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Archives for February 21, 2014

Gardens: look east for Eden, Singapore-style

From faux meadows to immaculate vintage tools, horticulture in the UK basks in nostalgia. Cosy as our Victorian model of rustic idyll may be, I can’t help but wonder: is this a good thing for gardening? Is it even very Victorian?

Meanwhile, over on the other side of the planet, there is a place where horticulture is all about cutting-edge innovation. The island state of Singapore is less than half the size of London, but in terms of garden design it punches far above its weight, with some of the most ambitious gardens of the 21st century.

It was the brainchild of Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew. When he swept to power in 1959, Cambridge-educated Lee rejected calls to patch up the densely packed slums and demanded a fresh start. In his garden city, modelled on the 19th-century ideals of Letchworth Garden City, plants were central. Five decades later, with one of the world’s highest per capita incomes and percentages of resident millionaires, the gamble on gardening has paid off.

This Victorian view of landscaping as crucial to draw in the crowds (and their money) is in stark contrast to the UK today, where landscaping is often sidelined as a drain on project resources.

The 21st century brought a shift in vision for Singapore’s town planning: it was no longer to be a garden city, but a city in a garden. Horticulture became part of standard planning laws, with developers of skyscrapers obliged to shroud large sections of their buildings in living walls and to top them with public-access “sky parks”.

Lifted from ideas pioneered by British designers in London and New York nearly three-quarters of a century earlier, including the Kensington Roof Gardens, these are re-envisioned pleasure gardens. Key among them is the iconic Marina Bay Sands resort, three glittering towers set aloft an enormous park on a platform. Mature palms shade deck chairs that overlook an infinity pool, which appears to spill over the building’s edge. An architectural ha-ha, an idea first employed on Britain’s country estates, prevents water cascading on to the traffic below.

Across town at the Park Royal on Pickering hotel, a multistorey rainforest clings to the side of a glass building suspended high above the street. Palms, plumerias and tree ferns shade the interior of the building, keeping it cool, and curtains of jungle climbers drape down to connect the gardens on each floor.

Singapores Gardens by the Bay
Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. Photograph: Getty Images

The newly reclaimed harbourfront has been turned into a botanic garden. The $1bn Gardens by the Bay contains dozens of themed gardens, many designed by British architects. In true Victorian fashion, the 101-hectare park is centred on two conservatories – albeit with the interiors chilled to mimic Mediterranean and cloud forest habitats. The Flower Dome, the world’s largest columnless greenhouse, houses an olive grove, a recreation of the South African fynbos, Australian outback and an elevated baobab garden. In the Cloud Forest Dome, lifts transport visitors 140ft up the central hollow of a “cloud mountain” to suspended walkways over treetops.

Even Singapore’s Changi airport houses six indoor and outdoor gardens, which are managed using skills picked up from Chelsea Flower show – plants are whipped out the second their blooms fade in the air conditioning and replaced from a nursery sited along the runway.

Singapore’s glossy, thematic approach to horticulture may seem theatrical and gimmicky, but in many ways it is more faithful to the pioneering spirit of the British Victorian gardeners we often try to emulate than our own obsession for rehashing the past.

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Get home improvement ideas at Kentucky Exposition Center

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Feb. 21, 2014)– For home improvement projects, the Home, Garden and Remodeling Show, presented by Window World, offers a comprehensive selection of vendors at the largest home show in the state. The show runs Feb. 28 through March 2 in South Wing B and C at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

More than 350 exhibitors attend each year, giving visitors a chance to compare prices and products from the worlds leading suppliers of windows, cabinets, fencing, hot tubs and more. Seminars are also available throughout the weekend covering gardening and cooking topics.

The Belgard Outdoor Living Pavilion, alongside the Belgard Hardscape Challenge, is returning this year to demonstrate how attendees can turn their backyard into an outdoor oasis. The audience will judge the Belgard Hardscape landscaping contest, a competition to create the perfect backyard entertainment space between three local companies, Bluegrass Pavers, Greenside Outdoor Services and Picture Perfect Landscaping.

In addition to the exhibitors, the show offers fun for the family. The K-9 Disc Connected Frisbee dogs are back this year. All of the performing dogs are rescue animals that will demonstrate high-flying flips and tricks. New to this year’s show will be the Kosair Kids playhouse display.  Attendees will be able to see and explore the playhouses built in partnership between the Building Industry Charitable Foundation, Kosair Charities and YouthBuild Louisville.

Tickets are $10 per person, $9 for seniors (62 and older) and free for children (15 and under). Parking at the Kentucky Exposition Center is $8 per vehicle. Show hours are Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit


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A fresh perspective

When it comes to landscaping, a common mistake gardeners make is not looking at the big picture, says Jean Westcott, landscape designer and owner of The Artful Gardener on Mt. Hope Avenue in Rochester.

Gardeners often like to buy accessories such as a gazing globe or a new pot, but it’s important for a gardener to see the whole picture when adding ornaments to the garden, she says.

Westcott will be speaking about “Ornaments in the Garden — A Designer’s Perspective” at the Rochester Civic Garden Center’s 23rd annual spring symposium March 1 at the Memorial Art Gallery. Westcott will be joined by garden author and designer Julie Moir Messervy, who will talk about her book Landscape Ideas that Work (Taunton Press $21.95). Moir Messervy is well-known for her work on the Toronto Music Garden.

Westcott worked as a landscape designer in Philadelphia and New Jersey for many years before moving to Rochester eight years ago after her husband, Mark, got a new job.

The couple moved to the Highland Park neighborhood, and Westcott fell in love with history of the neighborhood as well as the landscape and architecture of the area.

She and her husband often would walk by a little floral shop at 727 Mt. Hope Ave. and admire the whimsical building.

As luck would have it, the building became available for sale in 2008. Westcott took a leap of faith and bought it, transforming the building that was in need of TLC into a garden retail shop.

“After 20 years of designing gardens, I still wanted to do that, but I also wanted to do something different,” Westcott says.

She tapped her savings and spent a year with contractors fixing the building, adding a staircase to create an office studio and brightening the retail space. Since it was 2009 and the economy was struggling, Westcott was able to hire contractors affordably.

“In a better economy, I couldn’t have done it,” she says.

The Artful Gardener opened on May 8, 2010, with a focus on hard-to-find garden accessories, as well as gifts.

“I knew I wanted to sell things that couldn’t be found in garden centers,” Westcott says.

The shop has an organic feel. There are tall vases from Vietnam and water features with an Asian flair.

Westcott likes to support local artists by showcasing throughout the store their jewelery and pottery collections, such as Richard Aerni’s signature ash-colored ceramic pieces that double as functional art.

The local gardening community has welcomed The Artful Gardner and Westcott’s artistic influences, says Chris Froehlich, executive director of Rochester Civic Garden Center.

“She brings in a freshness because she’s not from the area,” Froehlich says.

Froehlich says she owns several large ceramic pots that can be left outside over the winter season, saving her from having to haul them in for storage over the cold and snowy months.

“She supports the local artists and envelopes the arts community and the plants community and brings them together,” Froehlich says. “She’s restored the store and made it a great place to visit.”

As the retail business is often unpredictable, having a studio at the store enables Westcott to work on garden designs while tending to the shop. The business is open year-round, but it does get busier once the warm weather arrives.

The winter season requires some retail creativity, so Westcott is hosting a Cabin Fever Party and Charity Fundraiser all day Saturday at the shop. Westcott will give pop-up talks on gardening and design and offer spring-time refreshments. Donations from sales will be made to animal rescue organizations. The cost of admission is donating an item of choice such as dog food, cat litter or leashes to Another Chance Pet Rescue.

As a pet lover and cat owner, hosting a such an event is just one way to give back to the community, Westcott says.


What: Rochester Civic Garden Center’s Spring Symposium with The Artful Gardener owner Jean Westcott and author Julie Moir Messervy.

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 1.

Where: Memorial Art Galley, 500 University Ave.

Cost: $58.


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In the Garden with Urban Harvest: What are options for more sustainable garden …

For weeks, I have been avoiding looking at my garden beds and resisting the temptation to get rid of brown, frost-damaged leaves and branches when we have had a few warm winter days. As a result of winter freezes, however, we can reassess our landscapes. Now – not when the first signs of spring appear – is the time to think about making our landscapes more sustainable whether we choose to replant perennials, shrubs and trees or start a vegetable garden.

Although the word sustainable is applied to many things from sustainable development to forestry and more, we more often hear it in the context of the environment. Here our discussion will focus on the sustainable landscape.

A simplistic description might be an organic landscape with the added benefit of protecting natural resources and creating a healthy environment for people. I like to interpret it in terms of adopting a mindset or way of living. When we garden sustainably, we work with nature, not against her. It is a way of looking toward the future and leaving things better than when we started. Too often our need for instant results gets in the way of any forward thinking. Above all, we do no harm.

To move toward sustainable landscaping, we can take several steps, with all of them being ultimately interrelated. The goal, as described in the collaborative effort of the U.S. Botanic Garden, American Society of Landscape Architects and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center called the American Sustainable Sites Initiative, is to “protect, restore and enhance the ability of landscapes to provide ecosystem services that benefit humans and other organisms.” Although this may seem very lofty, it is certainly attainable, and many gardeners already are on the path to sustainability.

When creating the design, the sustainable gardener considers many resource-conserving principles that achieve the least negative environmental impact. Attention is paid to enrich soil, make wise plant choices, conserve water and protect water quality. Landscape structures are made from recycled, environmentally friendly building materials.

Composting is the ultimate in garden recycling and can be viewed as a cornerstone of sustainability. Creating compost, that rich organic matter that is the result of microbes and microorganisms breaking down garden waste and kitchen scraps, means less of these will end up in landfills. When incorporated into landscape beds, vegetable gardens, or raked into lawns, compost builds healthy soil.

Care is given to choose plants, primarily native plants, that are well-adapted to soil and climate conditions. In the sustainable landscape, care is taken to insure proper spacing of plants. This is where forward thinking is essential. Research a plant to not only discover its light and moisture requirements, but also its mature size.

Chris LaChance is director of education for Urban Harvest. Contact LaChance at This column is sponsored by Urban Harvest. To find out more about community gardens, school gardens, farmers markets and gardening classes, visit

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Pennsylvania Garden Expo opens today at Farm Show Complex

flowers are blooming, the water features are flowing and some 120 exhibitors
are ready to talk gardening as the 2014 version of the Pennsylvania Garden Expo
gets under way today at the Farm Show complex along Cameron Street in

it scare away the cold temperatures?

not quite, but this year’s 3-day show features 11 very spring-looking display
gardens covering more than 55,000 square feet inside the complex’s Northwest

Blouch’s Landscaping of Harrisburg,
for example, built a covered pavilion that houses an outdoor kitchen, patio and
fire pit, all surrounded by a stream and blooming rhododendrons, azaleas, witch
hazels, daffodils and tulips. 

Earth Tones Hardscape of New
Cumberland has a backyard retreat with a fireplace and twin basalt fountains
gently oozing water. The landscaping around it, designed by Ruth Consoli,
features a mix of yellow, white and green spring perennials, evergreens such as
spruce, holly, cypress and boxwood, and flowering woody plants such as dogwood,
cherry and winter jasmine. 

And last year’s Best in Show winner,
Hummel’s Landscape of Harrisburg, is back with a display that includes an
outdoor kitchen with travertine paving, a koi pond, two styles of overhead
shade structures and beds of blooming bulbs, perennials and shrubs. 

Other landscaper firms that have
built gardens include: The Greenskeeper of Palmyra; Levendusky Landscape of
Mechanicsburg; Nature’s Way Nursery of Lower Paxton Twp.; Utopian Landscapes of
Harrisburg; Strathmeyer Landscape Development of Dover; Dreamscapes
of Lebanon; Daniel J. Reed Landscape of Harrisburg; Davis
of Harrisburg, and GoldGlo Landscapes of Millersburg.

of the display gardens include landscape lighting for when the show dims the
lights periodically to show what the gardens look like lighted in the evening.

also include water features.

of the other highlights at Garden Expo 2014:

A judged, 2,400-square-foot flower show within the show called “Musical Magic,”
presented by the Garden Club of Harrisburg and the Penn-Cumberland Garden Club.

Some 120 vendors and exhibitors, offering such fare as bonsai plants (Nature’s
Way Nursery
), herbal products (The Rosemary House), garden books (St. Lynn’s
plants (Stauffers of Kissel Hill), gardening accessories (Lewisberry
Gardens and Gifts) and more.

View full sizePa. Garden Expo shoppers in action.
Dozens of gardening talks and seminars throughout all three days at three
different show-floor venues.

* Central Penn Parent Family Night, slated
for Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m., which features hands-on family activities
throughout the show.

Pennsylvania Garden Expo runs Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-22, from 10 a.m. to
8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 23, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

are $13 at the door and are good all three days of the show.

citizens (ages 55 and up) get in for $8 on opening day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,
then all active and retired military, police, firefighters and first responders
get in at no charge opening day from 5 to 8 p.m. (all other adults get in for
$5 during those hours).

Central Penn Parent Family Night on Saturday, adults are admitted for $5
between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

12 and under are free at all times during the show.

Show parking is $8.

Journal Multimedia, best known for publishing the Central Penn Business Journal
and Central Penn Parent magazine, operates the Garden Expo.

is show sponsor, and Watson Supply Inc. sponsors the display gardens.

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READER SUBMITTED: Terryville/Berlin/Bristol Landscapers Win Top Awards At …


12:10 p.m. EST, February 21, 2014

On Feb. 20, right after the doors closed on Day 1 of the 2014 Connecticut Flower Garden Show, the many professional landscapers who created the show’s 20 lush, live gardens on-site gathered. More than two dozen design awards were presented by Kristie Gonsalves, president of North East Expos, organizer of the 33rd annual show. A panel of horticulture and landscape design experts judged strolled the gardens earlier in the day and selected the winners.

The top three 2014 awards: “Best of Show” was awarded to Pondering Creations of Terryville (landscape #1) – for the second year in a row! Best Horticulture Award was presented to Hillside Landscaping Co. of Berlin (landscape #12). Best Design Award was presented to Supreme Landscapes LLC (landscape #4) of Bristol. Awards are on display in front of all of the winning landscapes.

The Connecticut Flower Garden Show continues through Sunday, Feb. 23 at the Connecticut Convention Center on 100 Columbus Boulevard in Hartford. Info at or North East Expos at 860-844-8461.

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Gardening Tips: Learn to prune in person

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014 11:36 am

Gardening Tips: Learn to prune in person


Over many years I’ve written articles for The Daily Herald, I’ve written about pruning more times than I can count — it may be the topic I’ve discussed most. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to convey the strategies of pruning using the written word. For one, there are thousands of plants we find in our landscapes, orchards and forests, and each one needs to be pruned a little bit differently. For that matter, even if you have the same type of tree as your neighbor, you may need to prune them a little bit differently depending on the age, size and location of the plant. While there are some general pruning techniques, there is as much art to pruning as there is science, so each situation really is unique.

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Friday, February 21, 2014 11:36 am.

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Your Winter Garden

Jim Cramer: Hats Off to Elon Musk

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Garden Tips: Garden Day a cure for spring fever

After a long and dreary winter, WSU Extension’s Spring Garden Day, planned March 8, offers a cure for local gardeners with spring fever. This daylong educational gardening program will kick off with two terrific presentations.

David James will start Spring Garden Day with his presentation on butterflies. At the young age of 8, James was a budding entomologist who was fascinated by butterflies and began rearing them at his English home. After studying zoology in college, he migrated to Australia, where he did his graduate research on the winter biology of Monarch butterflies.

James came to Washington State University in 1999 and is stationed at the WSU Prosser Research Station, where he is researching biological control of insect and mite pests in vineyards and other irrigated crops. He also directs the WSU “Vineyard Beauty with Benefits” project that involves using native plants to both beautify and attract beneficial insects to commercial vineyards.

As busy as that keeps him, he still finds time to study butterflies, including his favorite, the Monarch butterfly. He recently coauthored a beautifully illustrated book on the caterpillars of Northwest butterflies titled Life Histories of Cascadia Butterflies. James has been quoted as saying that ” a world without butterflies would be a very sad place.” His presentation will include butterfly biology as well as how to protect and encourage butterflies.

Steve Sheppard, chairman of the Entomology Department at WSU in Pullman, will give the second presentation about honeybees. Sheppard’s bee story also begins as a young boy with a great-grandfather who had more than a hundred hives along the Savannah River in the southeast. However, Sheppard didn’t become a beekeeper until after taking a beekeeping class in college. After that, he went on to study bee genetics in graduate school.

Sheppard is also head of the Apis Molecular Systematics Laboratory at WSU. They focus on honeybee colony health in the Northwest. Pesticides are just one of the things that threaten honeybee populations across the country. At Spring Garden Day, Sheppard will talk about the fascinating honeybee and how gardeners can protect this valuable pollinating resource.

The presentations will be followed by a variety of classes for backyard gardeners. Presented by gardeners and other local experts, the scheduled classes are Raised Beds and Container Gardening, Drip Irrigation for the Home Garden, Gardening in Miniature, Managing Fruit Tree Insect Pests, Backyard Greenhouses, Growing Perennial Flowers, Basic Rose Care and Tools to Make Gardening Easier.

The cost of the program is $20 per person if you pre-register or $25 at the door. More information and a registration brochure can be found on the Benton Franklin WSU Master Gardener Facebook page at You can also call 735-3551 for information and a registration brochure.

Spring Garden Day

What: A daylong gardening workshop

When: March 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Where: The Gallery, Bethel Church, 600 Shockley Road, Richland

Cost: $20 per person in advance, $25 at the door

Registration: Get form at Or call 735-3551.

— Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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