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Archives for June 11, 2014

Volunteers have ideas to fix dog shelter

Why does Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks want to spend so much money for a review of
the dog shelter when ample information is already at hand (“Shelter needs study before hiring
leader,” letter, June 1)?

She failed to mention that a consultant was hired for that same purpose about five years ago,
and his report (which cost thousands of dollars) is likely gathering dust somewhere in her

Why spend thousands more when staff and volunteers would be happy to identify problems and make
suggestions for improvement?

As a shelter volunteer for almost 10 years, the No. 1 problem I’ve observed is lack of
communication. Everyone talks about it, but little has changed over the years except that it
continues to decline. Most suggestions for improvements have been squelched because we are told
that “downtown” says no (we aren’t told who exactly “downtown” is).

With so much micromanaging, why don’t the commissioners already know what’s going on? And why do
we even need a director when “downtown” seems to dictate every move? Why don’t the commissioners
support, and not block, change and innovation?

For example, I strongly urge Brooks and the other commissioners to drive by the shelter
entrance. They will see a beautiful building with landscaping overcome by weeds. The beds in front
of the building have not been weeded this year, and volunteers are not allowed to do anything. It’s
unsightly and embarrassing.

They should consider using the money available for a shelter review to address the problems they
already know about — or should.



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Despite the continuing drought, Sonoma County’s overall agricultural …

Withstanding the drought that continues to batter farming statewide, Sonoma County’s agricultural sector continued to grow in 2013, resulting in an annual yield of crops and products valued at more than $848 million, the county announced Tuesday.

Buoyed by the strength of its $605 million grape industry, the value of the county’s farm products rose 4.4 percent last year, according to the annual Sonoma County Crop Report.

The county’s overall agricultural production reflects a recovering economy, as well as the resilience of farmers who continue to adapt to market trends, government regulation and shifting environmental conditions, county officials said.

“Agriculture continues to be the backbone of this county,” 5th District Supervisor Efren Carrillo said.

One of the most telling bumps was a 21 percent rise in the value of local nursery products, a category that includes ornamental plants and cut flowers. Although a fraction of the size of the county’s wine industry, the sector is “a bellwether of the economy,” Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar said. Rising home sales and new construction is resulting in an increase in sales of plants used for landscaping, he said.

“This is a good reflection of the direction our economy is going,” Linegar said.

Ryan Meechan, co-owner and office manager at Emerisa Gardens in west Santa Rosa, said commercial landscapers have been extremely busy, primarily with replacement landscaping, in part to incorporate drought-tolerant plants.

“Definitely, there was an increase in 2013,” in terms of overall business, Meechan said.

“I think it’s more re-landscaping, than new ones,” agreed Mike Umehara, co-owner of Momiji Nursery in Santa Rosa, which features Japanese maple trees propagated right on the property.

Santa Rosa landscape designer Steve White, of Mason White Landscape Architecture, said the boom in nursery products reflects the “pent-up demand” that developed during the recession.

“People have unleashed their wallets, and business is booming, drought or no drought,” White said.

Some people are re-investing in landscaping at homes they’ve owned for a while, including those seeking water-thrifty plants, he said. Others are just beautifying where they couldn’t afford to landscape before, though often with an eye toward drought-tolerance and xeriscaping, he said.

The nursery products category, valued at $29.9 million last year — up 20.8 percent from 2012 — includes vineyard stock, as well. Increased vine sales last year resulted from a clear turnaround in the grape industry, where growers from 2009 to 2011 were “dying for contracts,” said Jeff Wheeler, viticulturist at Novavine nursery outside Santa Rosa.

“I think people were getting better prices for their grapes, and people were actually able to sign contracts a lot easier and sign longer-term contracts,” Wheeler said.

The wine grape industry accounted for more than 70 percent of the county’s 2013 crop value, thanks in part to a paradoxical upside to the drought, Linegar said. Though record-dry weather is worrisome overall, dry spring conditions were optimal for vineyard bloom and, thus, grape production, he said. Apple orchards benefited, too.

In addition, the amount of bearing vineyard acreage increased 1.5 percent last year to nearly 59,800 acres, resulting in a new harvest record of more than 270,000 tons of grapes, Linegar said. The average price rose 2.4 percent, to $2,236 a ton.

After dismal harvests in 2010 and 2011, “growers feel like they can reinvest in the land here,” Karissa Kruse, president of the Sonoma County Winegrowers, told the board. “This is kind of an exciting time, a rebirth.”

“Thank God for the wine grapes,” Sonoma County Farm Bureau Executive Director Tim Tesconi said after the meeting. “They really are the driving force.”

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Revealed: finalists in Cambridge Uni landscaping contest

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Annual garden tour a go in Haywood

Grace Episcopal Church Gardens: Beauty, Peace and Service. The grounds of this Waynesville church have been tended and developed by church members for more than 160 years. The church has several distinct gardens, including a circular drive and lawn with magnificent flowering almonds, flowering cherry trees and hollies at the Haywood Street Entrance. The understory contains a bed of blue and white iris along with Stella d’Oro and many multi-colored daylilies, as well as yellow callas and evergreens of all types. A memorial garden offers beauty and peace, shade-loving ferns and hellebores, and a pet wall cemetery — providing visitors with several places for quiet contemplation. The lower grounds are busy with a food pantry garden where children, adults and volunteers grow food and flowers for clients in the community.

The Christopher and Marjorie Carrie Garden: The Wild Cultivated Garden. This high woods garden at the edge of Haywood County is the work of Christopher Carrie. A vegetable garden complete with “Uncle Ernie,” the metal art bird scarecrow, is near the entrance of the home, and across a small creek is the woodland garden of Carrie’s mother Marjorie, which includes drifts of scilla and vinca, black-eyed Susans, phlox, iris, hostas, flame azaleas, mountain laurel, rhododendrons, and many woodland wildflowers. Paths lined with black locust and poplar and fringed with butterfly weed, echinacea and aster also make for a beautiful stroll.  

Fitts Garden: Well-Mannered Town Garden. This stone home in Waynesville is landscaped with hostas, azaleas, black-eyed Susans, rhododendrons and anise hyssop. An exceptional gingko tree is showcased in the front lawn and the backyard opens on a path around a large, semi-shaded pond with a fire pit, picnic area, bog garden, Adirondack chairs and peaceful native landscaping. The green lawns and tranquil trout pond are accented with geranium, Japanese maple and shafts of sun. The yard also features a shade bed, fascinating lichen specimens, bat houses, a garden shed, garden art and more.

The Fangmeyer Garden: An Abundant Mountain Manor. Stone pathways lead to a beautiful raised-bed vegetable garden, a grape arbor and pergolas. The landscaped swimming pool is next, then closer to the house echinaceas and daisies flow near rhododendrons and spruce trees. A creek and natural pond near the house contain water lilies and a family of koi near a waterfall. A greenhouse landscaped with garden pinks, roses, sage and more is around front, and suri alpacas graze nearby. Across the drive is a deceptively casual perennial cutting bed that includes iris, day lilies, specimen evergreens, roses and phlox. Down the hill, hostas grow and goats graze on the hillside. Finally the horse stable with another garden above an impressive rock wall completes the picture. There are bird feeders and houses, occasional lamps that direct the eye, tuteurs, statuary, fencing, stone pathways and walls. 

Hazelwood Elementary School Garden: Young Gardeners Dig It! Students plant this garden as first graders and then come back as second graders to harvest and eat what they’ve grown. They learn how to use tools, about plant life cycles, insects, kinds of plants and garden care. Learn how to prepare your soil using the Lasagna Gardening method, learn how to use earth boxes to grow vegetables, observe several different ways to build raised beds, and how to plan and plant in square foot gardens.  Ask a young gardener to show you what they’re learning and what’s growing this year in the ever-expanding Hazelwood School garden.

$15. No pets or smoking allowed, though cameras and note-taking are encouraged. Wear good hiking shoes. 

To purchase tickets, contact 828.456.3575 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Martha Washington Garden Club of Yardley hosting public tour of eight private …

Mama’s Little Helper

This reference site for parents in Pa. and N.J. features a calendar of local (and many FREE) events, coupons, giveaways, directories (classes, places to play, story times, consignment stores/sales), helpful articles a blog!

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America in Bloom judges to visit Rockford June 16-17


Online Staff Report

Judges from the America in Bloom (AIB) national awards program will visit Rockford June 16-17. This is Rockford’s third entry in the America in Bloom national awards program. The town is one of 33 towns across America working on local revitalization programs with the hopes of receiving a prestigious America in Bloom national award.

Rockford is competing against Lexington, Ky.; Greater Racine, Wis.; and Fayetteville, Ark., in the more than 50,000 population category.

Participants are evaluated in the following areas: overall impression, heritage preservation, environmental efforts, urban forestry, landscapes, floral displays and community involvement. The judges evaluate these criteria in the residential, commercial and municipal sectors.

Judges are Evelyn Alemanni and Stephen Pategas.

Alemanni is a self-employed writer and award-winning gardener from Elfin Forest, Calif. She has judged for the America in Bloom program since 2003 and also serves as an international judge for the Canadian Communities in Bloom program and for the international LivCom Awards; experiences which Evelyn says have given her the opportunity to share wonderful ideas and inspirations with communities in many countries, and to build networks of people committed to improving their hometowns. She has judged more than 109 towns in nine countries.

Alemanni serves on the AIB board of directors and is chairman of its external relations committee. She is the creator/author/designer of the Ten Years of Best Ideas book and donated the rights to the book to AIB. In 2014, she has released her four-volume book series, Fleurs du Jour, which features bouquets made every day with flowers from her garden and three special volumes, Caladiums, Roses and Bouquets from the Bulb Garden.

In 2001, Good Morning America named Alemanni’s garden one of the five best in the U.S. San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles has twice named it one of its gardens of the year. Garden Ideas and Outdoor Living featured it on its cover. It has also been in Garden Shed; Better Homes and Gardens; Gardens, Decks and Landscapes and many other garden-related magazines.

Pategas is an award-winning landscape architect, garden writer, garden photographer and plant geek in Winter Park, Fla. He and his wife Kristin are owners of Hortus Oasis, a boutique landscape architecture company and authors of the book Southern Coastal Home Landscaping and gardening columns for local magazines.

Their historic 1925 home and garden have been featured on numerous garden tours, in magazines and on television including Growing a Greener World, hosted by Joe Lamp’l.

Pategas serves on the City of Winter Park’s Keep Winter Park Beautiful Sustainable Board and with it founded Winter Park Blooms. Winter Park successfully competed in AIB in 2013. Previously, he served on the Tree Preservation Board and the Parks and Recreation Board. After designing the gardens for Casa Feliz, a 1933 historic brick house that was saved from demolition and moved in 2000, Pategas joined the Friends of Casa Feliz Board. His travels have taken him to hundreds of gardens in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia. His favorite gardens to design are those that touch people’s lives.

Participants have opportunities to receive recognition in the following areas:

• Bloom rating;

• Population category winner;

• Outstanding Achievement Award — the “best of the best” over all participants in each of the six evaluated criteria;

• Special mention — for what the judges deem to be an extraordinary project or program;

• Population category winners are invited to participate in international competition via the Communities in Bloom program in Canada;

• Community Champion; and

• YouTube Video Award.

To date, more than 220 towns and cities from 41 states have participated in the program and more than 20 million people have been touched by it. Awards will be announced Oct. 4 at AIB’s National Symposium and Awards, held this year in Philadelphia.

America in Bloom is an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. America in Bloom envisions communities across the country as welcoming and vibrant places to live, work and play — benefiting from colorful plants and trees; enjoying clean environments; celebrating heritage; and planting pride through volunteerism.

Posted June 11, 2014

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New Easy Gardening Tips App from Suntory Flowers Offers On-the-Go Garden …

New Easy Gardening Tips App from Suntory Flowers Offers On-the-Go Garden Advice and Videos

PRWEB.COM Newswire

PRWEB.COM NewswireTokyo, Japan (PRWEB) June 11, 2014

The most recent introductions to the garden aren’t plants at all. They’re apps. People are digging technology as they seek garden inspiration, advice and information.

The new summer edition of Easy Gardening Tips app from breeders of the Suntory Collection has just been released. It is more of a digital magazine than an app with suggestions for color combinations, engaging how-to videos, seasonal updates and new flower introductions.

The app gives advice on how to decorate a deck, create stunning containers and tips for coping with summer heat. Users can search for flowers by color, bloom time and conditions.

“Whether for practical, hands-in-the-dirt purposes or for drinking in the beauty of flowers, today’s apps really fulfill gardeners’ needs,” says Masashi Matsumura from Suntory Flowers. “Our Easy Gardening Tips app provides both the expert information and the beauty gardeners want.”

Finger Tip Gardening

The just released Summer Edition of Easy Gardening Tips is available now and includes:

  • Decorate a Deck– Designing three unique looks for one deck.
  • Easy-Care Containers–Stunning container designs for flowers that bloom all season.
  • Cool As a Cucumber–Coping with summer heat.
  • Saving a Taste of Summer–Canning and preserving summer vegetable harvests.
  • Green Walls–Installing a plant wall.
  • Red Hot – Using Sun Parasol mandevilla in and around landscapes.
  • Links, store locators, video advice, combination designs, the Flower Find and more information from experts at The Suntory Collection.

The Spring Edition included :

  • Pick the Perfect Palette–A guide to color and flowers.
  • Flower Finder–Search the best flower by sun exposure, bloom time and plant type.
  • Spring Garden Prep–Tips and tricks for this season.
  • Combinations Demystified–Ideas on how to pair plants for gorgeous containers.
  • Expert Advice Videos–Learn about everything from plants to planting to outdoor décor in these informational videos.

“We created this app to help people be more successful gardeners so they can relax and enjoy their time among the flowers,” adds Delilah Onofrey, who represents Suntory Flowers in North America.

The Easy Gardening Tips app and publications are available as free downloads for the iPad from the App Store. To learn more about The Suntory Collection of beautiful flowers, visit

About Suntory Flowers:

Since the groundbreaking introduction of Surfinia, the first vegetatively propagated petunias, to the world markets, Suntory has led the way in bringing innovative new varieties to market. These include Million Bells calibrachoas, Tapien and Temari verbenas, Summer Wave torenias and more recently Sun Parasol mandevillas and Senetti pericallis. From Suntory’s origins as a beverage company in Japan, the company’s goal is to create new products that enrich people’s lives. Suntory Flowers’ message for consumers is “Kantan, Kirei, Jobu,” which means “Easy to Grow, Gorgeous, Longevity” in Japanese. Suntory guarantees a plant’s garden performance and offers consumers the chance to enjoy beautiful plants. Enjoy Suntory’s “top-shelf” varieties.

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Garden Brings Tranquility To Cancer Center’s Urban Locale

In the heart of busy New Haven, Conn., is a little piece of tranquility for patients going through chemotherapy treatment at Smilow Cancer Hospital. In fact, the Betty Ruth and Milton B. Hollander Healing Garden, perched on top of a seventh floor setback of a 14-story building, has become a defining feature of the hospital’s overall design.

When the client proposed the idea of a healing garden, landscape architects and planners Towers|Golde LLC (New Haven, Conn.) initially went in the direction of a modern, high-style landscape design. “The ‘aha’ moment wasn’t until we had our first meeting with a group of cancer survivors,” says Bob Golde, partner and principal on the project. “The overall impression we walked away with was, ‘Don’t give us something that looks designed. What we want is what we see out our back door. We don’t want to feel like we’re in a big, urban medical center.’”   

That insight inspired the Towers|Golde team to switch gears. Rather than following the original slick, contemporary design approach, the firm decided on a more organic and natural aesthetic. The resulting design won Gold in the acute care category of the inaugural Landscape Architecture for Healthcare Communities Awards from Vendome Healthcare Media (parent company of Healthcare Design).

Since many of Smilow Cancer Hospital’s patients come from suburban communities, the designers felt that a pastoral garden style would have more appeal, says Channing Harris, senior associate and project manager.

To accomplish this, a variety of seating benches were dispersed throughout the plan in semi-hidden spaces that could be used by small groups or individuals wanting more solitude. The benches were custom designed in tropical hardwood or a combination of wood and steel, some in crescent shapes to define more private areas.

Sections of Ipe wood decking visually break up the seating areas and are reminiscent of a backyard landscape. The curvilinear nature of the garden path also works to make certain spots cozier and more private, while at the same time highlighting various aspects of the garden itself.

A combination of plants was used—from witch hazel and evergreens to shrub forms and grasses—to make the garden green year-round. Because of the garden’s rooftop location, drought- and wind-resistant plants were included, too.

The facility also wanted to incorporate pieces of sculpture into the design. Due to the subjective nature of art, the designers were tasked with finding universally calming pieces.

When a hospital administrator who’s also involved with the Bonsai Society of Greater New Haven suggested that the group help procure plants for the project, the team decided that bonsai trees were a perfect sculptural yet natural element to blend in with the design. Bonsai trees now sit atop granite-clad platforms near seating areas, with the platforms allowing a permanent location for other sculpture pieces to be rotated through the space in the future.

The focal point of the garden design, however, is a water feature and reflecting pool. “There are some wonderful boulders that frame the edges of the babbling brook that goes through the garden,” Harris says. “We surprised everyone when we told them they’re completely fake.”

Real boulders weren’t an option given their weight and the garden’s rooftop location, so the designers worked with a company that makes molds of rocks using a fiberglass-reinforced concrete and a unique painting system to create lightweight—and lifelike—hollow shells. By mingling the faux boulders with real rocks, stones, and gravel in the stream, the desired effect was achieved.

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