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Archives for September 4, 2013

How to keep your garden flowering late into the autumn

How to keep your garden flowering this autumn
Colchicum “Waterlilly” (Picture: Sutton Seeds)

The weather men say it is now autumn and the last few days have been a bit nippy in the mornings and the sun, although quite strong, is definitely showing signs of autumn. Wasps have suddenly appeared and spiders are in their element fattening up for the winter.

The garden, whilst not looking too autumnal, has stopped growing, but by planting these bulbs and corms now you can have a swathe of bright colour late into the autumn.  Just the thing after the great summer we have had.

Sternbergia Lutea  – Autumn Daffodil, Lily-of-the-Field, Winter Daffodil, Yellow Autumn Crocus

Sternbergia Lutea (Picture: Sutton Seeds)

Although its common names suggest a daffodil or a crocus, in fact the Sternbergia is related to the Amaryllis! Found growing wild from the Mediterranean to Tajikistan, but is fully hardy in the UK.

Best of all the Sternbergias with large bright yellow globular flowers up to 15 cm high which will certainly brighten up the drabbest of autumn days!

Leaves do not appear until spring and it is free flowering once established. Buy now as bulbs and plant immediately 10cm deep in a good free draining soil in a sunny position. They are best not disturbed once planted and a warm dry period in summer is required for good flowering the following autumn.

Oxalis Versicolour   – Candy Cane Sorrel

Oxalis versicolor Floramedia
Oxalis Versicolour (Picture: Sutton Seeds)

The Oxalis mostly come from South Africa with a couple native in the UK.

Bicoloured Oxalis Versicolor (Candy Cane Sorrel) is a unique bulb with really spectacular flowers! It can be planted in the garden, but why not make a show and plant it in a container where it will happily provide you with flowers in about eight weeks time.

Very beautiful in full bloom, they are even more stunning when they have not quite opened up completely and display a striking red and white striped pattern just like a ‘Candy Cane’. Plant pointy end up about 3 cm deep and 10 cm apart. Water immediately after planting. They prefer full sun and a fertile well drained soil. Store your Oxalis in a frost free place over the winter or if left in the ground protect from frost.

Colchicum ‘Waterlilly’ – Autumn Crocus

This variety produces beautiful lilac-pink flowers without needing any compost or water. Each flower comprises over 20 petals and flowers and are unusual, attractive and eye-catching. The bulbs can simply be placed on the window sill. After flowering they can be planted out in the garden, and they can stay outdoors to hibernate throughout winter as they are completely hardy.

If you do grow them in the garden plant them 15cm deep and 10cm apart. Grows best in nutritious soil that is not too dry in a spot in full sun or partial shade. They can also be grown in lawns, but the leaves must be left to die down before mowing can begin.

‘Waterlily’ is an easy to grow plant

Crocus sativus   – Saffron

Crocus sativus, safran
Crocus Sativus (Picture: Sutton Seeds)

We don’t often think of bulbs as edible, but this beautiful autumn-blooming Saffron Crocus (Crocus Sativus) is, as its name suggests, the flower from which we gather saffron, the quintessential seasoning for paella and other Mediterranean dishes and perfect for adding to basmati rice for an authentic Indian curry!

The lilac-purple flowers produce vibrant red stigmas, which have been used for flavouring and colouring dishes since Roman times. It is as easy to grow as it is easy to harvest the saffron, but it’s not vital you do so – you may just wish to enjoy the lovely autumn flowers. They will thrive in a well drained border, or in a container on the patio. Plus they’re super-hardy (tolerant of summer heat and winter cold) and multiply rapidly from year to year.  Plant 10cm apart and 10-15cm deep.

Many attributes are given to Saffron as well as its colour and flavour – it is meant to be a mood enhancer and even an aphrodisiac! Although I have never been able to find out how much to take for either, purely in the name of research!

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LEAF TIPS: Garden & lawn advice from your UGA/Fulton County Cooperative …

Rolando Orellana


I’ve been spoiled by the taste of home-grown tomatoes and other vegetables this past summer. Can I continue to grow my own veggies through the fall and winter here in north Fulton?

We’re lucky to live in an area with a mild climate. Home vegetable gardeners in Fulton County have lots of great choices for growing their own vegetables in the fall. Many of the so-called super-foods such as kale, collards and spinach are ideal cool season vegetables for September planting. Just follow these simple suggestions and you can have a productive garden with healthful and tasty veggies for the months to come.

Preparation is key – If you already have a summer garden, now is the time to clean out the old plants and prepare the soil. Work in some compost, perhaps incorporating chopped up summer plants, along with a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10). Follow the label instruction. If you haven’t had a soil test recently, consider taking a soil sample to the Fulton County Cooperative Extension office at the North Fulton Service Center before doing any fertilization. For $8, you will receive easy-to-interpret pH and nutrient addition recommendations via email within two weeks.

Seedlings or Seeds? – Ideally, gardeners should start seeds for broccoli, cabbage, collards, kale, turnips and beets in August. If you haven’t already started seeds by now, many vegetables can be purchased as seedlings from garden centers. These will be ready to transplant into your prepared bed in September. Some plants such as spinach, lettuce and radishes are great to start as seeds right in your garden plot in September. No need to transplant.

Care and keeping of young veggies – Be sure to keep young seedlings watered while they are getting established and watch out for weeds which are growing rampant this time of year. Mulch applied between the rows will inhibit weed growth and help keep in moisture.

A balancing act – Getting fall vegetable crops established can be a balancing act. On the one hand, we need to start cool-weather plants early enough to allow them to get established before the cold weather sets in. Conversely, unseasonably warm weather lasting well into fall can subject new seedlings to diseases and insects, which flourish in the warm temperatures. With this in mind, it’s important to keep a close eye out for any early signs of pests or disease. Act quickly to rid your garden of these pests before they take over.

For more information on fall vegetable gardening, including disease and pest control, search the UGA College of Agriculture and Environmental Science publications website at You’ll find a plenty of specific “How To’s” for successful fall vegetable gardening.

Leaf Tip of the Week: Watering vegetable gardens early in the morning allows foliage to dry more quickly and helps prevent disease.

Rolando Orellana is the UGA/Fulton County Cooperative Extension Agent for north Fulton County. For answers to your specific gardening questions call the North Fulton Extension office at (404) 613-7670.

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The grass will be greener

If you want a whole new lawn, or simply want to repair an existing one, Hannah Stephenson looks at the best lawn seed mixes available

After a summer of being dried out by heat and trampled on by outdoor activities, your lawn may be looking a bit tired. If you want to restore any bare patches, or are even thinking of sowing a completely new lawn, early autumn is a good time to do it.

But how do you choose the type of seed for the job from the array of different grass seeds on the market?

Help is at hand from Which? Gardening, the Consumers’ Association magazine, who have just revealed the results of its test on 36 lawn seed mixes and repair kits, assessing both germination and appearance of the grass and coverage of each plot at monthly intervals.

Best overall lawn seed mix is Asda Multipurpose (£3 for 500g), which the survey says will give you a great looking lawn. In the trial, it established quickly, gave a dense, finer-leaded turf, was among the best in terms of coverage and appearance and recovered well after wear-and-tear tests.

The next highest scorer was Mr Fothergill’s Better Lawn (£5.99 for 500g, available from garden centres), which looked good throughout the autumn and following spring, recovered quickly after the wear-and-tear tests and had produced a dense sward by the end of the trial.

For those just repairing their lawn, the researchers recommend Miracle-Gro Patch Magic (£9.99 for 1kg, Tesco), which worked exceptionally well in the trial and established quickly. The plastic shaker contains coir and fertiliser with very little grass seed. The coir shows where you’ve scattered it and indicates where it needs watering. The grass is fine-leaved and green, but didn’t cope as well with wear-and-tear as other recommended lawn seeds.

Other recommended lawn-seed mixes include Wilko Multipurpose with ryegrass (£6 for 750g, Wilkinson), which produced tough grass with a good density throughout the trial, and Verve quick Start (£3.98 for 500g, BQ) which was one of the first in the test to germinate and completely cover the ground.

If you are sowing a new lawn, you’ll need to dig over the area thoroughly to allow free drainage, removing stones and weeds as you go, then incorporate organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. On heavy clay incorporate sharp grit and organic soil conditioner. On light soils just incorporate the organic matter.

Firm the ground by laying a plank of wood on it and walking over it several times. Then move the plank across the site until the whole area is firmed, but not compacted.

Next rake the area to produce a fine ‘tilth’ on which to sow the seed. You may need to rake repeatedly until the ground is level and the surface is crumbly.

Make sure you buy good quality grass seed which is the current season’s stock and choose the type to suit your needs. A lawn for a family-friendly garden may include a mixture of dwarf perennial ryegrasses to withstand heavy use, while a lawn just to look upon might be a mixture of fine tufted grasses. Always follow the instructions on the packet about seed distribution and don’t be tempted to sow more thickly than recommended.

To repair your lawn, loosen the soil in the bare patch with a fork, scatter grass seed and fertiliser over the area and rake lightly to work the seed into the soil. Water if it’s dry and cover with netting or fleece to keep off birds.

With a little help from the sunshine-warmed earth and the upcoming autumn rains, you should be able to give any lawn or lawn repair a head-start.

:: Sign up to Which? for a one month trial for £1 and get access to all its product reviews, test scores and Best Buy or Don’t Buy ratings. Visit for more information.

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Gresgarth Hall: a garden of calm waters and buzzing borders

Arabella has a strong attachment to her gardens and emphasises the importance
of a strong relationship with her clients. Her friendship with this client
is fascinating – they have very different lives but the garden has been the
common thread that has kept the relationship going.

Her first Chelsea Flower Show garden was in 1979, for Harpers Queen with
Michael Balston (for Willie Landels). It was beautiful; it had two Indian
tents and Moghul beehives with the design based around an Indian carpet.
Being Chelsea virgins, they committed the heinous crime of leaving some
plastic pots exposed “and the planting really was not good”, Arabella says.
But Russell Page, the landscape architect, commented, “I don’t often
compliment other designers, but I like this garden.” They won a silver gilt.

Her next Chelsea outing was in 1990, for The Daily Telegraph. The then
editor Max Hastings approached her saying, “Do what you want, I trust you.”
She won gold and has since won five more.

Arabella started working on her 12-acre garden at Gresgarth Hall, in
Lancashire, in 1978. It is, she says, her most important garden as it has
taught her so much. She married Mark, her second husband, in 1974 and they
moved there as he was MP for Morecambe and Lonsdale. At first sight,
Arabella was not enamoured with it. In Italy she had grown up on a hill
looking down on huge vistas and the staggering Italian landscape. Here, the
house was set in the bottom of a valley surrounded by heavy woodland. Mark’s
father referred to it as Wuthering Heights.

While carrying on with her design practice, Arabella set about clearing trees
to expose the undulating sides of the valley, beautifully shaped by natural
landslides many years ago. They enlarged a lake to create a larger mass of
water which bounces light into the site and creates a calm, romantic edge to
the formal steep-terraced part of the garden by the house. Octagons perch on
the edge of the terraces, creating elevated but intimate places to sit
overlooking the dramatic valley.

Walking around her garden, it was, for me, reminiscent of Chelsea press day,
buzzing with fascinated gardeners (it is open to the public 10 days a year)
admiring her trademark herbaceous borders backed by superb yew hedges. The
strong herbaceous players in her immaculate borders now are groups of her
favourite phlox, such as Phlox paniculata ‘Monica Lynden-Bell’, P.
‘Mount Fuji’ (white), P. carolina ‘Miss Linguard’ (white) and
Aconitum x cammarum
‘Bicolor’ with its violet blue and white flowers.

Arabella likes her borders to be two-to-four metres deep, to get a good depth
and mix of plants for colour and drama. These borders started off looking
good in early June with nepeta, geraniums and alliums, but they keep their
momentum going well into early autumn.

There is also a stunning walled vegetable garden and Arabella is planting a
large arboretum. A nursery area and greenhouse are home to plants grown from
seeds she has collected on expeditions to remote parts of the world.

Being a great garden designer requires many skills, not only design and
horticulture, but management and organisational skills. Arabella is
continually checking, scrutinising, adapting. But she still gets a frisson
when a new challenge arrives on her drawing board.

For more information visit Arabella

by Arabella Lennox-Boyd (Frances Lincoln, RRP £25) is
available to order from Telegraph
(0844 871 1514) at £23 + £1.35pp.

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American Institute of Floral Designers recognizes Tiger Garden supervisor

In the sea of pastel petals, there was one bridal bouquet that belonged to Kim Martin.

Martin, an instructor of floral design in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ Division of Plant Sciences, said the piece was crucial in her evaluation by the American Institute of Floral Designers at the 2013 National Symposium in Las Vegas. She constructed five floral designs in four hours with the hopes of receiving accreditation by the national institution.

On Aug. 26, two months after the symposium, she was invited back to the 2014 Symposium in Chicago to officially become a member.

“My main goal is giving Mizzou’s program some value,” Martin said. “I’ve been creating and building this program for a long time, and I want it to be a successful and valuable part of the industry.”

Martin serves as the supervisor of Tiger Garden, as well as the Certified Floral Designer adviser of the MU chapter of the Student American Institute of Floral Designers.

Through her accreditation, Martin said she hopes that other floral programs will recognize her student’s work on a broader and more professional scale.

“AIFD is a big deal in the industry,” Martin said. “So I think now other industry members will see us as having validity.”

Originally, Martin said she didn’t feel the need to go to the Las Vegas Symposium for official AIFD membership.

Martin said her close friend and mentor Karyn Brooke, owner of Sidelines Custom Floral Designs in Kansas City and AIFD member, motivated her to continue with her evaluations.

“Since I got CFD the first time I was evaluated, I didn’t need to go back to keep our chapter because we had other AIFD sponsors and I could be their adviser as long as I wanted to,” Martin said. “So I didn’t really have to test the second time, but Karyn told me she thought I should test again.”

Brooke said she felt confident in Martin’s abilities and believed her accreditation would help her students learn and grow.

“I think that, as the instructor of those students, she needs to represent what they can become,” Brooke said. “It says that this person cares about what they do enough to want to become the very best they can be.”

Brooke said she tried setting up some floral design programs with local schools in previous years and was very impressed with the program that Martin had been able to start at MU.

Brooke said she has done everything in her power to aid Martin and the MU chapter since meeting her students at the 2012 Miami Symposium, including helping Martin prepare for this year’s evaluation.

“I would call her a mentor, especially as far as AIFD goes,” Martin said.

Brooke said she felt that Martin succeeded in putting on an impressive show at the Las Vegas Symposium for her students and the judges.

“She showed the judges what she was made of,” Brooke said. “She knew how to work with a small amount of materials and make it extraordinary.”

Now Martin just has to wait for the 2014 Symposium, where she will participate in a pinning ceremony to become an accredited member.

Martin said she plans on attending future symposiums along with the MU chapter, not only to fulfill AIFD membership participation requirements, but also to give her students the experience as well.

“Education and learning new things through opportunities like symposium is really important,” Martin said. “That’s the purpose of the program.”

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What would you like to see on downtown Kingston properties that port owns?

Kori Henry, executive director at the Port of Kingston, uses a rake to spread gravel as she and fellow port employees work Tuesday on the site of the Kingston Inn.MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN

Photo by Meegan M. Reid

Kori Henry, executive director at the Port of Kingston, uses a rake to spread gravel as she and fellow port employees work Tuesday on the site of the Kingston Inn.

A sign marks the site of what will be waterfront green space on West Kingston Road.MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN

Photo by Meegan M. Reid

A sign marks the site of what will be waterfront green space on West Kingston Road.

Ray Carpenter, head landscaper for the Port Of Kingston, uses a pitchfork to unload mulch as he and port employee Steven von Marenholtz work Tuesday on the West Kingston Road property.MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN

Photo by Meegan M. Reid

Ray Carpenter, head landscaper for the Port Of Kingston, uses a pitchfork to unload mulch as he and port employee Steven von Marenholtz work Tuesday on the West Kingston Road property.

KINGSTON — Port of Kingston commissioners are asking for public input about what should be done with recently acquired downtown property.

The port purchased almost an acre of undeveloped land near the West Kingston Road-Central Avenue intersection in late March. The price tag for the land, which is two separate lots, was around $380,000, according to the port assistant business manager Jessica Olaine.

The second piece of property is located at 25882 Washington Blvd., where the Kingston Inn restaurant used to be. The restaurant burned down in 2005 when an electrical malfunction sparked a fire.

The 0.35-acre property was donated to the port through the Kingston Community Foundation in late June, Olaine said.

Olaine said the land cost $420,654, with roughly $380,000 donated to the port. The port paid the remaining amount, she said.

Port of Kingston commissioners aren’t sure what to do with the properties, which are undeveloped.

Port staff initiated an online survey last week asking for ideas.

The survey, which ends Sept. 20, asks participants six questions, such as what type of feature the areas should have. Sample choices include public art, covered area, playground and water feature. There also is the ability to write in a suggestion on the survey.

So far, the survey has had more than 30 responses, according to Olaine.

Features such as public art, playground and covered area have been suggested for the Washington Boulevard property, she said. Water features and beach access were suggested for the West Kingston Road properties. The properties have undergone light landscaping work since the port’s acquisition.

Commissioner Marc Bissonnette hopes the development draws the public and brings business to the downtown area.

A spray fountain has been tossed around as one idea for the properties, Bissonnette said.

It’s important for the port to figure out what it wants to do with the properties sooner than later, so port staff can apply for grants to pay for the projects, Commissioner Pete DeBoer said.

“This is the first step for us,” Bissonnette said of the survey, adding port staff will next render a drawing of the plans.

The Kingston Inn property came with the understanding that it would remain an open space and no commercial development will take place on the land, DeBoer said.

The additional properties bring the port’s land ownership to about 12.1 acres in the downtown Kingston area, Olaine said.

Commissioners and staff plan to discuss the properties and survey findings during port meetings Thursday and Sept. 18. Both meetings are 7 p.m. at the Kingston Cove Yacht Club, 25884 Washington Blvd.

The public is invited to bring suggestions to the meetings, DeBoer said.

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Six lawsuits seek payment from Wichita’s Complete Landscaping Systems

Complete Landscaping Systems Inc. is facing six lawsuits brought by companies claiming Complete owes them money. 

Josh Heck
Reporter- Wichita Business Journal

 | Twitter

Complete Landscaping Systems Inc. is facing six lawsuits brought by companies claiming Complete owes them money.

Complete’s owner says the issues stem from a lawsuit it lost involving a big customer, and that it’s taking steps to pay all bills.

Laura McMurray, Complete’s president and CEO, says her company is trying the best it can to navigate through a difficult situation. She says she can’t discuss ongoing litigation, but she acknowledges the company has unpaid bills it is working to pay off.

“I’m doing everything I can to rectify this,” McMurray says.

Last week, two lawsuits were filed in Sedgwick County District Court against Complete Landscaping. Maddox Irrigation Inc. sued on Aug. 14, and Agrium Advanced Technologies Inc. sued two days earlier.

Johnson’s Garden Centers sued Complete in March, claiming it is owed more than $59,000 plus $13,200 in accrued interest since December 2012, according to documents filed in Sedgwick County District Court.

Banker’s Bank of Kansas sued Aug. 2, claiming that Complete had an outstanding credit card balance of $26,130.

Agrium’s claim says it is owed $21,636, and Maddox Irrigation says it is owed more than $12,000 for work it performed for Complete Landscaping in Michigan.

LSI Staffing Solutions filed suit Aug. 5 claiming Complete owes it $4,000 for staffing services provided in 2012.

In April, Chad’s Landscaping Inc. filed a lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court for an undisclosed amount. Court records show that case is set for jury trial in January.

McMurray says Complete Landscaping’s troubles stem from a dispute with Bank of America. Complete sued the bank in U.S. District Court in June 2012, claiming the bank had breached confidential agreements and that it owed her company $5 million.

Josh Heck covers health care, legal services, professional services and education.

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Harahan to consider Colonial Country Club rezoning

Perhaps the most significant change in decades to Harahan‘s landscape comes before the Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday: the potential resubdivision and rezoning of the former Colonial Golf and Country Club. It’s one of the largest green spaces on the east bank of Jefferson Parish.

“It’s going to be possibly one of the biggest things to happen in Harahan,” said Dwayne Mara, the chairman of the seven-member panel.

The commission, which is appointed by the City Council, could vote to approve, reject or defer a vote on the Aug. 7 application from developer Stirling Properties. Its recommendation would go before the council for a binding vote as early as October.

The application seeks to set off 15 acres at the north end of the former golf course, along Jefferson Highway, and rezone that swath from residential to commercial. The developers propose a retail strip housing a bank, a pharmacy and a “high-end” grocery.

But commercial development on what is now used by residents as an unofficial public park has been a source of controversy. “Harahan likes the community to stay the way it is,” Councilwoman Cindy Murray said.

At the same time, City Hall has faced increasing financial pressures, and Mayor Vinny Mosca says increased tax revenue from commercial development would greatly help to dig Harahan out of a deficit.

In the decade or more since the country club began sinking into financial quicksand, the future of its 88 acres has clouded virtually every political debate in Harahan. Proposals have ranged from building condos and to preserving the property as green space. The mayor has sought a way to turn the land into a permanent park. But an application to divide the huge parcel of land into manageable slices, or to rezone a parcel away from residential, has never before reached the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“All the other projects over the last 12 years have been discussions or ideas,” said Stephen Villavaso, a land use expert who drafted Harahan’s current zoning ordinance and who trains the members of the commission. “Lots of people have talked about this. But this is the first time that someone has actually put in an official request.”

Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, businessman John Georges, who bought the course with a partner, sent council members a letter describing his intentions for the rest of the property. “I’m doing whatever they ask me for,” Georges said. “The council people wanted some green space; I gave them green space.”

He wrote that he will give 18 acres of the course to Harahan to use as green space and will use the back strip, about 250 yards wide near the Mississippi River levee, for the personal use for him and co-owner Wayne Ducote. He wrote that he will seek to find a financial backer to keep an additional 40 acres open as a park, to be kept up by Harahan.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Georges said. “Everyone says they’re for commercial. The confusion is what to do with the rest of the land.”

Councilman Eric Chatelain said he was pleased to have a plan for the rest of the land in writing. Murray, however, warned that Georges’ plan was described only in a letter and was not legally binding.

“It didn’t give me no warm and fuzzies,” Murray said. “There is no promise, no consent decree.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission will consider two separate issues: subdividing the property and potentially rezoning the front strip for commercial use.

To review a potential subdivision, members evaluate all issues created by setting a parcel of land off from its neighbor, Villavaso said. Those include drainage, sewerage, police protection, fire protection and landscaping. “Can you hook up sewer lines to the two properties?” he said, by way of an example.

Villavaso said subdivision issues are relatively easy to approve or disapprove, as they are based on measurable standards such as engineering studies, drainage studies and distances to the street curb.

He plans to be present to advise the commission, along with Richard Meyer, the engineer whose firm completed a recent drainage study of Harahan and its former golf course.

The commission must also make a separate recommendation for rezoning the land from R1 residential to C1 neighborhood commercial. That’s a more complex and emotional issue to consider, Villavaso said.

“Now you are giving this piece of property the ability to change the character of the property, of the neighborhood,” he said.

He suggests commission members look at how a re-zoning application fits the long-range vision of the community and meshes with the city’s master plan, a guiding document that should be interpreted — not followed by rote.

Also at play in the deliberation: public opinion. “I anticipate a packed house of people,” Mosca said.

“Let me put it this way,” Villavaso added. “I have been to a lot of late-night meetings in Harahan. And tomorrow night might be one of them.”

Villavaso said commission members are appointed not to represent a pocket of the city or a certain group of homeowners but rather the city as a whole. “It should listen to citizen input. That’s the purpose of the public hearing,” Villavaso said. “And it should conclude whether it is in the best interest of the city of Harahan.”

However, Villavaso said residents who do speak at such meetings typically represent a subset of the community at large.

“The national standard is a lot of people concerned or confused or scared or afraid of a project are the ones who will normally show up,” Villavaso said. But commission members, he said, must weigh those comments appropriately. “They have a responsibility to find out if there are two sides of the story.”

Mara, the commission chairman, said he considers public opinions in a rezoning but that it can be difficult effectively to weigh the emotional concerns of nearby homeowners. “The hardest thing is hearing from somebody who lives across the street,” Mara said. “If I was in their shoes, obviously I wouldn’t want to have any commercial development.”

Councilwoman Murray, who lives immediately upriver from the proposed retail strip, said most homeowners who have spoken to her are against it. “I want to hear what the people have to say,” she said. “This is an enormous task for us.”

Mosca urged the commission to consider the broader financial woes of Harahan. “If I can send one message to the members of the planning and zoning board, it is to please concentrate on what’s in the best interest for the city’s future, as opposed to the temporary opinions of those in closest proximity to the property.”

Murray said one of her concerns is how the development affected others’ property values.

That’s not appropriate, Villavaso said. “Property values are not an aspect of a planning and zoning decision,” he said. “Planning is about the betterment of the whole community. This goes back to the roots of zoning and land use regulation … which is based on protecting the health, safety and welfare of the entire community.”

If the commission chooses to make a recommendation either way, and not to defer, it will be introduced to the City Council in late September. Generally, the council votes in accordance with the commission’s recommendation.

But they are separate bodies, and in rare instances in the past the council have gone against the recommendations.

“We take it seriously,” said Murray, who previously served as a chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission. “That’s our first line of defense, our first line of response. … It’s my duty to listen to it.”

Councilman Tim Baudier said he’s ready to proceed.

“I don’t want to delay this decision,” said Baudier, who feared a deferral could scare off developers and businesses from operating at all in Harahan. “If I was a businessman and wanted to open my business in Harahan, I would say, ‘Don’t string me along.'”

“At some point, the process needs to start,” Georges said. He said that the project would be put at risk if zoning is not approved, as the businesses who would be interested in developing in the strip might move on.

Still, Georges said he is not interested in forcing a quick decision.

“I’m not rushing them,” he said. “If I wanted to rush them I’d put a fence around the whole thing tomorrow.”

The Planning Zoning Committee meets in the council chambers of Harahan City Hall at 7:30 p.m., 6437 Jefferson Highway, Harahan, LA.

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Inn at Twin Linden to be auctioned in Churchtown

A well-known bed and breakfast in an immaculately restored, 173-year-old Churchtown property is headed for auction.

The Inn at Twin Linden, at 2092 Main St., will be sold at noon on Saturday, Sept. 14.

Owners Sue and Norm Kuestner — who respectively dropped out of the corporate finance world and closed a jewelry business — left their Bucks County home nearly a decade ago to operate the inn, where they also live.

“We have always enjoyed entertaining and loved to be on the other side of the breakfast table,” Norm Kuestner said.

“We just fit the mold. We walked in the front door and fell in love with it,” Sue Kuestner added.

There are eight rooms — six inside the main estate that centers around a dining area with French doors that provide “an al fresco dining feel, even with the doors closed,” she said.

Those French doors lead along wrought-iron gates and winding paths through expansive gardens and a pergola — a favorite wedding location.

The two deluxe rooms offer private entrances behind the white-column estate building on the 2-acre property.

While the architecture, landscaping and views of the Welsh Mountains and the old Windsor Forge are steeped in history, the polished rooms with tastefully appointed lamps, drapes, mirrors and fresh flowers blend modern conveniences, such as whirlpool tubs, with rustic fireplaces and private candlelit tables for two.

Rooms feature fine linens, period furnishings and featherbeds. The meals served on Saturdays include a fixed-menu gourmet dinner and a full-course breakfast menu.

Stately trees that grace the property include a massive weeping beech tree that towers high above the Twin Linden buildings. The weeping beech once drew the interest of Longwood Gardens, which wanted to purchase it at one time, Sue Kuestner said.

“We think it was planted around 1940 and it is much too big to move now,” she said. “It is a great tree for kids to play. We have older adults who stop by and tell us how they would stop by and play in this tree on the way home from school.”

The Twin Linden name actually comes from two other trees planted on the west side of the gardens.

Robert Jenkins, wealthy ironmaster for Windsor Forge, had the Italianate-style home built in 1840 as a wedding present for his daughter Sarah, who married Alfred Nevin, according to Yvonne Styer, president of the Caernarvon Historical Society.

It was called the Nevin Mansion, but later named “Twin Linden,” based on two trees that were planted to celebrate Sarah and Alfred’s wedding.

Research has uncovered that Gen. George Washington may have purchased cannonballs from the Windsor Forge during the Revolutionary War and perhaps stayed on Windsor property, Norm Kuestner said.

Styer agreed that Washington was definitely in Churchtown but there’s no proof to verify the things he did there.

“We know he was looking for cannonballs and he may have stayed at Windsor property because Mrs. Jenkins was a very welcoming person,” Styer said. “But we have no proof of it so we can’t say for sure.”

The Windsor Mansion remained a private residence until 1955, when Francis Steuart purchased it and established the Twin Linden Home for Aged Men and Women. Around the early 1960s, the building was converted to three rental apartments owned by Jerald and Elizabeth Marin.

The Inn at Twin Linden, as it is known today, began in 1987 when the building was purchased by Robert and Donna Leahy. The Leahys, who restored the property to the look and feel of the Original Nevin Mansion, operated for 18 years until the Kuestners bought it in the summer of 2005.

They say they’ll miss running the inn but are ready to start another chapter in their lives that includes their young grandchildren living in Bucks County.

“We’re very proud that the business is very much alive and well,” Sue Kuestner said. “We’re kind of going out on top since business has increased every year since we owned it. The new owners will have a turnkey business.”

The property will be auctioned at noon on Saturday, Sept 14, by Annville-based Fortna Auctioneers and Marketing Group.

For more information on the Inn at Twin Linden, visit or Fortna Auctioneers and Marketing Group at

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Spring into a garden

{ story.summary|safe|escape }

  • Open gardens: Leonie Hogue is on the committee of the Australian Plant Society, Sutherland Group which is celebrating their 50th anniversary by opening seven shire gardens on Sept 7. Picture: Sam Moore

The Australian Plants Society Sutherland Group is hosting an open day at seven suburban gardens this Saturday.

Entry to the gardens will be free as part of the group’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Australian Plants Society Sutherland Group spokeswoman Leonie Hogue (pictured) said the gardens were mostly native with an occasional exotic in the mix.

‘‘We have lots of local species as many of our members are keenly interested in the shire council nursery and we also have natives from all over Australia,’’ she said.

‘‘The open gardens range from open sunny blocks, steep wooded bushland to cool, ferny, shaded blocks.

‘‘Everyone will get great ideas for plant selection and landscaping.’’


Do you know of any nice gardens in your area? Click on the comment link below. 

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