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Archives for April 3, 2014

Rogers Park Participatory Budgeting Ideas Include a North-South Greenway

sidewalk repairs

Discussing proposals at a 49th Ward participatory budgeting meeting in 2011. Photo by John Greenfield.

Chicago aldermen traditionally use their $1.3 million in discretionary “menu” money for basic street, sidewalk and lighting improvements. However, this year a handful of wards are holding participatory budgeting elections. These often result in money being set aside for innovative transportation projects, and walking and biking infrastructure is a relative bargain. 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore, who five years ago became the first U.S. elected official to pioneer the participatory budgeting process, is once again holding a PB election, and a few walking, biking, and transit projects may be on the ballot.

The ward has hosted two community events so far, where residents have had the opportunity to discuss proposed projects. The final meeting takes place this evening at 7 p.m. at St. Paul’s Church by the Lake, 7100 North Ashland. PB committee members will draw upon feedback from constituents to narrow down the candidates to a final ballot, according to Moore’s aid Bob Fuller. Early voting will take place from April 26 to May 2, with the final election happening on May 3. “We’ve been doing this for five years now, and by all accounts things are going smoothly this year,” Fuller said. “But it’s certainly a challenge finding consensus in a neighborhood of 56,000 people.”

The ballot will have a section where residents vote on what percentage of menu money should be spent on street and alley repaving, sidewalk repair and streetlights, from zero to 100 percent. The results are averaged – last year it was 62 percent – and the remainder of the money is awarded to nontraditional projects, according to how many votes they garnered.

The winning proposals in 2013 included funding a $30,000 pedestrian safety engineering study on hectic Sheridan Road, exploring whether bumpouts, signal timing improvements and other strategies could make the street more walkable. Voters also opted to spend $75,000 to install bike-and-chevron shared lane markings on Clark from Albion to Howard. Other proposals that won funding the restoration of cobblestones on Glenwood, and cherry blossom trees and a new water fountain at Touhy Park.

None of the above projects have been finished yet. “It definitely takes more than a year for some things to get done,” Fuller said. The traffic safety study and sharrows are pending the completion of gas line work on Sheridan and Clark.

Red Line Loyola Station post construction

A graphic design was applied to the Loyola and Sheridan intersection by the Loyala campus. Photo: Justin Haugens.

The most exciting proposal for the upcoming ballot is a north-south neighborhood greenway leading from Edgewater to Evanston, which could be similar to the Berteau Greenway in the 47th Ward. The Chicago Department of Transportation is currently putting together a design for the Rogers Park route, which would likely include stretches of Glenwood, Greenview and Ashland, Fuller said. Other transportation proposals include new bus stop benches and high-visibility, decorative intersection treatments. A couple of these were recently installed in the ward, by the Loyola campus.

The ballot may also include proposals for new carpet at the Rogers Park library, improved fencing at local pocket parks, a small Astroturf soccer field at Langdon Park, and a wheelchair-and-stroller-accessible beach path at Hartigan Park. This brand-new park will be built this spring on the lakefront at Albion, on land that’s currently a city-owned vacant lot. Fuller says it will be a quiet park space with seating, landscaping, a short walking path, and possibly a drinking fountain.

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Candidates for Fort Monroe landscape architect firm take bicycle tour

HAMPTON — With a master plan in place, Fort Monroe officials are looking for a landscape architect firm with experience creating public trails, who can create programs for green areas and who have worked on other National Park Service sites.

Experience riding a bicycle isn’t required, but it’s recommended.

Fort Monroe officials gave prospective bidders a 90-minute bike tour of the 565-acre property Wednesday afternoon. The Fort Monroe Authority is seeking landscape architects to take the property’s master plan and create programs and activities within existing spaces on under-utilized sites.

Keith Oliver, a principal at Norfolk-based InSites Landscape Architecture, said he visited Fort Monroe as a child, but never had the opportunity to ride around the property on a bicycle.

He was among the 31 prospective bidders for the project to sign in at the gathering.

“It really is a ground-breaking project to work on,” Oliver said. “I don’t know of anything like it around here.”

Fort Monroe Authority Executive Director Glenn Oder said the winning firm must be within a day’s drive of the property, which excluded Sasaki Associates, the Boston-based company that created the fort’s master plan.

“This is going to be an interactive relationship with the Fort Monroe staff,” Oder said. “The further away you are, the more challenging it becomes.”

The entrance is one of the sites authority officials believe is vital to create an impression on residents and visitors.

“The entrance is a big deal to us,” Oder said. “We want to create a real sense of arrival at this historic property.”

The authority is also asking bidders to generate ideas involving the proposed 7-mile trail, living shoreline along Mill Creek and the boardwalk along the beach.

The winning firm will negotiate a contract with the authority.

“Hopefully we were able to express what’s important to us today,” Oder told attendees. “We’re looking for you to give us qualifications that shows you can do this with us.”

Brauchle can be reached by phone at 757-247-2827.

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Native plants a wise landscaping option – Springfield News

When it comes to attractive plants on lawns and in flower gardens, beauty doesn’t have to be imported from elsewhere. Native varieties work well, too.

Many of the grasses and flowers that adorn our yards are exotic species — plants that were brought here from other parts of the world. Maintaining the beauty of these plants is often a high-maintenance job. Many exotic species require high amounts of water, fertilizer, pesticides or some other type of labor-intensive chore that takes more of your time — and money — than you originally intended.

An increasing number of people are realizing that native plants can be just as beautiful to look at and a lot less trouble to grow.

Native plants are a good choice for landscaping whether you have a small plot in the city or large acreage in the country.

Increasing environmental awareness, a desire to connect with nature on a personal level and limited time to devote to home landscape and land management projects are reasons to turn to natural landscaping alternatives.

The plants and patterns that occur naturally in our prairies, forests, savannas, wetlands and glades can give us good landscaping ideas.

There are many benefits associated with a well-planned, diverse native landscape. One of these is wildlife attraction. The songbirds, butterflies, small reptiles and mammals that you go to parks and other publicly owned facilities to see can often be enticed to your backyard with the proper plantings.

These plants provide food, nesting and other habitat essentials required by these animals. Those instinctual needs will draw a variety of wildlife to specific plants whether they’re growing at a nature center or in your backyard.

As mentioned above, native plants usually require much less care than exotics. The reason for this is simple: Millions of years of evolution have adapted these plants to the conditions found here.

Exotic plants have few of these inherent adaptations and, as a result, can often only be sustained through extensive “life-support” procedures such as heavy watering, fertilization or pest-control applications.

Native plants come in many shapes, colors and forms. Those interested in growing indigenous plants have a wide variety of flowers, shrubs, grasses, small and large trees from which to choose.

The best natural landscaping plan is one that involves a mixture of plant types, but space can be a limiting factor and, if it is, that’s still all right. Native plants can work for you whether you have 10 acres on the edge of town or a single flower bed alongside your driveway.

Some people shy away from native landscaping techniques because they think a native-plant landscape will have a rougher, “woollier” appearance than the well-manicured flower beds to which they’re accustomed.

That’s not necessarily a fair criticism because you still control the neatness of your plantings. Just because you have native plants doesn’t mean that you can’t mow, trim, edge and do all of the other aesthetic maintenance procedures that are done with exotic plantings.

People can learn more about native plants and their landscaping benefits on Saturday at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Naturescaping Symposium and native plant sale at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center.

No registration is required for this event, which is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Grow Native program, which is supported by the Missouri Department of Conservation and public and private organizations, also contains excellent information about how native plants can fit into your backyard design schemes.

More information about the program can be found at your nearest Department of Conservation office or on the Grow Native website,

Francis Skalicky is media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Southwest Region. For more information about conservation issues, call 417-895-6880.

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Galway landscaping company honoured at horticulture awards

Pictured from left: Aidan Cotter, CEO, Bord Bia; Brian Whyte, Radharc Landscaping; and Mike Neary, horticulture director, Bord Bia.

Pictured from left: Aidan Cotter, CEO, Bord Bia; Brian Whyte, Radharc Landscaping; and Mike Neary, horticulture director, Bord Bia.

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Loving Trees, Even the Messy Ones

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Health tips for gardening

Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 12:00 am

Updated: 12:20 am, Wed Apr 2, 2014.

Health tips for gardening

Dr. Wendy/Hayden Health

The Coeur d’ Alene Press


As the weather warms up, many people will spend more time outside working in the yard. Gardening can provide a great workout, but with all the bending, twisting, reaching and pulling, your body may not be ready for it.

A warm-up and cool-down period is as important in gardening as it is for any other physical activity. It is important to stretch your muscles to help alleviate injuries, pain and stiffness.

Before stretching, here are a few tips to keep in mind. Breathe in and out slowly throughout each stretching exercise. Stretch gently and smoothly with no bouncing or jerking. Try the following stretches for the back, legs and shoulders:

1. Stand up and prop your heel on a step or stool with your knee slightly bent. Bend forward until you feel a slight pull at the back of the thigh (hamstring). Hold the position for 20 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.

2. Stand up and put your right hand against a wall or other stable surface. Bend your left knee and grab your ankle with your left hand. Pull your heel toward your buttocks to stretch the front of your thigh (quadriceps). Hold the position for 20 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.

3. Weave your fingers together above your head with your palms up. Lean to one side for 10 seconds to stretch the side of your upper body, then reverse. Repeat two or three times.

4. Hug yourself. Wrap your arms around yourself after letting your breath out, and rotate to one side as far as you can go. Hold it for 10 seconds. Then reverse. Repeat two or three times.

Be aware of your body technique, form, and posture while gardening. When working in the yard, avoid twisting motions. Bend at the knees, not the waist, as you pick things up. While raking leaves, use a scissor stance: right foot forward and left foot back for a few minutes; then reverse. Alternate your stance and movements frequently.

If you have already hurt yourself, apply a cold pack on the area of pain, and see your chiropractor!

For more information, contact Dr. Wendy at

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014 12:00 am.

Updated: 12:20 am.

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April is here – spring gardening tips

For those who enjoy working in the lawn and flower gardens, the vacation is over. Our long, hard winter is over! It’s now time to get up and get busy; start doing some planning: Are you planning a landscape renovation? Rebuilding some beds? Planting new annuals in the flower gardens? Resodding? Fertlizing?

ANNUAL FLOWERING PLANTS: Although it may be tempting to go for the “bargain,” those truck loads of cool-weather annuals that are now marked down may not be such a good purchase. Their season is nearing the end. These annuals, such as certain varieties of petunias, probably won’t bloom through the heat this summer. Now would be a good time to start watching for warm-season, heat tolerant plant material.

LAWNS: We fertilize to make the turf grass grow; then we mow it make it short. It’s a vicious cycle. Mowing becomes a more frequent job this month, though perhaps not as often as will be necessary in another few weeks. See that your mower blade is sharp, and raise the blade so that no more than 1/3 of the turf grass is removed. For St. Augustine lawns, we set our blades at 3”.

FERTILIZING: Plants are living organisms, and therefore require food and water in order to thrive and grow. Feed now, if you have not already done so. We recommend using a broadcast spreader. Applying by hand or with a drop-spreader may not provide an even and uniform application. Shrubs can be fed with a balanced, slow-release granular fertilizer.

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Gardening tips for tots dirt simple

Xanthe White helps Evangeline Clarke (3) plant a broad bean in a recycled plastic bottle during a gardening workshop at Helen Deem Kindergarten in St Clair, Dunedin. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.

There was dirt in places that there probably should not
have been at Helen Deem Kindergarten yesterday.

It was all over the St Clair-based kindy’s floor, in
children’s pockets, even in one pre-schooler’s ears.

The children were putting potting mix into recycled fizzy
bottles and planting broad beans, as part of a gardening
workshop with television personality and award-winning
landscape designer Xanthe White.

Anytime there was dirt involved, children would play with it,
she said.

The workshop was part of the Daltons Sunflowers in Kindys
project which gave youngsters the opportunity to plant their
own seeds, take care of them and learn about how plants grow.

Ms White said the main aim of the workshop was not only to
show children how plants grew, but to make sure they
understood the pleasures of gardening.

”There’s a whole world underneath the top layer of ground.

”It’s magical watching these brown seeds grow roots and then
sprout out of the ground.”

Ms White hoped the project would help grow a whole new
generation of gardeners in New Zealand.

”So many kids these days think vegetables are made at the

”This lets them see it for themselves.”

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Gardening is child’s play

PA Photo/RHS.

As National Gardening Week approaches and the Easter school holidays arrive, Hannah Stephenson looks at how to get your children interested in gardening.

If the weather is fine this Easter, (and it’s beginning to look like it might be), many parents will be wanting to sort out their gardens – and hopefully encouraging their children to give them a hand along the way.

Certainly, with National Gardening Week (April 14-20) on its way too – a scheme launched three years ago by the RHS to celebrate gardening with nationwide events – there really is no excuse not to get your little ones outdoors.

Andrea Fowler, horticultural educator at RHS Garden Wisley, points out that attracting wildlife, seed-sowing and vegetable-growing are all sources of inspiration to young gardeners.

“Spring is definitely here so we can be seed-sowing and planting in earnest. If you just want to get the children outside do an Easter egg hunt in the garden – there are also Easter holiday activities at all four RHS gardens over the holidays.

“If you’re sowing seeds with children, sow something that’s going to spark their imagination. Plant flower seeds which children will be excited about, like calendula – there’s a calendula called ‘Porcupine’ which is an extra spiky pot marigold. There’s also cornflower ‘Blue Boy’ and sunflowers, which everyone loves.

“Nasturtiums are fantastic and make great container plants so you don’t need to have a huge garden, you can just grow them in a window box. Herbs are also great.

“If you’re growing veg with children, have a go with ‘Pink Fir Apple’ potatoes (a maincrop variety with knobbly pink skinned tubers of butter yellow, waxy flesh) or purple potatoes, purple beans and yellow tomatoes, which will get them interested.”

Attracting wildlife into the garden will also engage the children, so help them build a mini-beast hotel (although autumn can be a better time to do this when wildlife is looking to hibernate).

A simple bug hotel can be made from a collection of hollow stems packed into a plastic bottle with the end cut off. Several hotels could be placed in different positions such as on the ground among vegetation, fixed on top of a post, next to a wall, half way up a hedge, in a tree, under a bird table. Grander bug hotels can be made by piling up a variety of materials into a tower, or making a wooden frame with a series of compartments and packing these with different fillings.

Remember rotting wood is both a home and source of food for various beetle grubs and a vast army of other mini-beasts, which in turn make a tasty snack for birds, hedgehogs and frogs, so leave an area of the garden wild and build a log pile with the children.

“Children also love worms. If you are working in the garden let them dig with a trowel and they’ll love it. But don’t let them chop the worms in half.”

You could also help your children make a bird cake, using fat, good quality wild birdseed, raisins, peanuts and grated cheese. Just leave the fat in a warm place to soften, put the other ingredients into a bowl, chop the fat into small pieces and add to the mixture, mixing it together using fingers or a spoon. Put the mixture into a yoghurt pot to hang from your bird table or roll into balls to place on it.

“We need to get the next generation inspired by gardening,” Fowler says.

And there’s no time like the present to do so.

:: For more information about National Gardening Week events, go to

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