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Archives for January 30, 2014

An introduction to tea gardens

By Katie Marks

Posted Jan. 29, 2014 @ 1:01 am


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Success Story: 5 Hints On Achieving A Radical Career Change

Simon Gudgeon studied law but, in his own words, he graduated, he qualified, he retired – it just wasn’t for him. He didn’t find his true metier as a sculptor until he was 40 years old – and then only by chance. But in the intervening 15 years, he has more than made up for lost time. Gudgeon has showed in London, New York, Chicago, San Diego, Paris and the Netherlands. His sculptures can be found in the permanent collections of various US museums, including America’s National Museum of Wildlife Art, and in the collections of the British royal family, including Prince Charles. They can also be seen in Hyde Park, one of the most prominent venues in London for public sculpture. And, having seen his work, this comes as no surprise. Gudgeon’s sculptures range from large-scale, powerful forms, both figurative and abstract, to small, intimate, charming studies of animals and birds. Should you ever find yourself in the south-west of England, visit Sculpture by the Lakes, Gudgeon’s sculpture park in Dorset, 26 acres where his works are displayed to their best advantage in beautiful, nature-friendly grounds – a stunning, even magical, place to visit.

Sculptor Simon Gudgeon

Career paths will, of course, be very different for everyone who hopes to make a radical change. This is a very individual example – and an inspiring one. So: how do you set aside what you’ve done before and change tracks?

Don’t be surprised if finding the right route isn’t a straight path

“I never knew what I wanted to do when I was at school, so I decided to study law. It seemed like a sensible route to a job so I did three years at university, a year at law college and a year doing my articles – but in fact, I graduated, I qualified, I retired. I knew I didn’t like academic law but I didn’t know what else I wanted to do. I had done art up to O-level exams and enjoyed it and I started the A-level, but gave it up as I was also doing four others. How do you become an artist? There was no obvious career path. I then did various things: I exported antique prints to the States, did a bit of commercial photography, a bit of promotional marketing – I was really looking around for something simply to make a living. I started a garden maintenance and landscaping company in south London – at its peak, I employed 12 people. Then I went into retail and, even though we hit our targets all the time, the recession got me. I walked away with no more than a suitcase of clothes.”

Talent needs to be nurtured and developed with hard work

“My mother bought me some paints and I decided I wanted to be an artist. I spent the next four years working as a house-sitter while I learned to be a painter. Anyone can master the actual physical skills of painting and drawing – although whether you can develop the talent to do something really original is another matter. I remember the first thing I painted; I’d decided to paint a tree and realised I couldn’t. I didn’t know what a tree looked like. Painting and drawing is looking at forms, observation. Like anything else, you have to put the hours in. There’s no quick way or lazy way of getting good at anything. The painting would go in phases. I’d be getting better and better, then I’d fall back, and I discovered that, when that happened, I needed to take a break do something else for a couple of days. I was up in London and I happened to go into the Tiranti shop, which sells materials for sculpting. I bought some clay and sculpting tools and put them in a cupboard. Then one day I was tidying the studio when I was on a break from painting and found them. Sculpture had always fascinated me – I thought there was  a fascinating alchemy in turning clay into a beautiful object. I decided to have a go and I was hooked. I planned to combine painting and sculpting – then I realised I hadn’t painted for a year. I can see the 3D image in my mind much more clearly. Now I sculpt in clay, I use epoxies, CAD, CGI, kinetics, casting. When I started art, it was the first thing I’d ever done where I felt totally at home: not just making, but displaying, selling, marketing – it all felt totally intuitive. I said to myself: ‘This is how I’m going to earn my living.’”

Don’t forget that you need to market yourself to make a living

“If you’re going to be successful you’ve got to spend half your time doing marketing, PR and selling. I once had an argument with a professor at the Slade [School of Fine Art] when I suggested students there should do a marketing course. He didn’t agree. But students are sent out completely unprepared. I once met an aspiring artist who said to me ‘I paint, I draw, I’m not very successful – I suppose you have one of those website things’ – well, yes! If you’re an artist, you’re essentially selling a non-practical item, its only value is emotional, so you’ve got to present it well. When we went to the CLA Game Fair, we spent 10 days building our stand, with a pond and waterfalls. People see a sculpture, they feel good and they buy it because they want to recreate that feeling. We pay attention to packaging. If you’re sending a sculpture to a client, you want them to have a wonderful experience unpacking it. So many galleries send out an invitation that simply tells you what’s on and when: it doesn’t make you want to go! There has been a big change in the role of galleries over the past 15 years. Clients used to have to buy through them, but now you can find any artist you like online and buy direct. Auction houses are also moving into direct sales. Artists can do the marketing themselves.”

Showcase your passion

“I’m most proud of what we’re doing here [in Dorset], which is not only creating the sculpture, it’s also creating the park. I now tend to sculpt for here and this whole place becomes a work of art. Some of my sculptures wouldn’t work in a gallery – the scale would mean there was no point of reference, you wouldn’t be able to see the differing perspectives. The effect the park can have on people is important. When we first opened, we didn’t know what to expect. We were nervous: we thought people might want their money back! Very early on, one man said to me ‘I’ve never really understood sculpture – but now I get it.’ Art is a visual language. If it doesn’t convey its meaning, it has failed. If you can do art in a way that people can understand, you bring them into the contemporary art world. You’ve got to give people ideas, stimulate them as to what’s possible.”

Isis by Simon Gudgeon can be seen in Hyde Park, London, and in his sculpture park in Dorset

Isis by Simon Gudgeon can be seen in Hyde Park, London, and in his sculpture park in Dorset

Take the jump

“Whatever you do in life, there are going to be difficult bits. What’s important is to look at the skills you’ve got and take the jump. It’s following the creative imperative, you’re almost forced to do it, even if you’re not sure how it will sell. If you’re creating out of passion, it will go well. If you’re creating in a dull, formulaic way that you think will sell, you’re killing your market. That’s one of the reasons I don’t do commissions. What somebody else wants won’t necessarily fire you up, you’re doing it for the money rather than because you want to. I have a long gestation period for sculptures. I think and get fired up and then I have to go into the studio and create. For the Isis sculpture in Hyde Park, the only commission was the question ‘If you put a sculpture here, what would you put?’ And that was perfect.”


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Public offers ideas for revamped downtown streetscape

BLOOMINGTON — A master plan for the downtown streetscape should compliment the assets the area already has, planners told Bloomington residents during two forums Wednesday morning.

About a dozen people attended the morning forum and another followed in the afternoon at the Government Center in downtown Bloomington.

The master plan will recommend type and location of light fixtures and placement of plantings, benches, trash cans, bike racks and other fixtures for the downtown area generally bounded by Olive, Lee, Locust and Prairie streets. It will build upon work already performed on some of the 82 segments of street that are being examined, including improvements around the McLean County Museum of History and down North Main Street.

“I think we want to work with what you have,” said Jeff Martin, landscape architectural manager with Farnsworth Group, the firm hired to write the plan. He listed downtown’s historic architecture and overall heritage as an asset.

“We want to preserve that and a master plan gives us flexibility to do this,” he said.

Martha Burk, former co-owner of Main Gallery 404 and a member of the Downtown Bloomington Association design committee, said at the morning event she liked the work already done. She asked if the city could put electrical outlets near any trees to allow for holiday lights and turn the narrowest alleys, which can no longer handle trucks, into pedestrian walkways.

She and others in attendance noted a need for additional flowers, trees and bushes throughout the study area.

Martin said that can be an especially challenging aspect to downtown beautification because with the “nature of an urban environment, it’s just going to get walked on” unless plantings are elevated.

Joe Haney owns and is rehabilitating a building at 407-409 W. Washington St. “That is actually the entry point to downtown,” he said.

He said out-of-town visitors to U.S. Cellular Coliseum enter the city by taking Market Street to Lee Street until they hit Front Street. For that reason, Haney said the area around his property needs additional attention.

Jeff Woodard, marketing director at the McLean County Museum of History, agreed with other forum participants that the museum is a downtown “showpiece.” He supported the incorporation of tourism and the idea of preserving heritage.

He added that the museum hopes to rebrand its block into a “museum square” with additional landscaping to “give it more of a campus feel.”

Those unable to attend Wednesday’s forums are invited to weigh in on what they’d like downtown to look like by calling Assistant City Engineer Bob Yehl at 309-434-2225. Farnsworth is expected to complete the streetscape master plan report in early March.

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Garden calendar: Get ready for growing season

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Home of the Week: Sold by the City for $550000, relisted for $899000


ASKING PRICE: $899,000

TAXES: Yet to be assessed

LOT SIZE: 17.5 by 112 feet

AGENT: Leonard Fridman (TCS Realty Inc.)

The back story

The house at 114 Ivy Ave. had been vacant for a couple of years when it was put on the auction block last year by Toronto Community Housing Corp. as part of a move to reduce its inventory of properties.

The properties are being sold over the course of two years in order to reduce a repair backlog that stood at $750-million in 2012 and continues to grow. Many of the properties are vacant and in poor repair. They have been wildly popular with homeowners and builders who aim to buy a timeworn property and renovate.

The team beat four or five rival bidders last June and began to tear apart the old interior the day after they took possession.

“It was in pretty rough shape,” says designer Mazen El-Abdallah of Mazen Studio. He teamed with builder Matthew Kosoy to bid on the semi-detached house near Greenwood and Gerrard.

Mr. Kosoy says he had missed out on other properties in the east end.

“I was trying to buy houses in this area and it was insane.”

On Ivy, the house was a maze of tiny rooms, say Mr. El-Abdallah and Mr. Kosoy, who paid $550,000 for the property.

They removed walls, plaster, wiring, plumbing and stairs in the back-to-the-bricks renovation.

The house today

Mr. Kosoy added new insulation, reinforced the joists, replaced sub-floors and built a wider staircase to the second floor.

From there, the builder added skylights and installed huge windows throughout.

“We wanted to go with the industrial window feel,” says Mr. El-Abdallah. “We like the vibe.”

The main floor is an open plan, with the living area at the front and a large kitchen at the rear.

Doors lead to a cedar deck and an enclosed backyard with a stone patio.

Mr. El-Abdallah says the aluminium-trimmed windows fit in with the low-rise brick buildings and warehouses that are part of the view from the kitchen window.

“It’s very urban – it’s amazing,” says Mr. El-Abdallah of the backdrop across the lane.

Upstairs, the house has three bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor.

The bathroom has a marble mosaic floor, walk-in shower, bathtub and a marble countertop.

The attic was renovated to create a third-floor retreat that could be used as an office, playroom or master bedroom.

On the lower level, Mr. Kosoy created a playroom, second bathroom, laundry room and guest bedroom.

“We really imagine a family with a couple of kids living here,” says Mr. El-Abdallah.

Outside, the team designed the exterior to appear unified with the other half of the semi. The front porch was rebuilt and the front and rear gardens were redone with new landscaping.

Mr. Fridman says the neighbourhood appeals to people with small children. Nearby Greenwood Park offers a swimming pool, a dog off-leash playground and ice skating in the winter.

“It’s a very neighbourhood kind of street,” he says of Ivy Avenue.

The best feature

The large kitchen was designed for avid home cooks, says Mr. El-Abdallah. It has a stainless steel chef’s-style range, Fisher Paykel refrigerator and marble-topped counters. The peninsula also serves as a breakfast bar.

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Great Big Home + Garden Show offering displays, demonstrations

1/30/2014 – West Side Leader

By Maria Lindsay

CLEVELAND — The 2014 Great Big Home + Garden Show will return to the Cleveland I-X Center Feb. 8-16 with more than 1,000 home industry experts and 650 exhibits to explore, according to organizers.

Presented by Carrier®, the event will feature home improvement ideas and appearances by home and garden celebrities.

“The Great Big Home + Garden Show is a must-see for homeowners wanting to check out the latest trends, be inspired or get advice from the area’s leading home improvement experts,” said Show Manager Rosanna Hrabnicky. “With more than 1,000 experts under one roof, attendees will find what they need to turn their home and garden dreams into a reality.”

Produced by Solon-based Marketplace Events, the event will offer visitors the opportunity to shop for home improvement contractors, lawn and garden services and equipment, home décor and other products and services to transform homes or gardens, according to organizers.

Among the new features and attractions this year are:

  • Perrino Builders Interiors will return for a second year to build the Idea Home that will inspire visitors with ideas for building, remodeling and decorating their own homes. [See related story below.] A Vacation Home built by Weaver Barns also will be on hand. Landscaping surrounding the homes will be provided by Morton’s Landscaping.
  • Belgard Hardscapes Inc. will feature outdoor living spaces.
  • There will be several Networking Nights throughout the show.
  • A Home Depot Kid’s Workshop will offer children an opportunity to build something and take home an orange workshop apron.

According to event officials, returning favorites to the show will include:

√ The Garden Showcase will feature international-themed gardens created by Northeast Ohio landscapers. These gardens will represent exotic locations from around the world and will be partnered with local restaurants that will offer samples during special tasting events Feb. 10 and 11 from 4 to 8 p.m.

√ The fully constructed Dream Basement will showcase a large audio visual theater designed by Xtend Technologies and will be surrounded by low-maintenance landscaping created by Morton’s Landscaping.

√ The combined Main Stage and Loretta Paganini Cooking Stage will offer attendees home improvement celebrity appearances with the opportunity to taste and enjoy food.

√ The show also will feature Celebrity Designer Rooms, the Petitti Gardening Stage with gardening seminars and outdoor furniture and plants for purchase, and the Playground Worlds’ KidsZone, which will feature a variety of safe, high-quality playground equipment and giveaways for parents.

Celebrity appearances, which will appear on the show’s Main Stage, will include: DIY Network and HGTV’s “Yard Crashers and Turf War” host Ahmed Hassan, Feb. 8-9; History Channel’s “American Pickers” co-star Frank Fritz, Feb. 15; Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star” and “Cupcake Wars” cooking personality Emily Ellyn, Feb. 8-9; and HGTV’s “Room by Room” creator and co-host Matt Fox, who also produced and cohosts the “Around the House with Matt and Shari” series.

Also during the event, the Cambria Bistro will offer full-service dining, located around the Garden Showcase.

More details about the show are available at

Great Big Home + Garden Show hours are Feb. 8 and 15 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Feb. 9 and 16 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Feb. 10-14 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Tickets for adult admission cost $14 at the Box Office; $11 through the website or at Discount Drug Mart and AAA locations; $10 for seniors ages 65 and older with identification; and $9 each for groups of 20 or more. Tickets are $5 for children ages 6-12 and free for children 5 and younger.

The I-X Center is located at One I-X Center Drive.


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Salt alternatives for the homeowner

Posted: Saturday, January 25, 2014 9:56 am

Updated: 9:57 am, Wed Jan 29, 2014.

Salt alternatives for the homeowner

By Bob Beyfuss
For Columbia-Greene Media


It is minus 8 with the windchill at minus 25 as I write this from my chilly, (53 degree) living room on Jan. 22. I have to drive to Walton NY this morning in Delaware County and I will be wary of any “wet” spots on the highway, since they will surely be black ice. Thank goodness for road salt!

It is not uncommon in the Capital District/Hudson Valley for heavily traveled roads, such as the Thruway, to receive 40 to 80 tons of deicing salt per lane mile per year. That works out to about 15 to 30 pounds per linear foot. It is surprising that any roadside plants can tolerate that much salt, but most do. If they received a fraction of this much salt during the growing season, the roadsides would be devoid of vegetation. There is little the homeowner can do to change the road salt situation but there are some alternatives to salt that may be used in the home environment.

Road salt or deicing salt is mostly unrefined rock salt, containing about 98.5 percent sodium chloride. Calcium chloride is sometimes used when temperatures are extremely low (Rock salt is useless at temperatures below + 10) but it is about eight times as expensive as sodium chloride. Rock salt causes injury to plants by absorbing water that would normally be available to the roots. Even when moisture is plentiful excess salt can create a drought like environment. In addition, when salt is dissolved in water it breaks down into sodium and chloride ions. Roots readily absorb chloride ions and then they are carried through the sap stream to actively growing portions of the plant such as leaf margins and shoot tips. High levels of chloride are toxic and result in characteristic marginal scorch patterns. (Brown edges around the leaves) Excess sodium in soil also hurts plants by encouraging soil compaction, leading to restricted uptake of oxygen and water. Calcium chloride is not nearly as damaging.

Plants most likely to be affected in the home landscape are those that receive lots of salt laden snow. For example, if you routinely apply salt to your porch or steps or deck, the plants growing nearby are most at risk, especially if you shovel snow on top of their root systems. Likewise, plants along your driveway or roadside are more at risk then those in the backyard. So what are the alternatives?

First, buy calcium chloride instead of rock salt or purchase one of the newer deicing materials that are reported to be even less toxic to plants. In recent years several new products have been developed that are very effective at melting snow and ice.

These new products are quite expensive but so are replacement plants! If you just want to improve traction try using sand or kitty litter or even fine gravel. Keep in mind however that you will most likely be tracking these materials into the house along with the snow on your boots. Never use soiled kitty litter for this reason! Wood ashes have also been used for traction, but too much wood ash spread over your plants can raise the soil pH to damaging levels. Wood ash will also be carried in the house with the snow on your boots and it leaves an unsightly gray residue.

I no longer will need any kitty litter, as I lost my beloved cat two weeks ago. My friend Lester Gass shared this quote with me, that he attributed to a woman named Amy Ahberg “Taking on a pet is a contract with sorrow.”

Indeed it is.


Saturday, January 25, 2014 9:56 am.

Updated: 9:57 am.

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Feburary Gardening Tips

Stop Lawn Weeds this Spring

To have a lush green lawn free of weeds this spring, early February is the best time to apply a pre-emergent.

Pre-emergents work by preventing the weed seed from germinating – so applying at the right time is important. A reliable pre-emergent proven to work well on weeds in the Cedar Creek lake area is Hi-Yield’s Weed Stopper with Dimension.

If you prefer to use an organic product our recommendation is Nature’s Guide Spreadable Corn Gluten. It’s a natural weed preventer and nitrogen fertilizer.

February is also the time to fertilize trees, shrubs, lawns and evergreens. Use a rose or all-purpose garden type fertilizer to feed roses, fruit and flowering trees, plus other deciduous trees and shrubs. If you use dry type fertilizers, be sure to water-in thoroughly after application.

Start fertilizing lawns mid – late February. Fertilizing will help bring the grass out of dormancy and boost the growth of new shoots and green up the grass quickly. We recommend a 16-4-12 balanced slow release fertilizer for Cedar Creek.

Spraying. February is a good month to make an application of winter dormant spray on fruit trees to kill damaging insects as they wake up from their winter’s nap. Spray at a time when the wind is not blowing and when temperatures are above freezing.

Pruning. Prune back trees, shrubs and roses before buds start to show. Valentine’s Day is considered the best time to trim back roses.

Freezing Temperatures. If temperatures do drop below 32 degrees use a freeze cloth to protect early flowering or tender plants.

Happy Gardening

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Caring For Potted Plants: Gardening Tips


For healthy growth, dedicated caring for potted plants is required. Some tips for caring for potted plants are discussed below:

Caring For Potted Plants: Gardening Tips

1.Water – Potted plants have a limited area for roots to penetrate and absorb water. To keep the plant hydrated, regular watering of plants should be done. Water the potted plants every alternate days or at least twice in a week. Water is essential for plant growth and caring of potted plants.

2.Sunlight – Sunlight is an important factor that affects the plant’s growth. Plants that grow outside manage to absorb light in the day. Potted plants, especially the ones inside the house, need to be places in such a way that they get enough sunlight for at least 3-4 hours a day. This is an essential gardening tip for the caring of potted plants.

3.Fertilisers – Potted plants are exposed to nutrients that are present in the soil of the pot. For providing the extra nutrients, you need to care a little extra for the potted plants. Add fertilizers and compost to the soil of the potted plants. You can also use natural compost like kitchen waste, leftover food, vegetable and food debris, etc. for potted plants. Fertilisers are available in a large variety and should be used every 2-3 months, depending on the requirement of the plant.

4.Plant care – A good tip on how to care for potted plants is to trim and prune the plant in regular intervals of time. For healthy growth of potted plants, you need to trim and remove the dead leaves and stem of the plant regularly. The plant’s regeneration speeds up after regular trimming and cutting of the plant.

5.Re-potting – When a plant grows, the roots also start increasing. This is the time when roots start needing more space. Re-potting is necessary when the present pot falls short of space for both the stem and root growth. If adequate space is not provided, the plant growth may get hampered. Once the plant size increases you will either have to choose a pot of bigger size or transfer the plant to open soil. This is one essential tip in caring for potted plants.

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FRAGRANT GARDEN: More good gardening reference books – Austin American

This week I will continue with my review of gardening books that I use most often with my landscape design clients. Last time, I focused on those that reference sustainable and native gardens, and edible gardens and this week will address other well-adapted plantings, many of them focusing on botanicals that have thrived in Texas gardens for hundreds of years.

Herbs might be grouped together with edibles, though they are often planted in gardens designed for them alone. I have perhaps a dozen books focusing on herbs and herb garden design, but if I were to have the choice of only one, it would be “Southern Herb Growing” by Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay. This book was written by and for gardeners who live very close to us in Central Texas; both authors lived in Round Top when this book was published. It focuses on herbs that will thrive in our long, hot and humid summers and gives detailed information on growing them. It is organized into three parts: A herbal primer on why to grow, designing a garden, growing in containers and propagation; a growing guide for more than 130 featured herbs; and a section on cooking with herbs, both culinary (for cooking) herbs and ornamental herbs are discussed in this book.

Another favorite guidebook for clients is “Heirloom Gardening in the South: Yesterday’s Plants for Today’s Gardens.” I was a Texas Rose Rustler with author Dr. Bill Welch (and associate Greg Grant), beginning in 1981, and have learned much from my intermittent association with him. This book begins with an exploration of our gardening heritage, discussing influence of Native Americans, the Spanish, French, Africans (through African-Americans), English, German, Italian and Asians. Understanding these various influences helps to develop a garden that is in harmony with both the surrounding landscape and also the style of the house (and the owner). He discusses natives and (those dreaded) invasives, how heirloom plants were shared and spread through the South and then gives ideas using basic design principles for designing your own garden.

The following chapter lists plants including trees, shrubs (including old roses), vines, grasses, perennials and bulbs that have survived for hundreds of years in Texas gardens and other areas below the Mason-Dixon Line. A final chapter gives us a view of both authors’ home gardens and how they grew. I actually have two copies of this book, so I can share with more than one design client at a time!

Following in that same vein, I offer “Antique Roses for the South” as an in-depth introduction to the Old Garden Roses. Also by Dr. Welch, this book details an historical perspective of Old Roses and gives information on some of the rose “rustling” endeavors that contributed to our knowledge of, and spreading interest in, their culture and cultivation. He discusses landscaping with Old Roses, arranging them into bouquets, rose crafts and the propagation of roses for sharing with garden friends. The final 100 pages are dedicated to describing care and culture for over 100 roses suitable for gardens in our climate. There is a photo of the front of my old house and cottage garden in Austin on p. 33, showing how I trained the very vigorous climber ‘Mermaid’ into a large pecan tree there.

Another wonderful book from another Texas Rose Rustler is “Landscaping with Antique Roses” by Michael Shoup and Liz Druitt. His book is organized into chapters on designing the garden, integrating roses into the landscape, rustling/propagating/purchasing and planting/protecting/pruning. Following is an encyclopedia of selected Old Garden Roses, most, if not all of them, offered by his Brenham (actually Independence) Texas Antique Rose Emporium Nursery. One little known fact: I was actually a sales representative for the nursery in the mid-1980s, working with nurserymen in the Austin and San Antonio area to get the plants into local retail nurseries. Later, he built his own Independence and then San Antonio facilities and my job ended. At the time, I was importing roses and planting them in my large garden at 48th Street and Evans Avenue in Austin. Many cuttings from plants in that garden later became part of his offerings at the nursery.

The last book most often shared is another Bill Welch classic, “Perennial Garden Color: Perennials, Cottage Gardens, Old Roses, and Companion Plants.” This book was published long ago in 1989 and helped promote wider interest in gardening with old-fashioned plants. He offers information on the roots of our gardens, perennials for easy garden color, arranging those plants in the garden and also buying, planting and caring for them. A later section of the book talks about inter-planting these perennials with Old Garden Roses.

Although native plants will be the most easy-care and sustainable flora in the garden (and also offer the most to our friends the butterflies, birds and other fauna), I always try to find a place for a number of other well-adapted plants in my designs for Central (and SE) Texas Gardens. I hope some of these books will help you to choose suitable plantings for your gardens, as well.

Please address any questions or suggestions you might have for me by visiting my website and clicking on the “CONTACT” tab.”

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