Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for July 11, 2014

Sir David Attenborough takes action for butterflies

Sir David Attenborough launches the Big Butterfly Count, at London Zoo. Wednesday 11 July 2012. UK

In the run-up to the world’s largest butterfly survey, Butterfly Conservation president Sir David Attenborough reflects how we can boost populations and how important these creatures are to the garden.

Since creating a meadow area in his own back garden three years ago, Sir David Attenborough has enjoyed an influx of wildlife and is this year hoping to see a wide range of butterflies visiting it.

“I have an area of meadow turf with a mown lawn walkway which winds its way through it and I see a number of different butterflies – meadow browns, cabbage whites and occasionally tortoiseshells. I haven’t seen a red admiral for a number of years though, but I used to.”

As president of the charity Butterfly Conservation, Sir David will be taking part in this year’s Big Butterfly Count, in which members of the public are asked to report sightings to give the charity a clearer picture of the nation’s butterflies. This, in turn, gives us a view of the state of the countryside as a whole.

Garden favourite, the small tortoiseshell enjoyed its best year for a decade last summer, while peacocks, small and large white also had good years, but migrants including red admirals and painted lady struggled.

“The count helps us a great deal,” says Sir David. “It provides a recognition chart from a scientifically accurate, huge army of observers whose results can give you all kinds of important information.

“What we know is that last year was a good year for butterflies in that a lot of species came back or increased in numbers, but the decline in British butterflies is still going on. Last year was an optimistic blip.”

Three quarters of the UK’s butterflies are in decline and one third are in danger of extinction, according to the charity.

“This is bad news for butterflies and it is bad news for the UK’s birds, bees, bats and other wildlife. Butterflies are a key indicator species of the health of our environment – if they are struggling, then many other species are struggling also,” says Sir David.

“Butterflies are pollinators, pollinating the countryside. To have pollinators in the countryside means you have a healthy and renewing countryside. If you lose them, you will lose a great deal.”

Butterfly numbers have declined because the numbers of wild places left in the countryside have diminished as agriculture has become more efficient, he says.

“But if you put together all our suburban gardens, they form a huge area in the British landscape and they can help replace those wild places that agriculture has taken over.”

He says gardeners can all do their bit to help butterflies.

“Gardeners can take a small patch of their cultivated, cosseted garden to go wild. You may not like nettles or brambles, but they provide food for quite a range of butterflies.”

Plants including buddleia, Verbena bonariensis, lavender, perennial wallflowers and marjoram are all magnets for butterflies. Other plants which attract them include hebes, Michaelmas daisies, cosmos, phlox, pinks and heleniums.

Choose sunny, sheltered spots to plant nectar-rich flowers and try to provide flowers right through the butterfly season. Spring flowers are vital for butterflies coming out of hibernation while autumn flowers help butterflies build up their reserves for winter.

UK butterflies rallied last summer following their worst year on record but numbers were still below average.

Dr Tom Brereton, head of monitoring at Butterfly Conservation, says: “The recovery of butterflies in 2013 was highly welcome but there is still a long way to go before butterflies return to former glories.

“Our ongoing monitoring efforts will be vital in assessing whether we are on track to reverse butterfly declines and rebuild a healthy countryside.”

:: The Big Butterfly Count runs from Saturday, July 19 to Sunday, August 10. For information and help with identifying butterfly types visit

Article source:

August gardening tips

Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014 3:00 pm

August gardening tips

By Skip Richter
County Extension Agent- Horticulture

Katy Times


Avoid frequent wetting of your lawn. Provide 1/2 inch of water twice a week or 1 inch once a week to wet the soil deeply and to encourage deep root growth. 

Shear hedges, keeping the top slightly more narrow than the base to maintain dense foliage from top to bottom. If the tops get wider the foliage will start to thin out in the lower parts of the hedge.

© 2014 Katy Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Subscription Required

An online service is needed to view this article in its entirety.

You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?




Thursday, July 10, 2014 3:00 pm.

Article source:

This week’s gardening tips: when to water, when to fertilize, don’t forget to … – The Times

We have gotten fairly regular rainfall so far this summer, and that has considerably cut down how much we need to irrigate. The neediest parts of the landscape, when it comes to watering, are flowerbeds, vegetable gardens and container plants.

If you haven’t fertilized your lawn since April, do so again this month. This is especially important for lawns that are weak, in low vigor or need to grow to repair damage. Avoid applying weed and feeds now, as most should not be applied when it is hot.

Reduce weed problems by keeping all of your beds well mulched. Replenish mulches to a depth of at least 2 inches, if needed. Pull weeds promptly and regularly. If you decide to use herbicides, read the label carefully before use.

If you need to prune your hydrangeas or gardenias, now’s the latest time to do it. Old green hydrangea flower heads can be cut, hung upside down and dried for flower arrangements. Wrap up pruning spring flowering shrubs, such as azaleas (except Encore types which should have been pruned earlier), Indian hawthorns, spirea and others, in early July.

A long growing season and rapid growth often leads to over-grown beds this time of year. Feel free to trim bedding plants and tropicals to keep them under control. Stake or otherwise support plants that need it.

Article source:

Tips to green your home and garden this season

By StatePoint


Going green at home doesn’t have to turn your life upside down. There are simple measures you can take in your kitchen and garden to run a planet-friendly home.


Reduce waste

Ensure your kitchen is properly outfitted with labeled paper and plastic recycling bins. Keep these receptacles handy to encourage your family and guests to make use of them.

Take your waste reduction a step further by setting up a bin for food scraps, which you can add to your yard trimmings. Composting creates a natural fertilizer that’s makes a planet-friendly alternative to the chemical variety.

By recycling and composting, you can join the ranks of Americans reducing the waste they send to the landfill. In fact, recycling and composting prevented 86.9 million tons of materials from being disposed in 2011 in the United States, up from 15 million tons in 1980, according to government estimates.


Protect wildlife

You may think of your yard as “yours,” but you are actually sharing the space with furry creatures, insects and birds. Habitat destruction and loss, as well other manmade and natural threats, put beautiful species like humming birds at risk. Make your garden a safe haven with bird feeders and by planting native, sustentative shrubs, trees and flowers.

Image courtesy of user wwing. 圖片由wwing - iStock.com提供。

Image courtesy of user wwing.

Unfortunately, bird to building collisions, particularly with windows, are estimated to kill between 100 million and 1 billion birds in the United States alone, according to a new report from the Cooper Ornithological Society.

Ensure the safety of your airborne visitors by applying decals to your windows, which helps birds detect glass, thereby avoiding injury or death.


Eat local

Source your food locally to reduce your carbon footprint. If possible, buy local, in-season fruits and vegetables that didn’t have to travel the world to reach your plate.

And while flowers are beautiful to look at — and the right ones can provide nectar for pollinating insects and birds — consider turning at least part of your garden into a space for herbs and vegetables to grow. When dinner comes from your own back yard, it means fresher produce that’s good for your family, and good for the planet.

Don’t just enjoy nature this season, take care of it. With a few small tweaks, it isn’t hard to run your home more sustainably.

This post is also available in: Chinese

Article source:

Gardening tips for sloping landscapes

Imaginative gardeners don’t see tough terrain quite the way other people do. Where others see a swamp, they see future fishponds, boardwalks and bog gardens, and where their chosen site is almost vertical, they visualize viewpoints, flower-filled alpine cliffs and excellent drainage.

To a husband-and-wife gardening team in Chilliwack, the raw subdivision moonscape around them was a source of rough soil they could use to terrace the steep dropoff behind their newly constructed home. Contractors who had been paying to truck soil miles away were glad to dump a few loads in a nearby lot.

Once the soil was waiting in the front yard, the gardeners rigged up a wooden chute, which stretched from the front yard down into the rear. She shovelled soil into the chute, where it slid downhill. Meanwhile, far below, he shovelled the soil from the chute into a wheelbarrow and distributed it around.

Today, the upper terrace is a green lawn bordered with compact shrubs where people can sit under a patio roof and view the distant mountains.

The lower terrace is a mini woodland, where a pea gravel floor meanders around raised rock-ringed beds. Water in the nearby fish pool has high levels of oxygen after its swift journey downhill via a little stream.

The bottom of a slope is a natural spot for fishponds, and the freshening of the water doesn’t have to be done by a simple stream. Where the slope is very steep and faces the house, a rock wall plus water can be quite spectacular.

This is what two Surrey gardeners did with their rugged, weedy front yard. Most of it is now a large fishpond backed by a rock wall where water seeps and trickles and is punctuated by two waterfalls.

These don’t have to be large. Most gardeners with streams running down to a pond manage to add a large rock or two or a couple of steps over which water cascades.

Rocky cliffsides have other uses too. A Kamloops gardener couldn’t plant the bare rock cliff, which stretched across the far end of his back garden. But he enjoyed the way it prolonged his garden season by storing the sun’s heat and then releasing it during cold nights.

Where slopes are formed by clay or sand, stability can be a huge issue. Steps can be one solution.

A North Vancouver gardener with a big, sloping yard built a long line of steps, which she broke into sections by adding landings at intervals. These were emphasized by pergolas supporting climbing vines.

In the early stages of planning their North Surrey garden, two gardeners plotted out routes for electrical lines along steps. This made it possible to install lights under the risers so that people could navigate the garden at night.

Deep-rooted trees can also add stability to slopes. But how deep the roots plunge depends on the soil. Even deep-rooted trees may have problems unless the soil is also deep.

Some of the most effective stabilizing trees are oaks, liriodendrons and walnuts, but these need care in placement because they ultimately grow so large they dominate and shade small gardens.

Anne Marrison is happy to answer garden questions. Send them to her via It helps if you add the name of your city or region.

© Burnaby Now

Article source:

Garden Tips: That bug, mildew isn’t what you think it is

I recently overheard a woman in a local store asking for a spray to kill the little green worms on her lettuce. I had to restrain myself from offering her unsolicited advice. I, too, had just found little green worms on my lettuce, but I recognized them as syrphid fly larvae.

Syrphid flies are also known as hover flies, or flower flies, because they are usually noticed when hovering over flowers. They may cause alarm because they have a black and yellow striped body, resembling a bee or wasp. However, syrphid flies are benign and do not sting or bite.

The adult flies eat flower pollen and nectar. They are also valuable pollinators. You should not be afraid when you see a syrphid fly, but any aphids present should be afraid. That is because many types of syrphid flies are predacious. These syrphid flies lay their eggs near colonies of aphids. The eggs hatch into hungry larvae that will eat hundreds of aphids in a month.

If you see a “little green worm” on a plant infested with aphids, take a close look. Syrphid fly larvae have a tapered body with no legs. They blindly move over the leaf surface searching for aphids to eat. When they find one, they use their piercing mouth to suck out its bodily fluids.

So if you find a little green worm on your lettuce or see a bee-like fly hovering around your flowers, it is likely a syrphid fly larva or adult. Syrphid flies are beneficial insects that do double duty, eating aphids and helping with pollination. Encourage them instead of buying a spray to kill them.

For more information, read about “Beneficial Insects, Spiders, and other Mini-Creatures in Your Garden — Who They Are and How to Get Them to Stay” by going to for your free downloadable copy written by Dr. David G. James, Associate Professor, WSU Department of Entomology.

— Powdery mildew

Several gardeners have come to me recently because they were worried about the silvery patches on the leaves of their zucchini plants. They wondered if it was powdery mildew, a fungus disease that is fairly common in area gardens. It first shows up as small white powdery spots on squash leaves. These spots grow larger until the fungus covers the entire leaf and stem, killing the infected tissues. It typically shows up on squash late in the growing season, about the time the plants are finished producing fruit.

Luckily, what these gardeners have encountered is the natural silvery blotchy variegation characteristic of some zucchini cultivars (varieties). It is not a problem, and the plants are healthy for now, but it is advisable to watch for signs of powdery mildew on squash, cukes and melons.

Avoid powdery mildew by doing a few simple things:

— When possible, plant cultivars that indicate they are resistant to powdery mildew.

— Don’t plant your squash or other cucurbits where they will be in the shade of other plants or structures for part of the day.

— Provide good air circulation by not crowding the plants.

— Finally, rotate your crops so cucurbits are not planted in the same location for at least two years.

For more information, go to WSU’s Hortsense website at

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

Article source:

RHS Hampton Court Flower Show One Show ‘newcomer’ garden to feature on …

By Matthew Appleby
Sunday, 06 July 2014

Design competition winner Alex Noble says her architecture background helped her create The One Show garden.

One Show garden

One Show garden

One Show garden design competition winner Alexandra Noble says her six years studying architecture and three months with landscape architect Andrew Grant means she is far from being a beginner, as she completed her first show garden after winning the BBC/RHS competition for a newcomer to produce a garden at the event.

Noble qualified last week, but three months with Grant Associates last year cemented her plan to be a designer.

At university she designed hypothetical landscape plans for Lea Valley and two projects in Malta. She said: “You have to have the opportunity to prove yourself. I come from a design background including textiles and architecture. I did six years at Bath University and a myriad of projects up to 10ha. It’s good to keep the industry fresh.”

She found the One Show competition on Twitter and has worked with Adam Frost and Outdoor Room’s David Dodd on the 12×12 garden.

Noble, 25, plans to move to London to work in an existing business. She will be on The One Show on 7 July and will again be promoted on BBC coverage, interviewed by young Chelsea designer Matt Keightley on 10 July.

She said: “At Chelsea this year I could identify with the young designers and see the angle they’re coming from.” She said her favourite designs were from Rich Brothers, Frost and Luciano Guibbelei, whose architectural work she likes.

One Show gardener Christine Walkden will not be on Monday’s show as she is running a pre-booked garden tour of Devon.

Article source:

Woodinville garden tour full of beautiful ideas

THERE’S NO better way to learn about plants and design than to spend time in other people’s gardens. Strolling a garden in sun, shade and three dimensions helps us understand how best to shape our own unique properties. This is what garden shows try to do, but always fall short. Only outdoors in a real garden can we see how the place develops over time, experience the dynamics of scale and soak up a big dose of leafy atmospherics. Oh, yes, and find plants we really need for our own gardens.

After 15 years of annual tours, the Woodinville Garden Club hasn’t run out of inspiring gardens to feature. On Saturday, July 19, five private gardens are opening their gates wide for a self-driving tour, followed by a reception at Molbak’s nursery.

A highlight is sure to be the garden lovingly crafted and tended by Jonathan and Claudia Fast. Jonathan laid all the bluestone paths and patios himself, using hardscape to define spaces and navigate the acre-sized property.

“We spent years just thinning out and moving plants around,” says Jonathan. Six years ago the couple started working with Kathy and Tim King of Land2c Landscape Design, and you can see the results of their collaboration in the property’s artful contours. It’s a garden of spacious perennial and shrub borders. Curving pathways lead to one outdoor room after another, complete with cushioned benches or colorful Adirondack chairs. Bright birdhouses, sculptures and plantings in pots create focal points throughout. From the comfy couches in the al fresco living room to the sport court, this is a garden designed to live in. Recently the Fasts built a new octagonal bluestone terrace and a charmer of a shed in the back garden.

Inspired by the beauty and productivity of the old apple trees on the property, the couple built raised beds for vegetables and herbs, and are growing blueberries through the borders. “Our kids call it the farm,” says Claudia, who bakes pies from the ‘Transparent’ apples off one of the old trees. Be sure to check out the custom-made kinetic moon gate in the side garden.

One couple on the tour downsized to a property in the planned community of Trilogy on Redmond Ridge. Their new garden is filled with ideas for small-scale shade gardening. They replaced lawn and synthetic turf with a stone patio, planting beds and a stream. They learned to embrace moss, using it as a backdrop for shade-loving perennials. A roof garden and container plantings complete the scene.

Two large properties define Woodinville’s rural nature. A rustic log home on five forested acres features Native American art in a setting well-suited for it. The garden is a certified wildlife habitat. There’s a teepee, vegetables, flowers, sheds, decks, greenhouses, waterfalls, ponds and a small vineyard at Bigg-Sioux Lodge.

The second spacious property is 2½ acres of cultivated garden inspired by English perennial beds and French parterres. Formal yew and boxwood outline the borders, the parterre contains edibles, and arbors, a fire pit and water feature make this a garden of lessons and pleasures.

Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer. Check out her blog at

Article source:

Olive Garden unveils design revamp

Olive Garden officially unveiled its design revamp Tuesday, which includes a new logo and website, in two Florida restaurants, and said it will roll out the new look to 75 locations this year.

The 837-unit division of Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants Inc. also said it was launching a new online to-go platform for desktop and mobile computer users at all U.S. restaurants. Guests can pay online and pick up orders at designated parking spots at Olive Garden restaurants nationwide.

“As we continue to update our brand experience, we needed to send a strong signal to our guests that there’s something new and exciting at Olive Garden,” said Jay Spenchian, executive vice president of marketing at Olive Garden, in a statement. “Our new remodel design, web experience and logo are designed to do just that.”

Olive Garden said it accommodated the new design by removing walls to create a more open floor plan and adding more flexible seating for large parties.

The remodeled restaurants are in Fort Walton Beach and Winter Park, Fla. Olive Garden spokesperson Tara Gray said a third unit is under construction in Pensacola, Fla.

Remodeled restaurants include updated all-white plates. Signage features Olive Garden’s new logo, which was updated after more than 15 years.

Darden has been dedicating resources to Olive Garden to stem sliding same-store sales.

Olive Garden’s same-store sales slipped 3.5 percent in the May 15-ended fourth quarter. The brand’s sales have been less negative than sibling concept Red Lobster, the 706-unit casual-dining brand that Darden is selling in a $2.1 billion deal to private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital. Red Lobster had a 5.6-percent decline in same-store sales in the fourth quarter.

As part of what Olive Garden calls its “ongoing brand renaissance,” the division plans to begin testing tabletop tablets this year as the parent company works to improve sales at what will be its biggest brand after the Red Lobster sale.

“Olive Garden provides a strong foundation for the overall Darden business,” said Eugene I. Lee Jr., Darden’s president and chief operating officer, in a recent earnings call with analysts. “It’s a premier brand in casual dining, with average restaurant volumes of $4.4 million and industry-leading returns.”

In February, Olive Garden debuted an extensive menu revamp with more than 20 new items, including lighter fare and a dinner customization program.

Olive Garden said Tuesday it is also testing a new menu design and format in more than 30 restaurants, with plans to roll it out nationwide later this year. Remodeled restaurants will feature leather-bound menus with a streamlined format, the company said.

To increase its to-go customers, Olive Garden has created a new mobile and web platform for ordering. Coupons can now be redeemed with online orders, and users have the option to save favorite orders for future transactions and order meals days in advance.

The new online ordering platform is currently available in the United States, and will be available in Canada by the end of the month, spokesperson Gray said.

In addition to Olive Garden and Red Lobster, Darden also owns LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s and Yard House.

Contact Ron Ruggless at
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

Article source:

303 Associates airs zoning and design concerns with Beaufort Redevelopment …

With about $14 million in restaurant and residential projects pending, developer 303 Associates brought a list of complaints about city regulations Thursday night to Beaufort’s Redevelopment Commission.

Principal Dick Stewart brought up a number of concerns about zoning, building design and landscaping related to his Beaufort Town Center and Marsh Gardens property on the northern side of Boundary Street.

The projects include a proposed Starbucks, another unnamed restaurant and a 137-unit, 22-building apartment complex.

Among Stewart’s concerns is a requirement that two-story buildings face Boundary Street as part of the city’s development plans.

Stewart held up a picture of the existing two-story McDonald’s on Boundary that showed the staircase to the second floor chained off. That means, he said, the second floor is not necessarily needed. It adds to the cost of a building. In addition, in the case of the Starbucks, a tenant may have no desire to use or pay for the second floor.

A 75-percent-glass facade on buildings facing the road is another expensive requirement, Stewart said. It means steel must be used instead of less expensive frame materials.

Landscaping and tree requirements are also too stringent, he suggested, specifically referencing the proposed Starbucks parking lot. There, city staff are recommending a plan that would save a tree but cut out two parking spaces.

Stewart also said there is inconsistency in the messages he has received from the planning department over the years about how much proposed developments must conform to conceptual drawings in master plans. Everyone at the table agreed the drawings are intended to be ideas, rather than hard and fast guidelines.

“One of our jobs is to be a facilitator for development,” commission vice chairman Mike McNally said after Stewart’s presentation. “There probably are a lot of arbitrary and capricious ideas in (city regulations) that maybe need to be revisited and talked about.”

McNally said a special work session will be called with city planners to look further into Stewart’s concerns.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at

Related content:

Article source: