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Archives for August 27, 2013

Video: Pershing Square Reimagined As A True Town Square


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The possible revamp of L.A.’s historic Pershing Square appears to be moving forward, with a local design firm presenting its year-long research in an informative, progressive video today.

Backed by Councilmember José Huizar, a task force was unleashed last August in the wake of numerous crime incidents in the area. The group upped Los Angeles Police Department and General Services Department patrols at the concrete-laden park, as well as implemented a Public Safety Plan: think solar trash compactors, scheduled grounds cleanups and police presence during farmers’ markets. And now it’s taking its new vision for the park to a new level.

Huizar introduced the members of the CD14 Re-envisioning Pershing Square Task Force Tuesday during a presentation of research findings for re-envisioning the park. The group consists of 21 Downtown L.A. stakeholder, including DTLA residents; design and architectural experts; business representatives; and property owners and representatives from governmental agencies like the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, LAPD and the City’s Planning Department. AEG agreed to allocate $700,000 to the project earlier this year.

Huizar described the goal of the task force today: “My hope is that this task force will honor that history by bringing a wide-range of ideas and perspectives to the discussion, all aimed at improving Pershing Square and recapturing the magic it once held as a significant and important gathering place for all Angelenos.”

The square became a public space in 1866 thanks to Mayor Cristobal Aguilar, and was dubbed “La Plaza Abaja.” In 1918 it was renamed in honor of WWI General John J. Pershing. The park was demolished for underground parking in 1952 and was then redesigned by Legorreta in 1992.

DTLA-based global design firm Gensler spent the last year re-imagining the role of public open space in cities throughout the world and exploring way to improve social capacity through an improved physical urban environment. Using Pershing Square as its case study, the L.A. branch presented its ideas in a short, five-minute video today. The group says in the video description that they “used computational methods to devise a neutral and nimble design tool that gives equal weight to the ideas of users, citizens, designers and policy makers alike.” The “inclusive, flexible and progressive process” is one that “can be custom tailored to public spaces everywhere.”

The video breaks down how the park could be revamped to accommodate visitors while acknowledging where they’re coming from, how they’re coming, the park’s surroundings, sun exposure, softscaping and landscaping, and preferred activities like eating, bicycling and chit-chatting. It takes an in-depth, fascinating dive into the Downtown L.A. area at and surrounding Pershing Square.

Going forward, the task force will meet and outline an agenda for the group, keeping these three goals in mind:

Coming up with a comprehensive long-term vision of the Park, which may include a push for some elements of redesign and park infrastructure improvements.

Identifying dollars with assistance of Council District 14 and raising funds for these efforts including additional redesign or supplemental programming of the park in order to revitalize the space in the short term.

Identifying and planning key policy initiatives and legislative work that will have a positive effect on Pershing Square operations and programming.

Town Square Los Angeles from Gensler LA on Vimeo.

Related:
Pershing Square Could Get A Major Overhaul
Downtown L.A.’s Pershing Square Park Gets Its Very Own Task Force
A Park a Day: Pershing Square, Los Angeles

Article source: http://laist.com/2013/08/27/video_pershing_square_reimagined.php

Handyman Connection’s 8 Handy House Upgrades That Boost Resale Value

Technorati Keywords:

Handyman Connection   handyman service   home improvements   home improvement ideas   

Article source: http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/handyman-connections-8-handy-house-upgrades-that-boost-resale-value-1824955.htm

Are trees on US 98 detrimental to Daphne businesses? Some think so

View full sizeTraffic flows along tree-lined U.S. 98 south of Interstate 10 on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. Some business owners are saying that the trees are a detriment to their livelihood as they obscure the sight line for motorists. (Marc D. Anderson/manderson@al.com)

DAPHNE, Alabama — As word spread earlier this month about the possibility that live oaks were poisoned on U.S. 98, an outspoken local businessman has raised his own long-standing grievances with the tree-line, four-lane highway.

Standing near Exit 35A on Interstate 10 Monday morning, longtime business owner Kevin Spriggs pointed south along U.S. 98 at the tree-shrouded rights of way.

“All the signs the businesses have or anything they can do is completely obscured by the oak trees,” he said. “For me, I like the oak trees if you’re in a local neighborhood area, but planting them this close to the interstate and blocking all these sight lines you have completely destroyed the exit down there as a tourist location.”

Spriggs owns a few Shell gas stations and Eastern Shore Motel on U.S. 98. One of his service stations is located on the U.S. 98 service road just off the I-10 exit, and he also leases an adjacent building to former NFL pro-bowler and restaurateur Bob Baumhower, who owns the Compleat Angler Seafood Grille and Bar along with a dozen other food establishments across Baldwin County and the state.

Baumhower said it’s a difficult location to market despite positive reviews, such as a No. 4 ranking on tripadvisor.com.

View full sizeDaphne businessman Kevin Spriggs stands near the Exit 35A/U.S. 98 off-ramp on Interstate 10 on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, in Daphne, Ala. Spriggs said trees that were planted 30 years ago along the four-lane, state highway are hurting businesses. (Marc D. Anderson/manderson@al.com)

“It is tough here and I love the Eastern Shore,” he said. “I live right outside Fairhope and what goes with living on the Eastern Shore is a commitment to the arts, a commitment to education. It’s just a great place to live, but there needs to be a balance in that to have those nice schools, to be able to have the amenities that we all want — the parks and the art museums and the sports and all that — there’s got to be a way to pay for that.”

Spriggs speculated that tax revenue would triple if the city were to cut the trees down up to the first stoplight, about a half-mile or so from the interstate.

“I base that on the fact that I know what the Nautilus paid for rent back in 1980,” he said of the original restaurant next to Shell, “and I know what Bob’s paying right now and it’s the same. So that tells you something right there. It’s been a slow steady decline of the exit.”

While he acknowledges that Dunkin’ Donuts is building its first Baldwin County location across U.S. 98 from his business, Spriggs said they will primarily serve local commuters and not the tourists.

Corridor 98

Sprigg’s idea of removing the live oaks would be a long shot. The trees were planted by the hundreds in the late 1980s from I-10 in Daphne to Ala. 104 in Fairhope by Corridor 98, a grassroots community movement.

The group formed in response to rapid development of the Eastern Shore with a goal of maintaining quality of life, said Charles Lake, who was a member of the group along with his brother, Daphne Councilman John Lake. The Lake brothers were among residents, civic leaders and local business people who spearheaded private funding to plant the trees in 1987 on the state rights of way along with crepe myrtles in the median.

As part of the effort, Lake said a “scientific poll” was conducted with residents.

“The main finding was that while the people did want the growth they also wanted to maintain the quality of life at the same time,” Lake wrote in an email. “Most of the responses were pro-business and 87 percent of the responses indicated that businesses that had trees, landscaping, and smaller signs gave the impression that the business owner ‘cared’ about the community.”

Tree investigation

John Lake has been the main catalyst behind an investigation into the possible poisoning of the two live oaks, one of which is already dead, near Taco Bell. He and Mayor Dane Haygood requested an investigation be conducted by the Alabama Department of Agriculture Industries, which has already begun.

In his filed complaint, Councilman Lake said he feels a nearby business owner poisoned to trees to improve his or her visibility. With that stance, some have have the impression that Lake is anti-business due to his quick reaction.

“I’m not anti-business, I’m pro-Daphne,” Lake said. “I’m pro-community. I’ve always said if you make community businesses stronger than you’ll have more people move into the community and want to live in the community. I’m not anti-business by any means. I’m just looking at what makes the community livable.”

Lake said he lobbied for years when U.S. Sen. Sonny Callahan was in office to get lights placed along U.S. 98 to help businesses and eventually $3 million was allocated to get that done.

The longtime councilman also pointed out that the city was also named by Alabama Policy Institute as the fourth most business-friendly city in the state.

‘We are a Tree City’

View full sizeTraffic flows along tree-lined U.S. 98 south of Interstate 10 on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. Some business owners are saying that the trees are a detriment to their livelihood as they obscure the sight line for motorists. (Marc D. Anderson/manderson@al.com)

 Councilman President Ron Scott said any idea of cutting down the live oaks near the interstate interchange would receive a fierce response by the community.

“This is only my opinion but I think those live oak trees are an integral part of what makes Daphne Daphne,” Scott said. “It’s what makes it different than a lot of commercial corridors and the businesses have been successful. You don’t see many of them leaving. The trees soften the commercial corridor and it’s important that we have that commercial corridor.

“We are a Tree City and I think if anyone tried to get rid of those trees, I think they would want to hang them from the next oak tree they could find that was still alive.”

Signs, signs, signs

In order to help existing business with signage, the city is in the process of revising its sign ordinance. A committee has been hashing out changes throughout the summer and ideas will soon start to make their way through the planning commission and council meetings.

“We’re working on making sure the sign ordinance makes sense and that we balance some things that were probably a little too restrictive or too arbitrary to try to help businesses,” Scott said.

View full sizeA van pulls onto the U.S. 98 service road south of Interstate 10 on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. In the background is a Shell station owned by Kevin Spriggs, a local businessman who says the live oaks that were planted 30 years ago along the four-lane, state highway are hurting local businesses. (Marc D. Anderson/manderson@al.com)

 Aside from the drastic measure of clearing out the tree cover, Spriggs said tall interstate pole signs would be a big help. At present those signs are prohibited under the city’s ordinance and are not on the Sign Committee’s agenda.

“The possibility of electronic reader boards is a good hope,” Spriggs said, “but if we’re going to have that kind of landscaping where the city maliciously plants large trees in front of businesses to block their view, the only thing that could help us with that is if we had our high-rise signs back again. And that’s not being reviewed in the sign ordinance, at least in this round anyway. Those have been very controversial.”

Plans to add directional signs on the eastbound Bayway lanes prior to exiting onto U.S. 98 seem to have floundered over the years.

“The exit logo signs are provided by the state highway department … and they’ll cite things like engineering or environmental (studies), which is all bull crap,” Spriggs said. “They won’t put the signs on the bridge to do it. You’ll hear, ‘Yeah, we’re working on that,’ but who’s working on that?’”

If those signs were placed on the Bayway, Spriggs said it would give local businesses some hope, otherwise they will be weeded out by national brands who can afford to advertise on a large scale.

“In effect, by hiding the right of ways you’re favoring the large corporate franchises over your local content,” Spriggs said. “That’s what I call cultural sterilization — you don’t want local content you just want the national franchises. And what’s local about any of the business here if you make it impossible for a local businessman to have a shot at tourism and the things that are unique about the area? The result of that is that this exit will look like every other exit on the United State there will be no uniqueness to it at all.”

As for Baumhower and his Compleat Angler, he said the restaurant will likely reduce its hours of operation. “I will tell you that the word on my place here is that people will buy it before they see it.”

And right now, he said they can’t see it.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/live/2013/08/are_trees_on_us_98_detrimental.html

Grave mapping, flood remedies lead Mooney Cemetery improvements

By KAREN BERKOWITZ
kberkowitz@pioneerlocal.com

August 26, 2013 7:30PM

Moraine Township supervisor Anne Flanigan Bassi and landscape architect Nancy Lyons Hannick at Mooney Cemetery on Aug. 21. Drainage issues are being addressed at the historic Highland Park cemetery. | Brian O’Mahoney/For Sun-Times Media


Article Extras





Updated: August 27, 2013 2:36AM

Mooney Cemetery has been mired in a tangle of flooding and maintenance issues further complicated because its steward, Moraine Township, didn’t know for sure where everyone was buried at the 114-year-old cemetery.

With a recent mapping of graves and vaults, the township has been moving ahead to implement a Landscaping Master Plan for replacing aging trees, beautifying the entrance on Ridge Road and addressing flooding and drainage issues. A deteriorated asphalt driveway has been replaced with permeable pavers that allow stormwater to collect underground.

Next week, volunteers will plant two rain gardens that will help remedy the flooding that has sometimes prevented family members from visiting the resting places of their loved ones.

Over the course of two days — Friday, Sept. 6, and Saturday, Sept. 7 — volunteers will fill the rain gardens at the rear of the cemetery with 700 gallon-sized plants. The cemetery drainage system is designed to divert stormwater collected under the driveway into the rain gardens.

“Logically, people would say, ‘Why don’t we just fill in the low areas?’” said Nancy Lyons Hannick, the landscape architect who completed the master plan.

Lyons Hannick explained that her team documented where there is ponding and pooling, and determined that regrading the site would have covered up some markers.

The planting event also is part of the green industry’s “Come Alive Outside” campaign to encourage outdoor activity and bring children and adults in touch with nature.

The cemetery, located at 1079 Ridge Road in Highland Park, is tucked between Mooney Park and St. Mary’s Cemetery on Ridge Road, just north of Deerfield Road.

According to historical accounts compiled by Moraine Township in 2010, early settler James Mooney first built a log church in 1846 on Green Bay Road and added a cemetery to its grounds. Those graves later needed to be moved as the area developed. In 1899, Mooney’s son John took his family’s remains to his land on Ridge Road. He also allowed other families to relocate to his private cemetery.

In 1908, John Mooney transferred a portion of the property to the Catholic Church for St. Mary’s Cemetery and reserved a piece for the private cemetery. In 1960, an elderly family member, Cecilia Mooney, deeded the cemetery to the care of Deerfield Township, now known as Moraine Township.

Problems with incomplete and inaccurate records have been highlighted in Highland Park News accounts as early as 1951, according to the township.

In January of 2010, the Highland Park News reported that resident Bonnie Ferrara had to bury her father’s remains for a second time after it was belatedly discovered that his grave already was occupied — and had been since 1967. Ferrara first buried her father’s ashes in June, 2009 in the grave next to his son.

Then-Supervisor Mari Barnes explained the cemetery’s records were mostly on typed, undated index cards and sometimes overwritten with undated notations, or contradicted by other, undated index cards.

The incident prompted the township to ask residents with deeds to come forward.

Soon after, the township hired Tim Horsley, an archeological geophysicist, to map the locations of the graves and vaults. With that report in hand, the township has been cataloguing records in a software database to reduce the chance of a mistaken burial.

Still, no one can say with 100 percent certainty that all grave locations are known.

“Between Mrs. Mooney keeping a ledger and Moraine Township keeping index cards, occasionally someone walks in with a deed we may not have known existed,” said Anne Flanigan Bassi, current supervisor of Moraine Township.

Flanigan Bassi said the landscaping improvements and rain garden project demonstrate the township’s commitment to showing respect and care to those buried at Mooney Cemetery.

Article source: http://newssun.suntimes.com/news/22170497-418/grave-mapping-flood-remedies-lead-mooney-cemetery-improvements.html

Parkway gardens take root

Orange flowers bloom in Sonya Anselmo's parkway garden on 12th Street. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@smdp.com)

12TH ST — Tomatoes. Mint. Basil. Brussels sprouts. All can be found at Sonya Anselmo’s home on 12th Street. But instead of a typical garden out back, she has created one in front, turning her parkway, or the space between the street and the sidewalk, into something more than just a place for grass.

“My idea is that I want to rent it out for ‘free’ to my neighbors or anyone who wants to use it,” Anselmo said.

In a city where roughly 70 percent of residents rent and have limited access to green space, creating a garden in a parkway may be the next best thing for those looking to exercise their green thumbs. Officials said as long as the plants selected follow City Hall’s guidelines and do not obstruct access or pose a safety hazard, edible landscaping is allowed. 

Edible landscaping includes fruits, vegetables and herbs, said Garrett T. Wong, project support assistant for the Office of Sustainability and the Environment.

The trend of parkway gardens has also caught on in Los Angeles, where earlier this month residents were allowed to plant vegetables near the curb as city officials suspended a ban on the practice.

In Santa Monica, parkways are part of the public-right-of-way, and therefore must be regulated. The guidelines for parkway gardening were adopted by the City Council in 2011 as part of the Santa Monica Urban Forest Master Plan. The plan states that parkway landscaping must not create visual obstructions for pedestrians or drivers of vehicles. Plants within 5 feet of a driveway shall not exceed 2 feet in height when fully mature.

Moreover, parkway landscaping shall take into consideration personal safety, vehicle safety, efficient access for pedestrian and vehicles and resource conservation, the plan states.

For example, home owners are allowed to plant thyme, jade plants, yarrow, California lilac and creeping sage, but aren’t allowed to plant prickly pear cactus, ivy, agave century plants, aloe, roses or barrel cactus. Before adding or modifying trees in the parkway, folks need to contact the community forester. To create open visibility to the street for vehicles and pedestrians, plant material shall not exceed 34 inches in height at maturity, according to the guidelines.

Plant material shouldn’t be a danger to the public either. Plants with sharp, pointy protrusions such as needles or thorns are not allowed.

Anselmo installed a walkway in her parkway garden to allow for greater access after a city official stopped by to inspect it.

All landscaping is subject to the Santa Monica Municipal Code, which states “median strips and parkways planted with grass are intended to enhance the aesthetic qualities of neighborhoods and streets and to also provide limited opportunities for recreation including walking, jogging and respite.”

Anselmo said she started to re-vamp the parkway on her property because the grass ended up killing the carob tree that was already planted there.

Her parkway became so transformed that her neighbor tore out his grass as well and started his own garden. For the past eight years, Anselmo, who likes to garden organically, said she’s grown vegetables in the parkway garden from cuttings from neighbors.

Dana Morgan, who was the co-ordinator for the Organic Learning Garden at Santa Monica College, said she’s seen people plant all sorts of interesting things in their parkways. Her concern is the exhaust and lead that comes from cars that could extend to the parkways and affect plants that are low to the ground, like tomatoes.

“Say you’re growing tomatoes or vegetables right next to the parkway strip, it’s probably not the best thing,” said Morgan, who retired from teaching English at the college in June.

If parkway gardens aren’t appealing, residents can always opt for a plot in one of Santa Monica’s community gardens, however, those are in short supply. Currently 77 people are on a waiting list for the gardens, said Kathy LePrevost, community recreation manager for City Hall. Some residents have to wait as long as six years before a plot opens up.

There are 124 plots, including three workshop plots or test plots that a person on the waiting list gets for one year to see if they like gardening, LePrevost said.

The locations for the community gardens are at Main Street, between Strand Street and Hollister Avenue; Park Drive, between Santa Monica Boulevard and Broadway; and Euclid Park. Folks sign one-year license agreements with City Hall and do that on an annual basis, LePrevost said.

The most popular community garden is the one on Main Street, LeProvost said.

For some, like Anselmo, instead of waiting for a community garden plot, a parkway garden is the next best thing. In addition to homegrown produce, other benefits of the gardens include interacting with neighbors while working outside.

“Let’s get people outside and away from computer screens,” Morgan said. “Let’s work together and use those spaces.”

For more information on the Urban Forest Master Plan, visit www.smgov.net/portals/urbanforest.

 

ameera@smdp.com

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Article source: http://smdp.com/parkway-gardens-take-root/126317

Case studies: community initiatives and resident engagement

Pinnacle PSG is committed to improving the performance of frontline services at reduced costs while creating lasting and sustainable benefits and opportunities for the local communities in which we work. We have worked with residents, community groups, charities and our clients to develop a range of initiatives that protect the environment, create life opportunities, tackle important issues affecting communities such as unemployment and anti-social behaviour and deliver customer satisfaction at all levels.

Green spaces and the environment

City meadows and biodiversity – In consultation with residents and environmental advisory groups, we have designed, constructed and helped to maintain a number of exciting green spaces on estates which have been used to attract a greater variety of flora and fauna into urban areas. For instance, in partnership with the local Brockley community, we developed a butterfly garden on the Foxborough Gardens estate, and an inner-city meadow on the Hallfield Estate in Westminster. Both sites have been used by local schools to educate their pupils on conservation and wildlife habitats, as well as brightening up drab areas of estates.

Community gardens and play areas – We have developed numerous green havens and play zones for communities at no cost to residents or our clients. Examples include: a sensory garden in Canning Town, which transformed an ASB hotspot on an estate into a multi-sensory garden for residents, young and old; a new courtyard garden and pergola for residents within a sheltered housing scheme in Walsall; and a playground for children of the Ivybridge estate in Hounslow.

Cycle cinema and educational workshops – In Westminster and Woking we have held over 30 cycle cinema events whereby films are shown in public spaces on estates and powered by bicycles. These events have drawn huge crowds and have been replicated across many estates, drawing residents’ attention to the benefits of ‘green’ and renewable energy as well as promoting cycling as a sport and sustainable form of transport.

Health and wellbeing

Lambeth cricket initiative – We sponsor Surrey County Cricket Club and support the club’s efforts to grow the game of cricket in inner London with 495 local children attending cricket events last year. We support the development of the game through the Pinnacle Project, ‘Reach Your Pinnacle’ scholarship and the Howzat Project, a partnership with local schools to get children interested in sport, fitness and wellbeing.

• School football kits – We are keen to support clubs that encourage young people into sport and have sponsored the kits of three football clubs in Lambeth, Slough and Stoke-on-Trent.

• Healthy eating – We have used our gardening and landscaping knowledge to create zones within estates that inspire residents, local schools children and nurseries to take an active interest in healthy eating. For instance, in Brockley, and in partnership with the local TRAs, we have created an orchard and kitchen garden for local residents. In Lambeth, Hounslow, Westminster and many other areas of the UK we have created allotment beds for residents to provide them with space to grow their own herbs and vegetables. In Maida Vale, the vegetables grown in the allotment beds were used in a community Christmas dinner for elderly people.

Anti-social behaviour (ASB) and community cohesion

• Community fun days – We hold numerous fun days for residents throughout the year, all of which have an intergenerational and multi-cultural focus to help to promote community cohesion. In all seven villages that we manage within Westminster, we have organised annual summer fun days which have included talent competitions, bouncy castles, face painting, international dance lessons and crafts – these events, on average, attract over 200 people. In Woking we created a city farm on the Sheerwater estate and community food festival which encouraged residents to bring along dishes which best represented their cultures. At CTR Triangle in Canning Town, Pinnacle PSG worked alongside the TMO to host a community picnic to help to integrate families from across the estate.

• Boxing clubs – Boxing clubs have been set up in partnership with local clubs to help to combat ASB among young people on the Mozart estate in Westminster and CTR Triangle in Canning Town. These clubs along with other initiatives such as a ‘design a poster’ campaign around anti-gang violence and youth clubs have had a marked impact on levels of ASB on the Mozart estate in particular, an area suffering the effects of gang violence.

• Art projects – We have used art to help residents express their views on various issues affecting their community. Westbourne Park in Westminster has invited residents to come together to create artwork that will decorate the hoardings around a major regeneration project in their neighbourhood — the art will depict their emotions and hopes for the project. In Woking, residents created pieces of abstract artwork to decorate a dull, concrete balcony in Sheerwater which runs along the area’s high street.

The residents hope that by taking pride in their buildings and local environments, it will deter incidents of ASB.

• Working with the community – Our teams regularly meet with local safer neighbourhood teams, neighbourhood wardens, TRAs and anti-crime groups to create strategies to combat ASB in communities • Resident engagement tenant and resident associations – We actively support the local TRAs in the areas in which we work, offering guidance on funding bids, resources for local projects and platforms on which to raise their concerns and ideas. We have also helped residents to establish TRAs in areas devoid of a resident voice. For instance, the number of TRAs has increased substantially since Pinnacle PSG began work in 2007. In Brockley we also hold regular residents steering group meetings where residents are able to raise issues around service standards and learn of new developments to contract specifications.

• Annual residents conference – Each year we hold two regional residents conferences which attract over 200 active residents from communities in which we work. The conferences aim to provide residents with a platform to share ideas and best practice and learn about key policies and tackling issues which may affect their communities from industry experts.

• Community initiatives cafe – For the past five years Pinnacle PSG has sponsored the Community Initiatives Cafe at the Charted Institute of Housing annual conference in Manchester; an area of the exhibition which showcases community projects and provides them a chance to win funding to further the initiatives. This year Pinnacle PSG donated £2,500 over the three days of the conference to a boxing scheme, an internet cafe and a community garden project.

• Work It – We have begun a pilot scheme in Westminster were we are offering long-term unemployed residents between the age of 18-25 six month’s work experience in housing management at Pinnacle PSG. The aim is to provide residents with work and life skills which will enable them to secure permanent positions in the near future. So far six residents are on the scheme.

Content on this page is controlled by Pinnacle PSG

Article source: http://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/partner-zone-pinnacle-PSG/community-initiatives-resident-engagement

Forcing bulbs for the festive season

Hyacinths

It’s hard to think about Christmas now, but if you want some indoor bulbs to bloom for the festive season, you should take action now

Barely have you started to plant your spring-flowering bulbs, and it’s already time to think about the winter and how to replicate these blooms indoors, without spending a fortune.

The answer is to ‘force’ bulbs into flower, that is give them assistance to bloom far earlier indoors than they would normally outside.

Garden centres should now be stocking up on bulbs which are sold specifically for forcing, which may include fragrant hyacinths, large-flowered crocus, hippeastrums, miniature daffodils and a few tulips, which should be marked ‘prepared’ in the shop.

By growing bulbs indoors, in a warmer atmosphere than they are accustomed to in the garden, for all or part of their growing season, they’ll grow more quickly and flower earlier than they would otherwise. However, if you bring them on too quickly, they may fail.

You can use any type of pot because indoor bulbs can manage without drainage as they are being grown for such a short time, provided the container holds enough compost to accommodate the bulbs. It’s worth spreading a layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot to help drainage.

For best results go for bulb fibre when growing bulbs in containers with no drainage, as it has plenty of air space and often contains added charcoal which keeps the compost fresh, even if it becomes too moist. Alternatively, you can use multi-purpose compost.

Prepared hyacinths are the most popular bulbs for forcing and generally go on sale at the beginning of September, after being given a couple of weeks of cold treatment to make them think they’ve gone through winter.

Whatever you do, don’t leave ‘prepared’ bulbs for a few weeks in a warm environment before planting, or they will lose the cold effect they were given initially. Instead, store them in a cool, dark place and plant them by the middle of September if you want them to flower by Christmas.

For the best effect, plant bulbs of the same colour together. They should be planted close together on top of a depth of at least 6cm of compost, so they are not quite touching one another. Then fill the bowl to just below the rim with compost, so their growing tips are just sticking out above the surface. Don’t firm the bulb fibre down or it may hinder the root system establishing quickly. Make sure you don’t overwater them, just water the compost lightly.

Place the container in a cool, dark place such as the shed or a closed cupboard in a cold room for 10-14 weeks, to encourage the flowering stems to develop before the leaves. It also enables the root system to become well-established. If the bulb fibre becomes dry at any time, water carefully between the bulbs.

Don’t hurry them because insufficient time in the dark will result in stunted flowers or failure. When the leaf shoots are around 1-2in (4-5cm) high, move the container into a cool, light room. The flower buds which you can see between the tips of the leaves should just be starting to show signs of colour. If you remove the bulbs too early the leaves will grow too quickly and will obscure the flowers

If you want to delay flowering, put the bulbs outside in a sheltered position so the flowers develop more slowly, then move them inside, but not near a radiator.

Paperwhite narcissi and other dwarf narcissi may be given a cold preparation prior to sale and should be stored in a cold, dark place and then planted every couple of weeks from mid-September onwards to give you a succession of blooms from November to January. All other narcissi apart from paperwhites should have around 17 weeks of cold before being brought indoors to flower, planting them as you would hyacinths.

Article source: http://www.hertfordshiremercury.co.uk/Homes-and-Gardens/Gardening/Forcing-bulbs-for-the-festive-season-20130827150002.htm

Dallas Arboretum Launches $62 Million Children’s Adventure Garden Sept. 21





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DALLAS, Aug. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The spectacular result of nearly two decades of nationwide research will be revealed Sept. 21 as the iconic Dallas Arboretum unveils its $62 million Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden, a sprawling 8-acre interactive garden designed specifically to address state and national science standards in life, earth and environmental sciences. The Dallas Arboretum is setting the gold standard for outdoor children’s facilities with this garden – the only children’s educational garden of its scope in the world. 

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130826/DA69299)

A “museum without walls,” children and adults will learn about science and nature in the 17 indoor and outdoor galleries that teach the areas in the prekindergarten to middle school curriculum standards that can best be taught outdoors. Some concepts include photosynthesis, pollination, the solar system, erosion and energy.

The Children’s Garden aims to revolutionize the landscape of interactive learning through a unique blend of innovative technology, 150 interactive exhibits and natural elements. Among the engaging features are native Texas wetlands, a 240-foot treetop skywalk, a Honey I Shrunk the Kids-inspired world, and a 9,100-square-foot Exploration Center equipped with the OmniGlobe. One of 50 in the world, the OmniGlobe allows interactive animations to demonstrate real-time weather with an eight second delay, ecosystems, climate-related images, atmospheric changes and the solar system.

“The Dallas Arboretum is widely recognized as one of the leading botanic gardens in the world with nearly a million visitors annually, but few realize that it is also a premier educational facility that teaches life and earth science to more than 100,000 children every year,” said Dallas Arboretum Board Chairman Brian Shivers. “The opening of the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden will allow us to reach even more children and introduce them to the wonders of the world we live in through interactive exhibits based on the national and state curriculum standards for life and earth science.”

Following an extensive search, the Arboretum assembled a design team comprising Dattner Architects as building architect, MKW + Associates as landscape architect and Van Sickle Rolleri, Ltd. as exhibit designer. Construction began in 2011.

A comprehensive evaluation of how each topic could be best demonstrated through the outdoor space was then conducted with input from educational experts. Each of the 17 galleries’ academic design goals, key messages and objectives were considered.

The program was also examined for accuracy by teams of science teachers and the Scientific Advisory Committee, chaired by Dr. Johann Deisenhofer, who received his Nobel Laureate Prize in chemistry for his contribution to the understanding of photosynthesis. Southern Methodist University’s Annette Simmons Graduate School of Education, led by Dr. David Chard, dean of the school, has also advised on the academic design, and is evaluating and researching the effectiveness of the garden on children’s learning of science.

Former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Honorary Chair of the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden, said, “Science scores of American children are the lowest of all academic areas tested, with earth sciences the lowest of all. If our education system is going to keep up with the needs for our country, we have to interest children at a much earlier age in science, engineering and math. I believe that the Dallas Arboretum’s Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden does that by teaching science creatively.”

The Children’s Adventure Garden was made possible by the generous support of the City of Dallas and private and corporate donors. The lead gift was provided by Howard Meyers and his sons in honor of his wife and their mother, Rory Meyers, who is a longtime Dallas Arboretum board member and Education Committee chair. The Dallas Arboretum named the garden after her.

One of the leading botanic gardens in the world, the Dallas Arboretum is located on the southeastern shore of White Rock Lake at 8525 Garland Road, Dallas, Texas 75218. A part of the Dallas Arboretum, the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden is located at 8657 Garland Road, Dallas, Texas 75218. More information can be found at www.dallasarboretum.org.

SOURCE Dallas Arboretum

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Article source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dallas-arboretum-launches-62-million-childrens-adventure-garden-sept-21-221161701.html

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