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Archives for October 14, 2013

Employee Well-Being Through Biophilic Interior Design

There has been a lot of debate recently about the value of interior landscaping – especially large installations in public buildings. It is true that the headline costs of interior plants, their purchase and on-going maintenance, can seem high for what many people perceive as being decoration. However, for less than one per cent of the typical annual running costs of an office building and an understanding of a range of disciplines brought together under the umbrella term of biophilic design, those green ornaments can be made into something far more powerful.

A tough economy, stricter requirements on the environment and the need to ensure that employees are able to perform at their best all place organisations under increased pressure. One area that companies can look at to improve effectiveness and performance is well-being of their staff and linked to this is the working environment. There is plenty of evidence to show that well-being at work affects efficiency and productivity. We know, from the research literature, that physical and psychological comfort has a direct impact on it, and it’s directly influenced by the management of space in the workplace.

Well-being is a difficult concept to define. We probably have an instinctive idea of what well-being feels like, but how do we quantify it and know how it is composed? Martin Seligman, a well-known psychologist, has broken the concept of well-being down into five distinct elements of positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement. It is not inconceivable to recognise that all five of those elements, and especially the first three, can be can be affected by the way workplaces are managed.

So, what has all this to do with interior plants? One way to improve well-being is to ensure that the working environment is designed and managed in such a way as to encourage people to thrive, and an effective way to do that is to bring together some ideas developed over the last few years by psychologists, biologists, architects and designers.

Research carried out by Craig Knight and Tom Postmes (and their colleagues) at the universities of Exeter (UK) and Groeningen (Netherlands) has shown that enrichment of spaces with items such as plants and art (or even fragrances) enables people to realise a sense of their own identity, which brings about improvements in productivity, engagement and well-being. Furthermore, a degree of choice by office workers in the way that such enrichment is implemented raises productivity, engagement and well-being even more. Independently of this research, work carried out in the 1980s and 1990s by Roger Ulrich and his colleagues has shown significant health and well-being benefits (mainly in terms of recovery from illness) when people are exposed to scenes of nature or views to gardens or plant displays. We also know from this, and other research, that enrichment of the environment with nature (plants, scenes of nature, views into gardens, etc.) is more effective at increasing well-being (and health) than enrichment and empowerment with abstract objects. There is a huge body of scientific literature showing that complaints associated with symptoms of sick-building syndrome (SBS) are reduced when interior plants are brought into buildings. Such effects were initially thought to be related to the physical characteristics of plants (and these do occur), but the main benefits seem to be psychological.

Simple pleasures such as a walk in the woods or a visit to a park or garden have been shown to reduce stress and feelings of anxiety. Anti-social behaviour in inner cities has been linked to the lack of access to open green space (so-called “Nature Deficit Disorder”) and doctors are even prescribing walks in the countryside as part of a healing regime. In the built environment, such connections with nature can be re-built through the use of landscaping in and around buildings.

Our need for nature was identified by the American biologist, Edward O Wilson, who developed a hypothesis called Biophilia, which he defined as “the innate affiliation people seek with other organisms and especially the natural world.”

Wilson’s research shows that, when given complete freedom to choose the characteristics of their ideal environment, people gravitate towards a location that combines three major features: positioned at height, overlooking the landscape (with open terrain with scattered trees and copses), and being close to open water, such as streams or lakes. Effectively, what has been described is the landscape of our distant ancestors from the African plains, and that is the sort of landscape where we instinctively feel at home and safe: Humanity’s natural habitat. Other features frequently also included as key elements in the choice of an environment are refuge, use of natural and local materials, dynamic and diffuse daylight, visual connections between the interior and exterior and natural odours and scents.

Wilson’s ideas have been adopted by architects and designers for some time. In a book by Stephen Kellert (Biophilic Design), we see how architects have used the principles of biophilia to make their buildings more humane and connected with nature. However, there are easier ways than designing new buildings that can bring biophilic design into the workplace (or other buildings). By using combinations of plants, art, lighting and sound effects as well as a more naturalistic style of design it should be possible to make significant improvements to well-being and employee engagement at a very low cost.

Creating a healthy and nature-connected working environment can pay huge dividends in terms of well-being, productivity and business effectiveness – a real return on a relatively small investment in interior design.

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Ways To Make Extra Income

This article is provided and sponsored by:
ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions

When your household budget isn’t balancing, the first thing to do is cut expenses. But, if cost cutting doesn’t prove sufficient, it’s time to think about extra income ideas. Making more money will certainly provide a “pick-me-up” for your budget. Lucky for you, we have some simple extra income ideas that our credit counselors give to clients every day. Take a look at these suggestions.

  • Have a yard sale. Clear the house of unwanted items — furniture, toys, clothing, electronics, sports equipment, video games, housewares, and the like. Sell the items at a garage sale or in a classified ad or online auction.
  • Downsize your fleet. Cars are expensive to own and operate. Is public transportation or car-pooling an option? Sell your second car or trade down to an older model to free up some cash.
  • Part-time or seasonal work. Many retailers need extra help during the holidays. Or, maybe you live near a tourist attraction (beach town, ski resort) that hires seasonal laborers.
  • Advertise your special talents. Consider your talents and hobbies. Do you like children or working with the elderly? Many people need help with childcare or elderly parents. Are you fond of animals? Start a pet-sitting or dog-walking service. Do you like to make handcrafts or create artwork? If your talent is baking, sell your cakes, pies or other treats. Amateur photographers can advertise their services to would-be brides and grooms, new parents, and others celebrating a special occasion.
  • House cleaning/maintenance. Do you think you’d be good at cleaning houses or local businesses? If you’re a pro at home maintenance tasks (putting up storm windows, clearing gutters, painting, washing decks, etc.), earn money providing these services to other homeowners.
  • Yard work. Not everyone enjoys leaf-raking, lawn-mowing, gardening, landscaping and other yard work. With the right equipment and skills, you could provide these services to others for a fee. Offer snow-shoveling or snow-blowing services if you live in a cold climate.
  • Are cars your thing? Plenty of people don’t like to wash and wax their own cars, change the oil or do other routine maintenance. If you’re handy with cars, advertise your personalized service and charge less than the local service station.
  • Rent a room or driveway. Do you have a room in the basement or over the garage that sits empty? Rent out the room to a carefully screened tenant. Driveways located near a public transportation stop or entertainment venue are valuable commodities.
  • Offer tutoring services. If you’re a teacher or otherwise qualified in particular subject areas, make extra money tutoring students. Join up with a tutoring service or offer your services independently.

Each of these extra income ideas will bring you more money and free up more room in your budget (if you devote time and effort to promoting your skills and availability). Advertise in print and online classified ads; post a notice on bulletin boards at work, church, community centers and local retailers; distribute flyers around local neighborhoods; and, spread the word to friends, relatives and colleagues.

For more ideas to generate more income and manage your money better, visit ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions.

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Capitol development plan made public – Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia state Capitol campus could grow as far west as Laidley Field and Veazey Avenue in the east should state officials choose to follow the latest version of the Capitol Complex Master Plan.

The new conceptual design plan, unveiled Friday by the state Department of Administration, also calls for the construction of six new office buildings, three standalone parking garages and a daycare in order to accommodate employee overcrowding at the statehouse.

The plan doesn’t require state leaders — either current or future officials — to build or fund the projects it recommends. Rather, it provides a framework for expanding the complex in a way that honors Capitol architect Cass Gilbert’s original vision for the facility.

“The purpose of this comprehensive plan is to serve as a guide that state officials may utilize in the future when proposing changes, renovations or expansions to the state Capitol complex,” said Diane Holley-Brown, spokeswoman for the state Department of Administration.

“This resource will serve as a useful tool when making future decisions affecting the State Capitol complex,” she said.

The state signed a nearly $888,000 contract in 2009 with Pennsylvania-based consulting firm Michael Baker Inc. to come up with the plan.

While staff at Michael Baker spearheaded the project, they worked with consultants from other firms to develop specific aspects of the plan.

RMJM Hillier handled historic architectural and planning, Heritage Landscapes provided landscape design, System Planning Corp. offered security planning aspects and Walker Parking provided parking planning services.

This is actually the sixth version of a master plan for the statehouse campus.

Gilbert originally began work on one in early 1934, but he died later that year before completing it. His son, Cass Gilbert Jr., drew up a second master plan in 1940.

The younger Gilbert’s plan led to the construction of what’s now known as Building 3, which used to house the Division of Motor Vehicles. A design team from Charleston-based firm Zando, Martin, and Milstead produced another plan in 1966 which called for construction of current buildings 5, 6 and 7.

C.E. Silling Associates drew up another master plan in 1988, though the only recommendation implemented from it was the closure of Washington Street East in the campus area.

Tag Studios and Sasaki Associates, Inc. drew up another master plan in 1994, though nearly all of its recommendations have been ignored.

With so many different architects designing various aspects of the Capitol complex over the years — and the fact that many of their ideas failed to be carried out in full — the latest plan is designed to provide a “holistic, comprehensive, cohesive and organized plan” to improve and grow the campus.

It also goes beyond guiding building architecture, but the more functional aspects of the Capitol area. 

“Unlike other plans of the past, this plan addresses not only the facilities, but parking, security, landscaping, utilities, energy conservation and access to and on the campus,” Holley-Brown said.

The plan features seven phases. The first two phases, to be completed over the next eight years, mostly call for landscaping, security and utility improvements.

A new, 12,000-square foot stage for hosting public events would be built in this time.

The later phases are more ambitious, and involve several construction projects to alleviate overcrowding in Capitol offices and parking areas.

The current complex has 2,800 parking spaces spread across ten parking lots, however, this is still 1,300 spaces short of current needs.

The plan proposes replacing most of these existing surface lots with several above and below ground parking garages.

A six-story, 1,745-space would be constructed along Piedmont Road next to Laidley Field. A three-story, 1,990-space garage would also be built along Washington Street East between Carolina Avenue and Greenbrier Street.

This block currently contains some parking, along with a 7-Eleven and McDonald’s. In addition to providing more parking, the new building would also include retail space, Capitol police headquarters, employee credit union and, possibly, a gym and bicycle storage room for statehouse employees.

A third, seven-story, 1,605-space garage would be built toward the east on the block between Piedmont Road, Washington Street East and Michigan and Veazey avenues. That building would also feature ground and maintenance storage, as well as over offices.

Combined with other parking areas, including bus parking for the Culture Center, the new plan would offer more than 6,000 spaces for employee and public parking.

In addition to expanding parking, calls for 667,000 square feet of additional office space spread across six new five-story office buildings.

Three of the buildings would be built in the area of the existing parking garage and lots off of Greenbrier Street. The other three would be built along Washington Street East on the blocks east of the Capitol.

All would feature below-ground parking employees working in those buildings.

The plan proposes moving House of Delegates offices to one of those buildings, in order to allow delegates and legislative staff to have their own offices. Most delegates, excluding those that chair committees, currently share office space with at least one other delegate in rooms in the Capitol’s East Wing or ground floor.

The plan also says one of the new office buildings could be used to accommodate a potential new Intermediate Appellate Court system — a topic of high debate in recent years.

The new judicial building should be constructed to include various courtrooms, judge’s chambers, research libraries and conference rooms that could be used by the court system, according to the plan.

A seventh two-story, 62,500-square foot building, located along Michigan Avenue, could also be built to house a daycare. It would be large enough to serve 265 children, with more than 20,000 of outdoor greenspace that could be used for a playground.

A handful of smaller buildings and security posts would be built under the plan. That includes a 4,000-square foot visitor center located near the current Greenbrier Street entrance next to the Culture Center.

The plan would also help future governors avoid criticisms among Charleston’s chattering class with the construction of a permanent, 4,500-square foot event center attached to the Governor’s Mansion.

The permanent facility would, in theory, eliminate the need for erecting any more temporary plastic party tents for executive entertaining.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at busin… or 304-348-4836.

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Classes for KVCC’s new Healthy Living Campus will start rolling out in 2014 … – Kalamazoo Gazette

KALAMAZOO, MI – Construction isn’t scheduled to begin on Kalamazoo Valley
Community College’s new Healthy Living Campus until spring of next year. But the first
classes could start rolling out as soon as the first quarter of 2014, said
Marilyn Schlack, president of KVCC.

KVCC mapThe green-shaded area are the parcels donated by Bronson Methodist Hospital for a new Healthy Living campus being developed by Kalamazoo Valley Community College. The hospital is in orange.

“We see ourselves having a great opportunity to start doing
something around the vision of the new campus,” said Schlack. “In 2014, we will start rolling things out and
showing how they’re connected to what we’re trying to do.”

Among the early offerings: Classes on hoophouse growing,
which can extend the growing season in colder climates, and a food safety
technician program that KVCC is currently developing with the city of Battle
Creek, Schlack said.

While the campus is being built, these courses would be
offered at KVCC’s other campuses, as well as at Bronson Healthcare,
which is one of the partners in the new venture, along with Kalamazoo Community
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Schlack said.

The food services technician program would be designed to
meet the increased regulatory demands of the Food Safety Modernization Act of
2011, which was passed after a series of outbreaks of food-borne illnesses in
the 2000s. It aims to shift the emphasis on food regulation from responding to
contamination to preventing it.

“The idea is to not only create entrepreneurs, but create
technicians that can work for the big companies – the Meijers and the Ciscos
and the big farms,” said Schlack. “You have small farmers that can’t afford to
have a food safety technician, but they could share that cost. We think there’s
going to be a job market that’s not being met at this time.”

The KVCC Board of Trustees approved the new venture in May and the new $42 million downtown campus was announced in July. Bronson Healthcare donated 13.3 acres of land to the project located within the Edison Neighborhood.

The partners have said they will not seek millages or bonds to finance the
. The three will be putting up the money themselves, as well as seeking
national, state and private gifts and grants. Construction of the new campus is expected to begin in spring 2014.

In fact, KVCC was one of just five public universities or
community colleges whose capital outlay planning requests were approved this year. Gov. Rick Snyder approved its capital outlay
request of $6 million toward the Healthy Living Campus as part of Public Act
102. The request still would need separate legislative approval for a
construction authorization before KVCC received the money from the state.

The genesis for the Healthy Living Campus came several years
earlier, Schlack said, when the community college was trying to figure out how
to expand into an underserved area and “help people that didn’t have access to
nutritional food not only understand it but have access and then learn that it
could be prepared in a way that they would find appealing.

“The more we talked and the more we learned about what was
going on, we said, ‘Here’s an opportunity to do something a little differently,’ ” she said.

Schlack and other KVCC officials worked with Rick Foster, director
of the Institute for Greening Michigan at Michigan State University. They made
several exploratory visits to Detroit to see the work being done there with
urban farming and community gardens and how it might be translated to Kalamazoo.

Three facilities are
planned. KVCC will develop one for food production and
distribution, a second for nursing, allied health and culinary programs,
and the third will be a new psychiatric clinic for Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. 

The link between food and physical and mental health has
only become more apparent in recent years, Schlack said.

“There’s two parts on it: It’s not just food. It’s the opportunity
to work,” Schlack said, citing programs in Amsterdam and Cleveland. “You give
that person value again. When you have value, you’re more interested in taking
care of yourself.”

Schlack also cited universities such as Tulane in Louisiana,
which mandated that its medical students take a nutritional course at a culinary
school, and the Harvard School of Public Health, which is collaborating with
the Culinary Institute of America.

“I’m thinking to myself: This is where it is,” Schlack said.

Schlack also said she hopes to be able to include area elementary
schools in the new venture.

“Studies have shown that children really get excited about
what they grow. That’s why we see this new campus as an educational
destination: How food is processed, how it’s grown,” Schlack said.

In a healthier version of Willy Wonka’s garden paradise, all
the landscaping at the new campus will be centered around food.

“All the landscaping, our intention is, is going to be
food-related – for birds and people,” Schlack said. “Instead of just having
bushes, you’ll have blueberry bushes. Instead of just having trees, you’ll have
apple trees.”

That way, children who might not ever have occasion to visit
a farm can see how food is grown.

“I find that exciting. I have people ask me: You’re an
educational institution: Is this really going to be educational? Absolutely. This
is all about education,” Schlack said.

The community college also is taking a collaborative
approach in the initial development stages — asking everyone from local chefs and Southwest
Michigan growers and food processors to church groups to provide input on the

“We’re inviting in different groups to talk about what the
vision is and how we can help them,” Schlack said.

“One, we see the synergies of working together – not overlapping,
leveraging what we have, and being able to serve, especially some of the smaller,
emerging farm efforts to be successful and get their foods to market and have a
market,” she said.

Earlier in September, KVCC also met with the state
Department of Agriculture, which suggested that the area could use a
distribution link to help bridge the gap between small entrepreneurs and their potential
markets. It’s possible the community college may be able to provide that link
via the new campus, Schlack said.

“One of the things they’re recommending is that the county
or the city think about having an incubator, an innovation center for people
who work in the Can-Do Kitchen,” she said. “They need an interim space to get
their products to market … We’re talking about how can we work together to
make that happen and complement what’s happening on the new campus.”

“My real hope is that
we have people who will stay in our community, become young entrepreneurs. My
hope is that we will touch people who live in areas that can only go to a fast,
convenience center and a get a bottle of pop and chips instead of a fresh apple
— that we find ways of distribution. My hope is that we become a prototype for
other communities to emulate,” said Schlack. “And my hope is that we spur a kind of
economic development that really demonstrates that healthy living and foods and
working together can make a difference in a community.”

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Gardening Scotland offers garden designers £2000

By Matthew Appleby
14 October 2013

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Maine’s Capitol Park to have ‘edible landscaping’ – WCSH



AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – Fruit, vegetables and herbs will soon be planted at Capitol Park near Maine’s State House, under a new state law.

The law that went into effect last week directs the state to plant edible landscaping in the Augusta park.

Democratic Rep. Craig Hickman of Winthrop was the bill’s sponsor.

Hickman says in a statement that the landscaping will be paid for through private and public funds and will be added as the money becomes available.

The Paris Farmer’s Union is donating seeds and Hickman’s farm fields in Winthrop will provide edible perennials.

Hickman hopes the edible landscaping will raise awareness for the local food movement, encourage others to plant their own food gardens and educate children that visit the State House.

Landscaping is expected to begin next spring.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Fall gardening tips: A new additive for poor soils

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October gardening tips

Planting garlic for next summer’s harvest, cutting back Brussel’s sprouts, and digging up dahlias are some of the gardening activities for this month.

Now is the time to plant garlic for harvest next summer. Purchase garlic sold specifically for planting, or buy organic garlic. Commercial, non-organic, supermarket garlic may have been treated to inhibit sprouting. Plant individual cloves, root end down (pointed side up), 2 inches deep and 8 inches apart, in well-drained, compost-amended soil. Once the ground freezes, cover the garlic bed with 6 inches of straw or shredded leaves for winter protection.

To get the sprouts to ripen faster, pinch off the top couple of inches of your Brussel’s sprout plants to direct their energy into the sprouts that are already developing along the stem. Clip off any lower leaves that have yellowed, and keep plants watered if fall weather is dry.

When frost blackens the tops of dahlias, cut the foliage back to 2 inches tall, then dig up the tubers. Let them dry for a day or two, but not too long or they will start to shrivel. Brush off any loose dirt and store in a plastic crate or cardboard box, lined with perforated plastic, and filled with dry peat moss, wood shavings, or other similar material. Keep moist but not wet or they will rot. Store in a cool, dark area between 35 and 45 degrees.

When cleaning up the flower garden in fall, leave some the seedheads to feed the birds. The seedheads of plants like purple coneflower (Echinacea), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), coreopsis and cosmos will provide a tasty treat for birds such as goldfinches.

Keep watering trees and shrubs, especially evergreens, which were newly planted this growing season until the ground freezes. Although the tops of woody plants may be dormant, their roots are still active until late in the season.

Weed your perennial gardens and shrub beds thoroughly in the fall and you’ll have fewer weed problems to begin the following year. It’s also a good time to edge beds.

The foliage of evergreens can be injured over the winter by the drying effects of wind and sun, especially if they are planted in a southern or western exposure. Protect plants over the winter with burlap screens.

If you test your soil and add any needed amendments now, the soil will be ready for planting when you are in the spring. Contact your local university extension office for a soil-testing kit, also available at many garden stores. Since your soil can vary from location to location in your yard, if you notice different characteristics of the soil in different beds, test them separately.

All you need to “force” bulbs indoors is a place that stays cool but above freezing (35 to 45 degrees is best). Pot up daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, and other spring bulbs that need such a cold treatment, and water them well. For the best show, don’t mix different types of bulbs in one pot unless you’re sure they bloom at about the same time. Then place the pots in cool storage for about 12 to 16 weeks. Check on them periodically and water when the soil is dry. Unlike the spring daffodils, paperwhite narcissus don’t need a cold treatment.

Other gardening tips for this month include checking and replacing faded garden labels, carving pumpkins, visiting a local apple orchard, and baking fresh apple pies.

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Tips and tricks to help prepare your garden for winter

Posted on: 9:53 am, October 14, 2013, by

Turning the compost in preparation for the winter. Learn how to handle that stuff this fall to turn it into “gardeners’ gold” next summer.

Canna lilies are popular flowers with large leaves and tall flower stalks on the boulevards and in plantings around businesses and the home. Their underground “bulbs” are tender and will not survive to flower another year if not dug up in October and stored some place warm over winter. Find out how to dig and store them so they are ready to plant and enjoy next summer.

Gladiolus also need winter protection to survive from year to year. They are dug at the same time as cannas and the same way but stored differently. See if these are easier or harder to bring in for the winter.

You can head to the Milwaukee County UW-Extension Horticulture page for more gardening information.

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The Importance of Garden Design Wirral – PR





 All property owners dream of having a
beautiful garden, one that stands out in the crowd and is admired by everyone.
Fortunately, this can be achieved with the help of experienced Garden Design
Wirral experts who will create a unique garden that will make you feel happy
and comfortable. Once their job is done, you will be able to enjoy a garden
that looks great, one that is relaxing, easy to move through and not too hard
to maintain. The landscape architect will help you select a suitable design,
one that blends in perfectly with the rest of the outside space and one that is
easy to maintain. You can always resort to Garden Maintenance Wirral services
if you lack the time and the skills to take care of your garden.

A garden is
not only about beauty, it is about functionality as well. An experienced
landscape architect will come up with a garden project that combines beauty,
comfort and utility and he will create an enjoyable, liveable garden, one that
you will enjoy for many years to come. Garden design is a real challenge. It is
not an easy task to build a garden from scratch and there are several aspects
that will be considered by Garden Design Wirral experts, such as: the space you
have, the budget, the climate and how much you are willing to invest in garden

creating a garden it is essential to know the plants, the soil. Next, if you
dont have a large area for your garden, your landscape architect will have to
plan everything in order to maximise its potential to the fullest. Other
factors to consider before you embark on your Garden Design Wirral project are
the style of the garden, the location and how you intend to use the garden. The
layout of the garden is just as important as its plants. As far as style is
concerned, you can opt for a formal, traditional style or a chic style.

Moving on,
all gardens need adequate maintenance and regardless of the plants you will
have to choose for your garden, you will have to make sure they are properly
maintained. It is common knowledge that most people are too busy to take care
of their gardens and under such circumstances the best thing you can do is
resort to Garden Maintenance Wirral services. You will no longer have to worry
about your garden if you decide to hire the best in this field and let them to
what they know best.

Maintenance Wirral services are a necessity for individuals who want to
maintain their garden in a perfect condition. Professionals will take excellent
care of your garden and they will come up with a suitable maintenance plan, one
that is within your price range. Your garden will be the envy of all of your
neighbours and you will enjoy spending your spare time in this wonderful,
relaxing outdoor space.

Resource box:

Do you want
to have a lovely garden, but you have no idea how to achieve that? If this is
the case, it is time you contacted Garden Design Wirral   experts. They will help you with
garden design and  Garden Maintenance

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