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Archives for March 31, 2014

Spring fever in full effect at Perani Arena’s Home and Garden Show

FLINT, MI — More than 1,000 people hopeful for the arrival of spring showed up March 29-30 for the annual Home and Garden Show at Perani Arena.

“We’re anxious for spring. We’re here to get some ideas for our garden, outdoor gardening,” said Terry Mortier, of Grand Blanc, looking over items Sunday. “Just getting ideas of pond stone and new plants to put outside. It’s nice that it’s in one place and you can get a lot of information quickly so that you can figure out what you want to do.”

Perani Arena and Event Center now runs the show in-house after it was previously led by Chuck Lambert for more than 70 years and by the Building Industry Association of Southeastern Michigan from 2010-2011.

“It is a long-running show and a pretty successful event. We’re
trying to re-grow the show as far as the number of vendors and how many people
come to the show,” said Jeremy Torrey, director of operations for Perani. “So we’ve had some success over the last couple of years
re-building the show.”

In chatting with some of the show’s more than 60 vendors in attendance, Torrey said, “I’ve heard from a lot of our vendors that business is
starting to pick up a little bit so that’s a good sign and hopefully they’ll
have a big spring and summer season.”

With the economy improving, people are definitely starting to
put money into their homes again, said Justin Salzano, a
salesman at DW Windows Sunrooms in Davison Township. He noted sunrooms and acrylic bath
wraps are popular this year. 

“This show is probably one of our best shows that
we do as far as home and garden shows. This is our target market right here. It’s
nice because people are coming directly to you basically,” said Salzano. “There are no real
sales-y things that have to happen because they’re coming to you for the home
and garden show. So you know they’re truly interested and you’re not wasting
your time. It’s an easy market for us as far as that goes.”

Brand recognition and networking were the main goals for the
vendors in attendance. 

 “We’re just
trying to get out and meet people from the community and get brand awareness.
We will come (every year) from now on,” said Wayne Lake, general manager of Two Men and a Truck. “We’ve had quite a few people that were
interested in moving and they’ve had questions that we were able to answer. Put
a face with the name, you know. There’s definitely a lot of local moving still.” 

Vendors providing a variety of services including security
systems, pool sales and maintenance, windows, dish network, water purifying
services, moving companies, outdoor landscaping and many more attended the
event that serves as a launching point for their sales season.

“They get started on business
for the year here. It’s always proven to be successful for them. They always get
a lot of business out of the show,” Torrey said. “The main reason that we decided to do the
show is because, in our view, it’s important to the economy here and it’s important
to our local vendors. And if we can help them generate business and improve the
economy here, then we want to do that.”

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Winter weather shrinks season for North Jersey garden centers

* Local stores altering their focus after winter shortens their business season

The business season for North Jersey garden centers typically begins in the middle of March, but local store owners say this winter’s relentless assault of below-normal temperatures and above-average snowfall has forced homeowners and companies to delay overhauling landscapes and buying lawn upkeep products such as mulch and topsoil.

A slow start to the season can badly damage their business, especially when they are faced with stiff competition from larger retailers like The Home Depot and Lowe’s, they said.

“I haven’t gotten any of the normal calls for pansies or things like that,” said Norman Frederick, a co-owner of Rock Ledge Garden Center in Wayne. “I’m glad firewood makes up 30 percent of my business now, because no one is calling. The ground is still frozen, so people couldn’t start planting.”

The increased competition in the past few years and the compressed season this year have forced North Jersey garden center owners to think of new ways to appeal to customers — including specializing in niche aspects of garden work or selling uncommon trees and shrubs.

Denny Wiggers, owner of Denny Wiggers Landscaping and Garden Center in Paramus, said that after seeing competition from larger retailers, and mismanagement of other locally owned garden centers, he decided to focus on becoming known for high-end stonework — such as retaining walls, patios or lawn furniture cut out from large slabs of stone. The stonework can be done in colder temperatures than most of the landscape design and maintenance. Wiggers said the stonework helps propel sales in other areas of the business, such as lawn maintenance.

The key to becoming a leader in stonework is being willing to take risks, Wiggers said. He visits Mexico yearly and will visit China in October to find new ideas to incorporate into the projects he does for corporate clients, he said.

After revamping his store’s online presence with examples of his stonework, Wiggers said, he has worked with pop singer Lady Gaga and radio personality Don Imus, and he is designing a large stone pizza oven sculpture for pizza retailer Papa Razzi’s renovated store in Short Hills.

Wiggers said that without his online presence, which he updates during the day, he would not have been able to show his work. Any business not embracing the Internet won’t succeed, he said.

“I try to make my stonework be one-of-a-kind, and there is a real market for customers looking for that kind of work,” he said. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money to be creative.”

Wiggers said his stonework now accounts for about half of his yearly business. His store also sells rare or unusual ferns, provides fencing, and sods Manhattan rooftops for weddings and other large events.

Cristina Alves, a co-owner of Mayberry’s Nursery Garden Center in Woodcliff Lake, said her store works mostly with residential clients and has more than $1 million in annual sales To be competitive, she said, she focuses on ordering high-quality ferns and trees from Oregon, Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania that can be used as part of the store’s landscaping design and construction business.

“A lot of our clients are people who move from Manhattan and have no idea what it takes to maintain a yard,” Alves said. “But they still want a high level of quality with the work they get. The customers we typically get orders from aren’t looking for the cheapest work; they want the highest quality work they can get.”

Alves said Mayberry’s projects range in cost from $1,000 to more than $200,000, depending on the expansiveness of the design and plants used in it. She said customers typically look for large evergreen plants or ornamental plants that are different from what can be bought at a large retailer.

Despite the compressed business season this year, Alves said she expects a boom in business once the weather finally gets warmer. “Sure the weather has delayed everything this year,” she said. “People don’t think of spring until they can step outside and actually feel it. But that’s the way it is for garden centers.”

Email: Twitter: @AndrewWyrich

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Lawn and Garden Show sows dreams of green

As the weather finally warms up, homeowners are eager to plan their outdoor projects.

First-time homeowner Erik Nelson, 28, of Brandon walked booth to booth Sunday at the Sioux Falls Lawn and Garden Show at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds, asking every question he could think of.

With spring on its way, he and his wife want to put their own stamp on their new home.

The plan: Plant a few fruitless crabapple trees and maybe even a red oak tree in the yard and build a fence around it.

Nelson said he plans to take all the information he gathered home to his wife, discuss it with her, then get to work.

“We want to put our own footprint on the house and someplace we can hopefully start a family,” he said.

The Lawn and Garden Show featured landscaping and garden displays, seminars, presentations, demonstrations and hands-on activities to help homeowners get ready for spring and summer. About 100 vendors were set up.

The Minnehaha Master Gardeners put on the seminars and workshops.

Thousands learned how to garden in a bale of hay, design a creative garden or dehydrate foods, and about bees and butterflies — and pests, too. Experts answered questions on the best lawn management practices.

“This is a great place to come, they have so many ideas,” event coordinator Tawy Kaup said. “If you’re a new couple, it’s fun to come get your scrub ideas, your stepping stone and kind of create your own retreat right in your backyard.”

Sioux Falls couple Justin and Emily Gislason, too, decided it was time to spice up their home. So for the first time, they went to the lawn and garden show.

Talks ranged from expanding their deck area to landscaping, and what seemed most important — a flag.

“We’re seeing what kinds of ideas are out there. Seems like there’s always a new way get something done,” Justin Gislason said.

Before leaving, the couple added two new lawn ornaments to their collection: a giant frog and a small turtle.

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Rain gardens coming to Ajax waterfront

Ajax News Advertiser

AJAX — Three rain gardens along the waterfront will filter runoff water before it’s recharged into the ground.

The gardens are going to be installed in the fall, with one of the gardens at the foot of Anstead Crescent between a walking trail and Lake Driveway West. The other two will be on either side of the same trail next to a parking lot at the foot of Clover Ridge Drive West.

Chris Denich, a consultant with Aquafor Beech Ltd., told Ajax council’s general government committee that the gardens will improve water quality and add beauty to the waterfront.

“It’s a planted garden, much like a garden you would plant,” Mr. Denich said. “They’re highly engineered.”

As the water filters through the gardens, phosphorous in rain water will be removed, he noted.

Other benefits of water going through the gardens is it will be cooled, cleaned and infiltrate the runoff, he added.

Sean James, president of Fern Ridge Landscaping and Eco-Consulting, said different species and textures will be throughout the gardens, adding no trees will be planted near them.

“We’ll focus on perennials and shrubbery. There are no trees to maintain,” Mr. Denich said.

By not planting trees, the sightlines from the street to the lake will be maintained, he added.

“There will even be roses in the gardens. They will be beautiful all the time,” Mr. James said. “Everyone should have a reason to love the gardens. They’ll be filled with birds and butterflies.”

Mr. James said the gardens will bloom from mid-April to October.

“There will be spectacular blooms all summer.”
 Kevin Tryon, manager of engineering, development services for Ajax, said the designs are about three-quarters complete.

“A very specific skill set is needed to install these,” Mr. Tryon added.

Each garden is about one-metre deep, with materials that will filter out pollutants, and a channel for the water to flow to the gardens.

The tender contract will be awarded in June or July, with the work slated to be done in the fall, Mr. Tryon said.

The gardens are set back from the road, so snow clearing won’t affect them, Mr. Denich said.

“We have the ability to close the facilities in the winter for salt issues,” he added.

There’s a small gate that will prevent melting snow, with salt, from getting in the gardens, Mr. Denich noted.

The gardens will cost about $375,000 to install.

As gardening season nears, it’s time to … meet the new plants

Revived Impatiens

Downy mildew has claimed many an impatiens plant in the Fort Wayne area, as well as around the nation, in the last couple of years. Last year, some garden centers didn’t sell impatiens, although others did.

This year, expect to see more sun-tolerant species and new varieties billed as less susceptible to mildew.

Home Depot, for example, will have Viva! SunPatiens in its garden centers this year, according to its website. A hybrid of New Guinea impatiens and wild impatiens, these plants, while not a substitute for impatiens that grow in full shade, will do well in full sun and part shade and tolerate heat.

Your impatiens eye will likely be caught by new Patchwork hybrids with large, tri-color blooms, says Galbraith. Look for Cosmic Burgundy, with 2-inch flowers in deep red with white-starred centers tipped in pinkish purple, and Cosmic Orange, with orange flowers with violet-and-white starred centers.

The hybrids still have susceptibility to mildew, according to the breeder, but Galbraith says he’s never had a problem.

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City Corner: Springtime for cleaning out and cleaning up

How often can I have a garage sale in Victoria?

City residents can have one garage sale every six months at the same location. A $10 garage sale permit is required to have a garage sale and is available from the city secretary office located at City Hall, 108 W. Juan Linn St.

Garage sale permits can also be purchased online at by clicking on the “city secretary” link on the left column of the home page. There is an extra $3 convenience fee for purchasing the permit online.

You can also search for permitted garage sales in Victoria from this link. Call the city secretary office at 361-485-3040 for more information.

Is compost from the City Garden-Ville Compost Facility available for sale?

Yes, compost from the composting facility is for sale and is perfect for planting spring flower beds and gardens. The compost can be purchased by the bag or the truckload.

Composting offers a natural method to reduce the amount of yard waste placed in the landfill and to recycle yard waste into organic, environmentally friendly nutrients for gardens and flower beds. In Victoria, about 40 percent of trash during the spring and fall is comprised of yard waste.

The Garden-Ville Composting Facility opened in spring 2008 to help reduce the amount of yard waste going into the landfill. The facility recycles yard waste, such as trees, trimmings, leaves, grass, clippings and brush into compost, which is valuable for gardening and landscaping. The facility produces and sells the organic compost, mulch and other gardening products that are free of all chemicals that we do not want in our storm drains.

The facility is located at 18125 Farm-to-Market Road 1686, just off state Highway 185. For more information, call 361-897-1500.

What are the most common city code violations? Are most code violations reported by inspectors or the public?

Our most common code violations are probably what residents might expect. The first is tall grass and weeds more than 12 inches tall. We get a lot of these violations after heavy rains and during the spring and fall. Junk vehicle violations are also very common.

These are inoperable vehicles with expired registration or inspection stickers and are wrecked, dismantled or partially dismantled. Trash and debris violations are more common than one might expect. Homeowners and tenants are responsible for keeping the area between the street and house free of junk, brush, trash and debris.

This includes the storage of any furniture not intended for outdoor use and appliances, tires or similar items. Most code enforcement violations are reported by neighbors and residents either on the city website at, via email at or by calling 361-485-3330. The email should include the address of the property in question and a brief description of the concern or type of violation.

Once the complaint is reported, code enforcement officers will resolve the issue. Individuals making complaints can request a status update by calling the Code Enforcement Office at 361-485-3330.

Do you have a question about the city of Victoria? Please submit your questions and comments about any city department to Jennifer Sourdellia in the Communications/Public Information Office by emailing or mail to P.O. Box 1758, Victoria, TX 77902.

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