Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for January 15, 2014

Big plans for a small piece of land

Newport council decides to turn a 1,300-square-foot triangular plot into a pocket park, perhaps with seating and a sculpture.

January 14, 2014 | 9:47 p.m.

On East Coast Highway in Corona del Mar, just north of Hobie Surf Shop, green grass covers a triangular piece of land that is easy to miss, save for the painted mural periodically changed on the wall behind it.

The mural will continue, but this 1,300-square-foot property won’t be left alone for long.

The Newport Beach City Council voted Tuesday night to move forward with plans to landscape it as a pocket park.

  • Related




  • Photo: 

  • Topics

  • Business Enterprises

  • Recreational and Sporting Goods Industry

  • Telecommunication Equipment
  • “It will certainly look nicer, and it will be usable space there, which is great,” said Laura Detweiler, the city’s recreation and senior services director, adding that the projected cost of the project is $90,000.

    As part of an ongoing effort to increase walkability in the area, the space could include an area for seating and perhaps a sculpture, explained Ron Yeo, a Corona del Mar resident and architect who did the preliminary design pro bono.

    A bronze plaque in the park will pay homage to Myrtle Cox, who lived in El Cajon but owned various commercial properties in Newport Beach. Cox agreed to donate the land before her death in December at age 87.

    “It was a remarkable gift from one who was not even a resident of our city,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Selich.

    The part of the land that slopes upward will be terraced. A different type of water-conserving plant will be showcased on each level, said Selich, who first had the idea for the park about 15 years ago.

    “This had all the elements of the right size, the right location,” he said. “All the little pieces just fell into place.”

    Residents might stop to rest their feet there, Yeo imagined, perhaps picking up a lemon supreme cupcake or a scoop of bubblegum candy from B.Candy, which borders the park to the north. Yeo passes the space on his morning walks.

    As it stands, teenagers have posed in front of the wall to take pictures during the summertime. Families have stopped by the grassy spot to take Christmas card photos in December, said Sarah Dineen, a store manager at Hobie Surf Shop. Otherwise, it often remains vacant.

    Dineen looked forward to the park being built next to the store, expecting that it could bring added business.

    And even if this does not draw more business to the area, it will benefit shoppers who may need to take a rest between stores, said Bernie Svalstad, vice chairman of the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce and the Business Improvement District.

    “It will add to the charm of Corona del Mar Village,” he said. “I think that’s what it’s all about.”

    The park follows a number of ideas dreamed up as part of the Corona del Mar Vision Plan, which Selich helped to oversee when he served as a planning commissioner. It included crosswalk improvements across Coast Highway and median landscaping. Next up may be bike racks and cleaned up newspaper stands.

    Also Tuesday, council members approved appointments to various council committees, held a public meeting on the renewal of the Newport Beach Tourism Business Improvement District and conducted a public hearing on new regulations for wireless telecommunications facilities.

    Article source:,0,5605082.story

    San Pedro streets bidding for upgrades under Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great …

    The pedestrian bridge at the entrance to San Pedro is on the list of possible improvements under L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets program in San Pedro, CA on Tuesday, January 14, 2014. Other streets that are being talked about in the 15th District include 6th and 7th streets and Avalon Boulevard in Wilmington. (Scott Varley / Staff Photographer)

    A battle of the streets could be brewing in the Harbor Area as competing makeover ideas are eyed for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative.

    The program and its impact specifically on San Pedro was discussed Tuesday morning at a meeting of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development and Policy Committee.

    The Great Streets program, announced in October as Garcetti’s first executive directive, aims to improve and beautify 40 streets throughout the city of Los Angeles by adding landscaping, features such as pocket parks and plazas, bike corrals, and sculptures and murals.

    In his rollout announcement of the program, Garcetti specifically named San Pedro’s Sixth Street as a potential candidate. Plans already were being floated to make Sixth and Seventh streets one-way arteries to allow diagonal parking and open-air dining throughout the main corridors of the historic downtown shopping district.

    But the town’s Gaffey Street entrance and exit via the 110 Freeway also was earmarked on the city’s initial draft list of 180 potential streets to be considered for the mayor’s program.

    While both conceivably could make the final list, a Garcetti spokeswoman said the timing wouldn’t be simultaneous and funding will be a factor as streets are improved.

    “We expect only to be able to do three to five (streets) a year,” said Vicki Curry, ‎associate director of communications for Garcetti. “The whole concept is to leverage existent resources so the city isn’t necessarily bringing new money to rehab these streets.”

    She said “possibly both” Sixth and Gaffey streets will be included in the final list, but if so they would likely be done a few years apart.

    “There’s been a working group meeting since mid-October and they’ve been developing a list of candidate streets,” Curry said. “I believe they’re going to start announcing them one or two at a time as they’re ready to go.”

    The first announcements, she said, could come as early as the end of this month or the beginning of February.

    “It will be an ongoing process,” she said.

    In Wilmington, Avalon Boulevard is expected to be the runaway first choice.

    Alan Johnson of Jerico Development Co. — a partner in the Ports O’ Call redevelopment project — has been working on plans to redo Sixth and Seventh streets for several months, predating Garcetti’s Great Streets announcement.

    “It was a happy coincidence,” Johnson said. “This was an initiative we’d embarked on six or seven months ago and then the idea that it might fit in with the mayor’s first executive directive — how lucky, if it works, if it fits.”

    Both streets terminate at Harbor Boulevard, where visitors can enter the waterfront area, including Ports O’ Call Village to the south.

    Octaviano Rios, Garcetti’s Harbor Area representative, told members of the chamber committee that Sixth Street “is a great pick” for the streets program.

    Johnson’s plans also call for new signage on Gaffey to direct motorists into downtown and toward the waterfront.

    Traffic on Sixth Street would be one-way east to west and traffic on Seventh would be one-way west to east.

    The project, which would cover the blocks east of Pacific, is viewed as a way to help spur revitalization of downtown restaurants and shops while providing a connection to the water. Linda Grimes, chairwoman of the San Pedro Arts, Culture and Entertainment District, said outside dining has been a focus of that committee as well.

    Also already in the works — but further along than Johnson’s proposal and with some funding already identified — is the city’s plan to revitalize Gaffey Street from the freeway to 13th Street, a stretch that has long been bemoaned as an eyesore for those entering the port community.

    It would be a likely candidate to roll into the Great Streets program, city officials said.

    An initial effort to spruce up the entrance came when city officials opened a welcome park August 2007. The 1.1-acre park replaced a closed gas station with grass, trees, decorative stone and a standard of flags.

    Now the city also has acquired a long-vacant parcel on the other side of the street to develop into an “exit” park that motorists will see as they get on the 110 Freeway or Vincent Thomas Bridge from Gaffey.

    The revitalization effort — for now still separate from the Great Streets Initiative — also would bring new palm trees, a new median and more work on the foot bridge overpass as envisioned by the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative working with the city’s Department of Transportation. Bids are being sought now for the conceptual project.

    The project also calls for creation of a business improvement district for Gaffey Street.

    Article source:

    Rollingwood garden takes proactive approach to dealing with ongoing drought – Austin American

    Rollingwood has provided area residents with an ideal template for planning new landscaping this spring with its “waterwise garden” at City Hall, 403 Nixon Drive.

    The garden recently installed in front of City Hall contains no grass and is made up of plants aimed at significantly reducing the need for water (see story on page A1). With a continuation of the drought that has plagued Central Texas and destined to continue, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority and most experts, the city’s garden offers food for thought about landscaping in general.

    Ideas for the garden began to materialize as a result of watering limitations during recent years. City officials deserve credit for offering a healthier alternative to simply ordering residents to reduce watering.

    One of the only drawbacks of the new garden is a lack of labeling of plants, but city officials say it is still a work in progress, and that they are in the process of developing a plan to identify existing and future plants to make the garden more user-friendly.

    Combined with the Rollingwood’s nearby community garden, the new garden and system of cisterns designed to capture rainwater for occasional irrigation during dry periods, Rollingwood is taking the lead in showing what one small city can do.

    Once the city works out all of the details relating to which plants should be advocated and how to adequately label them, residents from throughout the Westbank and surrounding communities may be paying this small city a visit.

    The garden is a testament to a small city taking a proactive approach to dealing with the drought, and residents have good reason to feel a sense of pride.

    Article source:

    Prison gardens help inmates grow their own food — and skills

    Prisoners build an organic vegetable garden in the prison yard of the medium security unit at San Quentin State Prison in December.

    Kirk Crippens/ Insight Garden Program

    Prisoners build an organic vegetable garden in the prison yard of the medium security unit at San Quentin State Prison in December.

    Last week, we reported on the correctional industry’s enduring practice of punishing certain inmates with a bland, lumpish food known as “the loaf.”

    Fortunately, there are also more encouraging stories to tell about prison food.

    It turns out there’s a pretty vibrant movement of prison vegetable gardens across the country that provide inmates with satisfying work, marketable skills and fresh food to eat. From Connecticut to Minnesota to California, correctional authorities are finding all kinds of reasons to encourage inmates to produce their own food inside the walls.

    Recently, we got a rare glimpse behind those walls — of those gardens — at the San Quentin State Prison outside San Francisco, thanks to this video from Planting Justice. The Bay Area group works with less-advantaged communities on food by building gardens and creating jobs in urban food production.

    Planting Justice helped oversee the garden project in partnership with Insight Garden Program, which has been helping inmates at San Quentin rehabilitate and get training in flower gardening since 2003.

    Those gardening skills are being put to use once the men leave San Quentin as well. In the past three years, Planting Justice has hired 10 former inmates to work on landscaping jobs, according to the group’s website. They get an entry-level wage of $17.50 per hour.

    According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, more than four in 10 offenders return to prison within three yeas. By contrast, Planting Justice says the recidivism rate for the men who go through the garden program is 10 percent. Programs in other states have had similar successes — apparently, gardening behind bars seems to help people steer clear of crime once they get out.

    In 2012, Nourishing the Planet, a blog of the Worldwatch Institute, put together this list of five urban garden prison projects. It notes that not only do the garden programs help with rehabilitation, they also often save states and local government thousands of dollars.

    And one prison garden in Missouri was reportedly so bountiful, it had extra produce — 163 tons’ worth — to donate to food pantries, shelters, churches, nursing homes and schools in 2013.


    Article source:

    Garden delight

    Villa Bologna in Attard forms part of a series of sumptuous country houses built in the mid-18th century by the Maltese nobility. Constructed in 1745, the design of this villa has been attributed to Domenico Cachia, Capomastro della Fondazione Manoel, who has also been credited with the construction of St Helen’s church in Birkirkara and the Selmun Palace in Mellieħa. However none of these attributions have been confirmed.

    The villa was built by Fabrizio Grech, legal adviser to Grand Master Pinto, as a wedding gift on the occasion of the marriage of his daughter to Nicholas Peridcomati Bologna. The plan of the villa is somewhat similar to that of the contemporary Selmun Palace, itself derived from the early fortified towers. The noble houses of the 18th century were designed to look fortified, even though their military role was negligible. The fortified aspect of Villa Bologna was further reinforced in the early 20th century when Lady Strickland, second wife of Lord Strickland, ordered the addition of crenellation at the top of the property walls and the construction of crenelled turrets.

    Lady Strickland was also responsible for the enlargement and embellishment of the original gardens surrounding the villa. Assisted by her friend Count Giuseppe Teuma Castelletti, Lady Strickland created a succession of lavish gardens planted with exotic species such as grapefruit trees and avocados. The embellishment also included the creation of new water features which were built using reinforced concrete, a modern material at the time.

    From their inception in the 18th century throughout their refurbishment in the early 20th century, and despite some localised bomb damage to the small nymphaeum during World War II, Villa Bologna’s gardens represent a compendium of landscaping practices and garden and water features through the ages.

    The main nymphaeum of Villa Bologna is of particular interest as it is one of the best examples of the use of rocaille in Malta, which can also be found for instance on the fountain of San Anton Gardens nearby, or on a smaller scale at the Bishop’s Palace fountain in Valletta. In the case of Villa Bologna, the rocaille includes gagazza, coral-like material and real seashells. Rusticated columns frame the panels and niches decorated in rocaille, while the figures draw on mythological and nature themes. Further references are made to the water element with the use of sculpted dolphins as waterspouts and mermaids as caryatids.

    The main nymphaeum is located in a walled garden accessed through a monumental gate that contains an alcove on each pilaster framing a statue of Cleopatra on the left, facing Mark Antony on the right. The pilasters are surmounted by the sculpted representations of the Tiber and the Nile seated.

    The small nymphaeum uses a similar architectural vocabulary as the main one, albeit without the rocaille element. It is a less ornate feature which is based on a classical composition and retains the use of rusticated columns and pilasters. Of the sculptures, only one anthropomorphic sculpture remains, blowing in a conch and wrongly located in the central alcove. The nympheum is topped by an eagle figure with opened wings.

    Over time, both nymphae as well as the gate lost some of their legibility. The restoration of all these structures was therefore aimed at re-establishing their authentic function as material containers of the mythological connection between life, water and mineral essences.

    Architecture Project were entrusted with reviving the original concept or legibility of the subject guided by an understanding of the inherent values attached to the monument.

    Maria Mifsud, restoration specialist at Architecture Project, says that the craftsmen who built the nymphae are unknown. However, their heritage value is undisputed.

    “Drawing on Rococo vocabulary, the main nymphaeum makes beautiful use of gagazza and coral-like material,” she says. “It holds four main statues on top, representing the four seasons, together with the face of Neptune and two statues of Bacchus. These are accompanied by another two statues of dolphins on either side and four smaller statues of pelicans around the main basin of the nymphaeum.

    “The smaller nymphaeum has only one statue of a figure blowing in a conch – although it originally had two, one on either side. The second has been resculpted and replaced during the restoration works.”

    Given the variety of materials used in the construction of the nymphae and the gate, a number of restoration techniques were used.

    “The wider variety of techniques were used on the main nymphaeum, due to its size, intricate detail and use of rocaille,” says Mifsud.

    “The main columns of the main nymphaeum were supported in place while the drums at the bottom of the columns had to be replaced for structural stability due to the bad state of decay. Further to this, the decoration around the entire surface of the replaced drums had to be resculpted. Other sculpting works were carried out both on and off site. On site, the statue of Bacchus on the right-hand side was replaced and resculpted. Off site, the statues of the two dolphins and three of the four pelican statues were reconstructed and brought on site.

    “Apart from the sound practice of sculpting and reconstructing decorative elements and details, restoration was carried out in order to make the rocaille language of the nymphae legible once again. Besides the restoration of the Maltese soft stone, we also restored the decorative elements of the nymphaeum using different materials. Missing gagazza was replaced with other pieces of gagazza found within the gardens of Villa Bologna itself. Missing or broken seashells were replaced by real seashells similar in size and colour. Some leaf-like shapes that once held mother of pearl leaves were retraced with an artist’s acrylic in light silver grey. Other types of stones were used in order to achieve the original colour and texture, and contribute to improving the legibility and decoration on this nympheum, are lava chippings and burnt red brick.

    “Furthermore, the structural integrity of the nymphaeum was also cared for. For instance, one of the bust’s heads at the top of the nymphaeum was consolidated with an epoxy resin and a 12mm stainless steel dowel. At this level where the four busts sit, deffun was applied to replace loose or cracked deffun. The entire nymphaeum was cleaned, brushed and washed by hand. The joints were repointed using a typical hydraulic lime based mix.”

    This area of Maltese heritage has been ignored considerably in the post-war years. During this period, economic drivers that favoured construction development preferred the built fabric over gardens and green spaces, and although the latter have traditionally been inexorably linked with the built heritage, they are currently relegated to areas that are rife for development especially in view of their location within built-up areas. The restoration of the nymphae and gate at Villa Bologna can be seen as symbolic of the increased appreciation of such garden elements.

    Architecture Project were awarded the Prix d’Honneur in Category C of the Din l-Art Ħelwa award for Architectural Heritage 2013 for the architectural excellence in the admirable restoration and conservation of the nymphae and gate at Villa Bologna.

    Article source:

    Yardsmart: 4 most common landscape design mistakes

    By Maureen Gilmer
    McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

    Posted Jan. 14, 2014 @ 7:17 pm


    Article source:

    GARDENING: January Jobs For A Tidy Year Ahead

    Celebrations are over, the commute is back and the weather is making you want to stay under the duvet indefinitely. But what about your gardens, smallholdings and allotments? Now’s the time to wrap up warm, pull on those boots and begin preparations to make this the most fruitful year you’ve had so far.

    By Adam Willcox | 9th January 2014

    January jobs

    Check everything over – The winter weather can be hard on your outdoor equipment and structures so cast an eye over your sheds, greenhouses and hosepipes. Repair any obvious breakages and protect anything that looks like it might struggle over the next couple of months.

    Spread the s**t – Use well rotted compost or manure on your empty vegetable beds. You want the soil to be in tip-top condition when you come to plant things out. Dig the beds over to aerate the soil – but be careful, if the soil is frozen or waterlogged leave it alone until the weather improves.

    Clean Up – When the planting season begins you won’t have time to do much else so make sure your pots, trays and tools are clean and organised ready for the busy times. You’ll feel so much better when your potting bench is dirt free and ready for action – even if it only stays that way for a short time!

    Make a plan – With a cup of tea (it’s dry January remember) sit down with a good gardening book and get organised. Decide what you want to grow this year – learning from previous successes and mistakes – or if you’re totally new to the growing world then pick whatever you want, even if it just looks pretty! Order seeds and draw diagrams and I can guarantee it will set you up for a great year ahead.

    Sow Indoors – Get a head start by sowing some seeds indoors. Try broad beans, salad leaves, spinach, leeks and onions for the healthy new you in 2014. Nothing tastes better than home-grown organic fruits and veg!

    Something New – Try something new this year. If you like the idea of growing something unusual or for the first time, have a go. The gardening world is full of hints and tips on what to do – but going off piste can be the most rewarding part of growing your own produce.

    So who said January is always miserable? Get on it now and reap the rewards throughout 2014! Good luck.

    If you would like to share your gardening pictures this year then do forward to and we’ll publish the best ones each month. Our favourite pic of the year will win a TGUK goody-bag!

    Happy Snapping!

    Article source:

    Summit County Master Gardeners’ Design & Beyond set for Jan. 18 – Hudson Hub

    Master Gardeners of Summit County, a nonprofit organization affiliated with The Ohio State University Extension in Summit County, will have its annual Design Beyond 2014 symposium on Jan. 18 at Zwisler Hall – St. Sebastian’s Church, 348 Elmdale Ave. in Akron from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

    Cost for the day, including continental breakfast, lunch and materials, is $40. Attendees will be able to purchase books and have them signed.

    Presenters will include:

    David L. Culp, creator of the gardens at Brandywine Cottage in Downingtown, Pa. In his presentation, The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage, David will discuss how to recreate the display of his two-acre garden. It contains a basic lesson in layering. His second presentation will be 50 Perennials I Cannot Live Without.

    Debra Knapke, an author, who with Allison Beck, has written Perennials for Ohio, Annuals for Ohio, Gardening Month by Month in Ohio and Best Garden Plants for Ohio; and written Herb Gardening for the Midwest with Laura Peters. Knapke will present: Simplifying Your Garden without Diminishing Your Joy. She will use her own garden and others to provide inspiration for the creation of a simpler, blissful garden.

    Jim McCormac, works with the Ohio Division of Wildlife specializing in non-game wildlife diversity issues, especially birds. He will share a presentation on butterflies and moths. This program will explore the four-part life cycle of butterflies and moths, their ecological roles in the environment and practical ways people can support them.

    Danae Wolfe is the OSU Extension as Summit County’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator. She will give a short presentation about native gardening – Go Native!

    Go to the Master Gardeners website for more information.

    Article source: