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Archives for February 16, 2014

Talk of the Downtowner: McKenny addresses his recent appointment, long … – Times

Click photo to enlargeWhen 4th District Supervisor Virginia Bass appointed contractor and builder Kevin McKenny to the county Planning Commission this week, talk turned to his Downtowner motel in Eureka.

Bass said her decision was based on McKenny’s extensive community service, which outweighs his delayed renovation of the run-down Eureka motel, but if progress isn’t made, she will ask him to step down.

”I would hope that people can focus on the wealth of experience Kevin brings to the commission, with the understanding that he has work to do in other areas,” Bass said.

McKenny has a long history of public service in Humboldt, working on several county and Eureka boards, including 26 years on the Humboldt Community Service District board of directors and three terms on the county Local Agency Formation Commission.

”I’m very familiar with being on boards and commissions,” McKenny said. “I would like to think that when I’m on a commission, I am there for the people. Historically, that’s the way it’s been.”

Along with his government experience, McKenny has nearly 40 years of building and construction experience in the county and a master’s degree in civil engineering from UC Berkeley.

McKenny said his renovation and rehabilitation project at the Downtowner has had difficulty getting off the ground. After acquiring the motel, located on F and Eighth streets in Eureka, in late 2005, McKenny said he has had trouble getting his design review application through the review process in the city’s planning division.

Eureka’s Chief Building Official Brian Gerving said the project has gone through “various designs” over the years. After meeting with McKenny on Friday, Gerving said that the project is starting to gain some headway.

”Now he’s got a much more complete project, knows the direction he intends to go, and is really close to making that happen from a permit standpoint,” Gerving said.

As the trash, graffiti, and weeds around the disheveled motel have built up through the years, so has the frustration of neighboring residents and city officials.

Eureka Councilwoman Linda Atkins said it is a good sign that McKenny has “put in plans and is on the way to starting the project,” but she has “not seen he wants to do anything to improve the property” any time soon.

”He has gotten pressure on this before, and when it was lifted off him, he left the neighborhood in a terrible state,” Atkins said. “Maybe he’ll go around and trim some weeds and sweep up some trash, but only because he wants to stay on the Planning Commission.”

Councilwoman Melinda Ciarabellini said the motel and McKenny’s appointment are “two separate issues,” but said the council expects progress to be made by the “end of this fiscal year.”

”Our council has determined the project as something that is a top priority, and want to see some action and progress made there soon,” she said.

During Tuesday’s supervisors’ meeting, Bass said she is “very aware of the issues with the Downtowner,” and is in the process of forming a neighborhood advisory group to address the problem. The group would allow the motel’s neighboring residents to share their frustrations, as well as allow McKenny to provide details on the project and its timeline.

The group would also provide the opportunity for neighbors “to share their ideas of what measures might be taken to help minimize negative impacts” as the project moves along, she said.

”While it is important for people to be able to share frustrations, it is equally as important to provide potential solutions that would improve the situation, and the neighbors are going to have the best sense of what those measures might be,” Bass wrote in an email. “I believe their input is vitally important, and long overdue.”

Bass said she has spoken with McKenny about the issue several times, and is expecting progress to be made in the near future.

”If no action is taken to improve the conditions within six months, I will request that Kevin step down,” she wrote.

McKenny said he will make a “renewed effort” to clean up the landscaping around the property, and the permits being reviewed by the city are going through “much better right now.”

”I have heard loud and clear that people are upset about it,” McKenny said. “I apologize to the neighbors for that. The neighbors have every right to be upset.”

With this project, McKenny said he hopes to transform the run-down building into a “bungalow, lodge-style” hotel, and is also looking to “flag a hotel franchise” to operate it.

”On that block, there is a tremendous amount of architectural style that represents different time periods of Eureka architecture,” McKenny said. “We hope to add to that with the style we’ve created with this building.”

Planning Commission Chairman Robert Morris said he is “happy to have him on the county planning commission.”

”He brings a great deal of experience and awareness of the community,” Morris said.

The Eureka builder joins the commission during its extensive review of the Conservation and Open Space Element of the county’s General Plan. The entire element was sent back to the commission by the board of supervisors on Jan. 13. McKenny said it is important for the commission to take into account the history behind the element’s current form.

”We need to keep that picture in mind, when we think about making any changes,” McKenny said. “Above that, we have to really be cognizant of all the people involved, and the time that was spent getting us to this place.”

Should any changes be made, McKenny said he will take both the conservational intent of the element, as well as its practicality for potential development projects, into consideration.

”There are certain words that are chosen that will cause projects to slow down and have a difficult time getting through,” McKenny said. “I would like to put an eye toward seeing those things, and make it so that while all of the intent of the language is there, the ability to get a project through the process is there as well.”

Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504 or Follow him on

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Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Environmentalist, activist — and journalist

Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s name is emblazoned on parks and buildings for her huge contribution to the conservation movement in the United States — most specifically the Everglades.

Her work at the Miami Herald is less known.

Each year, the Museum of the Everglades hosts the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Festival to celebrate her life. About six months ago, organizer Martha Hutcheson asked if the Miami Herald could kick off the five-day gathering with an exploration of Marjory’s life as a Herald reporter. I quickly agreed. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

I had a layman’s knowledge of Marjory’s life. I read Everglades: River of Grass as a student at Palmetto High. I met her when I was a young reporter in the early 1980s. By then, she was the grand dame of Everglades conservation, in her 90s (she died in 1998 at age 108). I knew that her father, Frank Stoneman, in 1903 founded the paper that became the Miami Herald, and that Stoneman was the Herald’s editor until 1937. I also knew Majory was a reporter for the paper.

I discovered that Marjory’s Miami Herald years — 1915 to 1923 with a brief interruption during World War I — formed a pivotal phase in her life. At the Herald, Marjory honed her voice as a writer and first showed her fearlessness as an activist. As a reporter, she wrote with confidence, wit and edge — sometimes even sarcasm. She developed her interest in and passion for conservation, women’s issues and civil rights.

She also battled pressures and anxieties recognizable to many journalists who know the day-after-day grind of the news business, from relentless deadlines and workload to dealing with competing special interests.

These observatons emerge after delving deeply into the excellent work of others. University of Florida history professor Jack E. Davis’ biography, An Everglades Providence, is probably the most authoritative work on her life. Her 1987 autobiography with John Rothchild, Voice of the River, provides personal perspective on her life and her Herald years. And Herald research director Monika Leal helped me find numerous examples of Marjory’s stories from the Herald — from society columns to news coverage.

To understand Marjory’s life during her time at the Herald, you need to know the turmoil that preceded it — and there was plenty.

She was born in 1890 in Minneapolis. Frank Stoneman, her father, was in real estate and banking. Her mother, Florence Lillian Trefethen, was a musician. Stoneman had financial setbacks in Minnesota, and in 1893 the family moved to Rhode Island, near Stoneman’s family. He continued to struggle financially, and Lillian didn’t get along with Stoneman’s mother. She also struggled emotionally, the first of several battles with mental illness.

When Marjory was 5, her mother packed their belongings and left Stoneman, taking Marjory with her to her family home in Massachusetts. The Stonemans divorced a year later, and Frank Stoneman headed to Florida.

Marjory and her mother were close, but Marjory often served as caregiver to a woman who struggled with health and emotional issues.

Marjory emerged a bright woman, though self-conscious and socially awkward. In her autobiography, she described an encounter at a high school dance: “A boy named Herndon asked me to dance two dances, and for that I was pretty grateful. He was kind of unattractive, so we made a good couple.’’

Even so, her ability as a researcher and writer began to emerge in college at Wellesley. She became editor of the college annual, and was elected class orator. But she missed her mother, who continued to struggle with physical and mental health issues. She developed breast cancer during Marjory’s senior year, but Marjory wasn’t told until after her graduation ceremony. Weeks later, Lillian died.

A transient phase followed. Marjory moved to Boston to work in a department store, then to St. Louis to live with a college friend. Soon the friend moved to New York; Marjory followed, and got a job teaching department store sales girls in Newark.

There, she met Kenneth Douglas, a reporter for the Newark Evening News. Marjory was 24. Douglas, about 30 years older, courted her relentlessly. They married April 18, 1914, about three months after meeting.

Douglas soon became embroiled in scandal. He had been married twice before under a different name and it remains unclear if a divorce from his second wife was ever final. He was charged with passing bad checks, and jailed.

Frank Stoneman, who had not seen Marjory for 18 years, wired her money, and she boarded a train to Miami.

“I left my marriage and all my past history in New England without a single regret,’’ she said.

She was 25, AWOL from a disastrous marriage, and still grieving the death of her mother. Miami was 19, about 10,000 people, and rough around the edges.

Frank Stoneman believed a single woman such as his daughter should support herself. One day he called home to ask Marjory to fill in for the editor of the society page, who had taken a leave to care for her ailing mother.

In her autobiography, Majory wrote: “I was delighted to be working on the Herald. It was as if everything else I had been doing since college had been all wrong and suddenly I found what I was meant to do — even if it was as simple as writing society blurbs in a small city newspaper.’’

Douglas’s first piece was published Oct. 25, 1915. She interviewed the lone woman who traveled with the inaugural Dixie Highway motorcade, from Chicago to Miami (in 13 days).

Douglas soon took on the job for good, and got a desk in the office, at the corner of Miami Avenue near the bridge across the Miami River. In 1916, Stoneman took a one-month vacation and he gave Marjory control of the editorial page. Marjory’s capacity for invention emerged. When letters to the editor ran short, she sometimes used obvious and humorous aliases and made up her own, she recalled.

After her father returned, she was back at maintaining the society page. A bit bored, she admitted: “There I was, writing about parties, wedding and notable winter visitors to the leading hotel in an insignificant city.’’

On slow days, she would forgo a “stern adherence to hard fact.’’ Once, she conjured up a tea dance hosted by “Mrs. J. Augustus Snuanpuh,” included guests such as “Mrs. JK De Yellowplush” and described “a dainty refreshment course of baked beans and bread pudding was served on the back porch, decorated with brooms and mops, while in the center of the table was placed a large bouquet of Dutch Cleaner.”

During these years, she developed her environmental focus, directed in many ways by her father. Since founding the paper, Frank Stoneman strongly opposed efforts to dredge the Everglades.

Marjory got to know the movers and shakers in town, including the wife of William Jennings Bryan, “a devoted suffragette,’’ who recruited Marjory to travel to Tallahassee to advocate for the right of women to vote. “All of us spoke to the joint committee, wearing our best hats….Talking to them was like talking to graven images. They never paid attention to us at all.’’

Soon, Marjory’s social circle included other journalists — from the staff of The Herald as well as the two competing newspapers in town. She met a reporter at the Metropolis, and they became involved, but in the summer of 1916, with World War I in Europe, he signed up for service and went to France. “I took it hard,’’ she said in Voice of the River. “I’d a broken marriage and before that my husband was in the penitentiary, and here I was faced with another period of longing and waiting.’’

Not long after, Marjory was assigned to cover a story on the first woman to enlist in the Navy from the state of Florida. The woman didn’t show up at the recruiting station. But Marjory did.

“I called my father at the paper and said: ‘Look, I got the story on the first woman to enlist. It turned out to be me.’’’

She spent a year in the Navy at the reserve headquarters in downtown Miami, and hated it. She joined the American Red Cross and went to France in 1918.

When she returned to the United States in 1920, Miami was booming.

Marjory was hired as assistant editor, worked on the editorial page and wrote a column called “The Galley,’’ where she wrote about everything from gardening and landscaping to the plight of women, living conditions for blacks in Coconut Grove and forced labor of vagrants.

“Once in a while, my column would make a difference to somebody,” she noted in her autobiography. She published a poem about a boy named Martin Tabert, who was beaten to death in a labor camp. Soon after, the Legislature abolished beatings in camps.

She wrote about politics: “Now’s the time for a good Ouiji board to come to the aid of the parties” she wrote before the 1920 presidential election.

After Warren Harding’s election that November, she covered his first visit to Florida, and with an edge: “St. Augustine, Jan 22 — At 10 o’clock today, President-elect Warren G. Harding stepped from his private car here to begin his first real vacation since his election. Neither the eager crowds nor the throng of newspaperman could take his mind from his paramount interest, his game of golf.’’

She also began writing about the Everglades, and advocated the creation of the national park.

All the while, demands grew.

“The Herald was becoming a bigger and more important paper. I spent three years as assistant editor, plus writing my column every day. There was more pressure in this than I realized.’’

She occasionally clashed with her father, and there was friction with the publisher of the Herald, Frank Shutts.

“Toward the end of 1923, I’d begun to get tired. Every day I had to do stories, I had to do the column….This led to my first real nervous breakdown….Maybe I inherited some flaw that my mother had. Or maybe the trauma early in my life, all the bitterness, had to have some longterm effect.’’

Marjory resigned and pursued a freelance career writing for magazines, and then short stories and books. In 1947 — 24 years after leaving the Herald — she published River of Grass.

But she always looked back fondly at her early years at the Herald. As she wrote in a 1967 Tropic Magazine story:

“The paper was the perfect vantage point from which to view my new world….. it gave me time to learn.”

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Landscaper picks up where father left off

SPENCER — Arnie Arsenault has spent his entire professional life building up his family’s landscaping business, A. Arsenault Sons Inc.

The company was founded by his father, Arnold Arsenault, in 1979. Arnie Arsenault has been working with the company since he was 12 years old, when he started mowing lawns for the company’s customers alongside his father.

At 18, Arnie Arsenault was put in charge of lawn maintenance, which entailed meeting with customers, handling their concerns and making sure all properties were maintained weekly. He oversaw several employees at a time.

In 1987, shortly after Arnie Arsenault graduated from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, his father passed away, at age 43. With the death of its founder, the company’s future was uncertain.

Arnie Arsenault’s mother, Donna Arsenault, who had worked with the company since Day-One, helped the company and family through the difficult transition. She continues to work for the company today.

Currently, A. Arsenault Sons services between 300 to 400 residential and commercial properties — mostly in Worcester County — with 12 crew members, many of whom are family.

Beyond its landscaping work, A. Arsenault Sons has several speciality franchises that help keep crews busy throughout the year.

Christmas Décor is an award-winning franchise that strings up Christmas lights on residential and commercial properties. Another franchise, Nite Time Décor, strings up lights year-round. The company has decorated trees in the front of The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in Worcester, trees around the ice skating rink behind Worcester City Hall, as well as Webster First Federal Credit Union and Spencer Bank properties.

Now in its 35th year in business, A. Arsenault Sons continues to expand and has recently added a national lawn care franchise, Weed Man, which offers environmentally friendly lawn care in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K.

In July, Mr. Arsenault began working for the franchise, which initially involved 10 days of rigorous training in Canada.

The company will begin offering its services in the spring, representing the Weed Man brand.

“The Weed Man program enhances our programs and takes us to the next level of high-quality service. It would take us years to try to accomplish what we wanted to do and reach a new degree of professionalism alone,” he said. “We have high expectations, high aspirations for the Weed Man brand.”

Throughout its 35 years in business, A. Arsenault Sons has encouraged employees to bring their ideas for improvement to the table.

“My father instilled in our company early on that we can always learn new and improved methods or ideas from our employees to help with the company’s success,” Mr. Arsenault said.

Employee suggestions have involved improving the way the company fuels vehicles, parks trailers and handles business processes.

“We have faced many business challenges throughout the years, from economic downturns, problems concerning employees, equipment, vendors and products,” Mr. Arsenault said. “All have had unique challenges, but we always seek out a solution, which is what has helped up become a stronger team.”



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cgd landscape design win prestigious international award for the creation of …

JonEnoch SGD2013AWARDS 059 cgd landscape design win prestigious international award for the creation of an English country garden  in Moscow

Sally Court collects the Award

The brief was to transform a steep, sandy hillside in Moscow’s affluent Barvikha suburb into a breathtaking, romantic English country garden. It took a staggering seven years to complete, but garden designers Sally Court and Helen Billetop are now reaping the rewards as their hard work was recognised at the recent, prestigious Society of Garden Designers’ 2013 Garden Design Awards.

London-based Sally and Helen of cgd landscape design had to contend with numerous challenges in the creation of this spectacular garden – which earned them the coveted Gold International Award at the ceremony – such as freezing temperatures, navigating the Russian planning process, liaising with an onsite team who didn’t share a common language and sourcing materials both locally and internationally.

The judges recognised the unique complexities of the scheme commenting: “A very difficult brief successfully implemented to create a sophisticated and accomplished piece of design that is the essence of an English garden. There was a good sequence of spaces and a high standard of execution despite logistical challenges.”

“It’s the cherry on the icing on the cake,” says Sally. “We were just overwhelmed. This award means our peers have recognised the work – and the high quality of the work – that we have put into the garden.”

Recognition by the SGD is just the latest in a string of awards. In 2013, the Barvikha garden won Landscape of the Year and Gold Best Overseas Garden/Landscape at the New Homes Gardens Awards as well as First Place in the Residential Gardens category at the Dom ne Brestskov Landscape Architecture exhibition in Moscow. In 2012, the American Association of Professional Landscape Designers (ALPD) gave a Gold Award for Planting Design and a Merit Award in the Residential Design category.

As expected, the garden – the first of its kind in Moscow – has garnered plenty of interest from the Russian press.

Set in the grounds of a Dacha (a country house), the exuberant 2.5 acre garden contains all the elements one would expect from an English country garden such as a rose garden, a glass house and herb parterre, extensive fruit plantings, a summerhouse, woodland walks, wetland plantings along a drainage stream, a meadow area and massed bulb planting not forgetting the quintessential English herbaceous and shrub borders. Sally and Helen undertook extensive research to find plants that would create the same ambiance as found in our great English gardens but would survive the harsh Moscow climate, where temperatures can plunge to an icy -30° in the winter and soar to +40° in the summer.

Likewise, a creative approach was needed in bringing a truly English feel to the hard-landscaping elements of the garden.

“We are very capable of creating English style using materials found within the country if they are available, but in this case, they weren’t,” says Sally. “So we brought the stone in from Yorkshire, the bricks from Lancashire, the glasshouse from Hampshire and the summerhouse in Somerset. The bespoke fences, trellis and arches were made locally from our designs.”

“By using both local and international materials and combining these we were able to create and garden that had an ethos of an English country garden where you can walk from one small garden area into another, a natural succession of spaces that connect happily with each other; open spaces, secret areas, grassy areas and deep borders, vistas and intimate places.”

As many of the existing pine and birch trees were protected by preservation orders, Sally made sure that promoting the bio-diversity onsite became an integral part of the brief. Insect hotels, bug and bird boxes were made and fixed to the trees and wild flower meadows were sown. In order for that process to continue, the team has been teaching the onsite gardeners how to continue working sympathetically with the environment.

Working from a studio in West London, cgd landscape design has built up an impressive and varied portfolio of projects – ranging from large country estates to city gardens, from courtyards to roof gardens, from family gardens to public parks. Sally and Helen’s gardens have reaped numerous medals at both Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows.

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Seeds: Home landscapes of the future – less lawn, more meadow

A few days of rain does not end a historic drought.

Recent storms won’t wash away California’s need or desire for low-water landscapes.

“When it comes to our drought, this was barely enough to wet the bottom of a tea cup,” said Kathleen Norris Brenzel, Sunset’s longtime garden editor, about last week’s storm.

Brenzel remembers past California water shortages. “I’m no stranger to drought in Northern California,” she said. “I remember bricks in the toilets (to cut water waste). There were so many brown lawns everywhere.”

Droughts may come and go, but California gardeners need to get into a permanent water-saving mindset, she noted.

“Water always will be an issue,” Brenzel added. “As our population keeps growing, pressure on our water supply increases. That gets more people thinking about alternatives to lawn. Don’t just let it go brown; that’s so boring. Do something else.”

What will future California landscapes look like? Take a peek at Brenzel’s new book.

“The Sunset Western Garden Book of Landscaping: The Complete Guide to Beautiful Paths, Patios, Plantings and More” (Oxmoor House, 416 pages, $29.95) arrives this month when gardeners throughout the state are searching for ways to transform their outdoor spaces into sustainable and beautiful personal havens.

Brenzel and her team of Sunset writers, photographers and designers spent more than a year pulling together the best forward-thinking ideas for 21st century western landscapes.

“We wanted the book to really reflect where we’re going with landscaping,” Brenzel said in a phone interview. “People want landscapes that are sustainable in all forms. They use less water, but they also create less green waste. There’s less runoff from irrigation and more recycled materials.”

There’s also less use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and more support for wildlife, she noted. There’s a focus on selecting the right plants for the right places.

“The whole book reflects that idea of sustainability; it’s how we garden now and where we’re going in the future,” Brenzel said. “We wanted to show ideas from real people as well as landscape designers. There are a lot of beautiful ways to use plants.”

With more than 600 color photos, the latest title in Sunset’s Western Garden series looks gorgeous. Flip through the spectacular patios and private oases and two constants emerge: Most of these gardens are quite small and there’s very little if any lawn.

That approach makes sense for most California gardeners, Brenzel noted. Many homes today have postage-stamp yards, but these small outdoor areas still can look smart with a creative use of limited space. Think vertical “walls” of plants or a side yard packed with edible plants.

As for lawn, its days may be numbered in a lot of gardens. “In times of drought, people are asking, ‘Should I let the lawn die?’ ” Brenzel said. “That’s the question we’re hearing over and over. The answer is not always yes. If you have kids, a patch of lawn is essential. They need a place to play.

“But if your lawn is just for looks, it’s time to do something else,” she added. “Lawn has its place in wetter climates. But when water is tight, it’s hard to justify.”

Menlo Park, Sunset’s hometown, is a case in point, Brenzel said. “Here, you can only have so much percentage (25 percent) of your landscape be lawn. On a street near where I live, there are no front lawns any more. What happened was a little surprising; they’re really interesting front yards. There’s so much diversity, so many different plants and ideas. It’s really kind of fun.”

Imagining life after lawn can be challenging. One alternative is to create a meadow with low-water sedges, carex and creeping fescues.

“The thing I like about meadows is that they have that green and lush look of (traditional) lawn, but don’t need a lot of water,” Brenzel said. “Another thing they don’t need is a lot of work; you won’t have to mow much.”

Meanwhile, interest in growing food continues to skyrocket.

“That’s one trend that’s not going away,” Brenzel said. “During this drought, many people are asking: ‘Does this mean I can’t plant edibles this year?’ You can grow food with less water.”

Brenzel and her staff experimented in Sunset’s test garden with how to grow edibles in a tight space with less water. They used two raised beds, each 3 by 8 feet, and irrigated on drip systems. They grew tomatoes, peppers, bush beans, herbs and more with a fraction of “normal” irrigation for those crops. “If you love edibles, plant them,” she said. “But be smart about it. Mulch. Use soaker hoses. Think about where you put your water. Tomatoes actually like it somewhat dry.”

The downside of re-landscaping in times of drought is that new plants need water to become established and grow, she noted. “If mandatory water rationing is called for, people are going to have to look at their gardens and decide what’s worth saving – the trees, the shrubs, the tomatoes –and decide that’s where they’ll spend their water.

“The best thing to do now: Keep going with what you have,” she added. “Make choices, lose the lawn and think about alternatives.”

Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.

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Residents can get help with landscaping projects that help clean water

If you live between 27th and 35th streets and Normal and Sheridan boulevards, the city will help pay for improvements that will clean the water that runs through your yard on its way to Antelope Creek. 

Grants for up to $2,000 will pay up to 75 percent of the expenses for landscaping projects such as rain gardens or seeding a lawn with hardier native turf.

The program, available this spring through the fall, is part of a broader $750,000 grant, funded by the city, natural resources district and state, to help clean up water before it gets to the creek, according to Ben Higgins, senior engineer for the city’s watershed management program. 

Local officials are working to slow down and clean runoff water before it reaches the creek after a study confirmed the E. coli bacteria pollution in Antelope Creek is 12 times the federal health standard. 

Officials would like to eventually cut the bacteria level in the stream by 93 percent, so it meets state and federal health standards.

Participants in the cost-share program must submit an application and schedule a site visit. They then do the work themselves or hire a professional landscaper. The resident will pay all expenses, keep receipts and be reimbursed for approved items, according to a news release on the program.

Renters will be able to use the program if they have permission from the homeowner, according to Jeff Polkowski, intern for the watershed management program.

Residents can qualify for a reimbursement of up to $100 for installing a rain barrel, which is an above-ground container to receive, store and distribute rooftop runoff for non-drinking uses.

Other projects qualify for 75 percent reimbursement:

* Installing a rain garden to temporarily hold rain water runoff, allowing it to soak into the soil.

* Removing unwanted pavement to allow more space for landscaping, reduce stormwater runoff, reduce temperatures during summer months and allow for natural groundwater recharge.

* Redirecting downspouts to allow stormwater to flow across the lawn or into a garden.

* Redirecting runoff from driveways and parking lots to keep stormwater out of storm drains by channeling it to rain gardens or other plant areas.

* Seeding lawns with hardier native turf — a blend of low-growing grasses with deep fibrous root systems — which also keep the lawn greener with less maintenance.

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Why not do a ‘little gardening’ at home?

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You may find that it’s harder than it used to be to get down on all fours to plant bulbs or weed your flower bed. Or maybe getting up is the hard part. Perhaps you have made the decision to move into an apartment or retirement center and assume you can no longer grow things. Not so!

As gardeners age — and don’t we all — they frequently express sadness that they must give up gardening. Not so again!

Instead, why not do a “little gardening?”

I’ve recently learned more about miniature gardening, and would like to share some of its appeal with you. It includes all the elements of a full-sized garden — design, scale, proportion and choosing the right plants for the right use. It just doesn’t have all the weeding and bending.

You might want to create a relaxing patio scene complete with garden furniture and plants, or a garden with a walking path, even a rural scene with a tiny chickens and coop. If you played with G.I. Joe dolls as a boy, you might create a scene using a theme along those lines.

Many new materials make this endeavor easier. For example, pebbles of various kinds come fastened to fine netting material, so you can just design and cut that walking path with a pair of scissors. Tiny pots and furniture, from chairs and tables to swings and benches, will enhance your creation, as will doll house-sized containers for water. Even watering cans an inch or two high are out there, too. Or, you can always design and build your own things.

The container you use for your creation will depend on your taste, the theme of the garden you are planning, and whether the scene is placed inside your home or on your deck or patio. To begin, choose a container that is at least 10 inches wide and 8 inches deep. It could be terracotta, wood, ceramic, plastic or hypertufa (a blend of concrete and vermiculite).

This little garden will be planted with real plants, and with good care of well-chosen ones it should last at least a year before they grow enough to be replaced. At that point, you can transplant them in your yard or give them to a friend if you no longer have a yard.

Sedums and other small-leafed plants will feel at home here. Some tiny ferns work well, as do small violas, daisies, young hen-and-chick plants and even herbs such as thyme.

Dwarf groundcovers can be used for a lawn, although you may need to keep it “mowed” with manicure scissors.

To help you get started, I suggest “Gardening in Miniature” by Janit Calvo. At the Blue Door Garden Store in Jacksonville, you will find lots of miniature items. And a visit to Shooting Star Nursery in Central Point will yield many miniature plants.

If you have a computer, Google “miniature garden ideas” to help activate your creative juices. But these suggestions should come with a warning: Miniature gardening can be very addictive!

Coming up: Master Gardener Ron Bombick will teach about “The 10 Principles of Rose Pruning” at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road, Central Point. It’s from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 1. He will cover rose anatomy, rose care and pruning tools. The class will conclude with outdoor practice, so bring gloves, clippers and loppers, and dress for the weather. The cost is $15. Call 541-776-7371 to register.

Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. Email her at

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Garden seminar covers do’s, don’ts of landscape design

You’ve heard about kale and how it’s supposed to be so good for you, but you don’t know much about it?

Kale and many other garden topics will be explored Saturday, March 8, during “Adventures in Gardening IX,” a daylong spring seminar at Maquoketa (Iowa) Middle School.

The event is sponsored by the Iowa State University Extension Outreach Jackson County Master Gardeners and features three keynote speakers, four mini-sessions (participants may choose two) and nine info stations (to be explored at one’s own pace).

 ISU Extension entomologist Laure Jesse will deliver the first keynote speech, talking about how to diagnose plant problems that will help gardeners determine whether the cause is a disease, an insect or an environmental factor.

The “do’s and don’ts of landscape design” will be discussed in early afternoon by Sara Carpenter, landscape designer and manager at Steve’s Ace Home and Garden Center, Dubuque.

A demonstration on the practical care of gardening tools will follow. Roger Rittmer, a Clinton County Master Gardener, will help you evaluate your gardening tools and demonstrate how to care for, and sharpen. them.

The mini-sessions are:

• “Backyard Wildlife Management,” by Rebecca Christoffel, ISU wildlife specialist. The challenges and opportunities presented by wildlife, from rabbits munching on plants to the use of bats as a form of integrated pest management.

• “How to Grow and Cook with Herbs,” by Deb Monroe, Clinton County Master Gardener and manager of the Crossroads Garden Café, DeWitt, Iowa. Informative tips, recipes, samples.

• “Small Space Gardening,” by Sara Carpenter, landscape designer and manager at Steve’s Ace Home and Garden Center, Dubuque. Clever and unique ideas to maximize small spaces.

• “Bugs That Bug You — Good, Bad and Ugly,” by Margo Hansen, director of programs for Bickelhaupt Arboretum, Clinton. Information about the most prominent pests, including emerald ash borer, Japanese beetles and Asian lady beetles.

Info-station topics and presenters include:

Aronia berries, Mitch Gravert, Jackson County Master Gardener

Asparagus and spinach, Judy Tonderum, Jackson County Master Gardener

Blueberries, Mary Ann McLaughlin, Maquoketa Garden Club

Edible flowers, Lee Karabin, Jackson County Master Gardener

Flowers of the Bible, Doris Currier, Jackson County Master Gardener

Kale and rhubarb, Sharon Bullock, Jackson County Master Gardener

Questions and answers, Margo Hansen, director of programs, Bickelhaupt Arboretum, Clinton

Weed identification, Mary Lou Johnson, Jackson County Master Gardener

Gladiolas, Alice Mans, Jackson County Master Gardener

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