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Archives for December 5, 2013

Big changes to a small courtyard

One perk of living in a vintage apartment building is that older buildings were often built around courtyards. In dense communities, a bit of outdoor space offers a reprieve from asphalt streets, concrete sidewalks and rectilinear brick. 

Two buildings in downtown Oak Park recently received an update to their shared outdoor space, and while the square footage might be small, the impact on the lives of residents is large. 

Out with the old

La Verne Collins manages the apartments for GLA Property Management and says that the buildings at Oak Park Avenue and Pleasant Street were crying out for a renewed courtyard.

“Before, it was a real eyesore,” Collins noted. “From the first time I saw the courtyard, it was always my desire to do this since we first started managing the property 17 years ago. We have the best tenants in the whole world in these buildings, and we wanted to provide a better place for them.”

Collins says the project may have been 17 years in the making, but it only took a few months to complete over the summer. “We had some environmental issues that we resolved in the process, but the village made it very easy for us to get all the appropriate permits and get to work.”

A local connection

Collins contacted Andy Anwar of Oak Park’s Seal Guard Inc. to come up with a plan for the space. A native of the village, Anwar was excited to work on a project strongly connected to the heart of the village. “La Verne had a lot of passion for doing this, and I also had a lot of passion, being from the area.”

Anwar has spent his life working on older Oak Park buildings. “As a lifelong resident and masonry restoration contractor in the Oak Park area, I find a great responsibility in maintaining the heritage and diversity that all Oak Parkers appreciate in the architecture that surrounds them.”

He approached the project with an eye toward complementing the vintage brick buildings while making the space more pleasant for tenants. 

“Our goal was to improve the quality of life for the people who reside in the neighboring buildings,” he said, “through the use of a functional yet aesthetically pleasing courtyard area and green space.”

He first met with Collins months before the work actually began. 

“The plan itself took about a month. I went to the site about 10 times to brainstorm and come up with the final drawings. La Verne had a lot of ideas, and she let me change things to make them more aesthetically pleasing or structurally sound.” 

Demolition and rebuilding

Once the plans were complete and permits in place, Anwar had to complete an extensive demolition of the existing courtyard. 

“What we started out with was a courtyard that was really just a concrete pad. It was not very level, and parts of it were almost a hazard. I had to take out all the existing concrete covering the space. It was a lot of excavation. We removed about a foot of top soil to make way for the concrete base.”

Once the excavation was complete, Anwar could begin to reclaim the approximately 2,700-square-foot space. He used 5-inch-thick, stamped concrete to create a walkway through the space and likens the finished product to a yellow brick road, leading from the Pleasant Street sidewalk to the apartment buildings.

Green space

Collins knew going into the project that she wanted the courtyard to be more than just concrete. “I wanted to create a beautiful green space as well as hardscape.” She turned to Roberto Sanchez of Roberto Sanchez Landscaping to add some life to the space.

Sanchez says his goal was to make everything look better while also providing low-maintenance plants. “I used a ton of native plants that are made to withstand the heat of the summer. We used all perennials because you don’t have to replant those every year. It’s almost a one-time thing. You just plant it and let it go. One time in the fall, you clean everything up, and everything comes up again the next year.”

Native grasses and cornflowers add dabs of color, and Sanchez also provided low-maintenance flower boxes for the courtyard during the summer months.

Mutual appreciation

Collins says these buildings are emblematic of her company’s connection to the community. A family-owned company, GLA Property Management comprises the initials of her first name, her husband’s and their son. The Pleasant Avenue building includes 21 rental units and the Oak Park Avenue building houses 12 residential units as well as storefronts along the avenue.

“Our long-term tenants, in both the residential and retail of these properties, made this project so worthwhile. It’s a mutual feeling. We’re good to our tenants, and they are good to us. I just love them. We spent a significant amount of money on this project, and it probably took about four loads of concrete, but it is so worth it.”

Anwar notes that the good feelings were evident during the construction process. “This was probably one of my more enjoyable projects because the tenants would stop and gasp and say, ‘Thank you,’ as they walked through. It was so great to see what an impact it made on their lives. For me, it’s a great privilege to be asked to design a space, which, if it’s designed properly, can have a positive impact on a person’s quality of life.”

Article source:

Washington to Study Saving Southern Bridge Pier

The city of Washington will continue to explore saving a pier on the south end of the bridge adjacent to the riverfront trail.

Members of the Missouri Highway 47 Bridge Committee and the Washington Historic Preservation Commission (WHPC) met Tuesday morning to discuss possibilities for reusing the span or pieces of the current bridge that is scheduled to be replaced.

The idea, which also included benches and landscaping, was brought up by an engineer during the design phase for the new bridge.

Steve Strubberg of Horn Architect, who also is on the WHPC, presented a sketch of what the pier could look like if it were preserved. Strubberg, who told the committee that Horn Architect did gratis work for the firm that presented the original sketch, said the pier is north of the railroad tracks and south of the trail.

He was unsure if there would be anything that might prevent the pier from being saved.

The pier is an estimated half-mile down the trail, committee members said.

Positives to Saving

Strubberg said the pier would be an economical solution to maintenance, because it wouldn’t require the maintenance that a steel structure would.

Though some of the trail foliage has grown up blocking the view, Strubberg said the view is great and the pier is a “unique” art deco design.

The fact that the pier is already in place also was noted as a plus, as well as that could reduce demolition costs.

Strubberg also suggested using the pier as part of the “trail education process,” with the history of the bridge.

Nancy Wood, WHPC member, expressed concern about access to the pier.

Others said that while accessibility would be an issue, the pier could be a destination on senior trail day for those unable to walk to the pier.

Other Ideas

Discussion centered on saving the pier, but other ideas also were raised.

Tim Jones, a member of the historic preservation commission, brought up the possibility of putting a piece of the bridge over St. John’s Creek to St. John’s Island, which is in close proximity to the parks system and to downtown.

“When we lost that bridge, we lost a lot of potential for things that could be developed on that island if the city was able to acquire some of that land and maybe add it to the parks system,” Jones said.

Rick Hopp, who also is on the commission, said he didn’t think the property owners would be in favor of the proposal and that the owners farm that land.

Hopp asked if the bridge had to be removed.

Zick said the maintenance would be too much for the city and would be a liability.

Others suggested keeping the entrance of the bridge for reuse, but didn’t have ideas for reuse because of the size of the bridge.

Zick said that the beauty of the bridge is in its overall shape.

Others agreed that saving a single piece wouldn’t preserve the beauty of the bridge.

“No piece will look like anything without the rest (of the bridge),” said Bryan Bogue, WHPC member.

Next Steps

Members of the parks department will begin clearing brush and study the feasibility of saving the south pier before the January bridge committee meeting.

Darren Lamb, city economic development director, said the cost of saving any piece of the bridge would fall on the city or county and that MoDOT would not pay for movement or reconstruction.

The city must tell MoDOT its plans on saving any piece of the bridge by June 2014.

Article source:

Local baker Russ Dingeldein teams up with Camp Hill Bakery

HAMPDEN TWP. — Russ Dingeldein said his mother was always a good cook and his father made sure the family had a large garden.

That’s where the Chambers Hill resident’s passion for food started.

Dingeldein said he was always helping his mother in the kitchen and discovered that he really enjoyed cooking and baking. But before deciding that culinary arts was his chosen career path, Dingeldein’s father suggested he work in a commercial kitchen.

“Food was a very big part of our life,” he said. “I went and worked at a country club, and the chef at the time happened to be a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and I just love it. I washed pots, chopped vegetables, washed dishes and stuff like that, but I just loved the atmosphere.”

When he was in his late 30s, Dingeldein opened his own bakery in New Cumberland, which stayed open for about 18 years. After it closed, he took the summer off and worked for his brother’s landscaping company before starting at the Carlisle Bakery. About a year later, Dingeldein said he was in talks with the Camp Hill Bakery, at 4401 Carlisle Pike in Hampden Township.

The Camp Hill Bakery opened in May, and Dingeldein began work there in October. He said keeping a bakery open during a shaky economy isn’t the easiest thing to do, but they try to serve the customers the best that they can provide, to make it worth the cost.

“We try to work efficiently, the margins in this business can be very close,” Dingeldein said. “At the same time, there can be good margins, like for wedding cakes, and things like that. You have to streamline what you’re going to do. … We use all quality ingredients. We don’t use Crisco in a can, we don’t use cheap stuff, that’s why we’ve been known as quality — we’re not necessarily cheap.”

Owning or running a successful bakery requires more than a trend and some ideas, Dingeldein said. He has seen many people try to open cupcake shops or other places that follow the latest baking trend, but then close six months later. He said the biggest issue is that the owners don’t realize how much time and energy it would take to keep the shop open.

“This business is very hard work… you’re always moving around, there’s no standing around, sometimes you don’t take breaks — you just work,” Dingeldein said. “There’s great demand, great pressure, at times…. It’s just the nature of our business.”

He said people don’t always realize the food business requires a lot of time and hard work. Despite the frustrations and how much dedication and sacrifice is required to be successful in the industry, he said it truly does make him happy.

“My philosophy is that I try to offer the best that I know,” he said. “And I like making people happy. That’s something that I can do — that’s my gift. And it’s fun to have someone come in and say ‘You know what? That was really good.’”

Email Samantha Madison at or follow her on Twitter @SentinelMadison

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Henry Girls Floral opens in Lake Elmo

Patty Henry and Jessica Henry Westin opened a new floral business in Lake Elmo recently (Submitted photo)

Patty Henry and Jessica Henry Westin opened a new floral business in Lake Elmo recently (Submitted photo)

The Henry Girls, a mother-daughter team, recently opened a new shop in Lake Elmo that aims to provide help in the form of flowers to those planning weddings and events.

Their shop, Henry Girls Floral, grew out of a gardening service they established in 2005. Five years ago the pair extended their gardening service to include a floral business. Originally working out of their home Patty Henry and Jessica Henry Westin rented their new location this summer while they were working with Lake Elmo Inn’s gardens.

The response has been wonderful from the Lake Elmo community, according to Patty Henry. She says that everyone’s been very welcoming and so far they’ve had seven brides stop by their shop.

“The business emerged to include weddings because I loved weddings,” Patty said. “I have a catering background and lots of our work is gained from referrals. We’re getting people as far away as Chaska, and we’re booking two more (weddings) tonight.”

Though working out of the home was beneficial Patty said that they opted to open their shop because with more and more people who were stopping by the higher need there was to open a place that was a quiet meeting ground for brides and the Henry girls.

Patty Henry said her interest in floral arranging and gardening arose when she was working as a caterer. She said that the decorating groups and those who set everything up looked like they’d be having so much fun and she wanted to be a part of that. After working in the food service for several years she decided she wanted to start her own business and the gardening aspect of their business was born. Her last boss was the first to hire her.

“Some jobs have grown into landscaping but we prefer to manage the maintenance aspect of it. Digging plants, putting together window boxes and decorative planters,” Henry said. “It really gives you peace and my daughter and I have taken a variety of classes that help us with this. My daughter once said, ‘I should’ve been a horticulture major in college.’ She was able to leave her old job a couple years ago to join me full time. We really enjoy doing this together and we’re hoping to eventually have her take over the gardening portion of the business going forward since that’s the part that she most enjoys.”

Though the floral arranging is part of their business as well they are still working on planning the retail portion of their shop.

“We’re trying to find the happy balance. We’ve advertised on Facebook but not so much on the website. We’re encouraging people to order their Christmas arrangements ahead of time so we can accommodate them, we’re hoping to do something with Valentine’s Day. And we’re still working on figuring out the details of that. The brides are our focus.”

Their mostly home grown stock of seasonal flowers lowers the cost of bouquets and helps brides find a way to make their budget work toward their advantage, and Patty Henry insists they never up-sell.

“For me my favorite part of working with the brides is the planning help. We tend to want to make their ideas happen for them within their budget and if we know it’s out of their budget we usually suggest some DIY projects,” Patty Henry said. “I love to see them get excited and see the vision of what they can really do and work with them to achieve what they want to get. Sometimes they bring their grooms along and I always get a little giddy when I see he grooms reaction. Some of them are so into it while others are looking at their watches but it’s quite funny and we make sure they both enjoy the process.”

Wedding consultations must be done by appointment. Rates for the shop’s services can be found on the company website or you can find them on Facebook and twitter. A $200 deposit holds the wedding date and the couple can make payments or pay the amount in full two weeks before the wedding.


Contact Avery Cropp at

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Mayor to officially open community garden on Saturday


fraser coast regional council,

halcro street community centre,

hervey bay,


COMMUNITY gardens in Point Vernon will be officially launched at an open day on Saturday from 9am to noon.

The gardens, next door to the Halcro Street Community Centre, will grow fruit and vegetables and also has a sensory garden for carers and people in care.

Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O’Connell will officially open the facility.

The event includes tours, demonstrations, a garden bed working bee and a sausage sizzle.

Healthy communities co-ordinator Maureen Murphy said a group of local job seekers had been working hard with council’s outdoor crews to put the finishing touches on the gardens including turfing the area and landscaping.

“The crews have done a fantastic job and it’s really starting to come together,” she said.

“A shade and picnic structure has been built, as well as raised gardens and they have landscaped the entire area, including paved pathways and planting native trees.

“Council’s Live Life Healthy team held community consultation sessions last year to gauge exactly what features people wanted to be included in the community garden and we have progressed from there.”

The garden will be a place where people can grow fruits, vegetables and herbs, as well as a meeting place to relax and unwind.

Ms Murphy said it would also feature a sensory garden where carers and care recipients could relax and meditate, swap recipes, and share gardening secrets and everything in between.

“We’re also planning workshops covering seeding and gardening, seedling propagation and healthy cooking classes so we really want to hear from groups and residents that would be interested in attending,” she said.

“Having the community centre next door means we can extend the activities to cooking classes, art workshops and seed saving to name a few.

“And anyone can get involved.

“We want people of all ages, from expert gardeners to novices who want to learn more about gardening and sustainable living. It’s a great opportunity for the community to come together and make new friends in a positive environment.

“So I hope to see plenty of people come along on Saturday and check out this fantastic facility.”

Article source:

Garden? That too on the 15th floor?

Thought living in a high-rise Gurgaon building meant missing out on the green lawns of Delhi bungalows? The city’s landscapers disagree!

While there are many villa residencies and independent houses across Gurgaon, the majority of the city’s population is based in the high rises that dominate the sectors.

For a long time, the greenery in these houses was limited to a couple of mud pot plants, while balconies were considered to be storage spaces rather than a place where you enjoy your evening tea. But with the popularity of landscaping artistes and their Facebook pages, TOI realised there’s a growing demand in Gurgaon to make their houses greener and more welcoming.

Landscaping the balcony is now a rewarding one-time investment for many, and each house is adding the green element to their limited open spaces in an attempt to stand out in the concrete jungle. We spoke to people who are happily enjoying their newfound green corners and herb gardens, which, till some time back, was an unrealistic expectation from those who resides on the 15th floor of a Gurgaon high-rise.

Landscaping makes for a one-time investment
Just like getting a decorator to solve your designing woes is an expected norm, landscaping works in the same way. And in Gurgaon, you don’t need too much land or even be at the ground level, to get your own little garden space designed by a professional.

Rahul Sarin who is based in Icon in Phase 5, shared with us, “We came to know about professionals after we visited one of our neighbours’ house, who had got their balcony renovated recently. We’d never expected that a storehouse space could actually look so beautiful! We got in touch with the landscaping professional soon after. We spent around a lakh on the entire project and it’s completely worth it. We considered it to be a one-time investment. We now have this additional space, which was just being wasted otherwise.”

Shikha Kavra, a teacher based in Sector 49, agrees and adds, “We had the right amount of space in the form of an extended balcony, and at our personal level, we had tried to utilise the space by putting in some furniture and would make it a point to sit in the open space, but it still didn’t feel the way it should. So we took professional help which has worked wonders for our space. Like one hires interior decor artistes, landscaping should also be handled by a professional, and without money constraints. In Gurgaon, one’s forever trying to maintain their individuality, and our balcony lawn, which has been designed as an extension of our personalities, is perfect that way.”

Our green corner’s a venue for get-togethers
Once the balcony space is ready after the designer makeover, the homeowners become proud hosts, and the little undiscovered open space becomes the favourite zone in the house for many.

Surbhi Verma, who stays with her family on Sohna Road, told us, “My high-rise house in Gurgaon is as different as can be from the Chandigarh or Bangalore houses I lived in before marriage. I was so used to a garden and I knew it was such a big stressbuster that I really missed here.”

When I first saw the work of these landscaping artistes on Facebook, I was really surprised. So, I got my balcony space done up completely, and now I can’t believe it’s the same Gurgaon flat. Thanks to my herb garden, my lawn and my plants within my balcony, I can proudly say that we’re close to nature while in Gurgaon because that is something no one expects when living in this concrete jungle. Our little green corner has become the venue for all our friends’ parties and get-togethers, and so many of our acquaintances are also getting similar projects done now.”

According to Neeta Loomba, who stays in The Magnolias, a house is incomplete without greenery. She shared with us, “I planned beforehand the kind of green elements I wanted in my house. Personally, I feel you can get the best decorator, the best furniture and accessories, but a house is incomplete without greenery. So, even in my home on the 21st floor, we have a green wall, and different-sized plants, which make my outdoor space my favourite zone of the house. Yes, every society has these big lawns and gardens but there is nothing personal about them and honestly, one hardly goes there to relax.”

Professional help a must because of lack of time, space
Once the new space is set up, the designers offer regular consultancies and visits to keep their busy clients satisfied. Many Gurgaon residents agree to take professional help due to major space and time constraints.

Mudit Khurana, who stays with his family in Phase 1, adds, “My wife and I are both working. I have grown up with a fondness for plants and gardening, and wanted my son to develop a similar hobby. But one hardly has the time for that here. We wanted a garden but we didn’t have the time to pick the plants from the nursery, or even the required knowledge about their maintenance. So, we took help from landscaping professionals who not only put our garden together, but also offered regular consultancy. They have timely visits to keep a check on the plants, and offer advice and tips, from which my kid is learning a lot.”

“My previous residence had a lawn and a terrace space, where I had collected a lot of plants and could innovate and use the space well. But when I moved to Gurgaon, I suddenly found myself in the middle of the sky, up on the 15th floor. To execute my elaborate plans, I opted for professional help. I now have a water body in my living room balcony, and a herb garden in my tiny kitchen balcony,” Rachna Chawla, who stays in DLF Phase 5, shared with us.

Customized packages and consultancies bring customers back: Designers
We spoke to the landscaping artistes, greenery advisers and decorators who lead to such happy customers.

Ruchira Sarin, from Humanize and Harmonize, shared with us, “People in Gurgaon appreciate professional inputs in all aspects of their life. So, even when I was starting out, I didn’t face problems convincing people for the need of getting a professional landscaping person to do up their balcony and terrace spaces. Other than the designing, one also goes in for green advice and consultancy to keep their plants in good condition and basically getting their investment going for a longer time.”

Humanize and Harmonize offers premium packages, starting `1 lakh onwards and budget packages for smaller spaces and limited plants at `25,000 onwards.

Ritu Mathur from Upavan also has an active Facebook page for green advice and conducts regular workshops for gardening enthusiasts. She shared with us, “People in Gurgaon are willing to experiment with their spaces. So, it’s not just about aesthetically beautiful plants but also smaller, easy-to-grow edible ones too. A lot of people have moved here from bigger houses, which had those vedas and backyards. So, creating similar, greener environments in lesser spaces is a popular demand.”

Ashok from Garden View added, “The popularity of garden designing has just grown over the years. Whether it’s just a small balcony space, or one combined with a terrace and deck area, the prices vary accordingly. But everyone wants to bring in green elements to make their homes stand out in the flat culture.”

Article source:

Landscaping Tips: Composting Made Easy

If you piled up a bushel or so of leaves mixed with grass clippings, stalks of plants, twigs and wet paper towels and left it alone for a couple of years, it would decay and make a layer of compost underneath. This small layer of compost would be a product of these materials being decayed by heat, moisture, bacteria, fungi, earthworms and many other organisms that survive on decaying matter. As long as you introduce air into this pile by:

Landscaping Tips: Composting Made Easy

1. Manually turning the pile,

2. Adding perforated pipe throughout the pile or

3. Keep the pile small enough for air to enter, it will not be foul smelling. If your pile begins to suffer from lack of oxygen, the odor of the anaerobic bacteria will alert you. While anaerobic bacteria breaks down material, it is much slower than aerobic bacteria. When you notice a foul smell, turn the pile well. This alleviates the smell and starts the aerobic bacteria working again. Turning the pile about once every 10 to 14 days makes the pile decay much faster. Once you begin turning the pile and notice decay taking place, do not add more material to that pile; start a new one.

Earthworms introduced into a pile add air, but remember: They need moisture or they will go underground. I place limbs throughout my pile to allow air to enter, then I moisten the pile well and cover the top with a tarp. A dark place with oxygen provides the proper environment for decay bacteria to live and work. If a pile dries out, remove the tarp on a rainy day, then replace it when the pile is soaked through and through.

A 3ex3′x3′ pile is ideal. Surround this with a circle of chicken wire (available at your local hardware store) made by using a 10′-12′ length. Pallets, if available, are also excellent walls for compost bins. Make several. As one fills up, make another one. Create one area for very hard, stems that will take a long time to decay. Chop them up as small as possible, then cover them with green material, such as grass clippings or other fresh leaves. Continue this layering and then cover the top to keep the pile as moist as possible.

Rarely, do we keep our compost piles as hot as necessary to destroy diseases and insects. It is best to keep them out of the compost pile. Burn them in another area, if burning is allowed. I sometimes bury this material in an area of the garden for a year or two. This works!

Do not place used kitty litter or dog droppings in the compost pile. Any manure from an animal that eats meat should be excluded. My rabbit’s droppings are excellent; the same is true with chicken droppings. All raw vegetable peelings, except onions and garlic (earthworms do not like them) are placed in the compost pile. Wet paper towels and shredded newspapers will keep the compost pile moist.

If your decayed material still contains large pieces of plant parts when you get ready to use it, sift it with a piece of 1/4″ to 1/2″ screen. Then use the fine material. placing the coarse material back into the compost pile to finish decaying.

Just remember: If you do nothing but pile it up in a corner of the backyard, yard waste will decay and make a wonderful soil amendment. It will just take longer than if you regularly turn it and keep it moist. Do not waste this opportunity to return to the earth what belongs to it.

Article source:

Your Garden Guy: Tips for buying holiday poinsettias

• Buy poinsettia plants now for color throughout the holiday season.

• Pick plants that are rich in color and have no browning at the leaf tips. There should be no signs of wilting from lack of water.

• Buy plants that are free from disease and insect problems. Turn several leaves over and inspect for unwanted holiday pests. And then, refuse to bring them home. I think there is a correlation here.

• Poinsettia should have a group of tight yellow buds at the center of the colorful brackets (flowers). If the yellow buds have started to open, the plant is past its prime.

• Once home, place your poinsettia near a window with at least six hours of bright indirect sunlight, avoid drafts and keep the plant soil slightly moist, not soggy.

• These holiday plants come in a variety of colors. As with any design, try to coordinate the flower colors with the colors of your decorations.

• Buy a colorful holiday container for your poinsettia. Those shiny plastic things that the plant comes in when you buy it are meant to be temporary.

• Remember, one very large, colorful, healthy poinsettia makes a more dramatic and tasteful statement than a bunch of tiny plants!

• One final note: If there are weird colors or sparkles on the leaves and flowers, your poinsettias will look like plastic. This Christmas, don’t buy live plants that look like fake plants … yikes!

Todd Goulding provides residential landscape design consultations. Contact him at 478-345-0719, or on Facebook.

Article source:

Gardening | Tips for indoor and outdoor gardening during winter in Myrtle …

Indoor plants may satisfy your need for blooms during short winter days. Or you may still itch to get out in the garden and enjoy getting your hands dirty on the occasional warm sunny day. Either way some seasonal gardening suggestions apply indoors and outside.

Indoor plants

Group your houseplants together during the forced air heating season. They will benefit from one another’s transpired moisture. Keep them away from heat sources and protected from drafts.

Water gift and house plants with room temperature or tepid water. Don’t shock plants with cold water. Let plants dry out between watering; overwatering is the most common cause of house plant death. If you want to keep the festive foil wrap on gift plants, cut holes in the bottom so excess water can drain out.

Maintain a vigilant eye for insects on indoor plants. They are the same pests you struggle against outside – aphids, spider mites, scale, white flies and mealy bugs. Spray off your plants’ leaves in the sink or shower each time you water them. It may sound like a big job, but dealing with an insect infestation is a much bigger one. The bath will also give your plants much needed humidity and remove accumulated dust. Keep a bottle of insecticidal soap spray handy for unwanted guests.

Outside in the garden

Don’t walk on or dig in wet garden soil. Both actions compact the soil.

Don’t forget to water outside plants during a winter dry spell. Dry roots along with freezing temperatures can severely damage, even kill, a plant. Remember that plants under a roof overhang or the heavy cover of evergreens are sheltered from rain. They may need to be watered when other areas of your yard do not.

Be careful what you prune. Shrubs that bloom in the winter and spring have already set their buds. If you want to enjoy their flowers, don’t prune them until after they bloom. Don’t fertilize them either until after they bloom.

Know your hydrangeas and clematis. Do they bloom on new or old wood? If your plants bloom on old wood, don’t prune them until after they finish next year’s flowering.

Save heavy pruning on trees and shrubs for mid to late winter. Go to Clemson HGIC 1053 on the Internet for more detailed information about pruning.

In the event of heavy rain, replace mulch that has washed away. Mulch does more than hold moisture in the soil. It helps moderate soil temperature – a good thing in both hot sun and freezing cold. Keep tender roots mulched to protect them from injury.

Don’t apply ‘volcano’ mulching piled high around the base of your trees. Pull mulch away from tree trunks. ‘Volcano’ mulching harbors insects and disease. A two to three inch layer of mulch is all you need spread around the root zone.

If an evergreen or perennial is injured by frost, don’t prune off the damage. The dead ends will help protect the unaffected parts of the plant during the next frost or freeze.

Don’t leave debris from roses on the ground. Fungus from infected leaves and twigs lives in the soil waiting to infect your roses with black spot and mildew next year.

Remove dead plants and weeds from your vegetable garden. The debris shelters last year’s insect pests and diseases so they can revisit your garden next year.

Pull winter weeds out of your lawn before they bloom and go to seed. Their bright green growth is easy enough to spot in the brown grass.

Don’t use plastic to cover plants that are vulnerable in freezing temperatures. Use a fabric that breaths. Uncover plants during the day.

Don’t fertilize until spring.

If you need something to do in the garden, you can always top dress plants with compost. Also, collect a soil sample and have it tested so you can make appropriate corrections for next year’s growing season. Go to Clemson HGIC 1652 for soil test information and instructions.

Reach DEBBIE MENCHEK, a Clemson Master Gardener, at

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College plans overseas expansion

By Sarah Cosgrove
Wednesday, 04 December 2013

The London College of Garden Design is looking at expanding overseas by offering courses as far away as Australia.

Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Tom Harfleet's September Sky design in Sydney

Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Tom Harfleet’s September Sky design in Sydney

The college, founded by designers Andrew Wilson and Andrew Fisher-Tomlin and landscaper Mark Gregory, could offer a combination of master classes and short courses taught by local designers next year.

Fisher Tomlin, also of Fisher Tomlin Bowyer, said: “We’ve had a couple of years where everyone has struggled to run short courses but because of my travelling there have been requests, particularly from countries where they have a culture of garden design but a different approach, such as Sweden and Australia.”

Fisher Tomlin intends to link up with local designers around garden events, such as the Sydney show where he and Tom Harfleet created the first British-designed garden at the Australian Garden Show Sydney in September.

“When we were doing that we were doing the Sydney show this year a number of professionals came along who said that our way was a very British way of designing planting. I think people are always interested in different ways of doing things,” he said.

The college is expanding in the UK as well, running more short courses at RHS Wisley and they are already half sold.

New courses include designing a contemporary small garden, designing kitchen gardens, designing with water and designing a family-friendly garden.

The Info Burst seasons continue in 2014 with the launch of a series of evenings with leading garden designers Sarah Eberle and Jo Thompson and landscape architect Noel Farrer talking about projects close to their hearts which were never built.

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