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Archives for February 11, 2014

Got the winter blues?

“Whether it’s to pay off bills, plan a vacation or help with those home improvements, It get us in the mode of forward thinking,” she said.

7. Start a project

A fun project to look into is getting out the photo albums and going through old pictures. It can spark a trip down memory lane and get the mind off of the weather.

It’s a good time to organize photos, put photos in albums or transfer photos to new albums.

8. Embrace the snow

Carper said another thing to remember is we live in a place where we have winters.

“We need to embrace that idea,” she said. “If the temperature gets to be around 20 degrees, there is not a thing wrong with going out and taking a walk in the snow.”

There’s also a lot of snow-related sports to try out — skiing, ice skating, snow shoeing, snowboarding or sledding.

Take a camera or a pair of binoculars, and see what’s out there.

“We have to remind ourselves the winter is temporary. Try thinking about the positives. We live in a farming area and have to appreciate all the snow that will create more moisture for our farmers and their crops,” she said.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

Article source: http://www.bcrnews.com/2014/02/10/got-the-winter-blues/an061bo/

Climate change means we won’t in future be able to engineer our way out of …

The Environment Agency is battling not only flood water, but a rising tide of criticism. A rural crisis has turned into a political bunfight in which scientific fact plays second fiddle to political expediency.

Even some Conservative ministers might think it a bit harsh, and poor spelling, to describe Chris Smith, the Environment Agency’s embattled chairman, as a Cnut. But like the 11th century Danish king of England, Lord Smith has shown sound judgment in showing that political rhetoric can do little to turn back the water in the face of overwhelming forces of nature.

It’s hard for politicians to accept their powerlessness, but we must face up to some unpalatable facts. We are likely to see more extreme weather and more floods – and in areas that aren’t expecting them in the future. In the face of a pattern of some of the highest persistent rainfall on record this winter, the Environment Agency could have spent its entire national budget – dredging, landscaping and rebuilding Somerset from the ground up – and the Levels would still have been submerged.

It might have been possible to comprehensively flood-proof the 40 homes that were flooded, but the kind of alterations required – re-modelling downstairs rooms and moving living space upstairs – might spoil the homeowners’ rural idyll. It might even be cheaper to beat the retreat and make a home on higher ground.

Being flooded is not fun. Modern houses with carpets, electricity, and appliances are just not designed to cope with a sudden influx of water, mud and raw sewage. We all have sympathy with those made homeless, farmers unable to reach their fields, shopkeepers with no passing trade, villagers marooned on impromptu islands. Current attitudes are very different from those in the past, when large floods would have been borne by a largely agricultural workforce as an occupational hazard.

In the future there could be even more fundamental shifts. Scientists believe climate change could make sudden, heavy downpours more common, causing flash floods similar to those that flooded Newcastle in 2012. Such intense rainfall events, sometimes caused by “atmospheric rivers“, can be more difficult to predict than their earthly counterparts. Moreover, they can strike anywhere – town or country – making decisions on where to focus flood prevention measures even more difficult.

This may be Somerset’s biggest flood in living memory, but human memory is a poor substitute for hard evidence when millions of pounds of public money is at stake. Instead, we need hydrological facts about how a river catchment responds to heavy and prolonged rain, long records of rainfall data and detailed flood observations.

While we should prevent putting people in harm’s way by not building new houses on floodplains, we must also be realistic about far we can protect existing settlements. There is increasing evidence that “soft” engineering options, making use of nature to slow down water on its downhill journey, often work better and cost less than continuously shovelling silt or pouring cement. It’s a difficult argument to make to a crisis-hit community, though, because it can look like inaction.

David Cameron was keen to show strong leadership by promising an immediate resumption of river dredging, and his spokesman said the situation in Somerset was “unacceptable”. As climate change looks like bringing Britain wetter winters, and more monsoon-like summer downpours, we cannot afford to ignore the evidence of which flood prevention measures work best; which ideas are a waste of taxpayers’ money; and which areas we shall have to abandon altogether. Those who think we can pay to engineer our way out of this problem will look as foolish as those followers of Cnut who thought that the waves would stop.

Article source: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/11/climate-change-flooding-engineer-somerset

Debut of glass recycling in Las Cruces nears – Las Cruces Sun

LAS CRUCES The launch of drop-off glass recycling in Las Cruces is upon us!

Mark your calendars: the Las Cruces Earth Day celebration on Sunday, April 27, is the day you can start bringing glass bottles for recycling. The event will be at Young Park.

Last week, the chairman of the South Central Solid Waste Authority Board, County Commissioner Wayne Hancock, SCSWA Director Patrick Peck and Recycling Coordinator Tiffany Pegoda took a one day whirlwind “Tour de Glass” of New Mexico glass recycling locations.

The trio visited Angel Fire, Los Alamos, and Taos to see first-hand what other nearby glass recycling communities are doing right (or not so right) and to assess how best to move forward in Las Cruces.

“Glass recycling has been a passion of mine for the last three years. We are confident glass recycling will be a great success in Doña Ana County,” Hancock said,

Then last Friday, the Las Cruces Green Chamber invited members to share ideas about possible uses for crushed glass during their First Friday event. It’s an effort to turn glass recycling into an economic development opportunity for the community.

Carrie Hamblen, executive director of the Green Chamber, along with 38 Green Chamber members watched the glass crushing demo. “They are just waiting for glass recycling to happen — yesterday!” Hamblen quipped.

“It is evident by the turnout at our First Friday meeting, the residents of Las Cruces are eager to start recycling their glass,” she said. “We have many creative individuals in our community who can repurpose the glass cullet into amazing works of art, beads, landscaping materials, and more. It really is up to the imagination of folks because the potential for use of the cullet is almost limitless.”

Remember: Glass recycling in our community will be drop-off only!

Starting in late April, glass bottles will be accepted at two locations: the SCSWA Recycling Yard at 2855 W. Amador Ave., and on the east side, at the Old Foothills Landfill, 555 S. Sonoma Ranch Blvd.

Please do not put glass bottles in your blue curbside bins.

Green Connections is submitted by the South Central Solid Waste Authority, managing solid waste and recyclables and battling illegal dumping for residents and businesses in the city of Las Cruces and Doña Ana County.

Article source: http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-news/ci_25114548/debut-glass-recycling-las-cruces-nears

Young landscapers urged to enter the WorldskillsUK competition

By Sarah Cosgrove
Monday, 10 February 2014

The APL has opened its entry process for this year’s WorldSkillsUK Landscape Gardening competition.

2013 winners: Daniel Handley of Sparsholt College in Hampshire and Daniel Brennen from Derby College, Derby

2013 winners: Daniel Handley of Sparsholt College in Hampshire and Daniel Brennen from Derby College, Derby

The Landscape Gardening competition is open to all students and apprentices who are studying for either a Level 2 or Level 3 S/NVQ qualification in a relevant horticultural subject. The online entry portal is open from February 10 to March 21.

The competition will feature a theory test and a heat which will take the form of building competition gardens at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2014, the winners going on to an international event at The Skills Show at the Birmingham NEC where finalists compete to be named the best in their field.
 
Judges for the Landscape Gardening competition include award-winning APL chairman, Mark Gregory, who has worked on more than 120 show gardens and garden designer and four times RHS gold medal winner Adam Frost.

They will be joined by technical lead Jody Lidgard, who has run his own landscaping firm for over 18 years, lectured at various colleges around the country and mentored students through past WorldSkillsUK competitions. 

2011 WorldSkillsUK medal winner Simon Abbott completes the judges’ line up. Abbott has also won medals at RHS Malvern and RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

This is the first year the APL is acting as industry partner to WorldSkills UK for the Landscape Gardening section, one of dozens of skills judged and promoted. The organisation took over after BALI decided to drop its assocation, citing concerns about the cost.

WorldSkills aims to inspire young people and adults to be ambitious in their pursuit of skills to the highest level and taking part is often a springborad to a successful career.

Gregory said: “As chairman of The APL, I am excited about the collaboration with WorldSkillsUK and working with the young professionals during the competition starting this year. I feel I have a lot to give and share with this new generation of landscapers and I am looking forward to being part of it.

“It does wonders for your career and is the best hands-on learning you can get in the industry so I encourage all to enter.”

 

For more information on entering the Landscape Gardening competition, visit https://worldskillsuk.apprenticeships.org.uk/

Article source: http://www.hortweek.com/Landscape/article/1230576/young-landscapers-urged-enter-worldskillsuk-competition/

As Obama Heads to Drought-Stricken California, Many Solutions Await

Some very important people — President Obama among them — will convene in California this week with a singular goal: to help Californians as we endure the drought.

On Friday, President Obama will visit Fresno to highlight federal drought-relief efforts. The day before, Los Angeles City Hall will host the president’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. In attendance will be top brass from the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy; and Governor Jerry Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Last year was the driest year on record for California, and while we enjoyed some light rain last week, the drought hasn’t let up by any measure. We’ve been hit by droughts before, but climate change will make “critically dry” years occur more frequently. It also will threaten the water we need for our homes, farms, and businesses.

It’s not just a lack of precipitation that’s causing the problem. For far too long Californians have used more water than we can sustain and done so in ways that are not as efficient as we could. This system of too little supply and too much demand is finally catching up with us. And as climate change becomes the “new normal,” our water woes will only get worse.

While we can’t make it rain, we can prepare for drier days. The task at hand requires our government leaders to help us cope with the disaster today, prepare us for the chronic water shortages to come and protect this and future generations from the widening water scarcity impacts of climate change. Everyone has a role to play — our federal, state and local leaders, as well as every citizen. Outlined below are some of the solutions we can and should employ today at each one of those levels.

Taken together, these solutions can provide more water for Southern California than is currently exported from the Bay-Delta in the north. Many California communities are already implementing them to improve water quality and become more resilient. Now it’s time to extend those benefits across the state.

Federal Government:

  • Emergency Aid for Crop Conversion and Protection: Last week, the U.S. Agriculture Department announced $20 million in emergency aid to help California farmers protect their soil and upgrade irrigation equipment. That should help ranchers and farmers seed depleted pastures and croplands with fast-growing native cover plants to prevent irreplaceable topsoil from baking to dust and blowing away. More is needed if we want to create a sustainable path forward for the San Joaquin Valley.
  • Financial Relief to Workers: President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 last Friday. It should provide the first down payment for what is required to help farm workers laid off due to drought and farmers and ranchers who are suffering major losses. But much more will be required.
  • Make California the Pilot for the National Drought Resilience Partnership: President Obama created the National Drought Resilience Partnership in November to help coordinate the work of federal agencies and drought-affected states. This is the forum for developing a portfolio of options for funding the investments we need. California is the place to start.
  • National Drought Preparedness Plan: President Obama should lay out a vision of national drought preparedness. This isn’t just a California problem, after all. Drought affected about two-thirds of the continental United States in 2012 and was blamed for $30 billion in agricultural losses and another $1 billion in destruction from wildfires.
  • Disaster Declaration that Protects California’s Long-term Water Supply: The drought is a statewide disaster. But any federal emergency assistance should comply with key water and environmental protections because emergency aid will do little good if it sacrifices water quality and supply.

State Government:

  • Irrigation Infrastructure Upgrades: Upgrading our irrigation infrastructure has the potential to save hundreds of billions of gallons of water each year. We need public-private partnerships focused on a single goal: more crop per drop. This is crucial because more than 50% of the state’s 8 million acres of irrigated land relies on clunky, outdated systems that lose significant amounts of water to evaporation and spillage. More modern irrigation technologies can deliver just what is needed to each crop to maximize yields. The state can help facilitate, incentivize, and, in part, help finance these upgrades, which include more efficient irrigation practices (drip irrigation instead of flood/furrow irrigation), precise irrigation scheduling, regulated deficit irrigation, and similar practices to improve agricultural water use efficiency.

  • Incentives for Water-Smart Technologies: Water-efficient technologies like WaterSense toilets, faucets, and showerheads and Energy Star clothes washers and dishwashers dramatically reduce water consumption per capita. State agencies can establish or expand rebates to customers for switching to more efficient appliances and for converting water-guzzling lawns to water-efficient gardens. Building codes and landscape ordinances can be strengthened to ensure that all new development is water-efficient. And utilities can revise rate schedules for water and wastewater service to reward efficient water use and discourage water waste.

  • Emergency Drought Relief: A bill by state Senator Steinberg is still being developed, but from what we’ve seen so far it looks good. Investments like those under consideration for regional self-reliance create a drought resistant water supply, as the experience of some communities in southern California shows this year. But there are huge funding needs in terms of water recycling, stormwater capture, and conservation (which also creates jobs in local communities, creates open space and parks, reduces flood damage and water pollution, etc.). This bill can and should provide funding for such immediate water supply benefits.

  • Comprehensive Water Bond: Emergency relief is critical but won’t provide sufficient funding to secure widespread water solutions on the scale that California needs. The state has an opportunity this year to pass a water bond that invests in significant efficiency and conservation measures that will put us ahead of the game over the long term. The bond should also incentivize regional self-reliance efforts in a way that will transform the way we view stormwater and recycled water and their ability to augment local water supply.

Local Governments:

  • Expanding “Cash for Grass” or “Lawn to Garden” Programs: Cities can incentivize homeowners’ switch from grass lawns that require watering to native landscaping that does not. Many are already doing so. For example, the Long Beach Water Department landscape conversion program provides a $3 per-square-foot incentive to replace grass lawns with more water-efficient landscapes. This is the highest landscape conversion incentive rate in California. To date, Long Beach has retrofitted more than 800 residential lawns and expects to reach 1,000 lawn conversions later this year. As a result of this and similar conservation efforts by Long Beach, water use declined from 167 gallons per person per day in 1980 to 110 gallons in 2010. Other cities should follow Long Beach’s lead.

  • Municipal Green Infrastructure Plans: Pocket parks, rain barrels, cisterns and other types of green infrastructure allow communities to capture rainwater where it falls–instead of letting it pour off streets, pick up pollution, flood sewage plants, and end up contaminating our beaches. The water can then be stored for use or filtered into the ground, where it can benefit vegetation and replenish groundwater supplies. Cities throughout California can institute green infrastructure into all new development plans and incentivize businesses to adopt green infrastructure in and around existing structures. An NRDC report found that using practices that emphasize rainwater capture at new development and redevelopment projects in urbanized Southern California and the San Francisco Bay area – with only limited application to the existing built environment – could increase local supplies by more than 400,000 acre-feet per year by 2030.

  • Water Recycling and Re-Use: Cities are increasingly using recycled water, i.e., thoroughly treated “wastewater” meeting all state and federal drinking water standards, to irrigate parks and lawns and recharge groundwater supplies. Cities and utilities must provide expanded water recycling programs.

The Public:

There is also a lot the public can do to help. Governor Brown has asked all residents of the state to voluntarily cut their water use by 20%. Here’s how you can do your part:

  • Repair Leaks in Your Home: Add a small amount of food coloring to the water in the tank behind your toilet, and if any color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes you’ve discovered a leak that may have been running for months undetected. If you have a faucet or showerhead that drips, or a toilet that runs all the time – that is water you could save.

  • Take Advantage of Incentives to Upgrade Appliances and Landscaping: Seek out state and local programs that help pay for water-efficient clothes washers and other home appliances. And do the same with ways to make your lawn more water-efficient.

  • Use the dishwasher rather than wash by hand: Although some people are very efficient at washing by hand, most of us aren’t and that means up to 27 gallons of water per load. A new Energy Star-rated dishwasher can consume as little as 3 gallons per load. But DO hand-scrape food off instead of pre-rinsing your dishes. Dishwashers are built to remove food residues, and pre-rinsing can waste 5 or more gallons per load.

  • Use a Carwash: Washing your car by hand not only uses 100 gallons of water or more in one go, but may also result in contaminated water containing brake fluid, oil, and other automotive fluids entering waterways through storm drains. Carwash services are required to channel water to treatment plants and the most efficient use less than 40 gallons of fresh water per wash.

  • Get a Pool Cover: Any family fortunate enough to have a backyard pool can help save water by using an inexpensive floating pool cover. Even in coastal California, evaporation rates are substantial: A typical back-yard pool in Los Angeles can lose nearly 40,000 gallons a year to evaporation, and pool covers can pay for themselves quickly.

I have no doubt the president’s task force will talk about the importance of planning for climate change — that’s their charge after all. And I hope President Obama does the same. Fortunately, California has never taken a duck-and-cover approach to climate change. Indeed, California is actually ahead of the game compared to most states when it comes to planning. But the current drought highlights how much work remains to be done — in California and across the entire country — when it comes to implementing on-the-ground solutions to our water challenges.

This drought is a critical opportunity for our leaders to step up — to initiate solutions that will help make our communities ready for this challenge. The simple truth is that it’s time to invest in preserving our water.

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-fleischli/as-obama-heads-to-drought_b_4767524.html

Berm garden chasing prize

Passersby asked not to eat the produce until the judges have been to have a look.

Anya Thomas (left) and Tash Geelen have produced an edible garden. Photo / Richard Robinson
Anya Thomas (left) and Tash Geelen have produced an edible garden. Photo / Richard Robinson

A berm in Ellerslie has been entered into a national landscaping competition as part of a vegetable, fruit and flower garden that spreads across both sides of the footpath and even has a beehive.

The 90sq m garden by landscape designer Tash Geelen was entered into the Unitec Landscapes of Distinction Awards, to be judged this week.

The landscaping business behind it, Natural Habitats, hopes it will show what can be done with a public, urban space.

Marketing manager Anya Thomas said: “We created our edible garden to demonstrate how much you can produce in a compact urban organic garden. It was also designed as a child-friendly garden where children can enjoy learning about different plants and food production.

“There are apple, plum and lemon trees and a working beehive. Herbs, lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, corn, rhubarb, edible flowers and pumpkin will also be produced. All structural elements were assembled from recycled materials such as pallets and beer crates.”

The corn is grown on the berm and the gardens across the other side of the footpath are on Natural Habitats’ leased property.

Mrs Thomas estimated the cost of creating a similar garden at $10,000.

Staff hoped people would temporarily suspend picking the produce until the judges visited the firm’s offices at 8 Sultan St where forklift pallets have been put to good use, as fences and for growing frames.

But Mrs Thomas said people were welcome to help themselves to the crops after that. Alan Wallace, Auckland Transport’s road corridor access manager, said planting required his organisation’s approval.

“Utility companies require access to the road corridor to maintain and install essential utility services. They have equipment under the grass on berms which they need easy access to in situations of outages to residents’ homes etc. There are also road safety considerations in respect of plants/trees potentially obscuring stop signs and the like,” he said.

“A small variety of private planting practices on berms have sprung up with residents potentially unaware of these impacts. Auckland Transport will work to communicate a clear approach to residents,” he said.

Mrs Thomas said permission was not sought but the plants did not endanger traffic, obscure signs, create barriers or have any negative effects.

NZ Herald

Article source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11200159

Tips for getting to know the garden of a new home


Originally published: February 10, 2014 7:18 PM
Updated: February 10, 2014 7:24 PM

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

A new home owner's pre-built Sunshine GardenHouse, on

A new home owner’s pre-built Sunshine GardenHouse, on Feb. 4, 2013, was made from a kit to greatly extend the growing season. (Credit: AP / Dean Fosdick)

Galleries


Petunia: Repels aphids, leafhoppers, Mexican bean beetles.
16 plants for a healthy garden


FOR FEATHERED FRIENDS: In the absence of snow
Helping critters in winter


Native alternative: Carolina phlox (Phlox Carolina)
Invasive plants and local alternatives

Americans are a restless bunch. They change locations with a frequency that would tire a migrating songbird.

But there is more to moving day than unpacking boxes; there’s also learning to care for that garden inherited with the new home.

If you were thinking ahead, you asked for an inventory of the plants and accessories that came with the house.

PHOTOS: Plants that promote a healthy garden | Invasive plants and alternatives | Your garden photos | Helping critters in winter

MORE: Garden Detective blog | Gardening 101

“There’s no problem with asking owners for a list of landscape items and for an explanation about the plantings,” said Shirley French, an agent with the Woodstock, Va., office of Funkhouser Real Estate Group. “Usually, the owners are more than happy to give you a list. In fact, if they know the purchasers are interested, that will make for good feelings on both sides.”

Gardening priorities are determined mostly by the seasons. You won’t be mowing the lawn in February, although you might be combing the seed catalogs.

But where to start with a newly purchased property?

Michael Becker, president of Estate Gardeners Inc. in Omaha, Neb., suggests that putting safety first.

“Check out the dangers,” said Becker, a spokesman for Planet, the Professional Landcare Network that certifies green industry professionals. “Are the retaining walls stable? Are any trees leaning or diseased with dead branches?

“Assess the hardscape,” Becker said. “Is anything heaving, creating tripping hazards? Examine the drainage around the house. More often than not, it isn’t correct and may be damaging the structure. Bring in some professionals to help sort things out.”

As for plantings, be patient with the perennials.

“Go through the seasonal changes,” Becker said. “Learn what things look like in your yard. Determine if it’s aesthetically what you want, or if it’s so high-maintenance you won’t have the time to care for it. Most perennials need pruning and deadheading.”

Other things to consider when dealing with an unfamiliar landscape:

Make note of the average frost dates. Do soil tests. Map the yard for sun and shade. “If you live in the city and all you have is a porch or a patio to work with, where is all that water going to go that you’ll be putting on plants?” asked Josh Kane, president and head designer at Kane Landscapes Inc. in Sterling, Va. “Also, where do you get the water? You’ll have to figure out how to care for everything.”

Water fixtures. “Look for care instructions when dealing with special features,” Kane said. “A lot of people get put off or are scared of things like koi ponds, pools and fountains that require startups, maintenance and attention during the seasons.”

Don’t try to do everything the first year. Mulching will keep the weeds down. Composting will improve the soil. Bringing in some annuals for window boxes, hanging baskets or containers will provide instant color. “Nothing gives you as much impact in a garden as planting annuals,” Kane said.

Anticipate. Avoid planting trees or shrubs near sewer or water lines, to prevent root damage. Study the plat map for restrictions that could prevent expansions or additions. “A lot of people might want to build a big outdoor room or pool and find they can’t do it because of an easement on the property,” Kane said.

Article source: http://www.newsday.com/lifestyle/home-and-garden/tips-for-getting-to-know-the-garden-of-a-new-home-1.7020957

Tips for a great shade garden – State

Gene Bush, of Munchkin Nursery Gardens in southern Indiana, had a few important lessons and a long list of recommended plants for his listeners at a recent program entitled “10 Months of Bloom from Perennials in the Shade Garden.”

The program was sponsored by the Capital Area Extension Master Gardeners and the Franklin County Council of Garden Clubs and was held at the Franklin County Extension Office.

Bush shared three lessons he has learned through experience that might be of benefit to someone just starting a shade garden.

Layering: This concept involves placing in one area plants that will come into their prime at different times. Early spring beauties will arrive even before the official beginning of spring and then as their foliage dies down the later spring species will surface and fill up the vacant spot to be followed later by the plants that will dominate for summer and fall.

Let Mother Nature have her way with the plants that want to multiply and spread their seeds as volunteers in unexpected places. This is actually the best way to create the look of a natural woodland setting and saves you from a lot of unnecessary “control” maneuvers that involve bending, stooping, cutting and digging.

Free yourself up to experiment by using books, the Internet and gardening friends to make your best educated guess about which plants will thrive in your particular environment considering light, soil and water requirements — then just give it a try.

Most plants will give you a grace period of two or three years before they give up completely. Watch them carefully and if they do not appear to be thriving move them to a spot that would offer them more of what they seem to be lacking.

Suggestions
These suggestions are a sample of what is available and recommended.
Spring bloomers may include Lenten Rose (Hellebore), Wood Phlox (Phlox divaricata) and Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum). The foliage of the poppy will go dormant after blooming and so will need something planted nearby that will come later to layer over the spot.

Christmas Fern, Autumn Fern and other ferns are some of the choices for this. The poppy and the phlox will also seed themselves and volunteer around the garden. Later in spring Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia) and Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra) provide pink and blue color for the garden. The foliage of Bleeding Hearts will go dormant after bloom and a possible layering plant to come along afterward to fill in the spot would be the variegated Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum variegata).

In June and July the Japanese Shade Grass (Hakonechloa macra “Aureola”) has a glowing yellow color and cascading type foliage that offers a bright spot and interesting texture. The blue flowers of Downy Skullcap (Scutellaria incana) have blue blooms and also provide a favorite nectaring spot for butterflies.

With many of the flowering plants of June and July it is good to remember that they should receive “high shade.” In other words, they don’t require sun, but they do require light.

Late summer, fall
In August through October, the Cardinal Flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) are reliable for their bright red color. There are a number of fall blooming anemones blooming during this time and Asters are a must, as well.

Snow Flurry is one that will bloom in the shade with delicate white flowers. The hardy Begonia (Begonia grandis) makes a wonderful groundcover during the summer and then as fall arrives contributes its flowers of rosy pink on sprays of about 10 inches in height.

In November and December the garden is working its way toward dormancy but there is still much interest to be had. The Siberian Hardy Geranium (Geranium wiassovianum) has colorful foliage and the blooms of Barker’s Monkshood (Aconitum Barker’s), which started in October, continue right through frost.

A shade garden of perennials can offer something new in every season. The gardener will find on his daily walks that there is always something changing in the plant world — coming or going. Add a bench, a bird feeder, perhaps a birdbath and you will have created even more interest and a reason to leave the couch and the TV and go explore in your own backyard.

Bush’s complete program can be viewed on Cable 10 beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday. His website is http://www.munchkinnursery.com.

Article source: http://state-journal.com/spectrum/2014/02/10/tips-for-a-great-shade-garden

New Home? Tips for Getting to Know the Garden

Associated Press

Americans are a restless bunch. They change locations with a frequency that would tire a migrating songbird.

But there is more to moving day than unpacking boxes; there’s also learning to care for that garden inherited with the new home.

If you were thinking ahead, you asked for an inventory of the plants and accessories that came with the house.

“There’s no problem with asking owners for a list of landscape items and for an explanation about the plantings,” said Shirley French, an agent with the Woodstock, Va., office of Funkhouser Real Estate Group. “Usually, the owners are more than happy to give you a list. In fact, if they know the purchasers are interested, that will make for good feelings on both sides.”

Gardening priorities are determined mostly by the seasons. You won’t be mowing the lawn in February, although you might be combing the seed catalogs.

But where to start with a newly purchased property?

Michael Becker, president of Estate Gardeners Inc. in Omaha, Neb., suggests that putting safety first.

“Check out the dangers,” said Becker, a spokesman for Planet, the Professional Landcare Network that certifies green industry professionals. “Are the retaining walls stable? Are any trees leaning or diseased with dead branches?

“Assess the hardscape,” Becker said. “Is anything heaving, creating tripping hazards? Examine the drainage around the house. More often than not, it isn’t correct and may be damaging the structure. Bring in some professionals to help sort things out.”

As for plantings, be patient with the perennials.

“Go through the seasonal changes,” Becker said. “Learn what things look like in your yard. Determine if it’s aesthetically what you want, or if it’s so high-maintenance you won’t have the time to care for it. Most perennials need pruning and deadheading.”

Other things to consider when dealing with an unfamiliar landscape:

— Make note of the average frost dates. Do soil tests. Map the yard for sun and shade. “If you live in the city and all you have is a porch or a patio to work with, where is all that water going to go that you’ll be putting on plants?” asked Josh Kane, president and head designer at Kane Landscapes Inc. in Sterling, Va. “Also, where do you get the water? You’ll have to figure out how to care for everything.”

— Water fixtures. “Look for care instructions when dealing with special features,” Kane said. “A lot of people get put off or are scared of things like koi ponds, pools and fountains that require startups, maintenance and attention during the seasons.”

— Don’t try to do everything the first year. Mulching will keep the weeds down. Composting will improve the soil. Bringing in some annuals for window boxes, hanging baskets or containers will provide instant color. “Nothing gives you as much impact in a garden as planting annuals,” Kane said.

— Anticipate. Avoid planting trees or shrubs near sewer or water lines, to prevent root damage. Study the plat map for restrictions that could prevent expansions or additions. “A lot of people might want to build a big outdoor room or pool and find they can’t do it because of an easement on the property,” Kane said.

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You can contact Dean Fosdick at deanfosdick@netscape.net

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/home-tips-garden-22441170

Friends of Rouge offers free workshop on creating backyard oasis

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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 four communities, including Livonia.

“Water is a precious resource that is in high demand,” said Cyndi Ross, River Restoration Program Manager for Friends of the Rouge. “Michigan residents sometimes forget how scarce fresh water is for many around the world. We are the keepers of roughly 20 percent of all fresh water 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 storm water run-off. This is a result of the large amount of impervious land cover.

Friends of the Rouge is asking homeowners to reduce water runoff and create a small native garden on their property.

It is holding a free public workshop, Naturalizing the Home Garden: A Native Garden Design Workshop, 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:

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

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

• 6-7:15 p.m. Monday, March 31, Cranbrook Institute of Science, 39221 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills

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

“We all contribute to the storm water problem; now is the time for each of us to be part of the solution,” Ross said. “Native gardening is fun and rewarding and are beautiful additions to any landscape.”

For additional information, visit www.therouge.org. Join FOTR on Facebook.

Article source: http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20140209/NEWS10/302090038/Friends-Rouge-offers-free-workshop-creating-backyard-oasis