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Archives for January 21, 2014

Transformation Inspiration: Old House New House Home Show Returns

Indispensable ideas and inspiration abound at the 59th season of the biannual Old House New House Home Show, February 7 – 8 – 9 at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles. Join 300 award-winning contractors, talented designers, select experts and creative craftsmen for constructive tips and trends on pending home improvements. Explore the latest in kitchens, baths, basements, additions, landscaping, green renovations, HVAC, electrical, insulation, roofing, waterproofing, windows, doors, tile, flooring and more. Show hours are Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Adult admission is $7. Seniors (62+) admission is $4. Children (under 18) are admitted free and parking is free. A portion of the event proceeds benefits The Habitat for Humanity of Northern Fox Valley and their ReStore, based in Elgin.

New this year, Lou Manfredini will broadcast live from Pheasant Run with his WGN Radio “Mr. Fix It” program. This breakfast broadcast will be on Saturday, February 8th from 7 to 10 am and is sponsored by Siding-1 Windows-1 Exteriors. Pre-registration is required and seating is limited.

Workshops will also be offered to gracefully guide homeowners embarking on larger projects. “Enhancing Curb Appeal” is offered each day at noon, by Ben Ubben, Design Manager of Ryco Landscaping, and Legacy Design and Construction’s Michael Pudlik, Master Certified Remodeler.

Practical pointers on “Creating Beautiful Bathrooms” will be shared each day at 1:00 pm by Scott Skiermanski of Stoneridge Builders. The talented design team from Normandy Remodeling will offer “Designing Your Dream Kitchen” each day at 2:00 pm. Workshops are included with event admission.

For more information including a printable coupon, exhibitor list preview or directions to Pheasant Run, please visit or call 630/515-1160 for more details.

Article source:,0,2777196.story

Santa Clara Valley Water District encourages conservation, but says we’re in …

While Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency on Jan. 17 and California is looking at its lowest rainfall total on record, local agencies remain hopeful that the next few months will bring needed precipitation. And, like Brown, they’re calling on residents to voluntarily reduce their water consumption.

It’s still early in the season, says Marty Grimes, program administrator for the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s communication unit.

“If we look at it statistically, there’s still a likelihood for rain and snow over the rest of January and into February and March,” he adds.

A report by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, released the same day Brown made his declaration, paints a much drier picture, however, indicating below-normal levels of rainfall for California and several other states in February, March and April.

Locally, Grimes says water district staff is set to go before the board of directors Feb. 11 with plans for efficient water use. “We really won’t know what is going on until the end of March, and the situation will be even clearer by April, but we’re still in fair shape for 2014.”

The water district is projecting the area has 340,000 acre-feet in groundwater reserves, according to Grimes, although not all those acre-feet can be used in a single year. It also has 263,000 acre-feet stored in Kern County, although it only can draw on 45,000 acre-feet per year. He says supplies that include about 53,000 acre-feet of carryover water plus groundwater should make this year’s supplies adequate. Carryover water includes available but not yet imported water plus that in area reservoirs.

“We’re not panicking. We’re not yet in a dire situation, but if it continues dry we’re going to be dipping modestly into the groundwater. However, the board could decide in February to call for some level to conserve water,” Grimes says. He added that this could be the third dry year of a six- or seven-year drought. If that’s the case, conservation at some point will become a must.

The water district has set up some new programs that may reduce water usage and keep restrictions at bay at least for a while, including conservation ideas and rebates.

The district is offering a $100 rebate for homes that connect clothes washers to a graywater system for landscaping. Instead of rationing water for lawns, this program distributes the water used by the washing machine to irrigate. The program is offered to any homeowner in Santa Clara County who agrees to pre- and post-inspections.

Each plan requires an outline of the location of the graywater outlet, diversion valve and irrigation lines to receive the district’s approval for the plan. It must adhere to state and local regulations, and homeowners may be asked for documentation proving that all local ordinances are met.

About 18 system requirements must be met, including using washing machine water only to a large enough area that will absorb it. All graywater has to be contained on site without runoff into streets or waterways and without any surface ponding.

Each system must be designed and installed to prevent contact with humans or pets and not used to irrigate root crops or edible parts of food crops that touch the soil.

conservation and rebates

More information about the graywater system and rebates can
be found on the water district’s website at
That same page also lists a program allowing home and apartment residents’ free house calls to review water usage, provide low-flow shower heads and aerators and suggest water-efficient improvements that even include an annual irrigation schedule for landscaping. The program is open to anyone in Santa Clara County, except San Jose Water Company customers. To schedule an appointment, call 800.548.1882 or click on the Water-Wise House Calls site on the above page.
The water district also is offering rebates for homeowners interested in installing high efficiency toilets that save water, energy and money through June 30 or when funding is depleted. Rebates for HETs range from up to $125 for each premium model HET or up to $50 for each qualifying non-premium HET.
The qualifying premium HETs flush at 1.06 gallons or less and only need one flush. The non-qualifying HETs use 1.28 gallons of water or less per flush. Rebates are offered for sites in Santa Clara County that haven’t received a prior rebate or weren’t installed directly, through distributions, vouchers or other water district funded programs and must be approved by the district.
Residents are limited to three rebates per single-family household. Multi-family properties, businesses and agencies are limited by the number of qualifying toilets on site. Toilets must be installed and working with the completed program application and original receipts submitted to the district’s contractor within 90 days of purchase date. Installation and new construction costs aren’t covered by the rebate. All rebates of $600 or more can be considered taxable income by the IRS and the state.
The website lists sites for HET retailers as well as locations for recycling old toilets.

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Traffic calming plans are revealed for village


TRAFFIC calming measures are to be installed in an East Staffordshire village in a bid to create a safer environment for pedestrians.

Councillors in Barton under Needwood have revealed plans for a shared space scheme in the centre of the village which they hope will bring an end to its traffic problems.

A public consultation will be held at the village’s John Taylor High School next month, where people can have their say on plans and raise any concerns about the scheme, dubbed ‘Better Barton’, which will aim to slow down and reduce the amount of traffic in Station Road and Main Street.

Chiefs have enlisted the services of urban design firm Node, which has transformed town centres across the Midlands.

Shared space schemes have been implemented in various parts of the country and typically see a town or village centre become more pedestrianised, with kerbs and road markings often removed.

Details about what measures could be installed have yet to be revealed, but councillors said they hoped the plans would not include bollards or road humps.

Siobhan Rumsby, clerk at Barton under Needwood Parish Council, said: “We have had a lot of traffic problems in the village and have been working with Node to come up with landscaping ideas such as changes to road surfacing to make traffic more cautious as it approaches the village.

“We have seen what has happened in other towns that have done it.”

Bosses have been attempting to find a solution to its traffic woes for years, while they have also taken into consideration a 130-home development off Efflinch Lane, on which work is expected to start in the spring.

Mrs Rumsby said: “We have been looking at it for a while, with new housing developments proposed we have been looking at ways of making the traffic situation better. We want to make traffic aware that it is a very busy centre.”

The plans will be displayed at two public workshops at the John Taylor High School on February 1, at 10am and 2pm.

To book a place email or call the parish council on 01283 716059.

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Roger’s Gardens recognized as revolutionary

Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar topped the list of the 2014 Revolutionary 100 Garden Centers in America as named by Today’s Garden Center magazine.

The Ohio-based publication evaluated independent garden centers of any size for the award. The honorees were selected on the basis of leadership and innovation, not revenue, according to a news release.

In response to the question “What makes you revolutionary?” a message from Roger’s Gardens published by the magazine begins: “Probably most significantly, we are a fashion-centric and experience-oriented retailer.”

With offerings that range from floral arrangements to landscaping services, plus seasonal collectibles and home decor items, the business continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary this spring.

It sits on 6.5 acres and sees a sales range between $10 million and nearly $20 million annually, according to the magazine.

“Being a Revolutionary 100 winner acknowledges the incredible contributions of a large team of very talented and dedicated people at Roger’s Gardens,” said Gavin Herbert Jr., owner and president of Roger’s Gardens, in a prepared statement. “I am blessed to be able to work with these people and fortunate to be able to serve our amazing customers.”

—Emily Foxhall

Twitter: @emfoxhall

Article source:,0,121803.story

Quarry gardens gets new manager

Whangarei Quarry Gardens' new manager David McDermott (left) and David Muir.Photo/Michael Cunningham
Whangarei Quarry Gardens’ new manager David McDermott (left) and David Muir.Photo/Michael Cunningham

David Muir, who has been in charge at the Whangarei Quarry Gardens, hoots at the title “head gardener”.

It’s a slightly grand moniker for the job, he thinks, but most people who have worked with him – volunteers, Whangarei Quarry Gardens Trust members, community organisations – know Mr Muir has been the go-to and the get-it-done man for more than 11 years.

It’s been a shared labour of love, the growth of the gardens taking root in the community as well as the old quarry.

Mr Muir’s leaving this week to plant out the next stage of his career, landscaping and garden project consultancy work.

“So, it’s goodbye David, and hello David,” Mr Muir said, introducing the new manager, David McDermott.

Mr McDermott has moved from Auckland to take the job. He has worked for over 10 years as a garden landscaper in New Zealand, the US and France, and more recently studied landscape architecture in Wellington.

“I’m really excited,” Mr McDermott said. “So much of the hard structural landscaping has been done, I feel my job is to refine some of the direction as well as build on what’s already here. I have my own aesthetic but with such a large site and established community involvement there’s no way I would make big changes.”

Mr McDermott will oversee the building of a new centre that will combine offices, cafe, shop, meeting rooms and classrooms, with work set to start in March.

Sad though he is to leave after many rewarding years, Mr Muir is looking forward to a change.

“The essence of it is that it’s time for me to move on to something else,” he said.


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Yardsmart: 4 most common landscape design mistakes – Heber Springs Sun

By Maureen Gilmer
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Posted Jan. 14, 2014 @ 6:16 pm
Jan 14, 2014 at 6:17 PM


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Gardening Q & A

Gardening QA

Gardening QA

Butterfly bush will flower up to the first frost, and trimming the faded blooms throughout the summer stimulates new growth and new blooms.

Posted: Monday, January 20, 2014 9:49 am

Updated: 4:25 pm, Mon Jan 20, 2014.

Gardening Q A


Richmond Times-Dispatch

Q: I planted a butterfly bush last spring. The plant has done well. Its shape and blooming have been perfect. Now it’s nearly 5 feet tall and I do not know how to take care of it. When and what do I feed it, and when should it be pruned, and how much?

Answer: It sounds like your butterfly bush is doing fine without additional fertilizer. Over the years, I’ve found that if plants are growing well, they will actually wind up growing too fast and we wind up having to cut them way back to maintain the size we want. As long as you’re happy with their growth, I wouldn’t add additional fertilizer. However, if they show signs of stress or poor performance, a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 would give them the nutrients they need to maintain vegetative growth and produce the blooms that attract butterflies.

Speaking of those blooms, they are key to determining when and how to prune your bush. As soon as the blooms begin to fade, pinch or clip them off. At the base of that old bloom will be new vegetative buds that will produce new leaves and more blooms. By continuing this process all summer, you’ll have a thick canopy and a continuous flow of fresh new blooms right up until fall.

Right now is a good time to look at the structure of the bush since it has lost its leaves for winter. You can thin out branches that are too close together, remove any really spindly branches and head back the end of each remaining branch. This will result in a sturdy frame to support the new growth that will begin once the plant breaks dormancy in the spring.

Q: Can you recommend a fast growing native shrub that keeps its green leaves in winter? Also, when is the best time to plant it?

Answer: I’m a real proponent of planting in the fall. Unfortunately, you’ve missed that window of opportunity for this year. My next favorite time for planting is late February or early March. By then we should be past the worst of winter and have good moisture in the ground. Planting that early in the spring allows plenty of time for your plants to get acclimated to their new site before having to go through a hot dry summer.

As for a good native evergreen, I really like bayberry or wax myrtle. Both make good screens, have little or no insect or disease problems and grow relatively fast. Bayberry is more of a northern species and wax myrtle is more commonly found in the South. Both grow very well in central Virginia and most good garden centers will have them.

Q: I have 10 evergreens in my backyard. This fall one of them died and the one closest to it is showing signs of dying. Any insight you can provide will be helpful.

Answer: I’m afraid your evergreens have been infested by bagworms. In the photo, you’ll see small brown bags hanging from many of the dead branches. Many of these bags contain eggs that will hatch out as tiny larvae or worms in mid to late April. Those larvae will begin to feed and immediately start building a new bag around them for protection. The bags are made from the needles of your evergreen, so they will remain green and be basically invisible until late June. At that time they will be an inch or so long and starting to turn brown. Unfortunately, by the time you see them, they are too mature for most insecticides to control.

My advice is to get rid of the dead evergreen, which will also remove any of the remaining bags that might contain eggs. As time allows this winter, hand remove any of the bags you can see on the adjacent plants. While you may not be able to remove them all, any that you can pick off will reduce the number of eggs left to hatch in the spring. The final step would be to treat them with an insecticide in late May or early June to control the new generation. Again, they will be small and hard to see, but relatively easy to control as immature larvae. Waiting too long will only result in damage to more of these plants. The folks at your favorite garden center will be able to recommend an insecticide that will control the bagworms.

It’s time to…

Sign up for some gardening classes. The horticulture staffs at Maymont and Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will offer a variety of classes during the next few months to help get your creative juices flowing. You can also contact your local office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension for a schedule of the classes they offer.

Richard Nunnally is a freelance writer and adjunct instructor in Horticulture at J. Sargeant Reynolds  Community College. Contact:


Monday, January 20, 2014 9:49 am.

Updated: 4:25 pm.

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Tips on gardening in the Maritime Northwest climate

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Woman Missing in Garden Ridge – Police Seek Tips from the Public

(Garden Ridge, TX) —  Garden Ridge Police are trying to find a woman who vanished after leaving a relatives house late last week. 

Investigators say Leanne Bearden left her in-law’s house last Friday, saying she was going for a walk. 

But the 33-year old woman hasn’t been seen since, and now authorities are hoping the public can give them information on her whereabouts. 

Bearden is a white female standing 5-foot 2-inches tall, weighing about 100 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. 

Anyone with information on her whereabouts should call the Comal County Sheriff’s Office at 830-620-3400 or call Crimestoppers anonymously at 830-620-TIPS.






*Photos from

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