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Archives for August 18, 2013

Mayor hears concerns at town hall meeting

Bracebridge Examiner

MUSKOKA LAKES – About 20 people gathered with members of Muskoka Lakes council to listen to Mayor Alice Murphy give a state of the union for the township this morning (Aug. 17). The annual town hall meeting was held at Windermere Community Centre.

“This is a much smaller crowd than last year so that either means everyone’s happy or they don’t want to go to Windermere or it’s just the one sunny weekend of the year or there are competing events or maybe all of the above,” said Murphy.

This year, Murphy gave an overview of council’s progress over the past year, including a new exotic animal bylaw, a reduction in Ontario Municipal Board costs for the municipality and a soon-to-be dark sky bylaw, though it won’t be retroactive. Sunday gun hunting is now on the council table and as they have yet to have anyone “pushing back,” if there are any concerns, she suggested people come forward.

Council intends through site plan control to leave a legacy of responsible planning, said Murphy, when it comes to Hanna’s Landing, a development going ahead after an OMB appeal, which will effectively double the size of Port Carling from a zoning perspective. However, attainable housing is an area of need in the township, she admitted, but hopes changes at the district level will make it more possible in the township’s rural setting.

People are really on the same page that we need to at all times protect our environment and find niche opportunities of leveraging this fantastic landscape into making our economy work – Muskoka Lakes mayor Alice Murphy

Mayor Murphy admitted the township’s website is “crumby,” but added they are working on it and also plans to improve communication with the public by supplying print copies of their Council Connection newsletter at township drop-off locations, such as libraries, post offices and general stores.

As well as an overview of the past year, the town hall gathering gives residents an opportunity to raise any concerns they may have.

Concerns were raised about the appearance and lighting of the Tim Hortons to be constructed in Port Carling, as well as the traffic light that will be necessary to accommodate it at the bottom of the hill (Hwy. 118/Medora Street and Bruce Wilson Road).

The growing sport of cycling led some to comment on the narrow roads that would benefit from paved shoulders and a suggestion for biking stations at strategic spots around the lake to provide rest stops and a vantage point for tourists.

There was concern over the complaint-driven bylaw enforcement and whether penalties were severe enough. One woman questioned whether applicants that come before council actually comply with landscaping and dark sky lighting requirements of their site plan and whether anyone ever checks.

However, Murphy said the planning department had a lull in work last year and took a visit to properties with site plan conditions and found 95 per cent compliance.

The township’s new bylaw enforcement officer has had mixed reviews.

“Last year when we were in Port Carling we heard loud and clear that we have bylaws and we want them enforced,” said Murphy. “So this year we are enforcing bylaws and we’re finding some of the bylaws need some tweaking … some of them really have unexpected consequences; for example, the sign bylaw has caused some folks some aggravation.”

The sign bylaw will come up for discussion at council next month.

Overall, Mayor Murphy felt the town hall was a success and enjoyed hearing ideas from her constituents to improve the local economy.

“People are really on the same page that we need to at all times protect our environment and find niche opportunities of leveraging this fantastic landscape into making our economy work,” she said. “And the more times that we sit and have these kinds of collaborative discussions, ideas feed off of ideas.”

For anyone who has further ideas on how to grow the economy collectively, Muskoka Lakes township is holding two upcoming economic development workshops scheduled for Aug. 27 in Port Carling and Aug. 28 in Bala, 6:30 to 8 p.m., to discuss ideas for the region. For more information, visit

Landscaping is an investment in your home

Waterloo Region Record

Your home is likely one of your biggest investments and it needs to be maintained and updated to preserve or increase its value. All homeowners know that eventually the roof will have to be re-shingled, windows and doors have to be replaced, heating and AC systems wear out and flooring must be replaced. The consequences of not doing these things on time will be severe and reduce the value of your property. But what about your landscaping?

The value of your property is influenced by its “curb appeal” and nothing has a bigger influence here than landscaping. Do those shrubs, flower beds and trees you planted 15 years ago now look too big, overgrown or all stalks? Is the grass no longer lush and your walkway has several cracks making it uneven and dangerous? Landscaping in this stage does not look attractive and puts downward pressure on your home’s value.

Water problems can form over time resulting in leaky foundations, sinking areas or pooling. The best solution to these sorts of problems is to control the flow of water on your property. Create a berm with raised flower beds, conceal a trench with tall grasses or break up hard non porous soil to allow for water absorption. Examine the flow from downspouts to make sure water is directed away from the house or into catchment barrels for use in watering plants.

Landscaping also plays a role in home security and utility costs. Trees and shrubs that block sun in the summer and cold winds in the winter can also provide cover for intruders or access to second story windows.

Take a critical review of your landscaping considering property value, aesthetics and functionality. If you decide it is time to invest and live In the Kitchener, Guelph or surrounding areas contact Dirt Cheap at to have high quality gardening materials delivered right to your garden in easily managed 50 lb bags and they will even place the bags exactly where you need them.

Valley air officials aim to cool down decades-old smog problem

In sweltering September 2011, Fresno could have used more trees. Temperatures climbed, winds died and lung-searing ozone spiked the season’s highest readings on three days.

Worse yet, all three peaks broke the one-hour federal ozone standard between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays when children were outside after school.

An extensive canopy of trees over streets, parking lots and driveways might have kept ozone-cooking heat down just enough to avert those dangerous peaks, say researchers. Plus, trees actually take pollutants out of the air.

It’s time to talk seriously about using trees and other city-cooling ideas, such as reflective or cool roofs, to end the San Joaquin Valley’s decades-long quest to achieve the federal one-hour ozone standard, say air-quality leaders.

These days, only a few parts per billion of ozone on a few days a year separate the Valley from the achievement.

“Ten years ago, it might not have made as much sense to everyone to pursue these strategies,” said Seyed Sadredin, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. “But we’ve passed many rules, made many advances, and we’re so close to compliance on the one-hour standard now.”

The one-hour threshold is 125 parts per billion, which the Valley had no prayer of achieving in the past. This 25,000-square-mile bowl allows dirty air to build up for days — it’s an incubator for one of the worst ozone problems in the nation.

With cleaner-running vehicles and ever-tightening regulations on everything from dairies to urban sprawl, ozone peaks have dropped from the 150s to the 130s over the last decade.

University of California at Davis research suggests that if Fresno aggressively pushed city cooling efforts, temperatures could drop as much as 4 degrees. Up to 7 parts per billion could be trimmed off ozone peaks.

The stakes are high in this fight. When the standard is achieved, it will eliminate a $29 million annual penalty, most of which is paid by Valley motorists in their vehicle registration fees.

But money isn’t the best reason to fight ozone, health researchers say. Ozone is a corrosive gas that damages lungs, eyes and skin. It is linked to heart and lung ailments as well as early mortality.

The Valley’s climate creates ideal conditions for ozone, which forms best in heat, sunlight and stagnant air. Scientists say turning down the heat just a little is a logical approach to shave off the peaks on bad days.

It’s a fight against the phenomenon called the urban heat island. Cities become heat islands as they trap energy from the sun in asphalt, rooftops and buildings, particularly in places as sunny and warm as Fresno or other Valley cities.

Drive from downtown Fresno into the surrounding farmland on most any summer day. Feel the temperature drop several degrees. Streets and parking lots of this 112-square-mile city hold the heat long after dark.

“Think of it as a heat dome over the city,” said meteorologist Paul Iniguez of the National Weather Service in Hanford. “It’s not a perfect dome, because there are green spaces in cities, such as parks. But it has the characteristics of a dome.”

As the climate warms over the next century, scientists expect heat islands to become more intense and more of a factor in ozone problems. The cost of cooling homes and businesses will no doubt rise, scientists say.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has a heat island research team that has worked on several cooling approaches, including vegetation, reflective materials for roofs and pavement.

In roofing, for instance, materials might include titanium dioxide to reflect infrared light. Though human eyes don’t perceive such light, it contains about half the energy in the sunlight that hits Earth.

Experiments have shown dramatic differences with the reflective material. In a side-by-side comparison of a reflective parking lot and a more standard blacktop parking lot, scientists recorded a 30-degree difference on a June day in Berkeley.

“The darker materials absorb more heat,” said Benjamin Mandel, graduate research assistant at Berkeley Lab.

In Fresno, Berkeley researchers studied the difference between a light-colored concrete-tile roof and a dark asphalt-shingle roof during the five hottest months last year. The light-colored, more reflective roof saved a total of $350 over the five months.

Mandel said that if all Fresno homes had the reflective roof, the savings would be about $60 million each year.

But such a radical change in a city of half a million might be a lot to expect, he said. A more realistic scenario would be modest improvements over a smaller percentage of the city amounting to a few million dollars of savings — still a worthy investment, he said.

California is pushing toward more energy- and water-efficient construction, but the new state building code, called CALGreen, has only voluntary measures for cool or reflective roofs for new homes or roof replacements on older homes.

The California Energy Code requires such roofs for new commercial buildings.

The city of Fresno does not mandate cool roofs, but officials are reviewing the development code, which includes a provision about trees in the landscaping of buildings and homes.

Since 1993, Fresno has required a tree for every two parking spaces in lots around the city, said Arnoldo Rodriguez, interim city planning manager.

“We’re looking to reduce the number of parking spaces and the size of parking lots in the future,” he said. “We’re also exploring the idea of reducing the width of new streets with hopes of getting less paved area in the city.”

Fresno needs to turn greener with trees, says Lee Ayers, executive director of Tree Fresno. His organization is pushing to make trees a priority in the city.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that we all would benefit from more trees,” he said. “It’s not just a matter of planting new trees. We need to replace trees that have died and retain mature trees in this city.”

Research links

Heat islands: Read more about heat island research by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Local issues: Read the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s report on heat islands.

Tree guide: Read “Tree Guidelines for San Joaquin Valley Communities.”

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6316, email to:’ or @markgrossi on Twitter.

Article source:

Villa Rica teen could be Georgia’s youngest Master Gardener – Times

Like most Master Gardeners, Tyler Hemrock of Villa Rica enjoys talking about his vegetable garden and the problems caused by this year’s rainy growing season. He can also answer questions about soils, fertilizers and insects.

But unlike the other 125 or so Carroll County Master Gardeners, Hemrock is only 14 years old, the youngest in the club and probably the youngest Master Gardener in Georgia. That distinction cannot be verified since each club keeps its own records.

“Tyler is a very unique individual,” said Paula Burke, the county’s Extension coordinator, who oversees the Master Gardener program. “Being home-schooled allowed him to attend the morning training sessions. He was already involved as a team leader in the Junior Master Gardeners. If you enjoy helping others and want to volunteer, that’s what Master Gardeners is about.”

While there’s no age limit on being a Master Gardener, Burke said, not many young people have the level of interest or the available time for the 27 weeks of training and 50 hours of volunteer service during the first year’s membership.

“The purpose of the Master Gardener program is to train volunteers to complement, enhance and support the educational efforts of the local UGA Cooperative Extension office,” Burke said. “The training is like a mini-college course.”

Some Master Gardeners do volunteer work at the Extension office, but that work has a minimum age requirement of 18 years. Hemrock has been doing his volunteer work in the community garden and Heritage Day projects.

“As long as I can remember, I’ve always liked gardening, watching things grow,” said Hemrock, who will celebrate his 15th birthday next Sunday. “I’ve read a lot of books on gardening and have a whole shelf of gardening books in my room. My parents have always had a home garden and I’ve taken that over.”

He picked up an interest early from watching his mother, Diane, raise flowers and his father, Michael, work in a vegetable garden. He joined the Junior Master Gardeners, an auxiliary program run by the Master Gardeners, at the age of 9.

“After awhile, I just wanted to know everything they knew,” he said.

The road to becoming a Master Gardener involved filling out applications, an interview and then attending 27 weeks of classes,  from January through April. He then had to pass two written tests. After completing the training, he performed his volunteer work and received his Master Gardener certification on June 5.

In addition to his gardening interests, he has been a Boy Scout since age 11 and also likes camping, hunting, fishing and beekeeping. His favorite school subjects are chemistry and literature.

Despite his early interest in gardening, Hemrock said he has no plans to enter agriculture as a profession.

“I’d rather keep it as a hobby,” he said.

His career plans are in dentistry. He plans to take pre-dentistry courses at University of West Georgia and study dentistry at Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine, specializing in orthodontics.

As for Hemrock’s garden preferences, he said he likes growing vegetables best because “you can get something to use from them.” His personal home garden includes tomatoes, peppers, okra, peas, zucchini, cucumbers and sweet potatoes.


Article source:

Enter the garden

Rajesh Kumar Nikhil Ghorpade

►►► The bridge overlooks a pond covered with water lilies, lotuses and upon further exploration, there’s an architecturally arresting gazebo at the Seolekars’ garden. Around the corner, there’s a swimming pool straight out of a film set, surrounded by palm trees and potted plants.

One corner of Jagtap Nursery is designed like an austere Zen garden. Beneath, the gravel shifts gently while walking towards an enormous Buddha  mounted on rocks surrounded by miniature ponds filled with water brimming with aquatic plant life, schools of guppies swim freely within these structures.

Around this focal point are small trees, plants and shrubs aligned in geometrical pattern. “The area serves as a model for people wanting to replicate something similar in their backyards, balconies and rooftops,” explains Devendra Jagtap, nursery owner and landscapist.

Quite often, well-travelled customers in search of ways to make their gardens look similar to the ones they come across in their travels abroad drop by looking for more than just potted plants. “Until a few years ago, having a spectacular garden was only possible for the privileged, but now the scenario has changed dramatically.
Puneites can afford most luxuries, including beautiful gardens,” smiles Devendra. Because the footfalls of these gardening enthusiasts is peaking, the nursery stocks imported marble benches, water bodies, exotic plants and many accessories to satisfy their evolving tastes.

Sensibility towards garden design and aesthetics is progressing. “Gardening is no longer about arranging flower pots in patterns. Increasingly, I come across serious customers who take pains to select plants themselves. The landscaping can have an informal theme, but it is still a planned project.

Having gazebos and babbling water fountains are in vogue while Zen and Thai inspired landscaping are in demand. Constructing green walls has become the need of the hour,” says architect Ash Parikh who’s worked on some exclusive landscaping projects in the city.

Seasoned landscape architect Shobha Bhopatkar adds, “There is demand for contemporary Zen-styled gardens with balanced symmetry complemented by simple lines.” Space is no restriction, gardens interspersed with designer elements are accommodated on rooftops, balconies and even kitchens with wide grills. “Apart from having done landscaping in bungalows with an expansive breadth, I have built terrace gardens and green walls for residences with smaller spaces,” says landscapist Vinita Naik.

To find gardens corresponding to the trends mentioned, Mirror visited three green patches varying in size to better understand landscaping designs and application of accessories.

The search led us to places where Zen-influenced motifs, doors of wadas and cleverly developed flowerbeds were arranged to look like framed paintings when viewed through windows. Owners of these gardens turned out to be passionate about gardening and knowledgeable too, displaying a genuine interest in the science of horticulture, but before that, here’s a lowdown on topical gardening trends.

►►► A lightly varnished wooden deck is the highlight of the Rathi garden. Around it, healthy plants which are cyclically planted stand apart against the deck’s contrasting brown hue. Pretty lanterns hang from the structure.

Flowering facts   

“The trend of building low maintanence gardens requiring less water usage decorated with natural material is becoming popular,” says Ash. To meet this demand, implementing an effective irrigation system is necessary. Setting up an automated arrangement for residential gardens is advised. “Installing a sprinkler timer makes gardening easier. One can customise the timer to water plants at specific intervals.

These gadgets come loaded with a fair degree of intelligence. For instance, the latest ones are equipped with moisture sensors which means it will not tend plants if it senses rainfall has seeped into the soil. If you are holidaying, a gardener isn’t needed. With plants automatically watered, the only job left is to prune and feed them once in a while. The timer is priced between Rs 1,500 to Rs 7,000 depending on the zones it can cover and it’s a onetime investment,” says Devendra.

Landscaping costs can vary. Depending on the quality of materials used, it can start from Rs 50 per sq ft.  For rooftop gardens, the pipes used in plumbing have to be of good quality to avoid leakages in the future. Shades must be built to cut direct sunlight. Accessories can be bought accordingly,

Buddha fountains are priced between Rs 4,500 to Rs 14,450 according to their size. Imported ceramic and terracotta pots in vibrant hues are priced at Rs 1,135 and above.

Designer pots are slightly costlier at Rs 3,377 and Rs 5,066. Similarly, the cost of gazebos and wooden decks vary depending on the design and material used. For outdoor settings, installing proper lighting using a waterproof junction box supported by a step down transformer is a must. “The most common mistake in gardening is related to lighting. Often, the same lighting system used in interiors is applied outdoors. This practice is extremely dangerous, particularly when electrical wires are exposed to water,” cautions Devendra.

►►► Madan’s gazebo was reconstructed from an actual bullock cart. He has added ornamental tiles and has taken pains to lay out a mini lawn replete with a little pond.

Green Guide

It’s not necessary to have wide expanses to create dream gardens or spend a fortune. With adequate planning, dramatic results can be achieved. “Green walls or vertical gardens are much in demand. This design can be fitted on barren walls, it looks pretty and hardly requires much space,” says Vinita. For apartments, making space for a garden centre is essential.

Designer accessories can be gradually added to prolong the enjoyment derived from building the garden. Constructing a fountain on the rooftop isn’t feasible, unless it is maintained regularly, otherwise chances of leakage is high. 

However, for those with bungalows, laying out the basic landscape design in one go is advised. “Once trees, plants have been planted and fountains, gazebos are in place, your garden can be fine-tuned later. Always remember, a garden is dynamic in terms of design. Depending upon your interest, it will evolve and get better with time,” advises Devendra.

Secret gardens

Walking into hotelier Neelam Seolekar’s voluminous garden at Florida Estate can put the mind into a state of meditation. Every tree, patch of bamboos and plants of various kinds follow a specific pattern. Landscaping we learn comes naturally to this entrepreneur.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I wished for a garden like this one,” says Neelam. Navigating through the thick undergrowth here is quite an experience, there’s never a dull moment as we come across a miniature bridge connecting two plots. The bridge overlooks a pond covered with water lilies, lotuses and upon further exploration, we stumble upon an architecturally arresting gazebo.

Nearby, there’s a swimming pool surrounded by palm trees and potted plants. “I prefer seasonal flowering plants like sunflowers and marigolds. I also have orchids and the Bird of Paradise,” she adds. Neelam fuels her passion for gardening by voraciously reading books on horticulture.

She has dedicated gardeners helping her to keep the plants properly pruned, but she’s quick to point out, “Unless you are passionate about gardening, it’s not possible to appreciate the beauty and significance of flowering plants.”

The luscious green lawn encompassing the Rathi residence grabs our attention the moment we enter its garden at National Housing Society. The landscape gets increasingly voluble as we look around at the mixture of perennial and flowering plants of all shapes and sizes. “Thanks to my husband, my family has taken to gardening,” says Nisha Rathi.

For them, a fun weekend activity involves visiting nurseries to buy plants. The landscaping was done by Shobha and from there, the Rathis have added designer elements to their garden. A lightly varnished wooden deck is the highlight. The frame isn’t an isolated piece, around it healthy plants which are cyclically planted stand apart against the deck’s contrasting brown hue.

Pretty lanterns hang from the structure, a serene statue of Buddha pops out from a bunch of plants and nearby, the sculpture of a Vietnamese villager completes this portion. The Rathis believe in regularly changing the plants in their garden.  Another location at the side of the bungalow has a miniature garden designed by Nisha’s daughter inspired by Zen designs.

On this area, white rocks are strewn around midget trees and shrubs that fill the space. Another part of the garden sinks deep into the bungalow’s base facing a window overlooking a room in the basement. After witnessing the opulent greenery, we are reminded there’s a reason why the garden looks the way it is, “Gardening is a serious hobby for us, we are intimately involved in its upkeep,” says Nisha.

Entrepreneur Hamir Madan’s little patch of green on his rooftop is of a smaller size, but its design is impressive. Little elements like two wooden doors taken from a wada leading us into the terrace add an entirely charming character to its ambience. His gazebo was

reconstructed from an actual bullock cart. He has added ornamental tiles and has taken pains to lay out a mini lawn replete with a little pond. “I prefer perennial plants as they don’t require much tending,” he says.

“When I settled in Pune, I did the opposite of what most Mumbaikars do. Instead of moving into a bungalow, I bought a flat,” he adds. He has also constructed a barbecue grill attached to the wall and to chill wine bottles, he uses an organic block of wood fashioned to contain ice cubes.
The benches, bar and the entire setting are made of natural material and they are cost effective — Hamir encouragingly says anyone who loves a little greenery can easily have a garden like his.

   In design 

Jagtap Nursery
A greenwall or vertical planting system is erected on a barren wall, the space is completely covered by vegetation and is  in demand.

Zen and Thai inspired landscaping based on reduced scale, symbolisation, and borrowed view is becoming hugely

Zen-influenced motifs and accessories made from natural material are used to decorate gardens. Besides, gazebos and fountains are being constructed on rooftop gardens

Article source:

Landscaping tour will spotlight enviable yards


Jim Weiker

The Columbus Dispatch

Sunday August 18, 2013 5:16 AM

Henk and Ruby DeRee’s backyard offers a commanding view of the ninth fairway at Muirfield
Village Golf Club, but all the couple saw between their house and the course last winter was a sea
of mud and mulch.

Working with John Reiner of Oakland Nursery, the DeRees transformed the space into a luxuriant,
serene Japanese retreat, complete with a sand and rock garden, multiple elevations, a fairy garden,
a babbling brook, sculptures and a low-maintenance mix of small evergreens and perennials.

“We wanted something rich and different and relaxing,” Ruby DeRee said. “John suggested
something Japanesque. It was exactly like we wanted; it’s amazing.”

The DeRees’ garden will be among 13 stops Saturday during the Columbus Landscape Association
Outdoor Living and Landscaping Tour.

The tour — the third in four years sponsored by the association — features a cornucopia of
outdoor spaces, including the DeRees’ retreat, a formal European garden in Bexley and a
family-friendly setting with a bocce court in Upper Arlington.

“It’s really different strokes for different folks,” said tour chairman Jason Cromley, one of
the owners of Hidden Creek Landscaping, which created two projects on the tour.

“The idea behind the tour is to try to educate the common homeowner on the types of things
people are doing in their backyards,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know what we do because it’s
hidden behind the homes.”

In addition to 11 recently updated landscapes, the tour features Ohio State University’s
Chadwick Arboretum Learning Gardens and Hope Hollow, the Northwest Side center for relatives
of cancer patients and the beneficiary of the tour proceeds.

For many of the homeowners, the outdoor renovations have transformed the way they use their

“We’re out here all the time,” said Chuck Kegler, whose backyard is on the tour. “It’s an
unusual day we don’t have breakfast out here; and when we don’t, we’ll come out and say, ‘Is this
great or what?’ ”

Kegler and his wife, Twi, worked with Wood Landscape Services to replace two old concrete patios
with a 1,300-square-foot paver patio featuring a 25-foot-long stream that cascades down several
levels to the ground below.

The patio features a gas-fueled fire pit as well as a built-in kitchen counter with a grill,
refrigerator and space for a trash can. More than 100 people have gathered on the patio at one
time, the Keglers said.

The renovated space, coupled with the removal of two large hackberry trees, allows the couple to
take full advantage of the striking view of the Scioto River behind the home.

An Upper Arlington home on the tour also backs up to the Scioto but takes advantage of the view
in a different way. The home sits on a rise overlooking a large field and the trees along the

Behind the home are patios and gardens that provide a variety of spaces and perspectives. A
traditional trellis on the side of the home opens to a bocce court and patio made of Vermont slate.
Behind the home lies the main patio, made of tumbled paver stone and centered on an oval pool
planted with lily pads and grasses and featuring a shooting fountain.

The gardens, with their understated blend of organized plantings, complement the Colonial home
they surround.

And that’s the point, Cromley said.

“You really have to give people a reason to go outside,” he said. “These projects try to give
these people, through the use of different materials and elements, a true extension of the

Article source:

Daffodil Planting along Marathon Route

Posted by Carol Stocker, who will answer your garden questions live on line this Thursday 1-2 p.m.
Marathon Daffodils is a collaboration of nonprofit organizations, gardeners, cities and towns, organizations, businesses, and citizens interested in preserving the spirit of the Boston Marathon and Boston Strong, while embracing the tradition of celebrating the arrival of Spring to Boston.

Some of Massachusetts top horticultural organizations, partnering with communities and volunteers plan to plant daffodils along the 26.5 mile Boston Marathon route, to create a new event “Marathon Daffodils.” Tower Hill Botanic Garden, The Massachusetts Horticultural Society, New England Wildflower Society, The Garden Club Federation, The Town of Brookline Parks, The Charles River Conservancy, the Master Gardeners and other groups have agreed to collaborate. The goal is to raise $1000 per mile for a total of $26,500 from Hopkinton to Boston.

“We want to do something to lift the spirits of the community, in support of Boston Marathon 2014 and Boston Strong,” said Diane Valle, volunteer and organizer.

“We are excited to participate,” said Kathy Abbott, Executive Director of Tower Hill Botanic Garden, “because we believe Marathon Daffodils represent Spring and rebirth. This is a great community building opportunity.”

Plans include outreach to supporters and volunteers from young to old; and novices to Master Gardeners; to plant daffodils. “Marathon Daffodil” donations are welcome, sent to The Cooperative Bank, 201 Main Street, Charlestown, MA 02129. Without contributions this project will not be possible.

“With your support, the planting of daffodils is to commence in October. We hope you do what you can to rally the private homeowners to follow our lead and plant daffodils” said Kathy Thomas, Former Garden Club Federation President and horticultural activist.

For more information: contact Diane Valle, 617.791-5663

What can Master Gardeners and Garden Club members do?
Help raise funds to make the project possible.
Help with the distribution and planting of bulbs.
Help by contacting your friends and neighbors forward the press-release.
If you know a business that may want to donate fund please share our mission.
Volunteer to coordinate a specific planting location with youth groups.
Help find students in need of community service to help plant.
If you live in a town along the route getting planted, help coordinate with the DPW Town Officials.

Article source:

Gardening news, tips and solutions

My friend, Roberta Webb, who raises pecans commercially on a ranch near Lubbock, Texas, thinks she has the solution to my black bird problem.

She said crows were once stealing as many as 30 pounds of nuts per crow from her pecan groves until she mounted several big plastic owls atop twenty foot sections of PVC pipe and placed them around the trees and now the crows won’t come near because they’re afraid the owls will get them.

I have two rows of late bodacious sweet corn just starting to tassel. I also have two big great-horned plastic owls in the mail and I’ve already been to Lowe’s where I purchased two twelve-foot sections of two-inch PVC .

I figure that once I get my pipes in the ground, my owls will still be ten feet high and well above my sweet corn which only grows to about seven feet tall. The owls are supposed to be twenty-six inches tall and look very intimidating. Sunlight or the slightest breeze is supposed to make them move around and twist their heads and they’re supposed to scare off black birds and rabbits as well, which would make them serve the ultimate dual purpose. I’d be hard put upon to tell you which I hate more; black birds or rabbits.

I forgot to ask Roberta if the owls kept squirrels out of her pecans because I would have thought squirrels to be more of a problem than crows to a nut grower.

Anyway, I figure that if the owls don’t work in my corn patch, they’ll give all the neighbors something to talk about and provide photo-ops for people who occasionally drive up Charlie Brown Road just so they can say they’ve been here.

In the meantime, I have discovered that I can’t shoot a shotgun because Mr. Parkinson makes it wobble too much to aim and the couple of times I tried, I did almost as much damage to my sweet corn as the feathered vermin were doing. But I still managed to down three big starlings with one shot when about a hundred of them flew off in a swarm when they saw me coming. I couldn’t have missed them if I’d been blind folded.

I used fishing line to hang the carcasses from my corn tassels but the flock came back and ate the rest of my first crop while they held a funeral for their buddies. Bumper Adams, from Letcher County told me that this had happened one time to Everett Banks when he tried the same tactic with a dead crow.

In other gardening news, we have eggplant, okra, bell peppers, cucumbers, Roma beans and tomatoes and such ready to pick but my garden is more akin to an everglade than something you’d try to grow veggies in and I’ve already ruined two pairs of sneakers trying to get a cabbage head. So last Saturday Loretta dragged my knee-high, rubber boots out of the basement, sprayed them full of raid and then vacuumed them out to make sure all the brown recluse spiders that might be hiding in the toes were dead and gone.

So I pulled them on and headed for the bell peppers which are about fifty feet out from any edge of the garden. I picked a five-gallon bucket full an assortment of all the stuff mentioned above and started back to the house when, all of a sudden, I discovered that I couldn’t move either foot.

Six inches below the surface my garden is normally hard clay but it has rained so much over the last month or so that the stuff has softened up and now it’s like quick sand. I set my bucket down in front of me and used my good arm to pull one foot out and then the other and I did this for like ten steps. It was either that or leave my boots stuck in the mud and I was wet with sweat when I finally made it to high ground.

It’s too bad that Loretta didn’t have a video camera handy because we missed a perfect opportunity to win the grand prize on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

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Why it’s a “no brainer” that community gardens should be built into urban design

People who participate in community gardening are more likely to be in a healthy weight range than people from comparable backgrounds who are not involved with community gardens, a study in the US has found. 

It’s worth noting though that the design of the study means it is capable only of showing an association between community gardening and having a healthy weight. It does not prove cause and effect, and one possibility is that the findings simply reflect that people who engage with community gardening are more likely to have a healthy lifestyle anyway.

However, the results do add to a body of evidence which support the health benefits of community gardens, and the US researchers suggest that randomised controlled trials should now evaluate the impact of community gardening upon participants’ weight.

In the latest edition of JournalWatch, Dr Melissa Stoneham, of the Public Health Advocacy Institute WA (PHAIWA), endorses the US researchers’ recommendation that new urban developments should “design in” community gardens. She also would like to see established suburbs redesigned to integrate health-promoting features like community gardens.


Community gardens: producing health

Dr Melissa Stoneham writes:

In recent times I have had a bit to do with community gardens, with most being funded under the Commonwealth’s Healthy Community Initiative with local governments, which aims to increase physical activity and healthy eating in certain adult populations.

One clear standout was the Greenough Pioneer Museum community garden, just outside Geraldton in Western Australia’s midwest, which was supported by the GO Gero! project.

In June 2013, the garden was awarded a nationally funded award sponsored by the Australian Open Garden Day organisation.

The Greenough garden uses organic synergistic and aquaponic methods to produce over 35 varieties of vegetables, herbs and fruit.

Clearly this garden provides locally grown and competitively priced produce to the local community, but a recent study in the US suggests that community gardening can help people achieve a healthy weight.

The study, conducted by Caethleen Zick and colleagues based at the University of Utah, examined the relationship between participation in community gardening and weight.

It found that people who participate in community gardening have a significantly lower body mass index—as well as lower odds of being overweight or obese—than do their non-gardening neighbours.

The article, Harvesting More Than Vegetables: The Potential Weight Control Benefits of Community Gardening, was published in the American Journal of Public Health. It acknowledges that previous research in community garden settings has provided a variety of social and nutritional benefits to neighbourhoods but states there was little evidence to demonstrate that working in a garden could show a measurable health benefit.

Researchers gathered 198 community gardeners both men and women, from Salt Lake City, Utah and measured their body-mass index, based on their height and weight. According to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, Utah is the 45th most obese state in the United States with 57 per cent of adults overweight (BMI 25) and 22.5 per cent of adults obese.

Research methods included comparing community gardeners’ BMIs, and odds of being overweight or obese, with three control groups, all based in Salt Lake City.

One control group was a mix of unrelated people from the same geographic neighbourhood as the garden.  This group shared similar physical environments, such as walkability and proximity to food shops and stores, as well as economic status.

The second control group was same sex siblings, where it was expected they shared genetic predispositions for weight and family influences on diet and physical activity. The third group was married spouses of the gardeners, as it was assumed they would be likely to share lifestyle and food choices, including food grown in the community garden.

Gardeners recruited for the study included 423 adults who had participated at one of the community plots facilitated by a not-for profit community gardening scheme for at least one year between 1995 and 2010.

Data for control groups were drawn from administrative records, using the Utah Population Database, a multi-faceted data resource used by health researchers. It includes a large set of Utah family histories, and links to publicly-available historical birth, marriage, and driver’s license records.

A total of 375 gardeners were linked to BMI information in the database.  Once linked, driver’s license records were used to build a sample of neighbours—individuals matched for age, gender and residential location, and Utah marriage, divorce and birth records to identify siblings and spouses.

Eventually, data on 198 gardeners and 67 spouses were included in the analyses, and height and weight information came from driver’s license records following the commencement of their community gardening.

Results showed that women community gardeners had an average BMI 1.84 lower than their neighbours, which translated to a 4.9 kilogram weight difference for a woman 165 cm tall. For men, the BMI was lower by 2.36 for gardeners, which is a difference of 7.25 kilograms for a man who is 178 cm tall when compared to the neighbourhood cohort.

Gardeners were also less likely to be overweight or obese, showing 46 per cent less for women gardeners, and 62 per cent less for men gardeners.

When the researchers looked at the BMIs of individuals related to the gardeners, including siblings and spouses, comparative data was found. Same sex siblings revealed a similar advantage to unrelated neighbours and women in the community gardening group had a BMI 1.88 lower than their sisters. For men, the difference was 1.33 lower for the gardeners compared to their brothers. Both differences were statistically significant.

For spouses of married gardeners, there was no difference in BMI or odds of being overweight or obese. That finding was not surprising, as researchers had expected that spouses would benefit from eating food produced in the garden, and perhaps from assisting with gardening activities.

The last few sentences of the article, and a focus I find particularly important, is the recommendation that new urban developments’ “design in” facilitates such as community gardens, and the more established suburbs be redesigned so they integrate features that promote healthy lifestyles.

It is a well-known fact that community gardens provide many benefits to active participants such as providing opportunities to relax, undertake physical activity, socialise and mix with neighbours, share across culturally different backgrounds and religions, learn about horticulture and sustainable environmental practices and be a source of low-cost fresh produce for a healthy diet.

When you add in the findings of this research, which has demonstrated a considerable difference in BMI of gardeners compared with other community groups, community garden integration in our local suburbs seems to be what one of my younger colleagues described as: “a no brainer”.

Harvesting More Than Vegetables: The Potential Weight Control Benefits of Community Gardening. Cathleen D. Zick, PhD, Ken R. Smith, PhD, Lori Kowaleski-Jones, PhD, Claire Uno, MLIS, and Brittany J. Merrill, BS. June 2013, Vol 103, No. 6; pp 1110-1115.


About JournalWatch

The Public Health Advocacy Institute WA (PHAIWA) JournalWatch service reviews 10 key public health journals on a monthly basis, providing a précis of articles that highlight key public health and advocacy related findings, with an emphasis on findings that can be readily translated into policy or practice.

The Journals reviewed include:

  • Australian New Zealand Journal of Public Health (ANZJPH)
  • Journal of Public Health Policy (JPHP)
  • Health Promotion Journal of Australia (HPJA)
  • Medical Journal of Australia (MJA)
  • The Lancet
  • Journal for Water Sanitation and Hygiene Development
  • Tobacco Control (TC)
  • American Journal of Public Health (AMJPH)
  • Health Promotion International (HPI)
  • American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM).

These reviews are then emailed to all JournalWatch subscribers and are placed on the PHAIWA website. To subscribe to Journal Watch go to


PHAIWA is an independent public health voice based within Curtin University, with a range of funding partners. The Institute aims to raise the public profile and understanding of public health, develop local networks and create a statewide umbrella organisation capable of influencing public health policy and political agendas. Visit our website at


Previously at Journal Watch:

Energy drinks: an unaddressed health hazard

• More vaccination advocacy is needed

• Bike share schemes boost public health

• On big food, unhealthy partnerships and the health benefits of regulation

• Investigating the health costs of car commuting

 Time for another Sid the Seagull?

• Tackling the unhealthy food supply in disadvantaged communities

• Smoking at the movies, a global public health concern

• Sports clubs are winners when alcohol sponsorship is dropped

• Call for more research and planning to deal with public health challenges of mega events

• Environmental factors that promote cycling

• A focus on the corporate practices that contribute to poor health

 How much healthy food is sold at fast food restaurants?

• Why the world needs a dengue day

 Germany’s role in undermining tobacco control


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