Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for April 14, 2014

Renovators find multitude of ideas with exhibitors at home show

For three days, visitors flocked to the Rath Eastlink Community Centre for the 22nd annual home show, now in its second year at the new facility.

“It was my husband’s idea to come here,” said Wanda Kent, who was walking around with the couple’s eight-year-old daughter, Olivia. “We’re renovating our kitchen and laundry room, which includes our heating system, and even doing some landscaping outdoors. We just wanted to come check everything out.”

The Truro family has been to the home show in previous years, however it was the first outing since the event moved to the new centre last year.

“Everything caught my eye,” said Olivia. “Especially the fudge and the hot tubs.”

While Olivia tested out a Euro Body Shaper with Cork Kallen, her mother said she was enjoying the home show.

“I really like the things like Mary Kay out (in the foyer), and all the bigger stuff in here,” she said. “Because we’re doing renovations, I did get some kitchen ideas and even the retaining walls caught my attention.”

Also working on renovations at their New Glasgow home, Tanya and Mike McCarthy wanted to see what the home show had in store.

“We wanted to look at better ways of heating our home, because oil is so expensive these days,” said Tanya. “We’ve been looking at heat pumps. And hot tubs…who doesn’t want a hot tub, but we probably won’t be getting one.

Tanya said the couple would continue to attend future home shows, especially while continuing renovations.

“Right now we’re basically re-doing the entire upstairs,” said Mike. “Insulation, drywall and windows.”

Tanya said the couple, even though they aren’t renovating their kitchen, has gotten some good ideas for if and when the time comes.

With about 5,000 people attending last year’s home show, Scott Sprague with Master Promotions said attendance was a little down this year.

“It’s going to be close,” he said, adding about 3,500 people had attended from the time the home show started on Friday until the final day began on Sunday.

“Even with the weather this nice (on Sunday), we should still have a strong day,” he said. “Everyone’s having a great time. There’s been a positive vibe throughout the event and it’s been a good experience. People are engaged and anxious to get outside into spring.”

He said the event was a good chance for those working on new projects to compare products from various suppliers, and possibly get ideas for new ones.

Twitter: @TDNRaissa

Article source:

Tom Eblen: Lexington brothers win international architectural design contest

The email from London looked genuine, but it arrived before dawn on April 1.

“Everybody we told thought it was an April Fool’s joke,” said Patrick Morgan, a young architect from Lexington. “I don’t think Jha D believed me. She just wanted to go back to sleep when I called her at 6:30 in the morning.”

The email was from Building Trust International, a London-based charity that works to improve life in developing countries with good shelter design. It told Morgan that he, his brother, Simon, and his architecture school classmate, Jhanéa “Jha D” Williams, had won the organization’s fifth international design competition, to create a mobile health clinic for use in Southeast Asia.

Their design was chosen from among more than 200 entries by student and professional architects. The best student entry won a small cash prize. “Our prize is that it actually gets built and used,” Simon said.

There were nine professional runners-up in the competition, from India, South Korea, Australia, Italy, Denmark, Ireland and Malaysia.

“It’s still a shock that we won,” Patrick said.

Patrick, 26, has a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and works for Interface Studio Architects in Philadelphia. Simon, 24, has a master’s in public health from Columbia University and works for a firm in Washington, D.C., analyzing health policy.

The brothers have been interested in design and construction since they were boys, helping their parents, John Morgan and Linda Carroll, restore historic houses in downtown Lexington.

“That was quite a bit of it,” Patrick said with a laugh. “Having a wheelbarrow in my hands at 6 months old.”

For their Eagle Scout service projects, they built a patio and landscaping at St. Paul Catholic Church.

As an architect with the Lexington firm Thought Space, Patrick designed the interior of an early 1800s cottage his parents restored on East Third Street. It is beside the offices of their company, Morgan Worldwide, a consulting firm that specializes in reducing the environmental impact of mining.

Patrick said he saw Building Trust International’s Moved to Care competition advertised on an architecture blog and suggested developing an entry with his brother and Williams, who works for the architecture and planning firm Sasaki Associates in Boston.

“This sounded perfect for what Simon and I wanted to do together,” he said. “We had always been thinking about trying to work together on projects that would combine our skill sets.”

The idea is that health care services and education can be more effectively delivered in rural areas by bringing small clinics to people rather than asking them to travel to clinics for medical treatment, vaccinations and hygiene education.

“We had been talking about doing something like this for two years,” Simon said. “I studied in South Africa as an undergraduate, and I thought something like this was a much better way to deliver care.”

Patrick said several things about their design seemed to impress the judges. It is easily portable, folding out from a standard tractor-trailer bed. It uses a lot of color, which makes the clinic look welcoming and provides visual clues for usage in a region where dozens of languages are spoken. The design also allows outdoor deck space to be customized for each location.

“The idea is they would fold down from the trailer, but then the community could come in to use their knowledge to build the sun shading and the railings,” Patrick said. “So the local community would feel involved with it.”

Patrick and Simon said they hope to stay connected to the project as it is built and put to use in Cambodia in a pilot project late this year.

“We definitely want to get to Cambodia and stay as involved as possible,” Patrick said. “We’ll get to test the ideas we had in the design and see how they work in the real world, and then be able to tweak it for future models. The idea is that this won’t just be one clinic, but over time they will build more and more of them.”

The Morgan brothers hope to do many more projects together, combining aspects of public health and innovative design.

“It’s just really nice that the first time Simon and I worked together, doing something we plan on doing for a long time, that we were able to win,” Patrick said. “It shows that our ideas meld together nicely.”

Tom Eblen: (859) 231-1415. Email: Twitter: @tomeblen. Blog:

Article source:

Exhibitors share home ideas

As Catherine McGhie and Stephan Peleck demonstrated the virtues of Wallgarden, they also are the perfect demonstration of how Home Exhibition 2014 in Brantford was up to date.

“I’ve been working most of a year on bringing it to the area but everything came only three weeks ago, in time for the show,” McGhie said as she stood in her booth in the civic centre with Peleck, her business partner.

Paris-based Wallgarden: Sales, Installation, Maintenance sells a wall system for potted plantings or herbs or flowers.

The product is manufactured from recycled plastic in Portugal. It can be stacked in vertical or horizontal preference against a wall, and can be irrigated by hand or by a pressure and plumbed system of plastic lines running through each tray.

“We tested the product for awhile in house and outside to make sure it works, then placed our orders,” McGhie said as patrons to the show stopped to consider the product’s possibilities.

Peleck also runs a complementary business, Fixtures, in Paris, and he and McGhie operate as partners to offer a wider home furnishing product.

Wallgarden was one of many home improvement, finance and management ideas available to thousands of visitors who walked the show’s aisles from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.

The event attracted more than 70 exhibitors with a mix of local and national companies.

The displays and their representatives ranged from home design, construction and landscaping to the specialized installation of plumbing, windows, doors, roofing, fireplaces, painting and decorating.

For the outside, there were companies ready to sell landscaping, lawn and garden equipment, patios and fencing.

The number and variety of companies represented – from established firms to upstart enterprises offered options and competition.

At Ringuette Windows and Doors, owner Matt Ringuette touted his company’s products.

“We sell exclusively locally made Canadian products because we want to support our community,” he said, pointing to products in the Mitten line.

“A lot of really big manufacturing firms are in the U.S. and they produce for people there. There are products that are more suitable for our local climate, such as Mitten Vinyl, which everyone around here knows.”


Article source:

Drought prompts some to rethink landscaping norm


No comments posted. ||
| Search Archives

Sunday, April 13, 2014 1:05 PM EDT

Drought prompts some to rethink landscaping norm

A landscaper mows a lawn in El Dorado Hills, Calif., March 27, 2014. (Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee/MCT)

Sacramento, Calif., gets about as much annual rainfall as arid Flagstaff, Ariz., but its lush lawns are modeled on those of rain-soaked England.

The capital’s turf tradition is deeply rooted and is even enshrined in the bylaws of various homeowners associations. That may be starting to change, however. Nudged by local governments worried about water shortages, home builders and homeowners associations are showing increased willingness to embrace the drought-tolerant landscapes that more naturally suit California.

A growing number of cities are paying homeowners to tear out their lawns. A few home builders are starting to plan development in a way that they say makes more sense for the region’s Mediterranean climate and regular droughts.

“We’re on the cusp of change. It’s definitely here,” said Kevin Carson, northern California president for The New Home Company.

The developer is building the first major subdivision in decades in the slow-growth university town of Davis, Calif. The Cannery project will feature drought-tolerant landscaping along its bike paths, and most of the front yards will be landscaped with low-water plants in place of grass.

City officials in Davis insisted on the plan. The New Home Company embraced it by hiring a prominent firm of landscape architects that specialize in low-water designs. They’re planning gardens of lavender, California wild roses and bottle brush instead of flat swaths of green, Carson said.

A big unknown is whether buyers will want homes without lawns, a mainstay in the Sacramento region for 150 years. Carson and others said it’s a matter of showing homeowners the beauty and benefits of drought-tolerant landscaping, while counting on preferences to evolve as the public becomes aware of the need for water conservation.

“Consumers’ tastes do have to change, but we have to give them some different opportunities,” Carson said.

Today, there’s basically one way most people think of to landscape a house: a lawn surrounded by shrubs and flowers with a shade tree or two.

It’s known as the English garden, and it’s nearly universal now. But that wasn’t always the case, experts said.

The model took hold in the second half of the 19th century, when seed companies sold the idea from Maine to California, said Thomas J. Mickey, author of “America’s Romance with the English Garden.”

“Nurseries and seed companies had a huge influence on California landscapes,” Mickey said.

Advances in printing allowed for colorful seed catalogs, brought to California by railroad. Salesmen traveled west promoting the new yard plans, he said.

Transplants from the East Coast also brought their notions of landscaping with them to the West. The emerging middle class wanted lawns like the American aristocracy and the English gentry before them. Think of the vast lawns surrounding the grand manor house in “Downton Abbey,” he said.

Well-groomed lawns in the front yards of homes became status symbols and statements about the residents who lived there.

“In America, the lawn was linked to social class,” Mickey said. “It really took off when people had the money to move to the suburbs. Real estate agents would say, ‘Now you can have a lawn.'”

The federal government, too, promoted lawns to homeowners. In its yearbook from 1897, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommended Kentucky bluegrass and described the ideal turf.

“A perfect lawn consists of the growth of a single variety of grass with a smooth, even surface, uniform color, and an elastic turf which has become, through constant care, so fine and so close in texture as to exclude weeds, which, appearing, should be at once removed,” wrote Frank Lamson-Scribner, first head of the USDA’s division of agrostology, which studied grasses.

Suburban homeowners after World War II took the advice to heart, competing to have the perfect lawn. Homeowners today spend tens of billions of dollars planting and keeping up their lawns.

Lawns met with some disfavor in the drought of the late 1970s, when a small minority of homeowners let their grass die and filled their yards with gravel in a landscape more common to Phoenix or Albuquerque.

But the notion never caught on in Sacramento in a big way. Other homeowners planted vegetable gardens and fruit trees, opting to make their yards productive instead of ornamental.

By and large, though, the lawn and a border of shrubbery remained the dominant model.

In last decade’s housing boom, home builders rolled out sod by the truckload in front of tens of thousands of new homes. Most homeowners associations continue to insist that those lawns be maintained, even as the drought became a crisis this year and cities across the region, including Folsom and Sacramento, required homeowners to cut water consumption by 20 percent or more.

“Lawns are pretty,” said Tom Gohring, executive director of the Water Forum, a group that promotes water conservation across the Sacramento region, with a particular eye to the health of the American River. He said even though he and his wife replanted their backyard in drought-tolerant native species, they couldn’t let go of the grass in their front yard.

Many homeowners feel the same. But with tight water supplies, tastes need to start changing, Gohring said. What’s needed is a “paradigm shift” in the way builders, homeowners and homeowners associations view yards and home landscaping, he said. It won’t happen fast but the drought has at least jump-started the shift.

“We’re in the middle of a movement, but it does take time,” Gohring said.

Cities, state lawmakers, and homeowners are exploring alternatives that, should they take hold, could transform the Sacramento area’s front yards in years to come and reduce water usage.

In early March, the Sacramento City Council approved a “cash for grass” program that provides rebates to homeowners who replace their grass lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping. Utilities officials said they had a waiting list for the program before the spending plan was even approved.

Roseville, Calif., one of the leaders in water-conservation programs in the region, launched a cash-for-grass program in 2008 with a budget of $30,000. City officials weren’t sure how it would be received, said Lisa Brown, the city’s water-conservation administrator. They needn’t have worried.

“We had a line outside the door the morning we started. We had expended all of our funding in five minutes,” Brown said. “We had a budget of $100,000 this fiscal year, and that’s already gone. We’ve got a hefty waiting list.”

The program pays $1 a square foot to homeowners to replace irrigated turf with drought-tolerant plants, up to $1,000 per household.

A 1,500-square-foot lawn surrounded by 375 feet of plants that require medium amounts of water uses requires 45,653 gallons per year, Brown estimated. The same size area planted in drought-tolerant landscaping needs only 12,338 gallons of water a year, she said.

Since the program’s inception, at least 500 homeowners have removed about 350,000 square feet of turf, saving an estimated 14 million gallons of water annually, Brown said.

Britta Kalinowski was one of the program’s early participants. She re-landscaped her then-2-year-old home in west Roseville’s Fiddyment Farm subdivision in 2009. Her front yard, once flat turf, is now a mix of rosemary and lavender, periwinkle and crape myrtle, with a variety of height and color.

Instead of mowing once a week she prunes a couple of times a year and sometimes replaces a plant or two, Kalinowski said.

“It’s really low maintenance. I’m really happy with it,” she said. “It looks more interesting. Some of our neighbors are ripping their hair out because they can’t keep their lawns green. They water and they fertilize. I don’t have that trouble.”


Kalinowski said her neighbors mainly have been curious about her yard, not critical, and some have emulated her example.

In other new home communities, where homeowners association rules govern lawn maintenance, residents seeking to redo their yards have had to submit formal landscaping plans to HOA boards, but most homeowners were ultimately allowed to convert their yards, Brown said.

“It’s controversial,” said Kelvin Nanney, the executive director of the California North Chapter of the Community Associations Institute, which represents HOAs. Dozens of associations across the Sacramento region each have their own rules, he said. Some are more amenable to drought-tolerant yards than others.

“It depends on the association,” he said. “Everybody is trying to do the right thing.”

Two state lawmakers introduced bills this year to make it easier for homeowners to switch to low-water landscaping, HOA rules notwithstanding.

State law already forbids HOA rules that prohibit, or have the effect of prohibiting, the use of low-water plants. But some associations have found ways to prevent homeowners from re-landscaping too much, for instance by requiring homeowners to maintain a certain portion of their yards as lawns, said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego.

This year Gonzalez introduced Assembly Bill 2104 to broaden the existing law, Civil Code section 4735, and make it clear an HOA shouldn’t stand in the way of homeowners who want to swap turf for low-water plants.

“We just want to take the first step in allowing homeowners to change out their lawns,” Gonzalez said. Forcing homeowners to irrigate to maintain green grass in a drought “makes no sense,” she said.

State Sen. Jim Nielsen, a Republican who represents a vast district that stretches from the Placer County suburbs to the Oregon border, has introduced a bill to prohibit HOAs from fining homeowners for underwatering their lawns when the governor declares a drought-related state of emergency, as Gov. Jerry Brown did in January.

Homeowners caught in that bind could face a “double whammy” of being required to cut water use by their water provider or face fines, while also being fined by their HOA for letting their lawns go brown, Nielsen said.


Cheryl Buckwalter, is president of EcoLandscape California, a group that advocates drought-resistant landscapes. The group published four different plans for homeowners, complete with lists of low-water plants, at its website,

Planting new drought-tolerant yards takes money, but the up-front costs are mitigated by the long-term savings in water and maintenance, she contended.

She cited a project called “garden/garden” by the city of Santa Monica, Calif. The city landscaped two adjacent bungalows, one with a traditional lawn and another with native plantings. The experiment, detailed on the city’s website, proved cost-effective long term. The low-water option cost more to install — $16,700 for the native yard versus $12,400 for the traditional one. But it saved more than 50,000 gallons of water annually, greatly reduced maintenance time and costs, and eliminated hundreds of pounds of yard waste each year.

What makes sense, Buckwalter said, is for home builders and HOAs to pursue drought-tolerant landscaping on a large scale, rather than having homeowners do it piecemeal. She said she’s hoping to educate those groups and pursue widespread change in the way the Sacramento region is landscaped.

“HOAs and builders are positioned to be the stars and true leaders here,” Buckwalter said. “They have an opportunity to set the example and offer leadership to our residents.”


Follow Us

Post a reader comment

We encourage your feedback and dialog.
Please be civil and respectful.
If you’re witty, to the point and quotable, your reader comments may also be included on the Around the Towns page of The Sunday Republican.
Registered users comments will be posted automatically.
All other comments will be reviewed by our staff before appearing on the Web site.
Click Here to register.


Article source:

Author draws 100 to Ringwood lecture on easy-care gardens

RINGWOOD — Kerry Ann Mendez, a nationally known gardening expert and author, came to North Jersey on Sunday to tell aging baby boomers, apartment dwellers and busy young professionals how they can create luscious gardens with minimal muss and fuss, minus pain and strain.

Mendez, an advocate of low-maintenance perennial gardening and landscaping, lectured to a standing-room only audience at the New Jersey Botanical Garden at Skylands in Ringwood State Park. More than 100 people, some traveling from as far away as Colts Neck, came to hear Mendez’s design tips for creating “knock-out, easy-care” gardens.

Mendez, a self-taught gardener, left a career in higher education to pursue her passion, gardening, full time with her own consulting and design business, Perennially Yours, in Kennebunk, Maine. The 57-year-old spent 18 years as associate dean of admissions at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., before following her bliss by making a new career of educating the public about gardening.

Mendez has already written two books that have won her fans, and her talk this weekend, as well as her future book, deal with low-maintenance gardening tips and incorporating sustainable practices into gardening.

Mendez, manager of Eastabrook’s Nursery in Maine, said that garden centers are addressing the demographic reality that people 50 and older may not be able to commit as much effort to gardening as they used to, especially physically.

Such people “just don’t have the same amount of time, or it’s too much for them,” said Mendez, who herself has arthritis.

Mendez talked to the audience about plants and flowers that require less maintenance — in terms of water and cutting back, for example.

The trend is “organic and sustainable: less water use, less fertilizer, and certainly less time and effort on our part,” Mendez said.

Her new book, due for release next March, is tentatively called “The Downsized Garden: Exceptional, Low-Maintenance Plants and Design Solutions for Aging Time-Pressed Gardeners.”

“Fifties and up is really who this publisher wants to reach,” Mendez said.

Her message resonated with Kathleen Corless, a 67-year-old Oradell resident, who was at the Ringwood lecture.

“My goal is her goal: Less maintenance,” Corless said. “I’m going to focus more on the drought-tolerant plants … I think it’s better on the environment.”

Mendez said her aim in the coming book is to present shortcuts so it takes 50 percent less time to maintain a garden and to offer “design solutions so you get more impact from fewer plants just by the way you’re designing.” That advice can also assist young professionals who want gardens, but are too busy to devote a lot of time to them, Mendez said.

Gardening trends include raising more edible plants and growing compact plants that can thrive in containers, for deck gardening. Container plants are good options for apartment or condo dwellers, or for those who can’t bend down to tend to flowers and shrubs, Mendez said.

Corless has heard Mendez speak several times at the Philadelphia Flower Show, and Sunday she purchased two of her books, “The Ultimate Flower Gardener’s Top Ten Lists” and “Top Ten Lists for Beautiful Shade Gardens.” Mendez spent time after her lecture autographing books and answering questions from audience members, like Doug Chucka, 53, Franklin Lakes, and Barbara Klein, 53, Ringwood.

Chucka asked Mendez about landscaping Klein’s property.

“You look at it from up above, and the property slopes down,” he said. “Would you plant taller things down at the bottom, get shorter as you come up the slope?”

Mendez said she would need to see the site, but suggested Klein plant “something with a bright color, because a darker blue or purple is going to fade at that distance.”

Lloyd Williams, 52, of Oradell, came with his wife to Mendez’s talk. They have a fairly big garden. “It’s on an incline and its shaded,” he said, “so it’s difficult to plot things, so it’s good to come to these types of talks and get advice.”

Tina Gehrig, 45, of Hawthorne, attended with her boyfriend.

“We just thought it was something we’d be interested in,” Gehrig said. “My boyfriend wants to do some more gardening around the house. I always liked gardening, but I didn’t have a house.”



Article source:

Judi Lloyd: Problem-solving tips and tricks in the garden

I’ve compiled a list of my favorite tips to keep you growing in the right direction. And, thank you to my friend, Vincie, in Denver for some of them.

• Use a plant pot or pail and dry sand to store your trowels and other small tools in. The sand will keep them standing up and free of rust.

• If you’re constantly making trips back to the spot where you keep your garden tools (although that’s good exercise), get an old mailbox and decorate it. Put it on the opposite side of your yard from where you store most of your tools. Then store small tools, gloves, hand cream, etc. in it; so now you have two spots for your stuff.

• If you have some old leaky buckets, don’t toss them in the trash, as they make great slow waterers for trees and shrubs.  Set a filled bucket near a plant and leave it there.  The water will leak out of the holes slowly into the soil, where it will help the plants instead of running off the top.

• When planting seedlings, it is difficult to water the roots without dousing the tiny plant. You can make a reusable collar for them by cutting up short sections from corrugated plastic drain tile. When placed around the plant, it will act as a small reservoir and deter some critters. It can be left on the plant all season, so no need to remove it.

• Use an old salt shaker to sow small seeds. It will distribute them more evenly.

• Save the string sacks that onions, oranges and potatoes come in to dry and store flower bulbs at the end of the season. Never store them in plastic bags as they will rot.

• Never transplant a seedling until it has at least four leaves. This second set (called true leaves) is needed to help withstand transplant shock. Never transplant on a sunny day.

• Remove the flowers from lilies as soon as they begin to fade. This not only makes the plant more attractive, but also prevents seed formation, and allows the plant to concentrate its energy on renewing the bulb. You should cut off the flowers, but leave the foliage because the leaves are important for efficient photosynthesis. Wait until the leaves turn yellow before you cut them.

On another note: The Cooperative Extension’s third Saturday workshop is scheduled for April 19 at 10 a.m. The program will focus on centipede grass maintenance and problem solving. As always, we’ll meet in Craven County Agricultural Building. This event is free and open to the public and no pre-registration is needed. Also, don’t forget about the one-hour third Monday plant discussion on April 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the same location.


Judi Lloyd lives in River Bend and can be contacted at


Article source:

Restaurant horror stories; garden planning tips

In my couponing classes, I always had fun with everyone by telling them gross restaurant stories. In encouraging them to eat at home more and save their money, I was also teaching them how much cleaner it is. According to a source, who is a food service inspector (not here in Ashland), there are many things you simply don’t want to know about eating out.

Soft-drink machines are often cleaned inside about once a year. In the filter can be dead mice, roaches and filth you can’t imagine.

Gas-station coffee depends on the heat of the coffee to kill germs. Ever wonder why it’s so hot you can’t drink it for 20 minutes? I always ask people who have worked in the food-service industry what happens behind the scenes with the food. My favorite question is: “Do they really spit in food if they don’t like the patron?” Well, little evil smiles abound in the room.

Things to notice: Does the waitress/waiter have fingers on the plate during serving? Does he or she handle money or debit cards? There are lots of germs on money and credit cards to get on a plate. Does your fork or knife have a fingerprint on it? How about fingers on the rim of a glass when serving? This is where your mouth will be.

Many items are reheated over and over again. Most foods are microwaved and employees simply heat and stir. Food at most “chain” restaurants is trucked in and microwaved onsite to keep the taste consistent with other restaurants. You can microwave a meal at home much cheaper.

Movie-theater popcorn usually is delivered in huge bags. You don’t really know how old it is or what it has come into contact with.

In the South, including North and South Carolina, restaurants must post their cleanliness ratings on the drive-through window. They have good incentive to keep ratings high.

If a restaurant restroom is dirty, I believe the kitchen probably is, too. Other things to look for: filth under appliances and dirty counters, tables and floors. Also look for food set out, flies, roaches, bread dough in containers on the floor white worms in the salad.

By cooking at home in large quantities, you can freeze meals to fix quickly. We know if it was handled in a safe, clean manner. Demand better from the restaurant where you dine. We all have to eat out sometimes, either on vacation or because things are hectic. Hospital cafeterias rate as some of the cleanest places.

Read the food-service inspection reports in The Independent, and then decide whether or not to eat at a particular business.

Plan a garden

Eat something healthy! Some are planting sugar snap peas and kale now. If you have a problem with deer eating your plants, think of investing in an electric fence. Lowe’s has them. This is not a cruel thing. The fence simply snaps and scares the deer away.

Blood meal also works, but it has to be put down every time it rains. If a deer smells the blood meal, it thinks it isn’t safe, believing something was killed there. This also works for rabbits. Simply line the perimeter of your yard or garden with the meal.

Garden tilling is a needed job in the area. It would be a lucrative business in the spring. Lots of people want a garden, but are unable to till soil, or they don’t have the money for a machine tiller. A backyard garden is a real money saver, and it allows your family to eat quality food.


Since we are getting a Kohl’s next year, we need to research how to shop the store. Kohl’s Cash is earned on the amount of purchases after discounts.

You can “stack” at Kohls, just like you can at CVS. Imagine a clothing and housewares store that stacks! My friend, Nancy, bought a red Kitchenaid mixer for $120. It normally would be in the $350 range. By using a 30-percent-off coupon and Kohl’s cash, she got a great deal.

The Kohl’s Reward Card adds up your points. Be sure and save your coupons from the newspaper when Kohl’s starts running ads. Every month, if you have a Kohl’s charge card, you will get coupons of 15 percent to 30 percent. Birthday time will net you a $10 Kohl’s Buck. You can earn Kohl’s Bucks on limited-time promos. You can stack a percent off and Kohl’s Cash. You can earn Kohl’s Cash by shopping online, too. If you shop Ebates, you’ll earn even more.

New products

Oxi has new line, including New Oxi Clean with White Revive, and  a $1 coupon. It’s advertised to work on dirty socks, old vintage linens, quilts and lace.

Oxi Clean Detergent: $2 coupon

Tide with Oxi

Gain with Oxi Boost

Oxi Clean Baby Stain Soaker with a pink lid

Oxi Clean Dishwasher Booster: 75-cent coupon

Clorox Disinfecting Spray, which reduces allergens

Oxi is great for more than laundry. Put your oven racks in the tub and soak them in Oxi. You can clean tubs, grout and charcoal grills. It removes rust stains, stains from coffee pots, tea stains in mugs or china, kitchen sinks and mildew.

Article source:

Tips to green your home and garden this season

Going green at home doesn’t have to turn your life upside down. There are simple measures you can take in your kitchen and garden to run a planet-friendly home.

Reduce Waste

Ensure your kitchen is properly outfitted with labeled paper and plastic recycling bins. Keep these receptacles handy to encourage your family and guests to make use of them.

Take your waste reduction a step further by setting up a bin for food scraps, which you can add to your yard trimmings. Composting creates a natural fertilizer that’s makes a planet-friendly alternative to the chemical variety.

By recycling and composting, you can join the ranks of Americans reducing the waste they send to the landfill. In fact, recycling and composting prevented 86.9 million tons of materials from being disposed in 2011 in the United States, up from 15 million tons in 1980, according to government estimates.

Protect Wildlife

You may think of your yard as “yours,” but you are actually sharing the space with furry creatures, insects and birds. Habitat destruction and loss, as well other manmade and natural threats, put beautiful species like humming birds at risk. Make your garden a safe haven with bird feeders and by planting native, sustentative shrubs, trees and flowers.

Unfortunately, bird to building collisions, particularly with windows, are estimated to kill between 100 million and 1 billion birds in the United States alone, according to a new report from the Cooper Ornithological Society.

Ensure the safety of your airborne visitors by applying static-cling decals to your windows, which helps birds detect glass, thereby avoiding injury or death. Decals from WindowAlert, for example, rely on special ultraviolet-reflecting coating that looks like etched glass to humans, but is quite visible to birds, and add a decorative appearance to your home.

The coating can fade over time, so remember to replace decals every six to nine months. More information can be found at

Eat Local

Source your food locally to reduce your carbon footprint. If possible, buy local, in-season fruits and vegetables that didn’t have to travel the world to reach your plate.

And while flowers are beautiful to look at — and the right ones can provide nectar for pollinating insects and birds — consider turning at least part of your garden into a space for herbs and vegetables to grow. When dinner comes from your own back yard, it means fresher produce that’s good for your family, and good for the planet.

Don’t just enjoy nature this season, take care of it. With a few small tweaks, it isn’t hard to run your home more sustainably.

Article source:

Gardening: Big lessons outdoors

Learning about fruiting trees enthrals wee ones. Meg Liptrot reports on a winning kohanga reo that has gone green.

Preschoolers at Glen Eden's Te Kohanga Reo o Kakariki have their own healthy vege plot. Photos / Meg Liptrot
Preschoolers at Glen Eden’s Te Kohanga Reo o Kakariki have their own healthy vege plot. Photos / Meg Liptrot

It is humbling to feel like a dunce around preschoolers, but these fluent te reo speakers put me to shame.

“Kia ora” and “what hard mahi” was about the extent of it for me. I’ll put this in the must-do-better basket, or should I say “kete”.

It is just as well I know my way around plants as I helped identify fruit trees and veges in the new mara (garden) at Glen Eden’s Te Kohanga Reo o Kakariki. Earlier this year the preschool won a Radio Live garden makeover and I’d heard great things about it.

The makeover, sponsored by Mitre 10, featured a vibrant interactive concept provided by celebrity garden designer Tony Murrell. The design incorporated the kohanga reo’s vision for fruit trees, native trees and vegetables. Community, whanau and Radio Live crew turned up to make the design reality over a weekend in February.

This kohanga reo, founded in 1982, is one of the oldest in the country. Formerly based in Green Bay, the preschool moved to the site of a former bowling green in Glen Eden in 2009.

The grounds were bare when they arrived. Staff and whanau laid a serpentine footpath and sandpit for the children a few years ago. The centre is nicely positioned and elevated, surrounded by a park with views of the Waitakere Ranges.

Now, with a wave of Radio Live’s wand and some hard graft, they have a food forest filled with a range of pip and stone fruit trees, citrus, tamarillo, plus guava and blueberry bushes, perfect for little fingers to pick. Tukutuku panels from the old Green Bay Kohanga Reo bring continuity to the new location, taking pride of place on a brush fence surrounding the fruit forest.

The grassed play area features low-maintenance native grasses, colourful flaxes and trees, including a totara and three puriri to attract native birds such as kereru. Large grade trees were manhandled into position for instant effect. Three large magnolias provide instant structure and will produce glorious scent when they flower.

Raised planter boxes were built at perfect preschooler height so the kids can help tend and pick from the gardens. The teachers pointed out that the children enjoy picking green leaves to nibble straight out of this garden, even if they pull faces at salad greens in their lunches. Kohanga reo teacher Rebecca Leaf said their aim for the vege garden is to use only heirloom seed collected from whanau. This provides a lovely connection for the children with their food heritage, linking them with their kaumatua. Rebecca’s uncle is supplying taewa maori (potatoes) and rock melon seed is coming from an aunty. They were given kamokamo seed by Rebecca’s tupuna wahine (grandmother), Reverend Judy Cooper, a founding member of the kohanga who was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal this year for services to Maori arts and the community.

With Rebecca’s young son there are now four generations of the Cooper whanau actively involved in the kohanga reo. Chairperson Terry Davis is justifiably proud of it.

The kohanga reo differs from other playcentres and kindergartens as it has a lesson plan, with a chosen subject each term and the learning environment is governed by whanau. The children are learning about whanaungatanga, gaining a sense of connection about where they come from, shared experiences and a sense of belonging. Next term the children will learn about the environment through Papatuanuku (the Earth Mother) and Ranginui (Sky Father), to tie in with Matariki.

This is Terry’s last year as chairperson. His youngest, Paewaka, will soon be heading to Te Kura Kaupapa but I’m sure Terry will come back to visit, to check on the progress of this magnificent garden and to pick apples in the fruit forest with his mokopuna.

I wondered if the new gardens will inspire lessons.

Rebecca says this year’s lesson plan was already sorted before the garden came into being, but the garden will be a great resource for the staff and their charges in years to come. She says the children are already inventive, drawing pictures with pieces of bark on the concrete path and testing their agility walking across rocks in the new landscape.

A pile of rocky rubble near the food forest will be a good home for native skinks and other wildlife. Fruit trees and flowering natives will draw birds and insects into the garden and provide ample opportunities for observation and identification exercises for the tamariki.

A worm bin is near the raised vege gardens, and children will soon be able to make the connection between composting food waste and growing healthy food, not to mention squirmy worms to hold.

• Check out footage of the two-day makeover at

Herald on Sunday

Article source:

Rooted in history, a garden design for the ages in Maine

TO VISIT Milena Banks’s garden, which meanders down a hill overlooking Maine’s smallest city, is to wander through the mind of an artist, author, and world traveler who studied flower arranging in Japan and drew inspiration from the landscapes of England’s literary masters.

Banks and her husband, Erik, bought the 60-acre Bath farm, complete with 1812 granite house, in 2004. The land around the house “was just an empty space surrounded by trees and swamp,” she says, standing in the pea-stone driveway at the top of the tranquil hillside. “There was a little puddle at the bottom.”

Continue reading below

The couple, who previously lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, were shopping for a home near a city but with space to rehabilitate an increasing number of rescue animals — another of Banks’s interests. They found the farm on the Internet, but the house was a disaster. She made an offer so low she was sure the seller would refuse. Instead, she and Erik became the new owners.