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Archives for January 6, 2014

How To Educate Your Prospects And Make More Sales At The Same Time

Ever have a friend who’s having relationship problems or going through a bad breakup?

It seems like they could just go on and on about it forever. It’s like a switch goes off. Even the shy types can’t resist spilling all the grim little details.

When someone has a problem, they can’t stop talking (and thinking) about it.

You can use this to build your credibility and make sales online.

You just need the right strategy to do it…

How To Educate Your Prospects And Make More Sales At The Same Time image Wellesley College Tower CourtPhoto Credit: Jared and Corin via Wikimedia Commons

Selling Online is an Art, Not a Shouting Match

Trying to sell to prospects online like the guy yelling, “hot dogs!” over and over again at a baseball game just doesn’t work.

That “strategy” works well enough at a ballpark, but that’s because you’re stuck there for hours and there isn’t much other food available. It doesn’t fly online, when your prospects have so many other options.

An aggressive, hardnosed approach online can drive your prospects straight into the digital arms of your competitors.

Plenty of businesses recognize this. So they change their tactics, but they get confused when their softer sales messages don’t give them the results they’re looking for.

Where Many Businesses Go Wrong

How To Educate Your Prospects And Make More Sales At The Same Time image mistakesPhoto Credit: doobybrain via Flickr

Many businesses go too far in their quest to avoid getting lumped together with used car salesmen in their prospects’ minds.

In their quest to keep everything above board and not be salesy, they manage to take the “sales” out of “selling.”

Their new approach gets them plenty of credibility and trust from their visitors. But it doesn’t get them the revenue they need to pay their mortgage and grow their business.

What these people need is a balanced approach. They need a way to get people to know, like, and trust them and still get them engaged enough to take action and buy their products.

A Time-Tested, Balanced Solution

Remember the friend from the beginning of this post? The one who couldn’t stop talking about their relationship woes?

The solution to your marketing dilemma goes back to that. It wears many hats – content marketing, “selling through education,” and relationship marketing are just a few—but businesses have been using the techniques for centuries.

John Deere has been doing this since 1895, when they published a magazine showing farmers how to become more profitable. Jell-O started 9 years later, when their salesmen gave out cookbooks featuring Jell-O-based desserts.

The principles boil down to the same basic idea: give your prospects content they find valuable by educating them on topics they can’t get enough of—their problems and frustrations—to build credibility and drive sales.

It sounds like a tall order, but it’s simpler than you might think.

The Blueprint to a Better Marketing Strategy (and More Sales)

How To Educate Your Prospects And Make More Sales At The Same Time image 640px Joy Oil gas station blueprintsPhoto Credit: Joy Oil Co Ltd via Wikimedia Commons

Most people won’t bother listening to you in today’s online space unless they feel they’re getting something valuable in return.

That’s the foundation of a more effective marketing strategy. You need to create content people find valuable and deliver it to create a feeling of reciprocal exchange.

Most businesses fail on both of these points. They don’t create content their visitors find valuable or interesting. Even if they do, plenty of them screw up when it comes to presenting it in a way that builds trust and credibility while still getting sales.

Let’s take a look at these stumbling blocks to figure out how you can overcome them:

Step 1. Creating Valuable Content

How To Educate Your Prospects And Make More Sales At The Same Time image Apollo synthetic diamondPhoto Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Most content online is a dime a dozen at best and a complete waste of time at first. The competition’s growing every day, but you can come out on top if you learn and apply a few timeless principles.

Here are a few fundamentals to creating content that educates visitors and motivates them to act:

Target the Right Audience

You might think your content’s valuable… but valuable to whom?

It’s easy to write about topics you find interesting personally, but bore your ideal customers to tears. You might want to talk about your job promotion, but your friend just wants to talk about their relationship problems.

Make sure you’re laser-focused on topics that would interest your ideal customers. Not your competitors or others in your industry. And definitely not just you.

Identify Emotional Pain Points Behind Visitors’ Problems

People buy based on emotions, and then they justify their decisions using logic. That’s why it’s so important to tap into the emotional root of your visitors’ frustrations.

Your friend with the relationship problems doesn’t have any interest in reading a psychology textbook about why the relationship went wrong. They just want to engage with you on an emotional level (at least at first).

Take a moment to think about what you’re really selling. Unveil the curtains that get to the emotional core of things. Why do your prospects want the result you can deliver?

You aren’t selling a weight loss drug. You’re selling newfound confidence, a better marriage, and looking great in a swimsuit.

Content that hits emotional buttons engages people, makes them receptive to share it, and eager to come back for more.

Consider Content From Related Niches

No one said you could only produce content specifically about your little niche.

But most businesses follow this like it’s a federal law. They pump out the same kind of content over and over again. It doesn’t take long to exhaust the topic and start to bore people.

If you’re a real estate agent specializing in starter homes, you don’t just have to talk about real estate. You could also talk about other things first time homeowners would find useful: home security, interior design, lawn care, landscaping, etc.

Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Creating content about related industries will help you educate your prospects and add value to their lives in a way most of your competitors won’t. It’ll make you memorable for all the right reasons.

Do Some Competitor Research

Your competitors might have marketing issues of their own to sort out, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t ever hit on any hidden gold.

Check out the content they produce on their blogs, podcasts, and videos. Focus on the most popular articles—the ones that get people riled up in the comments section and have the most social shares—for new topic ideas.

Pay attention and watch out for patterns and trends. Your competitors might’ve found a few emotional hot buttons that engage customers just like the ones you’re after.

You can create content within similar topics to better your chances of getting people engaged and coming back for more.

Stand Out

How is your content different than ocean of information already available?

Your marketing won’t thrive if you pump out dry, predictable content that your customers have seen 100 times already.

Just like with your product or service, your content should have its own Unique Selling Proposition (or USP). It should be clear why people should pay attention to you instead of anyone else.

How you choose to distinguish yourself is up to you. You just need to make sure there’s something that your content can do for people that nobody else’s can.

Step 2. Delivering The Goods

How To Educate Your Prospects And Make More Sales At The Same Time image 2505291978 0d89ac259bPhoto Credit: fortinbras via Flickr

Creating great content is just half the battle…

How you package and distribute your content has a huge effect on whether someone will pay attention to it long enough to get hooked. If they can’t do that, most people won’t end up becoming customers.

Email Autoresponders

Email autoresponders are one of the best tools for educating your prospects and gradually move them closer to becoming customers.

Sign up with an email provider and configure your autoresponder sequence. Then set up an irresistible opt-in form and you’re ready to go!

You can’t expect potential customers to come back to your site multiple times before buying, and a smart email marketing campaign removes that burden. You get to deliver a consistent stream of valuable content to the intimate setting of their email inbox.

Check out this excellent article from Brennan Dunn for some tips about setting up an email course. Another great strategy is to sign up to as many great email marketers’ lists as you can and watch how they operate. Derek Halpern, Ben Settle, and Marie Forleo are great people to start with.

Reports and White Papers

Reports, white papers, and other similar “long-form” content are great ways to deliver a huge shot of value to your visitors all at once.

You can make these available as free downloads on your website, or you can use them as an incentive to get visitors to opt-in to your email list.

Don’t know what to write out? Think of one problem your ideal customers would love to solve. Design and package your content as the solution to that problem. You don’t have to do too much with this.

The Path to Long-Term Relationships and Profits

If you can find a way to tap into the emotional root of your prospects’ problems, you can make people happy to learn from and respond to your marketing materials.

Selling through education takes more work than paying for traffic, but it puts you on the building long-term relationships and an expanding base of loyal customers.

How do you find valuable content to deliver to your prospects? Leave us a comment below and let us know!

This article originally appeared on The FunnelEnvy Conversion Blog and has been republished with permission.

Find out how to syndicate your content with Business 2 Community.

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Places beyond tourist spots can be found in Rome


Bill Ward


Sunday January 5, 2014 5:11 AM

ROME — 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 such as 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 almost 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, savoring each one, to get a deeper sense of the place.

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

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

Cul de Sac

Wine lovers should head to Cul de Sac (Piazza di Pasquino 73; to sample scores of wines
they can’t get elsewhere. (Start with a glass of the cesanese, although it’s impossible to order
badly here.)

But this locals-laden
enoteca has much more to offer: a locavore menu with sundry salumi and cheese and homemade
pasta, friendly service (a waiter asked an indecisive customer how much she wanted to spend on
wine) 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 7 p.m., which is still happy hour for Romans. The
booths inside rest under shelves of bottles reaching to the 12-foot-tall ceiling, with the nets in
between to keep any errant bottles from conking customers on the head.

Jewish Ghetto

At a couple of entrances to the Jewish Ghetto, you must pass through turnstiles (no coins
needed) that we dubbed “pedestrian roundabouts.”

Sadly, 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 neighborhood’s edge. The old ghetto still 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 Lungotevere 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 “backyard” 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 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 colored, exquisitely detailed fruits.

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 — that 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 Roman Catholic Church’s Capuchin 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

Article source:

Sell your home faster in 2014 with New Year’s resolutions

Originally published: January 3, 2014 12:53 PM
Updated: January 5, 2014 8:03 AM

 Tribune Media Services

A for sale sign stands outside a home

A for sale sign stands outside a home on Long Island.


Valerie Kellogg, Newsday's LI home editor and Rich
Long Island’s most exclusive properties

Newsday's Valerie Kellogg, LI Home editor, talks with
Celebrity edition of Long Island Homes

Which Hampton house has the highest asking price?


$8.2M Amagansett home redefines designThe idea behind the
Long Island’s impressive homes

Susan Breitenbach, a real estate agent working out
Best real estate agents on Long Island of 2013

Paul and Linda Pusak's $600,000 listing in LindenhurstThe
Selling Long Island homes

A year ago, at the end of December 2012, we saw far fewer “For Sale” signs. And this year, there are even fewer.

The surprising thing about the real estate market is its resiliency. It never fails to surprise how decisively a market turns. When it’s time, it’s time. And it’s clear to us that 2014 is looking very good for real estate.

There are a few troubled spots on the horizon: Mortgage interest rates are at least one percentage point higher than they were a year ago. And, home prices are higher. That means homes are less affordable than they were, particularly since incomes haven’t risen, in real terms, in years.

DATA: Explore home values, ownership rates | Search for homes on Long Island | List your property
TOOLS: Estimate the value of your home | Find research on LI communities

That’s good news, and not so good news for sellers. It’s great that home prices are rising. In part, homes that were in foreclosure or listed as short sales, have closed and now prices are rising again. But, rising interest rates (depending on how high they go), mean fewer buyers can afford to pay those higher prices

At the end of 2011, mortgage interest rates reached 3.7 percent, before falling back. In 2012, mortgage interest rates were about 3.3 percent on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. We ended the year with mortgage interest rates around 3.5 percent for a 30-year fixed rate loan. This year, we will end at 4.3 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. (If you’re wondering, we think these rates are still great from a historical perspective.)

The Federal Reserve has indicated it will now pull back its monthly spend of $85 billion in mortgage-backed securities and Treasury securities, which it did to keep interest rates at historic lows through 2015, or when the employment rate falls to 6.5 percent. The economy is improving. Third quarter 2013 GDP numbers were revised upward to 4.1 percent. The economy hasn’t grown that fast in years.

So, with low inventory, still low mortgage interest rates, and modestly rising prices, here’s what you need to do to get your home in selling shape for 2014: My classic New Year’s Resolutions for home sellers:

–Overcome any possible objections a buyer would have.

Buyers are always looking for a reason not to buy your house. Your job as a seller is to eliminate any potential objections that would stand in the way for a buyer to make an offer. If you really want to sell quickly, you’ll work hard to exceed the buyer’s expectation of your home as well. If your home is competitively priced, and your home’s condition exceeds a buyer’s expectations based on other homes in the neighborhood, you’ll get an offer — even if it isn’t the offer you want.

–Get your home into selling shape.

Cleaning your home is a must. After that, you should consider hiring a stager to give your home the television-worthy polish so many buyers expect today. (Yes, they want your home to look like something they’d see on HGTV.) Assess what other sort of work needs to be done, such as fixing things that don’t work, touching up paint, or cleaning or replacing your carpets. Decide if you need to update your landscaping, and paint, clean or tuck point your home’s exterior. And if you’re selling in January, clear out the holiday decorations as quickly as possible.

–Invite at least three agents to create a comparative marketing analysis (CMA).

Often, sellers simply call the agent who sold them their home to list it. While you may wind up hiring that person, you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you invite a couple of other agents in from different firms. That’s because each will bring different ideas to the table about how much your house is worth and what kind of marketing plan will work. They’ll all have different experiences to draw on and have different buyers in mind who may want to make a quick offer.

–Understand what it will take to sell your home.

If you live in an area littered with foreclosures, you may have to meet that price point in order to sell. Is it worth it? Probably not, but you’ll have to really evaluate price and timing in order to get the most for your property. If homes have begun to appreciate, you might be pleasantly surprised. Again, a CMA will be incredibly helpful.

–Be realistic about the market.

Find out what types of properties are selling in your area and how many days they’re sitting on the market. Accept the reality of your local market and make sure you price your home realistically. Don’t blame your broker if you don’t get 3 offers over your list price within 24 hours of putting your home on the market. Sellers who set sky-high (or even pretty high) prices could wait months or years for an offer (one of my neighbors has been trying to sell his overpriced home for years) and may wind up with the same price they would have had if they’d priced their home correctly the first time — or a lot less. In this real estate market, one of the worst things you can do is overprice your home from the start. The more realistic you are, the better off you’ll be.

–Rent if you can’t sell and buy at the same time.

We don’t recommend putting in an offer on another property until you have some serious interest in your current property or unless you have enough cash to cover the expenses of both properties for six to 12 months. It’s fine to start researching other neighborhoods, but if you’re not sure what you want to do, consider renting on a short-term or month-to-month lease. While a double move is a pain, and does have some added costs, it’s a lot cheaper than carrying two mortgages for two years.

–Read all documents thoroughly before you sign them.

Why would someone sign a legal document he or she hasn’t read? I’m not sure, but home sellers do it every day. If you’re going to sell (or buy) in the coming year, promise yourself that you’ll take the time to read and understand the listing contract, offer to purchase, and loan documents for your next purchase. (If you’re taking back a loan for the home buyer, have an attorney prepare the documents so you are sure to be protected.) Unless you’ve got cash to spare, a mistake in these documents and the warranties they contain could seriously affect your finances.

–Don’t be greedy.

One big mistake many sellers make is to get a little greedy, particularly if the first offer is above the minimum acceptable price you’ve set. Then the negotiation becomes a game of how much you can get.

Remember, a successful sale means everyone walks away feeling happy. If you get so greedy that the buyer walks away, you’ve let the deal get the best of you. Resolve to be reasonable and you’ll end up shaking hands with the buyer at the closing. You should also know that there aren’t unlimited buyers out there, and if you lose one it might take you quite some time to find another.

(Ilyce Glink is the creator of an 18-part webinar and ebook series called “The Intentional Investor: How to be wildly successful in real estate,” as well as the author of many books on real estate. She also hosts the “Real Estate Minute,” on her channel. If you have questions, you can call her radio show toll-free (800-972-8255) any Sunday, from 11a-1p EST. Contact Ilyce and Sam through her website,

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Master Gardeners thanked at dinner

LAMAR – The Clinton County Master Gardeners ended the year with their annual awards dinner held at the Penn State Extension Learning Center on Route 64.

Coordinator Quentin Stocum welcomed the group to an evening of good food and fellowship, the year was recapped, and a smorgasbord of foods prepared by the Master Gardeners was enjoyed.

Stocum presented certificates to Cathy Caris, Amy Knarr, Denise Rupert and Bobbi White for having completed the requirement to become Master Gardeners. In addition, Rebecca Forbes received a certificate for giving 100 hours of volunteer service, Carole Livingston was presented with a 500-hour certificate plus a five-year pin as a Master Gardener, and Tina Clinefelter was presented with a 15-year pin. Clinefelter actually has 17 years as a Master Gardener. Stocum had received a certificate for 2,500 hours prior to the dinner.

Article Photos

Outstanding volunteers were recognized at the Clinton County Master Gardener awards dinner including, from left, Denise Rupert, Cathy Caris, Quentin Stocum and Amy Knarr. Absent from the photo is Bobbi White.

Clinton County currently has 14 active Master Gardeners who contributed, at last report, 1397.25 volunteer hours this past reporting year.

Outreach activities in 2013 included a three-day educational series held in January, the Garden Hotline which was open May 1 through Sept. 30, an information booth at the Farmer’s Market, an informational exhibit at the Clinton County Fair. Volunteers also distributed pest education information at the Clinton County Wayne Township Household Hazardous Waste collection event, maintained the Extension’s Demonstration Gardens, provided guidance for STEP Inc. in landscaping its Lock Haven facility, met with international students from Lock Haven University, gave talks to various organizations, participated in the Clinton County Historical Society Garden Tour and the Herb Fest Program, and wrote more than 50 educational articles for The Express of Lock Haven and The Record.

There were 1,358 individual contacts made with the public. That does not include the number reached through The Express and The Record readership.

Projects planned for 2014 include the January educational series to be held Saturday mornings, starting Jan. 11, and a Poison Prevention presentation to first graders in Keystone Central School District.

The Garden Hotline will re-open in May, although questions and problems can still be handled. Call Quentin Stocum at 570-726-0022.

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Woodland’s City Park may get new play structure

City Park may soon be getting a makeover.

Woodland City Councilmen will decide Tuesday whether to submit to an application for a grant of around $100,000 that would replace the park’s play structure.

Additional park improvements such as additional lighting may be included depending on the amount awarded to the city. City Park is located at 626 Cleveland St.

Staff estimates the city will be eligible to receive between $100,000 to $125,000 from the Housing Related Parks Program grant from the state. The play structure will cost around $94,000 to replace, according to a staff report.

Last year the city received $97,775 from the Housing Related Parks Program, which were used for the irrigation, landscaping and walkway improvements at Freeman Park, 1001 Main St.

“City Park was selected as the project site for the grant funding based on a number of factors,” said Senior Planner Dan Sokolow in the staff report. “The park is not located within an existing landscaping and lighting maintenance district. As a result, its operational and capital improvement costs are generally borne by the general fund.”

Last year, a play structure vendor completed a play equipment needs assessment for city park facilities, Sokolow added. The vendor rated the urgency of replacements on a scale of 1 to 3 with 1 being the most urgent need. The existing children’s large play structure at City Park was ranked in the top tier, Tier 1.

“Because City Park is located in a low-moderate income census tract, the city qualifies for the ‘disadvantaged community’ funding bonus in the Housing Related Parks Program,” said Sokolow. “The Play Equipment Needs Assessment estimated that replacing the playground structure at City Park would cost approximately $94,000. It should be noted that additional related improvements would also be needed for the playground equipment installation (possible ADA improvements, etc.).”

Housing Related Parks Program grant funds may be used for the creation, development or rehabilitation of park and recreation facilities, such as the acquisition of land, sport play fields, informal play areas, non-motorized recreational trails, play structures, outdoor recreation, community gardens and landscaping.

Follow Elizabeth Kalfsbeek at

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6 Inspiring Garden Paths

Created: 01/03/2014 12:10 PM

By: Networx

A good pathway can totally change a garden. If you’ve got a muddy, messy path surrounded by beautiful plants, your plants won’t seem quite as flashy, thanks to that ho-hum trail slashing through them…and all your garden visitors will be complaining about filthy shoes after tours! Make your garden a pride of place with a beautiful pathway that fits the setting and your aesthetic, and don’t be afraid: making garden paths isn’t as hard, or as expensive, as you might think it would be.

We turned to Hometalk for some inspiration and found some gorgeous examples of garden pathways from whimsical to highly stylized for you to enjoy!

This sweeping natural stone pathway is a beautiful transition between levels in the garden, and note how seamlessly it fits with the landscaping. Stone paths like this are a great fit with cottage gardens, old-fashioned gardens, and fairy gardens, and the great thing about them is that they just keep getting better with age, as seen with this well-seasoned specimen.

Fieldstone, recycled bricks, and other rock materials are suitable for paths like this, and you can sometimes find them at recycling companies for a fraction of the cost of new materials.

Talk about a change of scenery! This is the same material, but it’s used in a radically different way for a very formal geometric pattern that looks crisp and gorgeous. Suitable for modern garden landscaping as well as formal old-fashioned gardens, this look can be achieved with outdoor tile and concrete as well as natural stone.

This New York gardener knows the value of a great pathway, and this one is particularly enticing. Natural stone on a small grass lawn leads you further and further into the depths of a charmingly dense and textured garden, making you feel like you’ve fallen into your own little world. One thing I love about this design: this garden could be 20 acres, or 20 square feet, and we wouldn’t necessarily know, thanks to the careful arrangement of plants and grass, which makes it feel spacious.

Here’s another, more formal example, which feels positively magical. This masterpiece of New York landscaping integrates natural stone and grass together to create a stunning pathway pattern. It may require some serious maintenance, but it certainly is gorgeous!

This stunning array of recycled materials comes from Redmond, Washington, where Seattle landscapers are obviously working doubletime to create original and fascinating new garden pathways. This one integrates fieldstone and other types of rock for a whimsical and sweet design that would make a great front porch walk or winding garden path.

Going rustic with a wooden garden pathway doesn’t have to be that hard, and it can be a great look for a country cabin or house. (It’s also one way to use up odds and ends of wood…) Rounds like these can also be used for edging garden beds to continue to rustic look.

Need more garden walkway inspiration? We’ve got a roundup of 10 Romantic Garden Walkways

Katie Marks writes for

  View original post.

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Master Gardener tips on planting winter herbs and greens

Ellis County Master Gardeners Association

Ellis County Master Gardeners Association

Posted: Saturday, January 4, 2014 9:45 am

Master Gardener tips on planting winter herbs and greens

By Arlene Hamilton
Ellis County Master Gardener

Waxahachie Newspapers Inc.

Now that your tomatoes, basils, peppers, pumpkins and squash plants have been relegated to the compost heap its time to spread some seeds on those bare patches in your garden. One of the great treats of living in Texas is winter offers an ideal growing season. Many of the plants that can’t survive our 90-plus summers will thrive during our cool winters and provide us with plenty of fresh and flavorful greens to enliven our winter meals.

How many times has your mother told you, “Eat your greens, they’re good for you”? She was right, of course. The fact is greens are very good for you. They are filled with nutritious vitamins and other trace elements that help your body fight off winter colds and illness.

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Saturday, January 4, 2014 9:45 am.

| Tags:

Food And Drink,

Leaf Vegetables,











Seasonal Food,


Leaf Vegetable,




Cup Olive Oil,


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Pine seed bug resembles slender stink bug

My grandson got a grow light as a gift. What would be good for him to grow and eat this winter?

Many lettuce varieties or leafy greens in the cabbage family, such as arugula or kale, can provide quick satisfaction. For tips on how and when to harvest, look at the Salad Table information in our website’s Grow It Eat It section: As spring approaches, he can start transplants to move into a garden later. Remember to keep the grow light only 1-2 inches from the plants.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at

Plant of the week


Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Stunning winter interest can be achieved by juxtaposing dry hydrangea flowers against a dark background. Annabelle, a cultivar of our native hydrangea arborescens, is particularly effective, with extremely large flower heads up to a foot across on strong erect stems. Blooms start in late spring and continue into fall. Annabelle grows rapidly to 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide and can cover large areas. It can be pruned back to about 6 inches in late winter to early spring to reduce expansion without sacrificing blooms. Plant it near a water source and in some shade since it will wilt when the weather is hot and dry. It prefers well drained soil, high in organic material. —Ginny Williams

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EXTENSION NEWS: Planning tips for growing a successful vegetable garden

Cary Sims

Posted: Sunday, January 5, 2014 12:15 am

EXTENSION NEWS: Planning tips for growing a successful vegetable garden

By CARY SIMS/Contributing writer

The Lufkin News

With the cold weather hard upon us, it is already time to plan for this spring’s vegetable garden. If you are not a seasoned gardener and are still having trouble finding your way, below are a few tips.

Consider that the most common mistake is making the garden too big. It is estimated that in a well-planned garden, a 10-foot-by-10-foot space or less to will grow plenty for one person.

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Sunday, January 5, 2014 12:15 am.

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Extension News,

Cary Sims

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A Fold-Flat Watering Can Designed For Your Cramped Balcony Garden

A Fold-Flat Watering Can Designed For Your Cramped Balcony Garden

If you live in an apartment or condo in a big city, and have managed to find a little room on your tiny balcony for a modest garden, you probably don’t have much space left for the tools needed to toil over your cramped crops. So inventor Marc R. came up with this rather clever soft-sided watering can called the Squish that’s thin and easy to store when it’s empty.

A Fold-Flat Watering Can Designed For Your Cramped Balcony GardenS

Marc is working with Quirky to make the Squish a reality, but in the meantime we can marvel at its design. Featuring a canvas bladder like ones many canteens are made from, the Squish expands from just one-inch thick when empty and stored to eight-inches across when full of water. It can hold up to a full gallon of water, and features a folding spout that helps minimize the Squish’s footprint even further. And now that the design is nearly finalized, hopefully Quirky will get this into production and in stores in time for your Spring planting. [Quirky via InventorSpot]

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