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Archives for July 27, 2013

What looks like ground cover may be invasive plant

My neighbor said she will give me a plant that had white flowers with four petals and a center that sticks up like a skinny green nose. Leaves are a pointy heart shape. It filled in a huge bare area for her, but she doesn’t know the name.

Sounds like houttuynia, a notoriously invasive plant. It’s often known as chameleon plant because a variety of it that is still sold sometimes as a “ground cover” is colorfully variegated. Your neighbor’s plant is the plain green species. Woe to the gardener who plants this. It will not stay where planted, even popping up on the other side of a driveway, and is resistant to herbicides.

I’m debating whether or not to leave a yellow jacket nest in a neglected area. Are they good pollinators?

It’s not that they are good pollinators, but that they are great predators of pest insects such as flies and mosquitoes. Yellow jackets and other wasps feed these to their offspring. So they keep pest insects out of your yard, but because they are not fuzzy, their occasional visit to flowers will not get much pollinating done. In late summer or fall, their diet switches to more sugary foods, so we wouldn’t recommend leaving a nest by a well-used picnic table.

Is it true that bird or deer netting catches snakes? Birds eat my berries and it seems like deer eat everything else!

Yes, snakes get caught in bird or deer netting, especially when it extends to ground level. They do not have the ability to back up, only go forward, and thus get more and more entangled. Extracting one is possible and a slow process requiring two people snipping off the mat of netting, but the snake may have hurt itself so much that it cannot survive. For the most part, the solution is to avoid netting or hang it a few inches above ground level. For a low-cost deer fencing alternative that would also solve this problem, see the July issue of the Home and Garden Information Center Newsletter at:

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at

Plant of the week

Elephant Ears


Elephant ears can be your garden’s backdrop or its bold center of attention. The plant adds texture and height with a tropical flair. It is in the genus Colocasia, which contains about 25 species of tropical plants grown in colder climates during the summer for their interesting foliage. Leaves range from emerald green and black to brown and chartreuse gold. Colored veins run through the leaves of some varieties. Plant elephant ears tubers 2 to 4 inches deep in well-drained soil after danger of frost has passed. Place in full to partial sun. They like moisture. Fertilize a few times during the growing season. After first frost, cut back foliage, carefully dig up tubers, gently remove the soil and air dry. Store in a container allowing air circulation in a frost-free, dry location. — Debbie Ricigliano

Article source:,0,4967949.story

Tips for turning junk into creative garden decor

Some people hunt for new-found treasures at yard sales or flea markets for their home. But for me the real thrill comes from transforming those treasures into intriguing art or purposeful pieces for the garden. One of my favorites began as a broken piece (5 feet long) of concrete drain pipe and a well-weathered whiskey barrel  that was falling apart. We stood the drain pipe upright in our herb garden to create a plantable pillar and grew thyme and trailing rosemary. My husband used the metal bands from the whiskey barrel to make an armillary  sphere for the center. And it cost us nothing.

When it comes to creating an artful landscape with personality, it’s time to uncover the hidden potential of salvage materials, recycled items, unused objects around the home and flea market finds. Just as accessories can influence the way your home looks and feels, they can also reflect your individual style in your outdoor space. Any decorative object can be used to add that personal touch, whether as an eye-catching focal point, whimsical display or creative piece of art.

Use your creative sense to combine salvaged finds with existing elements in the garden, such as a broken-down piano or outdated washing machine filled with plants. Arrange a medley of colorful birdhouses to brighten up a shady area. Tuck in yard sale finds such as old frames, garden hats or glass insulators into a customized collection that is subtly positioned for an element of surprise. Set your sights even higher and attach your unlikely treasures to a fence, wall or post. Or suspend them in the air from a balcony,  arbor, pergola or even a tree.

Remember to use your imagination when looking at objects and the ideas will begin to flow. If you need a dose of inspiration you can browse through garden centers, craft fairs, display gardens and public gardens. While thrift stores and yard sales will usually unearth interesting finds, a good place to start digging for architectural treasures may be right at home with items you no longer use: the kids’ red wagon, old toys, a broken bicycle or a metal headboard painted bright red.

An outdated toy chest, a discarded wooden tool caddy or a long-forgotten bathtub can be brought back to life as creative containers. Even found objects — such as a rustic wash basin, worn wheelbarrow or leaky birdbath — can be recycled into intriguing planters with panache.

Your yard can serve as a canvas of opportunity for staging items you collect as decorative outdoor displays. Use a wood fence or a concrete or rock wall to showcase an art gallery of like items, such as a collection of vases, watering cans, set of old scales or ensemble of napkin rings or utensils strung into wind chimes. Bring new life to old metal tools by turning them into a sculpture piece for the yard. In the mood for more privacy? You can use several old paneled wood doors as an outdoor divider, privacy screen or the undiscovered portal to a hidden garden room.

Go ahead — nurture your creative side by using salvage and other household items to decorate your yard. All it takes are a few tweaks or embellishments to transform unused, found or recycled objects from trash to treasures. With a little innovation you’ll discover that just about anything, including the kitchen sink, can be turned into a functional and distinctive piece of art. Ultimately, you’ll be setting a scene that is anything but ordinary.


* Use your garden art as traffic signals that cause the viewer to slow down or stop at various locations and destination points within your yard.

* Group larger garden art as pairs that serve as portals to another location, level or garden room. For example, a pair of leaky birdbaths used as containers for colorful plants can frame a garden gate.

* Consider individual appeal and focus on pieces and placement that reflect your personality and set the mood for your overall design.

* Create effect and make your garden art magnetic. Position your salvaged sculpture piece, recycled art or creative containers as a destination piece at the end of a meandering path or as a focal point of attraction that captures your attention and draws you in.

* Use your creative sense to combine garden art with plants.

* Large groupings of small-scale pieces or collections create a cohesive flow that lures you into the garden, whereas a mass of different elements or like elements scattered throughout the yard looks jumbled and chaotic.

* Use all the levels of the vertical space within your yard by displaying or arranging your salvaged garden art at various heights.

* Think about how you can use your garden art to play up the positive features while disguising or modifying the less attractive features of your yard. For example, an artistic arch, a divider of bicycles or a wrought-iron bed of flowers can stop the eye and deflect your vision from an unattractive element that lies beyond.

* Keep in mind that less is often more. Keep clutter under control and give your garden art a sense of purpose or cohesiveness, whether linking objects through a theme, style or color, or composing them into an eye-catching vignette or focal point that confines your collection into one attention-grabbing scene.

* Remember that most unlikely-treasures-turned-garden-art are changeable and can be rearranged or enhanced at whim to compose an entirely different setting or feel simply by changing the plants or by moving your salvaged finds to a new location.

* Above all, let your garden art be an artistic expression of you.
Garden writer Kris Wetherbee is the author of “Attracting Birds, Butterflies Other Winged Wonders to Your Backyard“:

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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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Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of

Architects: Wilkinson Eyre Architects
Location: Gardens by the Bay,
Masterplanners Landscape Architects: Grant Associates
Client: National Parks Board (NParks), Singapore
Structural Engineers: Atelier One
Area: 20,000 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Two of the largest climate-controlled conservatories in the world have been constructed as the architectural centrepiece of Singapore’s new 54-hectare Bay South Garden, the first completed part of the spectacular Gardens by the Bay project.

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Designed by the acclaimed architectural practice Wilkinson Eyre Architects, the glass and steel cooled conservatories bring the climates and plant life of Mediterranean and Cloud Forest regions to tropical Singapore. Highlights of the attraction include an indoor waterfall, a perpetually flowering meadow, cascading levels of vertical planting and high level walkways through and above the tree canopy.

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

The curvilinear conservatory structures have been designed with sustainability as a starting point, with every consideration given to passive climate control techniques. A computer-controlled shading system and carbon neutral cooling technologies have been integrated into the fabric of the building to efficiently maintain the climate within./


The £350 million Bay South Garden, one of three Gardens by the Bay projects initiated by the National Parks Board (NParks) in Singapore, opens on 29thJune 2012. Wilkinson Eyre Architects led the design for the cooled conservatories, whilst the overall scheme was masterplanned, and surrounding landscape, designed by Grant Associates. Structural engineers Atelier One, service environmental engineers Atelier Ten, quantity surveyors Davis Langdon Seah and interpretation exhibition designers Land Design were also part of the British-led design team, which was appointed in 2006 after an international competition.

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Grant Associates has overseen the design of the towering forest of ‘Supertrees’ to the south of the conservatories, which take the form of plant-laden structures up to 50 metres in height that provide pleasant shade while collecting solar energy and venting waste heat from the complex.

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

The cooled conservatories jointly enclose an area of over 20,000 sqm and reach a height of 58 metres above the shore of the bay. Bay South Garden is built on reclaimed land and, in the absence of a natural landscape, the conservatories are landmarks that prominently address both the bay and the skyscrapers of densely urban districts that will surround the garden.

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Paul Baker, Director with responsibility for the project at Wilkinson Eyre said: “Sustainability was our starting point for Bay South Garden. To house an organisation focussed on preserving ecology in a building with a huge carbon footprint caused by air conditioning would have been madness. Completing the Conservatories is an extraordinary technical achievement, which wouldn’t have been possible without the comprehensive design brief, the vision of NParks, the expertise of our partners and the close working relationship we enjoyed. In my opinion, our design represents an unprecedented integration of sustainability principles into a structure of this size.This is a remarkable project with staggering ambition. It will play a big part in Singapore’s future, not just as a centre for trade, but also as a travel destination.”


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Courtesy of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Diagram


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Diagram


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Site Plan

Site Plan

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Plan


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Plan


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Scheme


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Elevation


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Elevation


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Section


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Section


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Section


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Section


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Detail


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Detail


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Detail


Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay / Wilkinson Eyre Architects Sketch


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On Design with Myrtle Beach designer Kimberly Grigg

How often have I heard, “I will think about living beautifully once my children are a little more grown up.”

I am a mother of six; adopted, blended and biological, and I know firsthand how damaging kids can be to a home. I have made it my passion, however, to find ways to live beautifully and function as a family. Teaching your kids at an early age that their surroundings are important and are to be respected is an essential part of shaping their character.

There are many things that you can do to make your home aesthetically pleasing while making it kid- and family-friendly.

Design kid-friendly spaces

If you have the space, convert one room in your home into a playroom or TV room for your kids. This gives them a space of their own and allows them to express their personalities.

When decorating children’s rooms, be sure to enlist their help. Doing so roots them into helping take care of their spaces. Label and organize bins and baskets for storage. Insist that your children learn to respect the spaces you have created by having them put their belongings away. Stressing the importance of everything having its own place will go a long way in teaching your child to respect his or her space.

Also, consider installing 16-inch carpet tiles (or squares) in the playroom or TV room as well as other living spaces. Fully installed, it appears to be a total carpet. Individually, however, the tiles can be replaced as needed when damaged.

Use durable upholstery

Upholstery fabrics come in many styles, shapes and degrees of durability. If you are living the family lifestyle, forgo the fancier, more delicate fabrics for your upholstery pieces. For sofas and chairs, consider heavyweight linens, chenille and boucles.

I look for 50,000 rubs when considering upholstery. This means that the upholstery can sustain 50,000 rubs before it starts to show wear and tear. Even then, the rubs aren’t that visible.

You can also choose prints when selecting upholstery. This makes for a great disguise when spills and stains occur. Prints and nubby, multi-patterned textiles are nice on bar stools. However, fun and funky pleathers are also great for this application.

For those with furry friends that like to hang out on the sofa, purchase additional material of your sofa fabric and have pads made. This way the design is not compromised and you can dry clean the pads when they become soiled.

Choose indoor/outdoor products

No other products in the marketplace have risen to such levels as seen in the indoor/outdoor category. These types of furniture and accessories are not only durable, but long-lasting.

They can handle the extreme wear-and-tear of large family lifestyles and be used in unexpected ways inside the home. As an example, area rugs made from resilient indoor/outdoor materials are easy to maintain. You can place one under the kitchen table and when spills and stains occur, you can simply take it outside and hose it off.

Moreover, indoor/outdoor area rugs, as well as other furniture and accessories, are being designed with both form and function in mind. What used to be scratchy, stiff fabrics are now supple and pliable. Many times, I can’t even tell the difference.

Mix it up

One surefire way to make your home look and feel like a museum is to buy “sets” and “suites” of furniture. Instead, mix it up a bit to create an inviting, warm appeal.

Consider pairing an antique or heirloom piece mixed with other types of furniture to achieve this appearance. For example, in one of my home design projects, I included a plush leather chair and ottoman, complemented by a cozy upholstered couch to fashion a “homey” space. As you raise your children, you will find that your kids want their friends to be comfortable in your home. So, be eclectic; this will make your home more welcoming.

Start a collection

Starting a family collection is a great way to invite comfort into your home and is also a good way to teach young children to regard objects of importance with care.

Whatever the collection, recruit the whole family to participate, and then enjoy the process of displaying it artfully in your home. Individual collections also serve to personalize spaces. The important thing is to display the collection properly to achieve an arranged style and for your family’s enjoyment for years to come.

Myrtle Beach-based interior designer KIMBERLY GRIGG is the owner of Knotting Hill Interiors and specializes in designing, renovating and redecorating homes in the South, and beyond. Visit and

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Take a shower in the garden

Getting all hot and dirty in the garden is something to look forward to when you have an outdoor shower. The relief is instantaneous, and you’ll never track mud into the house again.

Outdoor showers have long been part of the scene around a pool, but gardeners are catching on to them, too. Rinsing off muddy boots with the hose is fine, but peeling off your clothes and taking a real shower outdoors is even better.

“For me, it’s part of the experience of nature,” said garden designer Katherine Brooks, who has a charming outdoor shower at the corner of her patio. “When you garden, you get dirty, and when you’re dirty – well, the shower’s right there.” An evergreen Confederate jasmine vine, with delightfully fragrant white flowers, grows up one side of the shower stall and perfumes the air in June. Mint growing around the outside of the shower contributes a sharp, refreshing note: “When you step on it, it smells so good.”

Brooks has designed many outdoor showers for her clients in southeast Virginia. People don’t always ask specifically for a shower, but when she describes how a shower fits into a plan for a garden, they love the concept.

The footprint of an outdoor shower can be quite small. Brooks’ shower is about 4 feet by 5 feet. “If you have little children or grandchildren, you need to make it big enough so you can be in there with them,” she said. It’s nice to have a dressing area, but not essential. One of Brooks’ client’s showers has just enough room for a long bench to hold towels and clean clothes.

Richard Bubnowski, an architect in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., built an outdoor shower in part of the footprint of a tiny garage outside his 1921 Craftsman bungalow home. The 10- by-16-foot garage was torn down and replaced with a shed that accommodates a 4-by-4-foot shower, gardening tools, fishing gear and surfboards.

“Living along the shore, you have to have an outdoor shower,” he said. “It just feels great to be out in the open air taking a shower. Everybody uses it – the whole family, and our 90-pound Labrador retriever, too.” When Bubnowski and his wife decided to tear down their old house instead of renovating it, “I said I would only do it on one condition,” Bubnowski said, “and that was that we save the outdoor shower building.”

The tiny building has become the core of a family gathering place, with a bluestone patio, a grill and a dining table and chairs.

Outdoor showers don’t have to be complicated. You probably won’t need a permit for something as basic as the cold-water-only outdoor shower set-up sold by Orvis, the outdoor specialty company. But it’s a good idea to check local codes, especially if you’re thinking about more plumbing than a garden hose.

“It has definitely become more complicated over the years,” Bubnowski said. “Mine just splashes down into the sand, and it’s open to the air above, but nowadays you have to tie them into the sewer, and it has to have a roof over it.” Every area has its own laws and restrictions.

Bubnowski has designed outdoor showers for several clients. Usually, the shower is attached to the back of the house, where it can easily tie into plumbing and drainage lines. Bubnowski likes to use cedar shingles or siding for the shower walls, both because they are durable and because they smell so good.

Landscaping around the enclosure adds privacy and makes the experience of showering outdoors even more pleasant, he said. His shower is sheltered by tall arborvitaes, which also define one edge of the patio. “It’s all part of it,”Bubnowski said, “being out there, feeling the breeze, the air, and the sounds of nature.” The water lines may need to be drained for the winter, but you can forget about that until sometime in the fall. “We use it into November,” he said.

An outdoor shower comes in handy when you have guests, who usually consider it a great treat to shower in the garden, but a shower off the master bedroom is a nice touch, too.

Jason Urrutia, a designer in Sausalito, Calif., built a private outdoor shower for the owners of a house he designed. “It’s like part of the parents’ retreat,” he said. The shower is very basic, but beautiful, with the plumbing in a tile wall set into the wall of the house. A bench is built into a brick wall opposite the shower; a rough-hewn wooden pedestal holds a towel and a scrub brush.

“It’s all simple stuff, such an easy thing to do,” Urrutia said. “It probably cost $2,500, but there is so much bang for the buck doing something like that.” The shower is part of an enclosed patio with a fire pit, comfortable garden furniture and easy, low-maintenance landscaping.

After a hot day outside, an outdoor shower is like a vacation.

“At night, when the stars are out,” Brooks said, “it’s awesome.”

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Civic Planners Seek Ideas To Update North Lake Shore Drive

CHICAGO (CBS) – After more than 70 years, it’s time for a new North Lake Shore Drive, according to a local think tank that is trying to round up public input for the effort.

Metropolitan Planning Council transportation director Chrissy Mancini said city and state transportation officials will hold public hearings Aug. 6, 7, and 8 to see what ideas the public can offer to make the Lakefront roadway all it can be.

Planners are seeking suggestions for updating the lakefront between Grand and Hollywood avenues.

Most of North Lake Shore Drive was built as Great Depression era public works project, so the roadway has already exceeded its expected lifetime.

“North Lake Shore Drive is actually at the end of its useful life, so it’s due for a makeover,” she said. “South Lake Shore Drive was recently reconstructed. It’s now time for North Lake Shore Drive.”

South Lake Shore Drive – from 23rd Street to 67th Street – was rebuilt in the early 2000s, including most of the bridges that cross the roadway. The parks that line the southern lakefront also have been rebuilt in recent years.

Mancini said the planning effort for North Lake Shore Drive will include more than suggestions for new pavement, it will include ideas for sharing the green space east of the roadway up to the lake itself.

“Many people use North Lake Shore Drive on buses, and on bicycles, and walking; so it’s really about taking a holistic approach to redoing the Drive, it’s not just about improving the pavement,” she said.

Many Chicago residents use the Lakefront Trail to ride their bikes to and from work downtown, and many areas of the trail end up congested with cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians.

Possibilities for improving the lakefront including separating fast commuter bicycles from slow tourist bikes on the Lakefront Trail, separating pedestrians and runners from cyclists, and making the trail more bike friendly throughout the year.

“So if people do want to ride their bike in the winter, how can we make that more comfortable, more reliable, and easier for people to do so?” she said. “Divvy bike share was the most-used bike share, I think, in the world last Saturday, so we know that people want these options.”

It might include more east-west access points to the lake, or new landscaping, such as ponds or wetlands along Lake Shore Drive.

Mancini said this involves the future of the northern Lakefront for the next 50 to 100 years, so it’s important for residents to have their say, before works starts on a new version of North Lakeshore Drive.

Details on the public meetings and input ideas are listed online.

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Neighborly app helps keep communities connected – Las Vegas Review

A new application called Nextdoor is available for neighbors to stay connected.

The free app provides access to what’s happening on your street anytime, from anywhere.

It was launched nationwide in October 2011.

The app helps neighbors network and get to know one other.

TJ Ticano lives in the southern part of Las Vegas and uses Nextdoor even though he said he was not a techie kind of person.

“I moved around a lot as a kid, probably a dozen times, so I never had a sense of community,” he said. “What drew me to this is, everybody’s on Facebook and things like that, so maybe they’d be more inclined to reach out to one another this way. So I kind of pushed this out to our neighbors. I knew my immediate neighbors, but our community is 240 homes. I’d like to know at least half those people.”

Almost immediately, Nextdoor proved helpful. Ticano and his girlfriend were leaving home when they noticed a man with a crowbar lingering around a neighbor’s house. They called the police and notified neighbors via the app. Ticano later learned that the man was stalking his former girlfriend, who had a protective order against him.

Another time it came in handy was when teens broke into a vacant home nearby. But mostly, Ticano and his neighbors have used Nextdoor to share landscaping ideas, offer safety tips and organize a block party.

When someone signs up, Nextdoor headquarters can send a postcard to that person’s neighbors, asking them to download the app to be a part of the neighborhood.

“Once we had a few neighbors on board, they became proactive because they wanted more of their neighbors (to join), and they put clippings on the mailboxes and word of mouth,” Ticano said.

He laughed about it being a low-tech way to advance a high-tech solution.

Block parties and other social interactions are just what app co-founder and CEO Nirav Tolia said he likes to hear about.

“The reason we’ve lost touch with our neighbors over the last 20 or 30 years is because there’s been a massive increase in the number of dual working households, and as a result, no one is home during the day to meet their neighbors,” he said. “No one’s sitting on the front porch. No one is walking the dog. They’re in the office.”

Fifty-nine Las Vegas neighborhoods and more than 15,000 neighborhoods across the country are on board with the app.

“Once you’re connected with your neighbors,” said Tolia, “you can make it what you want — get to know neighbors, get a dentist recommendation, find a baby sitter, advertise a garage sale, ask if anyone’s seen your lost pet. The days of posting fliers on telephone poles” are over.

Research from Harris data shows that 92 percent of Americans don’t have most of their neighbors’ cellphone numbers.

“We see how smartphone use is exploding and how mainstream America really prefers to use the Internet from their phone,” Tolia said. “As a service that has critical information that can be very, very important, and a real-time importance, it was an absolutely critical thing for us to develop a dedicated mobile app.”Only 29 percent of Americans know some of their neighbors, and 28 percent know none of their neighbors by name, according to a June 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center. Neighbors who engage in an online conversation are 75 percent more likely to meet in person, according to Pew Research.

That’s one goal of Nextdoor — to bring back a sense of community, Tolia said.

“We don’t believe you should use Nextdoor as a substitute or the primary way to speak with your neighbors,” Tolia said. “We believe Nextdoor is a very efficient way to get the word out when you want to reach a lot of neighbors at the same time.”

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 702-387-2949.

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Environmental Non-Profit Turning At-Risk Youth Into Landscaping Artists

LOS ANGELES ( — A local non-profit is helping at-risk youth find meaningful employment by hiring them to plant trees.

L.A.-based North East Trees has hired approximately 100 young people for green industry job training at Ramona Gardens alone.

As CBS2/KCAL9′s Sandra Mitchell reports, for some, the opportunity turned their lives around.

“I was on a tagging crew. I used to just tag, and tag, and tag and get into fights. Call out my enemies and fight. Getting myself into trouble,” Omar Delgado said.

A teacher told Delgado about North East Trees when he was still in high school and was heading in a dangerous direction.

Delgado says being a part of the organization saved him.

“If not, I would have probably not been here right now. I would probably be in jail or in a gang now. I don’t know. Lost,” he said.

Delgado is currently working with a crew from North East Trees to transform the Boyle Heights housing project in his native Ramona Gardens.

The group is planting dozens of new, native trees and gorgeous “rain gardens”.

“It’s way more beautiful. There’s more habitat coming in – birds, bees – before it was just plain grass,” Freddy Delgado said.

Now in its 22nd year, North East Trees is thriving.

“People love them here. They take care of them and they’re growing really fast,” Miguel Ibarra said.

North East Trees Forestry and Youth Manager Aaron Tomas credits the program with helping to keep youth like Freddy, Omar and Miguel out of trouble by focusing their energy on constructive activities.

“Urban forestry and greening projects not only keep them off the street and keep them busy, but more importantly it instills a pride in place and gives people an opportunity to do something they can be proud about – which is what most humans need,” Tomas said.

But that success does not come without opposition.

“When North East Trees was originally invited to work here, some of the city staff who worked here warned us because some of them were even chased away by gangs. But even in the beginning we were always welcomed by the majority of the people,” he explained.

Resistance appears to be waning.

“We were actually recently given the compliment by a former gang member – a gentleman who told us he was in prison for over 20 years,” Tomas continued. “He said it’s one of the best projects he’s seen and was really happy for us. He wanted to put us in the next edition of “Cholo Style” magazine, which apparently he works for – so we’re hoping to end up in Cholo Style magazine soon.”

Sanford Riggs from the housing authority says in five years North East Trees has planted over 2,600 trees at projects and other large housing developments.

“Our federal budget is being cut continuously and we’re lucky to have this collaboration so we can work together to get these trees at a very low cost,” he said.

Many of North East Trees’ participants have been inspired to join the Forest Service before returning to the organization. Others are working in landscape construction and green job-related fields.

The organization says in over two decades it has planted over 50,000 trees and worked with over 1,000 at-risk youth.

It has also rehabilitated vacant lots and derelict spaces, turning them from unsafe to inviting, all the while improving air quality, storm water infiltration and more.

“The immediacy of the change. They improvement that you see every single day. It’s kind of addicting. You can plant one tree and, wow! That looks great. And plant ten more and it looks even better. Everyone should try it,” Tomas said.

North East Trees is funded entirely from grants and tax deductible donations.

And soon, they’re going global.

Aaron Thomas and his crew are planning a trip to Brazil in October to help with a large reforesting project in the heart of Buenos Aires.

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Williamsburg Garden Club holds annual tour

Williamsburg Garden Club holds annual tour

Some of the landscaping at the home of Dan Day on Ireton Road.

Joannie and Jean Bouchy standing in front of one of their outdoor fireplaces at their home on Ireton Road.

By Jordan Puckett
Sun staff

The Williamsburg Garden Club hosted it’s fourth bi-annual home and gardens tour Saturday July 13. A total of eight gardens and two homes were featured on this year’s tour, as well as the Harmony Hill Museum, where the Garden Club is housed.

“Our motto is ‘Growing, showing, sharing, and caring’,” said Garden Club president Julia Hess. “Those are all things we’re trying to promote.”

The Williamsburg Garden Club is now in its 77th year. The Club maintains the flower pots and gardens throughout the village and encourages village residents to take pride in their gardens and be more active outdoors.

“One thing we want is for people to be impressed with the landscaping they see on the tour and want to do more more with their own gardens,” Hess said.

One of the gardens featured on the tour was that of Joannie and Jean Bouchy on Ireton Road. The Bouchys have lived there for 23 years. Their 13 acre property features two ponds, natural habitat areas for wildlife, several outdoor fireplaces, and many beautiful gardens.

“Our gardens have evolved over the years,” said Joannie Bouchy. “We’ve done all the landscaping ourselves.”

The Bouchys have participated in the home and gardens tour once before, in 2009. They said they had around 150 visitors the first year. They estimated around 175 visitors this year.

Another garden featured on the tour was that of Charles and Lucy Snell, also located on Ireton Road. Lucy Snell, a member of the garden club, also opened her house to visitors. The house was decorated with a fairy garden Christmas in July theme. The house was full of Christmas decorations, and outside in the gardens were a large Santa Claus and a clothesline with a red Santa suit.

The other house on the home and garden tour was that of Janet and Don Booth, on Gay Street. The Booths have lived in the house for under three years and have already made several major improvements to the house. They have replaced the furnace, taken out the old ceiling fans and replaced them with chandeliers, bought new appliances for the kitchen, and added closets, among many other improvements.

“When you buy an old house like this, you don’t buy it from the old generation,” said Janet Booth. “You borrow it from the next generation. We feel this house really belongs to the community.”

Money raised by the home and garden tour helps the garden club to maintain the gardens of the Village of Williamsburg

The garden club is also selling $15 cookbooks and will have a mum sale on Fridays and Saturdays from August 16 through September 7. Eight inch pots are selling for $4 or three for $11 and 12 inch pots are selling for $12. They will be sold from the corner of State Route 32 and McKeever Pike.


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