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Archives for January 27, 2014

Home show a hit with vendors, atendees – Wilkes Barre Times

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Businesses hope to adapt to I-96 closure

With six months of construction along Interstate 96 ahead of him, Looney Baker owner Greg Dean is taking a philosophical approach: Hope for the best; prepare for the worst.

The Livonia-based bakery plans on adjusting the quantities of its baked goods to meet a possible drop in demand as commuters find other routes to work. But Dean also said he is going to take generous samples of donuts, muffins, bagels and Looney bread to the construction workers, hoping to get in good with the crew.

If thats going to be the only guys on the highway, I need to get their business, Dean said. Maybe I can get them hooked.

For Looney Baker, being open 24 hours, seven days a week will ease some of the pain when a section of the freeway closes from March 24 through October. The six-month shutdown along the seven-mile route from Newburgh to Telegraph roads is a $148 million very aggressive rebuild on the 40-year-old freeway and 37 bridges, the Michigan Department of Transportation said. Bridges will be closed at various times, with motorists given advance notice.

Businesses along this busy thoroughfare generally say they prefer the shorter closure to an alternative three-year fix that would have shut down one lane. And theyre appreciative of MDOTs high level of communication through the two years of preparation to launch this massive project.

Still, any road construction hurts. Each company along that stretch has come up with ideas of how to offset the impact, whether its developing new delivery routes, leaning more heavily on commercial clients instead of walk-in customers, providing deals or bombarding social media with messages about their availability in the months to come.

Destination spots may be avoided because people are taking different routes than their typical patterns. This will be the challenge for everybody, said Dan West, president of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce, which has been posting updates on its website for members.

Businesses have handled similar construction projects in different ways. During a recent project on Telegraph in Southfield, Burger King used the traffic hassles as an opportunity to demolish its old facility and build anew.

But the 2008 construction on Silver Lake Road, a main east-west route in Fenton, remains a bad memory for Mike Conway, who has owned Mr. Cs Barber Styling for more than 40 years. He believes that service industry businesses are the hardest hit in a construction project.

It probably cost me $100,000 over the past few years, Conway said. Business went down the tubes to a degree. People got used to going somewhere else to avoid the construction, and the new place became part of their comfort zone. They never came back.

MDOT has held four meetings to engage the public, residents and business owners. It also set up dedicated pages on Facebook and Twitter for the I-96 freeway closure, in addition to a construction project website. MDOT also has a mobility engineer and an ombudsman dedicated to the project, said Jeff Horne, MDOT project engineer and communications representative.

The full freeway closure would last one construction season and cost $20 million cheaper than maintaining lanes through the work zone, which wouldve lasted three construction seasons, Horne said.

Businesses along surface streets in Livonia and Redford should look at the positives of having I-96 closed. Those businesses will have an increase in traffic passing their businesses on a daily basis.

Another example is UPS on Schoolcraft Road in Livonia, which will modify its employee work schedules and adjust truck routes to meet its customer needs, company spokesman Dan McMackin said. JonBoy Landscaping, on Five Mile in Redford Township, said it is excited to have an increase in traffic pass its store.

The staff of Livonias Laurel Manor Banquet and Conference Center has been attending MDOT meetings regularly to stay on top of the project, said Deirdre Stemmelen, general sales manager.

It has added a note to its website and may add similar language to its outdoor signs, informing brides-to-be and conference planners that its Laurel Manor exit or the Newburgh exit (accessible for travelers coming from the west; the highway will be closed after that point) and entrances will remain open during the I-96 project.

MDOT met with them over a year ago about this … and we felt a big relief to hear our exit would stay open, Stemmelen said. We put it on (our website) to reassure people. Its the same reason we have a live operator on our phones to answer questions. Were in the customer service industry, so its really important for us to be accessible and helpful.

Some store owners are expecting increased traffic on the main thoroughfares crossing the closed section of I-96, with commuters finding other routes to and from work.

Clifton Denha, co-owner of the Wine Palace on Middle Belt, north of I-96, said hes trying to keep a positive attitude.

As a businessman, Im going to be concerned, but theres going to be increased traffic on Middle Belt, he said. Thats what were holding on to.

Denha said hell start delivering wine to customers who dont want to deal with the traffic and will plan aggressive sales to lure customers during the freeway closure.

Beirut Bakery owner Mark Hallis is one of the worriers. He says the scope of the I-96 project is a little overwhelming.

Our biggest concern is just how big the mess is going to be, Hallis said.

Were not going away (and) well probably sell up to local businesses. But that stretch of highway is huge for a lot of people. To be honest, we dont know how we are going to handle it until it happens.

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Tips for handling garden catalog-induced tempations

(01/20/2014) With the bitter cold outside, the heat will be turned up inside the house. That means dryer air will be rising right towards the houseplants on the windowsill. It’s tough times for those houseplants.

Martha Foley discusses…

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Purposeful gardening among trends for 2014

Purposeful gardens — habitat, edible and sustainable — have been on the rise, and 2014 promises more of the same.

Chemical-free gardens for birds, butterflies and bees remain high on the gardener’s to-do list, and organically grown edibles play their own harvest-to-table role with health-conscious backyard gardeners.

Gardeners are also more cost conscious, turning discarded items like packing pallets into planters, planting from seed and composting kitchen scraps. In fact, composting is the new recycling, according to Peggy Krapf, a member of the Virginia Society of Landscape Designers.

People in general want to restore balance to their lives, so frivolous spending on more “things” is out, according to Susan McCoy, president of the Garden Media Group and a national garden trends spotter.

“They are beginning to truly understand the relationship between gardening and connecting with nature — and how this can lead to a fully satisfied, purposeful life,” says Susan.

Here, more garden gurus forecast their own idea of fun and purpose in the garden for 2014:

CHICKEN CHIC. Chicken keeping continues to attract more who want fresh eggs for their table and cute chickens for backyard buddies. The Peninsula Chicken Keepers had 30 people at its first meeting in 2010 and now include about 320 backyard chicken enthusiasts. — Carol Bartam, chicken keeper in Yorktown, Va.

MANLY MOVES. More masculine colors and styles in home and garden decor are showing up at markets and in stores because there’s a “role reversal of fortune,” where 40 percent of women are the sole or primary income earner and the number of stay-at-home dads continues to increase. — Tish Llaneza, owner of Countryside Gardens.

GARDEN JOURNALS. Master gardeners across the United States are using Nature’s Notebook to track bloom times on sentinel species to make bloom calendars, which, in turn, gives scientists data on climate change. Gardeners can also use phenology (seasonal changes in plants and animals from year to year) information to understand the relationships between garden pest outbreaks and timing of the plant phenology to know when best to apply Integrated Pest Management strategies. — LoriAnne Barnett, education coordinator Nature’s Notebook

EDIBLES AND MORE. Gardeners are integrating edibles into woody ornamental and perennial gardens; planting native species to benefit bees and other insects; recycling objects into creative plant containers; and using Pinterest to share ideas and inspire others to garden. — Nicholas Staddon, director of new plants for Monrovia, a plant brand sold at garden centers nationally.

BEES MATTER. Saving our pollinators is big and getting bigger. Everyone needs to read the Aug. 19, 2013, Time magazine with the cover that spotlights “A World Without Bees: The price we’ll pay if we don’t figure out what’s killing the honeybee.”

Home gardeners really need to learn about keeping blooms coming; easy and quick-growing cover crops that can fill a space to provide excellent habitat; and how to let go of chemicals, even certified organic pesticides can be harmful to bees. — Lisa Ziegler of The Gardener’s Workshop, an online garden shop.

CONTAINER CRAZE. Containers can spice up a yard without a lot of cost and effort. For instance, bamboo stems can be painted colors to match the season, celebration or your home’s exterior palette and then inserted into pots that may already contain evergreens or annuals like winter pansies or summer petunias. For easy-use containers, Smart Pots are lighter and cheaper than ceramic containers; the large, raised-bed size acts as its own weed-block when placed on the ground and provides a temporary garden space if you can’t install a garden bed where you live. Reviews for the Big Bag Bed version are good on Amazon, where they can be ordered, as well as — Marie Butler, horticulture curator at the Virginia Zoo, where she specializes in creative containers

REPURPOSE, REUSE. There’s a continued focus on using recycled building materials. I was surfing the net, looking for compost bin designs and came across a wide range of recycled indoor and outdoor garden furniture using repurposed pallets. People are staining and painting them or leaving them natural and creating some really beautiful stuff! I’ve also seen new ways of vertical gardening using recycled materials such as pallets, felt pockets and even things like two-liter bottles hung from strings. — Grace Chapman, director of horticulture at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va.

KEEP IT SIMPLE. Classic elegance in colors and landscaping will be popular in 2014. Plant drifts of similar or blending colors and mix a single color with white in containers, outdoor fabrics, or furnishings. Buy quality products which will last for years — and eco-friendly products with a smaller carbon footprint. Use slow-growing plants like boxwoods which live for many years and natural materials like stone or brick that get more beautiful with age. — Peggy Krapf

PERFECT PLANTS. Re-blooming and extended bloom plants are hot. Color is paramount. Dwarf and compact plants are in demand. Plants that are less likely to become maintenance nightmares are dominating the market, therefore “low maintenance” is less of a buzz word and more of a reality. Plants that can provide color or interest in multiple seasons enable customers to enjoy their landscape all year. — Allan Hull, nursery manager at Peninsula Hardwood Mulch

IMPERFECT OK. Increasingly, homeowners are relaxing their notions of what’s “right” in their landscapes to embrace seasonal drama and its disorder. In spring, weeks of bright daffodil flowers are worth weeks of un-mown bulb foliage recharging for next year’s display. In summer gardens, sequential pockets of bloom are enjoyed with no effort to achieve all-over-bloom all of the time. In fall, brilliant fallen leaves are savored with no rush to clean up. Winter landscapes are dotted with dried grasses and seed heads left for the birds. These are well-maintained properties kept with a different mindset. — Sally Ferguson, a Pawlett, Vt., master gardener and gardening and outdoor living communicator

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NMSU specialist seeks to preserve green spaces

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) – A cooperative extension specialist at New Mexico State University is looking for ways to preserve green spaces in places where water is scarce.

The research focuses on water conservation, said Bernd Leinauer, who has been studying turf grass and water conservation for 13 years.

“We are focusing on water preservation in the landscape,” he told KRWG-TV ( “We need water to grow plants in the desert, but when water is used for aesthetics instead of food, for example, it becomes questionable. So, how much water can we afford to use?”

So far, Leinauer has found that about 50 percent of potable water used during the summer in Las Cruces goes to irrigate landscaping and that percentage is not uncommon in other cities in the desert Southwest.

Leinauer and others at NMSU are investigating improvements to irrigation systems as well as increasing the use of non-potable water for keeping landscaping watered.

Leinauer said green spaces are important for cities since they contribute to the well-being of residents and the moderation of the urban climate. However, justifying lawns and gardens has become difficult as New Mexico wrestles with consecutive years of drought. Conditions have been extreme over the last three years.

NMSU researchers said New Mexico is not alone.

“We are in a climate that is representative of many others in the world and our research applies to many other areas,” Leinauer said, noting that NMSU is at the forefront of research related to salinity tolerance and subsurface irrigation.

The research group contends treated effluent produced by city utilities should be considered an alternative source of water for parks and golf courses.

Through a National Science Foundation grant, Leinauer has been working with the University of California Berkeley, Stanford University and Colorado School of Mines to see if treated effluent can be adapted to residential areas.

Another alternative is saline groundwater, which Leinauer said makes up 70 to 80 percent of all water in New Mexico.

Leinauer also has been looking at subsurface watering.

“One of the reasons we use so much water during the summer, especially in the residential sector, is that irrigation systems we have in place are extremely inefficient,” he said. “You see water on the sidewalk or water running down the street.”


Information from: KRWG-TV,

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Yardsmart: 4 most common landscape design mistakes

By Maureen Gilmer
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Posted Jan. 14, 2014 @ 7:17 pm


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