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Archives for June 28, 2013

White House Down a dumbed-down invasion: review

Other such films have various combinations of accidental heroes, determined villains, endangered kids, global nuclear threats, stock market panic, airborne and ground assaults, impromptu urban renewal, constitutional crises and exceedingly high renovation and landscaping bills. White House Down has all these things going on, some of them in multiples.

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The Garden Club of Hyannis





GARDEN GIRLS – Karen Knaub, Dolores Ahern, Sandy Greene, Irene Lupo and Deborah Faulconer, members of the Garden Club of Hyannis, share a moment amid the flora and fauna of the Cobb Astro Park at Barnstable High School, one of their many civic projects.

When many people hear the term “garden club” they often conjure forth an image of well-dressed women discussing different types of roses during a lunch of watercress sandwiches with the crusts cut off.

Those people definitely aren’t familiar with the Garden Club of Hyannis, where, at the February meeting a diminutive lady with snowy hair hoisted aloft a small chainsaw, proclaiming it her favorite garden tool.

“We are no longer ladies in white gloves and big hats,” said club member Deborah Faulconer. “We don’t just go to tea and make flower arrangements.”

In reality the club’s civic projects comprise a long list and include landscape design and maintenance of the flowers at the Hyannis Public Library and the Cobb Astro Park at Barnstable High School, providing and decorating Christmas trees to Cape Cod Hospital, donating to the Heritage Museum and Gardens Intern Program and donating to Habitat for Humanity landscape projects.

Fundraising events include an annual plant and bake sale, raffles at the Rotary Home and Garden Show and triennial appearances at the Holiday Showcase event.

The group also presents scholarships each year to local high school graduates pursuing a career in horticulture, environmental studies or related fields, and toolships, special “get started” gifts of equipment and such that are given to graduates of Cape Cod Tech pursuing careers in landscaping.

“We’re a very busy garden club,” said longtime member Irene Lupo.

It was Lupo’s idea to contribute to the raised garden beds in the Astro Park that were the culmination of a Boy Scout Eagle Project for Barnstable graduate Ralph Bousquet. Since the club’s first planting of flowers in the original bed, the group has returned regularly to maintain their flowers and plant more in the newly completed beds.

Taking part in the Holiday Showcase at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod is also a highlight of Garden Club activities and allows members to truly show off their talents. The club creates a number of differently themed “rooms,” all spectacularly decorated in anticipation of the holidays.

The event also serves as an important fundraiser for the Club and the Cultural Center, while also encouraging visitors to get inspired by the clever and creative decorating ideas.

Garden Club members, meanwhile, draw much inspiration from each other.

“When I joined, my thought was that I wanted to make new friends and learn about horticulture,” said Faulconer. “I’ve learned so much.”

“I’ve been in the Garden Club longer than anybody and I don’t know what I’d do without it,” said Dolores Ahern.

Club members eagerly look forward to Tuesdays in the Garden when they visit the gardens of various members.

“You get ideas and you get to know each other better,” said club president Sandy Greene.

“I don’t think I could have the garden I have if I wasn’t associated with the Garden Club,” said member Karen Knaub.

Knowing that what they do ultimately makes their community more beautiful is also powerful motivation to keep the club active. Greene recalled a special moment when taking down a tree at the hospital after the holiday season ended.

“We had a breast cancer tree,” Greene said. “Someone taped a note to it thanking us. When we’re down there working people are constantly thanking us.”

“We’re in the community doing things that maybe aren’t visible but are very helpful,” Faulconer said.

Knaub said that beautifying the community often involves club members willingly digging in the dirt.

“They really get down and dirty and do a lot for the community,” Knaub said. “We’re a wonderful club.”

The Garden Club of Hyannis meets the third Tuesday of every month at the Community Building on Route 149 in West Barnstable and they are seeking new members. For more information email Nancy Bailey at
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or Jane Kennedy at
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Summer Landscaping Ideas for a Texas Environment

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:

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Mt. Pleasant’s rain garden project is nearing end stage – Tribune

Daily Photo Galleries

Thursday – June 27, 2013

Mt. Pleasant Photo Galleries

Descendant of storied Mt. Pleasant family gets local history lesson

By A.J. Panian

Published: Thursday, June 27, 2013, 9:33 a.m.

Updated 17 hours ago

Rob Cronauer calls it mimicking Mother Nature.

That’s the purpose of the ongoing rain garden project in Mt. Pleasant.

The gardens — designed by the Westmoreland Conservation District — add splashes of natural beauty throughout town while absorbing rainwater runoff where asphalt and concrete have edged out earthen soil, said Cronauer, the district’s watershed specialist.

“Basically, with all these stormwater projects, we’re trying to retrofit areas to counteract the effects of development,â€� he said.

In 2009, Mt. Pleasant was allocated $475,250 in federal grant funding through the state Department of Environmental Protection, to cover the cost of bringing rain gardens to the borough.

The following year, Mt. Pleasant became the first municipality in the state to install residential rain gardens by doing so in the Ramsay Terrace section of the borough.

Soon after, borough leaders were cited for providing one of the best examples of community partnerships with the district through the initiative.

Earlier this year, the funding was used to install of a storm water retention basin on property owned by Excela Health Frick Hospital.

The project’s latest phase recently began with the planned installation of two rain gardens near the borough building in Frick Park.

One of them is being installed near the park’s restroom building by Penn-based Jupina Landscaping Inc., according to Kathy Hamilton, the conservation district’s landscape architect/stormwater technician.

Borough engineer McCormick Taylor provides oversight on the projects and helps the borough seek contractors, Hamilton said.

The second garden will be located in the narrow lawn area between the park’s restroom and the borough building at 1 Etze Ave, Hamilton said.

“Both gardens will contain landscaping that will be low-maintenance, will have some seasonal interest and will help with the uptake of water from the gardens during and after rain events,� she said.

In addition, they both will intercept storm water runoff coming from uphill onto Etze Avenue, which contributes to winter icing problems, and subsequent damage to the paved surface in front of the borough building and its handicapped-accessible entrance, Hamilton said.

Issues with ice coating Etze Avenue are seen as a threat to hamper emergency response efforts of the borough’s police and volunteer fire departments.

“That ice takes up about half of that lane from the (Frick Park) walking track down past our police cars,â€� said Dan Zilli, the department’s assistant police chief. “If it helps curb that, it would help us out a lot.â€�

Borough Manager Jeff Landy said he would like to see the gardens make a difference in warmer parts of the year, too.

“In the summertime, the Frick Park ball field gets a little soggy or muddy after heavy rains,� he said. “Hopefully this will alleviate some of that.�

The cost of the current rain garden project at Frick Park, combined with another two rain gardens to be installed at Frick Hospital, under the same contract, totals approximately $60,000, Hamilton said.

With the September deadline for usage of the grant funding looming and roughly $50,000 still available, the borough is eyeing implementation of one last rain garden in town, Landy said.

“I believe there’s going to be one more installed in parking lot across from the gazebo,â€� he said. “Rainwater runoff there leads to ice buildup in Union Alley. That last portion of money will help solve that problem.â€�

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or

  1. Mt. Pleasant native writes paranormal romance novel

  2. Descendant of storied Mt. Pleasant family gets local history lesson

  3. Mt. Pleasant’s rain garden project is nearing end stage

  4. Cat Committee of Mt. Pleasant to man TNT Fireworks stand

  5. Mt. Pleasant’s Quilt Patch Etc. participates in 15th annual Shop Hop

  6. Mt. Pleasant adds 23 new pedestrian crosswalk placards

  7. Chestnut Ridge Lions Club honors top 6th-graders

  8. Summer park program begins at Mt. Pleasant’s Frick Park

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Use containers in landscaping

By Melinda Myers
Gardening Expert
Container gardens have long been used to add a spot of color by a front entrance or to expand planting space.  Try one or more of these attractive, fun and functional ways to include containers in your landscape, large or small.
Add vertical interest to any garden or garden space. Select a large attractive container filled with tall plants like papyrus and canna. Or elevate a small pot on steppers or an overturned pot for added height. Create height with smaller pots and plants by strategically stacking and planting them into a creative planting. Try setting any of these planters right in the garden to create a dramatic focal point.
Create a privacy screen or mask a bad view. Use an arbor or other support for hanging baskets and then place a few containers below for an attractive screen. Or create a garden of containers to provide seasonal interest using a variety of plants.
Use trees, shrubs, and ornamental grasses for height. Save money by purchasing smaller plants. Elevate these on overturned pots for added height and impact. Mask the mechanics by wrapping the pots in burlap.
Then add a few colorful self-watering pots in the foreground for added color and beauty. Fill these with annuals or perennials.
Bring the garden right to your back door for ease of harvest and added entertainment. A self-watering patio planter, windowbox, or rail planter reduces maintenance and makes harvesting herbs as easy as reaching out the window or back door. Plus, guests will have fun harvesting their own fresh mint for mojitos or greens for their salads.
Define outdoor living spaces within your landscape. Use containers as walls and dividers to separate entertaining and play areas from quiet reflective spaces. And consider using pots with built in casters or set them on moveable saucers to make moving these pots easier. This way you can expand and shrink individual spaces as needed simply by moving the pots.
Create your own vacation paradise. Add some wicker furniture or fill vertical gardens, an old child’s wagon, metal colander or wooden and concrete planters with cacti and succulents.
All you need is a bit of space and creativity to find fun new ways to put containers to work for you in the garden this season.

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Gardening for Geeks: A book with tips worth knowing

If you read enough gardening books, you’ll pull out a few tips or tricks. But they often contain a lot of techniques developed in the author’s own yard, which may or may not be useful to you.

I am as guilty of this as anyone in my gardening columns, but I do try to point out that what works in my particular micro-climate and soil profile may not work for you.

What I really like to find in a gardening book is well-reasoned, evidence-based advice on how to do particular things and the physical requirements of plants that I want to grow (or tried to grow and failed for reasons that are not yet obvious to me).

The best book for food gardeners in southwestern B.C. is Steve Solomon’s Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades. He has since moved to Tasmania, so the book in all likelihood will not be updated again.

But I have been thumbing through a more recent text, Gardening for Geeks, which appeals to me because it is so instructive.

The author Christy Wilhelmi lives in Los Angeles and like all California-based gardening writers, she undoubtedly has unique challenges of her own. Ordinarily that makes their books useless to British Columbians. But not so for Wilhelmi.

Her advice about arranging crops from shortest to tallest, south to north to take advantage of the sun’s rays works no matter what the latitude. She includes the important exception for tender lettuce in the heat of summer: plant lettuces to the north of taller plants or trellised vines to protect them from full sun.

Measurements and sketches will guide you to soundly designed garden boxes, raised beds, paths and simple garden structures such as tomato cages. Instructions for building a hot compost heap and a worm box are easy to follow.

Wilhelmi zips through basic introductions to double-digging, biodynamic growing and French intensive agriculture – just enough so that you will know whether or not to seek out more detailed instruction.

I also like that she gives good basic information about how to plant and grow a couple of dozen common vegetables from arugula and beets to spinach and squash, plus a chapter on herbs.

If you are just starting out and aren’t quite sure what kind of gardener you are yet, Gardening for Geeks will probably help you figure it out.

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Gardeners’ Dirt: Seasonal gardening tips for hot summer months


  • See for yourself: Victoria Educational Gardens at Victoria Regional Airport Go to:; Click on “Gardeners’ Dirt” – June 2004 Call: Victoria County AgriLife Extension Service at 361-575-4581 Summer office hours: 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday


  • Cut back to about 25 percent for vigorous new growth. Cut off any diseased or damaged stems. Apply a nitrogen fertilizer. (Mix 1/4 cup urea with 1/2 Reapply in two weeks if new growth is slow. Source: Dr. Doug …

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    Cut back to about 25 percent for vigorous new growth. Cut off any diseased or damaged stems. Apply a nitrogen fertilizer. (Mix 1/4 cup urea with 1/2 Reapply in two weeks if new growth is slow. Source: Dr. Doug Welsh, Texas Garden Almanac


  • Go to:; Click on “2013 Training Class”

    Deadline: July 18

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of four articles on seasonal gardening tips provided by the Victoria County Master Gardeners for the Victoria area. Reference material is from Dr. Doug Welsh’s Texas – specific Texas Garden Almanac. Dr. Welsh was the first statewide coordinator for the Texas Master Gardener program.

I don’t know about you, but despite it officially starting on the calendar only last week, I sure know it has felt like we’re well into a hot South Texas summer. Here are a few pointers on how to keep your gardens and landscapes looking their best from now through August.


Once you have established your garden, then begins the challenge of keeping things alive through good watering practices while keeping away annoying weeds.

The practice of mulching will have the most impact on water conservation practices by retaining water and cooling the soil. It is also the best way to get a head start on controlling weeds.

Mulches come in many types and colors. Pine bark, cedar, rubber and even rock are available. Remember to choose those that blend in aesthetically with the environment.


Watering the lawn and garden prior to and just after sunrise is best. During this time, the temperature and wind are at their lowest. Remember to begin irrigation at the first sign of moisture stress in lawns, landscape plants or the vegetable garden.

Be observant for dull, gray green-colored leaf blades rolling up or perhaps footprints left on the lawn after you have walked across it as these may be signs of drought stress.

Water as soon as possible with 1 inch of water during any irrigation so that it reaches 6 inches deep in clay soil and about 12 inches in sandy soil.

Drip irrigation should run for much longer periods than sprinkler irrigation. With proper drip irrigation, 1 gallon of water per hour for two to three hours should be sufficient for flower or vegetable gardens and lawns. Monitor daily and when in doubt, observe the plants; they will signal you.

If you don’t currently use drip irrigation, make a commitment to set up one flower or garden bed this summer. Drip systems significantly reduce water use and should be the standard whenever possible for all your landscape and garden plantings.

Plant, lawn care

If you are like me in the sense that your plants and lawn are a source of pride and joy, then inspect them often for any signs or symptoms of stress. Many of the symptoms we see such as discoloration, brown spots or dying leaves can be misdiagnosed as insects or plant disease.

Don’t ever turn to pesticides before correctly diagnosing the problem. About 75 percent of plant problems occurring at this time of the year are due to heat and drought stress.

Be on the lookout for damage in lawns from fire ants or chinch bugs that generally appear first in the hottest areas along driveways or sidewalks. These can be controlled relatively easily with proper diagnosing and by using organic or chemical insecticides.

Trees, shrubs and vines

Most trees and shrubs can survive without any supplemental irrigation; however, they will appreciate it. Watch your plants for signs of extreme water stress indicated by browning of leaf edges, yellow or wilting leaves and dropping of foliage.

Always evaluate plant location in landscape requirements of full sun, full shade, filtered light, etc. Also consider the variety and avoid heat sinks (courtyards, west sun exposure near brick walls, concrete drives or patios) that cause extreme stress on plants. Sometimes, it may be necessary to remove them from the landscape.

Vegetables, herbs and fruits

Most of your vegetable plants are in high production now, so harvest when ripe. Water to help them along and monitor pests. There’s no need for heavy fertilizer or pesticide applications during this time.

If you are into herbs, plant transplants such as basil, chives, spearmint or rosemary in a shallow, wide container and place in a sunny location. Provide water for all fruit trees to help maintain healthy foliage for next season’s crop.

Butterflies, birds and squirrels

Let’s not forget our little feathered and furry friends. The monarch butterfly will begin migration through Texas and needs nourishing rest stops in landscapes (e.g. butterfly weed) to make it through.

The purple martin houses will begin to vacate as their occupants head toward South America. These feathered friends do an awesome number on our backyard pesky insects.

Keeping our bird baths and water fountains fresh daily will help keep the mosquito population at a low while providing yard critters a happy sanctuary.

Time for a drink

I think it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. And that calls for a drink of something at a given hour for every living thing this time of year to insure healthy gardeners, gardens and landscapes. Enjoy your garden this summer.

The Gardeners’ Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension – Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or or comment on this column at

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Margaret Lauterbach: Suave summer garden tips

You can expand your growing space with tent-like structures. I have a frame of 2-by-inch lumber, sized 2 by 4 feet, hinged to another of that size, both with chicken wire stapled to them. The hinge permits easy flat storage, and the chicken wire is support for vines such as melon, squash or cucumber vines.

We set it up like an inverted V, the edges stopped from doing “the splits” by stones or sticks pushed into the soil. When we set it up, we install black plastic in the opening under the vee to bar weeds.

A few years ago, when I lifted that black plastic weed block, there was a glistening mass of white slug eggs, perhaps a half a cupful. I scooped them up and put them directly into the trash.

If you time it just right with lettuce seedlings ready for transplant, you could grow lettuce under the vee instead of wasting that growing space, but if you don’t time it right, you get weeds and wimpy lettuce.

In the effort to get more growing space, some folks are using a half-crib (side and end), the slats giving support to vines. That’s an easy solution, but cucumber and squash vines will need to be guided atop each slat as they grow. Thrift stores may have old cribs, no longer considered safe for infants.


If you’re growing rocambole garlic, the scapes or flower stalks may be uncoiling now. They’re most tender before they uncoil all the way, so pull them out, run them through the blender with olive oil, lemon juice and grated Parmesan cheese, to make some super pesto, great for a dip or over pasta. Chopped walnuts add texture and taste.

Recipes are online. Search garlic scape pesto recipes.


If you’re growing peas, harvest sugar peas before the peas bulge pods, but harvest sugar snaps and shelling peas once the peas have filled out the pods.

Pick pea and bean bush plants and vines clean, even if you have to pick every other day to get them at their peak. If you miss a pea or bean pod, even a damaged pod with a mature pea or bean inside, the plant or vine it’s attached to may die, having fulfilled its purpose of reproducing itself.

To pick a row clean, pick in one direction, then turn around and pick in the opposite direction, for you’re apt to find pods you missed.


To get the most out of your garden, plan to replace crops quickly after you’ve harvested. I usually pull out the spent plant, cover the area with compost, then replant. I wouldn’t try to replace peas with peas, but if you want a second crop, try growing them later for fall harvest. Peas are prime targets for destructive insects in summer.

You could replace beans with beans, though, if they’re a short season variety. lettuce is one of the crops that is usually replaced by other lettuces.

Most references advise starting lettuce at seven-to-10-day intervals, but I find that’s too quick, especially if you’re growing cut-and-come-again leaf lettuce. An interval of about three or four weeks is better for that type of lettuce, for a household of two who consume a large tossed salad at least once each day.


We have a large number of magpies in our area, but they’ve done no damage in my garden. A friend in Eagle told me the magpies are stealing her peppers. That’s unusual, but not even habaneros would deter them: Birds feel no pain from capsaicin, the “heat” in hot chiles.

Send garden questions to or Gardening, The Statesman, P.O. Box 40, Boise, ID 83707.

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Government quietly scraps plans for new garden cities

Planning minister admits there is no cash for Cameron’s idea

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Designers consider rooftop garden on Spokane Public Market

SPOKANE – A garden that produces both food and biomass while capturing carbon all on one roof might seem like a lofty goal, but design scientists D. Bruce and Margaret Ruhl believe it’s possible: they have the plans to prove it.
Bruce and Ruhl study “permaculture” meaning permanent culture or agriculture. Their plans for the rooftop of the Spokane Public Market include a self-sustaining garden yielding everything from potatoes to edible flowers to beehives.
The permaculturists said rooftop gardens can help return urban Spokane to its roots of vast parks, like Manito Park, that once defined the city.
But it would be more than a garden. The designers want to include a stage and event area for live music, weddings, etc. to maximize the social benefit of the space.
“Usually down on the street level things are really noisy,” Bruce said. “Here we can go up on the roof and all of a sudden be in a living ecosystem that is self-contained and isolated and requires no input.”
The two said Spokane is the perfect setting to experiment with agriculture science because of Eastern Washington’s rich history in farming. And rooftops, they said, are an ideal spot to plant their idea.
“It’s actually more energy efficient to build it on the rooftops instead of breaking down all the old warehouses that we have in Spokane,” Ruhl said. “It’s utilizing a resource that a lot of people normally see as worthless.”
They need more community support as they currently are fundraising for the project. Their goal is to have plants on the roof of the Spokane Public Market at 24 W. 2nd Ave by February 2014, yielding food to be sold at the market below by the late spring harvest.
For more information, visit the Spokane Public Market 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Thurs-Sat or Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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