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Archives for October 11, 2013

Resident upset with city’s ‘hack’ tree trimming job

Shelton-TreesCut-Bennett1

A view of the trimmed hemlock trees on Shelton resident George Bennett’s property near the road, taken in September, shows how his back yard now is visible from the street.

 

George Bennett of Shelton insists he doesn’t want to sue the city where he lives, but he might just have to do that to be made whole.

“Unfortunately, they’re pushing me into that situation,” Bennett said.

On the morning of Jan. 25, a Shelton public works crew showed up on his Elliott Drive property and proceeded to trim 14 hemlock trees with a pole-mounted chainsaw along his border with Big Horn Road.

“They literally butchered them,” is how Bennett described what happened in the course of about 15 minutes.

No advance notice was given, which Bennett said violates a city ordinance. He and city officials appear to agree that the hemlocks were not a road obstruction.

 

Had been planted 30 years ago

The trees, planted by the Bennetts 30 years earlier, had provided privacy in their back yard. He said neighbors often complimented them on how the trees beautified their yard.

“What took me 30 years to grow, took them 15 minutes to destroy,” he said.

After eight months of trying to have the problem rectified, Bennett has finally consulted with an attorney and may file a lawsuit.

City officials do not dispute the trimming job left a lot to be desired. In fact, their language is just as direct as the words used by Bennett to describe what happened.

 

City official: Job was ‘travesty’ and ‘screw-up’

At a June 3 aldermanic committee meeting on the situation, city Public Works Director Paul DiMauro agreed what took place was “a hack job.” He also described it as “a travesty” and “screw-up.”

“It is very unfortunate; I am embarrassed that they did it,” DiMauro said at the Street Committee meeting.

“I can never excuse what was done,” he also said.

Even Mayor Mark Lauretti is not defending what was done to the hemlock trees on the Bennett property.

“I don’t think the city handled it correctly,” Lauretti said during an interview last week. “Our workmanship was poor. We could have done a better job.”

According to Bennett, Lauretti had told him it was “a hack job” after the incident and that city workers needed to be better trained in proper trimming techniques.

 

Personal visits made to the property

Lauretti, DiMauro, some aldermen and a city-recommended landscape architect have visited the Bennett property personally to look at what was done and talk to Bennett.

Bennett wants the city to take out the hemlocks and plant 14 new trees of eight to 10 feet in height.

The city at various times has suggested planting smaller pine trees between the hemlocks, building an earthen berm with flowers, planting ornamental trees with a fence, or creating a hedge line.

Bennett doesn’t find those ideas acceptable. “I want proper remediation — remove the stumps and plant new trees,” he said.

He said landscaping quotes put that cost at $12,000 to $14,000, but he is being offered only $2,000 by the city’s insurance carrier at this time.

 

‘I can’t justify it’

Lauretti said something should be done to correct the problem. While he appreciates the Bennetts’ efforts to maintain their property, he said, “Where we part company is the degree of severity or lack of severity of the damage.

“He’s asking for too much money,” Lauretti continued. “I can’t justify it. But that doesn’t mean we don’t do anything.”

Alderman Jack Finn said because an insurance claim has been filed, that process needs to move forward for now. “We have to wait and see what happens,” he said.

Finn said he’s spoken to the insurance adjuster and the city’s corporation counsel about the situation.

 

Finding ‘a reasonable solution’

The city also should continue to work with the Bennetts to try to find a way to resolve the issue, he said. “After all, city officials admitted on the record at a public meeting that they did ‘hack’ his trees,” Finn noted.

Alderman Eric McPherson, Street Committee chairman, said the matter now is being handled as an insurance claim. “We hope to do it that way and to have a reasonable solution that is acceptable,” McPherson said of that approach.

 

Being responsible for its actions

Bennett, however, is unhappy with how the insurance agency is handling the situation so far. He said the city is showing “a lack of integrity” by not owning up to the situation, despite admitting it had made a mistake.

“I was raised to be responsible for my actions,” Bennett said. “Why won’t the city put up the money to rectify what it did? I feel I’m being used and abused by the city.”

“We are looking to be whole again, nothing more and nothing less,” Bennett had told the Street Committee.

 

Article source: http://sheltonherald.com/27084/resident-upset-with-citys-hack-tree-trimming-job/

Tour 5 Open Houses this Weekend in Cockeysville

Homes listed from $600,000 to more than $1 million in Hunt Valley and Cockeysville are set to open for tours.

This home at Hillsyde Court in Cockeysville is listed at more than $1 million, and will be open for tours from 3-4:30 p.m. Sunday. Credit: MRIS/Zillow.com

Touring homes for sale isn’t just for buyers, it’s also a great way to get ideas for your own home—from decorating tips to landscaping ideas.

Here’s a list of open houses in Hunt Valley and Cockeysville this weekend, from our partners at Zillow.com.

Article source: http://huntvalley.patch.com/groups/real-estate/p/tour-5-open-houses-this-weekend-in-cockeysville

4 Open Houses in Pikesville this Weekend

There’s nothing like touring homes for sale to get ideas for your own—from decorating tips to landscaping ideas.

Here’s a list of open houses in Pikesville this weekend, from our partners at Zillow.com.

View more listings.

Article source: http://pikesville.patch.com/groups/real-estate/p/4-open-houses-in-pikesville-this-weekend

There’s No Place Like Om

Yearning for a place to unplug, meditate and pray, some people are transforming parts of their homes into houses of worship.

These latest spiritual spaces are no longer relegated to a single altar in the corner of the room. Homeowners are creating meditation gardens, yoga and tai chi studios and private chapels. Rather than tacking these spaces on as afterthoughts, architects and builders are incorporating them into home plans from the start.




More homeowners are turning their homes into houses of worship, creating custom meditation gardens, Tai Chi studios, and even private chapels. Sanette Tanaka has details on Lunch Break. Photo: Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal.

Tony Hanslin of Grantham, N.H., built a 225-square-foot Asian-inspired tea house three years ago. The space features sliding doors and a mahogany floor, and is surrounded by Japanese gardens, a stream and a dry pond consisting of natural-colored pebbles. Mr. Hanslin, who spent about $400,000 on the tea house and landscaping, says he goes there for one or two hours nearly every day.

“It’s very sparsely furnished so there’s room to meditate, teach tai chi and do tai chi, and have the occasional cocktail party,” says Mr. Hanslin, a former builder who is 70 years old.

House and Om

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Yankee Barn Homes

Tony Hanslin spent about $400,000 on a tea house and landscaping at his Grantham, N.H., home.

Builders and architects say homeowners typically want clean lines, Asian-inspired detailing, natural materials and light-colored woods, like maple, bamboo and oak. They also want water features, such as fountains and waterfalls, and a view of the outside, says Walid Wahab, president of Miami-based Wahab Construction, who sees 50% more requests for meditation spaces now compared with five years ago.

Joji Yoshimura and his partner, Michael Kronstadt, built a 1,100-square-foot addition to their ranch-style home in Sunnyvale, Calif. Inside are a tea room; mirrored studio for yoga, tai chi and qigong, an ancient Chinese healing art; a master-bedroom suite and a media room. The addition, designed by architect John Lum in San Francisco, was completed in 2006 and cost roughly $400,000. The interiors feature handmade sliding screens and tatami mats. Outside is a 15-foot by 15-foot koi pond and bonsai tree display.

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Mr. Yoshimura, age 62 and a clinical psychologist, grew up in a traditional Buddhist family and meditates daily. Mr. Kronstadt, 66 and a project manager for a biomedical-device firm, began meditating regularly about four years ago—in part because of the tea room. “It was easier, or more right, or less awkward to actually have a real meditation space, so I didn’t feel as self-conscious as I might have if I just started meditating at the kitchen table,” Mr. Kronstadt says. Now, every day after work, he practices “walking meditation” in the tea room or simply sits on the cushions.

Mr. Yoshimura likes the tea room for another purpose. “It’s set up to entertain. I have people over for snacks or dinner,” he says.

Private spaces in the home for prayer have been around in the U.S. since the colonial period but went out of style in the 1960s, when communal worship became more popular, says Duncan Stroik, professor of architecture at the University of Notre Dame who studies sacred spaces. In the past 10 to 15 years, luxury homes, in particular, have seen a resurgence in private prayer spaces. “What we’re seeing is some people who believe in prayer are willing to spend significant money to have a beautiful room dedicated to that in their house,” he says.

Prof. Stroik says meditation spaces are an outcry against our increasingly mobile age. “People need to get away. You might not be able to get into the country, but you can go into a room and pray and meditate,” he says.

Johnny Miller, owner of OakBridge Timber Framing, is building an 860-square-foot chapel for a Presbyterian couple in Howard, Ohio, northeast of Columbus. The free-standing chapel will have wooden pews that can seat 60 people and a curved, cathedral-style ceiling that will be high enough “to make it feel like a church,” Mr. Miller says. The timbers will have several Bible verses carved into them. The chapel will likely cost about $400,000, he adds, noting that the price per square foot is higher than many luxury homes due to the extensive amount of detailing.

Once the chapel is completed in the fall of 2014, the couple plans to use it for worship, weddings, christenings and even funerals. “They’re busy with their lifestyles. They want to have it located on site and close by,” says Mr. Miller, adding that he gets twice as many requests for spiritual rooms now than he did five years ago.

The owners, Jeff and Debi Johnson, are building the chapel on the property where their weekend home is located. Mr. Johnson, a jeweler, says he modeled the chapel off the church where his family attends services. “We have always gone to church, but when we’re at the farm, we’re far from a church,” says Mr. Johnson, age 62. “I wanted something on our property that represented that feel and my faith.”

Although simple in their essence, these spaces can require a high level of customization. Experts, such as a feng shui specialist, are sometimes consulted about design principles or asked to conduct special ceremonies.

Aarthi Jain’s Houston home, built in 2004, was influenced by Vastu Shastra principles, a Hindu design method that focuses on the home’s directional alignment. For instance, the front door couldn’t face south because it is believed to bring bad luck, and the 36-square-foot prayer room had to be located on the top floor so no one could walk above it. “Having something touching your feet is considered taboo,” says Dr. Jain, a 50-year-old physician.

The tricky part was making sure her architects, Natalye Appel and Stuart Smith, could balance Vastu principles with city regulations. “Last minute we had to completely flip the house east to west because the city didn’t catch that the driveway wasn’t where they wanted,” Dr. Jain says. “It was difficult to apply principles of one culture to the restrictions of another.”

She tried to incorporate outdoor elements as much as possible. The house curves around a backyard courtyard, and the rooms downstairs face the pool. The prayer room, which has an antique teak Indian door frame, opens into a larger gathering space. In total, the house cost $1.6 million.

Still, Dr. Jain didn’t follow every rule. For example, she put windows in the prayer room even though prayer rooms in India are typically windowless.

“It’s so much a part of our way of living in Indian culture, in Hindu culture. Religion is part of everything you do. We want to encourage our daughters to remember these things and remember where they come from,” Dr. Jain says.

Last year, designer Safura Salek of Mass Studio created a 4,000-square-foot modern home following Vastu Shastra principles for an Indian family in West Hollywood, Calif. Though the house cost more than $800,000, the 24-square-foot prayer room, tucked under the stairwell, is simple. The owner “prays every morning. For her, it’s a very private space. She didn’t want it to be out in the open or ostentatious,” Ms. Salek says.

When it comes time to sell, marketing a home with a meditation room can be sensitive because the spaces could potentially turn off buyers of a different faith or background, says Stephanie Bissett, an agent with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Sanibel, Fla. The upside is that prayer spaces are usually open and sparse, so they can easily be converted for other uses.

Recent sales include a 94-acre property in Austin County, Texas, with an outdoor chapel and church bell that sold in the spring for more than $3 million, according to Dave Wyatt, the listing agent. A three-story home in San Marino, Calif., with a designated meditation room sold in September for $8.88 million, says listing agent Sarah Rogers.

Patty LaRocco, an agent with Town Residential, has a $39 million listing for a co-op apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with a silk-paneled meditation room adorned with tatami mats and Moroccan lanterns. She promotes the room in all her marketing materials. “Most people are neutral, but some find it super cool. I had a buyer yesterday who came through and loved it,” she says.

A version of this article appeared October 11, 2013, on page M1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: There’s No Place Like Om.

Article source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304176904579115603167958792.html

Delicious dahlias: Tricia and Eric Stammbergers’ glorious Taos garden

You know you’re on to something pretty special when no less than five people recommend the same garden as a superb specimen to feature for the Lifestyles section of The Taos News.


That garden belongs to Tricia and Eric Stammberger, just off Rio Lucero near Upper Ranchitos. People in the know, and universities and garden groups come from miles around, even from out-of-state to revel in the Stammbergers’ little patch of dahlia heaven.

The day before our first hard frost of 2013, Friday, Sept. 27, Tricia Stammberger said the patio and gardens were full to overflowing with people who hurried by to clip and carry away as many of the dahlia blooms as they could handle.

We’re talking hundreds, between 750 to a thousand blooms Tricia guesstimates. Frequent visitors every year include the Lions Club, Southern Methodist University-Taos, The Native Plant Society, Oklahoma State University, art classes and individual painters, to name just a few.

“Friends and friends of friends came all day before the big frost Saturday morning, it was such chaos,” Tricia said, smiling wanly, but happily.

Even though the frost snapped all the dahlias and other tender annuals, big spots of blue bachelor buttons (cornflowers), purple cone flower (pink echinacea) and a riot of yellow gloriosa daisies still popped the air, bright under the fall skies.

But it’s the dahlias that delight.

“When you dig these up you divide them,” Tricia Stammberger says, a little hesitant because most gardeners won’t bother with digging and dividing, it’s just too much work.

But she’s got help — Jerry Schwartz’ Sticks Stones of El Rito, and his landscaping crew of seven.

“Jerry’s just a godsend,” she said, including of course every one of the workers. “When I first brought him in five years ago I just wanted him to tell me what would be good to grow here.” Shwartz stayed to design and plant and has been there ever since.

“When we do something, we don’t want it to be ordinary,” Tricia says about her and husband Eric’s approach to making a beautiful life.

A typical example is the concrete basketball pad they inherited from the former owners. While Tricia was noodling around with different ideas or removing it entirely, Eric Stammberger painted it into a checkerboard and installed large gray and white checker disks — totally fun and whimsical.

A frequent architectural detail throughout are branches, twigs and old tree trunks that serve variously as fence posts, trellises in the veggie garden or for clematis climbing against the barn, or slung diagonally across the front portal to support a huge mass of Virginia creeper vine.

Nothing goes to waste. If it’s not repurposed creatively it goes on the huge compost pile, easily as high as Tricia is tall (over five feet).

“We’ll have to get a backhoe in here to turn the compost this year,” she notes, eyeing the massive pile of green and brown compostables. It all goes back onto the beds and into the ground as nature intended.

“Dahlias don’t need rich top soil,” she explains, noting that this was one of the things Schwartz taught her. They don’t need lots of fertilizer to get this annual bounty, which is a good thing. The rocky river bed the property sits on isn’t lush, so the tons of top soil they brought in is all they have to work with – and the dahlias love it.

“Dahlias were first farmed by the Aztecs as a food. It’s a tuber, like a sweet potato,” Tricia said, something she discovered doing research for one of the many garden talks she gives throughout the year.

When asked if they’ve ever eaten one, her eyes fly open in horror.

“For us that would be cannibalistic! We can’t eat something once we know its name.”

Almost like they are pets? She agrees, shaking her head, smiling.

Here and there the dahlias are marked with different colored tape. That’s to help the gardeners decide which to divide and save, Tricia says, identifying which varieties she wants more of and which they have enough of — the workers specifically asked her to make selections this year to help keep the work down to a gentle roar.

With about 16 major varieties of dahlias planted, the show starts around Aug. 1 and, “goes like popcorn,” she says, ’til first frost. “We wait like little beavers for the first blooms and then they just keep coming. The more you cut the more they bloom.”

And it’s all a labor of love. The Stammbergers say it could never become a commercial venture, because it would lose the heart and soul that generates all this abundance in the first place.

Can’t wait for next August.

Article source: http://www.taosnews.com/lifestyle/article_b7ae0d7c-31ea-11e3-9b1c-0019bb2963f4.html

Janet Moyer Landscaping Offers Complimentary Upgrade to Next Level of Toro …

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwired – Oct 11, 2013) – Janet Moyer Landscaping (JML), a full-service landscaping company in San Francisco devoted to addressing the unique challenges of urban gardens, announced today its partnership with Toro to make a complimentary one-time upgrade for JML’s current users of the Intelli-Sense™ WeatherTrak® enabled controller to Toro’s latest “SMART” controller technology. The new system eliminates the need for a remote download, yearly subscription fees, and interruptions of service due to inconsistent data communication.

The new system, called Irritrol® Climate Logic® (Irritrol is a brand of The Toro Company), works by combining real time data from a compact, wireless weather sensor installed on site with 40 years of historic weather data that is zip code specific and loaded into a new control unit. It also has the benefit of providing immediate feedback to the controller when a rain event occurs, or temperatures drop close to freezing.

“We are grateful that Toro has partnered with us to provide the new controller to current JML users,” says Michael Hofman, JML executive vice president and Certified Irrigation Designer.

He explains, “The previous system became problematic for a number of reasons. It required the use of one-way pager technology, a system that is being reduced to only the centers of major metropolitan areas. This means that some neighborhoods would get inconsistent service, so we were happy to work with Toro to come up with a viable solution to this problem for our clients.”

Mike Baron, national specifications manager for Toro, added, “Toro values its business relationships with landscape contractors, especially those who have consistently installed Toro irrigation products over the years. Because of our mutual trust, commitment to the relationship and our joint focus on the end customer, we worked together to address the situation in a manner that was acceptable to both our companies and real a plus for the homeowners.”

About Janet Moyer Landscaping
Founded in 1990, Janet Moyer Landscaping is an award-winning, full-service landscaping company based in San Francisco, CA. It has designed and installed more than 600 unique and customized gardens in San Francisco’s varied terrain. The company specializes in the creation of custom residential landscapes that address the unique challenges posed by San Francisco’s climate, significant grade changes and architectural constraints. Owned and managed by Janet Moyer and Michael Hofman, JML applies sustainable practices to its residential landscape design, installation and maintenance services. In 2012, JML received an “Outstanding Achievement” award from the California Landscape Contractors Association. It was a 2013 sponsor of the Garden Bloggers Fling held in San Francisco in June. For more information, visit www.jmoyerlandscaping.com or call 415-821-3760. Become a member of the JML community at http://www.facebook.com/janetmoyerlandscaping

Article source: http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/janet-moyer-landscaping-offers-complimentary-upgrade-next-level-toro-smart-water-technology-1840470.htm

Tips on growing strawberries in the home garden

Strawberries can be grown in home gardens throughout the state.  Temperatures between 50 to 80° F (10 and 27°C) and day lengths 14 hours or fewer are required for the development of flowers and fruit on most strawberry varieties.  In the U.S. these conditions occur only for a short period in late summer or fall, and again briefly in spring.  In our area, however, this combination of day length and temperature exists for much of the fall, winter and spring.  Single-crown (stem) strawberry plants are planted in Florida during the fall, from late September to early November.  Flowering and fruit production generally beings in November and continues into April or May.  Fruit production over this period is not constant, but occurs in two or three cycles, and can be interrupted by freezing weather.  Because the highest quality fruit are produced on relatively young plants with not more than four or five branched crowns, plants are usually tilled under at the end of the fruiting season, and new plants are planted the following fall.

Currently, we suggest three varieties for the Florida home garden:  Camarosa, Sweet Charlie, and Festival, all three varieties produce attractive, flavorful berries suitable for eating fresh or for freezing.  Camarosa has been the most productive variety in North Florida, while Festival has been the most productive variety in Central Florida.  These varieties are capable of producing 1 to 2 pints of fruit per plant over the season.  Strawberries grow best in a location receiving at least 8 hours of direct sunlight per day.  If a full sun location is not available, try to choose a spot that is sunny during the morning and early afternoon.  The soil should be well drained and slightly acidic (pH 5.5 to 6.5).

IFAS specialist recommends planting strawberries on raised bed which are two feet wide and spaced two feet apart.  The beds should be mounded so they’re six inches high along the edges and about eight inches high in the middle. 

In preparing the beds you begin with fertilization.  For a ten-by-ten foot strawberry patch, broadcast about two-and-a-half pounds of 8-8-8 fertilizer and till it into the soil.  Then from the beds and apply another two-and-a-half pounds of fertilizer this time in a narrow band about six inches deep down the middle of the beds.  If you’re just starting to grow strawberries you should also include a complete mixture of minor elements in the first season fertilizer application.

When the bed is properly formed, fertilized and moistened, cover with a sheet of landscaping mesh fabric which will block weeds and allow water to penetrate.  The, cut slits in the fabric where the plants will be inserted.  Plants should be set in double rows, one row on each side of the bed about six inches from the edge.  Plants should be spaced 12 inches apart in the row.  Be sure that no plants are set directly over the fertilizer band down the middle of the bed because this can lead to salt burn.

Be sure to use certified, disease-free plants.  Keep them moist before planting and plant in moist soil.  Spread the roots in a fan shape, set the plant at the correct depth in the soil, and pack the soil firmly around the roots.

For more information on growing strawberries contact the Gulf County Extension Service @ 639-3200 or visit our websitehttp://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu  or www.http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu  and see Circular HS 1154

Article source: http://www.starfl.com/society/society-news/tips-on-growing-strawberries-in-the-home-garden-1.216277

Tips on growing strawberries in the home garden

Strawberries can be grown in home gardens throughout the state.  Temperatures between 50 to 80° F (10 and 27°C) and day lengths 14 hours or fewer are required for the development of flowers and fruit on most strawberry varieties.  In the U.S. these conditions occur only for a short period in late summer or fall, and again briefly in spring.  In our area, however, this combination of day length and temperature exists for much of the fall, winter and spring.  Single-crown (stem) strawberry plants are planted in Florida during the fall, from late September to early November.  Flowering and fruit production generally beings in November and continues into April or May.  Fruit production over this period is not constant, but occurs in two or three cycles, and can be interrupted by freezing weather.  Because the highest quality fruit are produced on relatively young plants with not more than four or five branched crowns, plants are usually tilled under at the end of the fruiting season, and new plants are planted the following fall.

Currently, we suggest three varieties for the Florida home garden:  Camarosa, Sweet Charlie, and Festival, all three varieties produce attractive, flavorful berries suitable for eating fresh or for freezing.  Camarosa has been the most productive variety in North Florida, while Festival has been the most productive variety in Central Florida.  These varieties are capable of producing 1 to 2 pints of fruit per plant over the season.  Strawberries grow best in a location receiving at least 8 hours of direct sunlight per day.  If a full sun location is not available, try to choose a spot that is sunny during the morning and early afternoon.  The soil should be well drained and slightly acidic (pH 5.5 to 6.5).

IFAS specialist recommends planting strawberries on raised bed which are two feet wide and spaced two feet apart.  The beds should be mounded so they’re six inches high along the edges and about eight inches high in the middle. 

In preparing the beds you begin with fertilization.  For a ten-by-ten foot strawberry patch, broadcast about two-and-a-half pounds of 8-8-8 fertilizer and till it into the soil.  Then from the beds and apply another two-and-a-half pounds of fertilizer this time in a narrow band about six inches deep down the middle of the beds.  If you’re just starting to grow strawberries you should also include a complete mixture of minor elements in the first season fertilizer application.

When the bed is properly formed, fertilized and moistened, cover with a sheet of landscaping mesh fabric which will block weeds and allow water to penetrate.  The, cut slits in the fabric where the plants will be inserted.  Plants should be set in double rows, one row on each side of the bed about six inches from the edge.  Plants should be spaced 12 inches apart in the row.  Be sure that no plants are set directly over the fertilizer band down the middle of the bed because this can lead to salt burn.

Be sure to use certified, disease-free plants.  Keep them moist before planting and plant in moist soil.  Spread the roots in a fan shape, set the plant at the correct depth in the soil, and pack the soil firmly around the roots.

For more information on growing strawberries contact the Gulf County Extension Service @ 639-3200 or visit our websitehttp://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu  or www.http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu  and see Circular HS 1154

Article source: http://www.starfl.com/society/society-news/tips-on-growing-strawberries-in-the-home-garden-1.216277

Insects, not squirrels, are culprits behind falling twigs

Our yard is absolutely covered with the tips of tree branches. The tree (don’t know what kind) isn’t dropping fall leaves yet, so what’s going on? Squirrels?

Two native insects will snip off the tips of tree branches in August and September. The twig girdler makes a cut like a beaver does. You’ll see a pointed end at the cut. The twig pruner makes a concave cut. Both insects overwinter as larvae inside the cut twigs littering your lawn and will emerge as beetles next year. To prevent a repeat next year, gather up the twigs and bag up and dispose of them. These insects are a minor pest, though they distort a young tree’s shape. There is no insecticide labeled to control them but, like many other pest insects, they are attracted to lights, so be sure to turn off unnecessary night lighting.

Isn’t purple loosestrife banned in Maryland? It’s horribly invasive, especially in wetlands.

Purple loosestrife has taken over 50,000 acres in Minnesota alone and is now in all states except Florida. It has been designated as invasive in Maryland, but is not officially on the state’s noxious weed list, which details banned plants and is geared to agricultural weeds. In Maryland, the commercial horticulture industry self-regulates invasive plants by not selling most of them. Residents need to educate themselves about which plants are invasive, so they do not inadvertently order, for example, purple loosestrife, from out of state or accept a plant from a misguided friend, thinking it is an innocent purple-flowered perennial. Marylanders can report a patch of the plant at: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Plants_Wildlife/PurpleLoosestrife

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at extension.umd.edu/hgic.

Plant of the Week

Arugula or Rocket Salad

Eruca sativa

Arugula has rocketed to popularity in recent years. An excellent late-season crop for home gardeners, the peppery flavor of arugula leaves add a zesty punch when used raw in salads or cooked — maybe that’s why ancient Egyptians and Romans considered arugala seed oil to be an aphrodisiac. Plant seeds every few weeks in either early spring or fall. Thin seedlings to 6 to 9 inches apart. Harvest the green, deeply cut, compound leaves when plants reach 8 to 10 inches, about six weeks after planting. To encourage more leaf production, continuously harvest young leaves. — Jane Talarico

Article source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/home-garden/bs-hm-garden-qa-1013-20131008,0,3203062.story

Insects, not squirrels, are culprits behind falling twigs

Our yard is absolutely covered with the tips of tree branches. The tree (don’t know what kind) isn’t dropping fall leaves yet, so what’s going on? Squirrels?

Two native insects will snip off the tips of tree branches in August and September. The twig girdler makes a cut like a beaver does. You’ll see a pointed end at the cut. The twig pruner makes a concave cut. Both insects overwinter as larvae inside the cut twigs littering your lawn and will emerge as beetles next year. To prevent a repeat next year, gather up the twigs and bag up and dispose of them. These insects are a minor pest, though they distort a young tree’s shape. There is no insecticide labeled to control them but, like many other pest insects, they are attracted to lights, so be sure to turn off unnecessary night lighting.

Isn’t purple loosestrife banned in Maryland? It’s horribly invasive, especially in wetlands.

Purple loosestrife has taken over 50,000 acres in Minnesota alone and is now in all states except Florida. It has been designated as invasive in Maryland, but is not officially on the state’s noxious weed list, which details banned plants and is geared to agricultural weeds. In Maryland, the commercial horticulture industry self-regulates invasive plants by not selling most of them. Residents need to educate themselves about which plants are invasive, so they do not inadvertently order, for example, purple loosestrife, from out of state or accept a plant from a misguided friend, thinking it is an innocent purple-flowered perennial. Marylanders can report a patch of the plant at: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Plants_Wildlife/PurpleLoosestrife

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at extension.umd.edu/hgic.

Plant of the Week

Arugula or Rocket Salad

Eruca sativa

Arugula has rocketed to popularity in recent years. An excellent late-season crop for home gardeners, the peppery flavor of arugula leaves add a zesty punch when used raw in salads or cooked — maybe that’s why ancient Egyptians and Romans considered arugala seed oil to be an aphrodisiac. Plant seeds every few weeks in either early spring or fall. Thin seedlings to 6 to 9 inches apart. Harvest the green, deeply cut, compound leaves when plants reach 8 to 10 inches, about six weeks after planting. To encourage more leaf production, continuously harvest young leaves. — Jane Talarico

Article source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/home-garden/bs-hm-garden-qa-1013-20131008,0,3203062.story