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Archives for June 20, 2014

History Deeper Than a Thousand Walnut Roots

Nicole Ammon tells the stories that make up her family history, mostly surrounding the ranch house she recently restored./Photo by Allie Hostler, Two Rivers Tribune

Nicole Ammon tells the stories that make up her family history, mostly surrounding the ranch house she recently restored./Photo by Allie Hostler, Two Rivers Tribune


Delphine ‘Del’ Fountain’s photo sits atop an end table in her home that was recently restored by her granddaughter, Nicole Ammon. The family will hold an open house at the Fountain Ranch in Salyer on Friday and Saturday, May 23-24 from 8am-8pm. The community is invited to visit./Photo by Allie Hostler, Two Rivers Tribune

Delphine ‘Del’ Fountain’s photo sits atop an end table in her home that was recently restored by her granddaughter, Nicole Ammon. The family will hold an open house at the Fountain Ranch in Salyer on Friday and Saturday, May 23-24 from 8am-8pm. The community is invited to visit./Photo by Allie Hostler, Two Rivers Tribune

By ALLIE HOSTLER, Two Rivers Tribune

Additional Reporting by SARA GRUETZMACHER

The Campbell Ranch. The Fountain Ranch. The Ammon Ranch.

It’s known as all three, and there’s a bit of history.

Nicolé Ammon stood on a newly restored deck overlooking the Trinity River and began to tell the story of her grandparents, great-grandparents and everybody in between.

“This place has a rich history,” Ammon, who bought the property along with her husband Erick in 2009, said.

Ammon will open the restored ranch house doors to the public on Memorial Day weekend to share her family’s rich history and celebrate the work that has made the ranch a success then and now.

The Ranch has been in Nicolé’s family since it was first developed by William Campbell in the late 1800s. In 1911 Campbell sold the 240-acre home and property to Dr. Matthew Fountain, a popular dentist who maintained a practice in Arcata and a home in Blue Lake.

He also frequented the Indian School in Hupa and was well-liked according to historical accounts found in the Susie Baker Fountain Papers at Humboldt State University.

Nicolé said it became too difficult for Fountain to transport goods and supplies over the old single-file mule bridge so he decided to build a bridge that could support motorized vehicles.

Nicolé and Erick’s daughter, Sarah Gruetzmacher wrote, “Dr. Fountain pioneered the north side of the Trinity River in Salyer by funding and building the first wooden suspended bridge.”

He also planted 1,000 English walnut trees on the ranch, of which six remain today casting shade over the grassy knolls where Erick and Nicolé’s horses and Buffalo graze. Seasoned entrepreneurs, the couple is contemplating farming alfalfa for livestock feed and marketing their bison.

Their business ideas are no less ambitious than their grandparents’.

Here’s another excerpt from the Susie Baker-Fountain Papers:

April 1911: Dr. M.F. Fountain of Blue Lake has purchased the Campbell Ranch from Wm. and James Campbell, containing 240 acres. The ranch is situated on the north bank of the Trinity River in Trinity County about eight miles from China Flat. It is an ideal place for fruit raising and the doctor intends to plant most of the tract in English walnuts, having found that walnuts will do well there and large crops can be produced and sold for good prices.”

Later, Susie Baker—the first graduate of Humboldt State University in 1914—would become a member of the Fountain Family after she married Dr. Matthew Fountain’s son, Eugene (who also became a dentist).

Erick’s family was also rooted in the walnut orchards of the Fountain Ranch.

Although Nicolé’s family owned the ranch, her husband Erick’s grandparents Chan Ammon and Ruth Taylor met there while working through the haying season. One of their favorite and most ironic family stories mentions how Erick’s grandparents were “sparkin’ on the back porch” during the haying season. They later married and had seven sons.

After Dr. Matthew Fountain passed away, Everette Fountain bought out his siblings, uprooted most of the walnut trees and began a successful cattle and sheep ranch with his wife, Delphine.

Everette and Delphine had two children, William and Colleen.

Everette and Delphine also operated a boy’s home at the ranch. They brought several disadvantaged boys from the bay area to be rehabilitated with ranch work, fishing and hunting.

“He was really a disciplinarian,” Colleen Fountain-McCullough, said as she sat on the porch of the old ranch house. “They gathered cattle down over the bank, saddle horses, shoed horses, branded cows, went swimming. It was a wonderful place for them to stay.”

She pointed out a bullet hole in one of the support beams holding up the porch.

“These were truly troubled young men,” Nicolé said. “One of them actually shot at grandpa.”

Nicolé recently completed a four-year endeavor to restore the ranch house, outbuildings and cottage.

The house underwent a complete rebuild, but she managed to keep much of the house’s original features—even the bullet hole in a porch beam—wherever possible while maintaining its architectural uniqueness like a soft dip in the eves and shake siding.

Each room has signature personal touches, family photographs, a design scheme unrivaled by Better Homes and Gardens showrooms and the functionality and feel of a genuine ranch house. Dr.

Fountain’s 100-year-old piano was also restored and sits next to her Grandpa Everette’s favorite seat in the house.

Outside, custom maple leaf stamped concrete walkways lead visitors through the original landscaping and garden of Nicolé’s grandma, Del.

A terrace was prepared as a wedding spot and a lighted deck and infinity pool were installed to complement the mini mansion.

Nicolé, who has a son reliant on a wheel chair, was also sure to make the entire property handicap accessible, including the bathrooms, swimming pool and entry ways.

They hope to eventually hold weddings and events there, but first they will host an open house on Memorial Day weekend. The community is invited to visit the ranch house on Friday and Saturday, May 23-24 from 8am to 8pm.

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COLD WAR: Battle rages over thermostat

Georgina Advocate

Thermostat Wars!

It could be the next great reality TV show.

Consider the possibilities: A film crew candidly trains cameras on a family 24/7. After she lowers the air conditioning to 21C, he sidles furtively and hikes it to 23C. She notices the climatological shift, calls him bleeped out names and, out of spite, turns the control to 20C. All the while, subtitles translate our Celsius to Fahrenheit, thus ensuring the series will have legs on United States networks.

Think of the drama, the trauma, the spectacle … and that’s just when the energy bill arrives.

The idea evokes a chuckle from Direct Energy survey home ideas director Dave Walton.

“I don’t think it will go that far,” he said. “But, in reality, 50 per cent of Ontarians who share a thermostat say they want to be the one in control because they’re concerned about energy costs.”

What’s more, one in five households can’t agree what temperature should be set and 24 per cent have argued about the setting, Walton said, citing a new Direct Energy survey completed last month and released this week.

Ontarians get hot under the collar when it comes to their home temperatures, the survey said. Thermostat feuds are the third most common household dispute, behind who controls the TV remote (28 per cent) and cleaning the toilet (27 per cent). Not only are Ontarians who share a thermostat disagreeing on the temperature, some are sneaky about it, with 16 per cent admitting they’ve changed the temperature when their partner isn’t looking.

Aurora resident Elise Anders can relate.

Last summer, she and her partner had a free programmable thermostat installed courtesy of a Power Stream promotion.

“I prefer the AC a few degrees cooler in the summer and the heat a bit warmer in winter,” she said. “He’s the opposite. Yes, we tend to get a little crabby about the thermostat.”

While both work during the day, the unit automatically lowers; so, too, overnight.

“It’s programmed throughout the day,” she said. “Thankfully, I can override the setting anytime.”

Thornhill’s Renata and Dwight Richardson are occasionally at odds over their home temperature.

“We’re energy conscious and observe peak times,” she said. “We have ceiling fans and they help move cool and warm air efficiently.

“But we’re different. When he’s in shorts and a T-shirt, I’m in flannels.”

The couple compromises, she said with a giggle, opening windows on cool summer nights and in the winter, she puts on a sweater.

With energy prices on the rise, it’s important for households to come to an agreement on temperature, Walton said. The survey found 83 per cent of respondents are setting the thermostat at 23C or less, which could end up costing them this summer. In fact, every degree Celsius less than 25 will add an extra 3 to 5 per cent to an energy bill.

The survey, which included input from some of Direct Energy’s 175,000 York Region households, also found one in five Ontarians who share a thermostat say their household never agrees on what time of year to turn on the air conditioner.

Further, 17 per cent of Ontarians said their children influence their energy consumption behaviour, 5 per cent admit they usually change the thermostat to their preferred temperature and blame the change on someone else, and 7 per cent claim their children usually change the thermostat without their approval.

“When the mercury rises, conflicts around home temperature don’t have to,” Walton said.

State seeks ideas about how to improve rough patch of SR 436 in Casselberry

State Road 436 between Wilshire Drive and U.S. Highway 17-92 in Casselberry is a crowded three-lane thoroughfare dotted with fast-food restaurants, gas stations, weed-strewn landscaping, broken sidewalks and strip malls with old facades.

For bicyclist Raul Barreto, riding on the road to his job can be scary.

“It can be tough to cross — even dangerous — with all that traffic,” Barreto said.

That’s a big reason why state officials are eyeing the nearly one-mile stretch of S.R. 436, also known as Semoran Boulevard, for improvements designed to make it safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.

But first the state Department of Transportation will gather ideas from the public at a meeting Thursday

Barreto rides his bike several times a week from his home near Maitland to his job at David’s World Cycle just off SR 436 in Casselberry. It’s a distance of about 4 miles each way. And along the route, Barreto must dodge traffic on the busy road, used by about 70,000 vehicles every day along stretch.

“I would like to see something to make it easier for bicyclists,” he said. “Maybe bike lanes.”

That’s the type of suggestion state transportation engineers would like to hear.

Thursday’s meeting will begin at 5 p.m. at Casselberry City Hall, 95 Triplet Lake Drive. DOT traffic engineers will evaluate the suggestions over the next several months and consider which ones they think can work.

“Before we begin putting shovels in the ground, we want help from the public to identify the true problems and what remedies are possible, collect data and then begin planning,” said Jessica Keane, a DOT spokeswoman. “People may suggest bike lanes, so we’ll take a look at those.”

DOT officials will hold another public meeting in the fall to present the best ideas.

Casselberry leaders welcomed the news of upgrading and beautifying S.R. 436 between Wilshire Drive and U.S. 17-92.

“I’m just ecstatic that DOT is now looking at making improvements,” Commissioner Sandra Solomon said. “I think anything we can do, it will certainly help in luring in more businesses.”

Business owners also said the area must be upgraded.

“It really needs to be made easier to walk across [S.R. 436],” barber Louis Vega said as he styled a customer’s hair. “There are a lot of apartments on one side and stores over on this side. And you see people trying to cross the street, even jaywalking, because there are so few crosswalks.”

Earlier this year, state crews completed a “flyover” bridge at the busy intersection of S.R. 436 and Red Bug Lake Road, just south of Wilshire Drive. And the state also recently began construction on another “flyover” at the intersection of U.S. 17-92 and S.R. 436.

City Commissioner Anthony Aramendia said that improvements along that stretch of Semoran Boulevard between the two flyovers are long overdue.

“It’s not that long of a stretch of road,” Aramendia said. “But by just making some improvements, it can really help. It can really go a long way to attract new businesses. Nobody wants to stop on a road that doesn’t look attractive.” or 407-420-5718

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Tsuru Island’s Japanese garden comes back to life in Gresham

Three years ago, Gresham’s Tsuru Island was so neglected that people playing in Gresham’s Main City Park a stone’s throw away didn’t realize homeless people were camping beneath overgrown camellias.

After 4,500 of hours of volunteer work, the 3/4-acre island is a precisely manicured Japanese garden nearly ready for its reintroduction to a city that had nearly forgotten it existed.

“If you’d seen it before, you couldn’t imagine,” Tomiko Takeuchi said.

Tsuru Island is man-made, carved out when the city redirected Johnson Creek away from East Powell Boulevard on the edge of downtown Gresham many years ago. Today it’s only a true island when the creek is running high enough to flow through the north channel, which has become shallow as sediment built up over the years.

The Japanese American Citizens League of Gresham-Troutdale designed and developed the original garden on Tsuru Island shortly before donating it to the city of Gresham in 1975.

The island, named after the Japanese name for crane, will reopen to the public during this year’s third-annual Skosh (a little) Japanese Festival in the park on Saturday, June 28.

            Seeing possibilities

Takeuchi, 72, is a retired teacher and principal. Her parents named her Linda Ann, and she spent the first two and a half years of her life in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II.

She adopted the name Tomiko as a young woman, when she began to embrace her Japanese heritage.

These days she she organizes the festival for the Gresham Sister City Association.

She said she had doubts at first whether the garden could be revived after it sat for decades without maintenance.

“There wasn’t much,” she said. “It was pretty ugly.”

Still, she brought landscaper Jim Card to the island a few years ago for his take.

From the park end of the bridge, Card started changing her mind.

“I can see what there could be,” he told her as he pulled out a pair of pruning shears and took a few snips on a nearby deodar cedar.

“It looked like a shaggy dog,” Takeuchi said of the small tree, “and all the sudden, it was a poodle.”

It was a tiny taste of the transformation Card and a small army of volunteers, armed with donated materials and a little money, accomplished on a larger scale as they spent the next few years manicuring the entire island.

                Starting the transformation

Under an agreement with the city, which hasn’t had the money to maintain the island, Card and other volunteers redesigned the garden. They worked around and sometimes moved larger trees, plants and boulders that were part of the original layout. They rerouted a pathway, now covered in small gravel inlaid with hand-cut variegated bluestone from Pennsylvania.

Bridges made of Brazilian purpleheart wood cross a dry, rock-lined streambed that seems to flow across the island. The volunteers fashioned benches with lumber salvaged from old park bridges as spots to rest and contemplate. They brought in irrigation and electricity to help with construction and maintenance.

“We’ve recycled a lot of things here,” said Card, 67, who retired two years ago after selling his landscaping business. Shepherding the garden’s comeback, he said, “became an opportunity for me to get back to the portion of landscaping and horticulture that I so enjoyed.”

Card and Takeuchi worry about vandals wrecking their hard work, but perhaps not as much as they worry about beavers, which annually dam up Johnson Creek next to the island. The beavers already have gnawed off some plantings. Card’s crew installed wire fencing and placed protective coverings on some trunks to make the job harder on the big rodents.

The garden won’t be completely finished at its unveiling this month. The 1970s bridge is still structurally sound, but Reynolds High School wood shop students will spend the coming year milling purpleheart wood into new decking and railing to be installed next year. They also will cut the wood needed for a small pavilion to open in 2015, the garden’s 40th anniversary.

Takeuchi and Card said the island, in conjunction with neighboring Main City Park and a small building on city property across Johnson Creek, will host educational events related to culture, gardening and the environment.

“I want people to feel the culture,” said Takeuchi.
“I do want them to know that Japan’s not just sushi and Toyota.”

— Eric Apalategui

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Designers open garden gates of Botherum for public tour

When garden designer Jon Carloftis and his partner, Dale Fisher, bought historic Botherum in 2012, remnants of once-elegant gardens and landscaping could barely be found after decades of neglect and decay.

“It was a mess,” Fisher said. “We took out 70 trees just to see what we had, where to start, what to do.”

But more pressing than the garden was the work needed on the mid-19th-century house, including replacing the leaking roof and stabilizing a dangerous chimney that looked ready to collapse.

Early on, Carloftis told Fisher, “I promise we’re not going to do the garden for a whole year. We’ll concentrate on the house.'”

“Twenty-four hours later I hear ‘beep … beep’ and look out to see two trucks loaded full of plant material in the driveway,” Fisher said.

The overgrown tangle of weeds and honeysuckle that faced Carloftis and Fisher when they bought the house has been turned into a series of beautiful outdoor rooms: a restored formal garden, a vegetable and herb garden, a woodland garden, a walled garden and a kitchen garden.

A majestic gingko tree with a 21-foot circumference was given to Botherum’s original owner, Madison Johnson, by Kentucky statesman Henry Clay.

On Sunday, Botherum’s gardens — along with two others in Central Kentucky, including the Governor’s Mansion in Frankfort — will be open to the public as part of the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program.

Private gardens not usually accessible to the public will be open for a fee, with the funds going to help the nonprofit organization preserve culturally and historically significant gardens throughout the nation for the public’s enjoyment.

The Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Louisville is one of the conservancy’s special preservation projects.

Since 1989, the Garden Conservancy has helped more than 100 gardens to survive and prosper. An important source of the conservancy’s fundraising is the Open Days tours.

Touring Botherum the house is not part of Open Days, but the doors will be open and roped off so visitors can look inside. Carloftis and Fisher will be on hand to talk to visitors and answer questions.

“We took the house back as much as we could to 1851,” Carloftis said. But the furnishings are eclectic, a mix of contemporary and antique.

Also open Sunday will be Mount Brilliant Farm on Huffman Mill Pike, which dates to a 1774 land grant from Thomas Jefferson to the Russell family and is rich in Bluegrass history. Greg and Becky Goodman are the current owners. Carloftis designed some of the farm’s gardens.

On June 28, Carloftis and Fisher’s garden at their house in Bucks County, Pa., will be open on another Open Days tour.

‘One year and six days’

Botherum was built by noted Lexington architect John McMurtry for Johnson in 1851. The house is a Greek Revival gem in the middle of a neighborhood of Victorian houses built after Johnson died in 1886. The property, originally a 36-acre farm, is now less than an acre. Johnson raised Merino sheep, which gave nearby Merino Street its name.

On the property is a charming carriage house built in the 1980s that serves as an office and guesthouse. Carloftis and Fisher’s first project after buying Botherum was to fix up the carriage house; they lived there until the main house was finished.

Considering the deteriorated state of the house and grounds, Carloftis said, “It could easily have taken five years to get everything in shape.”

But about three months into the work, leaders of the LexArts united arts fund asked if they could hold one of their major events at Botherum; Carloftis and Fisher said yes.

That gave them a deadline; they had eight months to make the house livable and redo the landscape.

They succeeded.

“One year and six days” from when they bought Botherum, work was completed, Carloftis said.

All this while they were busy with their garden design business, Jon Carloftis Fine Gardens, “to pay for the work we were doing here,” Carloftis said.

As work progressed, they stumbled on treasures from the past.

While clearing one section of the yard of bushes, weeds and trash, they discovered brick from the original formal garden in front of the house. They used the brick to restore the formal garden.

Poking around in the basement they found pieces of an iron fence that now encloses the vegetable garden. In the center of the vegetable garden is an original 1850s brick out building they found and moved from another location on the property.

Also in the basement were signs saying “Visit Historic Botherum.” Carloftis speculates that in the 1930s and 1940s, the owners opened the house for tours, perhaps as a source of income.

Carloftis and Fisher are known for their parties.

“We can entertain almost 300 people because there are so many places for people to go, inside and out,” Fisher said.

During one busy week earlier this month, they had five events in seven days.

This past week they gave four separate dinner parties, events they had donated to auctions for different charities. On Saturday, the eight guest speakers and special guests from the Summer Solstice Garden Celebration at the Governor’s Mansion are coming for cocktails.

On Monday, judges from America in Bloom, who will be in town to evaluate Lexington for that organization’s beautification award, will stop by.

But Carloftis and Fisher plan to cut back on entertaining.

“This first year that the house was restored we have shared it,” Carloftis said, “but next year we’re not.”

Beverly Fortune is a master gardener and former Herald-Leader reporter. Contact her at or (859) 948-7846.

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BIZ BUZZ: Cut Up and Sew gains new class instructor

Cut Up and Sew instructor Gloria Brathwaite opened her own shop in Trinidad at age 23 and later sewed for the New York Metropolitan Opera. (Courtesy photo.)

Ellen Schleicher heads Hammock Gardens Nursery  Landscaping's new floral division. (Courtesy photo.)

Clarissa Moholick has been named cancer registry manager for the five regional hospitals, including Florida Hospital Flagler. (Courtesy photo.)

Bob Vamos, a real estate agent who specializes in new construction, has been hired by RE/MAX Oceanside. (Courtesy photo.)

(Click “Like” to become a fan of the Palm Coast Observer.)

Cut Up and Sew gains new class instructor

Cut Up and Sew has hired a new sewing instructor who opened her own shop in Trinidad at age 23 and later sewed for the New York Metropolitan Opera.

“I am very excited to be working at Cut Up and Sew and teaching a sewing class called Sewing with Gloria,” teacher Gloria Brathwaite said in a Cut Up and Sew press release. “Sewing is a skill that stays with you for life, and I want to help people sharpen their skills in any way I can.”

Brathwaite owned her own dressmaking shop in Trinidad when she was just 23, then moved to New York City in 1969, where she designed and sewed for the New York Metropolitan Opera, according to the release.

That gave her experience in designing and sewing formal wear.

She moved to Palm Coast in 1995, branching out into home decoration by working with interior designer Beth MacKinnon while also doing alterations for Bealls, according to the press release.

She taught at Flagler Adult Education for almost nine years and opened the “Sew Glo” sewing shop on Old Kings Road in 2000.

Brathwaite’s class is held 5-9 p.m. Mondays and on Tuesday afternoons.

Cut Up and Sew is located at 160 Cypress Point Parkway, Unit D116.

For more information, call 447-1103 or visit or

Hammock Gardens Nursery Landscaping adds floral division

Hammock Gardens Nursery Landscaping has added a full-service floral division.

“We have received so many inquiries for fresh bouquets over the years, we are happy to be providing our customers with this additional service,” co-owner Janine Regina-Fonseca said in a press release. “We are blessed to be able to invest resources to keep up with our customer’s growing needs,” she added.

The floral division offers large arrangements for events like weddings and funerals and also smaller bouquets and single flowers.

It is headed by florist Ellen Schleicher, who has more than 30 years of experience growing, harvesting and selling flowers, according to the release.

Hammock Gardens Nursery Landscaping opened in 2006. Owners Regina-Fonseca and Mike Fonseca offer landscaping design and lawn maintenance, and classes and advice tailored for the local environment.

The Hammock Gardens Nursery Landscaping garden center and gift shop is located at 5208 North Oceanshore Blvd.

For more information, call 446-9154 or go to or

Florida Hospital Volusia/Flagler names new cancer registry manager

Florida Hospital Volusia/Flagler has named Clarissa Moholick as cancer registry manager for the five regional hospitals, including Florida Hospital Flagler, according to a Florida Hospital press release. 

Moholick, who most recently most recently served as the oncology accreditation and data services regional manager and associate director for oncology administrative services and Institutional Review Board for Adventist Midwest Health, is based at the Cancer Institute at Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center.

She is responsible for planning and organizing cancer committees, cancer conferences and cancer registry operations at all of the Florida Hospital facilities with Volusia and Flagler counties.

Moholick, a Clermont resident, is a certified tumor registrar and a certified clinical research professional.

RE/MAX Oceanside hires new agent

RE/MAX Oceanside has hired Bob Vamos, a real estate agent who specializes in new construction and was CEO of “a major plastic supplier to the auto industry” before entering the real estate industry two years ago, according to a press release.

“Bob’s business knowledge will well serve his real estate customers” RE/MAX Oceanside Owner/Broker Donna Tofal said in the release. “His construction experience will be a great benefit to his home buying customers.”

Vamos will work from both the RE/MAX office on State Road 100 and the model in Toscana on Old Kings Road.

For more information on RE/MAX Oceanside, or to list or purchase a new home, call 439-1620 or visit or

Paychex sales team hits annual goal, sales manager celebrates 12 years

The Jacksonville sales team of payroll and human resources company Paychex, Inc. — which serves the Palm Coast area — hit its revenue goals for this year, according to a press release.

Its sales manager, Kristin Sero, is also celebrating twelve years with the company.

“It’s our goal to help businesses streamline their payroll, HR, insurance and benefit needs, which leads to business growth,” Sero said in the release, “and I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to assist with these goals for the past twelve years.

The sales team more than doubled over the past 12 years. It was six when
Sero started in 2002 and is now 14, according to the release.

The team had $1.9 million in sales this past year, a number 105% over its goal,
according to the release.

Paychex is headquartered in Rochester, New York and has 150 offices nationwide. The Jacksonville office serves St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, and parts of Georgia, Tallahassee, and the Panhandle as well as Palm Coast.

For more information, contact Sero at 904-228-8681, or, or visit


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Gardening and More: Quick tips for colorful and healthy container planting

Jeff Thompson, director of horticulture at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens said, “Nothing will kill a plant quicker than poor drainage.”

You might have large containers with no drainage holes, but you can make sure your plant has good drainage with a few tips that Thompson shared with me recently as he gave me a behind-the-scenes look at the preparations for the Celebration of Coleus and Color show that opens Saturday, June 14.

The show will continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, through Sunday, July 27 at the Botanical Gardens, located at 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo. This is a show you can enjoy outside as well as inside. Make sure you take some time to enjoy the plantings that line the front sidewalk and don’t forget to stroll through the perennial gardens that surround the building. There’s color everywhere!

Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors (age 55 and older) and students (13 and older with ID), $5 for children ages 3-12, and free for members and children under 2-years-old.

To make sure your containers have good drainage, fill the pot partway with foam packing peanuts. Another material you can use is the six-pack containers that plants come in when you buy them at a garden center, crumple up those containers and put them in the bottom of your pot.

Cover the packing peanuts or crumpled plastic containers with landscape fabric, then cover the landscape fabric with your potting mix.

Many of the plants need only a foot of soil, so there’s no reason to fill the entire pot with dirt, Thompson said, adding that some large trees inside the Botanical Gardens are grown in pots that are half-filled with packing peanuts.

Potting soil can be expensive, so you can save some money using this tip. Plus, the pot will be lighter and easier to move.

A couple more tips on moisture: If you want a pot that holds moisture better, choose a glazed pot rather than an unglazed pot. And add those gel-like particles that you can buy under various brand names to the soil before you plant, Thompson says they do help to retain moisture.

Thompson suggested mixing different kinds of plants in one pot to create a more attractive container. He said to choose a plant that cascades over the side of the pot, a plant that is upright or spikey and a plant at the middle level.

“You can get a lot of interest in a small space, which is the object of container gardening,” he said.

Thompson has aisles of plant material to choose from, much of it donated by Zittel’s in Hamburg. However, you have to choose plants that will grow well together.

Read the plant tag and choose plants that have similar growing conditions. Don’t mix sun-loving plants with shade plants and don’t mix plants that like drier soil with plants that like a lot of water.

Keep an eye on your plants as they grow throughout the season, too, he said. The various plants may not grow at the same rate. If you don’t watch out, one plant could grow much larger and overpower the others.

“It’s not just plant and forget,” Thompson said. “You’ve got to pinch the plants back. It’s like controlling a little world in there.”

Connie Oswald Stofko is publisher of, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email

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Master Gardener – Tips for gardening success

Online Gardening Resources

In addition to county Extension centers located in Burgaw, Wilmington, Bolivia, and Jacksonville, Cooperative Extension has many online resources to help you successfully and sustainably care for your lawn and garden. For help selecting ornamental plants for your landscape, visit Extension’s online plant database,, which allows you to search for plants based on plant type, mature height, light needs, flower color, and other characteristics. If you are interested in landscaping for wildlife, be sure to check out the Going Native website,, where you can learn how to enhance your landscape for pollinators, birds, and wildlife using plants native to your region.

The Extension Gardener newsletter will keep you up to date on current gardening issues and chores. Available from, the newsletter is written by Extension agents across the state. Regional issues for the mountains, piedmont, and coastal plain are published four times a year. For access to all of NC Extension’s gardening resources, visit the Extension Gardening Portal,, where you will find links to topics including gardening how-to, pests, weeds, and soils, as well as links to sites about the Extension Master Gardener program, community gardening, and therapeutic horticulture.

For turf information, make Extension’s TurfFiles website your first stop. Log online at Resources available from this extensive site include insect, disease, and weed fact sheets, turf maintenance calendars, pest alerts, turf and weed identification tools, and much more. If you can’t find what you’re looking for within NC Extension’s web resources, use Extension’s nationwide search engine,, to locate research based, non biased information available from Extension systems across the United States.

Gardening Problem Help

Southeastern North Carolina is a challenging place to garden. Poor soils, extreme weather, and abundant pests work against your efforts to grow vegetables, fruits, lawns, and ornamental plants. Gardening problems are often complex and require expert help to diagnose. This help is available from your local Cooperative Extension office.

If you have a plant or bug you would like identified or a problem you would like diagnosed, please call or stop by the Extension office in your county. Pender, Onslow, New Hanover and Brunswick County have trained, experienced Extension Master Gardener volunteers available to answer your gardening questions. To contact them in Pender County, call 259-1238; in New Hanover County, call 798-7680; in Brunswick County call 253-2610; in Onlsow County call 455-5873.

When you call or stop by, be prepared to describe the problem, including when it started, if it is spreading, and what the symptoms look like. For the best diagnosis, bring a sample that includes several leaves attached to the stem, or the whole plant or insect if possible. If your local Extension center cannot identify your insect or plant disease sample, they will offer to send it to the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic (PDIC) at NC State University. For a charge of $30 per sample, the PDIC’s staff of entomologists and plant pathologists can diagnose and recommend treatment options for a wide range of plant and turf problems.

If you prefer to submit your questions to be answered online, use Extension’s Ask an Expert widget, The widget even allows you upload pictures of the plant or pest you need help with and usually provides an answer from within 24 hours.

To learn more visit to find your local North Carolina Cooperative Extension center. Visit your county Extension center’s website to learn about upcoming classes and events.

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This week’s gardening tips: fertilize bedding plants, how to buy pesticides … – The Times

After planting bedding plants, water them with a half-strength solution of your favorite water-soluble fertilizer. This gets them off to a good start.

When buying pesticides, ask for the least toxic material that will do the job and buy the smallest container available. A large-sized container takes years to use up and by then the pesticide often has lost its effectiveness.

Plant palms now through August, as they establish best when planted into warm soil. Select hardier palms, such as cabbage palm, windmill palm, Mediterranean fan palm, Canary Island date palm, palmetto and needle palm. Keep them well watered while they become established.

Chinch bugs, which are most damaging during hot dry weather, often begin to show up in June. Look for irregular dead areas that enlarge fairly rapidly. The grass will have a dry, straw-like appearance. Treat with acephate, permethrin, cyfluthrin or other labeled insecticides to prevent extensive damage. Follow label directions carefully.

Cut back early summer flowering perennials when they finish blooming to keep the plants looking attractive and, in the case of some perennials, encourage more flowering.

When parsley sends up its flower stalks, or bolts, its productive season is over. However, the tiny flowers provide food for and attract parasitic wasps thathelp control other insects. So consider leaving your blooming parsley in place until flowering is over.

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Tips about watering the garden

The west of Scotland has enjoyed some of the hottest weather in the UK this week, but the heat also brings a few issues to the fore.

We gardeners are constantly going on about watering, but for a very good reason – your plants will die without it.

Pay particular attention to bedding plants and hanging baskets as these need more water than trees and shrubs.

It is worth noting that you shouldn’t water in full sunlight or late morning.

When the sun shines on to water drops the water acts as a magnifying glass and can cause scorching on the leaves and flowers.

Evening is the best time for watering, but beware as it will bring out the dreaded midges.

One area that is often forgotten about when watering is the lawn.

Grass is in its peak growing season at the moment and a little water will go a long way.

Frequent cuts are also good and feeding and weed treatment is at its most effective when the weather is warm.

The mild and wet spring followed by warm weather has also caused fungus to be prevalent around the garden as well, but is easily treated with a suitable fungicide.

Roses, in particular, are prone to black spot, easily identifiable by, as the name suggests, black spots all over the leaves.

Again, spraying will take care of this without damaging the rose.

Bugs are also common just now, greenfly and aphids in particular.

If you are in doubt there are two easy way to check for bugs.

The easiest way is simply to look. Check both the top and underside of the leaves. Most bugs are easy to spot.

The other way to do it is put a sheet of white paper under the leave or branches and shake the plant.

At least some of the insects will fall onto the paper and are then easy to spot.

Treatment with an insecticide will soon take care of any problems, but bear in mind you may have to spray more than once to catch any of the insects eggs that hatch after your initial treatment.

Most of all, take advantage of the good weather and enjoy your garden!

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