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Archives for September 18, 2013

Introducing Porch, America’s First Home Improvement Network: See Neighbors …

SEATTLE, Sept. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Porch today announced the national launch of the first home improvement network, free for neighbors, friends, and professionals to use. This is the first step for Porch in organizing the world’s home information to make home improvement easy, connected, and delightful. This follows Porch’s announcement of a $6.25 million seed round and beta release in June 2013. Pre-launch, more than 100,000 people in limited regions have visited Porch to find professionals.

Today, neighbors and friends can use Porch to improve their home by exploring neighbors’ projects, seeing what they spent, and the professionals they used and loved. Porch protects the anonymity of homeowners and renters by not revealing address information or precise locations of neighbors’ homes on its map.

“Until now, a roof repair, kitchen remodel, or backyard landscaping project has been frustrating and painful because there is no single source to evaluate projects, understand costs, and find professionals based on trusted word of mouth recommendations,” said Matt Ehrlichman, Porch Chairman and CEO. “Porch is changing this by organizing home project information and providing transparency for everyone across the country to know which professionals have done specific types of projects, at precise costs, for neighbors and similar homes. This is just the start for Porch — we are committed to adding tools and information to make it easy for everyone to improve and maintain their homes based on their priorities.”

Porch has specific data on more than $2 trillion worth of home improvement projects from the past 15 years. Porch also has insight into 75% of US homes and 90 million home improvement projects, including dates, cost, photos, and service professionals used at a specific address.

Porch is for the homeowner and renter
Finally, finding a home professional is free, social and local with Porch. On Porch, people can:

  • Hire the right professionals for their home: Find professionals that have worked in their neighborhoods, on similar homes, and that their neighbors and friends endorse.
  • See past projects completed nearby: Be better informed about home investments by exploring all types of projects neighbors have completed from remodeling to home cleaning and associated costs.
  • Browse photos and create scrapbooks: Get inspired with beautiful home design photos and create scrapbooks to share ideas with professionals and friends.

Porch is for the professional
More than 1.5 million professionals are on Porch across 250 repair, maintenance, and improvement categories. Porch professionals experience more business, better exposure, and higher revenue. It’s free to join and create a business profile to showcase unlimited work experience and photos, gain exposure to neighbors and friends of past clients, and solicit endorsements. Professionals who want to maximize their exposure on the platform and get competitive insights on pricing can turn on Marketing and Analytics tools for just $35 per month.

Porch is for you 
Create a free account today on Porch and get $50 toward your next home project from Porch has other unique collaborations in the works that will connect millions of homeowners and professionals. The company plans to make several announcements in the coming months around these partnerships, its Board of Directors, experienced leadership team, feature enhancements, and continued momentum.

About Porch
Porch is the first and only home improvement network that connects homeowners and renters with the right professionals based on who neighbors have used, project and cost history, and friend and neighbors’ endorsements. Porch is free and always will be. In addition, Porch helps home professionals get more business, better exposure, and higher revenue with free business profiles and paid Marketing Analytics tools.

PR Contact
Contact: Asha Sharma of Porch, +1-262-497-2398,
Press Assets:
Hashtag: #porchview



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Renew the Vision

Who or what is Reedsburg?

That was the question at Monday’s branding meeting, where the room was full of interested citizens pondering the question.

The results of a telephone survey of 18 out-of-towners, chosen because of their familiarity with Reedsburg, resulted in the conclusion that Reedsburg has a nice downtown and is a nice community. The city’s greatest assets were listed as the 400 Trail, downtown, Butterfest and the Madison Area Technical College. The two suggestions for changes were to improve the looks of the Wis. Highways 23/33 corridor, and to move the airport.

“I’m not sure where we should move the airport,” City Administrator Ken Witt quipped.

The words used to describe Reedsburg were hometown, all-American, vibrant, prosperous, solid and forward-thinking.

Jenny Erickson, community resource development educator with the Sauk County University of Wisconsin Extension office, led the meeting.

“A brand is what your community is, a shared vision,” she said.

“We need to understand our past before we can go to our future,” Witt said. “Community is the word it comes back to.”

A group also visited Reedsburg from Dodgeville, a city about the same distance from Madison and also not on an interstate, while a Reedsburg group visited Dodgeville.

“We noticed there were no bars on Main Street (in Dodgeville),” reported Kristine Koenecke, Reedsburg Chamber of Commerce. “We found out there was an ordinance against it. Their streets are narrower, with not as many sidewalks. Some of the store fronts had darkening glass; we wouldn’t have gone in them if we weren’t supposed to. It was nice inside, but it made me think how the landscaping, the open signs, the sidewalks here, are critical.

“Also, they don’t have an industrial park. It made me realize how lucky we are. I came back with new appreciation for Reedsburg.”

Witt said signs were one of the things mentioned by the group who came to Reedsburg.

“They said the people were very nice when they stopped to ask, but there weren’t many signs for anything,” he said.

Again, the 23/33 corridor was mentioned as something that needs improvement in Reedsburg. Several in Monday’s meeting suggested flowers and trees along the corridor to beautify it.

“What they do (in Wisconsin Dells) to beautify is very simple,” Koenecke said. “Flowers and trees. Every business has flowers. We’re a Tree City. I’d love to see some trees and flowers along there. Dig up some concrete if you need to. If you saw a lot of trees and flowers coming in, think how wonderful it would look.”

Brainstorming for a brand for Reedsburg produced numerous ideas: hometown feel, even to those from elsewhere; balanced between business and residential, between old and new, and between industry and retail; friendly; cutting edge; nice place to raise a family; full of amenities such as the hospital, the 400 Trail, a golf course, library, lots of events, lots of parks, infrastructure including fiber optics lines, schools, the Baraboo River and much more.

There were suggestions for creating a district, such as the River District in the Dells, and for banners.

Some phrases that were suggested were, “City that Flourishes,” “Make Reedsburg Home,” a “Welcoming Community,” “Quality of Life,” “Back to the Land,” “Where the Country and Town meet,” “Explore Your Hometown,” and “Feels Like Home.”

“We have 30 families a year move here, every one because they had that feeling, such a good feeling,” Koenecke said. “I don’t know how you quantify that.”

Witt said whatever becomes the brand must feel authentic. Several at the meeting agreed that visitors and residents alike need to get out of their cars and walk the city. The old tradition was mentioned of all businesses being open on Friday nights, when everyone would come to town and walk the streets.

“As the stores emptied, we developed more professional services, like law offices, banks and hair salons,” Koenecke said. “People don’t get out to shop at those. It’s a lot more fun when you can walk around several stores.

“I can’t shop in your stores if you close at 5 at night. We see this a lot with trail people. There is no place for them to shop on a Sunday. If you want residents to walk into your stores, you need to be open on a Friday night. Until we can convince stores to be open a certain night, it won’t work. We have 25,000 people (in this area) who can come shop here at night.”

Witt, Koenecke and others on the branding committee will meet in the next couple of weeks to try to categorize all the suggestions. The committee will then bring the results back to a public meeting, yet to be scheduled.

Article source:

Developers, government see major changes for Sarasota – Sarasota Herald

Combined, the investments could dramatically reshape Sarasota’s urban core — with new condominiums, hotel towers, more landscaped sidewalks and traffic roundabouts along U.S. 41 from the bayfront to University Parkway.

The list of ambitious new proposals follows a near-halt of commercial development during the Great Recession. With housing making a comeback, and visiting tourists opening up their wallets in record numbers, officials now believe the timing is again right to discuss redevelopment plans that, in some cases, date back more than a decade.

But several lingering issues continue to stand in the way.

“We have a lot of exciting projects going on, and we have some good opportunities here to try and bring the products we want downtown,” said Norman Gollub, the downtown economic development coordinator who works with the city, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and the Sarasota Downtown Improvement District.

“We need to transition away from marginal operators,” he told about 150 business owners, Realtors and developers gathered Tuesday morning to discuss the latest proposals during a meeting of the Sarasota Association of Realtors’ Commercial Investment Division.

City officials pointed to a downtown merchant base that is largely built on small mom-and-pop businesses, with a lack of prominent anchors on Main Street, and infrastructure that is not friendly to pedestrians or bicyclists.

Sarasota planners are now in the early stages of crafting an inventory database of downtown businesses, including gross square footage, sales and shopper demographics to identify the district’s biggest needs.

The idea is to use those findings to help lure retailers, restaurants and younger demographics downtown.

Gollub said the top issue currently hurting downtown cash registers is vagrancy, with many merchants even willing to pay higher taxes for bolstered security measures.

Another issue is the fact that many stores and businesses downtowny close at 5 p.m., despite studies that suggest 70 percent of retail sales occur after normal business hours and on weekends.

Some downtown landlords are now writing mandatory operating hours into their leases, forcing shops to stay open later, Gollub said.

He also said the retail and office space adjacent to the Hollywood 20 movie theater has been poorly used, that Main Street needs another shopping anchor near the Herald-Tribune building, and that merchants should come together to offer more promotions to bring customers downtown.

“Main Street is very long with heavy traffic on each end, but not much going on in the middle,” Gollub said. “We need more pedestrian generators.”

Private sector

Sensing the market’s rise, developers are resurrecting ideas for downtown not seen in years.

Potential growth has also prompted city officials to expedite planned road, sidewalk and landscaping improvements in and around downtown.

The private-sector projects are led by a luxury condo tower dubbed “The Jewel” at Main Street and U.S. 41; Kolter Group’s 18-story condo project and twin Westin hotel planned at Gulfstream Avenue and U.S. 41; a townhome development on Ringling Boulevard known as “Q”; and a handful of other downtown lodging projects.

Other potential projects include nearly 8,300 square feet of new commercial space proposed for the Payne Park plaza and new retail space at 1515 Fruitville Road.

City officials also maintain that they are still hopeful commercial projects might rise at the former Sarasota Quay and behind the Gator Club, a mixed-use project known as Pineapple Square.

But even while the local economy is climbing, commercial vacancy rates in downtown Sarasota continue to exceed those of other thriving communities.

“Downtown Sarasota is the beneficiary of an improved commercial real estate market,” commercial broker Ian Black said. “Everywhere right now is experiencing a definite increase in activity. There’s no reason Sarasota shouldn’t see the same.”

Public sector

That uptick in downtown investment has fanned a similar boost in government spending.

The city is now underway on a $5 million beautification project to improve the urban core with new sidewalks, new plants and the burying of overhead utility cables.

To handle increased traffic, the city will also install a series of new roundabouts at major intersections along Tamiami Trail, between University Parkway and Mound Street. The Downtown Master Plan 2020 called for four roundabouts, including two planned at Orange Avenue and Main Street and Ringling Boulevard and Orange Avenue.

City planners hope the roundabouts create new business nodes in areas that have struggled to draw consumers, while also making the corridor safer for both pedestrians and drivers. There have even been talks about planting sculptures in the middle of each roundabout to beautify the area.

“This will make Sarasota more multimodal,” said Steve Stancel, chief planner for the Sarasota neighborhood and development service center. “Traffic and pedestrians trying to cross 41 is a problem. Using roundabouts can slow down traffic from 50 to 35 miles per hour, but you can push the same number of vehicles through because they’re moving constantly.”

Plans for the North Trail also call for new medians to separate traffic, with narrower lanes to reduce speeding, and new landscaping and a multi-use trail along parts of U.S. 41.

The city is also looking at narrowing Fruitville Road to just one lane in each direction around the Rosemary district to encourage other methods of transportation.

Connecting Newtown

Officials hope the new roundabouts and road improvements will help trigger further private investment throughout the North Trail and Newtown neighborhood — both of which have been plagued by crime and blight.

Newtown is Sarasota’s largest African-American community, but the area has an estimated 25 percent jobless rate when counting discouraged laborers who are no longer actively seeking work.

But city officials said Tuesday that recent renovations in those districts have also helped to spruce up north Sarasota, including a $905,000 storefront grant program; $29 million invested in the Janie’s Garden low-income housing development; $9 million pumped into the Robert L. Taylor community complex; $58 million devoted to the rebuilding of Booker High School; and the new $6.4 million King Stone Apartments.

The new Walmart Neighborhood Market on Tamiami Trail — which replaced a Winn-Dixie grocery store — is also the type of development planners hope to attract there.

Marian Anderson Place, 13 vacant acres on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard valued at $850,000 and once used as an illegal dump, is the top site planners are marketing.

“Newtown is part of Sarasota, and we need to connect our whole community,” said Lorna Alston, general manager of the North Sarasota Redevelopment Division. “We should be looking at this as an opportunity.”

Article source:

Residents start over with landscaping after mudslides

WENATCHEE — Darald Schall had just fixed his irrigation lines, cleared out a couple of flower beds and pulled up brick pavers that had all been buried when a mudslide hit his No. 1 Canyon home in early August.

With much work still left to do in his besieged yard, he took some vacation time. The day after he left town, a second mudslide in a little over a month hit his neighborhood, covering even more of his yard and home in an even thicker layer of mud and storm debris.

Now I get to start all over,” he said.

By the time Schall returned home last week, the mud had dried into a rock-hard moonscape completely surrounding his house. Many of his neighbors up and down the canyon and down Fifth Street had already spent the better part of a week clearing driveways, tearing out lawns, uncovering garden beds, replacing irrigation systems and otherwise immersing themselves in the arduous task of mud removal.

To some, it’s becoming an all-too familiar task.

Some homeowners, like Tony and Debi DiTommaso, have been hit by flooding and mudslides at least three times in the last three years.

After the first slide in the summer of 2010, the couple decided to leave the mud in place and put sod on top of it at their Lars Lane home off Fifth Street, Debi DiTommaso said. But when a second slide hit last month, they opted to scrape out the mud and grass and reseed their yard. The young grass was just starting to grow when a third mudslide buried their yard on Sept. 5.

So last week, the mud and grass was once again removed. They still had to repair the irrigation system before planting more seed.

As she gingerly dug mud out from underneath the rose bushes in her front yard, DiTommaso pointed out the muddy mess where her nasturtiums once grew. She also still needed to wash spots of mud out of her front lawn and dig it out of the space between her grass and sidewalk.

She waited nearly a week after the mudslide to do some of the work because “it has to be the right consistency” to get out. Too wet and it’s too runny to do anything with. Too dry and you’d need a jackhammer to get it out.

A couple streets away, on Canyon Place, contractor Ricardo Zaldivar was digging mud out from around trees in a corner yard. The grass had already been scraped out with a tractor from two sides of the home and was going to be replanted.

Zaldivar said hardier bushes and trees can generally survive the mud. But grass and flower beds don’t fare as well and generally must be replaced.

It’s just a lot of mess to clean up around here,” he said.

Down Fifth Street, contractor Hector Garcia was getting ready to use a tractor to remove mud from a home near the intersection of Canal Street. The mud was still a bit wet but was just starting to crack from drying.

It’s just right,” he said of the nearly foot of mud that covered much of the yard and inside the garage. He said an array of tools lined up to do the work, including various sizes of shovels, brooms and rakes.

Schall’s once beautifully-landscaped yard was one of the hardest hit by the two recent slides. He had spent years carefully tending the flower beds surrounding his home, as well as many varieties of shrubs and trees. Each of the flower beds was covered with different landscaping materials, including river rock, crushed brick and beauty bark.

An expansive lawn stretched out from his front door and wrapped around the side of his house to the backyard.

When last month’s mudslide washed across his property, it buried his front lawn and flower gardens and packed thick mud underneath his front deck. He hired contractors and estimates and spent about $2,500 tearing out the front deck, uncovering and repairing the irrigation lines and preparing two of his flower beds for replanting.

The front deck was still gone and his grass still covered in a hard layer of mud when the second mudslide hit two weeks ago. This time, the mud also flowed around the side of his house and into his backyard, damaging a fence, covering his entire backyard and garden area at least a foot deep and flowing underneath his back deck as well.

The mud also seeped in his front door, making a mess of his entry way, and broke through his garage doors.

Not a bit of his yard or landscaping escaped the latest slide. And since he didn’t get home from vacation until nearly a week after the storm, the mud is now like concrete.

And this time it’s all full of debris — rocks and branches and tree parts,” he said. “It’s rock hard. It’s not like you can use a shovel or a rake. You have to have equipment to get this out of here.”

Heck, where do I even start?” he asked.

He decided to start with his driveway, clearing and grading it and then laying down gravel before winter. He also plans to build a retaining wall along the entire western edge of his yard to divert water and mud in any future storm events.

Do I want to deal with this every time we have a storm?” he said. “Not really. I can’t afford to replace garage doors and decks and hire contractors every time we get a hard rain.”

He added, “I work very hard on my yard. I pride myself on my yard. And now, after all the years I’ve put into it, I have to start completely over.”

Reach Michelle McNiel at 509-664-7152 or . Follow her on Twitter at @MichelMcNielWW.

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D86 official outraged by cost of failed garden

Rain – lots of it – and a faulty drainage system doomed a colorful rain garden outside of Hinsdale Central High School.

The district planted the native plants in front of the school last year to create a lush oasis at the main entrance. The gently sloped bioswales were intended to convey runoff water and were filled with native plants including white prairie clover, butterfly weed, and ornamental onion. The native plants were intended to not just be pretty, but to filter silt and pollutants from the runoff water.

But those plants and others died when the drainage system did not drain fast enough particularly after intense rains in April. Weeds, instead, have grown in their place.

“It flooded out the bottom and choked out the plants,” said Rick Young, an architect with Perkins + Will, the firm that devised the plans for the gardens at Hinsdale Central and at Hinsdale South high schools. The firm serves as the architect for Hinsdale Township High School District 86.

The district had been looking at a cost of about $35,000 to fix the garden’s drainage system, a sum that would have covered an extensive French-style drain, additional stone, excavating 24 to 36-inches deep, and geotextile to cover the stone. The sum has outraged board vice president Ed Corcoran.

“I don’t believe the taxpayer should pay for these mistakes,” he said.

Now, district officials say they think they can fix the drainage problem at a lower, through yet undetermined, cost.

“There are other ways we think we can remediate the problems we’re having with the drainage,” said Acting Superintendent Bruce Law.

Young said several less-costly solutions being considered for the garden that sits atop a drainage system include lowering grates of catch basins, building a less-extensive French-style drain that is covered with stone and re-directs water away from an area, or digging in areas over the under drains and filling them in with stone.

“It would allow the water to percolate through the stone rather than the through the soil,” Young said of the last solution. He said the problem, which is mostly on the east side of the school’s main entrance, may be addressed by one of the solutions, a combination of some or all of them.

The gardens were planted in 2012 after the board approved spending $237,000 on landscaping at the schools as part of a larger $17.9 project that included reconstructing the entrances at both schools. The gardens also have signs and were intended as a tool to help teach students about sustainability and other topics.

While the gardens at Hinsdale Central foundered, the ones at Hinsdale South, which are planted in beds that are not as deep, have flourished. Young said the Village of Hinsdale required Perkins + Will to change the plans at Central.

Some of the plants that died are covered by a warranty; others are not.

“We have to decide who’s going to be responsible for the plantings because all of them have died,” Law said.

The gardens were planted by Allied Landscaping Corp. Another firm, Gilbane Building Co., oversees construction for the district.

Young said it will be up to the district to decide how to move forward with replanting the garden. He said using less mature two-inch plugs rather than four-inch pots would be less expensive, but would not have the immediate visual impact. The garden can be replanted in the fall or spring, he said. Who will cover the cost of replanting the garden also has not yet been determined.

Article source:,0,6040459.story

Master the Art of Gardening

Have you ever looked at a dying plant in your yard and wondered what was wrong or wondered what time of year is best to plant carrots and beets? Have you had neighbors ask you questions about how to care for their plants and been unable to help them?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, enroll in the Master Gardener Volunteer Program this fall and learn the answers.

The Master Gardener Volunteer Program is open to the public and offers classes on a variety of horticulture topics related to gardening in Yuma. At each session, a member of the agriculture community will give a presentation related to their field of expertise.

The next Master Gardener session begins Oct. 17 and runs until Feb. 13.

The program is sponsored by the U of A Cooperative Extension Office, 2200 W. 28th St. Stacey Bealmear, urban horticulturist, is in charge of the program. Classes are held at the Cooperative Extension office each Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to noon.

The deadline for registration is Oct. 3. Pick up an application at the U of A Cooperative Extension Office. Call 726-3904 if you have any questions.

A fee of $150 covers the cost of a required background check, an informative Master Gardener Handbook, two books about gardening in the desert (“Desert Landscaping for Beginners” and “Desert Gardening for Beginners”) and photocopying of any necessary class materials.

The classes run the gamut of gardening topics, such as soil conditions and how to improve them, beneficial and harmful insects, how to care for trees, how to grow cacti, how to grow citrus, proper irrigation techniques and techniques for successful vegetable gardens.

“Each year, the Master Gardener program is very popular,” Bealmear said. “The class fills up quickly, so come by the U of A Cooperative Extension Office and fill out an application. We have interesting guest speakers lined up and some special field trips planned. People who have taken the classes tell me that the program introduced them to a community of fellow gardeners they would not have met otherwise. It’s always great to meet new people who share your interest in gardening.”

Dalene Kelley, member of MGM Garden Club and Yuma African Violet and Orchid Society, earned her Master Gardener certificate several years ago.

“The classes were very informative,” Kelley said. “They helped me improve my gardening practices, and I now feel more confident advising others concerning their gardening problems. I would recommend the program to anyone interested in improving their gardening knowledge.”

Volunteer work is part of the Master Gardener program. Once a Master Gardener certificate is earned, Master Gardeners offer their services to local garden clubs, school gardens, or participate in other horticulture-related activities around town. They provide 50 hours of volunteer work during their first year of certification, with 15 of the 50 hours being a class project, which is part of the Master Gardener program.

“I think giving back to the community is the best reward our Master Gardeners receive from this program,” Bealmear said. “I look forward to meeting my new group of students on Oct. 17.”

Having taken the classes, I can highly recommend this program. Successful gardening in Yuma takes skill, luck and knowledge about what will and will not grow here. The Master Gardener program will give you the skill and knowledge for successful gardening. The luck is up to you!

Happy Gardening!

Karen Bowen is a master gardener and member of MGM Garden Club. This column is sponsored by the Federated Garden Clubs of Yuma.

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Master Gardeners’ fall event offers tips

CARLISLE — The Penn State Master Gardeners host Fall Garden Day from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Cumberland County Extension Office at 310 Allen Road, Carlisle.

Penn State Extension Educator Steve Bogash will share information on how to adjust soil pH, fertilize blueberries and select the best blueberry varieties for this area.

Other fall gardening topics include preparing the vegetable garden for spring planting, selecting the best native trees for fall color and adding color to spring gardens by planting crocus, daffodil, tulip and hyacinth bulbs in the fall.

The 4-H Horse and Pony Club Cloverbuds will be on hand from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. for their “Black Gold” fundraiser. Residents will be able to purchase five-gallon buckets of aged horse manure for a $5 donation.

Registration fee for the event is $10 and includes handouts, light refreshments and door prizes.

Attendees should register by Thursday, Sept. 19, since class size is limited. To register, call 240-6500.

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How gardening can help dementia sufferers

PA Photo/JupiterImages Corporation

Hannah Stephenson discovers how horticultural therapy could help alleviate the plight of dementia sufferers and their carers

We all feel better after an hour or two of gardening; the fresh air, the exercise and the simple joy of being surrounded by beautiful flowers and the fruits of our labour.

But for some people, the benefits go even further.

“A garden can help people living with dementia,” says Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer’s Society chief executive. “They can enjoy socialising, as well as taking part in physical activity and stimulating the senses, all of which greatly improve their wellbeing.”

The regularity of nurturing plants on a daily basis also adds structure to the day of those living with dementia, while being involved in gardening activities like sowing seeds and watering plants gives a better sense of control, the Society explains. The cycle of sowing, nurturing, growing and harvesting plants, vegetables and flowers helps give a better perception of their lives. Also, the delicate nature of some gardening activities can help to maintain or improve fine motor skills and increase spatial awareness.

Garden activities can also help those with dementia talk about their past lives by reminding them about similar activities when they were younger, for example what plants, flowers or vegetables they used to grow.

Research shows that gardening can also help the wellbeing of younger people with early onset dementia.

“Younger people with dementia want and need activities which are stimulating, fulfilling and productive because they are still seeking activities which mimic the workplace model,” says Jill Walton, support group co-ordinator at the Frontotemporal Dementia Support Group (, which provides support and information to carers of young people with dementia.

Thrive, a national charity supporting horticultural therapy, holds a database of around 900 garden projects in the UK and can put you in touch with a project in your local area ( or 0118 988 5688). Most Thrive gardeners are referred by social services or through a professional such as their GP or care professional, but others start at a project through their own initiative and their place may be funded by family and friends.

These larger projects are clearly wonderful, but for many people, gardening at home is where the real therapy lies. Indeed, recent research by Alzheimer’s Society, in partnership with Homebase, discovered 83% of people with dementia want to live in their own homes for as long as possible; so how can you create a home garden, or modify an existing one, to give people with dementia the greatest therapy?

Thrive recommends straightforward way-finding: the layout of paths – essentially a loop – could take the visitor on a journey and return them to the starting point, while specimen trees and features such as pergolas, sculptures, bird tables and large pots can act as landmarks.

Create a series of places to sit, with focal points to look at. These should also be protected from bright sunlight, chilling winds and deep shade, perhaps introducing a canopy or a parasol to prevent exposure to the elements.

Use gentle changes rather than strong contrasts. For example, avoid strong shadows on paths, which might look like holes, abrupt changes in paving materials which may look like steps, or reflective materials which might look like water. These might give rise to general confusion and agitation and also present fall hazards.

When adding a walkway, Alzheimer’s Society ( recommends paths which are constant, such as a figure of eight, as paths with abrupt endings can disorientate people with dementia.

Stimulate all of the senses all year round with colourful, fragrant plants and flowers, water features and wind chimes.

Scents can often create memories, so introduce plants to the garden that have great smells, such as lavender, rosemary, mint or thyme.

Sensory experience can be increased through introducing plants which are soft to touch such as lambs’ ears or bunny tails, an ornamental grass which is soft and fluffy.

Of course, it’s wise to remove dangerous plants as dementia sufferers may not recall which plants are poisonous or irritate their skin. Similarly, any plants with thorns or which may sting should be removed from the garden altogether.

If new plants are needed, select these with the person living with dementia. They may have favourites which bring back memories of happy times. Go to the garden centre and let the dementia sufferer physically handle the plants, flowers and gardening items which may trigger memories more effectively than looking at pictures.

For many of us, gardening is an enjoyable pastime – but for others, it’s a lifeline.

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Patch User Spotlight: Rowing For A Cause; Gardening Tips; Spoken Interludes

Check out Jerry Eimbinder‘s latest blog post on Rye Patch today. His post, entitled, “Three Authors to Speak at Opening of Spoken Interludes’ Fall Program,” discusses the upcoming event, which includes Pulitzer-Prize winning author Michael Moss.

about how these local athletes are rowing for a cause. “Members Norwalk
River Rowing Association’s (NRRA) Youth Racing Team are
participating in an Ergathon on Saturday, September 21st to raise money
for the Matthew Zucker Memorial Fund.” Read more here on Stamford Patch.

Get some great gardening tips from New Rochelle’s Growing Together

Blog. Today’s post is about the PH balance of soil.

Interested in becoming a Patch Blogger? Email today for more information.

Have a great photo, announcement, or event to share? Add them here!

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In the Garden: Too close for comfort? Tips for foundation plantings

Most likely just about every one of us has run into the problem of shrubs or trees planted too close to our homes, whether of our own making or caused by a previous owner.

Trees can crack concrete foundations, and branches rub against walls or eaves — the latter very annoying at night and both very damaging to buildings. House siding needs space for air circulation; otherwise mildew can set in and not enough space causes havoc in painting or cleaning the outside of the house.

Plants need air space to remain healthy. Ones planted too near a building tend to lean out seeking sunshine.

As I was writing this column, a friend asked about this very problem and he agreed to share his dilemma.

Ernie Chan-Nui bought his home 47 years ago in a comfortable neighborhood just beyond Wenatchee’s city limits. The previous owner had planted Doug fir and cedar trees in a U shape around the lot. Many have now been removed, although Chan-Nui appreciates the shade and screening effect of the remaining 10 or so trees. But he knows they’re too large for a city lot and they will eventually have to go.

Back a few decades, he planted another Doug fir, filling an open space, then later decided to have a 24-by-12-foot shed built nearby. As you can imagine, the tree and shed are now in fierce competition.

Of course, the circumference of the tree just got bigger,” says Chan-Nui. “I tried to figure out what to do with either the tree or shed. So this year I compromised and when the shed was reroofed, I had them make a notch in the roof at the corner of the shed.”

He knows this is just buying a year or so before he’ll have to face the music and remove the tree. He asked me if he should slice the side of the tree base next to the foundation. My reply was a definite no, unless he wants a damaged tree likely to topple during the next windstorm.

So how does a person decide how close to plant a shrub or tree?

A general rule is allow two to three feet between building and mature plant.

But, you say, a house without plantings around it looks bare. Corners especially are enhanced by shrubs. So the challenge is where to locate a little gallon or 2-gallon shrub (or even more of a problem — a tree) where it looks not too forlorn in its youth, while allowing distance from the building and as it matures.

First, do some research on how wide the shrub or tree will reach at maturity. A big tree can reach above the roof at maturity, but big trees don’t belong in city lots or right next to a building. Small trees are appropriate away from a building, but their canopy can reach surprisingly wide, so consider this before planting. A long-range consideration is needed.

Shrubs are a good choice for foundation plantings, as long as they’re planted far enough from a building. Again, check their spread at maturity.

While you’re researching, consider how tall a shrub will reach at maturity so it won’t block window views.

While your foundation plants are small, you might consider planting annuals or perennials that can be moved later, or tossed … just to fill in empty spaces until the long-range shrubs or trees don’t look like orphans out in the cold. Aesthetics are important, both for immediate enjoyment as well as in the future.

Some homework before planting saves much consternation later.

A WSU Master Gardeners of Chelan County column appears weekly in the At Home section. Mary Fran McClure is one of three columnists featured.

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