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Archives for February 22, 2014

Carolina Beach Council Hears Input On Streetscape Project

Carolina Beach Council Hears Input On Streetscape Project


Published on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 12:55

Written by Super User

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH – The Carolina Beach Town Council got input from residents at their February 11th, meeting regarding a proposal to install 10′ wide multi-use asphalt paths along Clarendon Avenue and Cape Fear Blvd as part of a streetscape project.
The Council voted to move forward with obtaining financing approval from the state and awarding a bid for the project to State Utility Contractors for $6,062,600.00. That includes replacing aging water and sewer lines and the streetscape project.
The Council left the door open to make changes to the project on aspects such as a multi-use paths before finalizing it later this year.
Following replacement of aging underground water and sewer lines the Town plans to repave Cape Fear Blvd. From Canal Drive to 3rd Street on Cape Fear there will 10-foot wide sidewalks along either side of the road next to public parking. From 3rd Street to Dow Road on Cape Fear Blvd there will be a 10-foot wide asphalt multi-use path on the south side separated from the road by a 5 foot grass area, trees and additional lighting.
On Clarendon Avenue there will be a 10-foot multi-use asphalt path on the south side of the road from 4th Street to 6th Street. The path will switch to the north side of Clarendon Avenue from 6th Street to Dow Road because existing poles and landscaping are too close to the road and would cost to much to relocate. Also, Mike Chappel Park would increase costs if the path were located on the same side of the road and the park is located on Federal land.
On 5th Street from Clarendon north to Cape Fear Blvd, a new 5 foot wide sidewalk will be installed separated from the road by a small grass area.
The plan is part of a Town wide bike and pedestrian route to connect areas of Town such as the School, State Park, Downtown area and others. The plan also interconnects with a route south to Kure Beach.
According to Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin, the Town has held four informal workshops to give the public opportunities to express concern about the upcoming infrastructure/streetscape upgrades planned for Cape Fear, Clarendon, and 5th Street.
Parvin explained in January, “Planning for the streetscape was a vetted process that started with the development of the town’s 2011 Bicycle Multi-use Plan.  Implementation has become possible with the need to replace infrastructure in the oldest residential part of Carolina Beach.  Several options were reviewed by staff and the public over the last year. The chosen streetscape plan maximizes safety and efficiency of the roadway (creates a separation between pedestrians and vehicles) while minimizing impervious surfaces and impacts on neighbors (reduces recommendations of the 2011 Plan) and designed to maximize pervious space near property lines.”
Parvin explained the 2011 Bicycle Multi-use Plan was based on public meetings and surveys.
The estimated costs for the streetscape project are:
Cape Fear Blvd Lake Park Intersection: $64,000
Cape Fear Blvd:
– 10′ walkways from Canal to 3rd: $330,000
– Multi-use path from 3rd to 6th: $150,000
– Actual street: $570,000
Total for Cape Fear Blvd: $1,050,000
Clarendon Ave from 4th Street to Dow Road:
– Multi-use path: $250,000
– Actual street: $335,000
Total: $585,000
Parvin said the path on Clarendon Avenue is going on the North Side of Clarendon in the vicinity of Mike Chappel Park to avoid removal of the exiting fencing, landscaping, and parking that are located on the park property.
Parvin said the path on Clarendon would connect to a planned future extension of a multi-use path along Dow Road south to Kure Beach as part of the 2011 Bicycle Multi-use plan. The eastern end the path has several destinations to include the school, Carolina Beach Lake, downtown, and the ocean.
Parvin explained the path crosses Clarendon at 6th Street because properties west of 6th street on the south side of Clarendon have power poles, ditching and landscaping located in close vicinity to the street. In order to avoid excessive costs associated with moving these features the path was relocated to the north side of the street from 6th to Dow Road. To alleviate safety concerns and create traffic calming in this area a striped/elevated crosswalk will be located on Clarendon where the path crosses to the north side of the street.
Parvin also explained bike trails promote health and will improve safety on Clarendon Avenue because of increased traffic when students arrive and depart nearby Carolina Beach Elementary School on a narrow street.
Parvin explained the project will not be paid for with grant funding. He explained, “Several  grants were reviewed for both the above and underground portions of the project.  Due to timing constraints with the need for the secondary force main grant money was not obtained.  The Town is looking at 5 phases of infrastructure/streetscape projects.  Although grants were not available for this phase others will hopefully be eligible for and receive funding.”
He explained, “The Town will be getting a loan. One trip has already been made to the Local Government Commission (LGC) to evaluate the project and review the town’s financial position. Once the bids are completed the Town will submit a complete request package to the LGC for final approval.  The anticipated date for the loan to be put in place is April 2014.  No increases in taxes are proposed.  As different phases of the infrastructure project are funded the Town may have to look at fee adjustments.”
He explained the yearly cost of the maintenance/repair for a multi-use path on Cape Fear Blvd would include mowing, edging walkway, trimming/edging tree rings, and other items and based on 20 visits per year it would cost $1470.00 additional per year paid to the Town’s landscaping contractor. Tree Pruning will cost approximately $2450.00 per year.
On Clarendon, for mowing, edging walkway, trimming, etc, for 20 visits per year it would cost $924 additional per year.
He explained, “There will also be a monthly charge for path lighting. There are 24 path lights on Cape Fear and 12 on Clarendon.”
Parvin explained, “Existing driveways will be “saw cut” to install the new utilities and multi-use path. Once above and underground infrastructure is in place the driveway will be replaced from the road to the multi-use path with concrete.  The portion of the driveway from the multi-use path towards the property line will also be replaced with the same materials as the existing driveway.”
He said the project will possibly remove trees in residents’ yards explaining, “We have conducted several workshops… so the neighbors can address concerns with staff.  In some instances your tree may be able to be saved by moving or rerouting the path around the tree.  In some instances the trees will have to be removed. Each tree can be reviewed on a case by case basis.”
Parvin explained the paths will be asphalt and using concrete would add an additional $2 per square foot for “approximately $50,000 more, or $300,000.”
He said property owners with irrigation systems in the Town’s right-of-way should expect those irrigation lines to be removed from the path area and capped.
For mailboxes and associated landscaping, Parvin explained, “Mailboxes will be moved to the edge of the street.  If you have any features around your mailbox that you want to keep these should be removed prior to start of construction in front of your home.”
The Council held a public hearing and discussed the project at their February 11th meeting for over an hour and a half. Numerous residents spoke on the project.
Steve Stanton encouraged the Council to build multi-use paths “where ever possible in Town.”
He has served for seven years on the Citizens Advisory Committee with the Wilmington Metropolitan Transportation Organization (WMPO) and in a prior survey 65% of people were interested in using their bikes or walking for recreation, exercise or running errands.
He said, “The one thing that did become apparent though is that they also indicated the impediment for not being able to achieve that was
the lack of safe passage ways they could use to do that traveling on. Multi-use trails have become very common throughout the country. We have a great one here in Wilmington… they provide another means of safe passage for those who want to use them. They are no longer a nice amenity. They are really part of the “Complete Street Process” which is opening up or providing modes of safe transit for individuals regardless of how they are either driving, walking, biking or jogging. Multi-purpose paths are really a benefit to any town.”
David Smith said, “I’m not against having places to ride bicycles but I am
against wasting money at this time to be building them. If you drive up and down Atlanta Avenue which is one of the main roads that comes to our school, we no longer have pot holes on that road, we have wash tub holes at this time and getting worse.”
Smith said he showed a Council member a sinkhole in the road causing cars to bottom out when driving on the street.
He said, “We do not need to be spending money on bike lanes when our streets are this bad. If we do not have the funds available to maintain our traffic streets that we drive on to take our kids to school, go to the store, shopping, etc, then how are we going to have money to maintain this other stuff that ya’ll are wanting to put in place. It does not make sense.”
Smith explained, “I can not spend money at my house building something new if I don’t have the money to keep up what I’ve already got.”
Many residents addressed the Council questioning how the Town would maintain the areas including landscaping. Another resident recommended lowering the speed limit on Cape Fear Blvd from 35 to 25 to improve safety.
Another resident pointed to studies that said off-street paths create safety hazards by separating the bicyclists from the road. For example, drivers failing to see bicyclists at intersections when making turns
rather than identifying bicyclists that ride on the road in clear sight of motorists. Also, risks to pedestrians when people are backing out of their driveways that the paths will intersect.
Council member Sarah Friede said traffic around the school is unsafe and she’s had vehicles driving on sidewalks while she was walking with her child.
 Councilman Steve Shuttleworth explained, “I think we looked at a couple of options and because this was in phase one of the utility plan, we looked at the 90′ foot right-of-way and there are very few opportunities in Carolina Beach to get a separated multi-use trail. And when you’re talking about a mom jogger, a dad jogger, kids on bikes and trikes and pedestrians and skaters, the recommendation across the country is 10′ foot multi-use trails. We only have two roads that can accommodate that at this time that are in the plan. Harper was a different design and hadn’t been finalized.”
He said, “In the last couple of years the discussion had revolved around safe routes to schools, the ideas of increasing safe transportation from Mike Chappel Park to the Lake” and the Carolina Beach Elementary School.
He said, “When you mix kids into that traffic pattern with widened asphalt, it became problematic” and transportation experts said the Town needed a multi-use path in the Clarendon Avenue area.
The Council voted unanimously to move forward with obtaining financing approval from the Local Government Commission and awarding a bid for the project to State Utility Contractors for $6,062,600.00. That includes replacing aging water and sewer lines and the streetscape project.
Council agreed to direct Town staff to look at alternatives for the Clarendon Avenue Streetscape and agreed they could make changes to that portion of the project later this year following additional workshop meetings to look at other options.
The Council could reduce the amount of the project at a later date without having to obtain additional financing approval.
Mayor Dan Wilcox wanted to make sure there would be another vote to leave the streetscape  portion of the project as approved, not do it, or modify the plan.

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KONP Home Show serves up ideas, help starting today in Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — The annual KONP Home Show will feature 110 home-improvement information booths this weekend.

Doors in the Port Angeles High School gymnasium, 304 E. Park Ave., will open at 9:30 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The KONP Home Show, presented by the Clallam County Public Utility District, aims to help homeowners prepare for upgrading their properties this spring.

“We strive to make the show a real ‘show for living,’” said Todd Ortloff, KONP general manager.

For 32 years, the KONP Home Show has served as a showplace for North Olympic Peninsula businesses to display their services and for prospective customers to gather information.

It typically attracts between 7,000 and 10,000 visitors each year.

Parking is located in the Port Angeles High student parking lots on the 200 and 300 blocks of East Park Avenue.

A free shuttle will take visitors to the gym.

30 new exhibitors

This year, the Home Show has added 30 new exhibitors, said Stan Comeau, sales manager for KONP AM and FM radio in Port Angeles, which sponsors and organizes the show.

Vendors located in four gymnasium areas and outdoors will tell visitors of a wide variety of services, including contractors, home-improvement supplies, home services, landscaping, pet care, health care options and home decor.

Food will be available from the Port Angeles Kiwanis Club.

Hopefully this year, the show will be as successful as last year, Comeau said.

“Even the weather seems to be in our favor,” he said, referring to a National Weather Service forecast high of about 46 degrees, with a 30 percent chance of light showers.

This year, there will be no major promotions or door prizes, as there have been in past years, Comeau said.

Instead, it will be a straightforward presentation of products and services.

The KONP Home Show started in 1982 at the Vern Burton Community Center and has grown each year since.

The Home Show website is at


Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at

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María Cortés González: How to grow bird of paradise from seed


María Cortés González

A reader, James N. Grahmann, recently asked how easy is it to grow a desert bird of paradise shrub from seed. He was taken by the beauty of the plants when he moved to El Paso from Santa Fe. He has some plants already but wants more.

Horticulture Extension Agent Denise Rodriguez says the yellow flowering shrub with long red stamens has seed pods that open in late summer and early fall. Rodriguez suggests Grahamm look for any volunteer seedlings that have popped up around the parent plant. If so, these can be transplanted into the ground or into a small container. Fertilizer is not recommended for these plants in general.

If he can’t find any seedlings, he needs to break the seed coat dormancy, which is called scarification. “That is, the seeds can be soaked in water overnight to break the dormancy,” she said. Scarified seeds do not store well and should be planted as soon as possible after treatment. The seeds germinate best when the temperatures are above 85 degrees.

In Las Cruces

Las Cruces Utilities is offering a great series of workshops, Lush Lean, through July 17. All of the workshops will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursdays at the WIA Building, 340 N. Reymond. No registration is required and the classes are free.

“We’ve been offering some form of classes since 2005,” said Leslie R. Kryder, water conservation program coordinator. “Last year we had a similar lineup. It’s to help residents of Las Cruces and the area have a beautiful garden or landscaping but to be water-wise in how they do it.”

Many of the speakers are faculty members at New Mexico State University, and others are experts in the topic they are covering. Here’s the schedule:

March 6 “Climate Outlook:” Dave Dubois will summarize weather events of 2013, reflect on past ones and talk about outlook for spring runoff and long-term changes.

March 13 “Landscape Design:” Cathy Matthews, a Las Cruces city landscape architect, will talk basic landscape design.

March 20 “Tree Care:” John Mexal, NMSU professor, will cover tree care from planting and establishment to irrigation fertilization, and pruning.

April 3 Xeric Design with Native Plants: Jackye Meineke, owner of Enchanted Gardens, will cover the principles of a xeriscape design and how to capture and retain water in the landscape.

April 10 Water wise Vegetable Gardening: Stephanie Walker, vegetable specialist with NMSU Cooperative Extension, will cover which vegetables are more drought-tolerant and how to manage the growth of vegetable plants to minimize water needs.

April 24 Plant and Lawn Diseases: Natalie Goldberg, NMSU plant pathologist, will cover some of the common diseases of ornamental plants, vegetables and turfgrass and disease management.

May 1 Landscaping to Your Max: Lush but Lean: Jeff Anderson, Cooperative Extension Agent, will give tips for transforming a yard into a lush yard with drought-tolerant plants.

May 8 Bugs!: Carol Sutherland, an entomologist, will talk about some of the pests of trees.

May 15 Irrigation System Basics: Ken Futrell, of Ewing Irrigation and Landscape, will give the first part of an irrigation system presentation. It will cover parts of an irrigation system and how they fit together. The second part will be July 17 and include installation and maintenance.

May 29 Noxious Weeds: Jamshid Ashigh, weed specialist, will talk about invasive and noxious weeds in New Mexico.

June 12 Rainwater Harvesting: Jeff Anderson, Cooperative Extension agent, will show how simple it is to install a 1550 gallon rainwater harvesting tank.

June 19 Community Collaborative Rain, Hail Snow Network (CoCoRaHS): Dave Dubois, NMSU climatologist, will explain the network and what it provides.

June 26 Composting: Bill Lindemann, NMSU professor, will talk about the proper making of a compost pile and its use in gardening.

María Cortés González is a Master Gardener. She may be reached at, 546-6150. Follow her on Twitter at EPTMaria or Like her Facebook page at EPTMariaGonzalez.

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Drought landscaping: 5 inspiring lawn-free yards

Water-guzzling gardens aren’t the only ones that look good. Many that rely on little irrigation are just as lush, colorful and captivating as their thirstier counterparts. And since quenching your garden can account for as much as half of your household water bill, it makes sense to conserve not only in drought years but all the time. Fortunately, Bay Area gardeners have access to an abundance of gorgeous, drought-tolerant plants that thrive in our climate, along with innovative ways to grow them. Here we show a spectrum of design ideas – that range from using few plants to carpeting a plot with greenery – to inspire your own low-water landscape.

Living art

Creating a serene space topped the list when landscape designer Beth Mullins ( created this backyard retreat near San Francisco’s Glen Park. The owners use their garden mainly to relax and unwind, and dreamed of having their own labyrinth. So Mullins created a living labyrinth outlined with Carex divulsa, an extremely tough and versatile grass-like sedge that can handle sun or shade and take drought once it’s established after a couple years of growth. Now mature, the sedge needs very little care or irrigation, and Mullins says, “Instead of a water or fire feature, this becomes the focal point. It’s like having a piece of art in the garden that’s functional, and when people gather, you don’t have to move it out of the way.”

Confined plantings

Having a drought-tolerant garden doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with hardscape alone. You can still surround yourself with greenery, while minimizing your water needs, by limiting and confining what you grow. Because the owners of this Potrero Hill backyard often look down on their plot from above, Mullins created a highly visual space and used low-water plants to fill narrow beds along the plot’s periphery. Grouping growers in defined areas has the added effect of putting them on display and giving them elevated status. The plants need little irrigation and survive mainly on rainwater that’s captured in the owners’ rain barrels.

Low-water tapestry

High up in Los Altos Hills where summer temperatures can soar into the 100s, and facing southwest with no shade, this garden required plants that were ultra-tough and unthirsty. Because the homeowners view this space from large picture windows, it had to look good, so landscape designer Rebecca Sweet ( created a colorful bed filled with mounding plants to mimic the contours of the surrounding Santa Cruz Mountains. Pink-flowered teucrium, orangey Stipa arundinacea, ‘Moonshine’ yarrow, silver artemisia, Cleveland sage and ‘Provence’ lavender in the foreground give way to phlomis, miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ and calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ in the rear; all looked lush with little irrigation after their first year of growth.

Lawn substitute

Once planted with thirsty turf, this dymondia “lawn” in Los Altos offers the same utility – a visually soothing expanse of greenery that can handle foot traffic – for a fraction of the resources: The owner’s water bill dropped a whopping 40 percent once the traditional grass was removed. To temper dymondia’s silver hue, Sweet dotted it with swaths of ‘Dragon’s Blood’ sedum and thin-bladed Carex divulsa. Bordering the lawn are catmint, ‘Blue Springs’ penstemon, ‘Sunset Gold’ coleonema, ‘Happy Returns’ daylily, and dark-pink centranthus that draw hummingbirds and insects, creating a wildlife haven for the owner’s grandkids to explore.

Mini meadow

Once a steep slope with limited access, this Cow Hollow backyard in San Francisco now has three tiers of useful space. Landscape architect Roderick Wyllie ( designed a house-level deck at the top, a mid-level gravel gathering area with a fire pit and a plant-filled meadow below. Because the rest of the garden’s elements – including built-in benches, low concrete walls and peekaboo fencing – are so graphic, the meadow was intended to have a wild look, and overflows with unthirsty plants, including Cleveland sage, perovskia, echinacea, carex and muhlebergia. “It’s a nice contrast to the architectural design of the spaces you occupy,” Wyllie says.

Julie Chai is a Bay Area freelance writer. E-mail:

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Berlin Landscapers Take Top Prize at CT Flower & Garden Show

Thursday night, 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 strolled the gardens earlier in the day and selected the winners.

A Berlin garden store was honored with one of the top three awards on the evening: Best Horticulture Award was presented to Hillside Landscaping Co. of Berlin (landscape #12).

Best of Show was awarded to Pondering Creations of Terryville (landscape #1) — for the second year in a row — and 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 Friday through Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Connecticut Convention Center on 100 Columbus Blvd. in Hartford.

Find out more about the show at or call North East Expos at 860-844-8461.

Based off a release from the Connecticut Flower Garden Show.

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Gardening: February Tips

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With the weird/warm/cold warm winter weather we’ve been having, it won’t hurt to prune deciduous trees that haven’t been done yet. Pruning trees and shrubs promotes new growth. Some of them are definitely operating off their normal season and it may take several years for them to return to their cycle after this wonky winter.

Generally, the task is to remove any dead or broken limbs and twigs, open up the tree to light and air, and reduce the overall amount of wood to encourage new growth. It pays to consult a good guide on pruning.

Different types of trees need slightly different methods. Most spring-flowering trees and shrubs bloom on wood from the previous year(s), so if you prune lightly on last year’s branches the current year’s production of flowers (and their fruits) will be affected.

Spring-flowering trees include: Redbud (Cercis canadensis and C. occidentale), flowering quince (Chaenomeles cultivars), saucer magnolia (Magnolia X soulangiana), trumpet tree (Tabebuia chrysantha and T. heterophylla), wisteria, fruit trees like peaches, nectarines, and plums.

Most years, roses don’t really stop blooming, so go ahead and prune them anyway. As soon as the warm weather comes, they will be bursting with new growth and it needs to come lower on the shrub from good strong canes not the thin top growth. Strip off old leaves, too, especially if they show any signs of disease, and bury them in the compost pile. Remember, the pile needs to heat up to really kill any pathogens, so if your compost has gone cold it’s time to turn it and add some more material to get it cooking again.

January is also the traditional month for applying dormant sprays, but if blossoming hasn’t begun (which it has for many early varieties) another round of spray will be okay. If insects such as bark borers or fungal pests like peach leaf curl or black spot have plagued fruit trees, use lime sulfur and copper sprays (like Bordeaux), but remember these are toxic substances and can affect the beneficial organisms in the ecosystem as well as the pests. Dormant oil sprays are safer and compost tea the safest of all. Be sure to get all the surfaces of the plant covered by using a sprayer that creates a fine mist. Spray just until the material begins to drip and don’t forget the trunk.

It may not feel like it, but spring is just around the corner in southern California. Some other gardening chores include:

•Plant bareroot trees and shrubs.

• Plant spring-flowering bulbs.

• Cut back perennials such as Tagetes, Salvia, and Leonotis for bushy new growth.

• Also cut down ornamental grasses to encourage new, vibrant growth.

• Direct sow seeds or start some indoors now, in pots or flats, for later plantings of snapdragon, cornflower, stock, poppy, nasturtium, and pansies as well as salad greens, carrots, beets, peas, onions, and turnips.

• Set out snail and slug traps: either shallow containers of beer or upended pot saucers or old boards. Check daily and dispose of the catch.

• Most plants are still growing slowly. Fertilize potted plants with half strength liquid fertilizer.

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Drought gardening: tips for growing food

As we head into what could become an epochal drought, despite recent welcome rains, vegetable gardeners are feeling the uncertainty. Will water restrictions snuff out the salad garden, bash beans and thwart tomato dreams?

We do know that it is typical for Central California to have great variations in annual rainfall. Our location between a wetter north and a desert south puts us at the mercy of small shifts in weather. Those of us who were living in California during the mid-’70s drought, which is about half the number of people living here now, remember the anxiety and water restrictions then. That drought did end, as did some smaller droughts later. But if climate change is under way, who knows how this one will turn out? While we can’t know what is in store, we can plan this year’s garden with care.

By all accounts, we’ve been, overall, very good at saving water in recent decades. Now it’s time to rededicate ourselves to conservation.

There are good reasons to grow your own vegetables and herbs. You can do so using much less water than the average large-scale farm; you save the Earth part of the carbon cost of transporting your food, and it will probably inspire you to eat more vegetables.

Here are some tips to help you plan a food garden in a drought:

— Start by conserving water indoors. Fix leaks, avoid running water wastefully and take advantage of whatever water-saving appliances you can obtain.

— Look to your soil. Add several inches of organic matter, compost or other amendment once or twice a year. This will greatly increase the soil’s water-holding capacity. But don’t add too much. More than 5 percent organic matter can create conditions that are not healthy for plant roots.

— Think about what and how much you will actually eat. If you gardened last year, think back to whether you wasted food that you grew, and use that as a guide to plan this year’s garden to better match your needs.

— Plant some crops in February or March to take advantage of any rain we get this season, as well as of the slower evaporation rate of cooler weather. Planting in August through November (depending on crop and location) can take advantage of cooler fall and winter temperatures and possible rainfall in the same way.

— Plant closely enough together that mature neighboring plants touch leaves.

— Apply an organic mulch, using a fine-textured material that can decay as time passes, rather than large bark chunks. Keep mulch back from plant stems to prevent their decay.

— If you choose not to plant some of your food gardening area, water it well, cover it with an organic mulch and, if allotments allow, water it well one or two more times in the summer to keep your soil alive.

— Water early or late in the day, when evaporation is at its slowest, and water at or near the ground rather than with a high, evaporation-prone spray.

— If you water by hand, once your crops are past the seedling stage, water crops deeply, then don’t water again until the top inch of soil is dry. Use a moisture meter to check soil moisture. Put a simple timer on your hose at the faucet so you can set it to turn off the hose automatically.

— If you choose drip irrigation, use a separate program for vegetables, which require more water than your drought-tolerant ornamentals. Pin drip lines to the ground to avoid water running unevenly along the lines. Provide manual shutoff valves for separate beds, so you can turn off the drip as you change crops – or to let onions or garlic dry out.

— Get a programmable irrigation timer with a rain sensor, and be sure it’s on, so you won’t waste water during a storm. Get friendly with the manual that comes with your timer, so you can reset it during the year to account for changing temperatures and day length, and know when and how to replace its battery. If you lose the manual, use the make and model to print out a replacement from the website of the manufacturer.

— Gray water, reused household water, can irrigate ornamental plantings and fruit trees, freeing clean water for your food garden vegetables, but is not recommended for use where it may contact edible parts of food. If you do consider installing a gray water system, be sure you find professional plans for doing so, as poorly planned systems can clog the plumbing almost immediately.

For more drought tips and news, go to

Pam Peirce is the author of “Golden Gate Gardening” and blogs at http://golden Send garden and plant-related questions to

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Tips and displays unfold at the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show

This year’s Southern Spring Home Garden Show theme – “Better Living. Home. Garden. Life” – brings a new emphasis on the growing trend that finds many Americans focusing on the relationship between healthy living and enjoying a simplified lifestyle.

“One trend in home remodeling and redecorating is the emphasis we continue to see on de-cluttering, simplifying and enjoying smaller, yet higher-quality living space,” said Mardee Woodward, the show’s executive director.

She said show visitors will find lots of ideas and products on sleek storage, earth-friendly low-maintenance flooring, and homes with a smaller footprint.

For the first time, the show is running over two consecutive weekends. Celebrating its 54th consecutive year in Charlotte, the show includes more than 220,000 square feet of exhibition space in three halls and hundreds of exhibitors showcasing products and services.

Project-minded homeowners have the opportunity to talk with vendors and local contractors to discuss home improvement options, including appliances, cabinets, hardware, fixtures, granite, tile and tubs, accessories, furniture, flooring, lighting, window treatments and accents to personalize the home. Kitchen and bath products and services are among the most widely featured areas.

Visitors will see wide varieties of new composite countertop materials, heated bathroom floor applications and a move to contemporary styling, particularly in the kitchen, according to David Bengston, president of Lighthouse Construction and longtime show exhibitor. “Clean lines, moldings, under-cabinet LED lighting, contemporary tile and glass are desirable kitchen options I’m seeing more and more of,” said Bengston.

“In the bath, I’m seeing a push to re-creating a spa experience at home with multiple shower heads and steam units in oversized showers.”

Backyard gardening ideas

Home gardeners looking for ideas on everything from “smart” irrigation to organic gardening will find products and ideas. Much of the revival in home gardening is due to the growing “farm to fork” and “eat local” movements in restaurants and farmers markets all across America, Woodward said.

“This is not a trend,” she added. “Rather, it is a true lifestyle choice. Many of our cooking exhibitions will feature cooking with vegetables and herbs harvested straight from the garden.”

Fans of the popular Planet Green cable show “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” will be thrilled to know that the former city dwellers-turned-goat farmers will be on hand during the second weekend to discuss gardening and share cooking tips.

Brent Ridge, one of the Beekmans, tours dozens of garden shows annually. “I see a huge revival in backyard gardening,” said Ridge. “My advice to folks who may have only a small space to work is that they don’t have to have a large garden. Raised beds are a great way to go for smaller space…”

The show’s expanded garden showcase highlights sustainable garden approaches. Show visitors can stroll through Belgard Gardens, 20 professionally landscaped gardens and six independently styled designer rooms featuring new garden products and ideas.

Outdoor kitchens with features such as built-in grills, pizza ovens, sinks, refrigerators and breakfast bars continue to rise in popularity, said Darin Brockelbank of MetroGreenscape.

Those looking for the latest in screened porches and decks can learn the difference between pressure-treated wood, cedar and new composite material/wood alternatives being introduced to the market.

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New books, new trends for Western gardens

Wondering what to plant in your yard during this drought season?

Help, if not inspiration, may be at hand with new gardening books. If you can’t plant, at least you can dream a bit about gardens.

At the head of the list is the redesigned and updated “Sunset Western Garden Book of Landscaping,” ($29.95)

From the editors of Sunset Magazine comes a look at trends and forward-thinking designs for the West. Touted as “the ultimate resource for turning garden dreams into dream gardens,” it’s a photo-rich collection showcasing projects that range from rooftop gardens to “room-scaping”— creating outdoor living rooms from homelike elements.

Designed for beginner and expert gardeners, “The Sunset Western Garden Book of Landscaping” showcases new ideas in garden design, complete with tips, guidelines and how-to content, providing ample information for “do-it-yourselfers” to tackle basic projects — or for the less ambitious to take to landscape professionals.

The book features 600 full-color photographs of the Western gardens,  large to small, urban and rural, on beaches and mountains and surburban lots.

According to the editors, three main elements set this book apart from previous editions:

• A focus on earth-friendly garden design reflects the latest guidelines set by the American Society of Landscape Architects, highlighting permeable paving, use of recycled materials, recirculating water features, waterwise and native plants and low-voltage lighting.

• Expert tips from professionals, like adding depth to a narrow garden by orienting it diagonally and using compact and columnar plants around the perimeter.

• “Cool ideas and secrets from first time gardeners who have already gone through a landscape remodel and learned from it,” like tossing wildflower seeds out the back door if you can’t stand looking at the dirt patch but aren’t ready to remodel for another year.

The emphasis is on native, sustainable and waterwise, with a section devoted to “Drought Strategies.”

The trends in gardening styles in using small spaces, driveways and rooftops, as well as container gardens, and vertical gardens. Alternatives to lawns is another hot topic, as is incorporating found “stuff” into landscaping.

It also includes fresh ideas for garden elements like arbors and trellises, colorful paint, fences, firepits, fountains, outdoor kitchens, paths, patios, pools, sheds, tool storage and walls

“The Sunset Western Garden Book of Landscaping” features a practical section on planning a new garden or overhauling an existing one. Tips include how to chart the sun across the property to pinpoint areas of light and shade, how to choose a landscape professional or work up a DIY strategy evaluate your site, how to make a plan and checklist, cut down on garden design and material costs, and find solutions for dealing with regional problems such as drought, wind and fire.

Many of the projects are accompanied by before-and-after photographs from real gardens.

“We designed this book to showcase the West’s hottest garden design today as well as to inspire and empower gardeners to create their outdoor dream spaces,” said Sunset’s garden editor Kathleen Brenzel. “Whether you’re a true DIY-er or will enlist the help of a landscape professional, this book is an invaluable resource.”

For the less ambitious but still aspiring, Sunset has also published “The 20 Minute Gardener, Projects, Plants and Designs for Quick and Easy Gardening” ($24.95). Here are ideas like a “Moon Garden”with white and silvery plants that will glow in moonlight, or a “Unthirsty Herb Garden” of water-wise favorites.

It also includes “the top 10 easy care plants” in categories of perennials, annuals, grasses, ferns, bulbs, shrubs and edibles.

 From Taunton Press comes “Landscaping Ideas That Work,” by Julie Moir Messervy ($21.95). Although its emphasis is not specifically the Western U.S., it has a rich assortment of design ideas that include outdoor living spaces and diagrams.

One of the most charming new garden books is “The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener, How to Grow Food in Harmony With Nature” by Tammi Hartung, with lovely illustrations by Holly Ward Bimba (Story; $16.95). Hartung, a medical herbalist and organic grower from Colorado, addresses the challenge of creating a “peaceful place where perennials attract pollinators, ponds house slug-eating frogs, mulch protects predator insects in the soil, mint gently deters unwanted mice and hedgerows shelter and feed many kinds of wildlife.”

She includes “smart stragetics for peaceful coexistence” with unwelcome visitors as well as ideas for attractive beneficial residents in gardens.

Finally, the “The World’s Largest Seed Catalog” is out from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. This is a book you have to see to believe; 355 pages of seeds from amaranth to wildflower, plus stories, recipes and growing tips. It’s a treasure. Even if there is no water to grow anything. For more information, visit

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