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Archives for September 3, 2013

Quick tips to keep bees buzzing in your garden | Washington State Department …

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has developed a new pamphlet meant to help guide home gardeners on the ways to protect bees and other pollinating insects from the possible effects of certain pesticides.

The guide, “10 Ways to Protect Bees from Pesticides,” offers information on pesticide use and bees, web sites with information on the topic, and tips to reduce the risk to bees.

One tip is to avoid applying pesticides to plants when they are in bloom, since this is when bees are most likely to visit the plants.  Another tip urges home users to read pesticide labels closely and look for specific instructions regarding the protection of bees and pollinators.

“There has been a growing concern about the health of bees and other pollinators in Washington and across the country,” WSDA Director Bud Hover said. “Our agriculture community and our environment need these pollinators, and sharing information like this is one way we can help more people do their part to protect our bees.”

In addition to making honey, bees pollinate a variety of fruit and vegetable crops. It is estimated that the value of the crops pollinated by bees in Washington state was more than $2.75 billion in 2011. While no large bee deaths have been reported in Washington in recent years, there has been a general decline in the state’s bee population and significant bee death incidents elsewhere.

According to pollinator experts, the possible reasons for the decline of honey bee colonies may include parasites, disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticides. In mid-August, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new pesticide labels that prohibit the use of some neonicotinoid pesticides where bees are present.

WSDA has posted the pamphlet on its website and has advised retail associations that it is available so they can share the information with homeowners purchasing pesticides in local businesses.

For more information or copies of the pamphlet, email or call 360-902-2078.

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Time Out: Boogaerts’ landscape design art

Florence Boogaerts’ talent as a landscape designer is nowhere more apparent than at her hillside home in Cos Cob. Her garden has drawn countless visitors on garden tours for many years. With help from her late husband, architect John Boogaerts, she built the bones of the garden from the plentiful supply of stones on the property. Florence Boogaerts then put her planting magic into play.

Boogaerts has visited the world’s gardens in Europe, Asia and beyond, and when she’s not incorporating what she has learned into her clients’ gardens, she’s teaching it in her classes at the New York Botanical Garden. To learn more about her work as a landscape designer, Greenwich Time asked her a few questions.

Q: What initially inspired you (and why) toward landscape design?

A: I grew up in New Orleans, where the heat, humidity and bugs did not inspire me to garden! It was not until I was living in Manhattan, of all places, that I became interested in gardening. Two events occurred. A friend and I took on a section of Central Park and raised money to replant it. It was an exciting experience to make something more attractive that would be appreciated by so many people. At the same time, I planted trees all along our block as a surprise for my husband for his birthday. The press coverage of `Mr. Boogaerts Birthday’ brought me my first job — planting trees for the Lauder Foundation on the Upper East Side.

Q: When did you become a landscape designer?

A: I started work as a landscape designer in 1988. I had studied architecture and art history at Tulane University. When my interest in garden design began, I took classes at the New York Botanical Garden and obtained a certificate in landscape design. In one of my classes on garden history, I realized that I would rather teach the class than take it. Now, I do teach design and history classes there.

Q: Where has most of your work taken you? What are you working on now?

A: I work on residential projects, large and small, in Westchester and Fairfield counties. There have been some that have taken me further afield. One was in St. Maarten, which was a lovely job necessitating a whole new plant palette.

Q: What is the creative process of a landscape designer?

A: The needs of the client come first. Sometimes, people cannot express what they want, therefore it is my job to help them. What do they really want the garden to look like? The site considerations such as shade created by trees, type of soil, terrain and rock outcrops all contribute to the design decisions. And yet each job is different. Is the garden going to look completely natural with native plants? Is it going to be a design statement and will it enhance the architecture?

One creates the structure of the garden first, and then the plants are selected. It is a complicated process as the growth habits of each plant has to be considered. Does it like dry soil or wet, sun or shade? How fast does it grow? What is its ultimate size? Will it live in our climate?

The creative process is a series of decisions with two goals. I want both client and plant to be happy.

Q: What other landscape designers have inspired your work?

A: A collaboration I have admired is that of the architect, Edwin Lutyens, with his strong sense of design and Gertrude Jekyll, a great plants woman and colorist. Their work together is a combination of the strength of carefully crafted stonework and terracing enhanced by the subtleness and joy of carefully chosen plants. Their work has the ease, strength and beauty also seen in a ballerina. The gardens of the Mughal Empire were filled with music, flickering candles, fragrance, food and dance. The designers may be unknown — but the pleasures of these gardens are an inspiration.

Q: If you had to choose three notable gardens or landscapes as your favorites, what would they be?

A: There is much it to admire within three great schools of garden design: the Italian Renaissance, and the Japanese and English gardens. Villa Lante in Bagnaia, Italy is one of my favorites. It must have been a splendid garden for a party. It is all about the symbolism, spaces and the proportions. Katsura in Kyoto, Japan is the most photogenic garden I have visited. It was designed so that every step you take your feet are in the right place and everywhere you look the view is perfected. Hestercombe in England by Luytens and Jekyll, with its splendid design, incorporates the vistas of the English countryside.

Q: What garden or landscape do you have on your horizon to visit?

A: I have returned to Japan four years in a row and plan to go again this fall. Both the stroll gardens and the dry landscapes have been a revelation to me. The refined design that is evident not only in the gardens but also in the presentation of food, in clothing and architecture is endlessly inspiring. Scotland is on my list for next summer and the gardens of Spain would be wonderful to see.

Traveling with gardening friends is one of my greatest pleasures.

On Sept. 15, Florence Boogaerts will lead a Horticultural tour of the late David Wierdsma’s French Farm at 516 Lake Ave. as part of the Greenwich Historical Society’s “Frolic at French Farm” event. For more information, visit or call 203-869-6899.

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Learn about trends in container, garden design at the Garden Club of Fort …

While the heat of summer is drawing to a most welcome close, gardeners are beginning to gear up for the coming season of planting. With that in mind, the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 30, noted author Pamela Crawford will present her program: Latest Trends in Container and Garden Designs. Topics will include Easy Container Impact, Creating Personal Spaces, and Create a Living Wall. In addition there will be vendors, refreshments, book discounts and a friendly group of people who love plants.

Whether your interests lie in outdoor landscape or patio planters, you will enjoy this morning. Crawford has carefully researched Florida gardening and offers a respected perspective for our area. You will find that her books are user friendly resources filled with practical information.

Make room in your schedule to join the Garden Club of Ft. Pierce for an informative morning.

Details: 9-11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Glidden Park Center, 911 Parkway Drive (Georgia and 10th Street), Fort Pierce. Admission is $10.

Registration form pdf is available at:…

For more information, contact Diane Orme at or 772-595-0663.

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Downtown Leadership Council, Historical Preservation Commission object to …

The Historic Preservation Commission and the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council have asked City Council to reject a rezoning request to build CVS Pharmacy.

During a meeting Tuesday, the DCLC met with Robert Hollis, the attorney representing CVS Pharmacy, to discuss their concerns with the rezoning request. The requests asks for permission to build a CVS Pharmacy on the southeast corner of Providence Road and Broadway, DCLC Chairman Brent Gardner said.

“The attorney representing CVS showed up and there was some back-and-forth between us,” Gardner said. “There was quite a bit of sentiment that this is the wrong location for the pharmacy.”

Councilman Ian Thomas, who attended part of the meeting on Tuesday, said he would be looking at the benefits of business downtown and pedestrian safety concerns when the rezoning proposition is brought to city council.

“I haven’t looked at all of the details, but in general a business coming into the downtown area is a good thing,” Thomas said. “But I have heard that this store will have a drive-thru, and I am not a fan of drive-thrus in largely pedestrian areas. That is one thing I will be looking at when it comes to the council.”

Some of the other main concerns are with the aesthetic look of the building and the busy traffic in that area, Gardner said.

“It is right at the entrance of downtown, the back will face Broadway, and traffic in and out will be cumbersome,” Gardner said. “CVS has a very suburban design. Downtown is urban, multistory. (CVS) is not a urban design, it is a suburban design.”

Thomas said meeting attendees also discussed alternatives to the CVS.

“One thing we talked about was a gateway to the downtown area at Broadway and Fourth and the possibility of narrowing Broadway and creating an attractive pedestrian crossing at that location,” Thomas said. “I support that as being a gateway to downtown Columbia.”

The DCLC drafted a letter to the Planning and Zoning Commission expressing its concerns over the rezoning request. A letter will also be sent to the city council, Gardner said.

“We have already written the letter and sent it to Planning and Zoning,” Gardner said. “It should be sent to city council before their next meeting on Tuesday.”

In the letter, the DCLC proposed alternative ideas for development at the intersection.

“The city owns more than 8,000 square feet of property at this major intersection to Columbia’s downtown that could be the future location of signature landscaping and signage to downtown, downtown gateway, public art, green space and extension of MKT trailhead,” the letter stated. “Instead of accepting the applicant’s request for deeded right-of-use, the City of Columbia should begin land acquisition for the expansion of Flat Branch Park.”

The rezoning request was originally scheduled to be presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission during the Aug. 8 meeting, but it was instead advertised for the Aug. 22 meeting.

The applicant, Mark Stevenson who owns the lot on which CVS would be built, then submitted a request for tabling to the Sept. 5 meeting, City Planner Steve MacIntyre said.

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Shiloh oasis: A backyard waterfall, a shady garden … and Irish Spring soap?

Carroll and Sandy Wheeldon are a gardening team.

“I am the one with all the ideas,” said Sandy. “He’s the labor.”

It works.

The Wheeldons, both retired, moved into their Shiloh home in 2001. They bought the lot partly because of a towering white oak tree in the middle of the backyard.

“It puts the house in shade by 1 in the afternoon,” said Sandy.

The white oak stood in the midst of dense woods. Before their five-bedroom brick home was built, they started reclaiming the backyard.

“It was a jungle,” Sandy said.

“I pulled a 63-foot grape vine out of that tree,” said Carroll. “I tugged and tugged. Another one, me and a guy bigger than me were swinging on. We couldn’t get it out of the tree.”

They won the battle.

The neat, deeply wooded garden along the back of their yard is a shady oasis with winding brick paths and shade-loving perennials. An arched wood bridge spans a usually dry rock creek bed. Statues add interest. Wind chimes made by Sandy’s father, hang from a sassafras tree.

“We love the whole setting,” said Carroll, “how peaceful and quiet it is back here.”

“I love to come out from 8 to 10 in the morning,” said Sandy. “Kids are in school. People are at work. All you hear is water running and birds.”

The sound of water running comes from a waterfall and pond, located on the sunny side of the yard. Goldfish filled the pond until a blue heron spotted the action. In two days, he cleaned out 35 six-inch goldfish.

The water feature became part of their yard after Sandy spotted just the right one at a St. Louis home show. With their landscaping, the backyard waterfall and pond turned out nice enough that they were invited to be on the St. Louis Water Gardening Society’s tour last year.

“The most frequently asked question on the tour was, ‘What do you have hanging back there?’ said Carroll, pointing out white blocks in the garden. “It’s Irish Spring soap. If you put it out, deer won’t bother plants.”

The Wheeldons credit Skip Soule from Lagniappe (a Cajun term that means “a little something extra”) of O’Fallon, with the landscaping around the house that includes rows of azalea bushes and rhododendron. They were put in the year they moved in. They invited him back to build their circular garden walk, and put in shade plants.

The most recent project was a pondless waterfall in the front yard.

“We just picked him out of the phone book,” said Sandy, walking along a garden path. “He knows plants really well. He’s good at picking plants that blossom at different times of year.

“These are bleeding hearts, which in the spring are gorgeous.”

Skip, a landscaper for more than 30 years, tries out new plants on his own wooded lot before introducing them to clients’ landscapes. The Wheeldons’ yard has been an ongoing project for him.

The slope of the yard called for retaining walls.

“There are 13 tons of gravel in this one,” said Carroll. “I know. I hauled it all in.”

The garden with its ferns, hostas and variety of trees continues to evolve.

“We came up with ideas from here, there and elsewhere,” said Sandy.

When grass doesn’t grow in the deep shade, they try plants. There’s not a weed in sight.

“What we do, we wait until the oak blossoms fall,” said Carroll,” then we put the mulch down. We put it down heavy and we don’t have to pull weeds the rest of the summer.”

Just beyond the pond is the Wheeldons’ vegetable garden. It was a sea of red tomatoes last week. They also grow peppers and cucumbers.

“I probably will be canning this afternoon, 50 to 100 quarts,” said Sandy. “I can whole tomatoes.”

“We don’t have to buy them for spaghetti or chili,” said Carroll.

“Because my mother canned, she taught me to can,” said Sandy. “I have never bought a can of tomatoes in my life. Now, my mother is 85. She’s not able to, so I take her tomatoes.”

Carroll is originally from Washington. Sandy is from Missouri.

“My dad grew up in central Missouri. around Fort Leonard Wood,” she said.

Sandy met Carroll met when he was stationed there.

The Wheeldons moved to the metro-east in 1988. Carroll, a U.S. Army lieutenant-colonel, retired from the service two years later, then took a computer job with Mitre Corp.

“We liked Shiloh,” said Sandy. “Everything was close that we need, but it was still country living. We liked the open area.”

“The main reason we picked this lot, it gives you the privacy. It’s gorgeous in the wintertime when you get snow.”

Both retired three years ago in July.

“I was not allowed to relax until she did,” said Carroll.

“When we’re out here, we look at each other and wonder, ‘How did we do al this and work at same time? We do not know.”

They do know they’ve slowed down in the last five or six years. For the last four, they’ve talked about selling their house.

“He was ready,” said Sandy. “It broke my heart.”

Now, they’re both ready to downsize, to move to a condo and let someone else inherit their oasis.

“We want to enjoy retirement,” she said, “and do some traveling.”

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Sacramento landscaping company cited for wage theft

Sacramento landscaping company Green Valley Landscaping Services has been cited with $665,000 in wage theft violations.

Sacramento landscaping company Green Valley Landscaping Services has been cited with $665,000 in wage theft violations.

Kathy Robertson
Senior Staff Writer- Sacramento Business Journal

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California Labor Commissioner Julie Su has cited a Sacramento landscaping company with $665,000 in wage theft violations over a three-year period.

Sanctions against Michael Mello, owner of Green Valley Landscaping Services, include minimum wage violations of $338,175 for more than 40 employees, $169,088 in unpaid overtime and $157,500 for failure to provide itemized wage statements as required by California law.

The violations occurred between Aug. 9, 2010 and Aug. 8, 2013. Efforts to reach Mello or Green Valley Landscaping were unsuccessful.

The Labor Enforcement Task Force, a multi-agency group formed to combat the underground economy, kicked off an investigation of Green Valley Landscaping in May 2012 after receiving a complaint and individual claims for underpayment of wages to workers and potential misclassification of employees as independent contractors.

Investigators found Green Valley was using a workforce of up to 43 employees while reporting less than 10 on the payroll. Further investigation showed the rest were misclassified as independent contractors.

“Misclassification of employees as independent contractors harms legitimate businesses and cheats the hardworking men and women on California who are entitled to a just day’s pay for a hard day’s work,” Su said in a news release. “This is a tactic by unscrupulous employers to deny workers’ pay for every regular hour worked and overtime. Misclassification is also used to cut costs and to underbid projects, making it extremely difficult for legitimate contractors to compete.”

The Labor Enforcement Task Force includes investigators with the Labor Commissioner’s Office and California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as the Employment Development Department, Contractors State License Board, California Board of Equalization, California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control and California Bureau of Automotive Repair.

California workers and employers can contact the task force hotline at 855-297-5322 to report documented complaints and enforcement tips.

Kathy Robertson covers health care, law and lobbying, labor, workplace issues and immigration for the Sacramento Business Journal.

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