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Archives for June 7, 2014

SEARCH ENGINE: New signs bring A game to St. Catharines

Q: There are blue “A” signs in downtown St. Catharines that I haven’t seen before. Are these new? What are they for?

A: The “A for Attraction” signs are new this spring and aimed at helping visitors find Market Square in downtown St. Catharines. 

In a report to city council in March, the Economic Development and Tourism Services Department said signage was one strategy it could use to enhance the role of the farmers’ market.

Other ideas to make the market even better included the return of the evening farmers’ markets, adding more garbage cans and recycling bins, increasing the licensed area at night and improving the layout.  

The directional signs were installed in six downtown locations, including on Ontario St. in two locations, James St, Geneva St., St. Paul St. and Church St. 

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Q: Last summer the St. Lawrence Seaway took out all the trees on the Welland Canals Parkway in St. Catharines and all the beautiful mature evergreens at Lock 2 to build a construction road to do work on the canal. It was our understanding that once the work was completed the trees would be replanted. There has been new grass planted but so far, no trees and the area that once was covered with beautiful trees and evergreens, looks absolutely barren. What are the plans regarding these trees and the timeframe to restore the natural beauty to this area?

A: The tie up wall work has not been completed and won’t be for a couple more years.

Once it’s all finished, landscaping will be undertaken at all four areas where trees were and are being removed.

The four year, $100 million tie up wall project involves the rehabilitation of four tie up walls along the Welland Canal. The area by Lock 2 at Welland Canals Parkway and Carlton St. saw the trees cut down during the construction of a temporary access road for heavy machinery to access the tie up wall.

Similar tree cutting will occur at the other access road construction points to get at Locks 1 and 3.

Alvina Ghirardi, manager of operational services for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., said the final landscaping plan has not been concluded so she can’t say when Lock 2 landscaping will be undertaken. However, Ghirardi said it’s anticipated that by 2016, residents will see final landscaping for all four areas of the tie up wall rehabilitation project.

Ghirardi said re-landscaping will be done with careful consideration to what is appropriate. Deep rooted trees, for instance, won’t be planted because they can cause integrity problems to the dykes. Trees that are too tall cause problems for overhead power lines.

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Q: I am curious as to why the overgrowth on the Downing St. hill, (the old Soap Box Derby hill) in St. Catharines is being cleared away.

A: Any clearing up on the Old Glenridge area street is not being done officially.

City forestry foreman Gavin Pally checked out the area and said homeowners or others are piling brush and leaving it along the edge of a wooded area.

It’s not encouraged. Pally said piles of brush can be a habitat for rodents.

He said any city residents who have brush to dispose of from trees on city property can call the Citizens First customer service line at 905-688-5600 and the city will pick it up.

If the brush is from private property trees, residents can contact the Region of Niagara at about Emterra’s brush collection schedule.

Pally said wherever there are naturalized areas in the city, people dump there, such as at watercourses and ends of streets. “The problem is, when one person does it, everybody does it,” he said. “Then it gets to the point where we can’t get it out of there.”

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Fact Finder! 

A pilot project in St. Catharines in 2013 saw the farmers’ market at Market Square open in the evenings for the first time, running Tuesday nights for six weeks. Due to its popularity, evening markets are back again on Tuesdays this summer, increasing to 10 weeks. They’ll run from June 17 to Aug. 26.

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Send your queries to Karena Walter by Email:

or by Facebook at


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Native Plants: Tips for planting and maintaining a drought-tolerant garden … – Record

Water-wise gardening discussions have occurred for years, but the recent California drought has elevated interest in less thirsty landscaping.

My goal here is to offer water-wise landscaping ideas with an emphasis on drought-tolerant native plants. A common misconception about California native plants is, “They require little or no water.” Most are drought tolerant when they are planted in their natural range — and once they are established.

Some native plants planted outside their natural range consume large amounts of summer water to survive, like the coast redwood in Redding.

Even though lawn replacement is a growing trend throughout California, some people will not relinquish their lawns. Fortunately native plant “turfs” exist that require less water, fertilizer and labor. These include herbal lawns such as yarrow (for sun) and yerba buena (for shade), meadows of bunchgrasses (fescue, blue gramma grass, California melic grass, and purple needlegrass — the state grass), or warm-season native grasses that tolerate regular foot traffic with UC Verde Buffalograss considered best for our climate.

A California native plant is commonly defined as existing in the California floristic province before European settlement. The California floristic province is composed of biotic communities spreading from southern Oregon, down California and into Baja California. A biotic community hosts interdependent organisms that inhabit a particular region.

The Redding area contains several biotic communities: oak woodland, chaparral, mixed-evergreen forest, grassland and riparian. The plants in these communities have adapted to local climate, water availability, soils and wildlife. They exist without the intervention (watering, soil amending, pest controlling) of humans. A good way to explore these communities is to join a guided field trip with the CNPS Shasta Chapter (

An important objective of landscaping with native plants, and landscaping in general, is planting the right plant in the right location. Spending the time reading and researching increases your success and ultimately saves time and money. Start with the site analysis: size, sun/shade, soil/drainage, wet/dry, flat/sloped, deer pressure, fire threat, wind, views, and proximity to existing structures. Try to, as the CNPS suggests, “select plants that suit the site rather than to modify the site to suit the plants.”

The fun but challenging next step is deciding what plant characteristics you desire. Think about size and form; rate of growth; evergreen or deciduous; foliage texture and color; colors of flowers, berries, and seedpods; timing of flowering; scent of flowers and foliage; fall color; fire and deer resistance; attracting pollinators and other wildlife; soil/drainage and water requirements. The early design phase of the garden should emphasize hydrozoning; grouping plants with the same water requirements in the same watering zone, which will promote efficient watering.

The native plant garden is a habitat garden that inevitably attracts lizards, frogs, birds, butterflies, bees, beneficial bugs (most insects are beneficial), and other fauna. Wildlife require water, food and shelter. A steady supply of food consists of flowers and fruit emerging during the different seasons. Groupings of trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, annuals, groundcovers, grasses, and vines create layers of shelter for the different creatures. Natural predators keep garden pests in check and maintain a healthier, balanced garden. The habitat garden provides one with a “sense of place.”

Photo by Doug Mandel.  Pipevine swallowtail butterfly larvae or caterpillars live and feed on the leaves of the California pipevine.

Photo by Doug Mandel.
Pipevine swallowtail butterfly larvae or caterpillars live and feed on the leaves of the California pipevine.

Once the site information, the desired plant characteristics, and the design of the garden are established, time to choose and find the plants. Tour the local biotic communities mentioned earlier, consult enthusiastic volunteers and workers at native plant sales and nurseries, visit local residential native plant gardens and native plant community gardens (Celebration Garden at the North Valley Art League Carter House, Turtle Bay Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, and Shasta College Demonstration Garden), peruse the Sunset Western Garden Book and the Internet (,, and Many California native plants tolerate an array of soils and climate zones, but you will succeed more often and consume fewer resources if you choose from native plants that thrive in our biotic communities.

The plants have arrived, now to plant and maintain the garden. Fall is the best time to plant; warm soil and rain will help establish a healthy root system. Spring is a distant second best time to plant natives in our “extreme” Mediterranean climate. Weed control is essential before planting. Generally, avoid amending the native soil when planting; top off with 2 to 4 inches of mulch, keeping it away from the trunk (avoids rot and disease).

Ordinarily, native plants flourish in nutrient-poor soils. Avoid fertilizing, especially during the hot months or when the plants are dormant. Mulch lowers water demand by reducing moisture evaporation from the soil. It also stabilizes the soil and root temperature, offers a finished look and hides drip irrigation. Organic mulch for woodland and forest gardens (mimics decaying leaves and branches) improves soil structure and supports biological activity. Since organic mulch quickly decomposes during our hot summers, frequent reapplication is necessary.

Photo by Doug Mandel  Native plants grow on a slope in Shasta County. Among the mix are wooly blue curls, Cleveland sage 'Allen Chickering,' western redbud, deergrass, California fuchsia and interior live oak.

Photo by Doug Mandel
Native plants grow on a slope in Shasta County. Among the mix are wooly blue curls, Cleveland sage “Allen Chickering,” western redbud, deergrass, California fuchsia and interior live oak.

The first few years the native plants need babying (mulching and watering) until established. Always water to the root depth. As the plants mature, adjust the watering to cover the spreading roots. Once established, water deeply and infrequently. This promotes deeper rooting that better tolerates drought conditions. Also during drought conditions, remember to thoroughly water the California native plants throughout the normal “rainy” season. If you plant the right drought-tolerant native plant in the right spot, once established it will require little if any summer watering. A few noteworthy examples include silver bush lupine, foothill penstemon, Douglas’s iris, some buckwheat species, white sage, Cleveland sage, wooly blue curls, California coffeeberry, some ceanothus species, toyon, flannel bush, and western redbud.

One of the rewards of drought-tolerant native plant gardening is the relatively low amount of maintenance. A misconception is that they take “no maintenance.” Remove broken and crossing branches, pest-riddled or infested parts, and some faded flowers. Weeding is imperative, because weeds compete with the desired plants for resources and can harbor pests and diseases. Pest and disease monitoring is always vital, sometimes necessitating replanting. Routine and thoughtful maintenance will keep the native plant garden looking its best.

Photo by Len Lindstrand III  A California flannel bush puts on a spring flower show.

Photo by Len Lindstrand III
A California flannel bush puts on a spring flower show.

The vast majority of native plant gardens are informal, exemplified by natural spaces. If you desire a more ordered, pristine and manicured garden, a native plant garden might not be your cup of tea. Life is like a native plant garden, sometimes appearing messy and untidy. However, once the whole experience comes together, you have a sustainable, pleasurable, and gratifying native plant garden.

Native Plants runs the first Saturday of the month in the Home Garden section. Articles are provided by members of the Shasta Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Visit

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Phoenix grows, but residential water use dips

Efficient plumbing devices and wider use of desert landscaping has led to a marked drop in household water consumption over the past decade even as Phoenix’s population has grown, city officials say.

“I think people understand this is the desert and water is precious,” said Councilwoman Thelda Williams, a member of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association. “We’ve (the city) had a conservation program a long time, and people have responded and use less water.”

Officials credit more-efficient devices, such as low-flow toilets, and desert landscaping for the reduction.

Research by Phoenix’s Water Service Department shows 1.5 million people lived in Phoenix in 2013, and about 375,000 homeowners had city water accounts. In 1998, about 1.2 million called Phoenix home, and 301,475 had water accounts. (Apartments and townhouses were not included in those numbers.)

Residential water use totaled 159 million gallons per day in 2013, down from 169 million in 1998, according to Gerard Silvani, a principal planner for the department.

City officials said about two-thirds of the residential water accounts belonged to single-family detached homes. It is in these homes where significant water use declined, said Douglas Frost, another principal planner.

“A lot of water use is driven by these folks,” Frost said.

Changes in landscaping

Water use dipped especially in the homes built from 2000 to 2013, Frost said. Two factors — efficient devices and fewer water-slurping lawns — appear to be the reason why people use less water, city officials said.

In the 1970s, for example, toilets used 3 to 4 gallons of water per flush, Frost said. After the early 1990s, the city’s plumbing standards were upgraded and toilets that used only 1.28 gallons of water per flush became available, he said.

The Phoenix Building Construction Code has required developers to install low-flow toilets since at least 2003, according to Phoenix Planning and Development Department officials.

Some homeowners also replaced their lawns with desert landscaping, Frost said, although tracking changes in landscaping and water use is difficult. Homeowners often change their landscape gradually, and a survey using aerial imagery found many homes don’t have either 100 percent lawns or desert landscaping, he said.

The water department found most homes have some combination of native species, imported species, rock and/or smaller plots of turf.

“While no detailed aerial imagery exists for the mid-1990s, water-use records and historical information suggest that most single-family homes were turf (grass) at that time, indicating that landscape changes account for a significant portion of the decline in water demand that has occurred since then,” Frost said.

The city continues to explore water-resources issues. This year, the City Council approved several measures, including partnerships with other entities to store water and reviewing Arizona’s groundwater laws.

Homeowner’s quest

When Susan Clark bought her Phoenix home in 2010, the house came with a yard designed for a lawn. The first year, she planted grass and her water bill skyrocketed to $200 per month.

She had a choice: Keep the lawn and pay the high water bill or kill the grass and replace the front lawn with desert landscaping. Clark chose the latter in 2011.

The project unfolded over three years. Clark and her daughter started by conducting research. They combed the pages of Phoenix Home Garden magazine for ideas. Clark, a Desert Botanical Garden volunteer, learned about how to convert a lawn. She also rode her bicycle through her neighborhood for ideas and attended classes.

“There is so much to learn about how you want it to look and what trees you want,” Clark said. “From the classes, I wanted my place to look like the Botanical Garden.”

She learned which desert plants used little water and which ones attracted bees and birds. She planted mesquite, creosote and desert willow and aloe, which require little water.

In 2012, Clark’s daughter, Angie Gaston, and grandson, Nathan, helped rip out an old tree in the front and began to shape the landscape. Her daughter helped her select which desert plants would work well.

Clark found out the irrigation system that came with the house did not fit her plan for desert landscaping, so she removed it.

When her landscape came together, Clark said, that portion of the water bill dropped to $10.

“I only had the expense of watering the lawn for a few months,” Clark said. “I cannot imagine what people spend on their lawns. For me, it’s been the best decision.”

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Landscaping for Heaven or Hell on Earth

What kind of landscaping embodies the love and stewardship that are expressions of a spiritual way of life? Native and edible. Native, because it honors creation and is the foundation of the food web, feeding the pollinators, birds and other creatures that deliver essential ecosystem services for people and planetary health. Edible, because it makes food for people. Native and edible landscapes are steps toward heaven on Earth, providing sustenance for people and wildlife while acknowledging the awesome complexity of life and how everything is connected.

What kind of landscaping adorns most homes and places of worship? Ornamental non-native landscaping that feeds neither people nor wildlife, landscaping that is typically water and chemical intensive, depleting fresh water supplies to little purpose, contaminating soil and water with petro-chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and contributing to oceanic dead zones. Ornamental non-native landscaping is short-sighted and, however unintentionally, models the ignorance and hubris that are killing life on our planet.

It is time to recognize the wrongdoing at the heart of ornamental non-native landscaping and to make amends. It is time for people to extend the love and respect they show for one another to the land that surrounds their homes and places of worship.

Landscaping native is integral to caring for creation. Native plants require no soil amendments, fertilizers or pesticides and, once established, use a minimal amount of supplemental water. Furthermore, native plants are habitat. Without native plants, 9 out of 10 species of leaf-eating insects die. Butterflies, for example, because caterpillars are leaf-eaters. Caterpillars are the main food of baby birds, and birds provide ecosystem services such as watershed protection, reforestation and natural pest control, which are essential for us.

It is our sacred duty to protect and support creation, not destroy it through the vanity of the superficial, misguided aesthetics of ornamental non-native landscaping.

Since 1970, bird populations in the United States have dropped 60-90% primarily due to loss of habitat. The precipitous decrease in birds is emblematic of the decline in species across the Earth. The extinction rate is now 1,000 times faster than the normal background extinction rate.

Every home and place of worship should be an ark to help save creation, an ark of native plants through which people may re-establish native habitat throughout their communities. With much of the land in the United States devoted to urban and suburban uses, imagine the support of biodiversity that could occur. Imagine the pollinators, birds and other creatures that would find refuge and benefit our edible gardens. When orchards and fruit and vegetable gardens have native plants nearby, yield increases due to the many different kinds of pollinators supported by the native plants.

Native and edible landscaping is a way to care for one’s community and the miracle of life. It is a way to counter the food desert that large parts of our urban and suburban areas have become, both for people and wildlife. It is a way to model the mindfulness, respect and right action needed to help heal our beautiful struggling biosphere. It is a way to practice the deeply spiritual understanding that all of life is connected. It’s also a way to rebel against the conceit that we can kill life on Earth while preserving our own souls.

Society has gained consciousness in so many other areas, making strides against the evils of racism, poverty and the lack of educational opportunity, but that consciousness has still, for the most part, not extended to how we landscape. We have a duty as a society to strive to create utopia on Earth, and many of our religious institutions have been at the forefront of support for civil rights and economic justice. That utopian ideal must extend to care of the Earth itself. There is no better place to start than where we live, worship and pray.

A few years ago in Pasadena, California, Throop Unitarian Universalist Church converted its lawn to a primarily native and edible garden, modeling food production for people and wildlife and support of biodiversity and ecosystem health. We should all emulate this beautiful, affirming act of reverence for life.



Sign at Throop Church: “Are you hungry?”

The views expressed are solely those of the author and not necessarily of the Theodore Payne Foundation.

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Barrington Country Garden Faire worth the trip

Visitors accustomed to wandering around spacious estates at the Barrington Country Garden Antique Faire might hesitate this year when they pull up in front of a classic foursquare house not far from downtown Barrington.

But the garden that John Staab, a landscape architect with The Brickman Group, has created behind the home and a neighboring bungalow are worth the trip.

If you go

What: 14th Annual Barrington Country Garden Antique Faire

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, June 13, and Saturday, June 14

Where: Buses leave from 800 Hart Road, Barrington

Tickets: $45 through Sunday, June 8, $55 later and at the door. Serious shoppers can buy tickets to enter as early as 8:30 a.m. on Friday, June 13, for $80.

Etc.: Two estates and an in-town garden are open for touring. Visitors can purchase antiques and other treasures and lunch and attend home and garden workshops and musical performances.

Information and purchase: (847) 381-7367 or URL destination=””

Benefits: Hands of Hope, which gives impoverished communities around the world sustainable tools to improve their lives and those of their children.

And ticket holders yearning for the wide open spaces, gracious landscaping and peacefulness that only five acres or more can bring will still be able to tour two Barrington Hills estates as part of the faire, Friday and Saturday, June 13-14. In addition, all the fun shopping is still part of the event, including treasures volunteers have collected all year and sell at bargain prices.

In the village, highlights of the formal garden behind the foursquare house include a hot tub and an elegant stone staircase. But when the family that owns it purchased the house next door to use as a guest cottage, Staab and the homeowners decided to join the two areas and make the most of the second space available for active sports — including an ice rink in winter.

“We want to show that in-town landscaping can be dramatic and strong as well as practical,” Staab said.

Savvy garden visitors will notice the circle theme in the garden. It starts with the new entrance between the two houses — a circular path under the arched pergola that is much better than before when the choice was to enter through the house or the garage. Immediately ahead the fountain crafted from a Victorian urn and the aquatic plants it waters also sit on a circle of pavers.

But the elegant stone steps from the rear of the foursquare down to the yard — Staab’s answer to the yard’s previous slope — really highlight the “round” theme.

This area, which includes a circular terrace or landing with a large planter partway down, is almost like an amphitheater and makes great seating for the youth group from the family’s church, said the homeowner.

“The circle is a strong shape that helps link the home with the landscape,” he said.

This part of the garden enjoys a hot tub where bathers can even watch movies on the screen that pulls down from the rear of the garage.

A stone wall beside the steps holds alpine plants — various sedums, lambs ear, catmint and cotoneaster shrubs.

Off to the side, three sections of concrete sewer pipe stained to resemble aged copper sit vertically to form a raised vegetable garden.

“It’s raised for interest and to keep critters out and it’s easier to reach in and garden or harvest without stepping on and compacting the soils,” Staab said.

The family of Disney World fans also points out that the large circle and two smaller ones make a “hidden Mickey Mouse.”

Behind the vegetables, espaliered pear trees stretch along the fence. The fire pit and surrounding sitting area are on the opposite side at the bottom of the steps.

Some day wisteria, hydrangea and clematis will flower from the four pergolas in the garden.

Full disclosure: It’s no secret that the winter was brutal, and at press time the gardens were still under construction. Staab and the homeowner had not made final selections for some items, such as the floral display in the main planter. But the landscape architect promised all would be ready and beautiful for the faire.

Here’s a secret Staab was delighted to discover: The older magnolia in the new part of the yard blooms yellow in the spring, a rare treat for people accustomed to pink and white blossoms. And at the rear of that yard are two impressive oaks, including one that is a naturally occurring hybrid of two varieties.

Bad news: Due to the devastation of emerald ash borer, Brickman had to remove about 15 ash trees from the two yards, including one that was a great specimen in the original garden.

Also on the tour are two Barrington Hills estates. The first is where the faire always headquarters with shops, gardens, entertainment and workshops. Regular visitors know that every year there’s something new here.

The prairie-style home on the second estate was designed by E. Fay Jones, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Jones is most famous for Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Ark. Check out the massive stone chimneys for the four hearths!

The landscaping uses the same stones as the house, and the hilly terrain probably accounts for many of the charming walls throughout the site.

This gives the free-form swimming pool, hot tub and outdoor kitchen — set lower than the house — a tall stone wall complete with splashing waterfall that creates a remarkable sense of privacy and relaxation.

Up above the pool, a patio runs the whole side of the house.

The wooded gardens around the house present all kinds of perennials, shrubs and ground covers. These include roses, peonies, daisies, daffodils, astilbes, hostas, hydrangeas, pachysandras, bleeding hearts, Lenten roses and hakone grasses.

Extra features include the winding lane through the woods approaching the home, and behind the house a tall grass prairie planted with wildflowers and a small orchard.

The privacy, setting and perennial gardens attracted the homeowners to the property, and they would like to credit Abbott Tree Care Professionals of Wayne for helping to keep it up.

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Landscaping contest prompts showy designs, no shortage of opinions

What better way to make a grand splash along U.S. 278 than to encourage developments to compete for the entrance with the highest visual impact from the road?

And who better to judge than the members of the Island Beautification Association, experienced gardeners all?

The association is an offshoot of the Island Beautification Committee that was formed in 1972 to beautify the then two-lane highway. Its mission is to improve the overall aesthetics of the island’s public areas.

The association’s eight members meet once a month under the chairmanship of Steve Tennant, who has been a member since 1985. Also on the committee are Doris Lindner, Helene Gruber, Tom Kurtz, Suzy Baldwin, Carol Totti, George Westerfield and me. Our meetings begin with reports from Alice Derain, contracts and service administrator, and representatives from Hilton Head Landscape, Southern Palmetto, Valley Crest and Ocean Woods.

After their reports, we hit the roads to clean up litter spilled from trash trucks. We are responsible for the newly planted medians, as well as the pruning of well-established shrubs and trees.

Two weeks ago, we piled into a large van and rated the community’s entrance plantings for our annual contest. We used a point system; points were awarded for design, plant material used, texture and harmony. Do you think for one moment that you can easily get eight men and women to agree that, say, purple and yellow look great together?

Palmetto Hall may be off the beaten track, but it’s a plantation entrance. They always have something interesting going on. Carol said the planting reminded her of an English garden, but Tom thought it didn’t jump out at us. Steve thought the marigolds, petunias and geraniums were good mixers.

Helene thought Hilton Head Plantation to be very colorful, and Suzy gave the hydrangeas high marks. There was lots to see at Indigo Run — too much for the eye to take in, according to Steve — and Helene thought the design lacked unity. Doris thought it was impressive from the road, but overall it was deemed very neat.

At Windmill Harbour, the visual impact was deemed low. Suzy thought there was good color harmony, but commented that too much red always dies. At Long Cove Club, Steve commented on how well it was maintained. They had plants in sun colors, but not enough variety, Tom thought. Mostly, everyone liked the plant choices. It was the first time many of us had seen white sunpatiens.

Sea Pines is judged by its first garden in a series of gardens. The red and white geraniums looked great in the spring, but there wasn’t much variety, and Carol thought there was no rhythm. George pointed out that they should trim the flax lily.

Shipyard Plantation featured red and purple flowers, pentas and coleus. Tom said there was not enough variety. Palmetto Dunes Resort also had red and purple, with the added texture of evergreens. It came off looking good, I thought. But there is also yellow hibiscus and pentas, and Carol thought the colors didn’t blend.

On our first look at Port Royal Plantation, we all noted there was a lot to see. George said even with one eye closed, this garden would be tremendous. The orange hibiscus is a standout, and we all liked the way the designer had layered the plants.

On our way to lunch, where we would count up the points and choose the winner, we passed Shelter Cove Harbor and its garden entrance. We all agreed it had huge impact. Too bad it wasn’t a contestant.

The spaghetti at Carpaccio’s was delicious, and ultimately we deemed Port Royal Plantation the winner.

Congratulations go to the the plantation show garden designers; they are winners all. Thanks to their expertise in making a show — their talent in using new and old plant varieties in unusual ways to show them off — getting stalled in traffic is easier on us all.

Sixty-year master gardener and environmentalist Betsy Jukofsky has spent three decades on Hilton Head Island learning the peculiarities of Coastal Lowcountry gardening.

Related content

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Gardening parties offer free food samples and healthy cooking tips

If you want to taste locally, grown food and learn about gardening then you should head out to “Reaping the Harvest”.

The Red River Coalition of Community Gardeners is celebrating its fifth year of volunteer contributions to the health and well-being of our regional community.

You can participate in the celebration between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, June 15 at several gardens throughout Shreveport.

There will be family activities, food sampling, nutrition tips and cooking demonstrations.

The three featured community gardens participating in the event are:

  • Northwest Louisiana Interfaith Pharmacy Garden, 909 Olive St., Shreveport. Visitors will sample “Party Soup” made with seasonal vegetables and learn about growing vegetables in containers.  Located between Line and Fairfield.
  • Highland Community Garden, 520 Herndon St., Shreveport. “Confetti Salad” will be featured, along with information about using earthworms to make compost for your garden. Located across from Noel Methodist Church at the corner of Herndon and Stephens.
  • Valencia Park Community Garden, 1800 Viking Dr., Shreveport. Delicious carrot cake will be shared, along with a garden “treasure hunt”.  1800 Viking Dr. next to Caddo Magnet High School.

For more information, contact the Red River Coalition of Community Gardeners at (318) 278-3081.

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IT’S THE WEEKEND: Grow It – June gardening tips from National Garden Gift …

IT’S THE WEEKEND: Grow It – June gardening tips from National Garden Gift Vouchers

JUNE is a lovely month to be in the garden. With the evenings getting longer and brighter and the longest day of the year on June 21, the extra light and warmth encourages the garden to put on a burst of growth.

And that includes the lawn, so if you feel like give Dad a day off from mowing to celebrate Father’s Day (June 15) then here are a couple of mowing do’s and don’ts: mow once a week in the summer, don’t mow when grass is wet or during a drought, and raise the mower blades when mowing in very hot weather.

Other plants that are growing upwards and outwards this month are roses. They are a great addition to any garden environment, large or small, contemporary or traditional with varieties for planting in flower beds, borders and planters.

Blue Peter gardener, Chris Collins thinks no garden is complete without a rose or two.

“I suppose the choice of a rose as my favourite may be considered an obvious one when gardeners talk about plants – but the English garden is incomplete without one or possibly many,” he said.

“When I started my apprenticeship with the parks, the hours spent in the rose garden is where I first connected with plants in a professional capacity.

“However, my real love of them came much later when I began to import David Austin Roses into Japan whilst working there. These plants really just give and give and with the minimum fuss.”

There is a rose for every garden situation from Hybrid Teas to miniatures, climbers to floribundas. Roses can be used for all aspects of the garden, from cladding walls and pergolas to providing informal barriers and rambling roses can be used to cover old stumps and unsightly fences or walls.

If you want to find out the best rose for your own garden requirements then go to, a searchable database of roses and stockists.

Roses can also be grown in pots – so ask your local garden centre or nursery about the best variety to get and they can give you planting advice and tips on caring for container roses as part of the nationwide “It Starts with a Pot” campaign running through the summer to encourage everyone to give gardening a go.

It’s a busy time in the garden with many tasks to occupy any gardener – so here’s a list of the top jobs for this month from the Royal Horticultural Society and National Garden Gift Vouchers:

1. Hoe borders regularly to keep down weeds

2. Be water-wise, especially in drought-affected areas

3. Pinch out sideshoots on tomatoes

4. Harvest lettuce, radish, other salads and early potatoes

5. Position summer hanging baskets and containers outside

6. Cut lawns at least once a week

7. Plant out summer bedding

8. Stake tall or floppy plants

9. Prune many spring-flowering shrubs

10. Shade greenhouses to keep them cool and prevent scorch

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Gardening Tips: Water at the right time and deep

Matthew Stevens

Matthew Stevens

Posted: Friday, June 6, 2014 11:48 am

Gardening Tips: Water at the right time and deep


It is amazing to me sometimes how quickly things can change in the gardening world. Back in April, we were all complaining about how wet the garden was and how the rain we’d had up to that point had delayed a lot of our planting and yard work. Now, nearly two months later, the weather has gotten warmer and the rain has slowed down and the hottest, driest part of the year is looming. While we are certainly not in any immediate danger of facing the kind of drought that we had in 2007 and 2008, I have started to hear more and more people mumbling things like: “We sure could use a bit of rain.”

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Friday, June 6, 2014 11:48 am.

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Garden Tips: Herbicides can curl leaves too

This is the time of year that weeds get our attention. As soon as warm weather hits, they seem to be everywhere. Then out come herbicides (weed control chemicals) aimed at killing these unwanted pesky plants in our lawns, landscapes and gardens. Unfortunately, not using these chemicals properly can injure or kill desirable plants.

Symptoms of herbicide injury vary depending on the chemical, but common culprits are the growth regulator-type herbicides used to kill broadleaf weeds, such as dandelions, in lawns. Exposure can cause leaf cupping, twisted or distorted growth, and strap-like leaves. The common growth regulator herbicides found in home garden products for lawns are 2, 4-D, MCPA, MCPP and dicamba.

These products are available in liquid or dry form. However, because of the wind, it is easy for spray to drift away from the target area. Therefore, these sprays should only be applied when there is no wind.

In our region, where it is frequently windy, this is difficult. The potential for drift can also be reduced by using large spray droplets instead of a fine mist, and applying the spray as close to the ground as possible.

The other application choice is a dry form, but desirable plants can still be damaged because of uptake of chemicals through the roots. The labels of products containing dicamba indicate that it should not be used “in the root zone of desirable plants.”

If you have trees in or adjacent to your lawn, it is almost impossible to avoid applying the chemical in the root zone. Tree root systems can extend as far as a tree is tall and even further. Garden plants situated next to a treated area could also become damaged via root uptake.

Plants can also be exposed to herbicides when grass clippings from recently treated lawns are used as mulch in the garden. Check product labels for how long you must wait before using the clippings. If you place treated clippings in a compost pile, it is best to compost them for several months before using it in the garden.

Other ways to reduce the chance of herbicide injury in the yard and garden include:

w Avoid applying herbicides in late spring and summer. They can vaporize during warm (above 80 degrees) weather and float in the air, settling down on plants a long way from the point of application and causing damage. If you plan to use liquid or dry herbicides, do it when the weather is cool in early spring or fall.

— If you have a few weeds in the lawn, spot treat them individually or dig them out. A weed popper tool works great for this.

— In landscape beds, apply a 3- to 4-inch layer of bark mulch to discourage weeds.

— In and around the vegetable and flower garden beds, use shallow cultivation or pull the weeds. I like a stirrup-type hoe with an oscillating head. Cultivate frequently to get the weeds when they are small. It is much easier.

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

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