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Archives for July 25, 2013

Garden Tour participants share tips

KENMORE – For visitors of Ken-Ton’s 11th annual Garden Tour, last weekend’s event was a chance to see a wide variety of flowers and plants in different shapes, sizes, and colors. However, for gardeners, it was also an opportunity to communicate and share tips with other green-thumbed community members.

During the event, which ran on July 20 and 21, gardeners opened up their yards to the public, shared their unique experiences, and gave advice to residents who may participate in this colorful tradition in the future.

According to Vicki Miller of Nassau Avenue, one who is just starting out should remember that gardening, like art, is subjective. She advised new participants not to be nervous when showcasing their masterpieces.

“I think people refrain from participating in the Garden Walk because they’re afraid of what people will think or say, and it’s not like that. It’s a great weekend, you meet wonderful people, and you share tips and you learn tips,” she said.

Many other participants of the Garden Tour also said an important part of gardening is networking and sharing things with others. This was especially true for those who were starting out, such as Denis Uminski of Columbia Boulevard. He said he took many gardening tips from his neighbor, Lynn O’Connor.

“I take my lead off of Lynn next door. She’s been doing this for years, and we watch her decorations increase and so on, she’s constantly searching for new things and so we’re starting to follow her example,” Uminski said.

O’Connor’s advice to gardeners was simple: “buy only what you love.” She commented that people often put a great deal of thought into their gardens, without knowing ahead of time what is actually going to grow.

“If it grows, that’s great. If it doesn’t, that’s okay, too,” she said.

For even experienced gardeners, the craft can be a challenge. Some factors, such as weather, are out of human control. Brian Blyth of Delaware Road in Tonawanda said this year’s weather was conducive to growing, but there were challenges.

“It’s actually been good for growing things, it’s just that sometimes the conditions get a little over the top, a little harsh. In general, it’s been good,” he said. “[It] seems to change and you get a long string of hot weather…then we ended up with that storm the other day.”

As an experienced gardener, Blyth advised people to realize gardening is about much more than just throwing water on a plant and hoping it will grow, adding that it is important to use fertilizer for the best results.

“A lot of people don’t realize that when they plant stuff, they have to feed it, fertilize it…we mulch all of our gardens, so then we don’t have to weed so often,” he said.

Blyth and his wife, Linda, showed off a large garden with approximately 1,500 individual plants. However, the biggest gardens do not start that way, and everyone must start somewhere, much like any other hobby.

“We started small, and just eventually our garden evolved,” he said.

Shelly Martin, a resident of Columbia Boulevard, expressed similar sentiments.

“Start small, have a vision, talk to people who are in the know, and just experiment,” she said.

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Water Saving Techniques Program

Get Daily discounts and offers on sporting events, plays, concerts, museums and other events around town

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5 Labor Saving Tips for the Lazivore Gardener

Some time ago, I wrote a Lazivore Manifesto—a thinly-veiled self justification for the fact that while I like home grown produce, I really don’t like doing too much work to get it. After years of over reach and under achievement, I am finally achieving some success with my gardening efforts. So I thought I’d run through a few techniques that can help fellow lazivores to grow more while doing less.

Here are some of my favorites.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch

Sami Grover/CC BY 2.0
I’ve already talked about mulching as a no-cost way to grow more from your garden, but it’s a gardening technique that simply can’t be emphasized enough—especially when it comes to reducing your workload too. It reduces evaporation, meaning less watering. It suppresses weeds, meaning less weeding. And it protects soil biodiversity, meaning healthier plants and less trouble shooting. As an added bonus, as the mulch breaks down it adds organic matter to the soil, further feeding the soil beasties and improving moisture retention for future crops too. From leaf mulch to shredded newspaper, there are plenty of different mulching options available. I’m a big fan of pine straw, at least here in North Carolina—it’s cheap, plentiful and doesn’t involve chopping down trees. It’s also great for us lazivores because it’s super light and easy to haul around. (And no, it doesn’t make your soil significantly more acidic.)

Grow What Grows Best

Sami Grover/CC BY 2.0
I’d love to grow bussels sprouts, but they don’t seem to like the acidity here in NC—and I’ve never had much luck with strawberries either. Garlic, on the other hand, seems to grow for me without trying. So I grow a lot of garlic. Yes, I do grow a few crops that require a little more care and attention—tomatoes, for example—but I am constantly weighing up relative effort versus reward. Not to mention how cheaply and easily I can get that crop at the local farmers’ market or grocery store. (Some things are best left to the professionals.)

Eat What Grows Anyway

Sami Grover/CC BY 2.0
Yesterday, I found these oyster mushrooms growing in my compost heap. They were the sprouting from the now composting remnants of a (so I thought) failed attempt at growing mushrooms in coffee grounds. This year, I’ve also eaten potatoes I never planted – courtesy of a previous owner I guess – and lettuce and parsley which has self seeded and gone wild. Learning to keep an eye out for the unexpected edibles is a great way to take the “grow what grows best” principle a step further toward “grow what grows without even trying”. It’s worth noting that it is sometimes worth giving volunteers a helping hand—I transplanted the lettuce I found self-seeding, for example, into a vacant section of my plot, and I was also sure to leave it to self seed in case I get the same gift next year too.

Ignore the Weeds of August

Some weeds will grow, no matter how much you mulch. So it’s worth establishing a selective strategy for how to deal with them. Above all else, at least for the lazivore, it’s worth remembering that a weed infestation in April is a much bigger problem than some overgrown weeds in August. Fully grown crops better equipped to compete with weeds than tiny seedlings, and it’s also simply too darned hot to be spending much time in the garden. Let them get a little unruly. Pull back the ones that get out of hand. And then sit back, drink a beer and worry about something else instead.

Go Perennial

© Umbria
It should be pretty obvious that perennial crops require less work than annuals. You don’t need to sow seeds each year. You don’t need to water them religiously because their root systems are already developed. And it’s easy to mulch them heavily at the start of the season and pretty much forget about weeding for the rest of the year. (Did I mention that mulching is a great strategy for lazivore gardening?) From malabar spinach to asparagus to blueberries, there are plenty of perennial crops you can incorporate into a traditional veggie garden—or you can go whole hog and plant a perennial permaculture food forest too.

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Bee-friendly Garden Tips for the Family

Tony Gray, expert bee keeper at bee charity Adopt-a-Hive, has put together some top tips to keep your garden bee bee-friendly this summer.

Bee on flower

The British honey bee population has declined at an alarming rate over the last few years.

In the UK there were 27 species of bees and now 3 are extinct with many more under threat!

According to Lord Rooker, Environment and rural affairs minister, this decline could result in the honey bee population being wiped out in just 10 years.

Oswestry Beekeeper, Tony Gray, founder of Adopt-a-Hive has put together some helpful tips to get bees to love your garden!

Don‘t use pesticides: Bees won’t want to visit your garden if you’ve sprayed this everywhere so try not to use one – it’s not very welcoming! If you have to use one, choose the least toxic one you can find.

Use local native plants: Bees love native plants much more than exotic flowers. These plants adapt well to the chilly British weather and don’t require much looking after – plant some of these and your bees will be completely at home.

The more colour the better: When bees are buzzing through the air, they’re naturally attracted to colour as this helps them find the yummiest flowers full of nectar and pollen. Colours including blue, purple, white and yellow help to attract bees.

Group lots of flowers together: Clusters of lots of flowers all together look a lot more inviting. Allow four feet or more in between each clump to give the bees some space to land and take off.

All shapes and sizes: No two bees are the same, so make sure you have lots of different shaped flowers so every type of bee is welcome.

Have a range of plants flowering all season: Some bees like to fly in spring and some in the summer so make sure you have a range of plants for them to feed on throughout the seasons.

Location: Bees prefer sunny spots in the garden with a little shade – they love to wear their sunglasses. They also like some shelter from strong winds – otherwise, it’s a bumpy landing!

For more information about how you can help to save the bees, visit

Related Articles:
New Bee campaign is set to get British Summer Time buzzing

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Garden Tips from Marianne Oprahdt: Newer pyrethroids less toxic

I created a challenge for area gardeners a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned that the newer synthetic pyrethrins, also known as pyrethroids, are one of the few options for controlling tobacco budworm and sunflower moth in garden flowers.

Just what are these “newer synthetic pyrethrins?” Before answering that question, let’s first talk a little about the origin of pyrethroids.

One of the first botanical- or plant-derived insecticides was pyrethrum. It was made by drying and crushing the flowers of two types of daisies,
Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium and Chrysanthemum coccineum. When purified, this mix was called pyrethrin. Pyrethrum and pyrethrin were desirable because they were “natural,” had a relatively low toxicity and a short period of residual activity. While a lack of persistence is valuable in protecting beneficial insects, it also made them less effective in controlling insect pests. 

Another obstacle to their use was that the pyrethrum was expensive, and supplies were limited. This prompted the pesticide industry to seek a way to create a synthetic pyrethrin. This was done in 1949 when the first synthetic pyrethrin, allethrin, was developed. The next generation of pyrethroids came in 1960 with the introduction of tetramethrin, resmethrin, bioallethrin and phenothrin. The second generation was more toxic than the natural.

Chemists did not stop there. They have continued to develop new pyrethroids that are more toxic, and most also have longer residual activity. These are the “newer” pyrethroids I referred to a couple of weeks ago. They include esfenvalerate, permethrin, cyfluthrin and bifenthrin.

Home gardeners with insect pest problems have been frustrated because a number of insecticides they used successfully in their gardens for pest control were taken off the market because of health and environmental concerns. These newer pyrethroids are effective against a range of garden insect pests, especially chewing insects, and have helped replace materials, such as diazinon, that no longer are available.

As a group, the newer pyrethroids generally are low in toxicity to mammals and birds, but highly toxic to fish and beneficial insects. They are fast-acting and kill insects by contact and ingestion.

How do you know if a product contains one of these newer pyrethroids? I found out it was not easy to find in local stores. Product names don’t give hints. You have to check the label for active ingredients. There will usually be a common name, such as esfenvalerate, along with its long chemical name in parentheses. Check the label to make sure it includes the crop, such as flowers, on which you plan to use the material. Also note any precautions you should take to protect yourself and wildlife.
By the way, I was able to find several Bayer, Ortho and other brands of home garden products that contain at least one of these newer pyrethroids.

– Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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Outdoors: Tips for keeping varmints out of your garden

That string of four-letter words you just heard was probably from your neighbor who found out that the deer ate every last hosta in her yard. Or it may have been from your other neighbor who had his tomato vines picked clean by nighttime varmints. Or it may have been your very own words as you discovered all the leaves from your beautiful string beans missing in action.

It happens every summer – pests in your lawn and garden – and it seems to be happening with increasing frequency as deer, especially, find that living among humans can be both productive and nourishing.

So what can be done to keep the mooching beasts out of your yard and back in the woods where they belong? A 30.06, 200-grain, hollow point bullet comes to mind. But that is both illegal this time of year and not very practical within the city limits. But don’t give up or give into these pillaging thieves. There are ways.

So far this spring (listen carefully and you can hear loud knocking on wood) I have kept the deer out of my small vegetable garden. Here’s how.

First, I erected a fence, sort of. My garden plot is small, maybe 600 square feet. I didn’t really want to build an elaborate and expensive fence, so I went to Lowe’s and bought some 5-foot steel posts. They are green, metal posts and are often used in temporary landscape borders. You can push them in the ground with your feet, so they’re easy to erect.

I spaced them every eight feet or so and tied four strands of wire about 10 inches apart around each post. Deer could easily leap across the top wire, but they don’t seem to like to jump into confined spaces. So far, they haven’t. Also, I bought a product online called Deer Rabbit Repellent made by Plant Pro-Tec. It’s a system of small plastic clips loaded with concentrated garlic that repels deer and rabbits. It is supposedly 100 times stronger than a natural clove of garlic. I clipped the repellent vials about every four feet along the fence and I haven’t had any deer (or vampires) in my garden. For more information about this product, go to

Then, for insurance, we have sprayed the garden faithfully with Deer Fence. It stinks to high heaven, but it seems to help.

My wife Nancy has protected some of her plants in the back yard by hanging a product beside the plants that smells very much like Irish Spring soap. I don’t know why a piece of plain Irish Spring soap, dangled beside plants or flowers, wouldn’t work just as well.

If all else fails, there is a wonderful Farmer’s Market on the Downtown Mall each Saturday. And deer season starts in less than three months

Backyard cooking

I have run across two new products that are handy to have around for backyard cookouts. One is Reynolds Wrap for the Grill and the other is Kingsford Odorless Charcoal Starter.

I bought the Reynolds Wrap by accident. I didn’t realize it wasn’t the regular foil wrap until I got home. But it works great. You can put it on a hot grill (or in the oven) and nothing sticks to it. It distributes the heat very well. Recently, I put a few fresh ears of silver queen corn in the wrap, sealed it with a little water, then put the corn on the grill for about 15 minutes. It was as good as it gets.

The Kingsford lighter fluid is also worth trying. It gets the coals fired up quickly without a trace of odor. Both products are now staples in our house. Give them a try.

Contact Brewer at

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‘steel’ garden scoops gold award

Continue reading the main story

A Stainless CenturyPhil Hirst, centre, used iconic Sheffield buildings as the inspiration for his garden

A Stainless CenturyA Stainless Century, designed by Phil Hirst won two awards at the Royal Horticultural Society’s show at Tatton Park

Continue reading the main story

A garden celebrating the centenary of stainless steel has won a gold medal and been crowned best in show at the Tatton Park Flower Show.

Sheffield designer Phil Hirst picked up honours in the Large Garden category for his garden “A Stainless Century”.

The design was influenced by iconic Sheffield buildings including the Winter Gardens and the Charles Street “cheese grater” car park.

Mr Hirst said winning the two awards was “a dream come true”.

He added: “This was my first time exhibiting at an RHS show, so to win two top awards is truly remarkable.”

Housing and care provider Sanctuary Housing, who sponsored the garden, said it hoped to recreate the winning design in the grounds of a new retirement scheme in Stocksbridge.

The Tatton Park Flower Show, in Cheshire, which was first held in 1999, was created by the Royal Horticultural Society to complement its southern shows.

Stainless steel was discovered by Sheffield metallurgist Harry Brearley in 1913.

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5 on design

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July 26, 2013

  • (1)

Five experts from separate design disciplines give Robyn Holt their take on recent trends shaping the aesthetics of Sydney’s man-made landscape – from our homes, inside and out, to businesses large and small.

Landscape architect Brendan Moar at home in Chippendale with his dog Hughie.

Landscape architect Brendan Moar at home in Chippendale with his dog Hughie. Photo: James Brickwood


1/ BRENDAN MOAR – landscape architect

Brendan Moar is the author of five books on garden design. He has hosted the Lifestyle Channel show Dry Spell Gardening and is currently working on a series for the History Channel.

Architect Hannah Tribe on the roof of her Surry Hills studio.

Architect Hannah Tribe on the roof of her Surry Hills studio. Photo: James Brickwood

What are the current trends in landscaping and garden design?
“Maybe it’s not a trend, but what’s required now are workable options. One of the biggest challenges in designing outdoor spaces is the need for flexibility – the ability to create a space that can be physically manipulated simply and easily to satisfy multiple tasks. Small inner-city gardens really demand this flexibility in order to function. They must accommodate the paraphernalia of outdoor life – tubs, ladders, bikes, bins, the dog – but they must also accommodate the desire for green beauty, vegies and shade. Vertical gardens have been around for a while and are a great way of getting maximum green into a small space while keeping floor space as open as possible.”

How has garden design changed in the past decade?
“The way people use and interact with their space has overflowed into the garden area. Gardens have been elevated from ‘just a piece of green to the back fence’ to now being part of the overall design of the house or apartment. The grow-your-own-food movement has pulled vegies into the spotlight, and people are now asking for vegetables and herbs to be incorporated in the overall design and space. Another change is understanding and appreciating water management, so water tanks, or mains water, or a combination of both, are now part of overall designs.”

What does the future hold for landscape design?
“In the past, as Sydneysiders we all clung to the coastline. But now, with the wave of greening new buildings, green spaces have become our new water views. One Central Park is possibly the most talked about new building in Sydney at the moment. The first stage has just been completed on Broadway opposite UTS – and that is not a green end of town at all! But now, as you drive or walk past this building, you look up and see it has the most impressive vertical gardens, newly planted but growing almost in front of your eyes. Created by French botanist Patrick Blanc, the living tapestry of plants, flowers and vines is due to become the world’s tallest vertical garden, stretching over 100 metres high. Maybe vegetation will be part of the new vocabulary of architecture.”

Interior architect George Livissianis in The Apollo, Potts Point.

Interior architect George Livissianis in The Apollo, Potts Point. Photo: James Brickwood


2/HANNAH TRIBE – principal and director of Tribe Studio Architects

Hannah Tribe founded Tribe Studio Architects in 2003. The firm works in residential architecture, medium-density housing and urban design.

Interior designer Cameron Kimber in his Potts Point apartment.

Interior designer Cameron Kimber in his Potts Point apartment. Photo: James Brickwood

What are the current trends in architecture?
“Sydney architecture is getting more adventurous. We are seeing a move away from luxury for luxury’s sake, where everything looks like a big, soulless, international hotel. These days, not even new hotels look like hotels. We are seeing more intimacy, a more contextual approach, and more integrated sustainability measures.”

How has architecture changed over the past 10 years?
“There has been a movement away from ‘hero’ architecture to more public engagement. People no longer want to be dictated to in terms of how to live. Australians’ nature is still towards home ownership, but we understand that it has become expensive to own and build a house, so we are looking to smaller houses and apartment living. To design these spaces successfully, sunlight, ventilation and storage are critical. We recently finished an apartment that was very compact but delivered everything the client wanted. It was achieved by ceiling-to-floor sliding wood panels that became walls – slide one way to reveal the kitchen, slide the other way to reveal the bookshelf and large-screen TV – all in one room. It became many rooms when required. Successful city housing is finding opportunities within constraints.”

What does the future hold for architecture?
“We are working now with prefabricated houses, put together in factories and delivered to site – just two months till occupation. There is also the concept of ‘lifestyle housing’ – designing for adaptation from the beginning. Renovation can be really expensive, so with some thought for your proposed lifestyle journey, perhaps the house should be adaptable to your life changes: single, family, empty-nesters. Build the house so the walls can be easily moved and it won’t need an expensive remodel.”

Steven Pozel  director of the Object design centre  in Surry Hills.

Steven Pozel – director of the Object design centre in Surry Hills. Photo: James Brickwood


3/ GEORGE LIVISSIANIS – restaurant and retail interior architect

George Livissianis has worked on the interiors of restaurants including The Apollo, Longrain and Shortgrain. His eponymous company also designed the new Paddington boutique of fashion label Jac+Jack.

What are the current trends in Sydney for hospitality and retail design?
“You can see a lot of ‘Soho House’ interpretations around, as in the Soho House group of members’ clubs that started in London about 10 years ago. Their urban aesthetic, mixed with an eclectic mix of furniture, lighting, artwork and refinement, gave them the cool factor. They started a trend and have defined a look. As designers, I also think it’s important to look at the buildings we are designing into. Interior designers may find themselves on a site layered with history and maybe a dictated architectural style. This happened with The Apollo in Potts Point under the Devere Hotel. One of the first things I did was crawl up into the ceiling, where I found Mediterranean arches, original cornices and a beam structure. I later ripped out ceilings and exposed the fabric of the architecture beneath. This style of project is all about being responsive on site.”

How has design in the hospitality area changed in the past decade?
“A breakdown in formality has changed dining and design. Generally, dining is less formal and designers have had to respond to this – a good example is an increase in bar dining. When I was working on the design of The Apollo, I presented an oversized dining bar as a comfortable alternative to the tables. It also became the theatrical focus, as the kitchen was at the back of the restaurant and not on show.”

What do you believe the future holds for retail design?
“I have read that with the rise of the internet, shop-front retail would disappear. This hasn’t happened, but retail spaces will have to work harder to deliver and make the experience something you just can’t get from your screen. Retail spaces may become smaller but they will have more impact.”


4/ CAMERON KIMBER – interior designer

Cameron Kimber has been an interior designer for more 20 years, and for the past 10 has helmed his own business.

What are the current trends in interior design?
“At the moment we are in what I call ‘freestyle’ – basically there are many looks that work in our climate and with our outdoor lifestyle. Whatever design rules we imagined have relaxed now, so we now mix modern painting with antiques, we have a French chair with an inexpensive wicker side table, and we mix textures like brocades with sisal matting floor coverings. My younger clients are not driven by the look of the day, be it sleek and minimal or high-octane glamour. It’s all about creating a personal style, one that makes your sanctuary your own.”

How has interior design changed over the last 10 years?
“Ten or so years ago, the look was lots of chintz and lots of antique pieces. Colour schemes were usually burgundy and red, not really suitable for our climate. The rooms that were created often had a certain formality to them and were not all that inviting. But since then the internet has opened up other possibilities to everyone. Inspirational interiors you once had to travel to see – as well as books, articles and designers’ personal accounts – are now easily accessible online. Along with that exposure came the global financial crisis, which meant high-priced antiques were no longer an option for many and people became more cautious. This created a trend of looking for more affordable pieces from the 1960s and ’70s. Fifteen or so years ago, people would have thrown out those pieces and would not have dreamt that a ’70s lamp base would look wonderful on an antique hall table. That mix is a real change.”

How is the future looking for interior design?
“People will continue with this ‘freestyle’ of many options to create a look that is reflective of their lifestyle. Antique, brown furniture is out of fashion right now, but I think it will come back because it has really stood the test of time and is the perfect way to recycle.”


5/ STEVEN POZEL – director of Object: Australian Design Centre

Steven Pozel has worked in design, digital media, education and the visual arts. He presently heads Object in Surry Hills – a centre for contemporary design.

What are the current trends in design?
“The biggest trend in design purchases has been a greater shift from buying overseas products to more Australian work being supported. The local company Designer Rugs has commissioned Sydney designers such as Akira Isogawa and Dinosaur Designs to design their rugs, and smaller Australian design firms such as Cloth, Courtesy of the Artist and Workshopped are expanding and working in interesting partnerships. Cloth is designing a range for Sheridan, while Workshopped has reissued the mid-20th century work of Australian furniture designer Tony Parker and supports a huge number of emerging designers.”

How do you think design has changed in the past decade?
“The breadth of design has certainly changed dramatically in the last 10 years. From an industry that was focused on objects that enhanced our lives, like cars and furniture, it now encompasses the design of systems and services that are significantly changing our world – from health care to the planning of our cities. The process of design is enabling us to look at things in a new light and to seek better outcomes – this is why we see business and industry turning to ‘design thinking’ as a methodology to solve problems and to improve their products and services. Universities are teaching programs within the business schools on design thinking, while major corporations, from Westpac to Telstra, are looking to embed it into the culture of their workplace.”

What does the future hold for design?
“I believe that our expectations of really great design will continue to increase. We’ll demand greater sustainability from our products, we’ll want things to work better and to be more efficient, more cost effective. There won’t be room for design that lets us down. We’ll see greater opportunities for the personalisation of certain products, especially as technologies such as digital fabrication continue to evolve, and we’ll also see 3D-printing machines begin to enter our homes.”


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Traditions differ on garden design

If you made it to the AAUW’s 24th annual garden tour last week, the desire to do something in your own backyard or patio is probably still making your mouth water. Some advice from landscape designers is recommended before that first shovel goes in the ground.

Traditional European design dictates that an outdoor space follow the interior layout locating “room spaces” as in a home. That works beautifully, especially for Oxford style architecture or anything from Italy, Spain or even the Colonial Indian styles. But a home in the manner of the Prairie style, or in Frank Floyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” style, then other options may be better suited for that space.

I’d recommend reading about European and Japanese design principles for landscaping. It will give you some valuable ideas about new problems. It’s easy enough to dig a hole and plant a tree. Watering will keep it alive and feeding it will help it thrive — and that’s good. But having a space that is planted so the view from a door or window where you sit inside the house, or a space that draws you out of doors even in winter, is perhaps a higher calling for a garden space.

As I pore over “Tasha Tudor’s Gardens,” one of my favorite coffee table books, I see the European concept of flowers for every season working hand-in-hand with a deep love of the process of growing things. Her garden style is much more my mother’s style of “if one rose is good, then two are better.” The book’s text is by Tovah Martin and photographs by Richard W. Brown. The book is a visual masterpiece showing love for the life of growing things.

One huge difference in Western and Eastern garden styles is sheer quantity of land. Where British-based design can be done on small plots, it usually requires acres, Asian style can be found in smaller spaces, miniaturized, with more stones and water than flowers.

Any book on Gertrude Jekyll’s English garden designs will give a great foundation for Western and even cottage style plantings. Her designs are used yet today and alongside Jens Jensen’s, are considered the bible of design for the British garden.

According to Erik Borja, author of “Zen Gardens,” the Japanese concept of outdoor spaces is opposite of Western concepts of the garden as a home extension.

“In Japan” he said, “the garden is seen as another world, and one that is entirely disconnected with the living area.” He said the rationale for that it is nature (the outdoor spaces) that dominates. In the book he takes the reader through his own Japanese inspired garden, modified to use some Western exceptions, it has the aesthetics of the Far East.

“Once the threshold of the house is passed,” he wrote, “one enters a world of dreams and the imagination, and all the elements that make up the garden must contribute to this impression of unreality.” This is not a fairy garden (even though a fairy garden is fun). The Japanese space imparts permanence over prettiness.

In Jamestown, the architecture is very Western, and Craftsman style dominates the older homes. There are some magnificent buildings here, and garden space is limited, if in town. That’s why planning carefully is so important. Most garden spaces need some hardscaping, or at least paved or defined walking paths. The Jekyll book on Arts and Crafts Gardens or Frank Lloyd Wright’s book on The Gardens of FLW is well worth your investment.

Paths need careful planning and some engineering. But before actual construction, a design, a map if you will, is a good idea. Then, before the design is done, research your home’s architecture and look at some garden examples appropriate for that structure.

Websites are helpful supplements to books, as are owners/employees at area plant nurseries. Some flowers or evergreens seen in our lovely picture books cannot grow in zone 4, so a chosen plan may need a replacement plant. Research is vital in order to not make costly mistakes.

If anyone has an idea for this column, contact Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402.

sharon cox, diversions

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Mayoral candidate touts experience

PLATTSBURGH — Mayoral candidate Chris Rosenquest says he would use his business experience and skills to foster more economic-development opportunities and generate more revenue for the city.

“We desperately need economic growth, good-paying jobs and a government that is responsible to the taxpayers,” Rosenquest said Wednesday morning at a news conference outside Plattsburgh City Hall.

“It’s not enough to talk about a vision. It’s time to implement one.”


Rosenquest, 38, is running for mayor as an independent candidate. He moved to Plattsburgh from Seattle earlier this month to make a run for the post.

He grew up in Plattsburgh, graduating from Plattsburgh High School, Clinton Community College and SUNY Plattsburgh.

For the past 14 years, he has been living away, spending the past six years in Seattle.

Rosenquest is part owner of SeattleBurlap, a business that collects used coffee bags for reuse in gardening, farming and landscaping, and also the founder and owner of Bicycle Heroes, a business that supplies clothing and accessories for bikers who commute to work.

He has a master’s in business administration from the University of Washington.


Councilor and Mayor Pro Tem James Calnon (I-Ward 4) and Councilor Mark Tiffer (D-Ward 2) are also running for mayor. Calnon has the Republican and Independence Party lines, and Tiffer will be on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines.

Rosenquest said he has gathered more than 600 signatures to eclipse the 242 needed to get on the ballot as an independent candidate.

As mayor, Rosenquest said, he will focus his efforts on improving the local economy and culture.

“Plattsburgh is filled with thousands of hard-working people who expect and deserve more from City Hall,” he said.

“We can become an economic hub for Upstate New York, and that’s going to take someone with the skills and drive to go beyond the status quo to make it happen.”


Rosenquest said the city needs more jobs, waterfront development, more small businesses and more growth among those already existing.

He said he would look for ways of delivering city services in a more cost-efficient manner.

“As a small-business owner, entrepreneur and technology manager, I have managed multi-million-dollar projects,” he said.

“I have a proven record of creating successful businesses and good-paying jobs, as well as developing innovative systems.”

Rosenquest said he would look to create internships in marketing, business, computer science and communications and would fully fund the city’s Community Development Office.


He also said he would work to improve the arts.

“I’ll work with arts, entertainment and community groups to help create opportunities and events where visitors from around the world can come and enjoy our hospitality, fantastic lake and unique culture,” he said.

“Together, we’ll create Plattsburgh as the cultural heart of the North Country.”


Calnon, 63, who has been a councilor since 2007, said the council has been able to keep the city’s finances in order in recent years despite rising costs of employee pension plans, dwindling state aid, the state tax cap and the loss of $850,000 per year in revenue from a longtime agreement with Saranac Power Partners, which expired in 2008.

“He (Rosenquest) talks about building a strong economic foundation; well, we’ve already built that, and we’ve done it in some of the hardest economic times this city has ever seen,” Calnon said.

He pointed to the city’s improved bond rating, healthy fund balance and modest tax increases in the past five years as proof that the city is in good fiscal shape.

“The previous six years before I came on the council, the tax rate went up a total of 93 percent,” Calnon said.

“It’s gone up 5.4 percent since I’ve been here, that’s less than 1 percent on average. If he (Rosenquest) had been here the last seven years, he would know that.”

But Calnon said having a third candidate in the race is good for voters.

“I welcome him to the race. This is democracy in action.”


Tiffer, 29, said Rosenquest seems to be touching on many of the same ideas he has touted in his campaign, such as utilizing students from CCC and SUNY Plattsburgh in city departments and bolstering the Community Development Office.

“A lot of the initiatives he is proposing are ideas I’ve been talking about for a long time now,” Tiffer said.

“The difference is that I’ve been here and I’ve been involved in this community.”

Tiffer said his time on the city’s Green Committee and as a member of the Planning Board, as well as the past three years on the City Council, have given him a strong perspective of what the city needs.

“I didn’t just decide to run for mayor,” he said. “I’ve put the time into this community.”

Email Joe LoTemplio:

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