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Archives for October 21, 2013

Suspect charged in theft of tools, equipment

A Kalispell man has denied charges that he stole thousands of dollars in tools and equipment from a company that supplies stone for building and landscaping projects.

Christopher Hogard pleaded not guilty Thursday to theft, two counts of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and the operation of an unlawful clandestine laboratory.

Employees of Glacier Stone Supply reported the theft of a service truck and other items on Sept. 16. The truck was recovered several days later.

A week after the burglary, a Glacier Stone Supply employee found one of the stolen tools at a pawn shop. Employees called police when Hogard returned to pawn more items.

Court records say items from another burglary, marijuana and the apparent components of a meth lab were found in a search of Hogard’s residence.

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Notes from Seattle: Neighborhood greenways


Notes from Seattle: Neighborhood greenways

Several GGW editors and contributors are in Seattle this week for the Railvolution conference. While there, they’ll offer a series of short posts about their experiences.

Seattle residents were sick of speeding cut-through traffic on neighborhood streets. In response, the city is creating a network of “neighborhood greenways” designed to slow drivers and make it safer to get around by foot or bike.

A cyclist and a driver navigate a roundabout on a “neighborhood greenway” in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. All photos by the author.

Neighborhood greenways are sort of a carrot and stick approach: speed bumps, physical diverters and small roundabouts at each intersection slow drivers down, discouraging them from cutting through the neighborhood, or at least encouraging them to drive more carefully.

Meanwhile, improved sidewalks and marked crosswalks make it easier and safer to walk. Bike lanes and sharrows, or shared lanes, give cyclists a safer ride as well. And all of those roundabouts and bumpouts are great places for landscaping, putting the “green” in “neighborhood greenway.”

Seattle first got the idea from Portland, which pioneered the neighborhood greenway a few years ago. The city has completed neighborhood greenways in two communities, including Wallingford, where I’m staying this week.

There are nine additional greenways elsewhere in the city in various stages of planning and construction. Residents are big fans of the project, and have even started a citywide advocacy group to identify potential greenways and push for them.

Ellsworth Drive in Silver Spring is closed to through traffic, but lacks amenities for walkers and cyclists.

If the neighborhood greenway is a carrot and stick, traffic calming in the DC area is often just the stick. Hearing complaints from neighborhoods abutting commercial districts, local departments of transportation often respond by closing streets off entirely. This creates “fake cul-de-sacs” that not only push through traffic to main streets, but sometimes local trips as well.

But unlike neighborhood greenways, these treatments don’t always come with pedestrian and bicycle improvements. In Bethesda, where Montgomery County’s department of transportation limits access to several streets around downtown, parents say they can’t safely walk their kids to school because of too-narrow sidewalks, poorly-timed stoplights, and a lack of crosswalks.

Speeding drivers and cut-through traffic can be a safety hazard, especially on narrow residential streets. But the answer isn’t simply to keep them out, as some neighborhoods seek to do. By making it easier to get around without a car, neighborhood greenways create more transportation choices and make the street a more welcoming place for all.

Dan Reed is the associate editor of GGW. A planner and architect by training, he also works for the Friends of White Flint, writes his own blog, Just Up the Pike, and serves as the Land Use Chair for the Action Committee for Transit. Dan lives in downtown Silver Spring. 

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In Pictures: A look behind the scenes of the Pontio project

WEARING a hard hat, steel toe capped boots, non-slip gloves and a bright yellow jacket isn’t normal for a visit to the theatre.

 But these items were essential for climbing rickety ladders for a rare opportunity to see the work being done to construct the Pontio Arts Centre in Bangor.

 Construction work on the £37m scheme started last autumn after the site at Deiniol Road was cleared.

 This included the demolition of the former Students Union building and Theatr Gwynedd.

 Shaun Miller, project manager for Miller Construction, said progress has been rapid in the past few weeks and all parts of the structure are virtually complete and fitting out work is underway.

 “People said for several months they couldn’t see anything being built from behind the fence. But that was because we were preparing the foundations and the huge retaining wall at the back of the site.

“Once that was complete we were able to start work on the structure itself and now we have a roof on every part of it and it’s now taking shape.”

View gallery

View gallery


 He added the centre, designed by renowned architects Grimshaws the brief handed down by officials at Bangor University was that the centre should bridge the gap between town and gown.

 “Hence the word Pontio. We’ve taken that literally and starting from the Memorial Arch on Deiniol Road the building has been sited to create a clear path right up to the main college building above.

 “From the Arch people will be able to make their way through the building, from the foyer area, past the theatre to the university lecture areas and the students union to the terrace just below the building.

 “It is a very large airy building with large areas of glass and from any point people will be able to see where they have just been and where they are going,” he said.

 Leading a tour of the building Shaun said the main theatre, named Theatr Bryn Terfel by the University Council last week, will be fitted out with technical equipment before the seating areas are installed.

 “It is a huge space but it doesn’t reflect its size at present because of all the scaffolding,” he said.

 This allowed Shaun, with the aid of several ladders, to walk onto the gantry where lights will eventually shine onto the stage.

 The multipurpose mid-scale theatre will host Welsh and English drama, circus, comedy, dance, opera, classical music, world music and gigs.

 The first production will be an adaptation of a classic Welsh novel, Chwalfa, by T Rowland Hughes. The novel, published in 1946, is based the three year-long strike at Bethesda’s Penrhyn Quarry from 1900 and has never been adapted for the stage.

 Plans for a new Welsh opera based on the iconic play Y Twr by dramatist Gwenlyn Parry have already been announced.

 A smaller, 120-seat studio theatre and a separate cinema are also being built. Shaun said the cinema is where the foundation stone was laid.

Nearby, where the projection equipment will be sited, is where a box of ideas produced by young people were buried.

 Outside earth movers are busy creating an outdoor amphitheatre and landscaping around the complex.

 Shaun said 18,000 tons of material were removed from the site and stored at Llandegai which is now being brought back.

 Other facilities at Pontio include bars and a restaurant.

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Column by Lisa Heyer: A gorgeous landscape means more than just looks

Lisa Heyer


Good landscaping can add up to 28 percent to the overall value of a house, says landscape economist John Harris, and cut its time on the market 10 to 15 percent. Even taking your landscaping to the next level, upgrading from “good” to “excellent,” in terms of design, condition, and placement, can add six to seven percent to a home’s value, according to a Clemson University study.

But don’t landscape merely to flip a house. You won’t get your money back, Sandy MacCuish, a California appraiser, tells us. Instead landscape for your enjoyment (Did you know trees reduce stress in just five minutes?), knowing that you’re making a good investment.

Listed are a few essential elements and a few nice-to-haves for value-adding and beautiful landscaping:

Essential #1: Trees

Maybe only Mother Nature can make a tree, but the National Tree Benefit Calculator can tell you what it’s worth. Your trees can even add value to your neighbor’s property.

A Portland, Ore., study found that trees with a sizable canopy growing within 100 feet of other houses added about $9,000 to their sale price and shaved two days off its time on the market.

Of course, to add value, the trees must be healthy, mature but not elderly, native to the area (more on the importance of native plants later), and appropriate to the neighborhood.

If you’re growing a forest and the rest of the neighborhood looks like a prairie, you’ll have a hard time recovering the trees’ value at sale. If your neighbor’s manicure their lawns and yours is a jumble of weeds or worse, their great landscaping will make yours look even shabbier and hurt the value of your home, says Domenich Neglia of Neglia Appraisals in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Just three properly placed trees could save you between $100 and $250 a year in energy costs, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Planting windbreaks and shade trees can reduce winter heating bills by 15 percent and air conditioning needs by 75 percent.

Just looking at trees produces “significant recovery from stress” within five minutes, according to a Texas AM University study.

Essential #2: Native Plants

If you introduce trees, plants, or shrubs, go native. Indigenous plantings thrive without the extra TLC (time and money) you’ll devote to anything that’s forced to live outside its natural habitat.

A study by Applied Ecological Services Inc., a Wisconsin ecological consultancy, shows maintaining an acre of native plants over 20 years costs $3,000, compared with the whopping $20,000 price tag of maintaining a lawn of non-native turf grass.

Native plantings help wildlife, too. The National Wildlife Federation awards a special certification to homeowners who create natural backyard habitats for birds, butterflies, and other animals looking for places to roost or feed.

Rain gardens with native plants and trees also are becoming a plus for properties increasingly plagued by extreme weather. These gardens filter and distribute runoff underground, preventing storm water from seeping into basements and overwhelming municipal sewers.

Essential #3: Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting consistently tops the list of most wanted outdoor features. In an annual What Home Buyers Really Want survey, 41 percent rate it “essential;” 49 percent say it’s “desirable.” But that’s not the only reason it’s one of our landscape essentials.

Tasteful lighting paints your home at night, highlighting your other great landscaping choices and directing guests to your home’s focal point — the front door. It protects against slips and falls.

It makes a property a more difficult target for intruders. That added security can reduce burglaries, and therefore claims. Some insurance companies give five to 15 percent discounts to homeowners with reduced or zero claims.

It makes your home feel homier. Soft lighting on a wrap-around porch or just a front stoop feels warm and inviting.

Just of few of the extra “nice to haves” are fencing, retaining walls and terracing and walkways.

Article prepared and submitted by Lisa J. Heyer, owner/broker with Jackson Realty.

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Study Identifies Garden Plants Most Attractive to Insect Pollinators

  • 21 Oct 2013 11:59

  • Written by Press Release

  • Category: Environmental

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–October 21, 2013.   A study conducted by Sussex University researchers has identified the garden plants most attractive to pollinating insects. The study’s findings are important as pollinating insects are declining globally and are facing growing habitat losses. The study also gives vital scientific information to individuals and communities on plants that are most beneficial to pollinators. Although creating pollinator friendly habits is an important step to slowing pollinator population decline, environmental groups and activists are focused on addressing the underlying problem that leads to pollinator population loss: the continuous use of toxic pesticides.bee-almond-blossom

The study, Quantifying variation among garden plants in attractiveness to bees and other flower-visiting insects, published in Functional Ecology, collected data over two summers by counting flower-visiting pollinators on 32 popular garden plant varieties to determine which varieties are more attractive to pollinators. The study found that the most attractive flowers are 100 times more attractive than the least attractive flowers. According to the study, the most attractive flowers are borage, lavender, marjoram, and open-flower dahlias. Majoram was the best all-round flower, attracting honey bees, bumble bees, other bees, hover flies, and butterflies. While information on pollinator friendly flowers is widely available, this study was designed to, “put that advice on a firmer scientific footing, by gathering information about the actual number of insects visiting the flowers to collect nectar or pollen,” according to study co-author Francis Ratnieks, Ph.D., quoted in a BBC article.

The study’s findings have several interesting implications. First, planting pollinator friendly plants does not involve extra cost or gardening effort, or loss of aesthetic attractiveness, as these flowers are not more expensive or more time consuming to plant than non-pollinator friendly flowers. The study authors acknowledge that while their sample of 32 plants is limited, the results should encourage further research to develop more scientific understanding of those flowers most attractive to insect pollinators. This study can also help cities and towns plan which flower varieties to plant in parks and public spaces so they can increase biodiversity and support pollinators.

Beyond Pesticides recently released its own BEE Protective Habitat Guide, which provides information on creating native pollinator habitat in communities, eliminating bee-toxic chemicals, and other advocacy tools. This habitat guide is part of the BEE Protective campaign launched by Beyond Pesticides this past Earth Day. The grassroots campaign is part of a larger effort to protect bees from rapid declines spurred by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and other hazards associated with pesticides. The launch came one month after beekeepers, Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, and Pesticide Action Network North America filed a lawsuit against EPA calling for the suspension of certain neonicotinoid pesticides.

Pesticides, specifically neonicotinoids, have increasingly been linked to bee declines. These chemicals are used extensively in U.S. agriculture, especially as seed treatment for corn and soybeans. Agriculture is not the only concern however, as pesticide applications in home gardens, city parks, plant nurseries, and landscaping are also prime culprits in the proliferation of these harmful chemicals. The systemic residues of these pesticides not only contaminate pollen, nectar, and the wider environment, but have repeatedly been identified as highly toxic to honey bees.

A recent example of neonicotinoids’ toxic effects on bees was the massive bee death in Wilsonville, Oregon. 50,000 bumblebees were found dead or dying in a shopping mall after dinotefuran, a neonicotinoid pesticide, was applied to nearby trees. After this incident the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) placed a temporary restriction on the use of pesticides with the active ingredient dinotefuran and the  Oregon State University Extension Service revised its publication, “How to Reduce Bee Poisonings from Pesticides”. The publication contains research and regulations pertaining to pesticides and bees and describes residual toxicity periods for several pesticides. Though this temporary restriction and revised guide are important steps that acknowledge the effects neonicotiniod pesticides have on pollinators, they should only be viewed as the initial steps towards a complete ban on neonicotinoid pesticides.

Take Action: Beyond Pesticides’ BEE Protective campaign has all the educational tools you need to stand up for pollinators. Some specific ways you can help are:

For information on what you can do to keep the momentum going, see

Sources: BBC,

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.


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Native Landscaping vs. Exotic Landscaping: What Should You Do?

Looking around your neighborhood, you probably see front and backyards dominated by turfgrass and ornamental plants that are not native to the region. Native species are plants and animals present within a given area prior to European contact. Non-native (or exotic) plants or animals are defined as those species that were not present before European contact. The impact of urban landscaping on biodiversity may warrant altering conventional or “exotic” urban landscaping to emphasize native landscaping. Biodiversity refers to the variety of life and its processes. Biodiversity includes species diversity, habitat diversity, and genetic diversity.

Stokes Aster (Stokesia laevis), a flowering native plant that can be used in landscaping. Credit: UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones

The conventional approach of landscaping with turf and ornamentals affects biodiversity in two ways: 1) it limits the diversity of native species in urban areas dominated by turf and ornamentals, and 2) it can affect surrounding natural environments, altering habitats in ways that exclude native plants and animals.

Let’s first look within the city limits. Simply put, landscapes dominated by turfgrass and non-native ornamental plants create an artificial environment that offers very little opportunity for most native species to thrive. A monoculture of turfgrass infused with non-native ornamentals excludes native plants and provides little to no habitat for most wildlife. However, biodiversity measures improve with the use of native plants. For example, more native plants serve as host plants for native butterfly larvae. Overall, the diversity of native plants improves urban biodiversity by simultaneously creating wildlife habitat and increasing the presence of native plants.

Looking beyond the boundaries of cities, the use of turf and some ornamental plants can negatively affect biodiversity of surrounding habitat. Non-native species that invade and impact natural areas are called “invasive exotics.” Most invasive exotic plants in the United States were originally introduced as ornamentals in urban areas and then escaped and became established in surrounding natural areas. We are not saying that all non-native plants are necessarily bad, but today’s non-listed exotic could become tomorrow’s invasive species. Further, the maintenance of lawns and exotic plants with an array of insecticides, fertilizers, and herbicides can also affect biodiversity. With insecticides and herbicides, most people use these chemicals to keep other plants out and to keep turfgrass and ornamentals healthy and alive. The end result is usually the eradication of native plants and insects. For example, many insecticides are not specific to the pest insect and kill many of our native pollinators such as bees, beetles, wasps, and butterflies.

The Precautionary Principle: Some will argue that evidence of impacts by exotics is not conclusive and exceptions occur. Further, they argue that if homeowners and the landscaping industry managed lawns and ornamentals appropriately, we could minimize our impact on natural environments. However, the risk is great, and thus the precautionary principle may be most appropriate here. Essentially the precautionary principle states that “where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, the absence of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.” Maybe we should look at each ornamental plant as a “risk” and overall, reduce the number of non-native plants installed in our own yards.

Certainly, non-natives do have their place (e.g., vegetable gardens, turfgrass for recreation, and exotic flowers for show), but the dominance of exotic vegetation is at the expense of our natural heritage. Alternatives do exist and people are increasingly interested in sustainable options. Become the first in your neighborhood to switch your landscaping practices and incorporate more natives into the yard!

Portions of this blog were first published as an article in the Journal of Extension: “Native Landscaping vs. Exotic Landscaping: What Should We Recommend?”


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Dig into some gardening tips

Garden humor

Garden humor

A green tomato hanging in the vegetable garden sports a set of stick-on eyes and a pink smile — just to be silly. Visiting grandkids love finding fun stuff like this in Grandma’s garden.

Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2013 12:15 pm

Dig into some gardening tips

Staff report

Your West Valley

Glendale’s Conservation Sustainable Living Program will conduct a Vegetable Gardening Day from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Glendale Main Library, 5959 W. Brown St.

Residents can attend this workshop free of charge to learn how to grow their own vegetables, learn about container gardening and gain information about soils and composting. The schedule will be:

• 11 a.m. to noon — Vegetable Gardening

• 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. — Container Gardening

• 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. — Soils Composting

Representatives from the Valley Permaculture Alliance and Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer specific questions. In addition, the VPA will have their Seed Lending Library available for homeowners to learn about seed saving and opportunities for swapping seeds with others in the community.

A composter, donated by Glendale’s Recycling Division, and other garden-related door prizes will be raffled at 2:30 p.m., following the Soils Composting Class.

The workshop is free, but registration is required. To register, call 623-930-3760 or email Additional information is available online at


Sunday, October 20, 2013 12:15 pm.

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Pumpkin carving tips offered by Glenwild Garden Center in Bloomingdale on …

With the second annual Push to Walk- and Suburban Trends-sponsored Jack O’ Lantern Jamboree just one week away, it’s about time to start crafting your own creation to bring to the pumpkin extravaganza at Kinnelon High School on Sunday, Oct. 27. The event is scheduled to run from 4 to 6 p.m.

Pam Maggio of Glenwild Garden Center is carving out a spider on a pumpkin and uses petroleum jelly to help preserve the pumpkin from rotting. The finished product: Note that with jack-o’-lanterns, it is not necessary to break all the way through. Candles can still shine to illuminate your image.

Among the other fun and festivities planned for the day, guests are invited to bring along their already carved pumpkins. Pre-carved pumpkins will be checked in and placed along the track (or indoors, in the event of rain). Judges will cull their favorites for consideration for various prizes.

Suburban Trends spoke with local pumpkin-carving ace Pam Maggio, Kinnelon resident and buyer for Glenwild Garden Center in Bloomingdale, for tips to get both experienced and amateur carvers geared up with Halloween right around the corner. Maggio offered a range of advice, from what household tools you can use to cut and carve your pumpkin to how to best preserve your creation.

Cutting and carving

Maggio recommends always bringing your pumpkins inside the house about 24 hours before you scoop and carve.

“Putting your hand in an ice-cold pumpkin is no fun,” she said.

Never carry your pumpkin by the stem, she said, because it can break off and damage your pumpkin. Always support your pumpkin from underneath.

Also be aware that pumpkins left outside on the porch can freeze if temperatures dip below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and from there they will rapidly decompose. So, bring in your pre-carved and post-carved pumpkins on cold nights.

To scoop out the pumpkin’s insides, you can use a scooper specially made for pumpkins or a metal soil scoop with ridges, which will help remove the seeds and make the inside of your pumpkin cleaner. Glenwild Garden has higher-end metal soil scoops available, as well as plastic scoopers that also do the job and sell for just $2.49.

Just “don’t use mom’s best spoon!” said Maggio.

You can draw on your jack o’ lantern with a grease pencil or crayon, said Maggio, as they are both easy to erase.

Carving kits can be used for cutting and carving, but so can a good straight-edged knife, she advised, adding that household utensils or tools can also make great designs on a pumpkin. One of the household tools that will come in most handy when pumpkin carving is an awl, a screwdriver-sized pointed tool for marking surfaces or piercing small holes. It is the perfect tool for punching holes around the design you have drawn on the pumpkin.

“Use the awl before you attack it with a knife,” said Maggio. “Your knife or cutting tool will go in easier and you’ll stay on design better.”

Further, the awl is useful if you are cutting out a big section. Use the awl to cut smaller pieces across the bigger section so you don’t break the design.

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With Hard-Freeze Expected, Tips On How To Protect Garden

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A cold night is expected across the state. In fact, here in the metro, we could get our first hard freeze.

For gardeners, this is an especially busy time as they have to get their plants and produce ready for the cold.

When Jean Gonzalez started her garden 15 years ago, she didn’t expect much.

“I’m just like ‘let me see if I can get these flowers to grow,’” she said, laughing. “Then, we started getting some of the vegetables and it just spiraled from there.”

Now, Gonzalez grows more than 30 kinds of produce in her Bloomington backyard.

“I’m a teacher and have summers off, so that’s my soothing activity for the summertime,” Gonzalez said.

When she found out the first frost of the season was on the way, she had her work cut out. All weekend, her family was busy picking the peppers, 10 full bags of them, ahead of the frost.

“I’ve made so much salsa,” she said. “I have so many bags of chili peppers.”

Horticulturalist Abby Davis says it’s a good idea to pick or cover up fruits and veggies you want to save.

“It’s been a very slow short season, so people still have a lot of produce out there they want to protect ,” Davis said.

It’s also a good time for prep work.

“It’s a good time to seed because the seed won’t germinate until spring, but it will be in place and moist,” Davis said.

Eila Savela was stocking up on seeds at Bachman’s on Lyndale in Minneapolis.

“It’s going to be the big operation to plant everything within the next week and a half,” Savela said. “Then, in winter when I get depressed, I know they’ll be coming.”

For most plants, it’s best to just let nature take its course, which means for Gonzalez, the only task she has left is to eat all that salsa.

“We’ll be ready for spring!” Gonzalez said.

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Sawbridgeworth company wins award for design of London garden

ARALIA Garden Design, from Sawbridgeworth, has won a prestigious award for their design of the garden at Regents Park House in London.

The company, based in Sheering Lower Road, segregated the garden into five spaces, aiming to reflect the architecture of the house and create a sense of journey through space.

The first section created was an occasional drinks area, the second an outdoor dining room with overhead pergola, the third a paved area for a barbeque and water feature, the fourth a lawn for private relaxation and the final one a utility area with shed.

Planting borders included evergreen hedging to enhance the feeling of divisions and softer planting to provide seasonal change and fragrance.

Also built was a wrought iron staircase, complete with first floor balcony.

As a result, Aralia picked up a golden gong at the New Homes Garden Awards in the Best Renovation Project category.

Patricia Fox, founder of Aralia, collected the award at the ceremony held in Gaucho City, in the City of London, on Friday, October 4.

A client of Aralia purchased Regents Park House, a Grade II listed five-storey property, three years ago.

They wanted to use the garden for entertaining and relaxing, desiring a traditional garden with a calm, tranquil and ‘country’ feel, despite its urban location.

At only five metres wide they also wished the garden to appear wider and more spacious than it was.

The task proved no problem for Aralia, though, which will mark 10 years of operation in 2014, and the company won a BALI Design excellence award in 2011 for the garden as well.

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