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Archives for June 27, 2013

Green Gardening at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

I am writing this blog on the building site for the Ecover garden at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. I am a newbie to the show garden world having built my first conceptual garden at the show last year. It is fair to say it was the most nerve-wracking, time consuming, but exciting experience of my life to date. I promised my partner and family I wouldn’t do it again this year but here I am. Addicted!

So, back to the building site. Behind me as I write is the classical backdrop of the palace and its magnificent gardens. In front of me the Ecover garden is taking shape, providing a striking contrast with contemporary shapes, vibrant colours and lots of smooth, curvaceous, tactile recycled plastic. Having never worked with this material before in the garden it has been a great adventure and something I am now eager to shout about.

The central theme to the the Ecover garden is the fundamental principle that ‘water is life’. We all depend upon our watery environments, but they are under threat from pollution such as waste plastic. When I did my initial research into the problems facing our waterways I was shocked by some of the statistics. Research from the Marine Conservation Society reveals that plastic debris accounts for almost 60 per cent of all litter found on UK beaches, and the UN Environmental Programme estimates that more than one million seabirds and more than 100,000 marine mammals die every year from ingesting plastic debris.

I have taken inspiration from Ecover’s pioneering spirit as a champion of sustainability. I wanted to design a garden that was about solutions to these problems and how the products and materials we buy and use can provide a way to make a sustainable lifestyle an easy option.


Recycled plastics are the centrepiece of the garden and we are hoping to put this material in the spotlight. However, they are only part of Ecover’s packaging innovation story along with other sustainable plastics such as Ecover’s 100% renewable ‘plantastic’ made from sugar cane and ocean plastics made from recovered waste plastic floating in our seas.

I have used recycled plastic in both sculptural and functional ways in the garden. They form benches, lampshades and edging, but also fun visual elements such as a fountain, pools and sculptural waves that crash over the walls and through the planting which has been chosen to reflect the colours and movement of water.

The overall effect I am hoping to achieve is of dynamism and energy showing recycled plastic as a visually attractive and versatile material. The message is that using sustainable sources of plastic is not only beautiful and in harmony with the environment but also aids its recovery.

Recycled and sustainable materials are not a new proposition, but I do feel the perception of them and their potential uses has been slightly worthy, functional and perhaps a little uninspired. I believe it’s time to show them in a vibrant, exciting light making people aware of their use in Ecover’s packaging and encouraging them to think about other potential uses in the home and garden.

This project has really been an eye opener for me and I’ve been really inspired by Ecover’s ethos towards sustainability. I’ve realised that there are some really simple things I myself can do to be more sustainable both at home and as a designer. Here are a few ideas you too might want to try:

  • When planning a new garden look for ways to re-use and recycle existing hard landscaping rather than filling a giant skip.
  • Plant drought resistant plants and mulch your beds to retain water in the soil during the summer.
  • Collect rainwater from your home drainpipes and why not make a water feature of it at the same time.
  • When buying new things for the garden such as a new table and chairs see whether there is an alternative made from reclaimed or recycled materials…they often have so much more character.

Hope to see you at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower show from July 9th -14th.

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Housing market rise leads to other options besides buying or selling (Photos)

Foreclosure rates are down and new home sales are up in Wilmington, N.C. as of June 25, according to WWAY News Channel 3. And that has some individuals considering creating a dream landscape rather than buying a home or selling their properties. That dream team would be John and Marsha Warren in Highlands, N.C. and Hugh and Mary Palmer Dargan in Cashiers, if the homeowner likes mountain chic designs.


John Warren knows all about creating a mountain design landscape that mimics nature while also providing for homeowners’ relaxation pleasure. And he can be heard during this recent 2013 Cashiers Vimeo lecture discussing just how he came to learn about such designs. But the well-respected contractor’s work at several homes in the North Carolina community really speak for themselves.

In fact, landscape design students traveled as far away as California to see what he and the Dargans accomplished on several Cashiers properties together.

Warren said in his June lecture that he let nature and farmers guide his education in perfecting the landscapes he creates, rather than pursuing a more formal route. And the slideshow of photos above attest to him taking the right path in that regard.

I’ve been landscaping in this area for about 32, 33 years. I started very small, just doing maintenance for William McKee at High Hampton,” the sought-after contractor said.

And his business grew from that initial beginning, and he believes that it was due to his developing his own style, one which was influenced by nature and the men who tend her.

I started just watching nature, how the streams flowed and the types of rock, and the mosses and the trees and the colors of nature. And I would follow the design concepts, not of landscapers, but of farmers. How they terraced the land; how they worked the soil.”

One home in particular on the garden tour of the Dargans’ recent June design workshop class exemplifies how well Warren has mastered his craft. The home sits high atop a western Carolina mountain, yet the surrounding backyard landscape has been sculpted down by Warren–from mounds of dirt to intricate and spacious terraces–to wind masterfully around the side of the property and into a backyard that seems to go on forever.

Warren worked with Andrew Mullins of the Dargan Landscape Architects team for this particular project. And the two men created a dream landscape for the new home owners together, taking care to include just enough stone, wood and plant combinations to blend in with the natural woods around the property.

Mullins, a graduate of the University of Georgia, brought his own unique skills to the table in the project, which include expertise in plant material analysis preparation and plot layout experience, in addition to his architectural knowledge and acumen.

During the Dargans’ recent 2013 Cashiers design workshop and garden tour, Mullins sat down with the Atlanta Pop Culture Examiner to pose for photos of his and Warren’s accomplishment. And to express his satisfaction with the project’s end results. And both men enjoyed seeing garden tour participants intrigued by the landscape utopia they created together.

To contact John Warren or Andrew Mullins for a quote on creating a mountain retreat for your family, visit their company’s Facebook pages or LinkedIn site for more information.

© Radell Smith

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Moses Lake to close museum, ice rink and rec center to save budget

Ice rink

Ice rink

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 10:19 pm

Updated: 10:37 pm, Wed Jun 26, 2013.

Moses Lake to close museum, ice rink and rec center to save budget

By Cameron Probert



MOSES LAKE – Moses Lake may close the museum, the Larsen Recreation Center and ice rink to deal with its budget shortfall.

City Manager Joe Gavinski said the city has enough in reserve, new revenue and through not filling positions to make up roughly $2.3 million of a $2.8 million budget deficit.

The city is facing shortfall following a settlement between Grant County and REC Silicon which ended three years of dispute between the company and the county concerning the property values. As part of the settlement, the city had to pay about $880,000 back to the company in property taxes and lost about $2 million in property tax revenue for 2013.

Gavinski said the city left about 10 positions open. He previously said the vacancies have been across all of the departments. The city also reduced the amount it spends on street reconstruction and repair.

“That saves us about $800,000,” he said. “Also we’re talking about $1 million from the fund balance that we did have, because we did end up the year a little better than we anticipated. So of the $2.8 million, we’ve managed to cover about $1.8 million of that.”

Gavinski previously said the city had about $2 million in reserves, he did not state what the city was doing with the other $1 million during the meeting, and he could not be reached before deadline.

The city manager said another $500,000 would come from additional revenue, mostly from sales tax. He said it leaves the city $500,000 shy of having a balanced budget.

“We’re still combing through the budget and searching how to make that up,” he said. “There are some possibilities.”

Some of the ideas include closing the ice skating rink, Larsen Recreation Center and the BMX track, or closing the Museum and Art Center.

“That’s not to say the facilities are going to disappear, just that they would not be open to the public,” he said. “There are also ideas of reducing park, street and landscaping maintenance including the possible closure of restrooms in the parks.”

The city is also examining cuts it may need to make in 2014, as it’s planning to have $1.8 million less in revenue from property taxes. The city may close the auditorium in the civic center and the multipurpose room in the fire station to the public.

Gavinski said the closures are temporary until the state Board of Tax Appeals case between the county and REC is resolved. The case is presently scheduled for a six-day hearing in March 2014.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013 10:19 pm.

Updated: 10:37 pm.

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Walk the Region: Local gardeners aim to please and inspire

Research shows walking benefits both the body and the mind, and the Northwest Indiana region is full of parks, trails and nature preserves that highlight the beauty and diverse landscape of the area. Throughout the summer in Home and Garden, the Times will highlight some of the best places to walk and enjoy the unique topography this region has to offer.

With summer comes garden walks – a perfect opportunity to capture ideas for your own home’s landscape, with the added health benefit of walking.

With seven gardens to tour, visitors will have a variety of landscape designs to explore on this year’s Lowell Garden Walk.

From a country home surrounded by roses and antiques to a lakefront property that showcases a water feature and stream, each home offers its own take on the perfect garden.

“One home belongs to an artist and you can see the artistic touch,” said Terry Smutniak, chairman of the garden club’s walk. “Plus, she will have her art displayed on easels throughout the yard.”

The walk will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Gardens on the Prairie, a nursery that is also one of the stops on the tour, will offer a luncheon as well.

“The Lowell Garden Walk has become very popular with the public, as we strive to have very nice gardens that the public will love to see and that gives them ideas to go home and try,” Smutniak said.

Tickets are $10. Ticket holders are automatically entered in a chance to win a prize after completing all seven stops.

Tickets are available at Gardens on the Prairie, 3242 W. 169th Ave., Lowell; Leo’s Feed and Garden Center, 13406 Wicker Ave., Cedar Lake; The Artful Garden, 611 N. Indiana Ave., Crown Point; and Martin Landscape, 9961 W. 109th Ave., Cedar Lake.

For more information, call (219) 696-8282 or go to

Other tours

The Porter County Master Gardeners will hold its annual garden walk from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, showcasing six private gardens and one community garden.

“Each is unique and a great source of ideas, so we encourage people to bring a camera and a notebook,” said Maureen Phillips, chair of the publicity and promotion committee for the organization.

Each of this year’s featured gardens are located in or around Valparaiso.

One home in particular features a large rain garden on the east side of the property to deal with severe run off during heavy rains.

“A rain garden helps to hold water in place, combating erosion, flooding and water pollution,” she said.

Another stop – a first for the organization’s annual walk – features an eco-friendly home that makes its own power. The home features a deck off the solarium with a feed-in tariff meter.

“That is where the homeowners meter extra energy they sell back to the electric grid from the solar panels atop the garage,” Phillips said. “The home’s total energy needs are also supplemented with a geo-thermal energy system installed on the property.”

Tickets are $6 in advance or $8 the day of the walk. Children younger than 12 are free. Those who purchase tickets on the day of the walk should begin the walk between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Hayes Leonard School, 653 Hayes Leonard Road, Valparaiso.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at several locations, including the Porter County Extension Office, 155 Indiana Ave., Suite 301, Valparaiso. More locations can be found at

The Munster Garden Club also will showcase its beautiful gardens with a garden walk that features eight homes.

The walk will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets are $10 and are available at Dixon’s Florist, 919 Ridge Road, Munster; Water’s Edge Aquascaping, 18418 Wentworth Ave., Lansing; and Dean’s Landscaping Center, 238 Kennedy Ave., Schererville.

Despite not occurring last year, the Crown Point Garden Club’s garden walk will return this year from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Seven gardens are featured on the tour. Tickets are $7 in advance and $8 on the day of the walk. Children younger than 12 are free.

Tickets are available at Alsip Nursery, 10255 Wicker Ave., St. John; Artful Gardens, 611 N. Indiana Ave., Crown Point; Hubinger Landscaping, 210 E. 113th Ave., Crown Point; Leo’s Feed and Garden Center, 13406 Wicker Ave., Cedar Lake; and Martin Landscaping, 9961 W. 109th Ave., Cedar Lake.

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Creating a vertical garden

Whether you’re tight on gardening space or are just looking to create a planting arrangement that is visually unique, vertical gardens are a quirky, fun way to display your verdant friends.

Supplies you’ll need:

  • pallet
  • staple gun and 5/16-inch staples
  • roll of landscape fabric
  • roll of burlap fabric
  • potting soil
  • plants


1. Make friends  with a landscape architect (as I did) or ask your local garden center where you can find a recycled pallet.

2. Once you have your pallet, cut two pieces of landscaping fabric a few inches longer, layering them on top of one another and stapling to the back. Fold the excess landscape fabric at the bottom of the pallet over the base for reinforcement and staple. This is to ensure that potting soil won’t spill out of the bottom.

3. Next, cut burlap fabric to cover the landscaping fabric on the back and staple. You don’t need to do this step, but I suggest it for aesthetic purposes.

4. Lay the pallet flat on its back and pour potting soil into the slats, making sure to press it firmly against the pallet walls, but also making sure to leave enough room to plant annuals.

5. As you plant each annual, make sure to surround it with potting soil and secure in place. This is to ensure that when you tilt the pallet on its side, it firmly stays put. I planted nine 1-pint plants per row, totaling 45 plants. I chose alyssum, marigolds, and dianthus for flowers, and dusty miller and creeping jenny for greenery. Be sure to pick different colors, texture and heights for dimension and visual interest.

6. After you are done planting, water plants according to directions.

7. Wait two to three weeks so that roots take hold in the soil. Then turn the pallet on its side and lean against a wall. Voila, your vertical planter.

With the DIY and pallet obsession, I was dead set on turning my pallet garden into a vertical herb garden, but after some research, I found out that some pallets are treated with chemicals. So, be sure not to grow anything edible in your pallet garden to avoid toxins.

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Home grown style: Gardeners can use landscaping to show off their style

Our gardens are a reflection of our styles – a fashion statement of sorts. If you like life neat and orderly, with everything in place, then American formal garden styles, similar to the classic gardens of Versailles designed during the reign of Louis XIV, matches your personality perfectly. For those of us who can never find our sunglasses and thrive in chaos, the disorderly beauty of a cottage or English country garden is so totally us. Hungering for authenticity? Prairie style and native gardens recreate the essence of the American prairies and are thought to be best for protecting the local ecosystem. And for those looking for peace and serenity, Asian gardens, which can range from just a simple stone and a few trees to more asymmetrical and elaborate designs with water features and more hardscape, are the thing.

“Garden styles depend upon the personality and desires of the garden owner,” said Melissa Mravec, a landscape designer at Allen Landscape Centre in Highland. “Some people like the more deliberate, symmetrical manicured look of formal gardens which have fewer colors in the palate. While English country gardens gives you differences in textures, a real strong vertical element and lots of colors which can pull you through the seasons.”

According to Doug Werner, a Registered Landscape Architect at Martin Landscaping and Landscape Design in Cedar Lake, very seldom do people request a certain type of garden style. Instead the style evolves from the lifestyle of the owner.

“It’s do they want formal or casual and how much maintenance they want to do and why did they call me,” said Werner. “Like kitchens and bathrooms, landscaping needs to be redone. And if it’s a garden redo, I ask what plants do they want to keep, add or want to get rid of. All this develops into the style of the garden.”

Werner said when he’s working with people in helping them decide on what type of landscaping they want, he often asks permission to drive by their house because he wants to make it their garden not his.

Mravec said when designing a garden to keep in mind what it will look like in the winter.

“Plants like Knock-Out Roses which are prolific and great bloomers are great during the summer and fall,” she said. “And they also give the garden structure in the winter because of their branches and rosehips. Also trees with interesting bark, ornamental grasses which are not cut back and vertical structures made out of metal and wood also are an important part of the winter garden.”

Like fashion, garden styles come in and out of style, too.

“It’s like bell bottoms,” said Werner, “only because gardens grow more slowly it takes longer for the fashion trends to pass. In the 50s and 60s, landscapes were green with three trees here and a yew there. Now we have more colors from leaves to flowers. And now there’s a style making its way to the Midwest from the West Coast. People tend to edge the sides of their homes with plant borders. They’re easy to see from the street but you have to stand on your tip toes and look down from your window inside to see them. Now they’re moving out and away from the house so people inside can enjoy them.”

Werner also offers some relief for those who ponder and worry about what plants to buy and where to put them when working on their gardens.

“Basically when it comes to garden styles, there are no rights or wrongs,” he said. “There are technical mistakes like a tree that grows so tall that it blocks the front window instead of having planted a dwarf tree, but that can be fixed.”

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Gardening guru shares his top tips in Biggenden




tom wyatt

Trisha Hansen, Prue Leng and Susie Keune meet Tom.
Trisha Hansen, Prue Leng and Susie Keune meet Tom. Erica Murree

FORGET about a lamb roast with Tom Cruise, the flavour of the month in Biggenden is Tom Wyatt and his recipes for getting rid of the bugs in your garden.

The ABC gardening guru was in town on Saturday and delighted and entertained his audience with his sense of humour and his practical answers to their questions.

Councillor Lofty Wendt was over the moon after the visit.

“It was a great day,” he said.

“What impressed me was the number of people who turned up from Gayndah and Mundubbera.

“Tom had the crowd absolutely enthralled.

“When Tom left Saturday afternoon he said to me ‘I’ll be back’.”

Mr Wyatt said it was great to meet such enthusiastic gardeners during the visit.

“I was surprised at the wide range of plants grown in the area and how well they tolerated the elements,” he said.

“You don’t know what will grow until someone tries it.”

Of the rose gardens in the main street, Mr Wyatt said their biggest problem was they needed “a prolific feeding program”.

“Everyone has an opinion but I wouldn’t be pulling the rose bushes out,” he said.

“Instead I would be fertilising them and pruning them back to get more prolific growth for flowering and then sit back and enjoy the colour.

“I’m after the wow factor for people to talk about.”

On Saturday afternoon Mr Wyatt helped the businesses in Edward St plant up their adopted pots.

“In eight to 10 weeks they will be at their magnificent peak,” he said.

“I see Biggenden as one of the future lifestyle centres in Queensland.”

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Harbor Links Gardens

By Carol Stocker

The Old Northern Avenue Bridge, an important pedestrian link between the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the Seaport District, has been spruced up with 12 giant planters of flowers spanning Fort Point Channel. A ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday morning celebrated the project, called the Harbor Links Gardens, which is an example of public and private cooperation.

Representatives included Michele Hanss and Leslie Wills of The Boston Committee of the Garden Club of America, which contributed $50,000 to the project, Vivien Li, president of The Boston Harbor Association, and JoAnn Massaro, Commissioner of Public Works for The City of Boston and Antonia Pollak, Commissioner of the Boston Department of Parks and Recreation, who originated the idea. Also on hand were David J. Warner of Warner Larson Landscape Architects, which provided pro bono services for the design and oversight of the installation and designer Sameer Bhoite. A reception sponsored by the Milton Garden Club followed at the ground floor facility for public accommodation at 470 Atlantic Avenue.

With rooftop gardening becoming more popular, innovations in lightweight products were employed to protect the historic but fragile bridge, including “Roof Lite” growing media donated by Read Custom Soils.

Other companies that contributed to the project include BH Brown Landscape Design, Mahoney’s Garden Center and Greentop Planters of Rockport, who built large but light weight containers from fiberglass and aluminum with polystyrene cores for maximum insulation in heat and cold with a minimum of weight. These are a long way from the old concrete municipal planters that were once the standard.

“Making horticultural and open space available in this important area of Boston is consistent with the Garden Club’s mission of supporting horticultural projects that can have an impact upon the greatest number of people,” said Hanss. “We want to show developers that this kind of beauty and greenery should be part of the new waterfront. Mayor Menino has done a great job and I hope whomever the new mayor is, he or she keeps green space and beautification on the City’s agenda.”

The 1908 metal truss “swing” bridge” has “always been gritty, a connection to warehouses and railroads,” said Li. “No one really thought of it as an entry to an ‘Innovation District,’ We took a rusty bridge and made it a beautiful connector.” She praised Mayor Menino and his staff for his support. “Think about this: The Garden Club gave us the money in November and the project was executed by June.”

The planters are moveable because long term plans for stabilizing and refitting the bridge for multiple uses are still in the works. In the meantime, plants have been installed that can withstand punishing summer sun and winter winds in a very exposed location.

Shrubs and trees include blue holly, Japanese black pine and white pine, purple leaf sand cherry, Icy Drift rose, Blue Pacific Shore juniper, and Color Guard yucca. The tough perennials are equally well chosen. Leading the field is the wonderful reblooming clear yellow Happy Returns daylily bred by Darrel Apps. Also up to the challenge are May Night salvia, Moonshine yarrow, Little Spire Russian sage, black eyed Susan, Angelia sedum, Black Beauty coral bells, Walker’s Low catmint, Elijah blue fescue grass and Hamlen fountain grass, Potato vine, petunia and purple verbena are the annuals used, along with driftwood for a sculptural effect.

Funding from the Boston Committee of the Garden Club of America is raised from a membership of 1100 women from 14 garden clubs in Greater Boston and southern New Hampshire.

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Smart tips for growing a great summer garden

Q: This year has been so hot and dry. What are some things I can be doing in my garden now? — Kathy, Paso Robles

A: There’s still plenty of time for you to plant heatloving summer color in your landscape. Try verbena, zinnia, petunia and portulaca. You can also plant impatiens in shady spots.

July is a good time to feed warm-season annuals, summer vegetables, lawns, roses and subtropical plants.

Remove spent blooms of flowering plants, including roses, to promote continued bloom. Pinch chrysanthemums back and fertilize them for spectacular blooms this fall.

Bearded iris can be planted later in the month. Established iris clumps, which are overgrown, can also be divided and replanted.

In the vegetable garden, cherry tomatoes and squash can still be planted in the North County. In our South and Coastal areas, corn can be planted now.

Pick fruit regularly and dispose of any fruit that has fallen to the ground.

Control gophers by trapping. This activity should be continued throughout the year for the best result.

Inspect all of your garden mulch and add more mulch to areas where it is thin. Mulches are very important in summer — they help retain moisture and keep the soil cooler.

Concentrate on being water wise this summer by closely monitoring your irrigation. Check timers, sprinkler heads, drip lines and emitters, and adjust or replace as necessary. Additional information on irrigation and water conservation tips are available from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Publication 8036: “Water Conservation Tips for the Home Lawn and Garden” which is available online:

In this very dry year, be fire safe by removing dead limbs, trees and piles of leaves near your house and other structures. Keep weeds and tall grasses cut down to stubble. Remove any woody vegetation that grows against structures. More comprehensive information on fire safe landscaping is available online in the University of California ANR Publication 8228, “Home Landscaping for Fire”: .


Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners Web site at   e-mail

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Gardening news and notes: gnomes; tips; and lawn

gnome.JPGView full sizeGnomes are part of a controversy over IKEA ad.

GNOME CONTROVERSY: I’m not particularly fond of gnomes, but wouldn’t go so far as to be afraid of an ad by IKEA that’s got people up in arms. They don’t care, though.

According to a story on The Huffington Post, Peter Wright, a marketing manager for Ikea’s U.K. branch, said the commercial was merely a “light-hearted” way of showing a family defying “the ultimate embodiment of everything that’s tired and dreary about British gardens – the garden gnome.”   

Watch the video and vote.

I tend to believe when Jonathan Kavalier, chief horticulturist for the Smithsonian Gardens, shares tips he and his colleagues have acquired over the years. Check out a video on pruning. 

GRASS AFFAIR: Americans love their lawns, says author Thomas Mickey in his book “America’s Romance with the English Garden.”  

“I want people to understand how we became obsessed with the lawn,” said Mickey, a master gardener and professor emeritus of communication studies at Bridgewater (Mass.) State College. “This ideal is something we’ve inherited and it’s difficult to get rid of.”
— Kym Pokorny

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