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Archives for May 1, 2014

Student activist looks to change face of MUC lawn

University of South Dakota junior Erica Kuharski is spearheading discussion in an effort to create a more sustainable area in the southeast lawn of the new Muenster University Center expansion, and her efforts have lead her to the office of President James Abbott.

“I was walking from class and I just saw all the dirt and I’m like, ‘Oh crap, they’re going to put grass there, aren’t they?’” Kuharski said.

Abbott said he could not say if a landscape contract has been signed for the space.

“There’s no sense in me asking them to alter their plans or to change them or to do something different until I know what she wants, and then I can see what we’ve contracted for. That was the idea — that she would let me know what she thought as soon as possible,” Abbott said.

He said he does not know what has been planned for the space but was willing to hear ideas to share with the contractor as he has had more than one individual talk to him about the issue.

Along with Kuharski, Student Government Association President Tyler Tordsen joined the conversation to discuss the area’s future.

Tordsen said no matter what ideas are put forward, Abbott has been realistic in considering other options.

Abbott said just because there may be something planned, it would not be off limits to talk about different possibilities.

“It doesn’t mean that it can’t be altered, but I’m not going to worry about that until I know what the group wants,” he said.

Abbott has allowed Kuharski to submit her ideas in writing for the space up until June 15.

To gain public attention, Kuharski organized a sit-in on the unfinished area outside the MUC at the beginning of April.

Kuharski led a core group of five students in a sit-in for four days and said she was out there for an average of three hours each day. The sit-ins involved green ribbons tied around the area and led to her wearing a bikini to prove the point.

Her goal was to make students pause in an effort to have something else be planted, besides the Kentucky blue grass she assumed would be the addition.

Majoring in anthropology with a double minor in conservation and biodiversity and women and gender studies, Kuharski said she became interested in the space after taking a sustainability class and planned the event to get the attention of students.

“I don’t care what happens to me in my personal reputation,” Kuharski said. “I can throw it all away if it means tomorrow everybody has their set in life of what they want to do, because I know what I want to do.”

The ideas she plans to submit to Abbott come with the assistance of faculty and knowledgeable sources. Kuharski said her ideas are simple, require less man work and can be easily maintained.

A butterfly garden, a courtyard with tables or adding buffalo grass are a few of the ideas she has thought of and heard from other students.

If one of her landscaping ideas is approved, Kuharski said she plans to propose the idea of a student group, called The Hufflepuff Club, to maintain the area all throughout the year.

Meghann Jarchow, coordinator of the sustainability program and assistant professor of biology, said the protests were not affiliated with the sustainability program or sustainability club. Jarchow also said Kuharski is looking to collaborating with Jarchow to get ideas together into a packet to present to Abbott on what the space could become.

As a prairie ecologist, Jarchow said she would like to see the university act as a model for sustainable landscapes and move toward incorporating more beneficial and diverse prairie plant features.

“Native plants use less water, you don’t have to fertilize them and they take less maintenance,” Jarchow said.

Putting more native landscaping into the bare area near the MUC, she said, would be different from what people expect to see as they are walking around campus.

Jarchow said the public would need to be reeducated on what a beautiful, “desirable” landscape would be and that it does not have to be the Kentucky blue grass commonly seen around campus.

“Prairies are the native landscape for this area and are really beautiful and have flowers associated with them, but are different from what we think we should expect for open spaces in this area,” Jarchow said.

Signs could be placed near the various types of plants as an educational feature, Jarchow said.

There may be an expense issue, Jarchow said, as the native plants can cost more to purchase than others.

She said for the prairie plants’ first year, it would cost $1,100, including the expensive prairie seed cost, and would amount to $25 per acre per year after, with the plants paying for themselves after a few years with the low-maintenance prices.

Kuharski said she obtained 40 signatures on a petition to create a different space than simply grass in an hour one day, and would like to see some of the same support from the students in the future since they have a lot of power, by simply reading or joining a sustainable club or just get interested.

“I’ve done my part, it’s your turn,” Kuharski said. “I’m hoping people will do something. They should do their own small steps.”

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Honea talks up Marana’s prospects in State of Town speech

In his State of the Town speech, Marana Mayor Ed Honea lauded the town’s progress and spoke highly of its future.

Honea spoke April 18 at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain.

“The state of our town is excellent. Our finances are in order,” Honea said, according to a speech transcript provided by the town.

“We have a very healthy reserve account in place. Our roads and infrastructure are in excellent condition. We have great parks and trails. Our police are some of the best in the state. The town of Marana, our town, is going in the right direction.”

Honea said Duralar Technologies has selected Marana as its North American headquarters, and said the plant will be located in the business park near Arizona Pavilions. According to town spokesman Rodney Campbell, the company could hire 35 employees or more to work at the headquarters.

Honea also praised the Marana Center at Twin Peaks Road and Interstate 10. The project will be a premium outlet mall with more than 90 stores and eventually include an auto mall, large-scale retail center, hotels and restaurants.

Honea said Marana will focus on improving its infrastructure.

“We are going to invest in our future,” he said. “New water and sewer lines are going to be installed in key locations so that we are prepared to accommodate economic growth. We are going to work with each developer, business owner and investor to meet their needs, while ensuring quality development that enhances our community.”

Honea also focused on Marana’s Strategic Plan, which guides the town in its decision-making and resource allocation. The plan focuses on commerce, community, recreation, innovation and heritage. Honea broke his speech down to address what the town was doing to achieve its goals in each of those categories.

For commerce, he discussed the Duralar and outlet mall additions, as well as the town’s work with Pinal County to complete a master plan for Pinal Airpark, which Honea envisions as a shipping and logistics hub, as well as an economic center.

For community, Honea said the town would invest in the town’s cleanliness, safety, schools and efforts to maintain attractive landscaping. He said the goal is to create a sense of place that echoes that of Disneyland.

On the topic of recreation, Honea said the town wants more parks east of I-10, and will start down that path by building a neighborhood park on West Tangerine Road near Sky Ranch Estates.

Speaking about innovation, Honea said the town has developed a program to probe all facets of the community for ideas. He said the town’s new slogan, “Your Town,” came from such an effort. He sees the town’s branding — which will appear on town publications and websites — as a way to attract people to the community.

To focus on heritage, Honea said the town will continue to support the efforts of the Marana Heritage Conservancy, which highlights the town’s history and hosts an annual Founders’ Day celebration.

He also spoke of the coming start of Marana Heritage River Park, a 165-acre area that will include a ranch, farm, park and shops — all connected with walkways. The first stage, which will open in the fall, will be a community garden.

“The future is bright in Marana,” Honea said. “We are going to attract commerce. We are going to build community. We are going to encourage innovation. We are going to celebrate heritage. We are going to support recreation. We are making ‘Your Town’ a very special place to live.”

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Old Lyme ponders how to make Halls Road embody town’s identity

Old Lyme – Halls Road, the half-mile commercial stretch that begins with a modern intersection at Route 156 and ends at the historic district at Lyme Street, is dotted with restaurants, stores and offices – which landscape architect Sarah Wood McCracken describes as a series of seven distinct physical identities.

They range from a cluster of 1960s-style commercial buildings to marshes near the Lieutenant River, and they occupy a space near the center of town.

“How can these seven identities ever become assimilated to represent the unique identity of Old Lyme and the cultural, historic and business communities here?” asked McCracken, a local landscape architect, at a Wednesday business breakfast organized by the town and the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce.

About 30 people attended the event at the Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library to hear about possibly developing a master plan for Halls Road.

The town wants to enhance the road, which is a stretch of federal Route 1, to ensure long-term economic development by encouraging passersby to linger and patronize shops and keeping the road attractive for businesses. At the same time, it aims to create more opportunities for residents to enjoy the area and unite the road with Lyme Street, tapping into the history of arts palpable on its main street, said First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder.

“This is a lot about what place-making is about,” she said. “Rather than getting people passing through, we want this to be an inviting stretch where people will stop and patronize our businesses.”

Possibilities include a town-owned open space area with benches for people to enjoy views of the nearby Lieutenant River. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection recently agreed to give the town a triangular parcel of land near a town-owned parcel, which could aid in creating such a space, said Reemsnyder.

Installing a bike lane and adding more landscaping were ideas that emerged after the Mentoring Corps for Community Development first approached her and the town about exploring ways to beautify the road, McCracken said. It could even become an outdoor arts gallery, she said.

The mentoring corps is a group of volunteers from Old Lyme that works on economic and community development.

McCracken said enhancing Halls Road could encourage customers to stay longer in the area, which would in turn help stores remain in business and attract new shops. The redesign could also “engender a feeling of pride in Old Lyme” and turn the area into a greater destination for eateries or other shops.

Attendees asked questions ranging from the project’s benefits to how to alleviate traffic congestion when drivers use Halls Road to avoid a traffic jam on Interstate 95.

Reemsnyder said the master plan will take traffic into account but added that if those drivers were to stop and patronize local businesses, the inevitable traffic could become less of a drawback. She stressed improving the area to make it attractive for businesses to stay. She said she would never want to see vacant storefronts along Halls Road.

“I think the economic benefit to the town and the residents is that we maintain the businesses that we do have,” she said. She added that while the town wants to maintain its character and doesn’t want big box stores or huge complexes, it should be creative about its economic development. She said the town originally began holding the breakfasts – the first one was in September – as a way to find solutions to comments tossed about that the town was “unfriendly to business.”

The town is aiming to acquire some grants for the project, which could be a phased-in process that could take up to 10 years to complete. The town envisions the project as a “collaborative effort” with local and regional groups, according to the presentation.

A yet-to-be-formed committee with local stakeholders will study ideas for enhancing Halls Road and building a greater sense of place there for business owners, residents and visitors.

Ultimately, an architectural firm could then develop a long-term master plan for the road. The firm’s tasks will include surveying the area’s topography, identifying rights of way, becoming familiar with local zoning laws and transportation regulations, and designing the area, said McCracken.

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Hampton Garden Club lends green thumbs to project [Towson]

Earlier in the week, I was delighted to meet Joy Stepcich at Talmar Gardens and Horticultural Therapy Center in Cromwell Valley Park. Stepcich, who chairs the project committee with the Hampton Garden Club, was excited to see the results of the garden club’s beautification efforts of last November at the center’s entranceway.

“We worked very hard with the county and others to make this landscaping project a success,” said Stepcich, of Phoenix. “Our biggest fear was that the plants might not survive a harsh winter.”

When we arrived, it was immediately evident that Stepcich’s concerns might just be a reality. The plants seemed dormant, matching the color of the mulch that lined the right side of the entrance.

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“I am sure that we will not see full bloom until further into May,” said Stepcich.

Still, Stepcich agreed there will be a lot of work to do. The harsh winter, coupled with the growing deer population seeking out any food they could find, meant some touching up would be needed in the coming weeks.

Stepcich stated that the hard work began last July to make this partnership with Talmar possible. But they soon realized they needed assistance. One of the garden club’s newest members, Mary Ellen Pluemer, contacted her son, Christopher Pluemer, who is a landscape artist with Pinehurst Landscape Co., of Glen Arm.

Pinehurst worked closely with Stepcich and her team throughout the process of working with the Baltimore County Park Council to secure proper permits. Before the group was given final approval, the council required Stepcich to not include any permanent landscaping structures and to use stones consistent with river rock.

To Stepcich, it was all worth it to make the entrance to Talmar — a nonprofit that provides a therapeutic and recreational environment particularly for individuals with chronic disabilities or chronic conditions — more welcoming and beautiful for all.

“It is a wonderful program that is so beneficial to those it serves,” Stepcich said.

Talmar and the Hampton Garden Club each contributed $500 to the project.

“Pinehurst supplied the boulders, mulch, underlayment, plants and labor,” Stepcich said. “We would have never been able to achieve this without Pinehurst landscaping.”

Hampton Garden Club is planning a formal dedication in May, when the landscaping project is in full bloom.

In other news, Campus Hills resident Elizabeth McKinley participated in Loch Raven High School’s Relay For Life event at the school on April 26. The event benefits the American Cancer Society, and McKinley hopes the event raises over $60,000 as they have in past years.

“This is a great charity to help cancer research and awareness,” said McKinley. “We all know someone who has been touched by cancer, and this is why we relay.”

To support McKinley or other participants, you can still make a donation at

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Disabled Veteran Wins New Landscaping

SALISBURY, Md. – A disabled veteran of the US Army, and Salisbury resident, was the winner of a online Facebook contest in which the winner received a brand new landscaping design outside of their home.

Naomi Donohoe of Salisbury came home Tuesday afternoon from a spa day to find the look outside of the house she has called home for five years.

“Shock and awe.  It’s more beautiful than I could have ever imagined,” said Donohoe.

The contest was held by the theme park, Busch Gardens, and Donohoe was selected from hundreds of entries ranging from Delaware down to the Carolinas.  While Donohoe was off enjoying a day at the spa, the landscaping team from Busch Gardens worked tirelessly for six hours to transform Donohoe’s landscaping.

 “Naomi Donohoe was a great story she submitted for the contest.  She is a wounded warrior.  A US military veteran and it was a great pleasure for us to be able to give her a custom landscape makeover,” said Erick Elliott, Director of Landscaping Operations for Busch Gardens.

Donohoe wrote in her contest entry that because of her most recent surgery, she has been unable to turn the outside of her home into what she always had envisioned.  Now, she doesn’t have to worry about it.

“I caught it a few days before it actually ended, so I really didn’t think I was going to win, and you know they have the 20 finalists, and they picked the winner a few weeks later and when they emailed me, I was in shock, I couldn’t believe it,” said Donohoe.

Along with the new landscaping design, Donohoe also won a brand new riding mower.

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Los Angeles Landscaping Company, Neighborhood Gardening, Now Offers … – Virtual

Dry climates can be challenging when it comes to watering and maintaining a verdant lawn. Los Angeles landscaping company, Neighborhood Gardening, can now help ensure the lawn is efficiently watered while also increasing the property value of the home.

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) April 29, 2014

Los Angeles landscaping company, Neighborhood Gardening, now offers sprinkler system installation services to area homeowners and businesses. In contrast to manual watering methods, automatic sprinkler watering requires no special attention once installed and configured. This service allows more area clients to keep their lawns, gardens and landscaping plants healthy throughout the year. With plenty of experience designing and installing these systems, Neighborhood Gardening is an efficient choice for creation and maintenance of a hands-free successful landscape.

About Neighborhood Gardening Services Los Angeles

Neighborhood Gardening, Los Angeles landscaping company, has been offering client-focused landscape services since 2009. In addition to installing sprinkler systems in Los Angeles area, Neighborhood Gardening professionals offer deck construction, design of landscapes and hardscapes, installation and repair of irrigation systems, placement of sod and artificial grass in Los Angeles and several other services. With this broad selection of options performed on budget and on time consistently, hundreds of clients in Los Angeles rely on the company for regular installation and maintenance of commercial and residential lawns and gardens throughout the year.

The dry climate of Southern California presents certain challenges to property owners who want a lush, attractive landscape that onlookers will love. During long summer days of intense sunshine, multiple water sessions may be necessary to sustain trees, shrubs and flowers. Unfortunately, watering by hand can result in wasting water or overwatering an entire garden or parts of it. Using the professional sprinkler system installation services of Neighborhood Gardening ensures that sprinklers are selected and configured optimally for lower water bills and protection from property damage.

A variety of systems can be chosen by clients who use Los Angeles landscaping company Neighborhood Gardening. For example, above-ground or below-ground systems may be best depending on certain conditions. For larger areas of grass, oscillating sprinklers may be recommended. Pulsating types are a more affordable option ideal for rounded sections of vegetation. For the lowest cost when watering smaller lawns, stationary sprinklers can be ideal. Neighborhood Gardening technicians analyze every lawn to determine the ideal product and system design for the best results. With any type of system, property values are likely to increase, making sprinkler systems sound investments for virtually any home or business that requires regular watering.

For the original version on PRWeb visit:

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KEEPING FIT: Tips to avoid injuries while gardening

By Wayne L. Westcott
For The Patriot Ledger

Posted Apr. 27, 2014 @ 7:00 am

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Tips for getting a good start to the garden

As spring slowly starts, many gardeners cannot wait to soak up the springtime sun and get their hands dirty in the garden. Such excitement is not just good for gardeners, but can benefit the garden in the months to come as well.

Early spring is a great time to get a head start on the gardening season. Even if gardening season is still around the corner, completing the following projects can ensure your garden gets off on the right foot.

Clear debris

One of the best things you can do for your garden as winter winds down is to clear it of debris. Winter can be especially harsh on a landscape, and gardens left to the elements are often filled with debris once spring arrives. Dead leaves, fallen branches, rocks that surfaced during the winter frost, and even garbage that might have blown about in winter winds can all pile up in a garden over a typical winter. Clearing such debris likely won’t take long, but it’s a great first step toward restoring the garden before the time comes to plant and grow the garden once again.

Examine the soil

Soil plays a significant role in whether a garden thrives or struggles. Examining the soil before the season starts can help gardeners address any issues before they plant. Ignoring the soil until a problem arises can turn the upcoming gardening season into a lost opportunity, so test the soil to determine if it has any nutrient or mineral deficiencies. This may require the help of a professional, but if a problem arises, you might be able to adjust the acidity or alkalinity of the soil and still enjoy a successful gardening season.

Another way to examine the soil is less complex but can shed light on when would be a good time to get back to work. Reach into the soil and dig out a handful. If the soil quickly crumbles, you can start preparing for gardening seasoning. But if the soil is still clumped together, it needs more time to dry out before you can begin your prep work.

Initiate edging

Edging is another task gardeners can begin as they get ready for the season. Edge plant and flower beds, but be sure to use a spade with a flat blade or an edger designed to edge flower beds. Such tools will cut deep enough so grass roots that may eventually grow into the flower bed are severed. Depending on how large a garden is, edging can be a time-consuming task, so getting a head start allows homeowners to spend more time planting and tending to their gardens once the season hits full swing.

Fight weeds

Though weeds likely have not survived the winter, that does not mean they won’t return once the weather starts to heat up. But as inevitable as weeds may seem, homeowners can take steps to prevent them from turning beautiful gardens into battlegrounds where plants, flowers and vegetables are pitted against unsightly and potentially harmful weeds. Spring is a good time to apply a pre-emergent weed preventer, which can stop weeds before they grow. Though such solutions are not always foolproof, they can drastically reduce the likelihood of weed growth.

Though gardeners might not be able to start planting their gardens in late winter or early spring, they can still get outside and take steps to ensure their gardens thrive once planting season begins. 

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St. Paul Hotel Floral Expert Offers Up Gardening Tips

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The gorgeous English garden at the St. Paul Hotel is one of the most popular in the state, and this year it celebrates a milestone 20th anniversary.

WCCO’s Edward Moody decided to ask their full-time horticulturalist Sarah Orvik how the rest of us can get our gardening started, even amid weather like we’re seeing this week.

Orvik talked a bit about ivy and how it can add the perfect background for any home garden. She also mentioned that when it starts to warm up, it’s probably safe to start planting your summer annuals around mid-May.

Orvik said that there are also some spring plants that actually perform well in cooler temperatures, such as violas and pansies. It’s important to layer your plants and flowers to ensure maximum “beautifulness,” as Moody put it.

You can get all the tips she had in the videos above and below.

Also, the hotel is doing something new for everyone. They compost their organic waste, and coming up on May 21, you can buy a 10-pound bag of their organic compost for $2. You’ll be able to buy it right in front of the hotel on Market Street.

They’re doing this in partnership with the Mulch store, and all proceeds will go toward planting flowers in Rice Park, right across the street from the hotel.

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Gardening: Watering Tips

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Water is scarce and getting scarcer. Too much of the daily consumption in our watersheds is devoted to landscaping; irrigation of planted spaces is the number one use of residential water. With care, landscapes can be maintained without the waste that sends excess down the drain to the ocean. One good rule to judge a garden’s watering needs is to monitor soil moisture carefully, no matter what is planted and what the soil type may be. Here are some other handy tips:

• Deep-rooted plants such as trees, drought-tolerant natives, and other Mediterranean varieties need a deep soak once a month through the dry months, although if the weather turns foggy, they can often go much longer. The best way to tell if it’s time to water is to probe the soil and see if it still contains some moisture. Dig down with a shovel or trowel or use a specially designed soil probe to pull up a core to inspect. The soil should never be bone dry and crumble to dust, nor should it be wet enough to squeeze moisture out of. On the dry side, it’s time to water. On the soggy side, wait a few days and try again. Then use soaker hoses, low-flow sprinklers, or drip irrigation systems that deliver a small amount of water over a longer period covering the area of the drip zone. The idea is to let the water slowly travel down to the deep regions of the soil before it starts to puddle at the surface.

• Other shrubs and perennials may need water once or twice a week, but applying a thick layer of organic mulch can delay this even more. Again, take a look at what’s happening in the root zone before turning on the water. It may be useful to break up the watering schedule into two or three segments of shorter duration. This will allow the water to soak in gradually instead of running off as soon as the surface is wetted.

• Annuals grow from seed, germinating, flowering, and fruiting in a short season. Water is crucial to their early success, so start seeds in containers to get their root systems established before transplanting into the garden. Then they will need careful monitoring and watering for at least two weeks until they are established. To really acclimate them, transition to less frequent but slower water delivery over a longer time to help foster deeper root growth. Protect young plants with row covers or shade them with temporary hats of folded newspaper if the weather turns very hot or windy.

• Automatic irrigation systems can help regulate water use if carefully programmed. But as with all computer systems, they are only as good as their programmers. For more precise control of irrigation water, irrigation controllers can be fitted with sensors that sense the presence of water in the soil as well as atmospheric conditions such as relative humidity and temperature. These are readily available from local water agencies. They may even have rebate programs to offset the cost of such retrofits.

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Virginia Hayes, curator of Ganna Walska Lotusland, will answer your gardening questions. Address them to Gardens, The Independent, 122 W. Figueroa St., S.B., CA 93101. Send email to

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