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Archives for April 5, 2014

Winnipeggers prep for spring as warm weather rounds corner

Despite the extremely cold and long winter, retailers in Winnipeg say sales have been warming up for weeks.

“People have got the itch, and they’re starting to get out,” said Scott McKee of McMunn and Yates Building Supplies on Richmond Avenue.

McKee said barbecues have been selling and so has patio furniture, and at least so far, spring sales are going really well.

“The decks, the railings, the landscaping products – people are out, and they’re looking for ideas. It’s an exciting time,” said McKee.

Winnipeggers Bill and Shirley Pochuk were out at the store on Friday.

They said they can’t wait to be able to enjoy their deck.

“We go out there every morning [in the summer] and sit on the deck and have our coffee,” said Bill. “That’s what we’re looking forward to.”

Sunday to be warm and sunny, forecast says

The Pochuks will soon be in luck. The CBC Weather Centre is calling for a high of 10 C on Sunday with sunny, clear skies – a nice reprieve after the coldest winter since 1898.

That’s welcome news for the city’s cyclists.

Tim Woodcock, the owner of Woodcock Cycleworks, said the city’s cycling enthusiasts have already dropped off tons of bikes for spring tune-ups.

“People who have been inside maybe most of the winter are just fed up with it,” said Woodcock. “[They’re] ready for summer so they want to get a head start on it.”

City crews clearing street drains

City crews are also trying to get a head start on spring.

This weekend, crews will be out in full force to clear Winnipeg’s drainage system so it can process all the melting snow.

“At all inlets, what they are going to be doing is they’re using either a pressured steam or hot water combination depending on how difficult it would be to create that drainage channel into the inlet,” said Jim Berezowsky, the city’s manager of streets maintenance.

Berezowsky said the city isn’t too worried the above-normal snow that fell this year will melt too quickly and cause flooding.

He said cooler temperatures at night will help slow down a fast melt. 

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Seeds: Native lilacs in UC Davis’ New Front Yard series

Ellen Zagory sees examples every day; city gardeners are embracing the concept of the “New Front Yard.”

“Reducing water use doesn’t mean brown and dry,” said Zagory, the UC Davis Arboretum’s horticulture director. “By using careful plant choices, we can celebrate our region and create at home our own regional landscapes.”

This concept of right (low-water) plants in the right (drought-stricken) place is at the heart of the New Front Yard, the arboretum’s current series of water-wise plants. Today, the Arboretum Teaching Nursery on the UC Davis campus will offer these plants to local gardeners during its first public sale of the spring.

“In Davis, it’s become a big thing,” Zagory said. “We’re seeing a lot of sheet mulching (as people remove lawns).”

But what will replace that grass? As the name suggests, the New Front Yard features a palette of free-flowering California native plants that make attractive easy-care landscaping. Besides using less water than turf and most traditional landscaping, these shrubs, trees and groundcovers attract beneficial insects and support bees and birds.

Re-planting a drastically different landscape takes time, consideration and water. Even drought-tolerant plants need regular irrigation to get established.

“There’s concern that it may take too much water to establish a new landscape,” Zagory said. “Although, it’s less than a lawn.”

City lawns do serve a purpose; turf is better than plain dirt. Besides its potential beauty and landscape uses, the grass helps cool its surroundings.

“People are really worried about bare earth and a heat island effect,” Zagory noted. “We don’t want people to just kill their lawn and walk away.”

Use this spring for research.

“As you develop your low-maintenance, low-water landscape, take time to enjoy the colors of spring and early summer and look for new ideas for plants to extend your landscape’s seasonal interest,” Zagory said. “Spring is a great time to be out in the garden – both your own and those of plant-minded friends. Take a pad or a smartphone and note the colors and blooms you like the best and plan to add them to your personal patch of earth.”

Lilacs in particular are enjoying a spectacular spring bloom, thanks in part to early December’s string of sub-freezing nights.

“The cold snap was good for them,” Zagory said. “In my own garden, my Lavender Lady (lilac) has more flowers than it’s ever had.”

Drought-tolerant California native lilacs – ceanothus – smell like their namesake but are unrelated to true (and thirstier) European or Asian lilacs, which are varieties of Syringa (such as Lavender Lady). Several ceanothus are part of the New Front Yard collection.

Our drought-tolerant native lilacs are having a knock-out spring, too.

“Our Concha (ceanothus) is absolutely solid blue – amazing,” Zagory said. “You can hardly see any green (leaves), there are so many flowers.”

The onslaught of spring lilacs all at once may be weather-related, too, but tied to spring warmth, not December cold.

“It was cool, cool, cool, then we had this warm spike,” Zagory said. “The buds that were developing all came (open) at once. It creates this illusion that they may be blooming more than normal (because all the flowers open at the same time). But it sure is stunning.”

Gardeners will get other benefits from December’s deep freeze.

“Cold also is good because it knocks down pests that can become real pesky,” said Zagory, noting some invasive insects are killed by sub-freezing temperatures.

But watch out for aphids – especially after recent rain.

“The rain will make it horrible for aphids this year,” Zagory said. “But we’ve been seeing a lot of soldier beetles, too. They’re pretty good aphid-eaters.”

Adding flowering native plants to your landscape helps attract these “good guys” to protect and pollinate the garden. Said Zagory, “Early flowering California natives like redbuds are followed by later blooming toyon and coyote brush; these are especially attractive (to) many insect visitors.

“Miner bees will use early spring flower nectar and pollen for energy and to feed their young,” she added. “Spring plants provide food for beneficial insects, like early emerging pollinators such as native bumblebees as well as aphid-eating insects like ladybird beetles, soldier beetles, lacewings and hover flies that provide free, natural pest control in the garden.”

Save water and money, too? That makes those California lilacs smell even better.

Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.

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Spring is here at the Chesapeake Home, Garden & Craft Expo

EASTON — If you are one of the many who see the first signs of spring — warmer weather, sunshine, birds busy with nest building, earth smelling of April rain — and think it time to freshen up home and garden with new ideas, then help is literally just around the corner.

The 19th annual Chesapeake Home Garden and Craft Expo, sponsored by The Star Democrat, will open Saturday, April 5, and Sunday, April 6, at the Talbot County Community Center on U.S. Route 50.

The Home Expo showcases the newest ideas in home remodeling, new construction, landscaping, pools and home art.

“This year we are excited to expand the show to include a focus on landscaping and spring florals,” said Sherry Plummer, Chesapeake Home Show director. “There will be opportunities to purchase plants on site at the show and master gardeners will be on hand to answer gardening questions. The public also will find an interesting new location for wine and beer tasting with experts on hand to recommend food pairings.”

The show offerings this year have been expanded to include a family focus with activities for children. Easton Fire Department will set up a fire escape room and invite children to practice.

Fresh, gourmet fare including pit beef sandwiches, grilled chicken, artisan cheeses, premium ice cream and more will be available to spice up the experience for show attendees.

The Talbot County Humane Society will be present with cuddly creatures to enjoy. Maryland Health Insurance representatives also will be on hand at the show to answer family and individual insurance questions.

Some of this year’s booths include the latest in green energy solutions, window treatments, decks, patios, interior design, heating and air conditioning, outdoor rooms, flooring and water systems.

Chesapeake Home, Garden and Craft Expo hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6 per family or $4 per person. A portion of the proceeds from the show will be donated to The Star Democrat Brighter Christmas Fund.

For more information about the Chesapeake Home, Garden and Craft Expo, call 443-786-2070 or visit

Main Exhibitors

ADT Security

Advanced Window Technology

Aqua Luminesce

Atlantic Surface Design

Atlantic Tractor

Awnings Concept/

Shore Doors

Bartlett Tree Experts

Bath Fitter

Bay Area Pest

Wildlife Solutions

Bay Country Security

Beltone Lednum

Best Buy Supply


Chesapeake Awnings

Chesapeake Hydrowash

Comfort Air Service

Custom Tile Works

DelaAire LLC

Dr. Enery Saver

Dry Zone

E Water Company

Eastern Shore Mosquito Squad


Green Street Solar

Herl’s Bath and Tile

Home Paramount Pest Control

Hubbards Custom Blinds

Lauer Construction

Leaf Filter North of Maryland

McCready’s Chimney

Mid Atlantic Tire

Mid Atlantic Water Services

Paiges Promotions

Paradise Energy Solutions

Patio Enclosures

Preston Automotive group

Queenstown Bank of Md.

R Brooks and Son

Rio Del Mar Enterprises

RL/Ewing and

Bridges Land Management

Roto Rooter

Service Today

Sharp Water Culligan

Sherwin Williams

Shorecrete Coatings

Slide Lok Garage Interiors

Sparkle Pools

Talbot Bank

Talon Security

The Appliance Source

Total Home Performance

Veridian Energy

Arts Crafts

Carey It Home

Catering by Jaime

Designs by Grear

Earth Origins

Exit Gold Realty

Five Star Home Foods

Interior Style Decorating Studio

Jewelry with Charm

Lamar Bags

Malina Custom Leather

Massaging Insoles


Needlepoint and Blankets

Quillows by Fran

Real Time Pain Relief Lotion

Seymour’s Sterling

Shell Bond LLC

St. Michaels Winery

Stone and Rose

Sun Drift glass

Talbot Humane

Tidewater Candle LLC

Tomboy Tools

Total Body Wellness

Tower Garden/Juice Plus

Veterinary Medical Center

Wanda’s Wonders

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Lake County Landscape and Garden Fair coming up

The 3rd Annual Central Florida Landscape Garden Fair will be held May 3-4 at Discovery Gardens at the Lake County Agricultural Center, located at 1951 Woodlea Road in Tavares.

The fair will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Saturday’s presentations include Teresa Watkins on Florida Friendly Landscaping, Steve Earls on Square Foot Gardening, Tom MacCubbin on Edible Landscapes, Anne Keller on Geocaching and Jonathan Squires on No Turf Landscapes.

On Sunday, presentations include Karina Veaudry on Native Plants and residential horticulture agent with the UF/IFAS Extension in Lake County Brooke Moffis on Hot Plants, Cool Looks.

The free event will provide visitors an opportunity to browse and purchase goods from dozens of exhibitors specializing in landscaping, gardening, irrigation, fertilizer, composting, hardscapes and more.

This year’s fair brings back the popular Children’s Passport, which children will have a chance to complete by stopping by the designated locations on the map.

Exhibitor booths ranging from 10 inch by 10 inch to 10 inch by 20 inch, and food vendor spaces are available, as well as sponsorships ranging in cost from $250 for silver level to $750 for platinum level. Vendors and sponsors can register online at 

The deadline to register is Friday, April 4. For more information, call Tina Chavez at 352-343-9647 or email

Discovery Gardens is located on more than four acres behind the Lake County Agricultural Center and features 20 themed gardens, including a string of lush courtyards and six specially designed children’s gardens.

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Competition blooms at Dubai landscape contest

DUBAI // The rain may have kept the crowds away from the Dubai International Garden Competition Friday morning but not the die-hard gardeners.

A small number of people turned out to view the landscaping designs at Downtown Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard.

Thirteen regional and global companies are taking part in the competition, which began on Thursday and runs until Sunday.

The event, the UAE’s first landscaping competition, was created to showcase the beauty of Dubai’s gardening masterpieces to the region and the world.

It brings together landscapers, architects, designers, botanists, engineers, scientists, and property experts.

Many visitors said they came because of their interest in flora.

“I am interested in gardening and growing plants,” said Qiang Ge, a Chinese expatriate who lives in The Springs. “I have a business interest and have got new ideas for my garden now.”

A couple said they were looking for ideas for decorating their own garden. “We like gardening and are always looking at new ways to do it up,” said Mary Ann, a Filipino who has a small garden in her villa.

But not everyone turned up for the flora. Ximena Perez said she was out to enjoy a walk with her dogs.

“We just came for a Friday morning outing,” said the Mexican expatriate who lives in Downtown Dubai. “We are not really into landscaping.”

The rain dampened some outdoor furniture that had been laid out by companies as part of their landscape design and some were covered to prevent further damage.

But some people said the rain was of help rather than a hindrance.

“It is good that it has rained,” said Imran P, a civil engineer at Falcon Crest, which was looking to attract customers and construction companies with its display of landscaping, a spanish bar and jacuzzi.

“It has helped our plants. We use natural grass, wood and rocks. With less space, we can make gardens.”

They were hoping more people would visit in the next couple of days.

Akar, another company, said its specialty was growing aromatic plants for medicinal use.

“We have a green house of vegetables such as pepper, green chillies and cucumber at the Miracle Garden in Dubai,” said a company representative.

“Visitors can pick fresh and organic vegetables and we can make a meal from it.”

The competition is held under the patronage of Dubai Municipality. The organisers said they hoped visitors would enjoy a family outing and enjoy the natural beauty.

Fun City, an entertainment centre, is hosting activities for children. The attractions include the Lokrit garden village and grand floral arena stall.

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SPRING INTO GARDENING: Bucks Country Gardens plans two days of fun at …

Mama’s Little Helper

This reference site for parents in Pa. and N.J. features a calendar of local (and many FREE) events, coupons, giveaways, directories (classes, places to play, story times, consignment stores/sales), helpful articles a blog!

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Vegetables to plant in April, pruning advice, weeding reminders – The Times

Vegetables to plant in April include cantaloupe, collards, corn, cucumber, cucuzza, cushaw, honeydew, lima beans, luffa, Malabar spinach, mirliton (plant sprouted fruit), okra, pumpkin, snap beans, Southern peas, squashes, sweet potato (plant rooted cuttings), Swiss chard and watermelon. Plant transplants of tomato, peppers and eggplant.

  • Be sure to mulch newly planted beds of shrubs or bedding plants with a two inch layer of leaves, pine straw, pine bark or other materials to control weeds, conserve moisture and keep the soil from packing down.
  • If needed, prune spring flowering shrubs when they finish blooming. Have a definite purpose in mind before you begin to prune, and prune carefully to achieve your objective. Avoid shearing shrubs unless a formal, high maintenance, clipped look is desired.
  • It is very important to pull up and dispose of cool season annual weeds such as annual bluegrass, henbit, bedstraw and chickweed now. These weeds are currently setting thousands of seeds that will plague you next winter if not removed now. If they are in your lawn, mow with a bag attachment and dispose of the clippings
  • Plant caladium tubers or started plants in this month through June. Caladiums are excellent for shady areas and combine beautifully with ferns, begonias, liriope, impatiens, hosta and coleus.

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Gardening Tips: National Volunteer Week

Posted: Friday, April 4, 2014 1:08 pm

Gardening Tips: National Volunteer Week

By Matthew Stevens

The Daily Herald, Roanoke Rapids, NC


Sunday through April 12 is National Volunteer Week. I would like to take this time to recognize the group of volunteers I work most closely with: The Roanoke Valley Master Gardeners, for all the time, effort and knowledge they have donated to Halifax County over the past year. The Master Gardeners are a group of volunteers who, after a period of training through the Halifax County Extension Service, donate their expertise to the community in the form of volunteer projects.

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Friday, April 4, 2014 1:08 pm.

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Local experts share gardening tips for both new and established gardens

8 hours ago  | Mobile Reader | Print 

For gardeners who are just getting into gardening as well as those finding themselves having to replant after last year’s brutal winter, there are plenty of new plants to consider this year. However, local experts say the basics of setting up a garden that will last for years comes down to good planning.

Both Jennifer Osburn, owner of Martin’s Nursery in Luling, and Henry Hunter, general manager and horticulturist for Banting’s Nursery in Bridge City, said gardeners should be sure to check out information provided by the LSU AgCenter both online and in their local office located at 1313 Paul Maillard Road in Luling.

“They keep really good track of new and up and coming plants and they deem some of them ‘Louisiana Super Plants’ for which they have done all of the work. They have tested them out and made sure they are going to grow here. That is the first resource to tap,” Osburn said.

Before setting out to build a great garden, Hunter said there are a few things every gardener needs to know.

“Whenever you are starting you are going to get what you put into it. I would suggest starting off with a good soil quality,” he said. “You can work with soil to improve it. The LSU AgCenter can give you a soil test.”

Next, a gardener needs to plan their planting and map out the shape of what they hope their garden will look like once it is fully grown.

Osburn said a gardener must determine the concept behind their garden.

“The thing to determine in your home garden is do you want your plants to be annual or do you want them to be perennial?” she said. “Perennials are things that come back year after year and annuals are plants that you plant annually. In Louisiana we could say we have two seasons, a warm season and a cool season. So in Louisiana, you’d have two plantings for annuals, warm and cool. That’s what you have to determine in your own garden.”

Osburn said there are many options when considering new plantings.

“Things that are perennial here in Louisiana are lantanas, blue days, Mexican heather, which all good blooming plants that usually come back year after year. Some examples of annuals would be petunias, periwinkle or impatiens depending on how cold we get,” she said.  

However, Osburn said the annuals available at local nurseries vary from week to week.

“There are many, many to choose from, and it all depends too on what week you go to the nursery. For instance, now I don’t have everything just yet because it is still not warm enough for some of these things to have sprouted out. So if you came to the nursery today you would find Louisiana phlox for instance, you would find delphinium, but if you come in three weeks those things will be finished,” she said

For gardeners who are planting for the first time or coming back from the cold winter, Osburn encourages them to build the garden with a foundation of evergreen plants that will last through cold winters and then fill the holes in with annuals, whose life cycle is only one season.

“Set up a foundation. I’d suggest three or four plants to set up a foundation planting. Indian hawthorn, loropetalum, amelias, azaleas, something like that for instance and then leave pockets in the bed for annual color,” she said. “Leave areas open for annuals, but definitely set up an evergreen foundation.”  

This year Hunter said new plants are being recommended, especially due to the historically cold winter, and should become more popular with local gardeners.

“Especially after this winter people are going towards things that are evergreen and hearty,” he said. “People are leaning more towards azalea, camellia, Indian hawthorns and hydrangeas. For their landscapes people are still doing tropical things, but maybe it is a better idea to do tropical plants in planters so you can bring them inside when it gets cold.”

Gardeners should also take into account the placement of plants. Hunter said researching growth patterns of each plant will provide gardeners with a good idea of how the plants should be arranged in the bed.

“Of course tiers are going to be the best way to go. They need to be arranged by height, you don’t want anything growing taller in the front than something that is going to grow smaller in the back,” he said. “Pay attention to growth pattern as well as the sun and light requirements.”

In addition to selecting the proper plants and arranging them, gardeners should also keep in mind garden bed preparation and maintenance.

Hunter said doing the right things in the beginning of the planting process can save a gardener from doing a lot of work on the back end.  

“Bed prep is where you want to start for sure,” he said. “After you get everything planted, mulch is the second most important thing. You really want to lay a heavy coating of mulch to keep those weeds down. That is the secret to being successful, doing it right the first time. That will keep from a lot of labor in June or July.”

Gardeners should also keep in mind that even hearty plants need to be cared for the first month or so before they can grow on their own.

“The first year you plant anything you are going to want to water every other day for the first couple of week and then once a week for the first couple of months and then you are on you own,” Hunter said. “You are going to have to take care of it for the first couple of months before you let it go. The key to success is not just planting, you need to follow up.” 

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Weekly report offers garden cleanup tips, other useful info

I did a little happy dance yesterday when the year’s first issue of Buckeye Yard Garden Line landed in my email inbox.

BYGL, or “Beagle,” as the participants call it, is a weekly news report from experts with the Ohio State University Extension. They offer tips on lawn and garden maintenance and provide updates on issues such as pests, diseases and weather damage – often with a healthy dose of humor.

As a garden geek, I consider it one of my favorite reads. Besides, its arrival means gardening season is really here, no matter how lousy the weather is.

Among the gems in this week’s issue is some guidance on spring garden cleanup from Pam Bennett, a horticulture educator with the extension. Among her tips:

— Cut back perennial and vegetable plants you left standing in the fall, including ornamental grasses. It’s best to do this before spring growth begins.

— Cut back old asparagus fronds to the ground.

— Divide or transplant perennials that bloom in the summer or fall, if needed. This is also a good time to divide ornamental grasses.

— Prune roses to shape them, encourage new growth and allow air and sunlight to reach the mddle of the plant.

— Get a soil test, and then fertilize plants only if the test shows nutrients are needed.

You can read BYGL online. If you’d like to receive it by email, send a request to Cheryl Fischnich at

And then you can do your own little dance each week.

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