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Archives for July 17, 2013

Mount Prospect eyes downtown’s future

Consultants creating a new plan for downtown Mount Prospect are proposing new multi-family housing in the area around the train station that they say would serve as a magnet for stores and restaurants and add economic vitality.

About 30 residents heard the plans for the half-mile radius around the station from The Lakota Group at a public open house last week.

Kevin Clark, Lakota vice president, said that while the downtown area will not likely attract national chain stores like ones found at Randhurst Mall, it’s the right spot for unique, local retail stores.

The plan also includes improving pedestrian access in the major roadways by shortening the crosswalks, making them more visible or putting refuges in the middle.

“We’re trying to make it safer and more welcoming,” said Bill Cooney, village director of community development.

Cooney said some residents have expressed concerns about safety, particularly parents who want to be able to allow their kids to bike to Oberweis.

“The issue is having people come downtown and walk around in a way that they feel comfortable,” said Cooney.

Clark said another idea is putting in a smaller grocery store, such as Trader Joe’s, to attract more people to the downtown area. There isn’t enough parking for a larger store, such as Mariano’s Fresh Market.

Some residents have referred to the strip mall at Central and Main streets as an “eyesore,” so a small grocery store may be a good fit for that location. Another possible location would be Northwest Highway and Pine Street, Clark said.

The plan also includes improving landscaping, adding decorative lighting and gateway signage to enhance the aesthetics of the area.

As detailed in the plan, the current downtown area has a significant vacancy rate in both newer and vintage spaces and there are more professional service businesses than retail stores. But the potential is there, it said, because various events attract people and there are strong traffic counts and Metra ridership.

Clark said ideas from the open house will be incorporated into a final plan that may be presented to the Village Board in a few months. It will include parts that can be implemented in various time frames, from a year to five years to 15 or 20 years, he said.

“It’s long-term, but we also have things that can be done in the short term too,” said Clark.

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DCSO dispels $750k sign figure floated by tax hike critics

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is taking issue with accusations that the sign in front of the new jail cost $750,000.

Dan Christner threw the number out there at a public hearing on the county’s proposed millage rate increase of nearly 30 percent as evidence of the waste that goes on in local government.

Christner said he got the figure from Commissioner Ann Jones Guider before the public hearing. Guider said she was just estimating.

Either way, Chief Deputy Stan Copeland isn’t happy about being dragged through the mud.

“I’ve heard this $750,000 crap,” Copeland said.

Copeland said money from the 1-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) was used to purchase the lot where the sign sits and erect the sign. Jennifer Hallman, the county’s finance director, said the sign sitting along Fairburn Road cost $54,720.

The land where the sign now sits was once the site of a Captain D’s restaurant. The Georgia Department of Transportation purchased it as part of the Fairburn Road widening project. Douglas County had to bid for the land and got it for $160,001, Hallman said. That’s $214,721 for the land and the sign.

Then there’s the landscaping around the sign. The BOC signed off on spending another $273,586 out of the general fund last week for sidewalks, brickwork, flowers and shrubs to make the entrance look nice.

That gets the total price of the sign and entrance up to $488,307, a tad bit less than the number Christner used in his speech last week and again in a letter to the editor in Friday’s Sentinel.

“Well, I stand corrected. Don’t I feel like a fool,” said Christner after hearing the actual cost. “It was a bargain.”

Copeland said he isn’t “trying to throw anybody under the bus” but that the first time he saw plans for the landscaping was at last week’s BOC meeting.

“The sheriff’s office and the sheriff have nothing to do with the landscaping up there,” Copeland said. “We didn’t request it. We didn’t have anything to do with the design.”

Mark Teal, the county engineer and director of development services, said a committee composed of landscape architects, commissioners and staff members looked at different ideas for the entrance over a 6-12 month period.

He said the area around the sign will be have flag poles, places to sit, about 700 feet of sidewalk, irrigation and a storm sewer.

The county’s long-term plan includes putting more government buildings adjacent to the jail site.

“It’s like a park and it has signage for the jail, 911 and possible future buildings,” said Teal.

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A burgeoning bush problem? There’s a goat for that…

I AM a fan of uncomplicated, make-a-plan biotech-type ideas. They suit my “simple solutions are super” approach to life. I like the notion of solving problems and creating opportunities by putting things that don’t need batteries, Eskom or petrol to work. We’ve done it for centuries by, for example, burning wood for fire, and using animals for transport, microscopic unicellular fungus (that is, yeast) to make bread and beer, and bacteria to turn milk into yoghurt.

More recent biotech finds include the use of dung beetles to reduce methane emissions, worms to turn waste into compost, and larvae to feed on excrement so it can be harvested and processed for animal or fish food, or biodiesel. There’s also the use of Pseudomonas bacterium to break down crude oil when treating oil spills and zebrafish to decode the genetic mutation responsible for a hereditary muscle disease found in people native to North Carolina in the US.

In North Carolina, entrepreneur Matt Richmond took biotechnology back to grassroots level in 2010, when he established a small business called Rent-A-Goat to — yes, you guessed it — rent out goats to clear properties of unwanted grass, bush and weeds.

By 2011, the company, which Richmond promotes as an eco-friendly alternative to machinery or chemicals, had become so successful, he decided he’d help ensure others didn’t “miss the goat” and added to it “a worldwide listing for all goat-based brush-clearing service providers”.

Rent-A-Goat was recently included in Entrepreneur magazine’s 100 Brilliant Companies. It has more than 82,000 Twitter followers and almost 16,000 Facebook “likes”.

Goats are not only useful for maintaining lawns and landscaped areas. They’re also considered the ideal weed-control and bush-clearing solution for sites undergoing new construction, and for removing invasive species and restoring indigenous plant and animal habitats. They’re also widely used to keep firebreaks clear of vegetation and to reduce undergrowth in forests.

The animals are excellent climbers, and can tackle steep and rocky terrain that’s difficult to clear with machinery. Land cleared by goats can safely be used for farming and gardening, and even children’s playgrounds. They eat about 3.5kg of vegetation a day and produce 13% of the methane emitted by cattle, and goat droppings are considered an easy-to-use and effective garden fertiliser.

Herds signed up by Rent-A-Goat work from nine-to-five with no downtime and are supervised by authorised goat managers. The animals are transported to and from work in “roomy trailers”. The company guarantees they’re up-to-date in terms of vaccinations and deworming. Prices are “competitive with commercial landscaping services”.

And, if you think hi-tech organisations don’t appreciate capric solutions, you’re wrong. Goat-using clients include Amazon in Japan and Google in California, which employ herds to mow lawns around their premises each week.

San Francisco International Airport, scene of the Asiana Airlines crash, recently hired about 250 goats to take on landscaping work. They were not, however, at the airport at the time, so the landscaping livestock didn’t become scapegoats.

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Windsor Garden Tour showcases garden ‘personalities’

Mary Ann Sylvester, one of the visitors enjoying the 2013 Windsor Garden Tour, talks with garden creator Helen Davenport about the aptly-named ‘Lily Trees,’ from the Breck’s catalog, whose colors and scent ‘blew me away,’ Sylvester said. Photos by Brenda Sullivan.

Garden tours are a great opportunity to find fresh inspiration for your own garden, to swap information about new plants on the market and to learn techniques from fellow gardeners – but probably the most fun comes from discovering the variety of personalities expressed in the gardens.

On July 13, there were eight different gardens open to the public on a tour co-hosted by the Windsor Historical Society and the Windsor Garden Club. Proceeds from the tour support programs offered by both organizations.

Some were new gardens in progress and some were well-established, and they ranged in size from landscaping around a pool to 20 plots spanning the equivalent of two house lots.

One of the most colorful and playful gardens was Helen Davenport’s – its eclectic collection of plants dotted with “found objects” reflects not only Davenport’s incredible green thumb, but also her other interests, which include creating jewelry and what she calls “perennial flowers” that combine stained glass and Goodwill finds such as porcelain tea cups.

Describing her garden’s personality, she said, “It’s loose, it’s happy, it’s my favorite place to sit and relax.”

The most popular feature of her garden was the aptly-named “Lily Trees,” from the Breck’s catalog, that grow about shoulder height and whose cream-colored petals are painted with hot pink and deep lavender stripes. As garden visitor Mary Ann Sylvester put it, the flowers’ size, color and lovely scent “blew me away.”

Another unusual feature of Davenport’s garden is an archway formed by two towering arborvitae joined at their tops, that opened onto a large, lush vegetable garden.

Jean Kelsey’s garden is one in transition, and to make room for new plantings on a raised ledge, she had to move hundreds of strawberry plants.

Their new home is a long wall of wooden pallets – a vertical garden – along the back of her house. And to keep the plants well-watered, she uses wine bottles containing a handful of glass beads and whose caps are pierced with several small holes. Inverted at intervals into the top of the pallets on top of small flat rocks, the water trickles slowly into the soil.

Rick Peer’s garden – mostly well-groomed green ground covers, hostas and well-established azaleas – is an excellent example of landscaping planted in harmony with a property’s natural conditions, which in this case is lots of shade and lots of water, as a stream runs under his property.

The moist conditions have also contributed to the staggering height of a weeping willow tree in the front of the property, whose lower foliage he trims both for aesthetics and to make mowing the lawn easier, he said.

Jan Porri’s gardens not only are a great example of creating garden “rooms” – which reflects her love of outdoor living – they also are a testament to how attached gardeners can get to their plants. Most of Porri’s plants have moved with her five times, she said, including peonies that came from her grandmother’s garden almost 30 years ago.

Cindy Daniels’ garden is an inspiring example of how quickly new construction can begin to look like home. A retired teacher now establishing herself in a new garden design career, she described her garden “personality” by saying, “I’m a texture and shape kind of girl. I like lacey plants and spiky plants and I try to time it so something is always blooming. I like succulents, too, so I try to work them in.”

Halyna Povroznyk, who recently moved here from Ukraine, displayed 20 gardens, each one a mini-experiment in combinations of plants or in a single color theme. One garden mixed roses and grape vines; another, a blackberry bush and gladiolas.

Her gardens also flourish thanks to rich soil from a homemade compost bin the size of a large shed, created (with help from her husband) by interweaving twigs.

For more information about the Windsor Garden Club, visit or call Laura Jary at 806-305-7306; to contact the Windsor Historical Society, visit or call 860-688-3813.

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Janet Moyer Landscaping Awarded 2013 Achievement Award From CLCA San …

Technorati Keywords:

landscape design   landscape company   urban gardens   sustainable gardening   smart water management  

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Gardening tips with the Western Mass. Master Gardeners Association

CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – The Western Mass Master Gardener Association shared some gardening tips and tricks as well as a delicious recipe for stuffed grape leaves.

To learn more give them a call at (413) 298-5355 or visit .

Stuffed Grape Leaves


  • 1 bunch parsley, washed well, chop leaves finely, save all stems
  • 1 cup long grain rice for recipe with meat, 2 cups for vegetarian
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned,
  • 2 scallions, chopped finely
  • Fresh herbs, oregano, basil, (optional: dill, or any you prefer)
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef, turkey or lamb, your option


  1. Mix all ingredients, set aside.   
  2. Be Sure to use wild grape leaves, (tender) about 30,  about 50 for mixture with meat, about 5″ in width or larger, wash well, then par boil for 1 or 2 minutes, let cool.
  3. Back side up and stem cut close to leaf, put about 1 very full tbsp. of mixture into center of grape leave, then wrap up burrito style, nice and tight!        
  4. Prepare heavy bottom pan or casserole pan by layering parsley stems in bottom of pot with 2 additional tbsp. olive oil.
  5. Tightly layer stuffed grape leaves in a row, fill in pot until there are no empty spaces, layer on top of each other until done.    
  6. Cover with an inverted plate that fits inside pot (to hold down stuffed grape leaves so they don’t come apart while cooking). 
  7. Add 3 cups water, beef broth, vegetable broth or any broth you desire.
  8.  Bring to a very low boil, or bake in 350 oven for about 3 hours or until liquid is soaked up.
  9. Let stuffed grape leaves rest for 30 min. or so, take out very gently and serve with lemon wedges, tzatziki sauce, sour cream, or whatever you prefer, hot or cold.

Tips for preparing grape leaves:

  • Pick wild grape leaves only. (Grape leaves from grape bearing vines are tough)
  • Wash grape leaves well, blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes, put into cold water to cool.
  • When ready to stuff:
  • Place leaves vein side up on your counter about an inch apart, place about 1 tsp. of mixture in center of grape leaves.
  • Roll by having wide side down, fold over sides to touch, then start to roll from wider part of leaf up until firmly rolled.
  • Leaves should be about 5 to 6 inches across, try to cut all leaves to be uniform in size.

About the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association:

The Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the educational mission of promoting good and sustainable gardening practices. We are volunteers who have graduated from an academic training class and have completed service hours working with the public to advance our mission.

Individuals who complete this training and service are then certified as Master Gardeners.  Although members participate in activities throughout Western Massachusetts, the organization is divided into three sub-regions: Berkshire County, Upper Valley, and Lower Valley which organize activities and volunteer efforts in their respective regions.

Master Gardener programs exist throughout the nation and are typically associated with a state university. Our program originated at the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Massachusetts.  In 1989 due to funding limitations, the program was discontinued at UMass. We have been operating independently since then thanks to a very dedicated group of program graduates.  Our ranks continue to grow.

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Tips for planting 5 flowers that are tough to kill


13HSAGEC_4931799.JPGView full sizeYarrow isn’t fussy about where it grows.
Is your thumb more brown than green? Follow these tips for growing flowers that are hard to kill, from Birds and Blooms magazine,
(, and the University of Minnesota
Extension Service, ( 

Coneflowers are easy to grow and resists disease. Let the flowers go to seed and birds will come to feast on the seeds daily. Butterflies and bees also love purple coneflower. Needs full sun; perennial, grows 2-4 feet tall. 

Yarrow gives a wildflower look to any garden. In some places it will grow well with almost no fuss, making it a good flower for naturalistic plantings. Grows in full sun; perennial, grows 6 inches to 60 inches. 

Cosmos is an annual that often reseeds on its own and will fill your garden with simple, daisylike flowers all summer. Plant cosmos from seed directly in the ground in spring. It will tolerate drought. They attract butterflies and other pollinators. Needs full sun and moist soil; annual, grows 1 to 4 feet tall.

Daylilies will continue to bloom in your garden for years with little to no care. They adapt to a wide range of soil and light conditions and establish quickly. Trumpets can be triangular, circular, double, spidery or star-shaped in various colors. Some are fragrant. Grows in sun to part sun; perennial, grows 6 inches to 4 feet high.

Hens and chicks are succulents that send out smaller rosettes (“chicks”) from the parent plant (“hens”). Since they lack a deep root system, try growing it in a birdbath or shoe. Plant in full sun to partial shade in well-drained soil; perennial, grows 4 inches tall. 


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10 tips for organic gardening via Stonyfield Farm – The Birmingham News

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July gardening tips from the Eden Project

And don’t forget to order your bulbs for next spring – you won’t need to plant
them till autumn, but this way you’ll ensure you get the best bulbs.

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Dan Pearson studios to design Thomas Heatherwick’s garden bridge

By Sarah Cosgrove
17 July 2013

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