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Archives for April 12, 2014

Five distinctive homes open for Kitchens in the Vineyards

The 2014 Kitchens in the Vineyards tour April 26 will open five distinctive Napa Valley homes to visitors to gather home décor, landscaping and architectural ideas.

“There is a wonderful variety of homes this year, from large and lavish to small budget conscious houses. All are united by very fine design,” said Julia Jervis, chairwoman of the tour.

The home and garden tour of kitchens, dining rooms and entertainment areas as well as gardens benefits the annual local chamber music festival, Music in the Vineyards. The self-guided tour takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

This year, for the first time, tour goers can purchase a VIP Insiders Pass to gain exclusive access to two of the homes for a meet-and-greet with the professionals who turned “home owners’ dreams into reality.”

Pass holders will go on the public tour, then return to two of the homes from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. for a glass of wine, full access to all rooms and a question and answer time with the creative team.

“This VIP option is a must for anyone planning to build or remodel and wanting tips and specifics on how to make it happen,” Jervis said.

This year, the tour includes:

• A contemporary prefabricated, highly efficient smart home that is surrounded by “magically” landscaped grounds filled with entertaining spaces, plus a bocce court and a garden.

• A light and airy farmhouse, built in 2012 on the site of an old lodge, is a Scandinavian sanctuary. The interior uses repurposed cabinets and doors, and the exterior offers a pool and valley views.

• An Arts Crafts Revival, originally built in the 1920s, was remodeled in 2008 adding a great room and vast windows to highlight the gardens. The space includes lime-washed redwood, exposed beams, a tennis court, pool and antique finishes.

• A Poolhouse Redux renovation with a modest “footprint.” Its clever touches include a reclaimed wood wall, blackened oyster shell fireplace and portrait collection.

• A Tuscan Farmhouse that is the product four years of work by 15 artisans working with  stucco, stone, brick and distressed wood. The exterior offers a kitchen, pool, fountain, bocce court and formal gardens.

The annual Kitchens in the Vineyards  tour was born 17 years ago to raise money for Music in the Vineyards. Over the years, 85 homes have been shown without ever repeating a home, according to Jervis.

“Everyone on the committee — ‘the Kitchen Cabinet’ — as we call ourselves, works hard on this event. We start looking for the next year’s houses the day after the tour ends,” Jervis said. “This is truly a community effort. We are so grateful for the help of the generous homeowners who open their homes, the raffle donors, sponsors, authors, chefs and volunteers.”

Enhanced with springtime table settings, each home is styled by local designers and florists. At the homes, visitors will also find tastings of dishes prepared by Napa Valley chefs, and local authors will be on hand to autograph copies of their books.

London author, Josephine Ryan, who wrote “French Home”, will be at one of homes.

In addition to Saturday’s home tour, an exclusive Preview Party will take place on the eve of the tour sponsored by First Republic Bank, and Anne and Matthew Golden. Guests will board luxury mini-coaches at 3:45 p.m. from the Robert Mondavi Winery to embark on a private champagne tour of all five homes. Guests will return for a glass of wine from the terrace overlooking the To Kalon Vineyard. Dinner by winery chef Jeff Mosher follows in the Vineyard Room, accompanied by Mondavi wines.

Tickets for Saturday’s self-guided tour cost $65 for general admission, $100 for the VIP Insiders Pass (includes public tour) and are on sale now. Preview Party tickets are limited and cost $225. Proceeds for both events benefit Music in the Vineyards, the chamber music festival celebrating its 20th anniversary Aug. 1-24 at various Napa Valley wineries. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call 707 253-5559 or visit

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Home Show Offers Plenty Of Ideas

After a long winter inside, it’s time to turn our attention outside.

You can get a lot of ideas for outdoor projects by attending the Northern New York Builders Exchange Home Show in Watertown this weekend. 

Whether it’s a patio or deck, landscaping or new windows, you’ll find ideas there.

“There’s a lot of great ideas here and everybody’s done a wonderful job of bringing out their best,” said Phil Reed of the Northern New York Builders Exchange.

The home show is being held at the Fairgrounds Arena Friday until 9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

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Fine Design Living, One of the GTA’s Leading Boutique Design and Build Firms …

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Fine Design Living

Fine Design Living, One of the GTA’s Leading Boutique Design and Build Firms, Reminds Consumers that Spring is Not Just for Outdoor Renovations

As soon as spring hits, it’s easy for homeowners to get caught up with backyard landscaping and front yard landscaping ideas.

Toronto, Canada (PRWEB) April 11, 2014

Fine Design Living (, one of the Greater Toronto Area’s leading boutique design and build firms, specializing in high-quality exterior and interior custom renovations for residential and commercial clients, is advising consumers to keep in mind the benefits of indoor spring renovation projects.

The warm spring weather brings with it the allure of planning artistic landscaping design ideas. However, it’s important to acknowledge the benefits of having designers and general contractors work on the inside of one’s home as well.

“As soon as spring hits, it’s easy for homeowners to get caught up with backyard landscaping and front yard landscaping ideas,” says Braden White, owner of Fine Design Living. “However, upgrading the interior of the home can add personal and monetary value.”

The kitchen and bathroom still add the most monetary value to homes, and a recent poll shows that Canadians appear to be following this trend by allocating most of their funds toward these areas. But White notes that personal spaces should not be ignored; while taking the time to design a bedroom or living room may not be as lucrative, it goes a long way to adding comfort to any home, particularly those homes with young children. (Source: “CIBC Poll: Renovation Nation? Canadians say they’ll spend almost 30 per cent more on home renos in 2014,” Yahoo! Finance, March 27, 2014;

According to White, one of the ways homeowners can add value and comfort to their house is by conducting an artistic interior design project on the basement. While a finished basement can yield a return of up to 75%, homeowners can also add an immediate personal touch by having it double as a game room for the kids, an extra living area, or a home office. (Source: Ducas, I., “Return on renovation costs: How much will you get back?” Style at Home web site;

“Homeowners often misjudge just how beneficial it can be to have a finished basement,” White observes. “That space can be utilized in so many different ways and have multiple functions. And when or if it comes time to sell, the return on the investment can be substantial.”

“Beautifying a home with a new deck, swimming pool, or some other intricate landscaping design is certainly a great idea, especially for the spring and summer season, when more time will be spent outdoors, in backyards and sitting on the patio, soaking up the sun’s rays,” White concludes. “That’s why homeowners should hire a landscaping company like Fine Design Living. We will put the same amount of attention to detail to the inside of a home as we will to the outside.”

Fine Design Living is a boutique design and build firm that specializes in high-quality exterior and interior custom renovations for both residential and commercial clients. From unique landscape designs and landscape construction to custom interior renovations, Fine Design Living is committed to providing the highest-quality workmanship and is backed by a personalized approach to service excellence. Based out of Markham, Fine Design Living serves customers in Toronto and the GTA, including Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Vaughan, Newmarket, Unionville, Aurora, and Stouffville. More information about Fine Design Living is available by visiting the firm’s web site at or by calling 416-817-6128.

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Learn about new plant diseases affecting our gardens

On Wednesday, expert plant pathologist Margery Daughtrey will give two talks in Westchester on plant diseases that home gardeners and landscapers should be on the lookout for in 2014, including ones that affect white pines, boxwoods, roses and impatiens.

At 10 a.m., she will give a lecture titled “Flourishing Gardens vs. Plant Diseases and Pests” at the Scarsdale Library as part of the 2014 Home Gardening Lecture Series sponsored by the master gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester. Advance tickets cost $15, and walk-ins pay $18. For more information, visit or call 914-285-3590.

At 7:30 p.m., she will present a talk titled “Bees, Trees, and Berries: How global plant movement and change can affect our gardens” at the Chappaqua Library as part of the twice-yearly Rocky Hills Lecture Series. She is returning for an encore presentation after a very well-attended talk at the library in October.

In Chappaqua, she will be introduced by Scot Medbury, president of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Admission is free, and there will be light refreshments available before the lecture.

Daughtrey, who is based at Cornell’s Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center in Riverhead, has 35 years of experience as a plant pathologist and is known for her research on new ornamental plant diseases. She is particularly good at explaining complicated science in layman’s terms, without talking down to her audience.

One of the things she’ll be covering, especially in her Chappaqua talk, is the return of white pine blister rust in the Northeast, “after such heroic efforts have been made to control it in the past,” she says. “This disease alternates between currants and pine trees, in one of the world’s strangest life cycles. The fungus has apparently acquired the ability to attack previously resistant plants.”

Of particular interest for homeowners with extensive boxwood collections — they are so reliably deer resistant — will be her update on the new boxwood blight disease.

And she will have the latest on impatiens downy mildew and the rose rosette virus that has been devastating some large collections of roses. “I’ll describe some of the natural — or should I say unnatural? — history of that disease, and how to recognize it and deal with it.”

The Scarsdale Public Library is at 54 Olmsted Road. For more information, call 914-722-1300. The Chappaqua Library is at 195 S. Greeley Ave. For information, call 914-238-4779.

Twitter: BillCaryNY


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Gardening tips from Sprouts Greenhouse: When should you plant a tree?

(Lander, Wyo.) – Q: When is the best time to plant a tree? A: 20 years ago!

Unless you can time travel, the second best time to plant a tree is now. Trees can be planted throughout much of the year, and spring is a perfect time to plant a tree. Before trees set leaf buds is an optimal time as the tree isn’t under stress. It also satiates the need that at least a few readers have to be puttering outside when most plants can’t yet be out.

Now that the ground has defrosted, adequate holes can be dug without too much character building. Ha! Maybe not, if you’ve got lots of rocks. The depth will depend on the size of the root ball being planted. Dig deep enough so that the soil surface of the root ball is level with new soil surface. Make sure the base of the hole is solid, so that the tree mass will be supported firmly.


If roots are tight and curled from being cooped up in a container, take a few minutes to gently loosen them. This will encourage them to grow out and away from the trunk. Trees that have spent time in hard plastic containers often have curled roots, while balled and burlap packaged trees are usually not as curled.

If you want to amend the soil, planting is the time to do so. Don’t overdo it, though. If you create too rich of a soil mix immediately around the tree, the roots won’t be encourage to grow out and create an extended network. As Griff jokingly says, “It’s just like a kid- you don’t want to make the home so nice that they never want to leave!” A good rule of thumb is to mix 2/3rds original soil with 1/3rd amendments to back fill. Use Soil Pep© if you are planting in clay soil, and compost for sandier soil.

Keep in mind that once the tree is nestled into the ground, your work really begins! You’ll need to water the tree regularly. Aim for a twice-a-week schedule that alternately wets and then dries the roots. The wet/dry cycle forces the roots to grow deeper. Not watering deeply enough entices the roots to remain shallow. You’ve watered enough if soil is moist 10-12” deep. A spade or long screwdriver is a handy tool to use to check.

Root feeders are an easy way to deliver water several inches below the soil surface, rather than waiting for water to percolate. An alternate method is burying vertical-oriented PVC pipes with holes drilled into the lower part to deliver water below the soil surface.


Tie out trees that are planted in windy areas for the first year. After that, the roots should have established themselves enough to support the tree. Then there is the task of trying to protect the tree from being browsed by deer. It’s a daunting task! A small, low profile cage to protect the truck is a good idea. It’s OK if a few branches are nibbled, but the trunk needs to be protected.

Remember that planting a tree is a commitment to a long-term relationship of care and nurturing. It’s going to be a few years before you don’t have to pamper your trees. In a Master Gardener class, the three-year tree growth cycle in Wyoming was described as; “Sleep, Creep, Leap.” My own experience was much slower: 3 years as a toothpick, then a Qtip, then Dumdum, then a TootsiePop, and then finally a small tree on it’s 7th year. My advice is to plant as large a tree as you can afford. (Yes, I said that even before starting to work at Sprouts!

If you’re after shade as soon as possible, consider one of the faster growing species: cottonwood, willow, aspen and silver maple. The trade off for fast growth is less sturdy limbs. You’ll need to routinely evaluate the tree and prune it regularly to create as strong a structure as possible. Hardier trees, and hence a bit slower growing, include: ash, linden, honey locust, oaks, evergreens and especially spruce.

Regardless of what you’re looking for, we’ve got a wide variety of trees available for you. Take a look here for catalogs of shade trees, flowering trees, and evergreens. While you’re at it, browse around our newly designed web page! Trees are a great gift for future generations. We in Lander are fortunate that others before us planted so many lovely trees- let’s pay it forward!

We at Sprouts love growing plants, and want to share our love of gardening with you. We hope that these tips help you learn, solve problems, and grow. Our intention is to address basic issues, and provide references for additional information.

You can expect a new tip from us each week on! We don’t intend for the tips to be the end-all, be-all of the gardening world.

8591 Wyoming 789, Lander, WY 82520

(307) 332-3572.


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This week’s gardening tips: spring flowering bulbs, fertilizer reminders and … – The Times

Remove faded flowers and developing seed pods from spring flowering bulbs that are to be kept for bloom next year. Do not remove any of the green foliage. Wait until the foliage turns mostly yellow before you cut it back.

Bulbs that reliably rebloom here do not need to be dug up; they can be left in the ground. Bulbs that rebloom well in our area include leucojum, many narcissuses and some daffodils, Dutch iris, amaryllis, ground orchid (Bletilla), Easter lily, wood hyacinth, freesia, star flower (Ipheion), hyacinths (will rebloom but the spikes are much smaller) and calla lily.

Many other bulbs, such as tulips, crocus, anemones, scilla and muscari, will rarely repeat bloom or will produce inferior flowers next year, so they should be pulled up when finished blooming.

  • Established perennials should be fertilized this month if you haven’t already done so. This is most efficiently and economically done with a granular fertilizer with about a 3:1:2 ratio (such as 15-5-10) scattered evenly through the bed following package directions. After the fertilizer is applied, water the bed by hand to wash any fertilizer granules off the foliage and down to the soil.
  • It’s time to move container plants you have over-wintered indoors outside for the summer. Remember these plants have grown accustomed to low light and must be gradually introduced to higher light outside. Start them off in shade the first week and then gradually introduce sun-loving plants to more sun to prevent scorching their leaves.
  • Keep ornamental vines under control with regular pruning and training or they will quickly get out of hand. If a vine is grown for its flowers, heaviest pruning should be done after its main blooming period.

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Gardener: Do this, plant that: Productivity tips in the garden

Every day that I’m not on the road, I look out my office window toward the garden, and walk the property at least once or twice. My mind never stops turning with all the projects and to-dos I see for my landscape. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

My dream is to someday experience the term coined a few years back – “staycation.” The concept applies to the notion of staying home in an environment that is so pleasant, you feel like you’re on vacation. In theory, I love the idea. But in reality, it’s another story. Fortunately, for the lawn and garden, there are some pretty helpful ideas along with a number of undemanding plants that can get us a few steps closer to a truly relaxing staycation in our own little corner of the world.


These are a few of my favorite tricks for getting a little bit closer to nirvana.

– Soaker hoses: Keeping up with watering can rob many hours of precious free time. An easy way to cut down on this time consuming event is to make sure your plants are getting water right where they need it by using soaker hoses. These porous hoses allow water to seep out slowly and deeply. Roots have time to absorb the moisture and there is less risk of over-watering.

– Automatic timers: Simplify watering duties even more by using automatic timers. Use these in conjunction with soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems and put your watering woes on autopilot. The timers can be set to come on automatically from several times a day to once a week. Then, whether you leave home for weeks or want more carefree time in the hammock, you won’t have to worry about your plants or lawn not getting watered.

– Mulch: Usually the most dreaded task in any garden is the weeding. One simple solution to cutting down on the amount of weeds your garden will have is to use mulch. A three-inch layer will block the sunlight most weed seeds need to germinate. The added benefit of mulch is that it keeps your soil cooler, cuts down on moisture loss and helps suppress disease. It even looks great and really shows off the plants.

– A garden mailbox: Even the most organized gardeners find themselves running back to the shed or garage for that must-have tool for the job at hand. Placing a mailbox or similar storage box in the garden can eliminate those unnecessary trips back to the tool shed. Fill the mailbox with your most important small tools and you’ll always have them close at hand. Consider adding a trowel, plant labels, waterproof pen, twine, scissors, pruners, insect spray and bottled water. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference.


When it comes to high-impact, low-maintenance plants, here are three of my favorites. Just keep in mind, even the least demanding plants deserve our attention every now and then.

– Knock Out roses: This is the un-fussy rose. If you’ve been intimidated by growing roses in the past or are tired of the work necessary to keep them disease and pest-free, this is the rose for you. Knockout roses are prolific bloomers and are very resistant to black spot and mildew problems typical of so many other roses. Provide full sun and well-drained soil and this rose will reward you with months of carefree beauty.

– Daylilies: They’re so easy, you can practically lay a daylily on the ground and watch it grow. Daylilies are beautiful and deer resistant with thousands of varieties in a rainbow of colors. They bloom all summer and return the next year thicker and fuller than before. The only work you’ll have to do is to divide them every 3 to 5 years.

– Hostas: If you’re looking for a showstopper for the shade garden, hostas are it. From miniature to massive, these plants known for their bold foliage are available in thousands of varieties. Hostas offer many shades of green, from lemon-lime to blue-green and every shade in between. The bonus with this easy care plant is that some are highly fragrant and all do well in containers. Unfortunately deer resistance is not one of its strengths.

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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Garden Tips: Merciless rose pruning tips

Last weekend, I took on the project of pruning my roses, nicknaming myself “Marianne the Merciless.” I showed no mercy to my roses that had not been pruned correctly for several years because I had negligently waited too long each spring to get in there and get the job done right.

I pulled on my rose gauntlet gloves, picked up my sharpened loppers and hand pruners, and went to work. It was not an easy task. Roses grow terrifically well in our region, and mine had grown to a height of almost 6 feet last year. When I was done, I had mountains of rose prunings and bushes that hopefully will perform better this summer.

Satisfied with a job well done, I was amazed that I did not look like I had tangled with a vicious animal. I wore long sleeves and my new rose gauntlet gloves. The glove hands are made of leather and the “gauntlet” cuffs are made of canvas that reaches almost to my elbows. They kept my hands and arms free of pokes and scratches.

I purchased my pair at a local garden store, but they can also be ordered online. If you have a lot of roses or raspberries, you should consider investing in a pair of all-leather rose gauntlet gloves.

My new gloves were stiff when I started and a little tight. If you purchase a quality pair of gauntlet gloves, make sure they are the right size for your hands. Many of the companies selling quality rose gloves have size charts to guide you.

The other thing that made my job easier was having sharp pruning tools. It is difficult to cut out thick, woody old canes with dull loppers. If you know how to sharpen your tools, do it before taking on your spring pruning chores.

Rich Redekopp, one of our Master Gardener rose experts, told me about another pruning tool for taking out tough old dead wood or thick canes. Redekopp recommends the cordless Milwaukee Hackzall Reciprocating Saw fitted with a pruning blade. He pruned some roses outside our office and his saw made quick work of the gnarly old dead growth in these neglected roses.

Roses are forgiving. You can prune them incorrectly (or not at all), and they will still produce beautiful blooms. However, with correct pruning, your shrubs will not grow out of control, and the rose blooms will be bigger.

Helen Newman, Master Gardener rose expert and Tri-Cities Rosarian, notes that your goals are to remove the “dead, diseased, damaged and dinky” canes. Experts call them the four “Ds” of pruning roses. You should also remove shoots that are old and gnarled, growing in the center of the shrubs or crisscrossing each other.

— Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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Design for smaller garden spaces

The contemporary wing of this Melbourne Edwardian house includes an elevated lap pool and a small patch of lawn.

Stephen Crafti

As people downsize to smaller homes, it’s not the amount of outdoor space that matters, but the pleasure this well-conceived area brings.

The large suburban back garden has shrunk as people opt for smaller, well-designed outdoor spaces. Whether they take the form of a winter garden (an enclosed balcony) attached to an apartment, or courtyard, these areas can be used all year round.

“It’s important to create an outdoor space protected from the outside world. Having some coverage from the elements is also ideal,” says architect Robert Simeoni.

Simeoni created a treasured outdoor space in his own home in North Fitzroy, Melbourne. As well as a modest patch of granitic sand and fruit trees behind a high brick wall, there’s also an undercover car space. “This concrete [to accommodate one car] was originally used by the factory next door. It’s a reminder of what this site was once used for,” Simeoni says.

As there was limited space on the 80-square-metre site, Simeoni went vertical, creating a three-level home. However, there was sufficient room for a modest garden, including the car space – in all, about 20 square metres. “The car isn’t a permanent fixture. We also use the carport area to entertain family and friends,” says Simeoni, who was keen to create a chiaroscuro effect with the light. “The fruit trees create dappled light to the outdoor space,” he adds. Simeoni also included a small balcony leading from the living areas on the top floor. Although not large enough for a table setting, it creates a wonderful viewing platform to survey the neighbourhood, including a park.

BKK Architects also included a covered outdoor area in a house in an inner city bayside suburb of Melbourne. The two-storey Edwardian house was renovated, with a new contemporary wing. This L-shaped addition, constructed in brick and zinc, includes an open-plan kitchen, dining and living area.

Intense program

Although the outdoor area is relatively large for an inner-city site (about 50 square metres), BKK had to include an intense program within this space. Located between the new wing and what were originally the stables (reworked in the same materials as the extension), the outdoors includes an elevated lap pool and a small patch of lawn. The architects also included a built-in concrete bench and barbecue for outdoor dining. “The key to the design was to make the outdoor space feel spacious. We also wanted to ‘stitch in’ the materials of party brick walls,” says architect Tim Black,, one of three directors of the practice.

“We wanted to combine a number of functions in the one area without having them feeling disjointed,” says Black, who sees a trend towards low-maintenance gardens attuned to urban living.

Architect Luigi Rosselli was also conscious of creating a functional and protected outdoor area for a Victorian terrace in Paddington, Sydney. The terrace, with an attic-style third level, was renovated and extended by Rosselli. “We were fortunate to have an additional sliver of land on one side of the house. This made the garden as well as the house feel more spacious,” he says.

While the house already had a swimming pool in the north-facing back garden, the owners were looking for a more expansive area to entertain outdoors, as well as enjoy the outdoors. “We literally halved the size of the swimming pool. This allowed us to create a small lawn area, as well as a deck,” says Rosselli, who worked with landscape architects Secret Gardens.

To ensure protection from the sun, Rosselli included a large, yellow canvas, retractable awning. Built-in concrete seats and barbecue allow the outdoor area to double as a dining area. “When you’re designing outdoor areas, there should be a balance between shade and areas receiving full light,” he adds.

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Melissa Garden Design

Don’t forget Melissa Garden Design of Fethiye offers high quality plants, garden design and maintenance services.

Melissa Garden Design of Fethiye is almost /directly opposite Azda on the 22-metre road. Melissa takes its name from its owner, Melis, a graduate of prestigious Istanbul University’s Landscape Design department.

Melis offers a comprehensive garden design and maintenance service from pools (swimming and purely decorative) to outdoor buildings – one of which features in the front garden of her site – to garden furniture, accessories and landscaping work in general – with lots of interesting, high quality plants, shrubs and trees also on offer.

What’s more Melis speaks fluent English and, with her background in cosmopolitan Istanbul, is very sympathetic to the demands of foreign residents establishing gardens here.

So, if you want an unusual plant for a gift check out the range of clematis in stock, or invest in a standard rose.  In the meantime, if you have recently built a house and not yet considered what to do with the garden, or if you are bored and want a garden makeover, go down to Melissa Garden Design and talk to Melis.

For more information click and take a look at their colourful website.


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