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Archives for December 13, 2013

Gardening Tips: Celebrating the holidays with colorful indoor plants

Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 11:14 am

Gardening Tips: Celebrating the holidays with colorful indoor plants

By Matthew Stevens

The Daily Herald, Roanoke Rapids, NC


With Christmas just a few weeks away, holiday decorations such as Christmas trees, lights, ribbons and bows are a sign of the season. Many people also choose to decorate their homes with plants such as amaryllis, Christmas cactus and the ever-popular poinsettia, or give these plants as gifts.

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Friday, December 13, 2013 11:14 am.

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Gardening Tips: Dormant oil can save trees, shrubs from insect attacks

Your trees and shrubs can be saved from insect damage by applying dormant oil to them. Some of the insects that can be controlled with a dormant oil spray include aphids, mealy bugs, mites, scales and whiteflies.

When using the oil, take these precautions to help get the best results:

First, read the label directions carefully, and use dormant oil only on plants that the label recommends.

Use dormant oil on a clear day when the temperature is expected to remain higher than 50 degrees for at least 24 hours.

Don’t apply dormant oil when severe freezing weather is expected within three or four days after application.

Don’t apply dormant oil when the temperature is above 70 degrees.

Booker T. Leigh is extension agent for Tipton County. For more gardening information, call the Shelby County Extension office at 901-752-1207, or the Tipton County office at 901-476-0231.

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From the GCFD Fire Chief: Holiday safety tips

Fire Chief William Castoro and his officers and members of the Garden City Fire Department, want to share important holiday safety tips with our residents. According to the United States Fire Administration, each year fires occurring during the holiday season claim the lives of over 400 people, injure 1,650 more, and cause over $990 million in damage. By following simple safety tips, as recommended by the United States Fire Administration, our residents can enjoy a safe and joyous holiday season. The USFA tips are as follows:

As for Christmas trees, needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard. When caring for your tree, do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to smoke or drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. And when disposing of your tree, never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service. For artificial trees, if you are using a metallic or other artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

With regards to holiday lights, inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory. Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch. And, of course, do not leave holiday lights unattended. Turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave the house.

As for holiday decorations, Use only nonflammable decorations. All decorations should be nonflammable or flameretardant and placed away from heat sources and vents. Also, never put wrapping paper in a fireplace. It can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers and may result in a chimney fire. Also, avoid using lit candles. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning. Never put lit candles on a tree. Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.

Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan. Garden City Fire Chief William Castoro would like to extend all our residents and their families a safe and happy holiday season.

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Tips For Maintaining Kitchen Garden

Kitchen Gardening is becoming a trend lately. Many housewives have started gardening activities at home as it helps pass time and gives a good output. Kitchen garden can comprise of a wide range of fruits, vegetables and spices grown at the backyard of your house. Do not go by the name, kitchen garden is not necessarily outside the kitchen door. It can be in the backyard near the kitchen or to the wall adjacent to the kitchen.

There are quite a few tips for kitchen gardening and to utilize vegetable gardening to its fullest. You may grow tomatoes, chilly, onions, tamarind, basil, curry leaves, lemon and so on. There is a large list of plants you can grow in vegetable gardening. It depends on the climatic conditions, soil type and your dedication.

Tips For Maintaining Kitchen Garden

The following are the tips for kitchen gardening that would help you from the start. It will guide you to prepare your garden, plant appropriate vegetables or fruits and maintain the same.

The Sunbath Area – Always choose the backyard space that receives an ample amount of sunlight. The sun is the source of energy for plants and it stimulates the growth of plants. Plants should get an ample amount of sunlight for 5-6 hours a day. Therefore, avoid shady areas for growing your vegetable garden.

The Water Content – The soil chosen for vegetable gardening should have sufficient water content and should be naturally drained regularly. Too much or too less of water is not appropriate for plants.

Prepare the soil – The soil where you are planning to put your vegetable garden needs to be prepared. Remove the rough stones and patches from the soil. Add compost to make the soil good for gardening.

Plant Selection – Always select the vegetables and fruits that you want to grow beforehand. The selection should be based on the soil type, the suitability of the crop to the soil and climatic factor and the daily requirement of the plant.

Design – Make a proper design and layout of your vegetable garden. You must be sure of which crop or plant to use and where to use the same. The layout will make your garden look organized. The maintenance also reduces and becomes easier.

Nurture – Your plants need a lot of nurturing in the initial stage. Each plant has different needs and necessities. You must work accordingly and provide the nutrients required.

Water the Plants – Regular watering is very necessary. Imagine a day you spend without water. The same the plants go through when not watered regularly. Especially the saplings need water as their roots are not yet developed to absorb water from deep soil depths,

Rotate – Just like the Crop Rotation Technique used in farming, rotate your plants according to seasons. This will keep the soil fertilized and give you a variety in vegetables and fruits.

Maintain the Garden – Once you plant your crop, maintain it well. Each crop has different harvesting periods. When harvesting take good care of avoiding damage to the crops. This is an important tip for kitchen gardening.

Continual Process – Kitchen gardening is not a once in a week procedure. Once started you have to continue and nurture your garden well like a kid.

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Owner Brent Freitas of Eye of the Day Garden Design Center a Featured Expert … – Virtual

Brent Freitas, owner of Eye of the Day Garden Design Center in Santa Barbara, was a recent featured expert on The article, “Turn Up the Heat in Your Patio or Yard,” issues tips for making the most of an outdoor space during the colder temperatures, and Freitas advises outdoor enthusiasts to consider the source when opting for heat-containing vessels like fire pits.

Carpinteria, California (PRWEB) December 11, 2013

Brent Freitas, owner of Eye of the Day Garden Center in Carpinteria in SoCal, was a featured expert on, a widely trafficked site that informs new homebuyers and industry specialists about available new homes. As an expert, he issued tips of the trade about the types of materials outdoor enthusiasts should use for fire pits and other heat-containing vessels.

The article on, “Turn Up the Heat in Your Patio or Yard,” by Sarah Kinbar, discussed how to improve an outdoor backyard space to make it more enjoyable for the winter. Ideas included adding amenities like a whirlpool bath with a fire element for a spa-like space, two-sided gas fireplace, and rollable electric heating unit.

Near the end of the article, Freitas weighs in with important safety advice: consider the materials a fire pit is made of before actually using it. In particular, he explains that heat can wear on the material of any vessel that contains heat, and it’s therefore important to choose a pit or container that’s made of high-quality clay or concrete. Should less durable materials or merely decorative pots be used, potential fire hazards and fires could occur as pits begin to break down, crack, and even explode. To help prevent this, Freitas suggests checking labels of materials to make sure they’re suitable for fire, as well as using heat resistant paints.

As the owner of one of the leading Italian and Greek terracotta pottery distributors, Freitas is an expert in all things pertaining to the garden – whether they contain fire or not –especially with regards to high-end garden pottery, planters, and other decor. In particular, Eye of the Day features a variety of designer lines for garden amenities that include French Anduze pottery, pedestals, columns, birdbaths, benches, foundations, and more.

Eye of the Day boasts high-profile clientele, which includes Tommy Bahama and Ralph Lauren, and has also been featured on the DIY Network. Eye of the Day further works with international companies, private consumers, landscape architects, and trade specialists to create custom products for one-of-a-kind gardens and landscape designs.

For more information, visit; or, visit the headquarters off Carpinteria Avenue, open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

About Eye of the Day Garden Design Center

Eye of the Day Garden Design Center is a retail showroom that features more than an acre of high quality garden landscape products, including Italian terracotta pottery and fountains, Greek terracotta pottery, French Anduze pottery, and garden product manufacturers from America’s premier concrete garden pottery and decoration manufacturers. Eye of the Day is a leading importer and distributor of fine European garden pottery, and caters to private consumers, and landscape design and architecture firms around the world.

To see what Eye of the Day Garden Design Center can do for your business, visit

For the original version on PRWeb visit:

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To find heart of Rome, stray off the typical tourist path

The Villa d’Este in Tivoli, Italy, is listed as a Unesco world heritage site and is near Rome.


Hidden gems — ignored by the guidebooks, well off the tourist path — await in nearly every nook of this wondrous city, writes Bill Ward

Stand within the Colosseum’s massive bowl, and you can practically hear the roar of the ancient crowd. But to capture the sounds of today’s Rome, it’s best to get away from the flurry of tourists and settle into a quaint trattoria like Da Tonino, where everyone within its rustic walls chatters away in Italian.

No sign outside announces the restaurant; my wife and I dined there courtesy of a local’s tip. And that cloaked quality was precisely its appeal.

Hidden gems — ignored by the guidebooks, well off the tourist path — await in nearly every nook of this wondrous city. Of course visitors should crane their necks at the Vatican, sip espresso at an open-air bar in Piazza Navona and climb the Spanish Steps.

But in a place with a history so long and rich that it is dubbed “the Eternal City,” only one approach seems plausible: Peel away the layers, savouring each one, to get a deeper sense of the place.

In our journey to do just that, we hoofed everywhere, from an underappreciated villa with some of the world’s foremost fountains to a neighbourhood bakery with marzipan confections — and places beyond.

Our feet are still recuperating, but our souls are soaked with indelible memories.


Cul De Sac

Menu with eight kinds of pâte, sundry salumi and cheese and homemade pasta, friendly service (a waiter actually asked an indecisive customer how much she wanted to spend) and a fabulous vibe inside and out.

Tucked into a prototypically quaint but preternaturally quiet piazza a block west of the Piazza Navona, Cul de Sac’s outdoor tables are filled by 7pm, which is still happy hour for Romans. The booths inside rest under shelves of bottles reaching to the 12-foot-high ceiling, with the nets in between to keep any errant bottles from conking customers on the head.



At a couple of entrances to the Jewish Ghetto, you must pass through turnstiles (no coins needed) that we dubbed “pedestrian roundabouts.” The Jews who were forced to live in this flood plain near the Tiber River in the 16th century (after two millenniums of being a free community), had to come in and out through locked gates in massive walls.

The walls came down in the late 19th century, and a stately, imposing synagogue (Lungotevere De Cenci) went up on the neighbourhood’s edge. The old ghetto now has a few Jewish merchants and restaurants serving Roman Jewish specialties. Don’t miss the fried artichokes at Giggetto (Vie del Portico d’Ottavia 21;, and walk off your meal on tree-lined riverside Longotevere de Cenci.

Villa d’Este

Villa d’Este’s array of eye-popping frescoes are almost worth the 20-mile trek from Rome to Tivoli by themselves. The grandiose fountains in the “back yard” more than cinch the deal.

Installed by one Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, the son of Lucrezia Borgia, these 25 acres of waterworks (Piazza Trento, Tivoli; use ancient Roman hydraulic-engineering principles and range from the simple to the massive, from an endless row of smaller jet streams to a multifaceted “nymphaeum.” These spigots aside, the gardens include lovely landscaping and some gravity-defying trees. Similar landscapes are depicted inside, spread through a suite of art-filled rooms that, were they housed in Rome, would be anything but “hidden.”



Taking a hungry kid to Pasticceria Dagnino (Via V. Emanuele Orlando 75; would easily make the shortlist of Worst Ideas Ever. Popping in as an even slightly ravenous adult isn’t such a grand notion, either. The almost unending assortment of mouthwatering sweets at this Sicilian-style bakery includes ice cream and cake, cookies and cannoli. But what marks it as Sicilian is a boundless batch of that island’s cassata cakes and marzipan crafted into brightly coloured, exquisitely detailed fruits. Drool alert! You can skip all that eye candy by sitting and ordering at a table in the tony gallery near the Termini station, but why would you? Bonus points for the best cappuccino by
far we had during our two weeks in Italy.

‘Monumental Cemetery’

Most of us have found ourselves in a museum gawking at some oddity and thinking (or saying) “Is this art? Really?” That’s certainly the rote response at the catacombs in the Church of the Immaculate Conception (Via Vittorio Veneto 27;, where thousands of bones have been fashioned into light fixtures, hourglasses, arches and even flowers in rooms with names such as “The Crypt of Pelvises.” The Catholic Church’s Capucin sect, which has a history of an often-cultish relationship with the dead, crafted these “works of art” with the remains of 4,000 of their flock. Appreciating, or at least understanding, this attitude is enhanced mightily by a fabulous museum above the crypt, leading to a plaque that advises “What you are now, we used to be. What we are now, you shall be.” OK, then. — Star Tribune (Minneapolis)/MCT





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Anonymous local puts 30cm Christmas tree on Monbulk roundabout site

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Dry landscaping, but with a watery theme

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We love to try out new and interesting features in our garden designs. This could be a water feature using a cistern to send pulses of water for kids to play with, or decking using wood of differing widths instead of the usual samey grooved boards. More recently, we hit on a way of making screens and fences with a difference.

We tried it out for the first time last month in a front garden in Fishponds. Firstly, we took cheap and cheerful treated timber and drew a wave pattern down the middle of each plank. Using a jigsaw, we then cut along the “wave” lengthwise until each plank was divided into two.

Once all the planks were cut, we attached them to the posts, leaving a slight gap between them, which emphasised the curving pattern. After everything had been put together, we sanded and treated the wood surfaces.

Sometimes it can be a bit of a risk trying something new, but it can also be a lot of fun.

Our clients really enjoyed seeing their wavy fence develop and it was quite a talking point among passers by. A simple idea resulted in a unique and stylish fence for relatively little cost.

By accident, we also discovered that the look of the fence, and the view through it, changes when viewed from different directions and at various times of day, when the gaps between the planks allow for differing amounts of light. This effect was an bonus; you never quite know what you are going to get when trying something new.

As well as looking good, it’s important that a front garden is easy to look after. It’s on view for everyone to see, so you don’t want to be constantly weeding, tidying and pruning.

Elements of this front garden behind the fence were specially designed to be low maintenance. For example, we planted mainly flowering shrubs that need very little cutting back. Indeed, Cercis Canadensis or “forest pansy” will probably never need pruning.

Instead of grass, we used real stone cobbles for three reasons: to define the planting areas, to create an interesting shape and to retain the pebbles that we used for our “waterless” water feature.

It’s a contradiction, of course, but there really is not a drop of water in this feature; no pump, no liner, no worries!

We used small pebbles as a base and a large chunk of local sandstone as the focal point.

To simulate water we simply scattered blue slate and then used larger pebbles in a pattern to finish off the look.

As it happened, all the new things we tried in this garden worked well and we finished up with a really interesting and eye-catching space that benefited our clients and passers by alike.

To discus garden design ideas, contact Ali via email to, or for more information, visit, or follow @secretgardenweb on Twitter.

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New Lehigh Acres Trailhead Park opens – WZVN


Residents in Lehigh Acres received an early Christmas gift this year – a brand new park. County commissioners cut the ribbon on the Lehigh Acres Trailhead Park Thursday morning.

The park, located at 213 David Avenue features 11 acres of open space on a site that once was part of an 18-hole golf resort called Lehigh Golf Resort, which fell into disrepair during the recession.

The county says it went out of business and became a run-down eye sore.

“It was a neglected swamp area. I mean, trash would accumulate here. Nothing good was happening here. This was an area we had identified a long time ago to be able to do something like this,” said Lee County commissioner Frank Mann.

Its main feature is a half-mile paved trail surrounding a 3-acre replicate prairie with more than 18,000 native grasses and wildflowers.

The park also features picnic pavilions, a boardwalk and observation area with interpretive signs, an outdoor fitness area, restrooms and free parking. Leashed dog walking is allowed on the trail.

The county took extra steps to make sure improvements were environmentally friendly, with 90 percent of existing trees preserved.

The park also contains a series of manmade rain gardens – planted depressions – that help to improve water quality by and filtering runoff prior to discharge into Able Canal.

The project was partially funded by a $126,000 grant through the Recreation Trails Program administered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The park is open daily from dawn to dusk.

“We’re just thrilled to death to have a park instead of nothing. This turned out beautiful. All this landscaping, we love it,” said Kim Withrow, who lives nearby.

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Thinking about greener holiday décor?

This year, the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a narrow one. Many of us hauled out the Christmas decor even before we got into turkey day leftovers.

Before you hang the wreath or follow-up on that deal of the week for the pre-lit tree, think about greener options that might work for you this year.


Cutting down a perfectly shaped Christmas tree to deck out for two weeks and then send to the trash heap sounds like an insult to Mother Nature. Isn’t it logical that using the same artificial tree year in and year out saves trees, keeps debris out of the landfill and is the best way to live green at the holidays? Compelling logic, but there’s more to the story.


While the pre-lit tree is tempting, you will go greener with a real tree. Here’s why:

• An artificial tree must be used for 20 years to have a lower carbon footprint than a natural tree.

• Grown trees produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide the entire time they are growing.

• One acre of Christmas trees on a farm produces enough oxygen to support 18 people.

• Trees grown on Christmas tree farms are grown sustainably — for every tree cut down, two to three more seedlings are planted.

• Natural trees are recycled by most cities, so they don’t have to end up in the landfill. They are ground into mulch that is used for hiking trails, gardens and other purposes.


• Pinch and sniff. Pinch a needle to check for freshness. When you smell a rich fragrance, that’s the sign of a fresh tree.

• Remove a needle and bend it. If it snaps like a carrot, then the tree is fresh.

• Before putting the tree in a stand, cut off at least an inch at the base of the trunk. This fresh cut will allow the tree to absorb water.

• Water regularly. The stand for large trees should hold at least one gallon of water. Check the stand daily and refill the water to keep the tree fresh.


LED lights offer benefits in terms of safety, sustainability and value whether used indoors or outdoors. LEDs typically cost more than traditional lights. Yet they consume less energy and last longer, so they create long-term value. Here are good reasons to replace worn out lights with LEDs:

• Safety: LED lights do not get hot like conventional lights to create a fire hazard or scorch plants.

• Fewer outlets required: You can string a few dozen strands of LEDS end-to-end and plug the whole line into one extension cord connected to one power outlet without blowing the circuit.

• Less power: LEDs use up to 90 percent less power than conventional holiday lights.

• Longer life: LEDs last 4-5 times longer than conventional lights.

• Sustainable facts about LEDS: LEDs require less energy and because they need to be replaced less often, less material is used over the long term.

Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a Colorado landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.

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