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Archives for March 17, 2014

Gardening Tips to Prepare for Spring

With spring around the corner, now is a good time to start doing some work in your garden.

Dan Sinnett, the assistant regional manager at Southwood Landscape and Garden Center located at 9025 South Lewis Ave said there are several activities gardeners can conduct at this time of year.

The cold and dry winter likely left some plants damaged but now gardeners can do some fertilizing to try to repair the damage.

Other necessary cleaning activities for your garden include weeding or mulching the garden bed.

Sinnett said now is a great time to plant trees, shrubs, or even pansies, which would bloom sometime around May.

Sinnett also said gardeners need to wait to plant tender annuals such as petunia’s or vegetables.

A typical mistake Sinnett sees among gardeners is over-watering. He said trees and shrubs only need to be watered once or twice a week while flowers should watered about every other day depending on the situation.

With the possible frost coming tonight, don’t forget to cover any tender plants with new growth.

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Gardener: Tips for getting a jump on the gardening season, part 2

Last week I discussed several simple methods to help extend your gardening season. This week I explore more options for giving you a head start in the garden. These methods work equally well at season’s end with the potential to provide a year-round garden.

Insulation is the key to keeping plants safe when cold temperatures threaten. Whatever you can find to trap and retain heat will go a long way toward defying the killing conditions of frost and cold that would otherwise bring an early demise to tender heat loving-plants. Blankets, plastic, buckets and the like all can serve to add critical protection on such nights. Be sure the covering protects the foliage and that it extends all the way to the ground. This ensures that warmth from the soil is trapped, which will add a few extra degrees under cover.

A cloche is an insulating cover made for such purpose. Perhaps you’ve seen these attractive bell shaped glass covers. Dating back to the early 1600’s cloches were and still are a common and effective method of protecting tender plants and food crops. A cloche substitute that I often use is to place plastic milk jugs with the bottom cut out, over my plants. A bamboo stake or stick helps hold it in place, and the lid from the jug can be removed the next morning to allow excessive heat to escape. Plastic soda bottles work just as well. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to protect tender plants through those nights when frost and freezing temperatures are likely. A milk or soda-drinking family can amass quite a collection of cloche-like covers in no time, plus they stack up well for storage when not in use.

Cold frames are perhaps the best and most popular methods food gardeners use for insulating their plants from temperatures far lower than most plants can handle otherwise. Think of a cold frame as a mini greenhouse. The basic premise is a sturdy, insulating enclosure around the plants and a glass or plastic top or lid that allows sunlight in to heat the space. Because of its excellent heat trapping quality, all cold frames must provide that all-important way for heat to escape during the day. Cold frames can be constructed from wood, cinder blocks, hay bales and more.

A sufficiently insulated cold frame can provide an environment warm enough to allow tender plants to thrive all the way until spring, even in the harshest conditions as my friend and colleague Niki Jabbour, author of “The Year Round Vegetable Gardener” (Storey Publishing, $19.95), can attest. She gardens year round from her home in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she harvests more than 30 different crops – even in mid-winter!

Container-grown plants offer the benefit of portability in allowing you to maneuver plants away from “Jack Frost.” Having the ability to move plants to a protected area and back again can buy you several weeks or more of extended growing time. The trick to making this work for large containers or those too heavy or cumbersome to move easily, is to place them on top of rolling platforms. I’ve seen several designs in better garden centers marketed for such purposes or you can search online. You also can easily make them yourself.

Microclimates are another technique commonly used to take advantage of pockets of warmer conditions. Think of microclimates as nothing more than small areas or unique growing environments that tend to stay a bit warmer their surrounding area. Typical reasons these areas exist is because they are often protected from wind, driving rain, frost or snow, or because they benefit from heat radiating off a building or protected area. When planted or placed near a brick or stone wall, heat absorbed and retained during the day is released at night. Plants in close proximity will benefit from this exchange. This mini environment can potentially allow plants to survive outdoors when otherwise they could not.

There is a season for everything, but it doesn’t mean you have to delay or stop gardening just because of cooler temperatures. Extending the season is an exciting and rewarding endeavor made easier by knowing a few easy-to-apply techniques.

Joe Lamp’l is the host and executive producer of Growing a Greener World on national public television, and the founder of The joe gardener� Company, devoted to environmentally responsible gardening and sustainable outdoor living.

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Tips for a Pollinator-friendly Garden – Twin Falls Times

When you swat at a bee in the garden, remember that it’s not just a stinger but a pollinator — an insect, bird or mammal that enables a plant to set seed.

With 75 percent of all flowering plants requiring pollinators — a third of which are human food sources — it is imperative that we address the threats they face: habitat degradation and loss, the spread of pests and diseases, extensive pesticide use and climate change.

The honeybee is probably the most familiar pollinator, and its plight is well documented. According to a survey by Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club, 312 honeybee colonies were being managed in the Valley in fall 2012. By spring of 2013, that number was down by half. Club President Chad Dickinson, attributed much of this loss to an unusually cold winter and mismanagement by beekeepers. These issues combined with numerous others resulted in a tough year for local honeybees.

And it isn’t just honeybees, not native to the Western Hemisphere, that are in danger. North America is home to thousands of pollinating insects, including numerous species of bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, flies and beetles — all with varying habitat and forage needs. Many of these native insects, including the blue orchard bee and the Eastern bumblebee, are just as important for agricultural pollination as the non-native honeybee.

The good news is that all pollinators (native or non-native) can benefit from similar conservation strategies. Creating pollinator-friendly habitats that are free from pesticides and include diverse food sources and nesting sites will help ensure the health and survival of these beneficial organisms.

Consider dedicating a portion of your yard to pollinator habitat. Here’s how to get started:

Sunny location:

Full sun helps keep pollinators active.

Season-long blooms:

Select at least three plants that flower in each of the three blooming periods (spring, summer and fall).

Early-spring bloomers and fall bloomers are especially important.

Cluster Plantings:

On each foraging trip, bees visit flowers of a single species, so planting in small clumps will help them out.


Plants in your garden should have varying heights and growth habits. Not only should they bloom at different times, but they should also have flowers of various colors, shapes and sizes. This will help attract a wide range of pollinators.

Nesting sites:

A warm-season bunch grass, such as little bluestem, will provide habitat for bumblebees. A small section of bare ground is important for ground nesting bees. Bundles of hollow stems, such as bamboo or elderberry, provide nesting sites for mason bees.


Pollinators need water, too. Include a birdbath or something with a ledge for pollinators to perch and drink.

What to plant:

Native plants are typically the best for native pollinators, especially those that require specific plants for food and habitat. When selecting non-native plants, choose old varieties when possible, since some modern varieties and hybrids can be poor sources of nectar.

Casey O’Leary of Earthly Delights Farm, an urban farm and seed company in Boise, suggests purple and blue flowers, such as larkspur, borage and bee’s friend, for bumblebees, and small white flowers, such as yarrow and plants in the carrot family, for solitary bees.

She has also found that native buckwheats (Eriogonum spp.) are excellent at attracting pollinators. On her farm, O’Leary allows vegetable crops not typically grown for their seed or fruit (such as lettuce, arugula and radishes) to flower, attracting beneficial insects and providing additional nectar sources for foraging pollinators.

To find more ideas for designing and planting your pollinator garden, visit the Pollinator Pathway in the Children’s Adventure Garden at Idaho Botanical Garden (visitor details at, and ask the horticulture staff for more specific plant recommendations. For more information on inviting native pollinators into your yard, visit

Daniel Murphy is a horticulture technician at the Idaho Botanical Garden.

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Midday Fix: Spring garden tips from Chalet Nursery’s Tony Fulmer

Tony Fulmer

25 Cool Garden Ideas You May Not Know
Thursday, March 20
11:00 a.m.
Chicago Flower and Garden Show
Navy Pier

Chalet Landscape, Nursery Garden Center
3132 Lake Avenue

Tony’s Tips:

Get the plant or plants you’re re-potting. Fill the container they’re going into with soil until you get within a few inches of the top. Then pull the plant out of the pot, place the pot in the desired final container. Fill all around the empty pot with soil, tamp to firm. Slide the empty pot out gently and replace with the root ball of the plant you’re transplanting. Firm the soil again and water. It’s really a better way to re-pot, especially when you have plants that rest on the ground and sprawl. Much faster and less potential damage to the plants.

Aggressive Plants:
There are a lot of great garden plants that have desirable characteristics, but are invasive. A couple of great examples of plants that can bully their way around the garden are the mints or Beebalm. They take off and even a small section of root becomes a new plant. One way to control garden “thugs” is to get a large 5-gallon plastic nursery pot and cut the bottom out of it. Sink that pot in the garden, but leave the top 1-2” lip above the surrounding soil. Place the desired plant in the pot. That will contain the root system and slow the spread dramatically. In a few years when the pot is plant-full dig the pot up, pull the plant apart and start all over again.

Gardening is like cooking — having the right tools can make the difference between making a job quick and easy, or long and tedious. I wouldn’t be without hand rakes for my garden. They help you pick up mulch, weeds, grass, just about anything, in a fraction of the time that it would take with your bare hands.

Green Tip:
Roses have a reputation for being garden plants that you have to spray for fungus, like blackspot. One of the things you may want to consider is using sulphur, a naturally occurring element, that happens to have fungicide-suppressing properties. So, in April after you’ve removed the winter protection, pruned your roses back and done your spring cleanup, consider applying a half cup of sulphur on the ground under the drip line to reduce blackspot. Then you can put your mulch over the top of the sulphur. That, along with watering your roses from below, rather than over the top, should make a big difference in the amount of blackspot your roses experience during the growing season.

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Garden art at Toledo Museum of Art, tax tips and gardening workshop: AM Links …

H23AMLINKARTMARCH.JPGView full sizeSondra Freckleton’s Begonia with Quilt is part of an exhibit on garden-inspired art, now on view now at the Toledo Museum of Art.
GARDEN-THEMED EXHIBIT:  A new exhibition that focuses on how people interact with nature, landscape and garden design is now on view at the Toledo Museum of Art, and is sure to delight art and garden lovers.

Assembled entirely from the Museum’s own collection, “Paper Roses: Garden-Inspired Works on Paper” presents 100 prints, drawings and photographs by some of the most acclaimed European and American artists. The works date from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

The free exhibition continues through Sunday, May 18. “Paper Roses” is an exhibit that complements the Toledo Museum of Art’s major international exhibition “The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden.”

The Tuileries Garden, which stretches from the Louvre to the Place de la Concorde in central Paris, was created in 1564 for French royalty. Today it attracts 10 million visitors annually and is a key venue for art. “The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden” is now on view.

If you can’t see the exhibition in person, you can view the online catalog for “Paper Roses” at

TAX TIPS: If you’re preparing your taxes and wondering if you can get a tax break for home improvement expenses, the answer is maybe. First, you must have kept track of all home improvement expenses. Some improvements, such as installing central air conditioning, may help reduce taxes when you sell your house, according to TurboTax.

Click on the IRS website for more information. Some home appliances that are Energy Star Rated may qualify you for a tax deduction. See a list of qualifying appliances here, suggests the Huffington Post.

GARDENING WORKSHOP: The Master Gardeners of Cuyahoga County, a part of Ohio State
University Extension, will present the “From Garden to Table” seminar  9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 26 at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Happy Days Lodge,
500 W Streetsboro Road, Peninsula. The program fee is $36 ($42 after Wednesday, April 16)
and includes breakfast, lunch and handdouts. 

Presentation topics include pest management, growing strawberries, making wine, favorite tomato varieties and dmore.

A registration form is available
at the Master Gardeners of Cuyahoga County website.

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The garden city movement: from Ebenezer to Ebbsfleet

Tory policies often come from unlikely places, but when George Osborne unveiled his grand plan for a “proper garden city” at Ebbsfleet in Kent, did he realise he was backing a socialist movement for collective land reform?

“Garden city” may have become a byword for the cosy middle England ideal of privet hedges and twitching net curtains, but it began as a radical campaign for co-operative development, set out by parliamentary stenographer Ebenezer Howard in the 1890s. In reaction to the overcrowding and industrial pollution of growing Victorian cities, Howard launched his vision for a series of ideal towns, contained by rolling green belts, that would separate housing from industry and combine the best of the city and the countryside.

“Human society and the beauty of nature are meant to be enjoyed together,” he wrote in Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform, in 1898. “Town and Country must be married, and out of this joyous union will spring a new hope, a new life, a new civilization.”

Planned on a concentric model, these garden cities would set the primary civic functions in a central park, ringed by a great glass shopping arcade, beyond which would lie halos of housing and schools, encircled by a peripheral necklace of factories and services. But fundamental to the plan was that the value would be retained in the community: every citizen was to be a shareholder, with the “unearned increment” ploughed back into civic facilities, rather than to absent landlords or speculative investors. Blue- and white-collar workers would live side by side in pastoral harmony.

Letchworth and Welwyn, the first garden cities planned in the 1910s and 1920s, stand as a testament to his thinking, although both have struggled to remain affordable, their low-density planning and fine arts and crafts houses making them hugely desirable. Welwyn’s proximity to London meant it would always be more commuter dormitory town than self-sustaining city.

Affluent garden suburbs and postwar new towns would be the garden city legacy of the following decades, both of which departed from Howard’s original conception of community-led planning. So how can his model be useful today?

“The principles of collective land ownership, long-term stewardship and land value capture for the benefit of the community couldn’t be more relevant now,” said Katy Lock of the Town and Country Planning Association, which was originally founded in 1899 as Howard’s Garden City Association. “But it requires strong political leadership. Development in this country is led by short-term local politics and dominated by volume house-builders, whereas garden cities don’t begin to pay back until 20 or 30 years later.”

Fifteen thousand homes at Ebbsfleet may sound like Osborne’s Letchworth, but there have been plans for such a development since 1996, again in 2007 and most recently 2012, yet only 150 homes have been built. “Opportunities to capture the land value for the community are much more difficult when the project is underway, with a private developer on board,” said Lock. “Is it really possible to make Ebbsfleet a garden city when it’s this far down the line?”

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Furniture Library Debuts Plaxico Gardens

Article Summary:
Bienenstock Furniture Library Gardens to debut during High Pont show.

The Bienenstock Furniture Library will officially unveil The Pat Plaxico Gardens during the April 2014 High Point Market. Show visitors are encouraged to check out the Library, enjoy the gardens, its interior spaces and resources.

Named in honor of designer Pat Plaxico, whose distinguished service to the furnishings community has earned her a reputation for excellence, the gardens are a place where anyone with an interest in furniture and design, can find inspiration. “The sculptures, landscaping and additional parking, made possible by donations from friends of the Library,” explains current Library Board President, Russell Bienenstock, “unify its interior and exterior spaces, making the new campus ideally suited for hosting furniture industry groups and events.

The garden project is just the latest facilities update undertaken by the Library. It’s book collection was recently re-cataloged and the entire Interior re-designed. A new conference room available for meetings, seminars, lectures, and events was added, and the building expanded to improve access, and accessability.

For those who have not visited before, BBFL is one of the most interesting specialty libraries in America. It is located on North Main Street in High Point, just a mile North of the Market’s center. Open all year, it is used by furniture designers, interior designers, students, manufacturers, industry suppliers and retailers.

The collection of more than 5,000 books and periodicals include significant volumes on design, furniture, interiors, architecture, textiles, finishes, and construction published since 1640. Rare books such as original works by the 18th century furniture masters Chippendale, Sheraton and Hepplewhite, plus hundreds of others can be viewed in a temperature and humidity controlled rare book room.
“The garden includes several outdoor spaces which lend themselves to meeting areas, notes Pat Plaxico. “Paired with the spaces available inside the library, there are opportunities to have lectures, retreats and seminar space for groups up to 25. It is very heartwarming that so many folks have contributed to the gardens. It has literally been a ‘grass roots’ effort. I really love all the pieces of sculpture which add to the fun and playful nature of the gardens. The gardens are a little gem of solitude on a busy city street.”

Charles Sutton, past Board President adds, “The labels of icon, legend, Renaissance woman and creative genius all do apply to Pat for her contributions to our industry, the Furniture Library, her profession, the community and state. But what I have always admired about Pat is that she is a ‘get it done worker’. If she is on board with a project, she is always a 100% contributor; giving her thoughts and time pro bono to the effort”.

In the near future the Library intends to add a scholarship for Landscape Architecture and Garden Design to complement the existing design competition scholarships for Interior and Furniture Design. Also on the drawing board are the addition of a high tech space for collaboration, and the launch of the “Speaking Volumes” design seminar series.

About Pat Plaxico: Plaxico is a nationally recognized interior designer renowned for the reuse of historic buildings — adapting old structures for new purposes. Her portfolio includes Historic Market Square, the EJ Victor building, the Phillips Building (now High Point Convention and Visitors Bureau) and the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library. She’s been a member of the Furniture Library board for 38 years.

About the Library: The Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library is a worldwide center for research, design and collaboration, which holds the world’s largest collection of rare and significant books on the history, and design of furniture. Founded in 1970 by Furniture World and the Bienenstock family, the Library is devoted to the advancement of knowledge about design, furniture, interiors, architecture, textiles, finishes, and construction.

For more information visit http://

Furniture World is the oldest, continuously published trade publication in the United States. It is published for the benefit of furniture retail executives. Print circulation of 20,000 is directed primarily to furniture retailers in the US and Canada.  In 1970, the magazine established and endowed the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library ( in High Point, NC, now a public foundation containing more than 5,000 books on furniture and design dating from 1620. For more information contact

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Rachel Mellon, Heiress Known for Garden Designs, Is Dead at 103

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Greeley Tribune Home & Garden Show underway

The Greeley Tribune Home Garden Show kicked off Friday with close to 200 vendors and a big crowd before the doors even opened at the Island Grove Events Center and Exhibition Hall in Greeley.

Sharon and Frank Fronek of Greeley have attended the show for more than 20 years and say they always look forward to it.

“This is fabulous,” said Sharon. “A few years back this is where I found where to buy my new windows and this year we are looking for upgrade ideas for our bathroom and kitchen.”

It might be hard to attend the show and not find what you are looking for when it comes to gardening and home improvement.

Furthermore, you can be surprised to find products you didn’t even know existed, like 4×4 side by side ATVs powered by electricity or fuel.

While the focus is on home decor and gardening, the show features everything from health checks to weight loss products, pet products, and more.

The Greeley MOMS connection group, which uploads weekly blogs for the Greeley Tribune, was there Friday to show support for the community.

“We are here to let mothers and fathers — mainly the younger ones — know the different resources available in Greeley. We at times can even entertain them and in a sense show them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said John Daly, one of the seven blog writers in the group.

Admission and parking are free. The nice weather Friday made it more enjoyable for those who had to park far away because of the crowd.

Landscaping companies take advantage of the large turnout the event is known for to build relationships with potential customers and close business with one or two.

“This show sets our whole work year schedule and gives us good recognition,” said Jeff Fisher, estimator and designer for Fisher Landscaping, Inc.

He said Fisher Landscaping, Inc., is a local family owned and operated business that has been part of the show for 22 years.

This year they exhibit a 60-by-50 foot area in the Event Center that features an outdoor living space that took three and a half days to construct.

If they were building it in a backyard, Fisher said, it would take them two to three weeks.

With inlaid bricks, natural flowers, stones, grass, and water features, the exhibit creates the feel of an outdoor backyard ready for a barbecue or a garden wedding.

For vendors, the show is all about reaching out to attendees and promoting the best features of their businesses. For attendees, its a time to explore the gardening and home market as well as to prepare for the warm seasons to come.

Bryan Reynolds of Greeley said he has been coming to the event since it began 31 years ago.

“We love to come here,” he said. “It’s a time to see the new products and meet with whoever is out and about — we always find friends here.”

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Water conservation on the table for Merced – Merced Sun

The Merced City Council will hear several options today for saving water. Some of them would be recommendations and some of them would be mandates.

A study session with a focus on water conservation is planned at 6 p.m., just before the regular meeting of the council at the Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St.

The city has had some water conservation measures in place since 1992, including a watering schedule that allows sprinkler use three nights a week and only from 7 p.m. to 11 a.m. There is also an ordinance that prohibits using broken sprinklers.

Leah Brown, the city’s water conservation specialist, said the city has taken a mostly educational approach and rarely writes citations for violations. The citations range from $50 to $150.

“We want to encourage people to be as conservative as we can,” Brown said. “We have a stable supply, but our aquifers are still dropping.”

Brown will be involved in the presentation to the council, which is looking at ways to reduce water use. “We don’t live in a bubble. We’re still part of California and need to be very cautious about our usage,” she said.

Gov. Jerry Brown has called for a statewide reduction of 20 percent by all water users. He made the announcement when he declared a drought in January.

If the council decided to implement a greater effort to conserve, it wouldn’t be alone. Leaders in Livingston and Atwater have adopted efforts to do so this year.

Some ideas being floated in Merced include shrinking the watering window with the cutoff two hours earlier, or 9 a.m., and reducing the number of watering days, particularly in summer. That could lessen the amount of water wasted through evaporation.

Another idea is to require carwash fund-raisers to take place where the water can be captured, such as on grass, instead of running into gutters.

Proposals include incentives, such as a “cash for grass” program in which the city would give a rebate to residents who replace their lawns with approved landscaping that needs less watering.

Other incentive programs could include rebates for installing water metering or low-flow toilets or washers.

Of those who use the city’s aquifer, UC Merced is the “biggest customer,” according to Director of Water Resources Michael Wegley. The university announced this week it has cut water use by 43 percent since 2007 with low-flow devices and limited watering, among other practices.

On the council’s regular agenda is a request to pay $62,865 in closing costs and a 3 percent real estate commission for the sale of the former Pepsi bottling plant. The money will come from the proceeds of the land sale, according to a city press release, and not general fund money.

Turlock-based Sun Valley Nut, LLC bought the West Avenue plant for $1.14 million. The almond processor plans to employ 75 people in the 134,304-square-foot facility.

City Council meetings are shown live through an Internet link at, and are broadcast on Comcast Channel 96.

Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or

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