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Archives for January 2, 2014

5 New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Your Cooking Skills

Here we go again, another year has flown by and all you have to show for yourself are some unfulfilled, discarded resolutions you vowed to keep. They were lofty pipe dreams anyway, right? Your resolution to be on “Hell’s Kitchen” froze over. To top the cake, your perfect culinary masterpiece has yet to be constructed. Either way, it was worth the try.

Instead of fixating on past failures, can the negative attitude and shift your thoughts to something more sunny-side up. Sure, you won’t become a top chef with a culinary master vision in just one year, but you can refocus and commit to a few New Year’s vows you can actually keep.

So, throw away that moldy old mentally and try some of these ideas to devise some New Year’s resolutions that are practical and healthy for the upcoming year.

resolutions-garden.jpg

Photo by Distant Hill Gardens

Starting a garden is a great new way to bond with your family.

1. Grow Your Own Ingredients

The Resolution

Start dedicate yourself to healthy eating by growing your own fruits and vegetables. Not only will you save money on your monthly grocery bill, but you will also improve your family’s quality of life. Your lush greens and plump ripe tomatoes will taste better than shipped or preserved supermarket produce, and be fully loaded with vitamins.  Additionally, you will be cutting back on food waste to help support a more eco-friendly environment sans pesticides. Not to mention, creating a home garden can really add a rustic feel to your landscaping.

Mastery

First, determine where you would like to grow your food, making sure to search for good sunshine. Once you found an ideal place to grow, tend to your soil by incorporating organic materials to aid in harvesting. This step is crucial to maintaining a healthy and thriving garden. Finally, plant your seeds and periodically check on your plants and water when necessary.

How to Stick To It

There is no need to invest in expensive plants and a used backhoe; plant a little at a time. Don’t become overwhelmed by trying to include all types of fruits and vegetables. Choose your most commonly used food and plant that for starters. That way, you’ll be more likely to use them in everyday cooking.

2. Regularly Learn New Recipes

resolutions-recipes.jpg

Photo by The Bitten Word on Flickr

Bookmark recipes in the magazines and books you read, and incorporate them into your stand-bys.

The Resolution

Incorporate a few new recipes a month to have some easy, go-to meals on hand. In doing so, you’ll be able to make time for cooking even on your busiest of evenings. Being conscious of what you are cooking will not only save you time, but it will also make you more aware of what you are consuming, which, in turn, will help you make healthier choices.

Mastery

Begin with including fruits and vegetables as a staple in every meal for a healthy, colorful plate. Then, build around your various sides to compliment with meat choices. To benefit your mind and body, turn to lean proteins like fish, chicken and turkey. These leaner choices will be kind to your heart and brain, while providing the protein and fat your body needs.

How to Stick To It

Slowly incorporate these recipes into your meal plans, trying to use them at least twice a week. For example, have panko crusted tilapia with green beans one night and salmon and broccoli another night. If you’re struggling with variety, try a few meatless dishes.

resolutions-grains.jpg

Photo by Jennifer from Sweet on Veg

Learn to love whole grains, especially in your breakfast.

3. Add Whole Grains

The Resolution

Often times our resolutions tend toward carb-free diets. However, the simple inclusion of whole grains into your diet can actually give you the nutrients your body needs. As a result, you will feel more satisfied and full by making the right starch decision.

Mastery

For a simple integration, always ensure that whole grain or whole wheat is the main ingredient. If it isn’t the first ingredient listed, look for healthier alternatives at your local health food grocers and markets.

How to Stick To It

You don’t have to bring a military attitude to this goal, but try to include whole grains in at least one meal a day. Maybe it’s whole grain bread for breakfast or quinoa in your yogurt at lunch. Whatever your choice, think of some creative options to spice up your daily grain intake.

resolutions-cookbooks.jpg

Photo by Theen Moy

Put your cookbook collection to use! Don’t have one? Start a recipe binder instead. You can borrow all kinds of cookbooks from your local library, and copy out your favorite recipes.

4. Cook Using Recipes and Cookbooks

The Resolution

Actually use your cookbooks instead of letting them collect dust on your counter. By spending time reading these books, you can improve your cooking skills and vary your recipes to avoid bored and impulsive eating.

Mastery

Grab a stack of your books and take the time to sift through the recipes outside of the kitchen. Flag your favorites with some sticky notes and make a grocery list. Once you purchase your ingredients it will be harder to back out of making these dishes and it will help you commit to some new finds.

How to Stick To It

Take at least ten minutes a day to read your cookbook outside of the kitchen. The more time you devote to using your cookbooks, the more refined your cooking skills you will become. If you’re at a loss, try Eat Your Books to help you organize and search for new recipes.

resolutions-preserves.jpg

Photo by The Bitten Word on Flickr

Preserves are a great way to save money and ensure that you don’t waste any of your hard work gardening.

5. Preserve Your Food

The Resolution

Take time to preserve food, because it will help you keep a supply of different ingredients and save on refrigeration. Plus, you can include healthy food items and avoid using any unwanted additives.

Mastery

Determine what kinds of foods you wish to preserve and make sure they are ripe and ready to be canned. Always sanitize your lids and jars to avoid bacteria. Also, when you seal your lids, double-check that there are no air bubbles. These steps are crucial to preserving food safely. Check out these great steps to canning food.

How to Stick To It                                                                                 

Choose a few different foods to can and start out small. Begin by organizing your pantry for shelf space and labeling your jars. This way, you’ll have a system to stay motivated.

Like any new resolution, it takes dedication and willpower to fully commit and carry out these new goals. However, with a positive attitude and good organization, you’ll be on your way to culinary mastery.

Article source: http://www.witf.org/food-travel-central-pa/2013/12/5-new-years-resolutions-to-improve-your-cooking-skills.php

Still no news on former NMH campus

NORTHFIELD — It’s been a quiet year on the former Northfield Mount Hermon School campus since Hobby Lobby transferred the deed — and the search for a permanent owner — to a Christian charity.

In September, the National Christian Foundation said it was considering groups that were “not exclusively Christian,” had narrowed the search down to two or three candidates, and would announce a new owner by Christmas.

The holiday came and went in the town of less than 3,000 without that announcement.

“We didn’t make as much progress as we’d hoped,” said Aimee Minnich, who oversees the National Christian Foundation’s search for a viable owner for the 217-acre campus.

Though the foundation is a nonprofit, it’s still on the hook for annual property taxes of more than $400,000. To qualify for a tax exemption, the campus would have to be used for nonprofit purposes. Though it’s not making the NCF any money, “collecting dust” isn’t a recognized nonprofit use.

The campus’ last owners didn’t make as much progress as they’d hoped, either.

Hobby Lobby, a craft store chain owned by the Greens, an Oklahoma family with a long track record of Christian philanthropy, bought the campus and its 43 buildings in 2009 for $100,000.

The Greens spent more than $6 million repairing and restoring the campus, which was closed when NMH consolidated to its Gill campus in 2005.

After millions in repairs and property taxes, the Greens off-loaded the property to the National Christian Foundation. Doing so earned a tax write-off for the Greens, and got rid of the campus they just couldn’t seem to give away.

Along with the empty campus, the NCF inherited the campus’ maintenance bills, and a long list of interested groups that can’t afford to pay them.

Jerry Pattengale, who spearheaded the search under the Greens, said it costs more than $1 million each year just to care for the empty campus.

The Greens intended to give the property to the CS Lewis College, a startup school named for the late evangelist and author of the “Chronicles of Narnia” book series, free of charge.

The only catch: the college’s foundation would have to raise $5 million by Dec. 31, 2011. The CS Lewis Foundation fell far short of the mark, and the Greens announced that they would consider other Christian organizations for the gift.

Suitors came out in droves — more than 100 of them — familiar with NMH founder Dwight L. Moody and his legacy of education and evangelism. By mid-year, two remained, and Grand Canyon University, of Arizona, was offered the campus in September 2012.

The school accepted, and announced plans to start the school with an initial 500 students, ramping up to 5,000 within a few years.

One month later, as residents wrapped their heads around the possibility of a mid-sized university just north of their downtown, the school backed out of the deal. The runner-up, the North American Mission Board, was no longer interested in the property for a 500-bed study and retreat center.

Though GCU never broke ground on the campus, the prospect of such a large institution sparked a lot of talk about the future of the town.

Some residents wanted to roll out the welcome mat for the college, and the economic shot-in-the-arm it might bring. Others wanted to keep the college out, citing huge impacts to the town’s infrastructure and schools. Though people on both sides spoke with passion, they discussed the issues, rather than arguing about them.

“The community learned that, if people talk to each one another with respect, the exchange of ideas can be very good,” said Alex Stewart.

Stewart is chairman of the Northfield Campus Collaborative, a town committee formed to discuss the campus’ transition. The committee has no authority, but it became a forum for residents to discuss the future of the campus.

Stewart said that has carried over into the crafting of the town’s new 20-year master plan.

“I think the town is more constructively focused on how it plans now,” Stewart said.

With the campus’ fate still uncertain, the town will have a little time to start implementing its new master plan before someone moves into the former 500-student boarding school.

One of the campus’ suitors has found a home in Northfield, a few miles from the former school.

Redemption Christian Academy, a boarding school from Troy, N.Y., opened a satellite location at the former Linden Hill School. Linden Hill closed after school ended in 2012, and Redemption bought the property in time to hold classes in January 2013.

While not much has happened on the campus, there has been news on nearby NMH properties that Hobby Lobby had an option to purchase.

The Green Pastures house was sold to the CS Lewis College Foundation this summer. The group hopes to turn the property into a CS Lewis study and conference center, including a base of operations for its college fundraising.

Edward Snow Jr., of Leyden, and his family hope to close on the NMH-owned Northfield Golf Club later this month. Snow’s company, Snow and Sons Tree and Landscaping, has run the course for the last two years, and recently came to a purchase agreement with the school.

Snow plans to continue operation of the nine-hole course, and hopes to add an expanded clubhouse and turn an old Victorian house into a bed and breakfast. He would also like to restore public access to the 52 acres of woods and wetland on the property, something many in the community are excited about.

A 22-acre Mill Street property, near the Connecticut River’s banks, was sold by NMH to a local man, who intends to build a home there.

Hobby Lobby has bought the Moody Homestead, and given it to the NCF. Minnich said it was purchased so that the house may stay with the campus.

Stewart said he’s glad the Homestead will go with the campus, as it serves as a gateway to the property.

Hobby Lobby retains the option to purchase several faculty houses around the empty campus through December. NMH has said the school would be willing to sell other Northfield holdings, including the East Northfield Water Company, which serves about 270 year-round and 62 seasonal customers, and about 2,000 acres of Northfield forestland.

Though the National Christian Foundation has been quiet regarding its search, Stewart remains hopeful.

“The foundation has a positive attitude toward Northfield, and they’re focused on getting it right,” he said. “For that reason, I think 2014 will be a pretty good year for the town.”

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

Article source: http://www.recorder.com/news/townbytown/northfield/10018583-95/still-no-news-on-former-nmh-campus

Christmas gift ideas for the garden and landscape lover in your life

Shopping for a Christmas present for a creative person takes a little bit of creativity on your part. And that’s why the following gift ideas can help, as they take all the stress out of trying to figure out what your creative person would like to receive this year. And since many of the items were just were announced on Dec. 11 during a winter sale, you don’t have to worry about them selling out too fast.

Got a landscape design lover in your home? Check out the latest garden and landscape design book set and video gift package ideas from Mary Palmer Dargan at the PoppyShop.

The Holiday Book Bundle is a steal at only $75, and if you are looking for some excellent virtual blueprint videos and workbooks to help you navigate designing your own home landscape, you’ve no need to look further. Mary Palmer Dargan has you covered! And she’s offering one extra month of personalized service for free, so hurry, as this offer ends in one week.

This creative design professional even gets into the Christmas spirit with her video promos for her products. And she is just as fun in person, if you get the chance to take one of her workshops.

Check out the holiday bundle promo above and then visit the virtual Poppy Shop for your creative shopping needs. And if you don’t have the money now, zip over to the Publishers Clearing House Lotto Twilight site, so you can try to win one of the $10,000 prizes they are giving away this week. They just awarded a school employee in Alabama a $25,000 prize, so you could be next!

Article source: http://www.examiner.com/article/christmas-gift-ideas-for-the-garden-and-landscape-lover-your-life

Water Wise 2014 offerings

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Here comes 2014 and we are ready! This year’s Water Wise events focus on healthy, happy plants. As you read the schedule, you will see some intriguing new topics along with some old favorites. We also want to hear from you, and Like us on Facebook. Find our Facebook page from the hotlink on our website, waterwise.arizona.edu. You can also call us with questions and comments at 458-8278 x 2141.  We look forward to seeing you in the New Year!

Unless otherwise noted, all presentations will be at UA Sierra Vista campus, 1140 N. Colombo Ave, Sierra Vista, Groth Hall in the Public Meeting Room, and are free.

This Saturday, January 4: Artful and Eco-friendly Gardens, 9-10:30 a.m.

Greg Corman, Gardening Insights, Inc.

Come learn how you can create beautiful and easy-care gardens that incorporate art, wildlife habitat, and native plants. Native bee houses will be for sale after the talk.

February 1: Prune for Plant Health and Vigor, 9-11:00 a.m.

Bill Cook, Program Coordinator, UA Cochise County Cooperative Extension

Keep your plants healthy by knowing what and how to prune correctly. Bring pruning tools to sharpen. This is an outside demonstration, dress for weather.  

 March 1: Basics of Drip Irrigation, 9-11:30 a.m.

Dr. Stephen Poe, UA Extension Specialist

Need a little irrigation help? Come learn about drip irrigation systems and how to water plants.

 April 5: WAM! April is “Water Awareness Month”

Water Expo at The Mall at Sierra Vista, and WATER (bi)CYCLE ride around the fitness loop!

Family fun bicycle ride starts at The Mall and goes from 9 a.m.–12 p.m. For more information, contact Water Wise.

May 3: Happy, Healthy Plants through Integrated Pest Management, 9 – 10:30 a.m.

Dr. Shaku Nair, UA Maricopa Ag Center

Come learn to apply IPM principles in the landscape to create a better, safer and healthier environment in a cost-effective manner.

June 7: Success with Succulents, 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.

Mark Sitter, B B Cactus, Tucson 

Come learn about the variety of succulents you can plant in your yard and how to care for them.  Plants will be for sale after the talk.

July 12: Rainwater Harvesting Open Houses. Are you collecting rain? Come get ideas from local residential and commercial rainwater harvesting systems during open house hours. Contact Water Wise for maps and details.

 August 9: Attracting Pollinators with Native Plants, 9:00-10:30 a.m.

Karen LeMay, Cochise County Master Gardener

Landscaping with native plants is a sure-fire way to have watchable wildlife. Come see how easy it is to do! Spadefoot Nursery will have plants for sale after the talk.

August 23: 17th Annual Water Wise/Master Gardener Xeriscape Tour. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Several beautiful low-water landscapes in the Sierra Vista area will be open to the public for this self-guided tour. Contact Water Wise for maps and details.

October: Well Owners Workshop. Details to be announced. Stay tuned!

 November 1: Septic Care, 9-11:30 a.m.

Dr. Kitt Farrell-Poe, UA Water Quality Specialist

Proper care for a septic system will help prolong the life of the system — and protect well water quality.

***

 Water Wise is a University of Arizona Cochise County Cooperative Extension program whose Partners are Cochise County, the City of Sierra Vista, Fort Huachuca, the Upper San Pedro Partnership, and Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative.

If you find a correction for this story, please contact our editorial department

Article source: http://www.svherald.com/content/submitted/2014/01/01/365270

Town Tweets

Town Tweets

Upcoming San Gabriel Events…    New initiatives are being planned for San Gabriel in 2014. Thanks to a grant from the Southern California Association of Governments, the San Gabriel City Council will consider a new ‘green’ code for the city.  In January and February meetings, the council will review presentations to consider the use of more environmentally safe uses of the land. Among potential ‘green’ projects will be the use of more drought-tolerant landscaping and lawns, pervious driveways, smaller rear yards for multi-family zones, larger patio areas for housing development projects, parking lot landscaping, more bicycle racks, landscaping on parking structures, ‘green’ roofs on housing, community gardens and farmers markets, ground and roof solar panels and standards for keeping hens and chickens. Going green is good, especially for the environment, but let’s be honest. In San Gabriel, the environment and ‘green’ has never been a priority. Look at the growth of new retail centers along Valley and San Gabriel Boulevards, and Las Tunas Drive.  I don’t see much green in these developments, only more concrete and compaction. Plus I’m not sure who would go bike riding in a city with no bike trails and a large volume of traffic moving over city streets. Also, developers want to make as much money as possible on development projects. Any additional costs associated with landscaping, larger patios and more open space only reduces their ability to create more units and make more money. But here’ the million dollar question, in a City Without a Plan, how is it possible to obtain a grant before city council votes on whether to go green or not? It’s just another example of poor planning in a city which is clueless…. Trees… More trees are coming to San Gabriel to replace the ones lost in windstorms over 2 years ago. The City is working with Amigos de los Rios to complete the project. The Amigos group will work with youth conservation groups and other volunteers to spearhead the plantings. In January, 130 trees will be planted along Valley Boulevard between San Gabriel Boulevard and Del Mar Avenues. In February, 40 trees will be planted in northwest San Gabriel. Volunteers are being sought; contact Park Supervisor John Gonzalez at 626.308.2878 or jgonzalez@sgch.org for more information. …. Winners …. Congratulations to the four winners of the 15th annual holiday decoration contest. The addresses of the winners are 237 W. Broadway, 837 E. Olivos, 729 Anderson Way and 916 Euclid Avenue. A certificate and visit from Santa were received by each winner. It’s really great to see so many houses decorated for the holiday season putting everyone who views them in a joyous spirit ….

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Article source: http://www.midvalleynews.com/news/2014/01/01/town-tweets-23/

City to mulch recycled Christmas trees

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Over the next few days, many people will be taking down their Christmas trees.

Starting Thursday, trees can be recycled in Albuquerque for free through Jan. 12.

People can take their live Christmas trees to Eagle Rock Facility, Tesla Park or the Ladera Golf Course and the city will mulch them.

After the trees are mulched, the city gives that mulch away so residents can use it for landscaping or their gardens.

The mulch is free while supplies last.

After the holidays the city got a lot of calls about what’s recyclable and what’s not. Those who are not sure can visit the city’s website.

Article source: http://www.krqe.com/news/local/city-to-mulch-recycled-christmas-trees

Tim’s Tips: Make time to clean and sharpen your garden tools

Happy New Year to all of you who are awake enough to read this column today!

Have you cleaned up your garden tools?

The pruners that you used all season will have sap built up on the cutting surfaces of the blades. If you use a putty knife or the blade of a knife, you can scrape the sap off the blades.

If the pruner is an anvil type, there is a little groove in the plate that the pruner edge cuts into. Use a flat-blade screwdriver to dig out that sap. Once the pruners are clean, sharpen them.

If you have loping shears, you need to remove the sap and sharpen them, too. All of your cutting tools that have been cleaned and sharpened should have a light coating of oil put on the blades.

The blades on your lawn mower should be sharpened, too. Your owner’s manual will tell you how to remove and sharpen the blades. If this is too big of a job for you to do or you lost the owner’s manual, it would be a good time of the year to get a dealer who services your riding mower to pick it up and do a tuneup. If you have a small push-type of mower, you generally have to bring it into the shop. The mower will then be ready for those first blades of grass in the spring.

If you have shovels, hoes or other tools with a cutting surface, those tools need to be sharpened, too. Once sharpened, they can be coated with oil to prevent rusting of the metal surfaces.

Soon, it will be time to start growing flowers and vegetables from seed. Keep in mind that you only need about eight to 10 weeks from starting those seeds and putting the plants into the garden. If you start the seeds too early, you will wind up with a plant that is too tall and potentially has a weak stem.

If you were going to start seeds this winter, now would be a good time to clean up all the pots and trays that you have for starting those seeds.

If the seed trays and pots were brought out into the garden, they were exposed to the soil in the garden. Garden soil can contaminate your trays and pots with a disease called damping-off. Damping-off will kill the young seedlings.

To prevent this from happening, you should wash and disinfect those pots and trays. You should wash off all traces of dirt and then use a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to rinse the pots and trays. This will kill the disease that causes damping-off.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.

Article source: http://www.newburyportnews.com/lifestyle/x12765397/Tims-Tips-Make-time-to-clean-and-sharpen-your-garden-tools

Tim’s Tips: Make time to clean and sharpen your garden tools

Happy New Year to all of you who are awake enough to read this column today!

Have you cleaned up your garden tools?

The pruners that you used all season will have sap built up on the cutting surfaces of the blades. If you use a putty knife or the blade of a knife, you can scrape the sap off the blades.

If the pruner is an anvil type, there is a little groove in the plate that the pruner edge cuts into. Use a flat-blade screwdriver to dig out that sap. Once the pruners are clean, sharpen them.

If you have loping shears, you need to remove the sap and sharpen them, too. All of your cutting tools that have been cleaned and sharpened should have a light coating of oil put on the blades.

The blades on your lawn mower should be sharpened, too. Your owner’s manual will tell you how to remove and sharpen the blades. If this is too big of a job for you to do or you lost the owner’s manual, it would be a good time of the year to get a dealer who services your riding mower to pick it up and do a tuneup. If you have a small push-type of mower, you generally have to bring it into the shop. The mower will then be ready for those first blades of grass in the spring.

If you have shovels, hoes or other tools with a cutting surface, those tools need to be sharpened, too. Once sharpened, they can be coated with oil to prevent rusting of the metal surfaces.

Soon, it will be time to start growing flowers and vegetables from seed. Keep in mind that you only need about eight to 10 weeks from starting those seeds and putting the plants into the garden. If you start the seeds too early, you will wind up with a plant that is too tall and potentially has a weak stem.

If you were going to start seeds this winter, now would be a good time to clean up all the pots and trays that you have for starting those seeds.

If the seed trays and pots were brought out into the garden, they were exposed to the soil in the garden. Garden soil can contaminate your trays and pots with a disease called damping-off. Damping-off will kill the young seedlings.

To prevent this from happening, you should wash and disinfect those pots and trays. You should wash off all traces of dirt and then use a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to rinse the pots and trays. This will kill the disease that causes damping-off.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.

Article source: http://www.newburyportnews.com/lifestyle/x12765397/Tims-Tips-Make-time-to-clean-and-sharpen-your-garden-tools

Gardening: Keep designs for new gardens in proportion

If you’ve had time over the festive season to leaf through those gardening book gifts, or to visit a public garden and walk off those Christmas excesses, you’ll hopefully be awash with ideas on designs to replicate in your own garden in 2014.

If you are redesigning an established garden, you can retain mature features, moving large shrubs and border plants to create an immediate effect. The proportion of plants and features to open space in the garden is all-important and the general rule is one-third planting to two-thirds space. You need that space to properly be able to see your garden and all its features.

Yet the garden can consist of many elements. Even a small garden could incorporate a mixture of different aspects, from lawn and paving to gravel, water and pebbles. If you have a tiny garden, think about incorporating vertical planting, using climbers to bring colour and texture upwards, or make your garden seem larger with the use of mirrors.

Vertical dimension will prevent an otherwise flat area from looking boring. In a large garden, for example, tall trees will take the eye upwards, while in a medium-sized garden pergolas, arches and arbours are useful devices.

Consider using a few bold focal points to draw the eye across the garden at an angle, which can help to overcome the shortcomings of a tiny space. Drawing the eye to focal points elsewhere can also detract attention from an unattractive object or area, rather than attempting to screen it.

If your garden is big enough to incorporate beds and borders, make sure they aren’t too narrow. Too many plants end up cramped between fences and lawn in boring, straight borders which do nothing for the plants or the view. Think about introducing interesting curves to your borders to give them a more fluid feel.

The minimum width for a border should be around 1m (40in) and even with that, you’ll be limited to dwarf shrubs and fairly small perennials. If your design includes three layers of planting in a bed, you’ll need an area of at least 3m squared.

You may think that planting the tallest plants at the back of the border and graduating until you have the smallest plants at the front is the best way to go, but there are certain plants you can use to break with tradition. Height in the foreground, as long as it doesn’t block the line of vision, increases perspective and can make the garden seem longer. For this you can use wispy grasses such as Stipa gigantea, or perennials that produce light flower spikes such as Digitalis lutea, or see-through specimens such as Verbena bonariensis, which don’t block the view of what’s behind them.

Long, narrow gardens can often be improved by dividing the area into smaller sections, using hedges, low walls, raised beds or shrub borders that extend into the garden and prevent the eye being taken in a straight line to the end. Each area might incorporate a different theme, such as scent, water, herbs or flowers.

Before any project can start, consider the type of gardener you are. Do you want a low-maintenance plot, or one you can endlessly potter in? How much time will you realistically be able to spend each week maintaining that space?

Draw up a plan either on a computer or with pencil and (preferably graph or squared) paper, to make an outline of the existing garden and its dimensions. Include existing features you want to keep and potential obstacles such as manhole covers which you’ll need to work around. Mark the direction of the sun, where it falls at particular times of the day and any permanent shadow. Then put tracing paper over the original plan and sketch ideas of your own, experimenting with layout and plantings, bearing in mind what the vista will look like from the house, both downstairs and upstairs.

And don’t make it too complicated. Remember clean lines and simple shapes will always work best – in design, less is often more.

Article source: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/what-s-on/gardening-keep-designs-for-new-gardens-in-proportion-1-6342815

Gardening: Keep designs for new gardens in proportion

If you’ve had time over the festive season to leaf through those gardening book gifts, or to visit a public garden and walk off those Christmas excesses, you’ll hopefully be awash with ideas on designs to replicate in your own garden in 2014.

If you are redesigning an established garden, you can retain mature features, moving large shrubs and border plants to create an immediate effect. The proportion of plants and features to open space in the garden is all-important and the general rule is one-third planting to two-thirds space. You need that space to properly be able to see your garden and all its features.

Yet the garden can consist of many elements. Even a small garden could incorporate a mixture of different aspects, from lawn and paving to gravel, water and pebbles. If you have a tiny garden, think about incorporating vertical planting, using climbers to bring colour and texture upwards, or make your garden seem larger with the use of mirrors.

Vertical dimension will prevent an otherwise flat area from looking boring. In a large garden, for example, tall trees will take the eye upwards, while in a medium-sized garden pergolas, arches and arbours are useful devices.

Consider using a few bold focal points to draw the eye across the garden at an angle, which can help to overcome the shortcomings of a tiny space. Drawing the eye to focal points elsewhere can also detract attention from an unattractive object or area, rather than attempting to screen it.

If your garden is big enough to incorporate beds and borders, make sure they aren’t too narrow. Too many plants end up cramped between fences and lawn in boring, straight borders which do nothing for the plants or the view. Think about introducing interesting curves to your borders to give them a more fluid feel.

The minimum width for a border should be around 1m (40in) and even with that, you’ll be limited to dwarf shrubs and fairly small perennials. If your design includes three layers of planting in a bed, you’ll need an area of at least 3m squared.

You may think that planting the tallest plants at the back of the border and graduating until you have the smallest plants at the front is the best way to go, but there are certain plants you can use to break with tradition. Height in the foreground, as long as it doesn’t block the line of vision, increases perspective and can make the garden seem longer. For this you can use wispy grasses such as Stipa gigantea, or perennials that produce light flower spikes such as Digitalis lutea, or see-through specimens such as Verbena bonariensis, which don’t block the view of what’s behind them.

Long, narrow gardens can often be improved by dividing the area into smaller sections, using hedges, low walls, raised beds or shrub borders that extend into the garden and prevent the eye being taken in a straight line to the end. Each area might incorporate a different theme, such as scent, water, herbs or flowers.

Before any project can start, consider the type of gardener you are. Do you want a low-maintenance plot, or one you can endlessly potter in? How much time will you realistically be able to spend each week maintaining that space?

Draw up a plan either on a computer or with pencil and (preferably graph or squared) paper, to make an outline of the existing garden and its dimensions. Include existing features you want to keep and potential obstacles such as manhole covers which you’ll need to work around. Mark the direction of the sun, where it falls at particular times of the day and any permanent shadow. Then put tracing paper over the original plan and sketch ideas of your own, experimenting with layout and plantings, bearing in mind what the vista will look like from the house, both downstairs and upstairs.

And don’t make it too complicated. Remember clean lines and simple shapes will always work best – in design, less is often more.

Article source: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/what-s-on/gardening-keep-designs-for-new-gardens-in-proportion-1-6342815