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Archives for February 9, 2014

The 47th Annual York Builders Home Show

Home show

Are you looking to build a new home or maybe remodel your current one?

Well the York Builders Home Show is the place for you this weekend. The York Builder’s Association is hosting its 47th annual home show at the York Expo Center.

The show features vendors and experts in all things home decor, from flooring to painting to landscaping.

“It’s very important for the expo center to bring the show back here each year because I think that some of that is the name recognition each year and the person that may come this year they may not be doing their project this year, but they come and get ideas each year.” Dane Lauver Seifert,  Wood-crafts INC

And FOX43′s meteorologist, Jeff Jumper stopped by the show to host the Home Owner Olympics! Folks competed in home building-theme games for the chance to win vendor prizes including some FOX43 goodies.

Jeff jumper

The show runs through tomorrow.

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Water, water everywhere…but here

There’s no drought around here—of warnings about our water shortage and ideas on how to counter it.

Actually, Southern Californians have done an admirable job in cutting down on water use in the past two decades, necessary to accommodate new growth and home building that kept the economy alive for so long, and hopes to again.

The alternative was to place a moratorium on new homes, a condition experienced in Chino Hills back in the nineties.  Blocking new permits hasn’t even been mentioned yet this time around, in fear of putting a damper on an important economic recovery.

There is still much that can be done in the state to conserve water. In northern and central California, there are still communities without water meters. The answer to saving water in crucial times has been to place residents on odd and even address watering during the week.

Since agriculture consumes 80 percent of the water supply, and is of such importance to the state’s economy, more effort needs to be devoted to developing efficient and economic irrigation, such as drip systems. A part of any water bond issue presented for public approval should include funds for this purpose. Drought-tolerant landscaping has become an important part of residential water saving in Southern California, but it is hard to convince residents to give up their lawns when farmers have unrestricted access to the supply. 

Another area where  more could be done is in the use of reclaimed waste water. While purple pipe systems are becoming more widespread, there remains a psychological barrier among people to using such water, despite it being proven safe. An example is the refusal of fire fighters and their departments, from the state on down, to  tap into reclaimable water systems to fight blazes or even fill their water tanks. This must change.

Barring a plan to figure out how to tap into the abundance of water falling on the north and east of this nation this year, or how to change the ocean currents, we will have to depend on an aggressive program to retain more moisture in our part of the country.

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‘New homestead’ connects sustainability with style

The size and sheen of today’s solar panels are not easy to hide in a landscape. How can we elegantly integrate them onto our land while still generating renewable energy?

Similarly, controlling rainwater runoff by allowing it to soak into the ground requires creating a swale or depression. How can we turn such a low point into a beautiful sustainable garden?

“Sometimes green solutions on our properties can look downright ugly,” said Julie Moir Messervy, an award-winning landscape designer, author and lecturer based in Vermont. “But these days, there are so many ways to create landscapes that combine ecological practices with attractive design.”

Messervy has written six books that explain landscape-design concepts in simple terms for homeowners. Her latest is “Landscaping Ideas that Work.”

“Good design is not only affordable, approachable and attainable, it’s also sustainable,” she said.

Messervy contends that, with focus and know-how, sustainable features such as solar panels, rainwater collection systems, green roofs and beds planted with native plants can be blended into home landscapes in imaginative and aesthetically pleasing ways. On your property, sustainability and style can go hand in hand for those unwilling to sacrifice one for the other.

According to Messervy, a “new homestead” accomplishes both: The house and its adjoining land use time-honored, earth-friendly practices that harmonize with today’s green technologies and materials — all arranged using principles of good design.

“We strive for beauty and meaning as we seek to link good landscape design with sustainable outdoor living,” she said.

To create your own “new homestead,” Messervy recommends beginning with four basic concepts.

Come from the earth. “Start by respecting the earth, by learning from it and responding to it,” Messervy said. “Past generations lived on the land in appropriate ways, providing sustenance not only for themselves and their families, but also for the land.” She contends that new sustainable methods and practices can be grafted onto old ideas of living lightly on the land.

Opt for double duty. “Do two things at once and instantly they become more integrated into your life and property,” Messervy said. For example, a brick retaining wall can be replaced by a sustainable green wall that performs the same function while doubling as an eye-pleasing vertical garden for native plants.

Start with an organizing strategy. “Don’t plunk a vegetable garden, orchard or solar panel just anywhere in your yard,” Messervy said. Instead, see every feature as part of a larger concept — a “big idea” that helps to unify disparate parts of your property. Do you want to create a “grandchild paradise” for instance, or a wildlife sanctuary, or an edible landscape? Determining what your property might become helps you get there.

Demystify landscape design. Education is a valuable tool with DIY landscape projects. Use resources geared to homeowners, such as books, blogs and websites. Especially helpful are apps that enable homeowners to mock up their property and get help designing it. Armed with these tools, “What once might have felt scary can now become play,” Messervy said. “Homeowners can more confidently design their own homestead with a focus on sustainability with style.”

Lynn Jackson Kirk is a public relations writer for Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

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10 features of the Birmingham Home & Garden Show you don’t want to miss – The Huntsville Times

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Notable Gifts: Cameron grants benefit affordable housing, library projects

The Cameron Foundation awarded $800,000 in end-of-year grants to help complete a new Petersburg library building and to help build affordable family housing.

The Better Housing Coalition received $500,000 for Phase II of its Claiborne Square project in the Halifax corridor of Petersburg. The first phase was a 47-unit affordable community residence for active adults 55 and older. The second phase calls for 40 garden apartments for families in the block south of Claiborne Square.

Cameron funds will be used for onsite improvements such as lighting, grading, curb cuts for handicapped ramps, a playground, rain gardens and landscaping.

“The Cameron Foundation invested in Phase I with grant funding, and we were pleased with the success that resulted from that collaborative effort,” said Larry C. Tucker, board chairman. “The Better Housing Coalition’s stewardship of those resources supported our decision to invest in Phase II,” he added.

Support from the local foundation will help the housing coalition compete for low-income housing tax credits, explained J. Todd Graham, Cameron president. The tax credits, if awarded, will provide most of the equity for the development.

The Petersburg Library Foundation received $300,000 to help complete a $12.7 million capital campaign for the new city library. The year-end grant brings Cameron’s total funding for the project to more than $2.7 million.

When complete, the 45,000-square-foot facility will offer expanded programs, computer banks, community meeting spaces, dedicated areas for teens and children, a reading room, a café offering healthy foods and a drive-thru window providing easy access for patrons picking up materials they have checked out.

“The community has really rallied around this project with its financial support, underscoring just how important it is,” Graham noted. “We hope this additional grant helps Petersburg Library Foundation quickly wrap up the campaign, open the doors to the new library, and begin providing the many valued services to the community that it has planned.” The library foundation anticipates a grand opening in April.

Perdue Foundation makes $5,000 classroom donation

The Arthur W. Perdue Foundation has awarded $5,000 to Agriculture in the Classroom to help educate Virginia students about where their food originates and the importance of agriculture to Virginia’s economy.

The grant will help train educators and provide agriculturally-themed classroom resources.

MeadWestvaco makes scholarship donation

The KLM Scholarship Foundation received $1,000 from the MeadWestvaco Foundation for its program to help Virginia college students buy textbooks and supplies.

Since 2002, the organization has awarded $79,000 in book scholarships to 111 students attending 18 Virginia colleges and universities.

“Our scholars work very hard and make all the right moves toward their college degree. They deserve community support and the MeadWestvaco Foundation has risen to the occasion,” said Kimberley L. Martin, founder of the scholarship foundation.

Martin’s customers, associates donate $94,746

Martin’s Food Markets customers and associates donated $94,746 through the Share a Holiday Meal program to support Christmas Mother campaigns in central Virginia.

“Thank you to our customers and associates for your overwhelming generosity in assisting families in need throughout our community,” said Jim Scanlon, regional vice president for Martin’s. “Since Martin’s started participating in the Share a Holiday Meal campaign four years ago, more than $370,000 has been donated.”

In the 2013 campaign, the Chesterfield/Colonial Heights Christmas Mother received $28,103; Salvation Army Central Virginia Command (Richmond Christmas Mother), $26,000; Henrico Christmas Mother, $24,594; Hanover Christmas Mother, $12,418; and Salvation Army of Williamsburg, $3,631.

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Georgia Tourism and Destination Brooks produce first Camellia and Garden …

News Release:Georgia Department of Economic Development

The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Product Development team, in conjunction with Destination Brooks and the Quitman Garden Club will host the first Camellia and Garden Symposium on February 12 and 13. The event honoring Betty Sheffield will take place at the Quitman United Methodist Church.

In 2010, Quitman was selected by the Georgia Department of Economic Development to host a tourism product development resource team and at the time, the team identified Quitman’s namesake as the “Camellia City,” as a means to develop cultural tourism. Additionally, the team recognized the significance of Betty Sheffield’s work in hybridization of the Camellia japonica that is nationally recognized by horticulturists and backyard gardeners across the United States.

Speakers will include experts from Georgia, Florida and South Carolina and in turn will cover topics from landscaping to the history of camellias in southern gardens. Hugh and Mary Palmer Dargan from Atlanta, Walter Reeves from Atlanta and Tom Johnson from Magnolia Gardens in South Carolina are just a few of the nationally recognized speakers.

“I am thrilled that Quitman and Brooks County is participating in this prototype event,” said Bruce Green, Director of Tourism Product Development at the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

“Cultural tourism based on a community’s authentic heritage and cultural assets has the potential to positively impact every community in Georgia. The symposium is designed so that it can become an annual event thereby increasing tourism and visitation in the host community.”

In addition to the speaker lineup, there will be area tours of gardens and neighborhoods; including the Betty Sheffield Memorial Garden. Aside from her work with camellias, resulting in the “The Betty Sheffield” and the “Betty Sheffield Supreme” and many other “sports or mutants” of this camellia, Mrs. Sheffield was equally passionate about her desire to beautify Quitman. She worked untiringly as a volunteer supervisor of the city workers to landscape and maintain the medians on the main thoroughfares in Quitman. She was an inspiration for many to encourage beautification of their property by planting trees and shrubs and, of course, camellias.

Registration information is available at: Camellia and Garden Symposium Honoring Betty Sheffield.

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Garden Q&A: Tips to keep cats out of garden – Tribune

Question: I’m looking for environmentally safe ways to keep cats from “doing their businessâ€� in my butterfly garden as well as in the mulch around my trees.

Answer: Cat urine is quite potent. Not only is the odor bothersome, but the salts and nitrogen contained in it can burn plant foliage and roots. Plus, feline fecal matter can contain a number of pathogens, including roundworms, parasitic nematodes and Toxoplasma gondii (a parasite which causes the disease Toxoplasmosis).

Doing your best to keep kitty from using your garden as a litter box is a good idea.

Here are a few possible solutions:

Let’s start with two mechanical deterrents.

Motion-activated sprinklers, such as the Scarecrow by Contech (available through,, and others), can be hooked up to the garden hose. They send a sharp burst of water whenever motion is sensed in the area, scaring away cats, dogs, deer and rowdy teenagers.

Another idea is a motion-activated ultrasonic device that emits a high-frequency sound whenever movement is sensed in the area, sending cats elsewhere. CatStop is one brand that’s available from retailers.

Cats prefer to dig before they “go,â€� so a simple physical barrier of chicken wire or plastic bird netting laid down over the soil and pinned into place will keep them from digging up the garden. You can cut holes through the netting and plant right through it or just lay strips of chicken wire around the perimeter of the garden. Most cats don’t like walking over it, either.

I’ve heard of people placing all manner of sharp-edged objects in their flower beds in an effort to keep cats from doing their business. I caution you against this, as you don’t want to harm the cat or any other wildlife (or children) who might be exploring.

Another commonly touted solution is to spread citrus peels, black pepper powder or crushed cayenne in the area. I haven’t had much success with these solutions, but I do know some gardeners who swear by them.

Be aware that you’ll need to replace them regularly to aid in their effectiveness. Lastly, I offer what might possibly be the easiest, least-expensive and most effective way to keep cats out of your garden: build them one of their own. Cats love catnip (Nepeta cataria and several other Nepeta species).

Purchase a few plants and tuck them into an out-of-the-way area of your yard. Near the plants, dig a shallow pit and fill it with fine-grained sand. Cats will much prefer to use this new sandbox area instead of your garden.

You might even find them lounging in the catnip on sunny summer days.

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners� at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic� and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.� Her website is

Send your gardening or landscaping questions to or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

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Alan Titchmarsh tips on how to grow roses in your garden

Want to say it with flowers? Here are my top tips

Visit your local florist and take your pick of loose blooms in buckets. Orchids or other big exotic tropical blooms are well worth considering as an alternative to a ready-made bouquet of red roses. 

Instead of a single bunch of flowers on the big day, sign up for a service that sends a bouquet every month for a year (see 

Pot plants make a good alternative to cut flowers as they last a lot longer – a big plus point with ecologically minded recipients. Choose something showy – phalaenopsis (moth orchid) is a firm favourite. Sometimes spotted or striped, it comes in cream, white and yellow, as well as various shades of pink, from pale to raspberry. Miniature moth orchids, about six inches tall, are also charming, and cheap enough to make your own display, with several plunged in water to the rims of their pots in a pretty bowl filled with moss. Other good alternatives include anthurium, which has vaguely heart-shaped leaves and flowers (big and bright red, which are actually bracts), or gardenia, which has superbly scented white flowers that will be out now.  

When you really want to show a garden- lover you care, choose something that will give them long-lasting enjoyment, such as their favourite hard-to-find shrub (you can locate this via the RHS Plant Finder, either the printed book version or online at Depending on your budget, you could treat them to anything from a cold frame to a top-of-the-range, stainless-steel gardening implement, ready-to-assemble wooden potting bench, tiered staging for conservatory plant displays, or even a little lean-to greenhouse. 

If they love visiting gardens, a picnic hamper, rug, folding seats, camping stove and thermos jugs always turn it into more of an outing. Better still, make an occasion of it by booking a Valentine’s lunch at the eatery of your favourite garden centre with an afternoon’s shopping thrown in.

Consider annual membership of the RHS or National Trust, or tickets for Chelsea or another big flower show (buy online at Or how about a weekend gardening course or short holiday (a visit to the Dutch bulb fields perhaps)? Present the details on the day in a decorated envelope – accompanied by flowers, of course.

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A Secret Garden Floral Design: 5 Questions

tammy brandt-florist a secret garden-avon.jpgA Secret Garden Floral Design Florist Tammy Brandt.

Tammy Brandt, Avon

Do people give you
flowers? What’s your favorite kind of arrangement to receive?

Rarely, if ever. Because I am surrounded by
flowers everyday people tend to bring treats like candy, cookies,
cupcakes-mostly baked goods, and I am OK with that.

It’s hard to say what my favorite
flower/arrangement to receive is, it changes with the seasons. Right now I am
thrilled to see the tulips and daffodils arriving. They give me hope and let me
know that no matter how bad winter is, that somewhere out there, spring is on
the way Easter brings all the soft, creamy, pastel colors and by May the lilacs
and peonies start to bloom. August brings bright, giant, happy sunflowers, and
fall brings all the beautiful harvest reds, oranges, rusts and golds. Come
December I love the scent of the pine cones and evergreen boughs. They are all
my favorites, I guess that’s why I am in this business.

How often do men come
in with no clue of what they are looking for, other than a generic request for
flowers? How do you guide them to the best choice?

I would say that between 55-60 percent of our
business is the traditional red rose. Although, many people who still love
roses prefer different colors such as pink, lavender, white or yellow. Some
people avoid roses altogether and lean towards non-traditional flowers such as
carnations, lilies, orchids or tulips. To accommodate all these varied tastes,
and a wide range of budgets, we carry as broad an inventory as possible.

What percentage of
your Valentine’s Day sales are the traditional dozen red roses?

I wouldn’t exactly say men are clueless, some are
quite knowledgeable when it comes to floral selection and design. It’s been my
experience that men and women have very different styles and approaches to
shopping. A lot of the men who come to our store are more invested in the
person they are buying for, than the actual stem by stem assembly of their
flowers. My entire staff is knowledgeable, capable of asking the right
questions, and thereby helping guide our client to a mutually satisfying end

What’s the most
exotic request you’ve faced, and what lengths did you have to go through to
fulfill it?

One particularly unusual request was from a young
bride who asked if we could provide fully mature dandelions, on stems, for the wedding
guests to blow towards the bride and groom as they left the church. I was
pretty sure I would not be able to fulfill her request. However, we did our
absolute best to contact every wholesale resource available to us.
Unfortunately for this bride, we learned that there is no professional,
wholesale cultivator of dandelion flowers in today’s marketplace.

How do you compete with web sites like

don’t, we can’t. We do not have access to their national marketing and
advertising capacity; and we are not a factory style, assembly line production
of cookie cutter arrangements or boxed flowers with a vase inside. (Which, incidentally
leaves the recipient to do the job of the designer.) We are an
independent, locally owned, small business which is staffed by an owner and
designers who love what we do. The greatest difference between us and them, is
that we are a caring, giving part of our community. We offer excellent customer
service, with a no questions asked guarantee of our work. We will quite
literally do everything within our power to help our customers. From forgotten anniversaries, to last
minute funeral arrangements or the “Uh-Oh, I just remembered their
birthday.” We do everything we can to get the job done for our clients.

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Workshops offer tips on garden design, protecting watershed

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Friends of the Rouge and the Alliance of Rouge Communities have teamed up to offer native garden design workshops to teach residents in the Rouge River drainage area how to garden with native wildflowers.

Workshops will be held this spring in Novi, Bloomfield Hills, Livonia and Dearborn Heights.

“Water is a precious resource that is in high demand,” says Cyndi Ross, River Restoration Program Manager for Friends of the Rouge. “Michigan residents sometimes forget how scarce freshwater is for many around the world. We are the keepers of roughly 20 percent of all freshwater on Earth. It is our duty to ensure this resource, essential for all life, is available for us and future generations and to preserve the economic and recreational value the Great Lakes water provides to Michigan.”

One of the biggest threats to water quality in the Rouge River and the Great Lakes is contaminated stormwater run-off, according to a press release. Rain water falling on homes, parking lots and roads is not able to soak into the ground as nature intended, so it is collected in storm drains – along with pollutants – and piped to the nearest lake or stream to prevent flooding.

Friends of the Rouge is asking you to reduce water runoff and create a small native garden on your property. Learn how by attending a free public workshop. Four Naturalizing the Home Garden: A Native Garden Design Workshops will be held across the Rouge River watershed to teach people how to select native plants that are right for the conditions in their yard and offer design tips for creating attractive gardens that reduce rainwater runoff and provide nectar for birds and butterflies.

Optional expert assistance is available for a limited number of workshop attendees immediately following the workshop. Interested persons are encouraged to register early as space is limited. Registration is required for expert assistance. Registration is available online or by calling 313-792-9621.

Workshop dates and locations are as follow:

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 6 – 7:15 p.m. – Novi Civic Center, 47175 W 10 Mile Road, Novi

Wednesday, March 5, 6 – 7:15 p.m. – Livonia Civic Center Library, 32777 5 Mile Road, Livonia

Monday, March 31, 6 – 7:17 p.m. – Cranbrook Institute of Science, 39221 Woodward Ave, Bloomfield Hills

Tuesday, April 15, 6 –7:15 p.m. – Caroline Kennedy Library, 24590 George Ave, Dearborn Heights

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