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Archives for July 26, 2013

Mid-season gardening tips



KUSA – At the end of July, we’re at the midpoint of the growing season and also the hottest time of the year. Here are some mid-season tips to keep your garden thriving through the rest of the growing season.

Pay attention to insects that are active

Aphids and spider mites are active now. They will show up on veggies, but also on roses and some perennials. Almost all insects attack when plants get weak – and heat, like the 90-degree heat we’ve had recently – can play into this. If you’ve been doing all the right things to keep plants healthy, that’s your first line of defense. If infestations are severe, these insects can be treated with products available from the garden center.

Powdery mildew is also common in Colorado gardens

It shows up not just on veggies, but also on the foliage of many plants such as lilacs and roses. This mildew loves warm, dry climates like we have in Colorado! You will find it most often in crowded plantings where air circulation is poor and in damp, shaded areas. And younger plant tissue is usually more susceptible. You will see spots or patches of white to grayish growth that looks like talcum-powder on the upper sides of leaves.

This disease is a good example of how to use Integrated Pest Management – where you start with the simplest measures and then work up to applying a product, if you need it. Start by pruning off the affected areas – and remember never to put diseased material into your compost pile. If you need to do more, you can use copper soap or sulfur or a fungicide product available from a garden center.

Help plants cope with heat

When it’s hot, most veggies need regular water – so watering every day or every other day in the early morning hours is best. Water at the base of the plants so moisture goes right to the roots; this saves water. If you have drip irrigation, that’s all the better. If we have more days prolonged high temps, you can even shade veggies with an umbrella or a shade tarp so they don’t heat stress. This helps them stay at the right temperature to be healthy and keep producing.

Fill up the bare spots

We have 9 really good and warm weeks of weather ahead of us. So if you have gaps and bare spots in your veggie garden – or even in other areas of your landscape, fill them up! Plant shrubs or flowers, or even pot up a plant in a container with some showy annual flowers to add a bright spot of color you can enjoy the rest of the season. We’ve got many good growing days ahead and we need to make the most of them!

Information courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, sponsors of the 9News Kitchen Garden and the 9News Water Wise Garden:

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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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 humidity 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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Get fall vegetable gardening tips at Urban Harvest event


Bayou City Heirloom Bulbs sale: Formosa lilies, oxblood lilies, gingers and more. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at 5842 Velma Lane, Humble; 713-471-4383.

Fall vegetable gardening: Sponsored by Urban Harvest. 9 a.m.-noon at University of Houston, 4361 Wheeler; 713-880-5540, $24 members, $36 nonmembers.

Introduction to Chickens: With John Berry. 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Wabash Antiques and Feed Store, 5701 Washington; 713-863-8322, Free.

Aug. 3

Arboretum at Night: Wine and Cheese and Bats: With Cullen Geiselman. 7-9 p.m. at 4501 Woodway; houston $30 members, $40 nonmembers.

Starting a community/school garden, Class 1: Sponsored by Urban Harvest. 9-11:15 a.m. at Green Planet Sanctuary, 13424-B Briar Forest Drive; 713-880-5540, $24 members, $36 nonmembers.


Houston Urban Food Production Conference: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at the United Way of Greater Houston, 50 Waugh Drive. Participants can select sessions pertaining to starting commercial operations and production methods. Commercial topics include organic certification, marketing options, agricultural valuation for land, efficient irrigation and funding support. Production topics include poultry, goats, beekeeping, integrated pest management, fruit and nut growing, irrigation, season extenders, soil building, weed control, vegetable production and cut flowers. To register, call Diana Todd at 281-855-5614; Registration prior to Aug. 9 is $35 and thereafter is $50. Lunch included.

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Tips: Tony Bennett, Loretta Lynn, Civil War and gardening

2 Legends … Saturday, Sunday

The words “legend” and “icon” are thrown around rather liberally in the entertainment world today. But two performers coming to area theaters this weekend have earned those monikers, by virtue of both their longevity and contributions to music. Pop crooner Tony Bennett comes to the Hershey Theatre Saturday night at 8, and country singer Loretta Lynn performs Sunday at 3 p.m. at the American Music Theatre. Perhaps best known for his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” Bennett began his decades-long career in the early 1950s with chart-topping songs like “Because of You” and “Rags to Riches.” He has earned 17 Grammy Awards and is one of only a handful of artists to have new albums charting in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and ’10s. Tickets for his concert range from $75 to $151. Call 534-3405 or visit Lynn is the embodiment of classic country music. Born in Kentucky to a coal-miner father, she was married at 15. Her tumultuous relationship with her husband (who died in 1996) helped to inspire songs like “Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind).” Her song’s themes focused on blue-collar and women’s issues and appealed to the masses with their straightforward nature. In her 50 years of performing, she has charted 16 number-one singles. Lynn is also the author of an autobiography which in 1980 was made into an Academy Award-winning film, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. Tickets for Lynn’s concert are nearly sold out. If available, they are $55. Call the theater at 397-7700 or visit

Blue vs. Gray … Saturday, Sunday

When visiting the grounds of Landis Valley, history always comes alive. But this weekend, it will do so with a vengeance. On Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the generally bucolic landscape will be transformed into a Civil War camp, complete with musket firing demonstrations and cavalry drills (cover your ears). During the event, visitors can wander (or take a horse-drawn wagon ride) around the camp meeting soldiers as they go about the gritty business of military life in the field. Witness a bayonet drill, sit in on mail call, check out the rations, meet the generals and just get a feel for what it must have been like in such a volatile period of our nation’s past. Both Union and Confederate forces will be represented. A variety of speakers will enlighten listeners on an array of Civil War-era topics. Period games like croquet and grace will be available for kids to play. They can also paint a wooden top, decorate a Civil War flag or participate in a number of other crafts. All the activities are included in the museum’s regular admission of $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for children 6 to 11. Kids 5 and under get in free. For more information, call 569-0401 or visit The museum is located at 2451 Kissel Hill Road.

Diggin’ It … Saturday

Whether or not you come equipped with a green thumb, you can learn to experience your garden in a new way during Saturday’s Summer Garden Experience at the Penn State Southeast AG Research and Extension Center’s Landisville Farm. The name may sound intimidating, but the grounds are welcoming and the event is a must-do for garden lovers. Once a year, the folks at the farm open their doors to the public for a day of speakers and educational sessions, and offer the opportunity for visitors to tour the grounds. Throughout the day short seminars will be held on a variety of topics, including Gardening for Wildlife Winemaking, Understanding Heirlooms Season Extenders, Idea Garden Veggies Herbs, Invasive Plant Control Turf Topics, Container Vegetables, Beekeeping Basics and more. Lancaster County Master Gardeners will be on hand to show you their native plant, rain, and pollinator gardens, decorative vegetable and herb garden, and raised beds filled with vegetables, perennials, and annuals. Visitors can take guided wagon tours of the farm, learn how to build a bluebird box, buy native plants to take home to their own garden, discover the correct way to prune a tree and much more during this activity-packed day. The event’s featured speaker is Jack Hubley, who will enlighten audiences about the backyard wildlife they may encounter — including some live furry and/or feathery examples. The Penn State Research Farm is located at 1446 Auction Rd, Manheim, and admission is $10 a carload. For details, visit

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Gardening Tips: Garden tips to do during hot July

Posted: Friday, July 26, 2013 11:48 am

Gardening Tips: Garden tips to do during hot July

By Matthew Stevens

The Daily Herald, Roanoke Rapids, NC


Mid to late summer can be a tough time for gardeners.

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Friday, July 26, 2013 11:48 am.

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London Olympic Cauldron designer Thomas Heatherwick’s £60m plan for …

  • Thomas Heatherwick is searching for private funding for the garden bridge
  • It would create a walkway across river from Temple to the South Bank
  • Actress Joanna Lumley backs the plans, calling the garden ‘sensational’
  • Bridge, which could open by 2016, would be first new crossing since 2002

Helen Lawson

05:02 EST, 25 July 2013


06:51 EST, 25 July 2013

With streets and Tube trains packed with workers and tourists jostling for space, central London can be anything but relaxing.

But an oasis of calm away from packed public transport could soon be on its way with a piece of countryside set to land on the River Thames.

Thomas Heatherwick, the creator of the London 2012 Olympic cauldron, has unveiled plans for a £60million bridge full of trees and flower beds to span the river from Temple to the South Bank.

It would be the first new crossing across the Thames since the ‘wobbly’ Millennium Bridge opened in 2002 and London’s answer to New York’s High Line, where a disused train line has been transformed into a lush aerial park.

A computer-generated image shows how a garden bridge across the River Thames could look. Olympic cauldron designer Thomas Heatherwick is looking for backing for the £60million project

A computer-generated image shows how a garden bridge across the River Thames could look. Olympic cauldron designer Thomas Heatherwick is looking for backing for the £60million project

The bridge would link Temple to the South Bank, with pedestrians enjoying stunning views of St Paul's Cathedral and the City of London to the east

The bridge would link Temple to the South Bank, with pedestrians enjoying stunning views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the City of London to the east

The project, which is being developed with engineering firm Arup, will go ahead only if Heatherwick can raise money from private backers and will not receive public funds.

It could open as soon as 2016 and give stunning views along the river of St Paul’s Cathedral and the City of London to the east.

He told the Evening Standard: ‘The idea is simple – to connect north and south London with a garden.’

The design was the result of a Transport for London tender to find ways of improving travel for those on foot.

It is hoped that cycle lanes would be improved on nearby Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges if pedestrians opt for the new walkway.

The idea of garden bridge across the river has long been backed by actress Joanna Lumley. 

She told the Daily Telegraph: ‘This
garden will be sensational in every way: a place with no noise or
traffic where the only sounds will be birdsong and bees buzzing and the
wind in the trees, and below the steady rush of water.

Heatherwick was awarded the CBE in January for services to the design industry

Joanna Lumley has long campaigned for a garden bridge and welcomed Heatherwick's design

Thomas Heatherwick, left, has found a celebrity supporter for the garden bridge in Joanna Lumley, right

‘It will be the slowest way to cross the river, as people will dawdle and lean on parapets and stare at the great cityscapes all around; but it will also be a safe and swift way for the weary commuter to make his way back over the Thames.

‘I believe it will bring to Londoners and visitors alike peace and beauty and magic.’

Isabel Dedring, London’s deputy mayor for transport, told the Evening Standard: ‘The mayor has been keen to find an iconic piece of green infrastructure
that can symbolise London as a high quality of life place to live.

‘It is a great example of a project where in our view there doesn’t need
to be a major public contribution. But if private sector funding isn’t
forthcoming then the project isn’t going to be able to go ahead.’

Thomas Heatherwick also designed the cauldron for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Thomas Heatherwick also designed the cauldron for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Heatherwick also designed new Routemaster buses for London, which were nicknamed 'cauldron on wheels' following air-conditioning problems

Heatherwick also designed new Routemaster buses for London, which were nicknamed ‘cauldron on wheels’ following air-conditioning problems in the heatwave

Heatherwick has previously designed state-of-the-art Routemasters for the capital, which were dubbed ‘cauldrons on wheels’ earlier this month after temperatures soared to 30C onboard because of faulty air-conditioning.

The Olympic Cauldron was made of 204 petals each engraved with the name of a participating country, which were presented to the nations following the closing ceremony of the Paralympics in September.

Heatherwick was awarded the CBE in January for services to the design industry.

The comments below have not been moderated.

“Another item that the entire UK has to pay for but wont benefit from. Much like the Olympics. Londoncentric politicians are crass and gross. Roll on Scottish independence!!! – Les , Perth, Australia, 26/7/2013 01:50”____________ It clearly says multiple times that the project will be privately funded and will receive no public money and if no private money will finance it, it won’t be built. You’ve made a fool of yourself.


London, United Kingdom,
26/7/2013 04:19

Is it important that the idea has Joanna Lumley’s support?


UK, United Kingdom,
26/7/2013 03:21

Trouble with projects like this is that they look lovely as computer generated images, but in reality within a few years they become a vagrants playground. I am sure Elephant and Castle probably looked beautiful on paper however many decades ago it was designed; look at it now.


26/7/2013 02:10

Looks pretty won’t work it will need to accommodate large trees with roots so must be very deep, it will also need a lot of expensive garden maintenance all through the year for years to come, it will cost a fortune.


26/7/2013 01:52

Another item that the entire UK has to pay for but wont benefit from. Much like the Olympics. Londoncentric politicians are crass and gross. Roll on Scottish independence!!!


Perth, Australia,
26/7/2013 01:50

looks stupid, as does the designer


belfast, United Kingdom,
26/7/2013 01:02

Eugene Maidenhead:-Yes I do read, but it seems that you don’t ? The article also quite clearly states that there will be no need of ”Major” public funding, so I assume some ” minor” public funding will be involved?

Ronnie Stevens

Peterborough, United Kingdom,
26/7/2013 00:38

Fantastic idea, we need iconic and original structures like this to make London into a world class attraction and bring in more tourists to help the economy. Love it. The only problem I can see is all that plant food and fertilizer being washed into the water – it isn’t good for marine life. If they can find a way to overcome that, then I’m all for it.


26/7/2013 00:27

In the first picture I cannot see how the boat in the background can get under the bridge.


Leeds UK,
26/7/2013 00:12

Another flowery bridge for some tourists in central London, and still nothing to help the economic development of East London split in half for 7 miles with no crossings at all. Shame Boris.


London, United Kingdom,
26/7/2013 00:09

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Calvert Garden Club offers design demo during Annmarie exhibit

The fourth annual Art Blooms exhibit brought flowers and color to Solomons last weekend and, this year, featured a floral design demonstration.

The Calvert Garden Club recruited designers from around the state to create their best floral arrangements for the art show, which ran July 19 through 21 at Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center. Last Saturday, garden club members demonstrated for eight local floral aficionados how to put together one of the designs.

“We want to show people how you can be inspired by a piece of art,” Calvert Garden Club President Joyce Fletcher said during Saturday’s demonstration.

Fletcher, of Huntingtown, and fellow garden club members Mary Smolinski of St. Leonard and Shahla Butler of Huntingtown showed up at Annmarie with buckets of fresh blossoms ready to be joined into a masterpiece that, like the other Art Blooms pieces, was inspired by a work of art in either “Elements in Balance: earth, air, fire, water” or “Text/message: a teen art exhibit,” two exhibits currently displayed at the arts center. They chose to use a mosaic, “Earth Medicine Wheel,” by Lori Goodman, for their inspiration.

“What we want to do today was go over the process of what you see around here,” said Butler.

Even though a group of designers had already created a representation of the same piece, the three ladies said they thought it would be helpful for the audience to see an alternative method.

Smolinski said she and the other garden club members wanted to create a piece to “compare with other interpretations” and show their guests different options they have when making a floral arrangement. The main difference attendees could notice was how Saturday’s creation was a flat adaptation, and the original Art Blooms designers had constructed their interpretation vertically.

The flat approach is a technique known as “pavé,” the club members said.

The piece they worked on Saturday was a much more literal interpretation than the one presented at the art show. The designers adopted the shapes and colors almost directly from the artwork, while continuing to teach their audience about the different approaches they can take when designing.

“It’s not always the colors we pick up on,” said Butler. “Sometimes it’s the shapes, sometimes it’s the feel.”

The garden club members started out with a block of Oasis floral foam as their base and continued to place flowers in the designated pattern.

The arrangement began with the dark leaves of a coleus plant, as the artists worked their way to the center of the piece with a variety of blooms. They enlisted hydrangeas, carnations, coxcombs, thistles, lily grass, eucalyptus leaves and St. John’s Wort buds to complete their interpretation.

Eventually, it was all hands on deck as the club members recruited their audience to help finish the design.

The hands-on approach helped those in attendance understand the process better, as well as enjoy the demonstration more completely, according to visitors who participated in the demonstration.

“It was ambitious when they started,” said Roseanna Vogt of Chesapeake Beach. “It certainly opens your mind to what you can do. It was worth coming down for and seeing how they balance the art and the flowers.”

Many attendees left Saturday’s demonstration saying they felt inspired to complete a floral arrangement of their own.

“We don’t have any restrictions for this, which is why a lot of people like it,” said Butler. “You just get to be creative.”

“This is a wonderful blend of everything I love — art and flowers — so I always show up,” St. Mary’s Garden Club member Karen Doherty said of the Art Blooms exhibit. “It’s a wonderful show this year.”

The Art Blooms weekend is a joint effort between Annmarie and the Calvert Garden Club. Annmarie decides on a theme for the show and puts the word out to local artists, said exhibit co-chair and former Calvert Garden Club president Denise Moroney of Huntingtown. The club finds interested designers and assigns each team or individual a piece of artwork to interpret, she said.

This year’s exhibit was inspired by an array of artwork from “Elements in Balance” and “Text/Message.” The floral interpretations were paired with their corresponding pieces and displayed for the weekend only. The annual corresponding Art Blooms Gala reception was held July 19.

The public is welcome to submit designs for the Art Blooms exhibit. Those interested in participating in the 2014 event should go to for more information.

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Garden lesson: Great Britain garden tour inspires design ideas

The huge decorative mirror in the corner of this garden makes an interesting wall full of character and interest.

The huge decorative mirror in the corner of this garden makes an interesting wall full of character and interest.

A garden wall made from the hedgerow of European beech with its burgundy foliage is colorful and functional.$RETURN$$RETURN$

A garden wall made from the hedgerow of European beech with its burgundy foliage is colorful and functional.$RETURN$$RETURN$

Every garden needs great walls! That’s the horticultural inspiration I took away from a two-week jaunt through English and Scottish gardens I recently made. It’s not a new lesson for me but one of which it is good to be reminded.

Every student of garden design has probably been taught to approach creating a garden much like an interior designer does a room inside a home. You pay attention to the floor, walls, and ceiling, which all impact the overall feel and look of the design.

In garden design these elements are the “bones” of your garden, the non-living elements around which you add living plants. Another way to look at it is as the backdrop or canvas upon which you paint or build your garden.

If you’ve ever been to England and Scotland, you see very quickly that they are blessed with fabulous walls around which to build their gardens. Of course you can’t go wrong with buildings and ruin walls that are at least 800+ years old. Almost any planting up against such historical walls looks great!

But built walls don’t have to be old to provide a great backdrop for a garden. I’ve visited a few gardens in the United States that had purposely built “ruin walls” to provide a stunning backdrop to their gardens. The brick wall of the side of my home has provided wonderful color and vertical structure to my garden. I have purposely chosen orange- and coral-colored plants to harmonize with the terra cotta color of my home’s brick. Whether wood, brick, plaster or stone, you’ll find building walls to serve as an excellent wall to your garden.

Other outstanding garden walls I saw on my trip were not made of inert materials but of plants themselves. Fabulous hedgerow walls of European beech, hawthorn, yew, arborvitae, Leyland cypress, and espalier apple trees made great garden backgrounds. The color and or texture of these hedgerows provided stunning surroundings for their gardens. I especially liked the burgundy-colored walls of the European beech hedgerows which proved to be a great backdrop color for many gardens. Hedgerows are nice and provide a solid canvas as a wall but with so many plants of one species planted together, they are prone to insect and disease attacks. Planting a mixture of plants that blend complimentary evergreens and deciduous trees and shrubs is one of my favorite walls to use for a garden because of the variety and interest it can provide. Choose a color theme for your varied planted wall, and it will be stunning and hard to beat.

Fences, whether wood, stone, wrought iron or a variety of other materials, work well for a garden wall. I’m especially fond of materials that can be painted a color that you would like to use in the garden. I’ve painted my wood paneled fence that runs across the back of my driveway a rusty-orange color that not only complements my home’s brick but accentuates the orange- and coral-colored plants in the small garden I’ve created in front of it. Wrought iron, split-rail, or other see-through fences allow plants that creep or cascade over and through the structure to add interest and character to the garden’s backdrop.

Think outside the box when you select a wall for your garden. I’ve seen a variety of interesting elements used to create a fantastic garden backdrop — everything from windows to mirrors, bookcases, pallets, and crates. One of the coolest gardens I’ve seen used a huge decorative mirror as a wall that added so much interest and at the same time made the small garden seem bigger.

So survey your garden. What are its walls? Can you enhance them to make your garden more stunning?

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Plans for Rockton skate park discussed

Skate Park

Skate Park

Micah Shapiro, lead designer of Seattle-based Grindline, a company that builds skate parks, points out different ideas on a mock-up of a proposed facility in Rockton. The drawing was created by Austin Tyler, a student in Hononegah High School’s Skate for Change group.

Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2013 4:00 pm

Plans for Rockton skate park discussed

By Erica Pennington


ROCKTON — Digging out ‘bowls,’ landscaping and integrating themes to celebrate local culture are on a wish list for the proposed skate park in Rockton.

Stakeholders including area taxpayers, youth and village officials met at the Greater Rockton Center on Wednesday night to share their vision for the project.

“I’d really like to see native plantings and art being a part of this project,” said Trustee Tricia Nelson, who has been heavily involved with the initiative. 

On hand at the meeting was Micah Shapiro, lead designer of Grindline, a Seattle-based skatepark design firm that has been hired by the village to make the ideas reality.

During his presentation to the group, Shapiro showed examples of skate parks all over the country that Grindline has been involved with.

The idea: To get locals’ creative juices flowing, and encourage them to take ownership of the skatepark, making it truly unique and a positive representation of Rockton.

“All of our skate parks are custom tailored to the community,” Shapiro said.

As of now the Rockton skate park is conceptual, but fundraising efforts will soon be under way so that construction can really begin. The hope is that the groundbreaking can take place in 2014.

The village has set aside land at the Rockton athletic fields site for the skate park, but its construction will depend on fundraising efforts.

Shapiro estimates that creating a 15,000-square-foot skate park would ring up a price tag of approximately $475,000.

Due to the large price tag, Shapiro said that it is possible for the park to be built in phases, a piece at a time, to fit within the fundraising constraints.

Members of Skate for Change, a Honoengah High School-based youth group of extreme-sports enthusiasts that helps the area’s homeless, are very excited about the idea of having a place to skate.

“One of our students, Austin Tyler, mocked up a design for the park and there are some real leaders in the group,” said Hononegah High School Assistant Superintendent Kim Suedbeck.

Suedbeck added that not only would the skate park be good for the students in Skate for Change, but may also be a large draw for visitors to come to Rockton.

“There really aren’t that many places for kids to skate in this area,” she said.

Community members who were unable to attend the meeting can still share their vision for the Rockton skate park site by visiting

On Friday a Rockton forum tab will be opened where ideas can be posted directly on the website. The password to enter is rocktonskatepark.

More about Rockton

  • ARTICLE: Water damage shuts Hononegah
  • ARTICLE: Rockton approves new bakery plans
  • ARTICLE: Rock Winnebago County Bankruptcies June 2013
  • ARTICLE: Building Permits June 2013

More about Rockton, Illinois

  • ARTICLE: Rockton approves new bakery plans
  • ARTICLE: Alternate programs help Hononegah
  • ARTICLE: Hononegah sets tentative budget for ’14 fiscal year
  • ARTICLE: Districts discuss state of schools

More about Rockton Skate Park

  • ARTICLE: Rockton ready to roll on handful of projects
  • ARTICLE: Skate park for Rockton proceeding


Thursday, July 25, 2013 4:00 pm.

| Tags:


Rockton, Illinois,

Rockton Skate Park,

Greater Rockton Center,

Micah Shapiro,


Kim Suedbeck

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As Americans Drive Less, What Does That Mean For Cities?


The national average for a gallon of gas is up to $3.65. AAA says that’s because of higher demand in the U.S. in the summer and unrest in Egypt. But for an increasing number of Americans, gas prices are not top of mind because we’re not driving as much. A recent study from the advocacy group U.S. PIRG found that for the first time in six decades Americans are actually driving less.

In a little bit we’ll talk about what that means for cities and urban planning, but right now we’re going to be joined by veteran auto industry reporter Mickey Maynard, who is editing the upcoming ebook “Curbing Cars: Rethinking How We Get Around.” Mickey, thanks for being here.

And first off, why are people driving less?

MICHELINE MAYNARD: A couple of reasons. One is the economy. So if you just look at the big macro statistics, people have only recovered about 40 percent of the wealth that was lost in the great recession. One of the things you can cut back on is using your car. You know, there are 60 cities all over the country where people are selling homes in suburbia, moving in to new apartments and condos.

When you get a new condo in the city, you usually have one parking space. So you don’t need three cars anymore, and you couldn’t park them anyway. And also I haven’t even mentioned public transportation, but there is record demand in this country and in Canada for the use of public transit.

HOBSON: And yet many of the trains that we take, if we take trains around cities, have been around for a long time. There has not been a lot of upgrade to the systems that we’ve been using.

MAYNARD: That’s right, and if you look at the East Coast cities, if you look at Chicago, those systems were built 100 years ago. And so there hasn’t been the upgrade. Some of the new subway systems – Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles – those are newer systems, but even those systems experience all this demand, and that puts strain on the system as well.

HOBSON: How much of this is a result of the young? People who are getting out of college cannot find work and therefore can’t get a car. It’s not their choice; they just can’t do it. And then they end up needing public transit.

MAYNARD: Right, so the average student who graduates from a four-year college has a debt load of $27,000. That’s about what a new car costs. You know, there’s kids that can’t get a job either, and so if you don’t have a job, you’re probably not going to be buying a car. You’ll probably be borrowing a car if your parents have one available for you.

HOBSON: Mickey, where is this shift happening? Is it just in cities, or is it out in the countryside as well?

MAYNARD: Well, first of all, it would be hard to live in North Dakota on a farm and ride a bike-sharing bike. So we know that there are parts of the country where you’re not going to see this happen. If you look at San Francisco, and I think San Francisco is one of the most enthusiastic places about all these alternate means of transportation, you can take a subway train system, you can get car-sharing programs. They are about to get a bike-sharing program that will stretch from San Francisco down to San Jose over to Oakland.

And so they think of it as a regional situation. As far as the suburbs go, you know, there are a lot of college towns now that have ride-sharing programs and have bike-sharing programs, and I think what you’re seeing is sort of big cities first and then the fill-in comes from the college towns, and then some of the other suburbs say we’d like to have that as well.

HOBSON: Well, what would you be looking for as the implications of us driving less? And we should mention, by the way, that more than 80 percent of people still go to work in a private vehicle.

MAYNARD: That’s right. First of all, if you’re going to buy a car, and you’re not going to use it very much, you’ll probably try to get the most car of the car that will meet your needs the most rather than something huge that would protect you on a 40-mile commute. That would lead you to think that maybe smaller cars or the small SUVs will become more popular.

And then second, another issue in all of this is how much it costs to drive because you have insurance costs, car payments, the cost of gasoline, which has bounced around $4 a gallon. People are looking at that, as well. So for the car companies, it means you may have a chance once a decade to try to sell a family a car. You have to make your very best case to that family to make this investment because the kids can get on their skateboards, the bus comes down the street, and, you know, that’s an argument against owning an individual automobile.

HOBSON: Mickey, the website Jalopnick recently posed the question: Have we hit peak car ownership? And they concluded we’re all doomed if that is the case.


HOBSON: So you’ve covered the industry for a long time. Do you think that we’re looking at the beginning of the end of the car?

MAYNARD: I think as Winston Churchill would say, it’s probably the end of the beginning. So let me explain what I mean by that. The automobile has been around for about 100, 115 years. And for us in America, that stretched from about 1910, 1915 onward. In other countries, auto ownership is much more recent than it is for us.

In Europe, cars were luxury vehicles. India, Japan, China, all those countries in Asia didn’t really develop an automotive ownership habit until the last couple of decades. So with this habit has also come the time when people are interested in the environment. And so some governments are actually talking about limiting car sales.

If you look at London, London has the congestion tax during the middle of the day. They don’t want people driving into London. So when you talk about peak car, it doesn’t mean that we suddenly see car sales plummet around the world, it just means that we’re not going to be on that growth path that everybody expected.

HOBSON: Isn’t there something fundamentally American, though, about being able to drive around at will, whenever you want to do it? I’m thinking of a trip I took in a car from Los Angeles to New York, and it was such a beautiful experience and so incredible to drive across the United States.

MAYNARD: It is a terrific experience. The automobile is a fundamental part of our freedom and our mobility. But people who are looking at cars today, especially younger people, they don’t necessarily see that. It used to be that you had to borrow the keys from your parents to get in the car and get away from them. Now all you have to do is sit in the backseat, put your headphones on and get on your mobile device, and you’ve escaped from your parents.

So escape for our parents and grandparents is different than escape for 20-, 25-year-olds today.

HOBSON: Mickey Maynard, contributor to, the editor of the upcoming e-book “Curbing Cars: Rethinking How We Get Around.” Mickey, thanks so much.

MAYNARD: Thank you, Jeremy.

HOBSON: So how are cities responding to fewer cars? What would happen if parking spaces weren’t required when new buildings went up? We’ll talk with an urban planner about that in a moment.


And a note before that, a few days ago, Secretary of State Kerry announced plans for new peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Those plans are showing cracks. That’s later today on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. This is HERE AND NOW.


HOBSON: It’s HERE AND NOW. We’ve been talking about new research showing that Americans are driving less. And we want to look now at what that means for cities. Michael Manville is a professor of urban planning at Cornell University, and Michael, start by telling us how much today’s cities are built around the automobile.

MICHAEL MANVILLE: Almost every city’s zoning code, one way or the other, is designed in the United States in 2013 to accommodate vehicle use. The good examples of that are many city transportation departments are much more likely to widen a street than to narrow one, and of course the ultimate example is that in almost every city in the country, when you go to develop commercial property, the city planning department forces you to build parking spaces with that.

And that is a sort of a direct way to accommodate vehicle use.

HOBSON: I remember walking down Park Avenue in New York City, which these days has several lanes of traffic on both sides and then a park in the middle, and then seeing an image of Park Avenue many decades ago when it was just maybe one or two lanes of traffic on each side, and the whole middle was a park. So what a change in the last several decades.

MANVILLE: Absolutely. I think that a lot of the story of transportation planning from almost 1950 onwards has been to sort of remake cities in the image of the automobile, to sort of – there was a fear that if cities weren’t more friendly to cars, they would lose population to the suburbs. It has resulted in very dramatic changes in the built environment of even old cities.

HOBSON: And yet these days it seems the trend is moving in the other direction. Cities have decided that they would rather have more green space, fewer cars on the roads right through the middle of the city. It’s evidenced right here in Boston, where the Big Dig has created a huge park right in the downtown area.

MANVILLE: Absolutely. A lot of cities have decided that their land is simply too valuable to, you know, hand over to drivers at almost no cost. And the Big Dig is a great example, and so are these examples where a number of cities have decided to roll back some of these parking mandates.

HOBSON: So tell us about that, the parking mandates. How widespread are those, and what would be the implications if the cities did not require the same amount of parking in a new building that’s being built, for example?

MANVILLE: Every zoning code in the country has, for at least some parts of the city and usually for all of the city, these requirements that basically say if you are going to build housing, there’s a ratio of parking spaces per unit that you have to provide on that site. And what these do from the transportation side is they move what should be a cost of driving, right, the cost of storing your car, they take that away from the driver, and they put it in the property market.

And the result of that is that driving becomes sort of artificially inexpensive. And if the cost of storing that vehicle is actually paid in the cost of rent rather than in your decision to drive, you’re going to drive a little bit more than you otherwise would.

HOBSON: Well, what has happened in cities that have rolled back their parking requirements?

MANVILLE: One thing that happens is you get more housing, you get more development because the parking requirement places a very large burden on people who want to develop property. If you have to go underground, build subterranean parking, each space can easily cost you $50,000.


MANVILLE: And faced with that requirement, you’re not going to build housing that’s marketed toward lower-income people, you’re not going to build housing that’s marketed toward anyone who doesn’t drive.

HOBSON: So in fact getting rid of parking requirements, you’re saying, would help low-income people? You would never even think about that.

MANVILLE: Absolutely. I mean, you know, if you think of the people in the United States who don’t own cars, who do the least driving, they tend to be people of low income. And if you have zoning codes that force developers to provide housing that comes with parking spaces, what you are implicitly saying is that it is illegal to build housing explicitly for people who are too poor to own cars.

HOBSON: There are going to be a lot of people out there who hear us talking about getting rid of parking spaces, and they say, well, what about all of the cars that we have? This is going to cause a huge crowding problem.

MANVILLE: OK, when you say you want to remove minimum parking requirements, all you’re saying is that the government no longer is able to tell a property owner exactly where and how many parking spaces they build.

HOBSON: But the net effect is going to be there are fewer parking spaces.

MANVILLE: In many instances it will be, but because you’re not prohibiting parking, if you run into a time where oh my God, there’s not enough parking spaces, someone’s going to build them because they’ll be worth a lot of money. If you look at almost any city in the country, almost all of them have unused parking spaces.

And in places that have removed parking requirements or deregulated parking, what we just see pop up is a more creative market in parking, where a developer might build an apartment building and not provide too many spaces on site but, you know, leases a few unused spaces down the street from the bank or the newspaper building that has them empty in the evening.

You know, there’s all sorts of ways to meet the need for parking without forcing people to build it onsite.

HOBSON: What about the alternatives, what people would have to turn to if they didn’t drive as much as they do now? And one of the big movements right now is bikes and bike-sharing. How do you set up cities so that that is accessible to as many people as possible?

MANVILLE: The kind of policies that are really going to help encouraging cycling and walking are going to go beyond just is everything sort of nearby but also when you’re walking, when you’re cycling, do you feel safe. You know, bike lanes accomplish that, and so, too, do, you know, something as simple as having diagonal parking on streets can make pedestrians feel a lot more comfortable. It just puts them further away from the traffic.

HOBSON: You love what’s going on in Copenhagen. Tell us what you think they’re doing right.

MANVILLE: Denmark has a type of street that’s called a (unintelligible). It’s a street with almost no signage and no demarcated zones per vehicle. So basically on these streets, which are fairly narrow, drivers mix with cyclists mix with people pushing strollers. You know, there’s no traffic signals.

HOBSON: It’s chaos.

MANVILLE: It sounds like it would be, but when you examine it, it ends up working pretty well because everyone basically in that situation has to take some responsibility for not only themselves but their interaction with everyone else on the road. And so what basically happens is that everybody slows down.

HOBSON: I’ve heard that used as an example when people are talking about roundabouts versus stoplights is that when you have to go through a roundabout or a rotary, you actually have to think, whereas if you trust the stoplight, you’re not really using your brain when you’re going through it, you’re just saying oh, it’s green, that means go, and that’s where a lot of accidents happen.

MANVILLE: Absolutely. You know, every day in this country somewhere, an accident happens because a pedestrian has mindlessly looked at the little walk light, and a driver has mindlessly looked at the green light and then has turned right into the pedestrian because neither looks at each other.

And so this is – it’s a way of forcing people to take into account their context and be aware of everybody else around them.

HOBSON: So big picture, Michael Manville, are we moving toward a society that is less focused on cars, and are we ready? Are cities ready for what that means for them?

MANVILLE: I think that cities should be organized in a way that encourages people to drive less. And we should do that for environmental reasons; we should do that simply for efficiency reasons because a lot of our cities are terribly congested. So I think that it’s up to cities to take the lead and have these policies that say, you know, we’re going to make it so that we no longer sort of subsidize driving, but rather we’re going to encourage other modes of travel and, you know, make driving easy because driving is great but also make it sort of pay its full way.

HOBSON: Michael Manville is an urban planner with the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell. Michael, thank you so much for joining us.

MANVILLE: No, thank you.

HOBSON: Well, what do you think? Should we have fewer parking spaces in cities? What is your city doing? Go to and let us know. The latest news is next. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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