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Archives for June 2, 2014

NCI building on cutting edge with technology

Sen. William Wampler, executive director of the New College Institute (NCI), stands in front of the new NCI building on the Baldwin Block in Martinsville. The building is on track to be completed in July. Wampler said that, as the building approaches completion, its appearance changes each day. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)More Photos

Monday, June 2, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL – Bulletin Staff Writer

William Wampler is like a kid in a candy store as he walks around in the New College Institute (NCI) building under construction in uptown Martinsville.

As the building nears completion, its appearance — both inside and out — changes significantly each day, said Wampler, NCI’s executive director. Each time he visits the construction site on the Baldwin Block, he sees something new, he said during a tour Friday.

“Wow,” he exclaimed when he saw that a new control cabinet for high-tech electronic equipment had been installed since the previous day.

It’s not that the former state senator has a fascination with electronics.

Rather, he said, “I’ve been signing the invoices” for all the equipment and furnishings ordered for the building, and when items arrive, he is eager to see what they look like.

More than $1.7 million worth of the latest videoconferencing and electronic learning equipment is being installed in the building, according to Wampler.

The three-story, roughly 52,000-square-foot building will be the first built specifically for NCI. It will house advanced manufacturing, entrepreneurship and health care technology programs being established by the institute as well as administrative offices.

The Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) and the uptown visitors center will move into the building, which also will have indoor and outdoor spaces for public events. Those include a large courtyard, two small amphitheaters and a larger rectangular stage.

NCI estimates the building’s total cost — including construction, equipment and furnishings — at $18.7 million. The state and various organizations are covering $16.7 million of that amount. A $2 million “Building on Baldwin” fundraising campaign is underway to cover the rest.

Local companies already have voiced interest in holding some of their board meetings in the building’s board room on the third floor, where NCI and EDC staff will have offices. Wampler noted that the room will have several video screens and other technology enabling company officials to, for instance, communicate with branch offices throughout the world simultaneously.

When the EDC entertains executives from companies interested in coming to Martinsville or Henry County, two observation decks on the third floor will enable the executives to see almost panoramic views of the community — including the Patriot Centre at Beaver Creek industrial park.

A large first-floor room designed for advanced manufacturing instruction will contain large pieces of equipment designed to train people for jobs with local window film and aircraft parts makers. Yet most skills that students learn on the equipment will be needed at most high-tech firms, Wampler said.

Much of the second floor will host classrooms and “breakout areas” where students can informally gather.

Wampler was pleasantly surprised Friday to see that the breakout areas had been designed with unique shapes and painted avocado green.

Many classroom walls in the spacious, ultramodern building either will be of glass or a material that allows students to write on them like large dry erase boards. Wampler said writing on the walls will help students share ideas in a convenient, fun way.

The large amount of glass in the building, along with many security cameras, will let employees easily see who enters the structure and where they go. The classroom areas were designed so that if someone thought to be an intruder were spotted, affected areas could quickly be locked down.

In addition, “we’re just 30 seconds away from the police station,” Wampler pointed out.

Not all of the modern features are for learning. Some are just for aesthetic appeal.

For example, slanted restroom sinks channel water into a narrow trough before it flows into a barely visible drain. Wampler acknowledged that he hasn’t yet determined how to unclog a drain, but he said he is optimistic someone will figure it out.

Instead of gutters, rain water from the roof of the visitor’s center will flow down large chains into a reservoir system that will take it to city sewers.

A wall in the building will showcase area history — especially that of the Baldwin Block, once a major local center of commerce for black residents — with displays that will be rotated periodically. Wampler said the Fayette Area Historical Initiative plans to provide the first several displays.

Three cement walls outside the building, along the Market Street side, eventually will be used to highlight local history, too, he said.

Construction was to have been completed this month but was delayed due to bad weather. Wampler now expects the building to be ready to occupy in mid-July.

Most furnishings and equipment will be installed by then, but it likely will be later this year before advanced manufacturing equipment arrives, he said.

Wampler estimated that the building is about 90 percent complete.

“It’s all looking good,” he told construction workers while walking through the building. “If it would quit raining, we could get it done.”

“Yep,” some of the workers responded.

“They tell me they’re on schedule” now, Wampler added. “I still see a lot of work to be done, but that’s their business. They tell me they can get it done in 30 days” for the most part.

By mid-June, the building should be “substantially complete,” Wampler said, with about 98 percent of the construction done. Then construction workers will “go room to room and finish the small things” as well as finish work on landscaping outside.

July 15 is the target date for all construction to be finished.

Plans for a building dedication ceremony and grand opening celebration will be announced soon, according to Debbie Lewis, development officer for the New College Foundation, NCI’s private fundraising arm.

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Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Garden tour to offer inspiration, ideas

It hardly seems possible, but the Zone 6 Garden Club held its first communitywide tour of private and public gardens 14 years ago.

The tours have continued every other year ever since, providing an opportunity for gardeners seeking ideas, inspiration or simply lovely views.

In 2008, we were pleased to host one at our place, Woods Edge, and we still cherish our garden paving stone given to us by the organizers.

This year, the tour will be held Saturday, June 14. I am amazed at the diversity that the five chosen properties offer.

Mark Row and Zetta Varns, 812 S. Catalpa St. in Pittsburg, live in a historic part of town in an older home that had very little landscaping when they moved in. They have transformed their outdoor space, adding a pond to attract wildlife from a nearby wooded area, a playhouse for the grandchildren, an outdoor kitchen and cedar pergola, a fountain, shrubs and window boxes.

Dr. Ali and Carol Hammad, 1406 E. Quincy St., have created a private “resort” in their backyard, using a tiered approach on their sloping topography. It includes a blue-green saltwater pool reminiscent of their favorite Caribbean island, a pavilion, blue-green Atlas cedars, rose bushes, Russian sage, crape myrtle and a stone-lined rainwater creek accented with irises and hostas.

Mike and Beth Wishall, 1302 Randall Drive, have enjoyed their home at the end of a quiet road for more than 20 years. It sits at the edge of a large mining strip pit. It’s an inviting place to pull up a chair and watch for great blue herons or Canada geese, or to take a stroll to see interesting yard art assemblages.

Pete and Jo Farabi, 303 S. Crawford St. in nearby Frontenac, have added improvements to their property since moving in 45 years ago. They began by planting shade trees, then shifted focus to the small backyard. A deck and arbor added a welcoming atmosphere for a pool surrounded by planters of perennials, and a walkway and patio were built from brick made by the Pittsburg Nesch and Moore Brick Co. at the turn of the 20th century. The bricks were rescued and repurposed from the streets and sidewalks of Frontenac.

Gary and Sharon Starr, 446 E. Highway 47 near Girard, have in four years changed their yard into a beautiful panorama. They’ve added to their gardens, which intertwine and meander through the property, items they’ve collected during their travels. One of their newest additions is a potting shed. Plantings include shrubs such as hydrangea, roses, azaleas and crape myrtle, as well as an array of perennials of varying heights, colors and textures.

Tickets for the tour are $7 in advance from Zone 6 members, at Paradise Mall, VanBecelaere Greenhouse, Carla’s Country Gardens, In the Garden, or Silver Creek Antique Mall, or they may be purchased for $8 between 7:30 a.m. and noon the day of the tour at Pritchett Pavilion at Second Street and Broadway. Children 12 and under are admitted free.

The tour is self-guided, so visitors may visit the gardens in any order and spend as much or as little time as desired in each. A garden tour booklet with addresses, a map and garden photos with descriptions is included with each ticket purchase.

Proceeds from tour tickets provide funding to support the club’s garden-related community projects, educational programs and city beautification efforts.

Also at Pritchett Pavilion the day of the tour will be Zone 6’s usual gardeners market. A special garden tour luncheon will be put on by Angels Among Us from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Timmons Tea Room inside the historic Hotel Stilwell, Seventh Street and Broadway. Tea sandwiches, garden salad, dessert and beverage will be served for $6.

What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday.

FOLLOW ANDRA BRYAN STEFANONI on Facebook at and on Twitter @AndraStefanoni.

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Monday Matters: Volunteer A Vital Part Of Fort Smith Beautification Group

Every organization has its event organizer; Beautify Fort Smith has that and more in Andrea Beckman.

Beckman is a lifelong Fort Smith resident who cares very much about keeping her city clean. Her love of nature began when she was young, and stuck with her into adulthood, she said.

“I’ve always enjoyed plants, flowers, anything green or outdoorsy,” said Beckman, 41. “I just really like to see it, to be in it and to know it’s being taken care of.”

About three years ago, Beckman joined Beautify Fort Smith, a group made up of volunteer-driven citizens dedicated to enhancing the image and appearance of Fort Smith by creating a successful and aesthetically-pleasing community, according to its Facebook page,

Beckman has served the group by posting to the Facebook page, emailing volunteers, and promoting and coordinating events.

“She has definitely had a tremendous impact,” said Nancy Smreker, the group’s president. “She just does a lot of planning of different programs for Beautify Fort Smith.”

Among those programs are spring and fall cleanups in Fort Smith, which are part of the Great American Cleanup and the Great Arkansas Cleanup, respectively.

The volunteer base in Fort Smith has steadily increased each year, and April’s cleanup was the biggest one yet, Beckman said.

“We had a lot of school kids come — high school, and some junior-high age kids — they were a big help,” she said. “That’s really where we need to get started — bringing awareness to the kids at a young age so they’ll grow up and be more mindful of litter and throwing trash out.”

Liz Philpott, volunteer coordinator with Keep Arkansas Beautiful, said she met Beckman in person for the first time last fall during a coordinator meeting, but had been working with her before that through email and phone correspondence.

“I’m just really, really impressed with her,” Philpott said. “She has a lot of great ideas for her community and is very excited to work with everyone. She seems very driven — it really inspired me.”

Through her working relationship with Beckman, Philpott has seen the progress Beautify Fort Smith has made through its growth and increased activity, she said.

“Andrea’s a spark plug,” Philpott said. “I think every community needs a spark plug who kind of makes sure that everybody’s doing what they say they’re going to do.”

Shael McDonald, treasurer for Beautify Fort Smith, said much of the group’s success can be attributed to Beckman’s efforts.

“She’s dedicated, and she’s definitely a driving force for us,” McDonald said. “She’s goes after grants; she goes after opportunities.”

Beckman applied for and secured a $1,500 grant from the Arkansas Flower and Garden Club for Beautify Fort Smith to use to plant 20 oak trees at school grounds in Fort Smith on Arbor Day. She also helped to arranged a pickup of free trees from Up With Trees, a nonprofit urban forestry group out of Tulsa, which were planted during Fort Smith’s spring cleanup.

Increasing Fort Smith’s tree canopy is a priority for Beckman. An ideal tree coverage in the city would be about 30-40 percent, but right now the city has about 14 percent coverage, she said.

“Our coverage is very sporadic,” Beckman said. “We have a lot of gray areas — which are parking lots, streets, that kind of thing. You go to other cities and they’ve got trees within their parking lots. We need to do better with our planning.”

Getting more people to join Beautify Fort Smith would go a long way in cleaning up the city, Beckman said. Beautifying the Interstate 540/Rogers Avenue interchange with trees, landscaping and sprinklers is one of many projects the group has taken on. Beautify Fort Smith hopes to eventually clean up all nine interchanges along I-540 in Fort Smith.

“It’s going to look really nice,” Beckman said. “It’s going to take a little while — they’ve got do some boring for the sprinkler system and that kind of thing — but they’ve got the plans, they’ve got the upkeep for several years to come.”

Beautify Fort Smith also hopes to form a committee with the city of Fort Smith that could possibly fall under the Sanitation Department’s purview. The group has been discussing the possibility with At-Large Director Pam Weber, who is also a Beautify Fort Smith member.

Last month, Beckman was named one of Keep Arkansas Beautiful’s Lodestars. A Lodestar is someone who serves as an inspiration, model or guide in an effort to keep Arkansas clean, green and free of litter, according to Keep Arkansas Beautiful’s website.

Beckman humbly accepted the recognition but wants to keep the focus on Beautify Fort Smith and cleaning up the city, she said.

McDonald said Beckman’s leadership is largely influence by example, rather than through demand.

“She’ll make those phone calls, she’ll send out emails. She pounds pavement on it; she really does. She makes sure all of the things are happening. She doesn’t drop the ball at all,” McDonald said. “It’s really hard when you can’t count on someone. That’s why it’s always important when you find that one person — you hold onto that. We hold onto Andrea very closely.”

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Garden Club looks to beautify Ashe County

The Ashe County Garden Club is starting another year of helping improve the landscape throughout the area, but this year is different — they are making themselves known.

“This is really a new kind of chapter in the Garden Club,” said Cindy Escoto, president of the Ashe County Garden Club. “The things (the club) did in the past, they were a little incognito in doing it. It wasn’t quite as involved, but they didn’t have the publicity and interaction with the people.”

Part of the new-found publicity is a push to get more potential members to join and to figure out new ideas for the organization’s future.

The Garden Club has been around for approximately 10 years, with the goal of beautifying Ashe County. This is Escoto’s first year in the club, and first year serving as president.

“This is all done with member dues,” said John Jackson, a member of the Ashe County Garden Club. “We don’t ask for anything from anybody. It is all funded by our dues and pocket money.”

While the plants and landscaping is mostly provided by Garden Club funds, for some projects, local nurseries will donate flowers and other plants for the Garden Club to use.

As spring kicked off and now racing toward summer, the Ashe County Garden Club is working on many different events in the community.

“We only do things during the spring and summer seasons, because of the nice weather,” Escoto said. “We are doing plenty of new things that we previously did not do.”

On Mother’s Day Weekend, the club helped 65 area children at the Farmer’s Market provide potted plants for their mother and on Friday, May 30, the group was helping to beautify the front lawn of the Ashe Pregnancy Care Center in Jefferson.

“It just beautifies our area and makes it feel better and more homely for the girls and the guys that we serve,” said Roger Newton, director of the Ashe Pregnancy Care Center. “That’s the wonderful thing.”

For the Pregnancy Care Center, the Garden Club removed old weeds and dead plants from the front and then placed two flower beds and a tree to greet visitors to the center.

“They asked for help doing it, so part of our mission statement is to be involved in our civic community and beautifying it,” Escoto said. “This seemed like perfect outlet, because they wanted the help and we had the members who wanted to donate their help.”

In the past, the Garden Club has created gardens at the Jefferson Post Office, the Museum of Ashe County History and Mountain View Elementary School. In July, the club will have a booth at the Christmas in July Festival, where a raffle will be held to give away a botanical painting by local artist Jane Johnson.

While the organization has been around several years, it has been something that was not widely publicized. As the group does more for the community, more people in Ashe County are showing their support.

“We get thank you’s from everybody we have helped in the past, but we really haven’t publicized the club very much,” Jackson said. “We have good recognition from our Mother’s Day project. Up to this point until (Escoto) took over, we didn’t have a lot of publicity, we were undercover.”

The group meets monthly from April to November at Smokey Mountain Barbecue in West Jefferson.

People who are interested in joining the Ashe County Garden Club can join the nonprofit’s Facebook page at:

Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.

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Senior citizens build garden for Perry Museum

Seniors residing at the Gardens at Friendswood Lakes apartment complex have decided to plant a garden behind the Perry Museum in Friendswood as a tribute to the Perry’s and for everyone to view.

The Gardens at Friendswood Lakes is an apartment complex for active seniors. These are men and women who love being involved in special activities and really enjoying their lives.

Vice President of the Friendswood Historical Society Board Mel Measeles discussed the significance of the garden.

“Nathan and Mary Perry, they came in and so they had a garden like this so when we restored the house and everything we wanted to make sure that we had a garden here also, but we’ve had a hard time getting people to help keep it going and these great folks came in and said we’ll do it! So that’s why they’re here,” he said.

Thanks to Councilmember Steve Rockey for discussing his interest about the garden to the Property manager at the complex, Susan Cavendar, the seniors have one more thing to keep them occupied and full of joy.

“I had talked to Steve Rockey prior to this…he expressed his interest with the Gardens, doing some things for the Heritage Society and then the residents have always wanted to have a gardens and things like that and we couldn’t figure out a place that we could do it on the property. He approached me with this idea and Pat Lodder, she drives the van. She helps me in the office,” Cavendar said. “She’s the assistant there, that’s what she wanted to do and I told her to go for it…so it gives them a little bonding time and you can say they’re just loving it. I just think it’s cute. They’re out here and it just helps provides stuff for our seniors and the heritage.”

Cavendar is thrilled about the garden and loves how the seniors are enjoying themselves and one another while gardening. She said the motive behind the garden was a blessing for them.

“Well, it’s funny, you know how they say faith? You know it does, it just kind of intermingles you, the residents were wanting a garden and we were talking about it and how we could set it up on the property and it just so happened that Steve Rockey showed up and said we have a place behind the Perry House and we would be interested in having a garden and I said thank you God! It was just coincidently; it was something they wanted, something he wanted and so I told Pat you know what just go ahead and put it together and so she is. She’s doing a wonderful job of keeping the ladies going and the ladies like it.”

Resident Jane Townsend, explained her love for the garden: “You’re closer to God when you dig in the garden and I think it’s just an excellent opportunity, the food is so much better tasting and we share it with everybody even the one’s that aren’t well enough to come out and play in the garden. So then for Mother’s Day we did the big salad from the fresh greens from the garden… and each time we come and harvest, we plant some more seeds so we’ll have continuing plants that are coming up and some of us are city folk and we don’t know what we’re doing, but it’s really a good experience, we’re having fun.”

They have planted cucumbers, different types of lettuce and tomatoes, onions, egg plants, bell peppers, basil and much more.

Townsend said they planted squash and fig trees as well. “We’ve been doing the garden since 2 months, 2 ½ months, something like that.”

Resident Mary Samford said that her ex-husband helped with the garden and is responsible for laying down the landscaping fabric in the garden. He “helped out here a lot; he put down this landscaping fabric…which helped specifically when it was so muddy, we can walk on it and he helped plant these tomatoes and all the lettuce and then really one of the most important things that he (did was) blessed our little field here. Our little plot that it would be bountiful and produce a lot of good vegetables for us this summer.”

Vicky Glaisyer, resident of the complex, loves the garden so much that she will find any means necessary to come to the garden and work, even with her disability.

“She cares enough about the garden, when she can’t even walk to it and she has to kind of scoot to get here and she cares enough to do that for us and with us and she of course as 100 percent accepted as she is; we all are and she digs hard and works hard while she’s here,” Townsend said.

She said that anyone who is feeling well enough to come to the garden will come, but the core group that maintains the garden consists of about seven residents.

The garden is directly behind the Perry Museum and anyone is welcome to view the garden and see all of the hard-work and dedication that the residents have put in daily. The Perry Museum is located at 109 W. Spreading Oaks, Friendswood, 77546.

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Edible garden is sustainable, tasty

Now is the perfect time to consider edible landscaping. It’s a way to grow your food not in a traditional vegetable patch — sequestered in the back yard, lined in neat rows — but out front and proud.

Unlike foraging, which can be an occasional fun and productive venture into the woods, edible landscaping blends the aesthetically minded design of an ornamental garden with the sustainability of micro-scale farming. Strawberries and apple trees are a brilliant sight when fully grown, as are elderberries, juneberries and red kale.

MORE: Want to go healthy and local? Try foraging

With gardening season in full bloom, consider reclaiming the space around your home in a way that a vegetable patch or flower bed can’t. An option for urban and suburban homeowners alike, the practice also benefits the local food and water infrastructure, advocates say.

Edible landscaping “is beautiful and makes our community more sustainable,” said Rae Schnapp, a local landscaper and wildlife aficionado. On a recent summery afternoon, Schnapp leads a small team of volunteers to dig out old shrubs in front of the Unitarian Universalist Church in West Lafayette, replacing them with edible, brightly colored and beautifully patterned trees and shrubs.

With her right hand, Schnapp holds up an elderberry shrub, which has pointed purple leaves and bright pink clusters of flowers that shake in the wind like tiny bobbleheads. A golden-green variety bounces in her other hand. Placing the two colors together, she creates a deep-purple-on-chartreuse pattern that puts to shame most color designs found in a regular front yard garden.

But the elderberry, Schnapp explains, isn’t just a pretty plant. It’s food. With the help of her fellow volunteers, she bends down to cultivate what will eventually produce small, black, tart and antioxidant-filled berries, which she plans to make into jam, pie, or juice.

The Indiana-native shrub, sold at local nurseries like Bennett’s, is an attractive, resilient, healthy, tasty and less toxic alternative to front lawns. Compared to a grass lawn — which Americans spend an estimated $40 billion a year to maintain — a front yard with elderberry and other edible plants requires less water, eliminates the need for a gas-gobbling mower and provides a source of food that’s local and organic.

And while Unitarian Universalist Church Rev. Charlie Davis describes edible landscaping as a “lost art,” it’s a practice that can start as simply as replacing one unwanted shrub with an herb.

Plant colorful edibles like red Russian kale or tricolor variegated sage among flowers and other shrubs, interspersing different colors in patterns that make sense for the existing landscape. Asparagus grows surprisingly tall in the summer. After the spring harvest season, watch them shoot up to past waist level with elegant, wispy foliage.

“Just follow the same principals of plant placement for creating a flowered landscape,” said Ian Thompson, founder of Tippecanoe Urban Farmers, a collective that promotes and cultivates sustainable food yards in Greater Lafayette. “It’s a worthwhile endeavor because of the quality of food, the exercise and the fortification of the local food infrastructure.”

Thompson is partial to honeyberries, a honeysuckle relative. The elongated, dark blue fruit of honeyberries is an excellent ingredient in homemade bread and a mineral-rich topping on vanilla ice cream and yogurt. He also delights in gooseberries, a currant relative.

Seth Wannemuehler, a nursery worker at Bennett’s, recommends herbs like creeping thyme and oregano, easy ways to “help spice up your garden.”

Juneberry is easier to grow than the blueberry, and they’re just as tasty, albeit with an added almond flavor from the seed. You can pluck the berries right off the tree and eat as is or sprinkle in cereal. Take your most trusted blueberry pie recipe and use juneberry as a substitute, or crush them up and heat it in a saucepan with sugar and lemon juice to make jam.

Some more local native plants that look and taste good: Paw paw, or “Hoosier banana,” can be scooped out with a spoon and enjoyed raw, or incorporated into sorbets and muffins. Rhubarb is a no-brainer around these parts — crisp, tart or pies are a sure hit at potlucks.

Here’s an idea the kids can get behind: The Unitarian Universalist Church is growing a pizza garden, a collection of basil, tomatoes and peppers that allows the church to teach its youth groups about growing your own food.

The plan is to have a pizza party at the end of the summer — fun, tasty and everything grown locally.

“The idea is to learn to be connected to the Earth,” Davis said. “And we see it as part of being holy. For Thoreau, Whitman and Emerson, having that relationship with nature was a big part of spirituality.”

Schnapp and her church are two years into a “green sanctuary” initiative, which aims to reduce the church’s environmental footprint. Those efforts dovetailed nicely with an ethical eating initiative when Schnapp and other volunteers decided to convert the church’s outdoor landscape into an edible one.

Like any type of gardening, edible landscaping can get complicated. Elements to consider: shade, design, taste, resilience of the plants, soil, staking, pruning, weeding and protection from insects and animals. There are probably too many options to begin with, from planting a tree for the long term, to cultivating an herb garden or alternative methods like straw bale gardens, a popular way to create a weed-free, raised bed garden.

But possibility is a virtue. Novices and experienced gardeners looking for a greener garden can start with online resources or the local library. Tippecanoe County Public Library currently features several gardening books. Tippecanoe Urban Farmers, found online at, serves as consultants for local edible landscapers.

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Planting annual flowers

Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014 12:30 am

Planting annual flowers

By Bob Beyfuss
For Columbia-Greene Media


The temperature reached 90 degrees this past Tuesday and I opened every window in the house for a breeze. By Wednesday night it had dropped to 40 and I had to close everything up once more. My anxiousness to get the vegetable garden planted in a hurry quickly subsided. It is still May and there is lots of time to begin a garden.

Few plants can add as much color to a landscape in such a short time as annual flowers. There are annual flowers suitable for just about every location around your home, from deep shade (try impatiens or coleus) to the hottest, driest spot imaginable (try portulaca or celosia). Visit your local garden center and ask them for advice as to specific plant selection. In general, the workers at these local businesses are very knowledgeable. I stopped at a local nursery today to buy some seed potatoes and spied a beautiful shrub in full bloom that I did not recognize. I asked a young woman who works there, who appeared to me to be about 15 years old, what type of shrub it was and she told me it was a variety of viburnum. Of course I would expect her to know what type of plant it was, but she then went on to explain that, unlike many viburnums, the flowers of this one did not have a bad smell. That extra bit of friendly information from this worker impressed me! Hopefully, the following guidelines will help you to have a successful annual flower garden this year.

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Saturday, May 31, 2014 12:30 am.

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Green Living: Recycling tips for your garden

Stay green while using your green thumb this week. With all that earth-tending you may be doing, make sure you know the dos and don’ts of garden-related recycling, too.

Plastic flower pots: Recycle in your bin or cart at home, so long as they are smaller than two gallons. Though all plastic flower pots are not created equal, our buyers have a way of dealing with those that meet their recycling specifications and those that do not, and they are willing to sort them out. It’s best to keep recycling them.

Plastic plug trays: These are a different story. These thin, easily crumpled or torn black plastic containers are a no-no for all of our buyers, across the board. That makes them one of the few exceptions to the general “all containers two gallons and smaller” rule. They should be tossed in the trash if they can’t be reused.

Empty fertilizer bag: These plastic bags certainly stretch, but they are not clear or translucent — the other half of the plastic bag and film rule of thumb for products eligible for recycling at large groceries, pharmacies, and big-box stores in R.I. These heavy-colored opaque bags belong in your trash.

Leftover fertilizer: Use it up! If not, this material is household hazardous waste. Call our Eco-Depot program for a free appointment at (401) 942-1430 ext. 241 or make an appointment on our website: Next year, try fertilizing nature’s way with our “Class A” compost (sold at RIRRC for $30 a yard) or your own.

Landscaping rocks: People will be looking for these to accent their own gardens. Post yours on Craigslist (, FreeCycle ( or our Reuse Marketplace (, and let a fellow Rhode Islander take them off your hands.

Krystal Noiseux is program manager at Rhode Island Resource Recovery.

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Wanna Help Honeybees? 5 Gardening Tips

While Honeybee Colony Collapse  Disorder (CCD) is relatively uncommon in West Virginia, bees and pollinators are still threatened in the region and all across the country. About a third of all of our foods (and beverages) come from crops pollinated by these insects. There’s growing concern that pesticides and certain farming practices are at the heart of the crisis, so more and more gardeners are stepping up to support pollinators in their own yards and fields. Meet the Johnsons.

Emilie and Bill Johnson of Morgantown are Master Gardeners, meaning they’ve been trained and either volunteer or teach horticulture through a national Master Gardener program. They have become passionate, quite accidentally, about supporting pollinators. Here are five tips to help you do the same:

1. Pollinators come in many shapes and sizes.

What started as a desire to encourage more butterfly visits became an interest in encouraging visits from all sorts of pollinators including honey bees and native bees, dragonflies, mayflies, and even humming birds and bats.

“We love the beautiful garden, too,” Bill said, “so it’s not just about gardening for insects. It’s about gardening for people as well!”

Bill also points out that a butterfly is only an adult butterfly for a small portion of its total lifespan, and many early incarnations of butterflies require very specific plants.

The Johnsons grow milkweed for Monarch Butterfly larvae, for example. Monarchs are the big black, orange, and white migratory butterflies in grave danger of disappearing because of loss of habitat and other factors.

2. Keep it wild—or as wild as you can handle.

In fact, the Johnsons grow a variety of milkweeds as well as other native and wild plants because, apparently, bugs love the native stuff.

“Find a part of your garden that you can let go wild, or as wild as you can stand it and put native plants in or plants that people might think of as weeds,” Bill said. He cautions others about introducing plants that might be (or become) invasive.

3. Don’t keep a lawn, keep a “clipped meadow.”

While the Johnsons won’t claim coining the phrase, “clipped meadow,” it gets to the point. From about 20 feet away, you might be able to discern some clover or a dandy lion in the yard, maybe. Johnson shrugs when he says he’s given up a monoculture-grass lawn.

“Clover is a legume and legumes are the only plant family that I know of that actually fixes nitrogen out of the air and puts the nitrogen into the soil. So there’s a synergy between the clover and the grass. Why put chemical nitrogen on your lawn when you can have clover do the job,” Bill said.

The Johnsons admit that they aren’t organic gardeners. But they, like many, are worried about pesticide use. According to a recent study by Harvard’s School of Public Health, pesticides are at the heart of colony collapse disorder (CCD). And the Environmental Protection Agency indicates that there is data to implicate one of the most commonly used pesticides, called neonicotinoids. The agency reports that residues from the pesticide, “can accumulate in pollen and nectar of treated plants and may represent a potential exposure to pollinators.”

4. Pollinate your own food.

Thirty percent of our food effusively depends on honeybees alone. The value of their pollination services is often measured by farmers and economists in billions of dollars. And the Johnson’s have come to learn that they, too, can take advantage of this free service to grow their own apples, blueberries, raspberries, and lots of herbs, too.  The Johnsons report that pollinators love herbs like thyme, lavender and basil.

5. Anyone can do it.

Emilie said, as more and more information is being circulated on the subject of pollinators and gardening, Farmers Markets are a good place to get educated. And you don’t need a green thumb to grow some pollinator-friendly foods and plants.

“Anybody can help,” she said. “Anybody can plant a few things. Everyone can get in on this. It’s a fun thing, especially for kids! Kids love bugs!”

From a community garden, to a box of herbs on your deck or in a window box, Emilie said, the pollinators will find you.

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Parisian brand opening in Covent Garden

Parisian footwear brand Bobbies, known for its colourful loafers and boots, is making its UK debut with the opening
of a year-long pop-up shop in Covent Garden.

Opening June 2, the label has taken a 1,700 square foot unit in the Royal Opera House Arcade, and joins other pop-up shops from, Orlebar Brown and Kat Maconie in Covent Garden this summer.

Commenting on why Covent Garden, Bobbies’ head of UK, Irina Karpukhina told Drapers: “It was a strategic choice to maximise exposure and benefit from the vibrant and busy shopping district popular amongst Londoners and tourists.”

Bobbies was born from the street style of Paris’ café society hot-spot the Marais and is famed for its modern take on the traditional loafer and the quirky detailing of its handmade shoes. The brand launched in Galeries Lafayette and Printemps four years ago, and has quickly expanded across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. Last year the shoe brand opened its flagship store in Le Marais, Paris and the Covent Garden pop-up marks the brands first retail venture outside France.

The French footwear brand is also available at Wolf Badger, Tailor at the Tannery and Zee Co in the UK.

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