Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for June 25, 2013

June 26-Water Wise Lawn and Garden Solutions

“Water Wise Lawn and Garden Solutions”

Attend a free educational seminar on June 26, 2013 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, June 26 at RSVP, 422 White Ave., lower level US Bank Building.

RSVP has invited a speaker from DRIP and one or more Master Gardeners present ways to maintain a healthy lawn and garden during a drought. Container gardening, xeriscaping, proper watering, drought-tolerant native plants, and optional landscaping ideas will be discussed. Seating is limited. Call 970-243-9839 to reserve a seat

Article source:

North Park Center vs. Highland Park Village

How two iconic, family-owned shopping centers compete for international consumers and the best luxury tenants in the heart of upscale Dallas.

By Glenn Hunter

Published 6.24.2013

From D CEO JUL-AUG 2013

The luxury Swiss watchmaker Hublot specializes in timepieces like the Big Bang model, which can be encrusted with diamonds and cost a whopping $5 million. So, with bling like that in its showcases, you know Hublot took an ultra-judicious approach recently when it weighed the relative merits of NorthPark Center and Highland Park Village as the site of its first boutique in Dallas. The company decided eventually in favor of NorthPark, an enclosed super-regional mall at Northwest Highway and North Central Expressway, over Highland Park Village, a smaller, open-air luxury lifestyle center less than 4 miles away in Highland Park.

“We looked at both centers and thought, why not have a store in each one?� says Hublot executive Rick De La Croix. “But in the end we decided we had to choose one, based on the location and the terms and the conditions. … Our clientele is global, so we have to be in a 360-degree environment, and that starts always with the management. Highland Park Village is a very beautiful mall, but it wasn’t as strong in the competition as NorthPark was.�

Hublot’s choice between NorthPark and Highland Park Village is one that’s been faced by a number of upscale retailers in Dallas, where these two iconic, family-owned shopping centers compete not only to attract high-end tenants but affluent patrons as well. And, there are plenty of those patrons to attract. According to one research firm, the neighborhoods in the vicinity of both centers are extraordinarily wealthy, with an estimated 15,000 residents with annual incomes over $250,000 and more than 2,000 homes valued at $1 million or more.

“There’s so much money around,� says Herb Weitzman, chairman and CEO of The Weitzman Group, a Dallas real estate company. “Everybody’s paid off their debt. Their house mortgages have been paid. There’s just a lot of income out there.�

North Texas logs about $80 billion in retail sales annually—and, in heavily retailed Dallas, the joke is that shopping is a competitive sport. But one expert says the overlapping trade areas of NorthPark and Highland Park Village constitute an especially sweet spot for the retail trade. Both shopping centers are “best of class,� says Chuck Dannis, president of valuation firm Crosson Dannis Inc. and an adjunct real estate professor at SMU’s Cox School of Business. “A super-regional mall like NorthPark has at least a 50-mile primary trade area, meaning that while they compete with Highland Park Village, they also draw from the entire DFW area. Highland Park Village, on the other hand, appeals mainly to the high-end shopper, and sits right in the heart of the watermelon as well.

“Just like the Mavericks and Cowboys compete for the same fans, having them so close together is like having the Cowboys in the Super Bowl and the Mavs winning the NBA Championship every year,� Dannis says. “We consumers really benefit.�

Observers say NorthPark is one of the top five enclosed malls in the country, while Highland Park Village—which locals call “the Village�—is one of the country’s top five specialty centers. Tipton Housewright, a principal at Omniplan, a Dallas architectural firm that’s worked on both shopping complexes, agrees. “Everyone around the country knows about those two projects,� he says. “They’re very well-respected. The fact that they’re both family-owned is significant.�

While family-owned retail centers were common in the 1950s and ’60s, most have given way over time to ownership by corporations such as public real estate investment trusts, says Malachy Kavanagh, a senior vice president at the International Council of Shopping Centers. Today, he adds, corporations own “probably 98 percent� of all the nation’s big enclosed malls. However, retail centers like NorthPark and the Village “can be highly successful, because of their family ownership. They know their properties inside out, and nothing gets past them,� Kavanagh says. “The key is that they’re situated in very good locations, with a very good customer base.�

These days, the Dallas families that own the Village and NorthPark are battling for that local customer base with a variety of new plans and strategies. Both also are rolling out new ways to lure more international shoppers. And, each is grappling with its own unique problems as well.


Nancy A. Nasher and her husband, David J. Haemisegger, are sitting in a conference room at NorthPark’s corporate offices. With Nancy positioned at the head of the table, they’re talking about the shopping center that Nancy’s father—developer and art patron Ray Nasher, with help from his wife Patsy—put up on the edge of what was then a North Dallas cotton field.

NorthPark, called the world’s largest climate-controlled retail establishment when it opened in 1965, has come to be known in large part for the art and landscaping features that are important parts of its sleek, modernistic design. Among them: a manicured, 1.4-acre open-air greenspace in the mall’s heart called CenterPark, and artworks by the likes of Andy Warhol, Henry Moore, Frank Stella, and Mark di Suvero. Following a 2005-2006 expansion costing $250 million, the multi-level center now boasts at least 235 stores and restaurants in about 2.3 million square feet of leasable space. The mall has long been the No. 1 tourist destination in Dallas-Fort Worth and, in 2007, was named one of the “7 Retail Wonders of the Modern Worldâ€� by industry publication Shopping Centers Today. 

The usually press-shy husband and wife, who’ve been married for 23 years, met while both were attending Princeton University. David, a New Jersey native, went on to study finance and accounting at the Wharton business school. Nancy, a third-generation Texan, attended law school at Duke University and worked in retail and office leasing for a Dallas law firm before joining NorthPark full-time in 1985. Her father died in 2007.

Today the couple owns, manages, operates, and leases the shopping center after buying out their equity partner, mall developer Macerich Co., and taking out bank loans worth $500 million, in 2012. (Macerich received $119 million in the buyout, $44 million more than the investment it made in NorthPark eight years earlier.) David tends to the mall’s financial side—managing relationships with banks, pension funds, and life companies, for example. Nancy says she’s in charge of “all the marketing, all the events, all the advertising, the landscaping, the tenant leasing, where the tenants go—everything you see.�

No doubt, the collection of tenants the pair has assembled is impressive. With Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Neiman Marcus—the top-performing Neiman’s in the country, no less—and Macy’s as anchors, the center has more than 70 stores or restaurants that are exclusive to the Dallas-Fort Worth market. Among them: Bottega Veneta, David Yurman, Kate Spade New York, Eiseman Jewels, MontBlanc, Salvatore Ferragamo, Valentino, and Versace.

The powerhouse lineup has enabled NorthPark to more than double its sales over the last decade, to an estimated $1.1 billion in 2012, or $900 per square foot. Only a handful of U.S. shopping centers enjoy higher revenue. While the couple declines to disclose the mall’s average leasing rate—“it varies,â€� Nancy says simply—they say they’re constantly aiming to generate more volume by fine-tuning the tenant mix. 

from this issue


related links
  • Dallas Entrepreneurs of the Year 2013
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield’s New Marshall
  • The Topsy Tail Inventor Scores Again

“Our goal is to ‘harvest the garden,’ to make sure we have the very best retailers that are out in the U.S. or even abroad, and that we bring them to NorthPark so you can find the very best in every category here,� Nancy says. “Even in the last 10 years, new tenants that we’ve had we’ve either reduced or expanded in size, because they’ve evolved. Two new tenants, for example—Versace and Michael Kors—were of various sizes, but they found that one needed more space, and one needed less. So it’s a constant refinement of our mix and also bringing in new ideas, new retail concepts, which we will always do.�

Is there a trick to doing this well? “It’s something one learns how to do over time,� Nancy answers. “My parents did it together; we’ve always done it together. It’s years and years of experience, developing our taste, knowing what concepts are new and cutting-edge.�
Adds David: “This is a big property, and it’s important that we have tenants from Louis Vuitton to the Gap. The Gap shopper may shop at your high-end jewelry store, too. One thing we’ve found is that people really like the variety of stores here. They want quality, regardless of price point.�

Despite the center’s success over the years, there have been some stumbles. One involved Barneys New York, a high-end department store that came in as a tenant twice at NorthPark—and failed both times. Observers say the second failure, announced in 2012, was especially embarrassing for the mall, because other luxury retailers had been located near Barneys to complement its offerings. In May, NorthPark announced that two home-furnishings stores, Arhaus Furniture and Fixtures Living, would occupy most of Barneys’ 88,000 square feet of space beginning next summer. Two existing NorthPark retailers—CH Carolina Herrera and Kate Spade—will take most of the rest.

David says that Barneys’ first exit was due to a bankruptcy proceeding, and that the second came after the store failed to develop and pursue a sound business strategy. “We give our tenants great locations and say, ‘We’ll support you through marketing and events, but you have to come and manage your business.’ Retailing is a tough game, and you always have to be up on your game,� David says. “I don’t think Barneys had the vision. They had the desire, but they didn’t have a strategy they could implement. … You have to sell the goods, and they didn’t. We can’t do that for them.�

The couple also rejects the idea that stores like Valentino and Oscar de la Renta took their locations in the mall because of Barneys. “The Valentino’s of the world know there’s a customer base here, and when they know there’s enough of one, they’ll look to do a store,� says David. “That’s the way that happens, more than any one store leading the way.�

In addition, the couple has had to contend with bad publicity about “increased crime� at NorthPark. Media reports of criminal activity there—including aggravated assault, robberies, and vehicle thefts—seemed more frequent after the 2005-06 expansion, which added 1.2 million square feet of space, including a food court and a 15-screen movie complex. In response the mall hired more security officers and imposed a curfew on certain teenagers aged 17 or under.

“As the center has become bigger, a lot more people are coming to the center and, quite honestly, we have a DART rail line near the center, making it more accessible,� David says. “When that happens, certain things can occur. We’ve addressed it, though, with a lot of off-duty Dallas police officers who walk the property. It’s the highest line item in our budget. We take it seriously. We spend what we need to provide a secure environment. Statistics are actually down … but we are victims of our own success, maybe, because we were so successful and so many people came.�

Looking to the future, the couple say they’re focused on attracting more global shoppers to NorthPark, placing advertisements in publications that target tourists from China, Mexico, and Canada, for example. “Dallas has become such an international market,� David says. The couple recently added a new luxury concierge service for local and out-of-town visitors, offering personal shopping and executive transportation. And, down the road, they may consider putting in more retail space in the surface-parking lot between Nordstrom’s and Park Lane.

Do the owners consider Highland Park Village to be an important competitor? I wondered. “There are tenants that make sense for NorthPark, and tenants that make sense for Highland Park Village,� David replies carefully. “Louis Vuitton has a store at NorthPark, not at Highland Park Village, and they do amazingly well.

“I think [the Village is] trying to maintain a high-quality approach to what they’re doing, and that’s what we try to do, too,� he goes on. “They have the way they do it. We have the ways we do it. At the end of the day, it’s good for Dallas.�

If Highland Park Village is smaller than NorthPark, at 250,000 square feet of leasable space, the ambitious growth strategy of its owners seems outsized, even audacious. “We’re trying to make Highland Park Village an international brand name,� says Ray Washburne, one of the center’s four owners. “We want to be the Rodeo Drive … in this market.�

The Village may have enough cachet to do it. The swank shopping center at the southwest corner of Preston Road and Mockingbird Lane has more than 70 tenants, including some of finest names in luxury retailing, like Dior and Chanel Boutique. The property itself is more than 80 years old, built by the developers of Highland Park as a “town square,� with handsome colonial architecture reminiscent of Spain, Mexico, and California. Billed as the nation’s first self-contained, open-air shopping center when it opened in 1931, the Village was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2000.

Some 35 years before that, however, the center had begun falling into disrepair under a disengaged owner. Then in 1976 it was acquired by the Henry S. Miller Co., for $5 million. Henry S. Miller Jr., a Dallas real estate legend, and his partners jump-started the flagging property, replacing local tenants with national retailers like Ralph Lauren. Herb Weitzman of The Weitzman Group, who helped lease the Ralph Lauren store, says its arrival was key. “Ralph Lauren did so much business at that store, substantially higher rents became possible at the Village,� he says. “That’s when it changed from being strictly mom ‘n’ pop.�

The shopping center got its latest ownership group in 2009. That’s when the descendants of Miller sold the Village for $171 million to Washburne, his wife Heather Hill Washburne, Heather’s sister Elisa Summers, and Elisa’s husband, Stephen Summers. Heather and Elisa are the daughters and heirs to the oil fortune of Al Hill Jr., whose mother, Margaret Hunt Hill, was a daughter of the famed Texas oil billionaire H.L. Hunt. (The partners say “trust structures� were involved in the acquisition and in the current ownership arrangement.) Washburne is a real estate entrepreneur who helped start the Mi Cocina restaurant chain. His brother-in-law once worked for the real estate company founded by Roger Staubach. Both say they grew up near and shopped at the Village as youngsters. The two married couples make decisions about the center “by consensus,� with Stephen handling the center’s leasing and Ray serving as the operation’s president.

The new owners had aggressive plans for the Village from the get-go. Once they took over, for example, they vowed to hike the center’s average annual retail rents substantially, from $36 to $120 per square foot or more. Today, Washburne says, the average asking rent on new leases is $165. That’s still “a bargain,� he says, when compared to rents on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills or Madison Avenue in New York.

“When we bought the property, we weren’t luxury retail people. We were like the dog who caught the car: ‘Now what do we do with the car’?!� Washburne says, smiling. “We flew around to other cities and asked, ‘What are you charging? What are your sales per foot?’ The rents were two or three times what we were getting, but sales were the same or less. So we said, ‘We need to ask more rent.’ At first Stephen sort of blanched. But then when people said, ‘Great,’ it hit us: We should have asked for more!�

Today, the brothers-in-law say, Village fashion stores occupying fewer than 5,000 square feet are doing about $1,850 in sales per square foot. By comparison, Florida’s Bal Harbour Shops—billed as the world’s “top-producing� shopping center—recently did more than $2,500 per square foot in sales, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. Total annual revenue at the Village, Washburne says, has doubled since 2009 to “north of $200 million.�

The center’s owners have secured such results partly by spending “many millions� to renovate the property—new landscaping, a new clock tower, resurfacing the parking lot, remodeling the theater—but, more important, by rejiggering the tenant mix. Although they continue to be “very conscious� of local tenants such as Deno’s shoe repair shop and a Tom Thumb supermarket, the owners say a concerted effort has been made to maximize sales for higher-end stores like Hermes, Harry Winston, and Alexander McQueen. Out went the 8,200-square-foot Banana Republic, for example. In its place came Christian Louboutin, Diane von Furstenburg, and Saint Laurent Paris. St. John was downsized from 4,200 square feet to 2,400, and the remaining footage was leased to Akris. “St. John’s sales were up 12 percent in the smaller space,� says Stephen Summers. “… We’ve got 250,000 square feet here. So we’re trying to fit in as many [stores] as we can. We have so much demand that if somebody gave me 100,000 more square feet, I could lease it in a heartbeat.�

Like NorthPark Center, the Village has faced its share of challenges. Some observers have decried the loss of longtime mom ‘n’ pop stores like Cooter’s camera shop—Washburne says Cooter’s simply became obsolete—and fear that treasured local tenants like Deno’s and Café Pacific eventually will get the boot. (Washburne says there’s “nothing on the table� along those lines.) Others lament a lack of convenient parking at the center. Washburne counters that more than 1,050 spaces are available for shoppers and that, in any event, valet parking is offered free. Still another complaint involves the recent displacement of the Crystal Charity Ball nonprofit group, which for nearly four decades had occupied office space at the Village. When it lost its month-to-month lease there, the ultra-influential charity moved to nearby Turtle Creek Village. In late May an adjacent Highland Park Village office occupied by another high-profile nonprofit, Cattle Baron’s Ball, said it would leave as well.

Crystal Charity’s exodus, it’s clear, left a bad taste in the mouth of some Village retailers. “The Crystal Charity ladies would patronize Escada, Chanel, Hermes, Carolina Herrera here,� one Village store manager says. “Cattle Baron’s picks up the rest: Tory Burch, Trina Turk, Jimmy Choo. Plus, they are just lovely women to have here. If you want a group of qualified, high-caliber influencers at your shopping center, I just don’t understand the decision to move Crystal Charity out of the Village. You’d think [the owners] would ask themselves: Do you need to make more money by adding another vendor—or build on the loyalty and keep the neighborhood feel as you become an international destination?�

Washburne, for his part, says the owners had no choice but to ask Crystal Charity to leave. “We’ve supported them in this space for a long time, but we had to move them in order to do asbestos removal, update the electrical wiring, deal with [Americans with Disabilities Act] issues,� he says. “This space was the last one to get that. We have to fix it up to modern specs, and they needed space immediately. We love both those charities and have been very supportive, but … we’re a retail center, not an office center.�

So, what other changes can be expected at the Village? Like its bigger rival on Northwest Highway, the open-air center is starting up concierge and personal shopper programs and advertising in international publications. It’s spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars� this year on a slick marketing catalog, hiring fashion writers for it, shooting photographs in New York, mailing out 75,000 copies to consumers in the Southwest and Mexico, all in an effort to burnish the Village brand. “Dallas is becoming a gateway city like Miami, Chicago, and San Francisco,� Washburne says, explaining the outreach. “The city is changing very rapidly.�

The Village also is toying with the idea of adding a hospitality property to its mix. According to an online publication called Hotel Law Blog, putting hotels in shopping centers has become a hot trend. “The most asked-for thing here is a hotel,â€� Washburne says. “At some point we’re working on trying to do a boutique hotel. It might have 70 to 100 rooms.â€� Where would it be located? “I can’t say,â€� he replies. “I don’t want to upset the tenants in those spaces.â€� 

So, do the owners of the Village consider NorthPark Center to be their chief competition? “We view NorthPark almost as complementary,� Summers replies. “We tend to do well in certain areas; they do well in others. We excel at high-end luxury, street-front retail, where you can pull up and walk right in. We also have an extremely high ‘capture’ rate; there’s very little price-resistance here. If you go into a store, you’re actually going to leave with something. NorthPark has a lot more traffic, but the customer there does less volume per transaction.�

Washburne says the families who own the Village “respect� NorthPark and are impressed by its success. “We’re more local, though,� he adds. “This is the town square. People make multiple trips here to the Starbucks each day. The Village Theatre’s the same way. We’re also more nimble. We can do a 1,000-square-foot pop-up store. That’s sort of a pain for [the mall]. Much like Ray Nasher built NorthPark and it’s still in their family, the Village is a legacy investment for our families. Like the Nashers, we look at future generations.�

Despite all the gracious words from both camps, the quality of the rivalry between these two ambitious, iconic, and successful family-owned retail centers occasionally comes through. That was evident when we told Washburne about Stephen Urquhart, president of Switzerland-based Omega watches, who said he faced a choice like Hublot’s before deciding finally to open Omega’s first Dallas boutique at NorthPark Center in January.

While making that decision, Urquhart said, “it was very important to see the traffic count at NorthPark, as well as the blend of brands there: fashion brands, clothing brands, jewelry brands, not only watches. I just visited Highland Park Village, too. It was very nice, very beautiful. Having seen both, I think NorthPark was best for us. But, Dallas is a big market. Maybe someday we could develop another boutique here, perhaps at Highland Park Village.�

Hearing this, Washburne scoffed. “If they’re at NorthPark,â€� he said, “we’re not going to put it here.â€� 

Share Share

Article source:

Summer Landscaping Ideas for a Texas Environment – Virtual

A-Affordable Lawn Tree Co. offers some summer landscaping ideas for the often dry and water-restricted Texas environment.

San Antonio, Texas (PRWEB) June 24, 2013

As residents know, the summers in Texas are hot and dry. With the state’s water preservation requirements, landscaping can become a difficult and stressful task. A-Affordable Lawn Tree Co. has some tips for summer landscaping for homeowners. Landscaping doesn’t have to be complicated and depressing.

According to Better Homes and Gardens, there are plenty of plant and flower choices for every level of gardener, from novice to expert. Their list is also water-preservation friendly.

For flower lovers, BHG suggests Salvia farinacea, a Texas native that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies but not deer. Its flowers are purplish-blue and can rebloom all summer long. It is also heat and drought tolerant.

Another hummingbird and butterfly attractor is Turks cap. Native to south Texas, this perennial prefers shady spots and can range in colors from red and pink to white. It’s drought resistant once established and grows quickly.

One of the native trees to Texas, the Chinkapin oak, is also a great choice for landscapes. With rich green leaves, this tree, once established, is drought resistant and heat-tolerant. In the fall, the Chinkapin oak will also wow when the leaves change to bright yellow and orange-brown.

To read BHG’s full list, please visit,

Xeriscaping is another landscaping option becoming increasingly popular in Texas due to the water restrictions. The common assumption is that xeriscaping involves turning the entire yard into a rock garden. Contrary to that belief, xeriscaping is just a well-planned design for yards that minimizes water consumption through the use of low-water plants and grasses as well as designed areas for decks, patios, shady spots and benches.

Please visit the San Antonio Water System website for information on xeriscaping,

A-Affordable Lawn and Tree Co. can help their clients with landscaping design and planning as well as xeriscaping. They are known for high-quality workmanship and customer service. Call them today for an estimate, (210)263-3954, or visit their website for more information.

About the company:

A-Affordable Lawn and Tree is a family owned landscaping company that has been serving San Antonio residents since 1982. Over the years, A-Affordable Lawn has developed a strong reputation for being reliable, knowledgeable, skilled and creative with every project. Among the many services provided include: custom landscape design, sprinkler installation and repair and tree care. Their staff treats each landscaping project with the utmost attention, resulting in a finished product of high quality. For more information, please visit their website at

For the original version on PRWeb visit:

Article source:

Event occured on Sun, Jun 23 2013, 12:30 pm – 5:30 pm CDT

The La Porte City FFA Historical and Ag Museum will sponsor the “Be Inspired” garden walk from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. June 23.

Visitors will be treated to five individual gardens as well as view one business in the process of completing a major landscaping and renovation project.

Gardens featured on the tour are:

Gary and Sherry Sheffler, featuring spacious lawns and gardens and lots of rustic elements.

David and Marcia Snook, featuring an historic porch and cottage garden.

Steve and Deb Wilson, featuring themed gardens and more than 200 varieties of hostas and 250 varieties of day lilies.

Patrick and Brenda Gardner, gardens include mature specimens surrounded by architectural elements repurposed.

Nancy Olson, featuring a pond and grasses.

La Porte City Golf Club, recently purchased by Wally Markham. Guests will be treated to all new landscaping around the Club house and tee boxes as well as improvements inside. Participants may finish the day here and enjoy free hors d’oeuvres from 3 to 5 p.m. and drink specials. A drawing for a door prize will take place at 5 p.m.

Advance tickets are available at Laurie’s Boutique, You’re Look’n Good, LPC Bakery, and the museum. Tickets accompanied by a guide and maps may be purchased the day of the garden walk at the museum, 408 Main St., or Patrick and Brenda Gardner’s garden at 1641 55th St. Tickets are $5 each with all proceeds benefiting the museum.

Article source:

Richmond garden tour pairs lovely landscapes with artists ‘ work

RICHMOND — Stepping out onto Bob and Carol Ann Vickers’ second-floor balcony, the summer breeze plays in and out between stone pillars and into the manicured yard below, picking up the soft floral scents around the garden.

The free-flowing lines of the flower beds planted with vivid perennials, mimic the meandering lines of the grounds’ focal point, a crystal blue in-ground pool.

Then beyond the crisp, crinkled edges of pink crape myrtles, bell-mouthed yellow daylilies, fuchsia rose bushes and wine-hued Japanese maples is a clear view of the Gibson Bay lake.

And that is only one of the homes on this section of the annual Art in the Garden Tour.

Three homeowners in the Gibson Bay golf course community in southwest Richmond will open their private gardens for Saturday’s tour, which pairs alluring landscaping with local art. Seven homes will be featured during the event, organized by the Richmond Area Arts Council.

The homes on Highland Lakes Drive are testaments that it is not the size of the yard that matters, but what is done with it.

The Vickerses, who own one of the 17 homes on the Gibson Bay waterfront, said they enjoy the outdoor space for entertaining.

“It’s really a nice party place. Bob and I like to entertain, so this is a nice place for us,” Carol Ann Vickers said.

The perennials make the garden low- maintenance, and with grandchildren living out of state, the pool and water slide are highlights when they visit, she said.

Lovers of the performing arts, the Vickerses opened their home for the tour to Linda Pack and Pat Banks, the Central Kentucky author and local illustrator, respectively, of the new book Appalachian Toys and Games From A to Z.

Only a few houses away from the Vickerses’ is Dan and Emily Jarosz’s landscaped yard and manicured vegetable garden.

From the square plot of land the green tops of close to 20 vegetables grow out of homemade mulch from the Jaroszes’ compost pile.

“Its amazing out here; most of the winter we will be eating from this little garden,” Emily Jarosz said as her husband pulled up a beet from the garden.

Gardening runs in Emily Jarosz’s family and is an economical way for the couple to eat healthy and enjoy fresh produce.

Tall trees and shrubs around the yard keep the house private as beds of geraniums, peonies and yellow daylilies add color and depth.

Artist Buddy Dobbins and his pottery will be featured in this garden.

Dobbins’ pieces range in style from gourdlike vases glazed in jewel colors to classic baking dishes and bowls.

This is not Dobbins’ first year working with the garden tour; his work has been featured before, and he and his art were requested back this year.

Barbara McGinnis’ home, the tour’s other featured garden in Gibson Bay, incorporates contemporary and folk art.

McGinnis described her garden as having a “Colonial Williamsburg flair” as birdhouses, statuary and decorative pots can be found among the flowers and trees.

“I love decorating, to be honest with you, so I extended it outside,” McGinnis said, standing in front of one of the many birdhouses under the pergola over her back porch.

McGinnis said she had her home professionally landscaped when she moved in, but in the past year she started a rose garden, planted perennials, laurel, pink verbenas and spireas. Five lush green arborvitae shrubs tower over the edge of the garden and provide privacy for the yard.

“I haven’t really cut it back because I like a green, lush look,” McGinnis said.

Featured in McGinnis’ garden is Robby Robertson’s pervious concrete art. Seemingly ordinary slabs of concrete suspended on table legs turn into showers of crystal water droplets when wet.

The unique form of art seems to fit well with the neighborhood, residents say.

“Out here people seem to have their own style,” Jarosz said. “I haven’t seen one house that looks like something I’ve seen; they’re all unique.”



Art in the Garden Tour

What: Tour of seven Richmond gardens with local artists and artwork on display in each

When: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. June 22

Tickets: $12; available at any of the tour gardens.

Learn more: (859) 624-4242,

Participating gardens: Dan and Emily Jarosz, 389 Highland Lakes Dr.; Barbara McGinnis, 369 Highland Lakes Dr.; Bob and Carol Ann Vickers, 356 Highland Lakes Dr.; Johnnie and Ronda Allen, 824 W. Main St.; Secret Garden, Hickory Hills, off Goggins Ln.; Gentry and Dinah Deck, 119 Mahogany Dr.; and Gary and Kathy Acker, 90 Foxtown Rd.

Anyssa Roberts: (859) 231-1409. Twitter: @LexGoKy.

Article source:

Vermont backyard gardening tips

— In her book, “Trowel and Error”, author Sharon Lovejoy covers over 700 gardening shortcuts, tips, and home remedies for plant problems.

Under the category of tools, consider these ideas and items:

• Use a mixture of equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and water to scrub and clean dirty tools and white salts residue from pot rims.

• Old kitchenware can be reused, such as kitchen tongs for picking up prickly plants or stinging nettles, grapefruit knives for weeding containers, and apple corers for “dibbling” in small bulbs and plants.

• Heavy-duty paper clips (the kind that hold stacks of paper together) have many uses, such as holding shade cloth to frames, or tightening glove cuffs to keep out unwanted insects and soil.

• Keep a used soap dispenser, filled with mineral oil, near your tools; after done for the day, wipe dirt from tools using a scouring pad if needed, then wipe with the oil.

• Save those wide-mesh tomato or fruit baskets (as you often get with strawberries). Line next spring with paper, then fill with soil, before sowing seeds of melons, squash or cucumbers. Then plant the entire basket, the roots being able to grow through the mesh openings.

• Use old colanders and laundry baskets to harvest produce, then wash with the hose outdoors to save a mess and clogging sinks with dirt indoors.

• Use Velcro tape for attaching vines to surfaces.

• To keep garden twine from getting tangled, place in an old coffee or grated cheese container, then guide the string through a hole in the top. An old watering can serves similarly, the twine coming out through the spout.

• Mark inch and foot marks on handles of tools, such as hole diggers, shovels, and hoes, to know how deep to dig or spacing for transplants for instance.

• Laminate seed packets, then attach to popsicle sticks or tongue depressors for garden labels. Cut strips of old miniblinds for labels to write on with permanent marker.

These are merely a sampling of the ideas from Lovejoy, with other categories on home potions, attracting allies to help with pests, success with seeds, soil-related tips including composts and mulches, and indoor plants.

Article source:

River Grove library offers class in gardening tips



June 24, 2013 7:44PM

Linda Suwalski of Franklin Park sprinkles pebbles into a miniature fairy garden at the River Grove Library June 22. | Natasha Wasinski~For Sun-Times Media

Article Extras

Updated: June 24, 2013 7:49PM


Linda Dwyer’s collection of bonsai trees thrives during the warmer months of the year.

But she couldn’t put her finger on why the plants withered inside her Norridge home during winter.

After all, Dwyer said, she continues to sprinkle them with Miracle-Gro.

Dwyer’s choice of fertilizer caught master gardener Kathleen Obirek’s attention.

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “I hear that all the time, and I get goose bumps.”

Obirek explained: “If your plants are doing so-so, it’s not you.”

“It’s just that you don’t know about these finer products.”

A floral and landscape designer and educator for the past two decades, Obirek knows a thing or two about what makes a garden grow.

She shared some of her tricks of the trade at River Grove Library June 22 during a free gardening craft class. In addition to teaching the ground rules to being a green thumb – like how to never use water that is treated with salt or comes from a well – Obirek helped the participants in properly planting a miniature fairy garden, complete with a ceramic figurine, glitter and gems.

The gardeners potted two-year-old syngoniums, a tropical climbing vine and common houseplant often referred to as “fairy wings.”

Obirek selected the leafy, lime-green plants for the project because they’re easy to grow. Yet that’s not to say the plant doesn’t require some special care.

As with other indoor plants, paying attention to lighting conditions is key, Obirek noted.

If an area is too bright or hot, the plants’ leaves may develop yellowish-brown spots.

That’s not disease, Obirek said; it’s sunburn.

Living and breathing plants share some other traits with their human caretakers. For starters, water cannot be their only sustenance.

“If we just had a diet of water, where would we be?” Obirek said.

Fertilizer and supplements rich in nutrients and hormones provide fuel, and variety is the spice of life when it comes to feeding.

Obirek advised changing a plant’s diet every other month, and to fertilize year-round.

“They are never dormant,” she said. “We need nourishment during the winter months and so do your plants.”

Obirek said while she doesn’t get paid to push products, she does have strong opinions on what to feed flora.

She personally tends to stay away from powdery substances due to her asthma, and has found successes with an organic liquid fertilizer.

The result has been no powdery mildew and no bugs.

“I cannot tell you, when I switched products, the difference in my plants was just amazing,” Obirek attested.

The most experienced gardeners in the River Grove library that Saturday afternoon walked away with new tidbits for taking better care of their plants.

Not relying on Miracle-Gro for miracles was Linda Suwalski’s biggest takeaway, in addition to a new tropical houseplant.

“I lived by that stuff,” she said of the fertilizer.

A retiree, Suwalski said tending to her Franklin Park home’s gardens daily is her “enjoyment.” She also aspires to take the hobby a step further.

“I still want to get my master gardener (certification),” she said. “I’m going to. One day.”

Article source:

Thrifty Tips for your Garden

Get your garden in shape

Get your garden in shape

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013 11:12 am

Updated: 11:33 am, Mon Jun 24, 2013.

Thrifty Tips for your Garden

By Vivian Silvestri
Community News Editor

BY: Birds Blooms: Summer’s the season to get your garden in shape. You can easily give your space a refresh without breaking the bank. Birds Blooms—has rounded up some of the most useful objects for your garden that cost next to nothing. Even better, you probably have many of these items laying around the house or garage!

1. Reuse and Recycle— Use objects like recycled cans, worn boots, damaged watering cans, old teapots and even discarded sinks as containers for herbs, flowers and houseplants. They contribute a touch of whimsy and even a “settled look” to a garden scene.

2. Paper Bag Rescue— Paper bags protect vulnerable plants from frost by trapping warmer air and insulating the plant. Set them upside down over tops of plants when frost threatens and place soil or rock over the edges of the bags to hold them in place. Remove in the morning so the plants can receive warm sun and any nighttime dampness can evaporate.

3. Tool Savvy— Did you know forks, knives and spoons can make great garden tools? They’re tough and sharp enough to do the job without causing damage. Use them to separate flats, lift seedlings, and tease apart dense root balls. Save yourself a trip to the hardware store just by checking your kitchen drawers.

4. A New Use for Newspapers— Newspaper keeps light and unwanted intruders out of the soil. It also snuffs out grass and prevents weed germination for new garden beds. Thicker layers are most effective for keeping out grass (up to 30 sheets will do).

5. Canned— Tin cans make good collars to thwart destructive cutworms by creating a physical barrier they cannot cross. Instead of tossing out your tin cans, cut the tops and bottoms, press them into the soil, then plant seeds or seedlings within.

6. Ground Your Grounds— Sprinkle coffee grounds on the ground at the base of certain plants. Adding the organic matter to the soil helps improve drainage in clay and water. It can be used on any plant, especially those that like rich, moist organic soils, like azaleas and blueberries.

7. Clean Out the Pests— Soap is thought to keep deer from feasting on your trees and plants. Break a bar of soap into several pieces and hang them from strings or in old nylons or net bags on your trees or other structures near prime feeding areas. The strong scent of deodorant in the bar may deter other backyard pests as well.

8. Pie Tin Tactics— Aluminum pie tins can scare pests away, at least temporarily. Tins make an annoying noise as they bang around in the breeze. They also flash reflected light, which may be disconcerting. Tie them to a string and hang them from branches, a trellis, or your garden fence.

9. Potted Packing Peanuts— Packing peanuts improve drainage in pots by permitting water, but not soil, to pass through. This is a great way to reduce soil-mix use in large pots and also makes them weigh less, so they’re easier to pick up or move around. Layer them out of sight in the bottom of the pot, then add soil.

10. Nylon Support— Old hosiery is soft and flexible and can be used to tie up floppy plants without causing damage. They can also be used to line bottoms of pots so water can get out but dirt can’t.

For more Garden Bargains, check

Vivian Silvestri: 215-949-4161; email,

To subscribe, go to

More about Bucks County

  • ARTICLE: What will happen as we get older?
  • ARTICLE: County commissioners allowing fraud
  • ARTICLE: Don’t sweep improper health care pyaments under the rug
  • ARTICLE: Happenings in Bucks County
  • ARTICLE: Man jailed for fatal Bensalem street racing crash


Monday, June 24, 2013 11:12 am.

Updated: 11:33 am.

| Tags:

Bucks County,

Birds And Blooms,

Reuse And Recycle,

Garden Bargains,

Thrifty Tips

Article source:

Gardening tips from Ed Lawrence

Ontario Today’s resident gardener returned to Rideau Hall for the Garden Gathering when the National Capital Commission opened its gardens and greenhouses to the public.

Ed Lawrence was the chief horticultural specialist to six governors general, from Jules Leger in the 1970s to Adrienne Clarkson in 2005.

He and the CBC’s Hallie Cotnam met up with Rideau Hall’s current manager of grounds and greenhouses, Mark Burleton, for a tour, which you can see in the photos above.

Ed joined Ontario Today from noon to 1 p.m. ET Monday then he joined CBC News for a live chat. You can see a recap of the chat below.

Article source:

Human Garden And Feline Latrine Cohabitate In This Townhouse

[The garden of design firm head Douglas Riccardi’s home in Fort Greene. All photos via Kelly Campbell/Design Sponge.]

The carefully curated art and poster collection plus the lush, fruit-bearing garden (fresh figs, yum) at Douglas Riccardi’s Fort Greene house is envy-inducing enough. But the head of design firm Memo Productions also figured out a clever, subtle way to hide his cat’s litter box on the parlor floor without announcing it to the world—tucking it under the stairs with his washer/dryer, complete with a little door cut out of canvas that’s just Bruno’s size. Design Sponge has a photo tour of Riccardi’s quirky home, where you can check out how he enlivened a white-walled staircase with renderings of challenging cycling courses, crafted a stool out of wood picked up from Hamptons beaches, and more.

Click here to view the full photogallery.

· A Hidden Garden in the Middle of Brooklyn [Design Sponge]
· All Adventures in Interior Design posts [Curbed]

Article source: