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Archives for May 3, 2014

Planning starts for massive Flamingo Road overhaul – Las Vegas Review

One of Southern Nevada’s busiest east-west arterials, named for a historic resort hotel that put Las Vegas on the map, will get a $30 million makeover over the next two years.

The 14-mile length of Flamingo Road — from Grand Canyon Drive at the west end to Jimmy Durante Boulevard at the east end — will be improved with new medians, dedicated bus and bicycle lanes, 86 enhanced bus shelters with shade and seating, and fresh pavement on about 7 miles of the street. Construction also will include the installation of concrete bus panels, the surface areas where buses stop.

From end to end, Flamingo will continue to be a six-lane road with bus lanes that also will accommodate bicycles.

Flamingo won’t be widened. The entire length of the road is about 122 feet wide from sidewalk to sidewalk, although there are some sections at Flamingo’s U.S. Highway 95 freeway entrance that are 100 feet wide.

Vehicle use of Flamingo varies by time and location. It ranges from less than 1,000 vehicles per hour at the ends of the road to nearly 6,000 per hour in the busy resort corridor.

Channelized and raised medians will guide motorists on left turns and U-turns and non-irrigated landscaping with rock, gravel and representations of desert animals are planned.

Design work is nearing completion and construction is expected to begin in October.

Regional Transportation Commission engineers will listen to the public for additional detailed repair ideas through the end of August. They’ll be looking, for example, to fix damaged sidewalks to make sure they’re compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act access laws.

The commission, which is coordinating the project, completed two open-house meetings this week, seeking comments from people who live and work along the road.

At the public meetings, the commission displayed 17 panels showing aerial views of the length of the project with map overlays outlining planned work. Those panels will be displayed online starting Monday at and public comments can be submitted by email from the site.

Commission staff members are gathering notes on detail work that could be added along the road and allaying fears that driveways and entrances would be closed for extended periods. Some construction work will be completed at night, depending on the level of traffic and proximity to residences.

Flamingo is one of the busiest traffic corridors in Southern Nevada, extending east and west from the heart of the Strip. Its intersection with Las Vegas Boulevard is home to Caesars Palace, Bellagio, Bally’s and Caesars Entertainment’s revamped Cromwell boutique property. Engineers estimate

Flamingo skirts the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and carries 15 bus transit routes across the valley, including Route 202, which carries more than 12,000 passengers a day, the most frequented line in the area.

The commission envisions corridor improvements to benefit motorists, cyclists and pedestrians as well as bus riders.

The commission envisions improvements to be paid with revenue generated by fuel taxes indexed to the rate of inflation. The Clark County Commission approved the indexing plan to keep up with the cost of materials and labor, raising an additional $700 million to fund 185 projects and creating an estimated 9,000 jobs.

For motorists, the cost is 3 cents a gallon, about 10 cents a day through December 2016 for the average motorist.

“Most of the questions we’re getting are from people who want to know how it’s going to affect their businesses,” said Girlie Boorboor, the project construction manager for the commission who also oversaw 2012’s 12½-mile Sahara Avenue improvement project parallel to Flamingo about two miles to the north. “We’re assuring people that no one will be completely blocked and closures will be minimal.”

Project engineers will coordinate sequenced schedules that minimize the impact of traffic.

Flamingo won’t become a 14-mile construction zone. Work will be completed in segments so the entire project won’t end until September 2015. It’s estimated that 7 miles of the route would be repaved and restriped.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta.

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Backyard business: Alumnus starts landscaping company using sustainable …

Prinsted garden raises thousands for hospice

Nestled in the far south-west corner of West Sussex lies a quintessential English garden which opens once a year in aid of St Wilfrid’s Hospice.

Owners Paul and Hilary Gilson open their garden annually, at The Old House in Prinsted.

“I opened my garden for the first time in 2005, in my role of chairman of Southbourne Support Group for St Wilfrid’s Hospice,” said Mrs Gilson.

“We have opened it every year since then, always in May, from 2pm-5pm.

“Last year, we had 350 visitors and raised £3,800 for the hospice.

“This year, our tenth opening on May 18, I very much hope to go over £4,000.

“The nine previous openings have generated an income of £22,500 for St Wilfrid’s Hospice.

“I should stress that I could not have such results without the help of members of the support group on the day, together with the tolerance of Prinsted residents.”

The home dates back to the late 14th century, and harbours a green oasis of rustic charm and clever planting.

The couple moved to the house from an almost identical cottage in the Chilterns in 1994, and wanting to make it her own, Hilary consulted a local garden designer for help.

The main priority, other than keeping the garden sympathetic to the cottage’s age, was a hidden work area for Hilary who loves to propagate but, by her own admission, is not the tidiest gardener in the world.

This was achieved with ‘walls’ of trellis, covered in climbers during the summer months, ‘hiding the chaos’.

Although a planting plan was provided, Hilary decided to stamp her own identity on the place and has filled it with cottage garden plants interspersed with a collection of plants and shrubs from around the world.

The beauty of this variety is the cohesion it forms as it nestles the house – salvias and hollyhocks, foxgloves and ornamental grasses, agapanthus and box.

With the thatched well as a centrepiece, it has been cleverly laid out with paths and terraces to entice the visitor, with hidden gems in all corners of the garden.

Colour co-ordination is important to Mrs Gilson and she tries each year to create a flow of colour around the garden, although even she admits she is sometimes pleasantly surprised by the arrival of an unexpected self-planted visitor which can transform a planting plan beyond beauty to a stunning feature.

With an array of plants in the gardens, each has its own story to tell.

A plant brought with them from the Chilterns in memory of Hilary’s mother is osmanthus delavayi with its Award of Garden Merit.

Now drooping its branches towards the path, its highly-scented tiny white flowers compete with a sarcococca humilis tucked in a flowerbed to the left of the entrance way, where visitors are instantly welcomed in winter with its overwhelming scent.

Aptly enough for such an old cottage, there was an ancient Paul’s scarlet crataegus growing over the front wall.

Badly damaged in the 1987 storms, it was subsequently propped up until 2003 when the big decision was made to remove it for safety reasons.

Such an eminent tree in the village required consultation even though it was growing in the Gilsons’ garden, and they made the decision to cull the original but replant a new Paul’s scarlet in order to carry on the tradition.

Another elderly resident grows in the driveway which runs up the side of the house – a very rare, if rather ungainly, Wisley crab apple.

Following its unusual dark purple flowers, it produces ‘the most enormous, red glistening fruit’ – so akin to an apple that many people are fooled into thinking it really is an apple tree, only to get a bitter taste when they bite into one.

Despite the comparatively small size of the garden, there is a lawn, carefully maintained by a local company, which provides the perfect neutral backdrop to the cornucopia of colour in the borders.

Scarified and aerated on a yearly basis, even with two female dogs, the lawn is enviably immaculate.

Hard landscaping consists of a pebbled area around the well, gravel courtyards and a lovely old brick courtyard complete with rolling drain to catch the unaware at the back of the house.

Flint walls form the boundary and an old hovel, again built of flint, is to the rear.

This building, along with the cottage itself, has appeared on old maps for many centuries.

Wildlife plays a prominent role and there are two ponds – one a natural wildlife pond tucked away in a quiet corner, the other a more formal raised pond on the rear 
brick patio.

Birds and bees enjoy self-seeded annuals such as verbena bonariensis, eryngium alpinum and sunflowers.

Mrs Gilson weeds out any objectionably-placed seedlings, but happily endures the others which bring with them a gentle chaos to what could be an over-orderly garden. Pieces of the cut-up trunk of an old prunus sargentii have been carefully placed in secluded corners as insect hotels while two bird feeders are filled every day, ten months of the year – August and September being diet-time due to the season of plenty.

With only the help of her gardener Kate on a fortnightly basis, Mrs Gilson has shaped a delightful, relaxing oasis of charm around her chocolate-box home. Utilising the fertile soil created by the old owners’ kitchen garden, the plants thrive and pests and diseases are rare.

Winner of several local gardening competitions including the Chichester District Council Front Garden of the Year four years on the trot and the Hampshire Federation Garden of 2010, Hilary has now ‘retired’ from entering and transcended to judge for local societies.

A keen plantswoman with an eagle eye for detail and design, she is a formidable force when it comes to judging, but nevertheless has an open enough mind to see merit in some aspects of design and planting she herself would never use. And, of course, judging other gardens gives her the opportunity of collecting ideas to transpose to her own garden.

“I was invited to become a judge of garden competitions in 2011 so I was able to look at gardens from the other side of the fence, so to speak, something I have very much enjoyed,” said Mrs Gilson.

“As a result of all this, I now give talks on the garden and other subjects.”

But most important of all, Hilary opens their garden for charity, giving other gardeners the chance to come to admire its beauty.

Sitting at a shaded table with a cup of tea and a luscious scone – homemade by Paul – it is the ideal way to spend a leisurely afternoon.

n Visit The Old House gardens in Prinsted on Sunday, 
May 18, from 2pm-5pm.

Admission is £3 in aid of St Wilfrid’s Hospice. There will be a large plant sale and cream teas on offer.

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Week 9 with Neil Sperry: Landscape design starts with an overall idea

Large journeys begin as small steps, and that’s certainly the case with landscape design. Most of us look at a plot of bare ground as a big mass of empty space. The idea of turning it into an appealing garden creation is almost overwhelming.

In reality, designing a landscape is no different than decorating the inside of your house. You start with an overall idea of what you want your décor to look like.

Your next step indoors is to assemble the big pieces of furniture. They become the “bones” of your interior décor, and, until you have them, you really can’t do much other decorating.

Outdoors, the equivalent to those structural elements would be the major shade trees and the anchoring shrubs that form the framework of your basic garden design. Any berms you might add would be included. There might be a few important vines, and you’ll probably end up with a big bed or two of trailing groundcovers.

You’ll also need to include the “hardscape” elements, that is, the important non-living parts of your garden’s designs. Put them in place as early in your planning as you can, because it’s hard to develop the gardens that will surround them until you do.

Once you have those major architectural elements in place, it’s time to start fine-tuning each room individually. That’s when you bring in the secondary pieces of furniture, and outdoors their equivalent would be decorative retaining walls, vines for the patio cover, water gardens, landscaping stones and street lamps.

Once all of the woody plants and major hardscape elements have been stirred into the landscape, it’s time to turn your attention to the finishing touches. You should be thinking about annual and perennial color, hanging baskets, topiary, patio furniture and garden antiques and how they will all fit into the final package.

So you begin with the small spaces, and you start fitting them into the much larger puzzle. People tell you that your landscape should have its own “rooms,” where your family conducts different aspects of its life. You’ll have space for cooking and dining, and you’ll also set aside room for reading and recreational activities. Where you’d have a washer and dryer indoors, you’ll have the toolshed and compost pile outside.

As you walk through your landscape, these rooms will unfold. The bigger the space that you’re landscaping, the larger the number of rooms you’ll be able to accommodate. If you plan things carefully and implement the plans faithfully, they’ll all be comfortable together, but each will have its own distinct personality.

Set out to get the best possible results in each of your outdoor living spaces. Begin with those areas that are nearest your house, since they’ll be the ones that get the most traffic. Finish each one to your own satisfaction before you move on to the next. Before you know it, you will have assembled many individual areas into a lovely landscaping quilt.


Neil Sperry, a McKinney resident, hosts Neil Sperry’s Texas Gardening from 8 to 10 a.m. Sundays on WBAP-AM (820). He is the publisher of Neil Sperry’s GARDENS Magazine. Learn more at

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Landscape and Garden Fair offers informative classes, youth activities

Posted: Saturday, May 3, 2014 6:00 am

Landscape and Garden Fair offers informative classes, youth activities


The Central Florida Landscape and Garden Fair is today and Sunday at Discovery Gardens, located at the Agriculture Center, 1951 Woodlea Rd., in Tavares. The free event will feature educational sessions, an Ask the Master Gardener class and a Plant and Garden Supply Vendors class. We even have youth activities planned. The fair is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and 10 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

We have an exciting lineup of informative speakers for the event. Our first session, Florida Friendly Landscaping, will be today at 10 a.m. and will be taught by Teresa Watkins.

Steve Earls will demonstrate square-foot gardening at 11 a.m., followed by Tom MacCubbin with Edible Landscapes at 1 p.m. Geocaching will be taught by Master Gardener Anne Keller at 2:30 p.m. Our Saturday lineup will finish with Juanita Popenoe’s Beyond Citrus — Alternative Fruit Crops session at 3 p.m.

On Sunday we have two keynote speakers. At 11 a.m., Karina Veaudry will teach on Native Plants, and I will speak on Hot Plants, Cool Looks at 1:30 pm. Educational sessions will be conducted in the auditorium and at the Horticulture Learning Center.

Our children’s activities include a garden passport that youth can have signed at six of our gardening spots. Children will have access to all areas of the garden, including the children’s garden, which features a butterfly greenhouse, the five senses garden and the Mother Goose maze. We also have a seed activity planned for the youth.

Master Gardeners will be stationed at six garden spots to answer your gardening questions. The stations selected for this year’s festival are some of the most popular in the garden. The Tropical Shade Garden features bromeliads, gingers, palms and bird of paradise.

The Cottage Garden is a delightful hodge-podge of blooms, while the oriental garden is more subdued with its manicured shrubs and topiaries. Across from the oriental garden is the rose garden, which features shrub roses, hybrid teas and heirloom roses. Your interest in growing veggies will be piqued by the hydroponics area, and the butterfly house is always a popular spot as it features live butterflies and nectar plants.

We hope to see you at the Garden Fair.

Visit our plant clinic for your landscape problems and Discovery Gardens for garden ideas. Open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ag Center.

Brooke Moffis is the Residential Horticulture Agent of the UF/IFAS Lake County Extension office. Email:


Saturday, May 3, 2014 6:00 am.

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Growing in faith: Garden ministries foster beauty, charity, fellowship – Daytona Beach News

Keeping the property beautiful to enhance the worship experience is one of the ways the women serve others in their faith community.

“For mulch, we use our own pine needles and leaves from our church grounds,” Maurath said. A new sprinkler system is being installed. Church members also donate flowers.

Gardens — whether landscaping that beautifies places of worship or plots for vegetables and herbs to be shared — are increasingly becoming part of church ministries.

Carolyn Fitzwilliam said the Hope Garden at Port Orange Presbyterian Church supplies from 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of produce to Halifax Urban Ministries each year, which HUM uses at the Bridge of Hope, a program that serves hot meals to 400 of the area’s neediest individuals seven days a week.

“Several of our members are involved in the Bridge of Hope,” Fitzwilliam said. “Our church members wanted to provide fresh vegetables for that program, so volunteers cleared land near the church, built infrastructure including an irrigation system and a shed to store materials, and fenced in the quarter-acre garden.”

Because of Florida’s weather, “we can garden a good eight or nine months a year,” she said. They grow tomatoes, squash, beans, onions, carrots, eggplant, radishes, collard greens and cabbage, as well as other vegetables.

Volunteers from the church and the community help. “We appreciate them all,” said Fitzwilliam, who is garden co-director with her husband, Scott, a horticulturist with a degree in nursery management.

“The Hope Garden is one of the things that drew us to the church,” she said.

First Presbyterian Church of Daytona Beach realized its vision to establish a community garden in 2010.

On a Saturday morning a group of church members were joined by folks in the surrounding neighborhood as well as others from the community in a joint effort to turn a vacant lot adjacent to the church parking area on South Grandview Avenue into a place where people could enjoy gardening in a communal setting.

Today those gardens flourish with 31 above-ground beds currently being cultivated and a few more available. Seed money from the family of Carter Cobb, given in her memory, helped launch the project, and gardeners pay a very nominal fee per growing season — two per year — that assists with the expenses.

Gardeners can come and go as they please throughout the week, but Saturday mornings are generally a time to gather and enjoy time together. The gardeners are a diverse group from a mother who grows a variety of vegetables with her third-grade daughter to a retiree living in a senior housing facility who works seven beds with plans to share her crops with fellow residents.

As the church’s website ( says: “ … more than produce is harvested. Fellowship and pride in our community are our main crop.” More information is available from their website or the church office at 386-253-4581.

Temple Beth El in Ormond Beach has a garden created in memory of a member and teacher Clara Zahn. For years, Zahn taught the students about nature, the environment and recycling.

“When it needs maintenance, either the youth group or Sunday School class work on it,” said temple secretary Therese Cirafisi.

There is also a concrete bench in the garden in Zahn’s memory.

“When it’s nice outside, one of the coaches will take the kids out and plant flowers,” Cirafisi said.

As Port Orange Presbyterian’s Carolyn Fitzwilliam said: “We can reach out to the community and take care of those in need, use our gifts to serve others and provide fellowship for the volunteers who work in the garden.”

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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 reusing potting soil plus Mother’s Day gardening gift ideas

One of those “do as I say not as I do” topics is reusing potting soil. I can give you some really good reasons not to reuse potting soil. Fresh potting soil is usually a soilless mix that is weed-free, pest free, sterile and ready to go. This lessens problems with soil-borne diseases, pest larvae in the soil, weeds in the soil mix and time-consuming preparations. So, yes, fresh potting soil is the best choice for any container planting.

The reality is that I can’t say that I never reuse potting soil. It just seems so wasteful to dump that nice planting material into the garden. I do use fresh potting or seed-starting mix for any seeds, delicate transplants and any plant that I know is difficult to grow.

What about the rest? If I have had a fungal or soil-borne problem with a particular container, I dump the soil. If I have a window box or container that had a mass of annuals or vegetables that performed well last season, I’ll probably reuse the soil.

A second tenet of the “do as I say not as I do” topics is that when reusing soil, it should be sterilized. This usually involves heating the soil to destroy any organisms (spores, seeds, larvae, bacteria, and so on) that may have wintered over in the soil. I’ve heard of people using their ovens — really bad idea, or their grills — almost as bad, to heat the soil. It probably works, but the dirt and stench is simply not worth the effort, at least not to me.

So, is there a middle path? Yes. I empty the containers into a large bucket or pail, break up the clods and remove any obvious dead plants or large roots. If I’m really ambitious, I sieve the soil. This produces a fine mix ready for this season’s plants. I trade off sterile, weed-free soil for economy and convenience of reusing the old stuff.

This season I remembered a long-ago purchase, a compost sieve that has been sitting, unopened, in the shed. It is a cylindrical pan with a heavy wire bottom, legs that elevate it about a foot above the ground, and a crank that moves a rod through the soil. It made the work go a lot more quickly but is no longer available online. There are, however, plenty of manual soil/compost sieves or riddles for sale and free plans to build your own online, usually just a large set of screens.

I still buy fresh potting soil each season, usually a compressed bale or two of ProMix. We grow quite a lot of things in containers and always need fresh potting soil. We have plenty of deer, groundhogs and rabbits that are eager to dine on anything set in the ground.

Mother’s Day ideas

I’ve been asked for a few ideas for those with mothers who garden. I’ll start with a few things that aren’t really good gifts:

Plants: Don’t assume that a particular plant, especially a large tree or shrub, is just what mom wants. Unless you know she’s been wishing and searching for a particular plant, give a gift certificate to her favorite nursery rather than a plant.

Tools: Don’t go for those cute/fancy hand tool sets. If she really gardens, most of those tools will break during their first use. If you want to get tools, pick a replacement or upgrade for something she already has and uses, or something she has specifically asked for.

Books: Don’t buy a book unless you know a specific author or topic that mom is interested in. Most of us have plenty of beautiful but not very useful coffee table books or weird topic volumes cluttering our homes. The same guidelines apply to subscriptions to magazines; they are wonderful if the recipient is interested in the topic but just wasted trees and more recycling if they aren’t.

Statuary: Don’t buy some adorable lawn ornament if your mom doesn’t already have a few. Statuary is as personal as plants; they need to suit the site and the person. Unless you are really sure she can’t live without it, offer to go on a shopping trip to pick something out together rather than just showing up with another humorous frog or hilarious cutout.

So what makes a good gift? Something that you know she needs, wants and doesn’t already have.

Hats: A gardener needs a good hat — or two. One wide brim hat, usually woven for working out in the bright sunlight and another, preferably cotton or other washable fabric, that gives you somewhere to spray the insect repellent.

Gloves: While it certainly is possible to go without gloves, they do offer protection from a variety of irritants. Check for sizes, not all women have tiny hands so note if mom has large hands or long fingers and size up to assure a good fit. Lightweight washable gloves work well for light weeding and pruning or harvesting. Medical gloves are great for really messy work, mixing or using chemicals or fertilizers, or even under other gloves if your mom is someone who values a good manicure. Heavy work gloves for protection when doing heavy pruning, heavy labor such as raking or shoveling, clearing out gutters or other messy work.

Shoes: Take her with you when purchasing any type of footwear. Closed toe shoes with good traction are a must. A thick rigid sole protects the foot from painful injuries or bruises to the arch when digging or working on a ladder. Boots for working in the muddy spring, the summer garden after a few days of rain, the cool wet fall and the icy slippery landscape of winter.

Toiletries: Avoid any heavily scented lotions or sprays—they just make mom the target of constantly buzzing pests. Insect repellant, sunscreen, hand lotions, nailbrushes, and emery boards—all these make good filler gifts.

Plants: Yes, they are listed in the not a good idea list, but there are exceptions. If mom really loves geraniums and fills the front containers every year—then buying a flat or two of her favorite annual and offering to spend an afternoon working with her in the garden can be a great idea. If she collects African violets and you see an unusual plant that you know she doesn’t have, go for it.

My idea of a favorite gift for a mother who gardens would be to take her for a nice breakfast or lunch at a favorite spot. Then, on to a leisurely visit to a favorite nursery (with a gift certificate or monetary gift). Followed by an afternoon in the garden sharing her love for the garden.

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Tips for tending your garden in May

Tips for tending your garden in May

Remember the old song about April showers bringing May flowers? We had a few showers and now, a few flowers.

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3 gardening tips from Chicago landscape professional

I just asked my neighbor Kathy Simpson, KMS Gardens and Design owner and a landscape designer, to share some gardening tips. In the past, she told me not to be afraid to test a little of what I like. That gave me confidence to try new ideas.

KMS Gardens and Desings (

KMS Gardens and Desings (

1) What is your favorite perennial for Chicago shaded areas?
Brunnera macrophylla “Jack Frost”, common name is Jack Frost Siberian Bugloss. This plant always looks good, with a variegated leaf and pretty blue “forget-me-not” type blossoms in late spring. It is a tough plant and can handle some sun, but does just fine in woodland areas. It has a slightly hairy leaf that deters pests; no slugs or rabbits to deal with!

2) What is your favorite perennial for Chicago lots with a lot of exposure?
Geranium “Rozanne”, or Rozanne Cranesbill. This plant has periwinkle blooms that keep coming all season. It does a beautiful job spilling onto a walkway or over a wall.

It can handle a bit of shade and likes a well drained soil. Rabbits seem to ignore it and it can grow into a lovely 15-20″ mound by the end of the season.

3) What is one piece of advice you offer those testing their green thumb?
Don’t be afraid to try new plants as long as you have done your homework about the cultural needs of the plant and are realistic about the conditions in your garden. The sustainable and smart mantra is “the right plant for the right place”.

This is perfect timing since I try to plant my parents’ city garden before Mother’s Day. Ironically, one of her client’s lived down the street from my parents’ home on Roscoe. We also need to do some work on our own green space.

In the past, I relied on a lot of annuals. I’m transitioning to more perennials to be lower maintenance (time and money). I’ve followed more creative examples of professional landscape architects and designers I admire such as my neighbor Kathy.

What inspires you?

Happy gardening.

From the archive: How I try to improve our garden

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