals. We apply natural practices. Some of these practices are rain water catchment, mulching, companion planting, the use of beneficial insects, rotating crops, and encouraging birds to stay on our property.

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More about Farmgirls

  • ARTICLE: FarmGirls: Sustainable Day
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  • ARTICLE: FarmGirls: On your mark, get set, DRIVE!
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Saturday, June 1, 2013 5:04 pm.

Updated: 5:12 pm.

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Garden Tips,

Organic Farming,

“carrots Love Tomatoes”,

Waxahachie Daily Light

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Landscape historian Judith Tankard to speak at Knoxville Botanical Garden and …

Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum is hosting a talk by historian Judith B. Tankard about England’s most famous gardener, Gertrude Jekyll, on Saturday, June 8.

Tankard is the author of eight books on American and European landscape history; her most recent work is “Gertrude Jekyll and the Country House Garden.”

Tankard writes that Jekyll “was an artist, a gardener, a designer, a writer, and much more.” Jekyll (1843-1932) spent most of her life in Surrey, England, working from her home at Munstead Woods, a 15-acre estate she transformed into an extensive woodland flower garden. She published several important books, including, most famously, “Colour in the Flower Garden,” and wrote a long-running column in Country Life, one of the most influential gardening magazines of the period.

Jekyll designed hundreds of gardens in her career, including collaborations with many of the most important architects in early twentieth century England. Her gardens often remind viewers of impressionist paintings with their compositions of large drifts of colorful bedding plants.

Tankard has contributed articles in numerous national publications and previously edited the Journal of the New England Garden History. She has a M.A. in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University and taught at the Landscape Institute at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. She is one of America’s leading scholars on American landscape design.

Tickets to the June 8 lecture are $20 for members and $30 for non-members. Call 865-862-8717 or email for reservations.

Tankard responded via email to questions about her work.

Your books are generally about landscape designers of the last century and the work they created. What is it about them and their gardens that captivates you?

A: I am interested in British and American architects associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement and all my books reflect the collaboration of architects and garden designers.

How did your career evolve from owning a clothing business to focusing on landscape design?

A: I have a master’s degree in art history specializing in British architecture and design. My interest in the history of landscape architecture evolved from my knowledge of British and American architects of the late 19th and early 20th century, including Edwin Lutyens, who designed gardens with Gertrude Jekyll. My former careers include art book publishing and a brief career as a clothing designer.

What do suburban gardeners need to understand about creating their own outdoor spaces?

A: My best advice is to keep everything as simple as possible, from the layout to the palette of plants. No need to cram every idea and thing into one space.

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