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Archives for August 21, 2013

Projects may be in store for downtown

Mum was the word from shop keepers and business owners who were asked to weigh in about how monies will be spent from the assessments they pay on downtown improvements.

No merchants turned out for a Monday, Aug. 12 public hearing on the assessments to be levied on downtown businesses.

In the 1989 the city formed the Ceres Downtown Revitalization Area to spruce up downtown. Typically, assessments only pay for electricity to light the streets at night, maintain the landscaping and put up and take down seasonal decorations.

However the city is considering doing more with the district. Possible ideas to be considered by the board include:

• Offering a façade improvement loan program;

• Hosting monthly “signature” events such as a farmer’s market;

• Planting a community garden;

• Nominating a business of the year;

• Adding a micro-enterprise program to provide financial assistance to businesses for technical expertise;

• Hosting business assistance seminars;

• Adding a business incubator program;

• Adding trash receptacles or benches.

When none of the downtown merchants showed up to provide input, Councilman Bret Durossette asked Bryan Briggs, the city’s economic development director, “were they notified about this meeting tonight?”

Briggs answered that he sent businessmen three emails, sent mailers, walked downtown to personally invite merchants as well as run two notices in the Courier. He said the feedback he received was the same as before: “Sure, if we can make it we’ll come.”

“This is an important thing,” said Durossette. “It would sure be nice to really have them buy in, to jump on board.”

Lourdes Perez of the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children told the council that she supports any program that would bring families into downtown. So defended business owners as being interested in downtown improvement but said “I just don’t know why they don’t seem to attend.”

The council approved a budget to spend $21,340 to cover the basic services. A budget amendment will have to occur if the district decides to expand its projects or programs, said Briggs.



Article source: Launches Largest Outdoor Living Site

Photo courtesy of Lewis Aquatech Pools, Chantilly, Va.

Photo courtesy of Lewis Aquatech Pools, Chantilly, Va. has launched their comprehensive site to bring everything in outdoor living under one roof. The site features over 100,000 pages and over 150,000 listings, making it the largest “outdoor living” site worldwide. Created to highlight the growing outdoor-living market, it offers ideas, inspiration, and quality sources for contracting work. Currently, the site covers 65 major metro areas within the U.S. and in Canada, with more being added.

“Increasingly people want to find ideas and quality contractors to transform their landscape or yard into a great outdoor living space,” explains Bob Dallas, the chief executive officer at “That’s the idea behind the site. It helps people do exactly that. They can find everything they need in one place.”

Dubbed as “The World’s Source for Everything in Outdoor Living,” the site features thousands of backyard and landscaping ideas with full-color photos. Consumers can also find information and referrals to high-quality, experienced professionals and contractors to consider for their next outdoor living project.

The outdoor living industry has become increasingly popular. In fact, according to MarketLine, and other independent market research sources, the global outdoor living market has grown to $277 billion annually. Millions of people are opting to invest in creating great outdoor spaces that their family can use for multiple purposes, including playing, entertaining, and relaxing. Some estimates find that for every dollar a homeowner puts into their landscape and outdoor living space, they get $2 back when selling the home.

“We all want a great outdoor living space, but we don’t all know how to go about getting it, or what we want, until we see some pictures,” added Dallas. “ takes care of all that. We have thousands of photos to give you ideas of what you want. But we don’t stop there. We hook you up with great designers and contractors that can help make that dream a reality.”

Created to answer the demand of the meteoric rise of the outdoor living industry, serves a unique role as a catalyst to bring together the entire industry … every professional, every retailer, every manufacturer and every trade association, under a single domain. No other home-design website has this much scope, content, or comprehensiveness covering the U.S., Canada, Dubai, China, Saudi Arabia, and Central America.  Beyond the directory, will be a web 2.0 site that enables users to sign up, make a comment, ask a question, save a photo, and participate in design related conversations with top designers and builders.  For more information, visit the site at

Article source:

Study offers ideas to boost Carrabelle economy

A new study suggests Carrabelle’s future is tied to tourism and elder care.

A study of Carrabelle’s economy, funded by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), recommends converting vacant condominiums into assisted living units and updating business district zoning.

At Carrabelle’s Aug. 1 city meeting, Ray Greer, representing Stantec Consulting, Inc., and Bruce Lyon of Swan Development Advisors, a subcontractor to Stantec, spoke on the city’s demographics and economy and made recommendations for future development based on the DEO study.

The study deals with the entire 32322 zip code, rather than just incorporated Carrabelle. Greer said Stantec collected information from numerous sources, including a March 14 public workshop led by Lyon, an economist, and attended by more than 20 Carrabelle residents.

Lyon began by explaining that two industries that traditionally fueled Carrabelle’s economy, construction and commercial fishing, are both in decline. He said Carrabelle must broaden its economic base and could expand on its third traditional industry, tourism, through rezoning and changes to the city’s business culture.

But, the study said, the make-up of Carrabelle’s population poses special challenges to economic development.

In spite of the fact the number of Carrabelle adults of prime childbearing age, 25 to 34, is 26 percent higher than the state average and 15 percent higher than the national average, the study said Carrabelle is somewhat older than the state and nation.

It said Carrabelle has a median age of 42.3 versus Florida’s 39.8, and the national median age of 35.6 years. The number of Carrabelle’s youth, up to age 17, is more than 30 percent below the state average and about 40 percent below national average.

The study warns that, as the population grows older, the average income in the city could decline further.

Stantec found the level of education in Carrabelle is well below the national average, with almost twice as many high school dropouts. The number of residents who completed a bachelor’s degree is about a quarter of the national average.

Lyon and Greer suggested the development of career academies within the public school system to teach youngsters skills, such as hospitality, nursing and marine mechanics, that would be useful in local businesses. They also supported partnering with Gulf Coast State College and Tallahassee Community College to the same end. Better preparation for available jobs could encourage young people to remain in Carrabelle, they said.

Lyon said the high percentage of real estate owned by nonresidents poses a problem for Carrabelle. According to the county appraiser’s office, 35 percent of the homes and businesses in Carrabelle are owned by out-of-state banks or individuals, roughly half of them located in Tallahassee. Of the 159 parcels in the corridor along US 98, 110 were owned by out of towners.

“How can you control your economic development when you don’t control your own real estate?” Greer asked. He said nonresident owners are likely to be less invested in local issues.

Zoning also affects development. The study found that a disproportionately large portion of Carrabelle is zoned commercial, especially north of US 98. Lyon said this could discourage investors. The study suggests creating a hospitality district, making it easy for visitors to find lodging, shop, dine and engage in tourist activities like kayaking and fishing. It said the natural beauty of Carrabelle and the surrounding area provides an ideal setting for nature based tourism.

The study also said all businesses need to accept credit cards.

Stantec found that Carrabelle’s tourist trade currently drops 50 to 60 percent during the winter and recommended advertising in cold weather locations like Canada and the northern US. “Carrabelle is colder than South Florida but it’s a lot warmer here than in Quebec,” said Lyon.

Stantec recommends the city retain an experienced marketing firm to target both day-trippers year round and snowbirds who make extended visits during the winter months.

The study found conflicting information from different websites about the area can be confusing. “At a minimum all the county and city websites should reference each other and be kept up to date and relevant,” said the report.

The study said downtown businesses must learn to promote one another. “Currently, there does not appear to be an organized connection between the charter fishing industry, nature-based tourism, or ecotourism, with the hospitality industry,” it said. “The ideal situation would be for a company or organization to bring the various businesses together to promote tourism in a manner that showcases all parts of the industry and connects them so that each component promotes another.”

Stantec recommends improving the entryway to Carrabelle from the east, “with signage, monuments, lighting and similar streetscape enhancements,” and requiring landscaping be maintained to high standards. It suggests laws be put into place governing the appearance of commercial signs.

The Moore house is envisioned as an anchor for the tourist and business district.

While some types of retail categories, such as gasoline and food service, are found to be “fully served,” a general store is highlighted as a business opportunity for an experienced retailer.

 “It appears that there is insufficient space in the retail market for multiple new stores,” reads the study. “The data does appear to reveal a market opportunity for what we might term a ‘general store’ (which) could support the community and visitors, in a number of product areas including clothing, home furnishings, sundries, appliances, sporting goods and with a variety of rental opportunities for tourists like bikes, fishing gear, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and similar.”

Stantec also recommends Carrabelle investigate aquaculture as an industry.

The study said Carrabelle’s many vacant condominiums could become an asset if they are converted to assisted living units, which it said would create many jobs and boost the economy as a whole.

Based on input during the public workshop, residents said Carrabelle’s assets are access to outdoor activities and natural beauty, the waterfront and barrier islands, seafood, lack of pollution and traffic, and historic resources like the lighthouse and museums.

Residents said they would like to see more jobs and shopping resources; an increase in ecotourism and RV travelers; access to technology; end of life care and affordable accessible healthcare.

St. George Island, Wal-Mart, Apalachicola, Wakulla County, Port St. Joe, the Asian seafood industry, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were all perceived as competition during the workshop.

Article source:

Crusaders, crackpots and cacti

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Three times in three years, someone has crept into Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens at night and committed, literally, crimes against nature. The most recent incident, on July 19, included the ringbarking of a 400-year-old river red gum known as the Separation Tree, a brush box planted by the Queen and a spotted gum, the slashing of four other trees and the attempted burning of another.

This occurred only six weeks after a savage attack felled all the large columnar cacti in the Arid Garden. And it was the second assault on the heritage-listed Separation Tree, which first had a wide section of bark hacked from its circumference in August 2010, and was still being intensively rehabilitated after losing 90 per cent of its vascular system.

This time, only 5 per cent of the crucial cambium layer remains. The garden’s director and chief executive, Professor Tim Entwisle, says the wounds were quickly dressed with sphagnum moss and plastic wrap (”keeping it as moist as possible, just like a Band-Aid”) but it is unclear whether it can survive the damage, let alone another drought in the future. ”It’s worrying us,” he says.

These attempted arboricides are not only disturbing for tree-huggers, they represent a serious attack on one of the state’s main collecting institutions, as serious as criminal damage to works in the National Gallery of Victoria or Melbourne Museum.

The garden has 10,000 different kinds of plants in its landscaped Melbourne grounds, and 1.4 million preserved in the Herbarium, as well as a seed bank of most of Victoria’s rare plants. ”We [are] a heritage and scientific institution exactly like a museum or a zoo, with just the same mix of conservation programs,” Entwisle says.

RGB landscape architect Andrew Laidlaw says the loss of something like the Separation Tree would be a tragedy for the national collection and to Victoria ”If this happened to an art work hanging in the National Gallery, there might be more outrage.”

Who could be behind these violent and concerted attacks and what is motivating them?

Victoria Police will not comment on the progress of the investigations because they are ongoing and has appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

But the damage – suggestive of a machete or an axe – and the choice of mature, valuable and highly symbolic specimens suggests the attacks are planned rather than spontaneous or misguided pranks. How many people are involved is unclear, Entwisle says. ”but with the right kind of implements it would only take a single person with a bit of time to do it all”.

How do you go about investigating criminal damage to valuable trees and plants? Such events are serious and those convicted can receive long jail terms, depending on the damage and value of the plants destroyed, says Detective Leading Senior Constable Ross Hill. But they are very rare and extremely difficult to investigate.

The Yarra Ranges detective investigated the ringbarking of six heritage-listed trees at a Belgrave property in September 2010 – just a month after the first Botanic Gardens attack. The historic property, Glen Harrow, was also the site of a 19th-century nursery that supplied significant root stock to the early Melbourne Botanic Gardens, says owner Marg Hesterman. Detectives considered a link but none was ever established.

Hill says a man with a suspected grudge was identified in the Glen Harrow case and, after a warrant was obtained, axes, tomahawks and chainsaws were seized from his nearby property.

”We were hoping we could do something with the [pattern of] chainsaw cuts [on the damaged Glen Harrow trees] as there were items around his place that he’d used the chainsaw on, so we took those items as well and sent them all out to forensic science.”

But there was not enough evidence to bring charges, despite DNA-testing the woodchips in the chainsaw, he says. ”They could tell me the type of tree it came from but they couldn’t say ‘Well, that’s the tree’.

”Even though we strongly suspect it is the person of interest, [we] couldn’t prove it.” The investigation remains open and could be reactivated if forensic techniques advance.

The RBG attacks would be even harder to investigate, Hill says, because the site is so big, with wide public access.

Trying to figure out the motive – ”someone with a vested interest, whether they’re a greenie and a bit misguided, thinking if they do this, it will result in this,” he says – will be crucial.

It was Tim Entwisle who first publicly articulated what had occurred to a number of observers: that the attacks could be politically motivated. In an opinion piece published in The Age in June, he speculated the cacti attack might be driven by a hatred of exotic plants (”there are no cacti native to Australia”).

The reference was slightly provocative – indigenous versus exotic is a fault-line running through many gardening and landscaping debates – but the third incident the following month has brought the theory into sharper focus.

The Separation Tree, so named because beneath its canopy Melbourne’s citizens celebrated the separation of Victoria from New South Wales in 1851, and the brush box planted by Queen Elizabeth in 1954 are highly symbolic of white colonialism.

Other trees attacked do not carry the same historical or political freight, Entwisle says, but they are all, like the cacti, established specimens that will take decades to recover, if they survive. The attacks, then, could be linked by a hatred of the garden itself as a symbol of white settlement and its social, political and environmental consequences.

The Botanic Gardens generally and the Separation Tree in particular were the site of indigenous clan gatherings before European settlement, according to the RGB website, and the location of an Aboriginal mission before the garden was established. Beth Gott, an ethnobotanist and adjunct research fellow at Monash University, says Aboriginal clans lived along the Yarra because it was a good source of eels and fresh water, and lined with edible vegetation.

Displacement of the original owners from their land was followed by the transformation of the landscape into one that rendered the colonial ideology into an aesthetic form: plants from around the country and geographic region ”assimilated” into a panorama that spoke of European values and order.

”An exploration of colonialism,” is how local garden historian Paul Fox describes its landscaping and plantings, designed by the RGB’s 19th-century director William Guilfoyle. Fox says the combination of plants taken from voyages around the South Seas Pacific region, from northern NSW, along with local vegetation, all landscaped around lakes, are: ”a synthesis of a colonial and a European garden [and] quite an extraordinary achievement for a 19th-century garden in the colonies.”

A red rag to someone with a radical agenda? Entwisle says that while a political connection between the attacks can be drawn, it is ”100 per cent conjecture”.

”It’s certainly a possibility [but] we don’t have any evidence that’s the case. There’s nothing else happened alongside it, no message to us,” he says.

”If I was looking for a thread, it’s something that is having an impact on us, that we would notice. Targeting [those] trees and a collection of old, important cacti is targeting things of significance in the Botanic Gardens.”

Attacks on specimens in public gardens, in Australia or overseas, are incredibly rare. The garden does suffer from pilfering – plants are stolen or large cuttings taken about once a month, Entwisle reckons – and maybe ”twice a year we might get a tag on a sign”. His experience working at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in Britain was similar. Such pilfering is illegal – destroying or damaging items in the RBG can attract a fine up to $7218 – but it is driven by love, of desire for a particular plant, rather than the hate that seems manifest in the vandalism.

Outside parks, tree vandalism is most commonly associated with greed – for an uninterrupted view, or unfettered property development – as a spate of damage to trees in the city, reported recently in Fairfax Media, suggests.

But neither greed nor love was evident in the RBG attacks. Andrew Laidlaw says the site of the cactus attack appeared ”like someone right out of their body doing [it] … with cacti scattered over the ground, all the mess – it was like a real frenzied attack. That was fairly confronting for a lot of the staff.”

Criminal acts driven by rage are rare in gardening collections, but the recent history of theft and vandalism of heritage objects elsewhere shows it is often a motivating force – politically motivated rage in particular.

One of Australia’s most infamous heists, the theft of Picasso’s The Weeping Woman from the NGV in 1986, was claimed by a group calling itself the ”Australian Cultural Terrorists” and was accompanied by scathing denunciations of politicians and policies of the day and demands for increases in arts funding.

In Queensland in 2006, the tree known as the Tree of Knowledge, which marked the birth of the Australian Labor Party, was poisoned and subsequently died. Many suspected political opponents of the ALP were responsible.

In January, Captain Cook’s Cottage, in Melbourne was vandalised with paint in an act claimed by anarchists as a protest against the ”absurd shrine to genocide” and the celebration of Australia Day as the date of invasion.

”The monuments and museums that fill this dead city only enrage us,” reads the January 27 post on website Anarchist News.

”Gardens are inescapably political,” philosopher Damon Young, author of Philosophy in the Garden, says. ”They involve territory – when we make a garden, we demonstrate some ownership, individual or collective, private or public. Look at the violence in Turkey, over control over Gezi Park [one of Istanbul’s last green public spaces, which the Turkish Prime Minister wants to replace with a shopping centre].”

Gardens are also where ethics, politics and aesthetics intersect, he says. ”The English landscape garden of the 18th century wasn’t just a pretty adornment. It was a shot across the bow of French autocracy. If Versailles was linear and artificial, the English garden would be serpentine and organic. Both represented a view of nature, and of mankind in nature; of the world’s ‘right’ order, and who was in charge of it.”

Overland editor Jeff Sparrow is the co-author of two books on the history of Melbourne activism and activists who disrupted the ”right” order. Radical Melbourne 2 includes a chapter on Cook’s Cottage and the 1976 attacks on it by indigenous protesters and their supporters. He is sceptical of the theory the RBG attacks may be driven by a radical political agenda.

”If it was an indigenous group or people sympathetic to indigenous Australians, it’s hard to think who such a group might be and why those trees – there’s no shortage of things you could target as a symbol that would be more obvious than some poor bloody tree,” he says.

”When the contemporary indigenous movement is so focused on living in harmony with the land, ring-barking trees would seem kind of strange.”

Whether the attacks are the work of the crusading or the crackpot, how do you protect the garden from future assaults?

In the absence of high-tech security, the RBG’s low level of crime, which Entwisle describes as ”surprising and consoling”, is striking. Staff think it indicates the widespread affection and esteem in which the garden is held. And, while Entwisle is reviewing security, this esteem may offer better long-term protection than the extra lighting, surveillance and perimeter fencing under consideration.

It’s a sentiment Sparrow shares. ”When I was most recently there I was struck by what a different sensibility the 19th century had about these sort of public places, this idea of a massive, cultivated space that is just free to the public. How anomalous it is compared to contemporary equivalents, something like Crown casino.”

But this esteem is also why the attacks have been so distressing to the garden’s staff and friends. Destroying a garden, or its plants, is more than a political gesture, Young says, ”and it can be more gutting than a broken museum piece.

”It is to attack the living expression of someone’s view of themselves and the world, and the ties between the two. If you can’t physically assault your enemies, you can savage the fragile symbol of their existence.”

Gina McColl is a senior writer.

Article source:

Sustainable Overlook Garden Tour

Spurred by new evidence illustrating the problems associated with pesticide use in gardens, Portland’s Overlook Neighborhood is working to become Portland’s first pesticide-free neighborhood.

Incorrect use of pesticides has been in the news lately, starting with the mass bee death in Wilsonville in June. Adding to the drama, some wholesale nurseries have been scrutinized this past week, with the release of a study by Friends of the Earth (FOE) in which it was discovered that many plants marketed as “bee-friendly” in some retail nurseries may contain neonicotinoid pesticides which are actually lethal to bees and other pollinators.

Being green isn’t so easy when toxic chemicals are being used at so many levels in the nursery and landscaping industries. So how to begin addressing the problem?

One option is to start at home – by purchasing organically-grown plants whenever possible. Since organically-grown ornamentals can be hard to find, just ask your retailers if they can verify what, if anything, plants were sprayed with before they showed up on the nursery benches. Most very large stores’ staff probably cannot answer that question. Small nurseries, on the other hand, probably can, as they are either growing the plants themselves or obtaining them from growers whom they know on a first-name basis. This means they can find out directly from their trusted, established growers what sprays if any are used.

Another option is to commit to gardening in future without using toxic chemicals. Overlook neighborhood already has some 275 households committed to landscaping without using toxic chemicals since June 2013, thanks in part to Sustainable Overlook – a program which aims to raise awareness about the importance of protecting health, water and habitat for pollinators, wildlife and human inhabitants.

Sustainable Overlook was co-founded by a group of Overlook neighbors including Alice Busch, Leslee Lewis and Mulysa Melco. Growing out of Overlook’s neighborhood association, the three started a sustainability group. A few years later, they partnered with Metro’s Pesticide-Free Gardening program to promote pesticide-free gardening on an even more local level. (Another neighborhood – Sabin, in inner NE Portland – created the popular Bee-Friendly Garden Tour a few years ago, which also promotes pesticide-free gardening.)

Through the neighborhood association, Overlook residents can attend classes with local gardening experts and pledge to maintain a pesticide-free garden. If you’re an Overlook neighborhood resident, check out the Sustainable Overlook webpage for more information and to sign the pledge. If you are a member of any one of Portland’s other 94 officially recognized neighborhoods, sign up for Metro’s Healthy Lawn and Garden Pledge. Either way, you’ll get a free Pesticide-Free Zone ladybug yard sign and coupons for discounts on native plants and other benefits.

To promote the idea to neighbors and the city at large, Sustainable Overlook will hold the neighborhood’s second annual garden tour on Saturday, August 24, 2013. The tour’s eight featured gardens represent a wide variety of landscaping styles but are all pesticide-free. A map and garden descriptions can be found on the Sustainable Overlook garden tour page starting Tuesday August 20, 2013.

Interested in more information about pesticide-free gardening, or want to start your own pesticide-free neighborhood? Visit the Metro contact page or call Carl Grimm, Natural Gardening Toxics Reduction Planner, at 503-234-3000.

Article source:

13 homes on Outdoor Living and Landscaping Tour



ThisWeek Community News

Wednesday August 21, 2013 12:34 PM

Thirteen central Ohio homes will be included in this year’s Outdoor Living and Landscaping Tour, presented by the Columbus Landscape Association.

The tour will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24.

In its third year, the tour will feature outdoor living spaces and professional landscapes in Worthington, Upper Arlington, Dublin, northwest Columbus and Bexley.

The gardens and landscapes highlighted on the tour belong to clients of professional landscape members of the CLA. Members of the CLA are credentialed landscapers who are known for producing the gardens and themed scenery.

The tour will enable participants to experience gardens in real-life settings in an effort to spark creativity and inspire them when working on their own green space. Guests will be provided with landscaping information, refreshments, an opportunity to meet garden designers and discuss their own lawn ideas and challenges and an opportunity to win special landscaping offers from CLA members.

Tickets for the central Ohio garden tour are $12 in advance and $15 the day of the tour.

Tickets could be purchased at any Oakland Nursery location or at Outdoor Living by Mr. Mulch, 2721 W. Dublin-Granville Road.

Tickets also are available on the CLA website:

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Hope Hollow, a local nonprofit organization that offers complimentary lodging and a peaceful and supportive environment to those battling cancer.

Article source:

It’s action stations for autumn

Papaver ‘Lauren’s Grape’

If summer was the season for relaxation, autumn is the season for gardening get-up-and-go. From planting bulbs and sowing seeds, to tending lawns, visiting gardens and even sorting out your shed, Hannah Stephenson compiles your autumn schedule

It’s time to ease yourself out of the deckchair and put on your gardening gloves because autumn is almost upon us, and with it, a plethora of tasks to wake you from your summer slumber.

There’s a host of jobs to do to get ahead this autumn, so make the most of the last warm days by perking up your plants, then enjoy the season change as the leaves turn from green to brilliant shades of warm yellow, burnt orange and burgundy.

Here’s just a few of the tasks you could be doing to get a head start:

:: Patio Plants

When your summer bedding is past its best and beyond reviving, chuck it out and treat yourself to a fresh batch of winter-flowering pansies, evergreens and shrubs including autumn heather, Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ and variegated ivy to drape over the sides. Plant bulbs such as dwarf narcissi underneath. Spring-flowering bulbs in pots combine well with winter bedding plants such as pansies, evergreens, grasses and heathers. Group taller bulbs in the centre of the pot and use seasonal bedding nearer the sides.

:: Boost your lawn

Autumn is a great time to sow a new lawn, when the ground is still warm and there is likely to be some rain. You should have prepared the soil the previous season, making sure it has been well firmed and settled before levelling. Mark out your area and sow the seed evenly, scattering it in both directions before raking it into the soil surface. If it doesn’t rain, water the seed well and keep the soil moist until the grass starts to appear. Net the area or put up a scarecrow to keep birds away.

If you have bare patches, mow the lawn, rake the surface to remove debris then spread seed over the sparse areas, sweeping it into the surface, before covering it with a fine layer of compost and watering it in.

:: Order bulbs

You should be ordering your spring bulbs now, some of which can be planted as early as August. Among the first spring bulbs for planting are narcissi, both in the border and in containers. Others for planting in early autumn include muscari, crocus, iris and hyacinth. Plant dwarf bulbs in your patio pots underneath winter-flowering pansies and foliage-fillers including euonymus and ivies. Plant your bulbs in gritty compost and place pots on feet to avoid the bulbs becoming waterlogged from the bottom.

:: Sow seeds

You don’t have to just sow seeds in spring, because a range of flowers and veg can be sown in autumn to give a longer harvesting time or simply to have a better start after overwintering. Salads can be sown through to mid-September for overwintering, some lettuces will reach a size which is perfect for picking before the cold slows down growth. Use cloches to cover those to be left in the ground a bit longer. Baby spinach leaves and corn salad are worth sowing if you can cover them later, as are several types of overwintering lettuce. Sow overwintering onions in vacant rows in the veg plot and transplant in October. You can also sow some hardy annuals in late summer – Chiltern Seeds (, 01491 824675) is now offering a number of new varieties including Centaurea americana ‘Aloha Blanca’, which is robust and tall growing, bearing beautiful, fluffy, ivory-white flowers six inches across, and Papaver somniferum ‘Lauren’s Grape’, which has crisp, velvety, deep plum-purple petals and attractive grey-blue-green foliage.

:: De-clutter shed

Now’s the time to clear out those cracked and broken pots, rusty tools and snapped bamboo canes to make some space for yourself. Invest in a tool rack from any good DIY store on which to hang your forks, spades, lawn edgers and other large tools which will otherwise take up valuable floor space. Disinfect and neatly pile seed trays which won’t be used until next year and give your hand tools a good clean, wiping blades over with an oily rag before prolonged storage.

:: Go visit

There’s a plethora of shows and public gardens to visit this autumn to inspire and enlighten, including the Malvern Autumn Show (September 28-29, in Worcestershire, featuring live cookery demos and an audience with Mary Berry; Harrogate Flower Show (September 13-15, in the Great Yorkshire Showground which includes large show gardens and traditional autumn border plots and new giant veg classes; and a host of National Trust properties boasting amazing autumn gardens, including Drummond Gardens in Crieff, Perthshire, Scotland, which boasts a beautiful array of acres, and Chillingham Castle in Alnwick, Northumberland, where in autumn the delightful woodland and lakeside walks become the star attraction when deer and red squirrels can be spotted among trees of blazing colour.

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.

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Tips On Raised Beds For Gardens During Rains

During the rains, one of the main hindrances for gardeners is stagnation of water in their gardens. Plants cannot survive if there is a lot of water in their soil, they will easily wither away and droop. So, to avoid the stagnation of water in your garden, it is best to build a raised bed so that your plants can live and stay healthy always.

These raised beds for gardens during the monsoon season is necessary as it will boost the growth of your plants and help to prevent water logging too. Here we tell you some of the best ways on how to build a raised bed for your garden during the rainy season.

There are four things to keep in mind if you plan to build a raised bed for your garden during the monsoon season. Firstly, these raised beds are one step easier to keep free of encroaching grass when compared to the ground-level beds. Secondly, the elevated soil warms up earlier during the summer and drains much faster after a shower of rain. Thirdly, the soil does not become compacted, because one does not step on the growing area where the plants are and lastly these raised beds offer easier access for planting, weeding and harvesting.

Tips On Raised Beds For Gardens

With these important terms in mind, here are some of the things you need to keep in mind when you build a raised bed for your garden during the monsoon season.

  1. The most basic rule to follow when you want to make a raised bed is, first select the site in your garden. If you know that you will be growing vegetables or herbs select a site that gets at least eight hours of sunlight. You should know that a flat, level area is also important. Make sure that the area has easy access to water sources.
  2. You need to use the right type of wood when you build a raised bed to make sure that the wood does not rot during the monsoon season. Cedar is the best wood to use for garden beds because this wood is naturally rot resistant.
  3. The height of the raised bed is important when you construct one. The bed needs to be built to a height of 38 inches.
  4. The next step is painting the raised bed with water resistant paint. After painting the bed, do not forget to drill a few holes at the bottom so that it gives way to excess water.
  5. Using a level, make sure your frame is in level at all directions. This is a necessary step because if your raised bed is not leveled, you will have a situation where water runs off at one part of the garden and sits in another causing stagnation. If part of your frame is high remove some of the soil beneath in order to be leveled.

These are some of the things you need to keep in mind if you plan to build a raised bed for your garden during the rainy season.

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Antler Homes Scoops Two Garden Design Awards

LONDON, ENGLAND–(Marketwired – Aug. 20, 2013) – Antler Homes won two more awards at the recent New Homes Garden Awards.

They were awarded Silver Gilt, the top award, for the Best Show Home Garden for Sovereign Mews in Ascot and Gold, (also the top award) in the Best Garden Family Home category for Roebuck Grange, Maidens Green.

House builders, garden designers and landscape architects are shaping our future environment. The New Homes Garden Awards, sponsored by Express Newspapers, recognised and rewarded their achievements.

Antler Homes prides itself on their carefully planned and planted landscapes, which complement and complete their luxury homes so this award is richly deserved recognition for the team that has created these impressive gardens and the beautiful properties that stand in them.

To find out more about Antler Homes, please see the website

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