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Archives for August 12, 2013

Mural captures Elkin’s past

The Standard St. mural in downtown Elkin is taking shape and near complete.

“The Main Street Advisory Board decided to include mural grant projects this year along with façade grants for businesses in the downtown area,” said Laura Gaylord, the community manager for the Town of Elkin.

According to Gaylord, the MSAB uses funds from the MSD (Municipal Service District) to pay for projects to enhance downtown such as beautification, landscaping, upgraded benches and trash receptacles, signs and banners, and funding requests for events from non-profits that occur downtown.

“This year the mural grants were especially exciting because Michael Brown, who is an exceptional North Carolina artist, was able to fit us in this summer to paint murals, after making a few visits to Elkin earlier in the year. He was very enthusiastic and inspired by our downtown and he helped the MSAB, and the businesses owners who wanted to participate in the mural grant program, work through ideas about what was important to portray in our community.”

“Its a panoramic view. It’s going to turn out great when done,” said Brown who was seen bouncing in between vehicles that would often pause along Bridge and Standard St. to take a glimpse. “I’ll tell you. There’s a ton of interest in the art piece.”

Gaylord said that Elkin Antiques and Collectibles Mall asked their patrons what they’d most like to see on their wall that runs along side of the building.

After working through many ideas, the group settled on the old Elkin bridge, and they decided to include another building missing in Elkin since the mid-80’s; the Elkin Train Depot.

“Combining the two images into one mural honors the past, and helps us feel connected again to things that we can no longer experience,” said Gaylord. “There is something comforting about seeing the Hugh Chatham Memorial Bridge standing strong again along the wall on Standard Street. The view is close enough in its location, that you almost feel the bridge is still there for a moment.”

Spectators will now see sepia tones incorporated by Brown. The tones give the appearance that you are looking at a historic photograph.

“The artist in me pushed really hard to incorporate the sepia tones,” said Brown. “This mural is magnificent.”

According to the Town of Elkin, business owners pay for the cost of the mural and are reimbursed by the MSAB mural funds, which are a 50/50 matching grant up to $1500.

“The painting project quality on the wall could likely result in being one of the most highly desirable photo op locations for Elkin,” said a tourist who’s in town for a wine festival.

Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 835-1513 or email at

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Area churches clean-up for Moline’s first day of school –

Instead of their usual Sunday services, five area churches spent the morning cleaning-up Moline in preparation for students returning to school.

On Sunday, August 11, 2013 five Quad City churches worked on clean-up and landscaping in Moline as part of the Converge Serve project.

Bethany Baptist in Moline, Bluegrass Community Fellowship Church in Bluegrass, Cornerstone Baptist Church in Eldridge, Grandview Church in Davenport, and Pleasant View Baptist in Bettendorf all took part in the day of service.

Volunteers worked at all 12 elementary schools in the Moline School District and helped to clear a storage room at The Project in Moline.  School principals helped give the churches ideas on what work was needed in preparation for the start of the school year, according to Bethany Baptist Church’s Senior Pastor, Jerry Schrick.

Crews were also working at John Deere Middle School, the Blackhawk Area Education Center, and Moline High School.

“We want to share God’s love with no strings attached, the way Christ shows his love to us.” said Schrick.

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The Name Factor

The Name Factor

Developers are becoming savvy about brands. In a bid to boost the value of their properties, they are tying up with brands such as Disney, Swarovski and Armani. But the question is, are such co-branded properties a good investment option?


In this time of slowing economy and stagnant sales, developers are trying to attract buyers by offering exclusivity, latest designs and international experience. This is especially true in the high-end segment. Over the past couple of years, there has been a visible increase in the number of projects with brand-tieups as their unique selling proposition, even beyond the metros.

“During 2007 to 2011, only seven branded projects were launched, and that too in Pune and Mumbai. The next year, there were 11 such launches, in Pune, Mumbai, the National Capital Region (NCR) and Bangalore,” says Shveta Jain, executive director (residential services), Cushman Wakefield India, a property advisory

“This year, at least three such projects have been launched. There have been announcements for many more. Pune leads the list with 11, followed by Mumbai (8) and the NCR (6),” says Jain.


Association with big brands helps builders stand out. It also adds goodwill and credibility to projects, besides helping builders acquire expertise in certain areas.

For instance, Pune-based Panchshil Realty has associated with US-based realtor Trump Organization for Trump Towers. This has given the Indian developer access to Trump’s designs.

“Unique branding ideas with theme-based exteriors, international-level sports amenities and resortlike facilities add to the sense of ownership and pride in buyers,” says Jain of CW.

In the high-end segment, endorsements by big brands add to the recall value and, of course, premium.

“For developers, the clear edge is in product differentiation. By doing this, they are able to command a premium. The tieup also h e l p s them create a buzz about their projects,” says Aditya Verma, executive vice president and chief operating officer,, a property classifieds website.

For builders, these tie-ups are an attempt to capitalise on the growing aspirations of prospective buyers who want enhanced luxury experience and unique lifestyle.

“If a developer can identify his audience and its aspirations and is able to fulfill them through a tie-up with a big brand, he will command a premium for his product,” says Verma.


Brand tie-ups in the realty sector primarily revolve around design, exclusive facilities and marketing.

Developers bring in reputed architects (often with international acclaim) for designing and landscaping their building. Sometimes, the project is designed in collaboration with big designer brands.

World-renowned designer Giorgio Armani’s Armani-Kasa interior design studio has designed Mumbai-based Lodha Group’s The World Towers project in Mumbai.

The Armani company has also designed New Delhi-based Supertech’s Supernova, a mixed-use project in Noida, a suburb of New Delhi. Pune-based Panchshil Realty has partnered with French designer Phillipe Starck for YooPune, a project under the brand name ‘Yoo’. The famous Disney cartoon characters have been used for branding of a Sunteck Realty project in Goregaon, Mumbai (2012), as well as Supertech’s Fable Castle project at Yamuna Expressway, Greater Noida (2013).

Swarovski Crystal has tied up with Pune-based City Corporation. Under the deal, it will do interior designing for Gateway Towers, a luxury housing project in the city.

Apart from famous designers and brands, developers are also collaborating with celebrities for interior designing. For instance, former Bollywood actress Twinkle Khanna has designed interiors of the ORB project in Supertech’s Cape Town Township in Noida. She has also designed Panchshil Realty’s One North project in Pune.

Many national and international celebrities are also endorsing realty companies and projects. For instance, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone are brand ambassadors for Amit Enterprises and SKYi Group (both from Pune), respectively.


Such tie-ups are not limited to design. Builders are also tying up with international organisations to provide certified amenities.

Sports is high on the list of exclusive facilities. Nirmal, a Mumbai-based developer, has launched a sports city in its Thane project. The city has sports facilities approved by reputed sports organisations such as the US Open for tennis courts and FINA (Federation Internationale De Natation, the international body that governs swimming and related sports) for swimming pools.

In Pune, Lodha Group’s luxury residential project Belmondo has a golf course designed by world renowned golfer Greg Norman.

“Providing sports facilities of international standards attracts people who are conscious about fitness and leisure activities and want a differentiated product,” says Jain of Cushman Wakefield.

Some such deals involve management of apartments and concierge services. Then there are technology tie-ups for offering a world-class living experience.


Prospective customers find projects with big brands attached to them attractive. But exclusivity comes at a price. These projects are pricier than the non-branded ones.

“While the premium differs from project to project, there is a price difference of 5-25% between branded and other projects in the same location, depending upon the brand and location,” says Jain of CW.

Verma of puts the premium even higher. “The premium ranges from 20% to 100% depending upon the width and depth of the tie-up and the value of the associated product,” he says.

Paying a premium for such projects might not be a bad idea. If the project has been executed well, association with a brand will help investors sell the property in the resale market quite easily and at a premium, say experts. “The premium positioning of branded projects with unique amenities can be leveraged during resale,” says Jain.

“This (brand tie-ups) is a new phenomenon in the Indian market. So there is excitement (right now). However, if this spreads and many more such projects come up, the only differentiator in the long run will be execution,” says Verma.

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Plants used in roof installation differ from those planted in ground

VICTORIA – City dwellers who long for a garden but have only a small patch of land might find space by simply looking up.

A growing interest in green roofs and living walls is bringing gardens to urban centres.

Liam Hall began working as a landscaper in the summers while completing his bachelor of commerce degree at the University of Victoria. When his now-business partner Adam Weir presented a fake business proposal for a company that incorporates landscaping and green roofing for a business court, a spark was lit which led to the creation of Victoria’s Paradise Cityscapes.

“To be honest, it was (Weir’s) passion that drew me to green roofs,” said Hall. “Not much green roofing was going on when we started, and it was my background in landscaping that allowed us to work to stay alive while the green roofing industry picked up enough.”

Paradise Cityscapes have installed green roofs on Vancouver Island University’s Cowichan campus, the Campbell River City Hall and Victoria’s residential development Dockside Green.

Hall said that while the bulk of their business comes from commercial clients he has seen an increase in residential projects where homeowners are incorporating green roofs in their renovations and home additions.

Those considering embarking on a green roof installation would be wise to do some research on which plants will have the most success on a roof compared to a ground garden.

“For the most part we’ve had the best luck with grass plants,” Hall said. “Anything that grows well on a green roof will grow well on the ground, but it’s not transferable.

“There are many plants that fail on green roofs without having big deep planters with unlimited nutrients and water, but that’s not exactly what we’re trying to do. We’re installing naturalized, native, low-input plants on the green roofs and those have a very small plant list.”

The benefits of green roofs are comparable to living walls like the ones created by Vancouver’s Green over Grey, which has created the largest vertical gardens in Canada.

Like green roofs, living walls provide insulation for buildings in addition to helping protect the structure itself.

“In terms of environmental benefits you protect the building from the sun and rain and you insulate the building. It is similar to a green roof,” said Patrick Poiraud, design consultant and principal for Green over Grey.

“It can help with heating and cooling of the building which affects the energy efficiency of the building, which can translate to a 10 to 15 per cent change in energy consumption depending on how large an area you cover with the living wall.”

Poiraud became interested in living walls as a child living in France and joined forces with Mike Weinmaster, who had a background in environmental engineering and helped Poiraud design the living walls.

“When I saw what was possible with living walls I think it really triggered my creativity and the same for (Weinmaster),” said Poiraud.

“What is very exciting is that you can take structures like a parkade or other concrete walls and transform it into a very lush garden in the middle of the city. You have so many possibilities in an urban environment.”

Green over Grey recently completed the largest living wall installation in Surrey, B.C., which included 50,000 plants and three years of planning.

The vertical garden covers nearly 280 square metres of the Semiahmoo public library and RCMP facility. It includes 120 unique species incorporating large perennials, shrubs and even small trees.

Poiraud and Weinmaster have also installed living walls on projects such as the Edmonton International Airport, Les Courants for Desjardins in Levis, Que., and several residential projects.

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Landscaping for Pets

Experts say homeowners should keep their pets in mind when they plan landscaping projects.

Kim Todd, University of Nebraska-Lincoln associate professor in agronomy, says homeowners can create hazards for pets with landscaping.

Todd says dog owners should provide turf for their pets to run around and play in.

Todd warned about mulching gardens with cocoa bean mulch, as cocoa beans can be unhealthy for animals.

And certain plans can be toxic if they are ingested, so homeowners should make sure whatever they plant is safe.

Homeowners should also be careful with herbicides and follow directions.

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Ready For Fall? Here’s 7 Tips For Your Garden

From repotting to planting, late summer is a great time to get your garden in order. Here are some tips to help.

1. Sow Spinach

It’s a good time to sow spinach for later this fall and early next spring. Sow seeds in the garden; keep the area moist for a couple weeks. You’ll harvest healthy, great tasting spinach in a month or six weeks. This also gives you a head start in the spring. The spinach will over-winter and hit the ground growing in early spring. Sow other salad greens, too. They won’t over-winter but they will produce great autumn salads.

2. Plant Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums provide great fall flower color. Pick plants that are tight and have lots of branches. More branches means more flowers this autumn. Plant mums in a sunny spot. Be sure you know what type of plant you have. Some mums are dainty and small, others can get big.

3. Fertilize House Plants

Use a balanced fertilizer. Take them outside for a shower.  It’s also a good time to transplant pot-bound house plants into a little bigger container. Most house plants don’t like drafts so keep them away from furnace vents.

4. Fall is for Planting or Transplanting

Trees and shrubs planted this time of year do well.  Divide and move any overgrown or large perennials. If you have more than you can use give some away to neighbors and friends. Move plants with the most roots. New plantings will put roots down and hit spring running. Ornamental grasses do not like to be divided in late summer. Divide them in the spring.   

5. Cut herbs for Drying

Herbs in flower hold the most oils, flavor and fragrance. Tie the stems and hang them upside down. They can be kitchen ornaments and essentials throughout the winter.

6. Consider Canning or Freezing

Fall is a great season to have fresh, home-grown fruits and vegetables. Even if you don’t grow it yourself, you can buy produce grown a relatively short distance away. To keep up with the flow, we freeze a lot of the harvest. Canning is the only way to save salsa and marinara for the winter. 

7. Watch Out for Bugs

Tomato horn worms can eat a lot in a day. They are what they eat and tend to be the same color of the vine they are on. Check tomatoes and potatoes carefully.  Hand pick the bugs off of the plant. Potato beetles can also be handpicked. Or just knock them off the plants into some soapy water.                     

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Tips sought about vandalism at three Garden City schools

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Garden City school officials are hoping the public can provide tips about who vandalized three school buildings.

Director of Student Services Stanley Szczotka said he was disappointed to see the damage caused by vandals, during his periodic canvassing of school buildings. He doesn’t know the exact dates that the vandalism occurred and added that it could have been over a repeated time period.

“At the start of the new school year, we want to put on a new face,” Szczotka said. “This is discouraging.”

District officials recently discovered vandalism at three buildings. The Farmington 5/6 Campus was vandalized by paint balls in the rear of the building. The Lathers Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Campus was vandalized with graffiti and excessive litter in the rear courtyard. The Henry Ruff building was spray painted with graffiti on the back of its building.

“Graffiti and vandalism not only brings down the surrounding property values, it also costs the district time, money and resources,” Szczotka said. “This is a serious concern and disappointment to the district.”

Szczotka said the graffiti contained names and appeared to be different at the buildings. He didn’t scrutinize the writing for content.

Complete paint ball cleanup is easier to do than removing spray paint, because spray paint tends to leave a hazy trace behind, Szczotka said.

“This is not the image that we want to give our young children,” Szczotka said.

He added that youths gathering near Lathers has been a repeated problem and the district and the Garden City Police Department have been monitoring the situation.

Garden City Police Chief Robert Muery said that his department works closely with the school district.

“We do work closely with the schools and meet on a regular basis to identify and address problem areas,” said Garden City Police Chief Robert Muery. “The police department has actually gone door to door in certain areas where residents have an unobstructed view of a school building. We have told them of the problems and asked them to be our eyes and ears to help protect those facilities.”

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Gardening: Spring into action

Meg Liptrot has some items to add to your list of garden tasks

Now is a good time to prune fruit trees and roses - but leave stonefruit trees until the end of summer to avoid silverleaf disease. Photo / Thinkstock

Spring can be a very wet season but still you’ll be itching to get out in the garden.

To anticipate the rain and avoid digging in wet, gluggy soil, it pays to dig beds over now, as July has been drier than usual and the soil is not too heavy.

A technique to keep soil in tip-top shape is to mulch with a layer of brown cardboard and hay to keep the rain off the top soil and preserve nutrients.

If you’ve sown a green manure or cover crop into your vege beds for winter, chop up the greens and dig them in now so they will be well-rotted come planting time in spring.

Dig in a handful of dolomite lime or garden lime per square metre, and basalt rock dust to help remineralise the soil after the winter rain. Rock dust is available from Environmental Fertilisers or Agrissentials and can be bought mixed with other ingredients such as seaweed and fishmeal, which is perfect for vege beds and flower gardens.

Remember to avoid compacting your soil by trampling all over it. Soil structure that is open and uncompacted allows air penetration to the roots, which is vital to the good health of your plants. Use a plank to spread your weight and stand on that instead.

The bonus is your boots will stay clean, too.


If you’ve neglected your fruit trees, prune them now on a dry day while their structure is apparent. It is easy to see any dead or diseased branches. Ensure you clean your gear with meths between cuts to prevent the spread of fungal or bacterial diseases.

Undercut the branch first to ensure a heavy limb doesn’t tear bark down the tree. With medium-large branches, avoid cutting hard against the trunk – leave the branch collar (around 1-3cm). This is a subtle rounded part that contains the growing material, which will in time form a callus (donut of new wood) to protect the cut surface from bacterial and fungal invasion. Leave pruning of stone fruit until summer to avoid silverleaf disease.

Prune roses if you haven’t already. With bush roses, open up the centre of the shrub and remove any dead wood. Prune good wood back by removing half of the length of the main stem to an outward-facing bud. Focus on strong framework; remove spindly stems.

Spray with a winter oil such as Aquaticus Glow to finish off any scale, aphids or mealy bugs, and a seaweed foliar spray to prevent fungal problems on new growth. Prune ramblers and climbers and tie down your chosen healthy stems to near horizontal to force plenty of flower buds.

Hopefully, the coldest part of winter is over, but if your region is prone to late frost, hold off pruning sensitive plants such as hydrangeas until the risk of frost is gone. Prune a third of older mop-head hydrangeas hard, focusing on removing older, weaker stems, as per bush roses. Deadhead the remainder of the stems to the nearest leaf bud and leave them long to ensure summer flowering.

You can prune any summer flowering shrubs to maintain good air flow through the plant, and remove any diseased or broken branches. Hold off on spring-flowering shrubs for obvious reasons – you’ll cut the flower buds off. Prune Camellia japonica shrubs for shape after flowering at the end of winter if your shrub needs a bit of training, and cut Camellia sasanqua hedges, too, once they’ve flowered.

Kitchen garden

AsparagusAsparagus crowns are available now at most garden centres.

How to plant: Choose a dedicated spot – asparagus plants can live for up to 20 years. Ensure soil is light and well-prepared.

A raised bed is ideal if you have heavy soil. Incorporate sand, chopped seaweed and aged manure into the soil and dig down deeply.

Create ridges 15cm below final soil level and spread the star-shaped asparagus roots over the ridge, spaced 30cm apart, in rows around 60cm apart.

Cover the crowns with just enough soil so the dormant shoots are 2cm below the
surface. Slowly cover with soil and layers of compost as the canes grow.

Harvesting: Growing asparagus is a long-term commitment and you’ll need to be patient. You should leave the spears entirely alone in the first year so the plants get strong.

Cut 40 per cent the following year, then up to 80 per cent in subsequent years, always allowing some spears a chance to grow into the full fern and die back naturally.

Cut the fern back, once dry and wait for the spears to emerge next spring.

On a budget?

If you want a large crop of asparagus and can’t afford the hefty price of ready-to-plant crowns, purchase asparagus seed instead. In a year or so you’ll have plenty of your own crowns to plant out.

Kings Seeds have three types of asparagus available including Sweet Purple to add interest to your vege plot.

Varieties: Male plants are more productive than female plants.

The latter put the effort into producing fruit rather than shoots and have thin spears (the berries on the ferns are poisonous and can’t be eaten).

Jersey Giant is a variety which is available to purchase at garden centres as crowns are primarily male plants.

If you are growing other varieties from seed you will need to plant twice the number of resulting crowns you grow from this seed, or remove the female plants to maximise your crop.

Herald on Sunday

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