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Archives for July 28, 2014

Keep growing with season-extending gardening tips for fall

Warm weather, continued care and robust plants have yielded a bounty of beautiful, fresh vegetables – and personal satisfaction – from your garden this season. As the weather cools and fall approaches, it is not time to hang up your hat, gloves and trowel for the year. Autumn provides optimum weather and ample opportunity to keep growing and harvesting delicious, healthy produce well into the season.

Some gardeners assume that when fall arrives and kids return to school, they’ll have less time to garden, and may experience less success from their garden plots. But cooler temperatures and fall conditions can actually make gardening easier and more enjoyable. Many of fall’s best-producing vegetables are also colorful, making them great additions to flower beds and containers.

If you loved summer gardening, you can keep your garden growing right through fall. Here’s how to make the most of fall season gardening:

Size up the soil

Most vegetable plants require full sun for six or more hours a day, and because fall provides a bit less sunlight than summer, you may need to relocate your plot to make the most of shorter days. If moving your garden isn’t an option, you can still take full advantage of sunshine by planting veggies in containers or by creating a raised bed in a sunny spot.

If you’ll be reusing your summer garden plot, remove any leftover debris. Don’t forget to pull up weeds before they go to seed. Fluff any compacted soil with a garden fork. Next, test the soil to see if any amendments are needed. Even if your soil is in good shape, adding a 2-inch layer of bagged compost or a balanced, natural fertilizer like Bonnie Plant Food can give plants a boost.

Be prepared for frost. Keep materials on hand to protect plants when frost threatens, such as floating row cover, a cold frame or a cloche. On frosty, cold nights, move container plants to a protected spot. Not sure when frost will arrive in your area? Check out the USDA frost map on the Bonnie Plants website.

Pick your plants

While crops like strawberries and tomatoes have faded to sweet summer memories, many plants thrive in fall. To ensure a successful  harvest, it’s important to pick the right plants and  give yourself a jump start by using transplants, rather than starting off with seeds. Planting six-week-old transplants ensures you’ll have the best opportunity to take advantage of fall’s shorter season, and you’ll harvest sooner than if you plant from seed.

Producers like Bonnie Plants provide garden retailers with transplants intended to grow well during the specific growing season and are suited for your geographic region. Seasonally appropriate transplants ensure you’ll have greater success in your garden. An added bonus of fall planting is that many cool crops are also packed with nutrition and are among the healthiest vegetables you can eat.

Choose hardy crops that can withstand light frost and temperatures as low as 25 degrees. Hardy Bonnie favorites for fall include:

* Broccoli – This versatile veggie is packed with vitamins K, C and A, and is a good source of folate.

* Cabbage – A staple of Oktoberfest celebrations across the country, cabbage comes in several varieties, all of which are high in beta-carotene, vitamins C and K and fiber.

* Kale – Some varieties of kale, like Winterbor Kale, actually taste better when kissed by frost. A prolific producer, kale thrives in fall gardens and is a good source of vitamins A, C, K and B6, as well as manganese.

* Leeks – Prized by gourmets for their milder flavor, leeks are frost-tolerant in all but the coldest planting zones. The health benefits of all onions are well documented, and leeks also add a pop of bright color to culinary dishes. 

* Spinach – This nutrient-rich green does as well in fall’s cooler temperatures as it does in summer heat. Spinach will continue to produce throughout the season, providing a tasty source of vitamins A, C, K and E, as well as the minerals iron, potassium and magnesium.

The end of summer doesn’t have to herald the end of your garden harvest and enjoyment, or a return to the grocery store produce aisle. With the right fall crops, you can achieve a satisfying, healthful harvest throughout the fall. Visit to learn more about fall gardening and cool-weather crops.

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AJ Petitti’s tips for keeping your tomato & herb gardens healthy

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6 Tips for Creating a Fragrant Garden

Make an eye-catching garden more enjoyable by including fragrant plants. Incorporating aromatic flowers into the landscape adds an unforgettable dimension. Fragrant plants tend to bring up pleasant memories, and scented flowers also attract wildlife, such as bees and butterflies.

Fragrance is produced by plants when their essential oils evaporate and the molecules enter the air. The most fragrant flowers are white and pastel, while bright flowers, like red and orange, have little to no scent.

Good fragrant flower additions to your garden include lilac, rose, dianthus, gardenia, jasmine, citrus, honeysuckle, hosta, alyssum, stock, bee balm, nicotiana, moonflower, citrus, ginger lily, and michellia.

Create you own fragrant garden with these tips:

1. Avoid using pesticides and chemical fertilizers. They detract from the pleasant odors and can kill or harm beneficial creatures like birds and butterflies.

2. Use drip irrigation. Overhead watering interferes with the release of nectar in aromatic plants, which will cause them not to smell. Drip keeps the water at the root zone and off the plants.

3. Place aromatic plants in high traffic areas. You want the plants close enough so you can smell them. Good locations include entryways, passageways, and enclosed areas where the odors can linger, such as patios, courtyards, and atriums. Spots near windows that you open are also good.

4. Locate low-growing fragrant plants near nose level. Place short aromatic plants where they can easily be appreciated, rather than on the ground. Good locations include elevated containers located on tabletops and hanging baskets.

5. Consider time of day. Some plants only smell at certain times of the day. For instance, brugmansia releases its scent at night-time but has no odor in the day, while other plants only smell during the day. Weather can also make a difference. Hot days tend to stir up the volatile oils in plants more than cool days, which means you’ll have a more fragrant garden when the weather is warm.

6. Balance and layer. Avoid putting too many different types of fragrant plants into your landscape. The results of doing this can be overpowering and even unpleasant. Some plants, like night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum), are so strong that you only need one in your yard. Other flowers, like alyssum, require that you plant several in order to notice the scent.

Julie Bawden-Davis is a garden writer and master gardener, who since 1985 has written for publications such as Organic Gardening, Wildflower, Better Homes and Gardens and The Los Angeles Times. She is the author of seven books, including Reader’s Digest Flower Gardening,  Fairy GardeningThe Strawberry Story Series, and Indoor Gardening the Organic Way, and is the founder of

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Lurie Garden’s maturing beauty

Shrouded in fog, the meadowy garden in the city starts to reveal itself, with startling shots of purples and blues in an impressionistic sea of greens, as the sun begins to poke through.

A tall, sturdy man with ruddy complexion and silvery hair tousled by a breeze emerges from behind rustling tall grasses. It is Piet Oudolf, the Dutch master who orchestrated this enchanting harmony of perennials, splendor in the grasses.

We chatted in Chicago’s Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, where for one moment, the dulcet tones of a rehearsing orchestra competed with a piercing siren nearby, while a cardinal hopped on a path right in front of the bench where we sat, its bold red feathers popping against a curtain of lime-colored grass.

It’s the 10th anniversary of this garden, Oudolf’s first commission in the U.S.; the High Line rail bed in Lower Manhattan and Battery Park in New York followed.

The sheer scale is stunning, but more impressive is how it all works contextually, with a backdrop of the city’s distinctive architecture. There is nothing static, not in minutes, not in a day, not in a season, not in a year. It’s the way it’s supposed to be in nature, perfections and imperfections on equal footing. You won’t find Oudolf scurrying about, deadheading spent blooms. Those dried stalks are part of the cycle of life.

He’s considered the guru of new wave gardening, which almost sounds radical, new agey, but actually describes a natural, four-season approach that some describe as “ecology meets design.”

“I didn’t invent the word,” says the 69-year-old Oudolf. “I never used it. We call it the new perennial movement, which describes an emphasis on plants more natural, less contrived. It’s a way where you feel the dynamics, the spontaneity. It’s not about decoration, where everything has to perform. Where there’s a floral exhibition and you’re chasing the arrangements.”

Which is why he went down this particular garden path. In the Netherlands, where he lives on an 1850s farm with his wife, Anya, he found his passion at age 26, when he took a job at a nursery. But after designing a few too many English gardens, he grew weary of dogmatic scripts focused on flowers and color, staking and order — and the dreaded deadheading.

“I missed the spontaneity,” he says. “I found it difficult to design with plants, to keep them looking good for a whole year without interfering. I found things beautiful but missed creativity.”

He shook up the landscape by messing it up a bit, weaving grasses into perennial borders. He searched for plants with more character — not necessarily flowering ones. Plants with texture and interesting shapes that create an unexpected, wild look that’s thoughtfully planned — and edited.

And with that, a natural evolution that savors the cycle of life — and death. For Oudolf, brown is a color, too, one that can be beautiful and elegant in fall and winter landscapes, particularly with seed heads and pods, dried grasses swaying in the wind or under the cover of snow.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or adding to an existing garden, Oudolf encourages: “Plant what you love. If you want vegetables, plant vegetables. Make a plan that works with all the seasons. Gardening is gardening. It’s a very personal thing.”

Oudolf’s “Planting: A New Perspective,” co-written with Noel Kingsbury and published last year by Timber Press, is a wonderful primer for the home garden. And the Lurie Garden website ( ) catalogs has detailed plant lists with photos.

Masterful gardening

Piet Oudolf may be the world’s most well-known gardener. But his pointers are perfectly down-to-earth.

• Relate to the space — especially in scale. Think about the plant’s form, how it will mature and relate to the rest of the garden, house and all surroundings. It’s not only the pattern but the structure — the architecture of the garden — that’s important.

• Go native. Indigenous perennials that attract wildlife — Joe Pye weed, M monarda (bee balm), Eechinacea (cone flowers) — these are especially robust. Other favorites: Russian sage, achillea, butterfly weed, asters, alliums, sea holly, cranesbill geranium and, of course, grasses, from wheat to purple.

• Don’t skimp. Strength in numbers creates impact. Oudolf recommends at least three or five plants of each variety; 10 or 15 is better.

• Plant tall to short to create depth and dimension, in “island” groupings. “Try it out, move tubs around (to see how they look). If everything is low to the ground it will look like an alpine garden.” Use curves to create a natural undulation or wave, like brush strokes of a painting.

• Edit. Of course gardens evolve. Experiment. Learn what works, what doesn’t. Change quantities — pull back, repurpose.

• Don’t fret about plucking off flowers past prime. Learn to appreciate the beauty in the skeletons as well as the flowers. From the master: “It’s not about how nicely it blooms but how beautifully it decomposes.”

Article source:,0,4373656.story

The gardens at Shelburne Farms. (Photo: MOLLY WALSH/FREE PRESS)

A garden walk is perhaps one of summer’s best delights and the formal gardens at Shelburne Farms are a beautiful destination. Reporter Molly Walsh caught up with Birgit Deeds, a Charlotte resident and garden designer, who volunteers daily at the formal gardens and played a key role in their restoration. She’s tended the lakeside garden for 35 years and is the author of “Shelburne Farms: A Guide to the Formal Gardens.”

Deeds knew Derek Webb, a descendant of Lila Vanderbilt Webb and William Seward Webb. They developed Shelburne Farms as an estate in the late 1800s. It was Derek Webb and his children, including Alec Webb, now president of Shelburne Farms, who decided to turn the 1,400-acre estate into a non-profit.

BURLINGTON FREE PRESS: Tell us how you became interested in gardening?

BIRGIT DEEDS: “I’ve been gardening all my life. My mother was a big gardener and a rosarian and so forth and I’ve been here (volunteering at Shelburne Farms) for 35 years. I knew Derek Webb, Alec’s dad, well, and I knew Alec since he was a little boy. So when the time came for them to do the restoration of the main house in 1984, I got involved in that. … I had been a garden designer and I’d done garden design work…I’d worked for (landscape architect) Dan Kiley, but then I got really interested in the restoration of this garden. … When I sort of took over I went to Harvard/Radcliff school and I had this incredible woman who was sort of a mentor to me, Judith Tankard. She’s written a lot of books on different famous gardeners. Through her I was able to go to England and my daughter, my younger daughter, went with me and she gained access to a lot of the English gardens that were private that were (designed by) Gertrude Jekyll… So it was incredible and we went for three springs and studied the gardens.”

BFP: Why have you volunteered here so long? What about this place matters to you so much?

BD: It’s an incredible organization and the vision that they have not only in the garden but the entire organization and the fact that these children (the Webbs), you know, gave up everything in order to form this non-profit organization and that to me is just incredible. … So I’m very devoted to the place and I’m very devoted to Alec and the whole staff.

BFP: How has the garden changed in your time here? I understand that a large anonymous donation helped with the restoration.

BD: It put the garden on the map and then it got a lot more attention.

BFP: I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about how this garden came to be, how it was designed and perhaps what the inspiration was?

BD: The garden came into being around 1908. Lila (Vanderbilt Webb) had traveled a great deal and originally she had a parterre garden. … And then she loved the structure and architecture that was involved in the Italian gardens so she came back and put up all these walls and this architectural structure. Then she went to England and just was completely passionate about Gertrude Jekyll, who was at the turn of the century the arts and crafts movement, and she decided that that’s what she wanted to install in this garden. … (Lila) read a lot of her books and this particular design goes from the pale colors to the very warm red colors and and then out to the pale colors again, and that’s what we’ve tried to maintain.”

BFP: I understand many of the original perennials are gone. But there are some exceptions to that?

BD: The peony bed that you see down there, those are all the original Queen Victoria peonies.

BFP: I understand the gardens changed a fair amount while Lila was still alive.

BD: She put plant material in and then a lot of times she would decide it wasn’t what she wanted and … so she would change it. It was always evolving and that’s what I try to have people understand.

BFP: The formal gardens have a very large peony bed. How many blossoms would you say it produces, how many flowers?

BD: Hundreds. Oh my goodness. I don’t know. Hundreds.

BFP: Tell us about the roses in the garden.

BD: (Lila) had an extensive rose garden, hybrid tea roses and then in the winter she would put them in a green house.

BFP: I understand you reworked the rose garden eight or nine years ago.

BD: It was four parterres originally and then we uncovered these steps here so I made this into one long bed. Most of the roses in this rose garden are floribundas so they come back. My objective is to try to bring them back every year here in Vermont rather than having to replace them all the time. One of my favorite roses is David Austin. But a lot of times the David Austin roses just don’t do too well here.”

BFP: So you do battle with the Japanese beetles here? What’s your strategy?

BD: I have no strategy. I pick them. We don’t use any pesticide or anything like that. I put them in a jar of soapy water. That’s sort of an endless process but I just wouldn’t do anything else.

BFP: What do you recommend for home gardeners who have a budget but they love flowers, love the whole range of flowers out there. How can you get something going without breaking the bank?

BD: Well I guess you just sort of have to decide what you really want and how much you want to spend. … Then if you’re here in Vermont you want to make sure that if you’re doing perennials you want to be sure that you get perennials that are say Zone 4 to be safe. And then with annuals, I think it’s just a question of what color you want. But then realize that every year you have to replace them.

Sign up online to attend a house formal gardens tea tour from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays or Thursdays through October at Shelburne Farms, the 19th century country home of Dr. William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb. The house, now an inn, is part of the 1,400 acre lakeside estate that now operates as a non-profit dedicated to a sustainable future. Cost for tea tour: $18. Pre-registration required. Contact or 985-8442.

The Farms also make a fabulous destination for walkers, with a recently expanded path network of trails measuring more than ten miles along the grounds designed by famed landscape designer Frederic Law Olmsted. Access to trails is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for children 3 to 17 and free to children under 3, Shelburne residents and members who support the education work of the Farms. Information:

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A look at two of the Gratiot County Commission races

At the August 5 primary, voters in Gratiot County are expected to provide a preview of the Gratiot County Commission race in the November election.

Normally, some candidates within the same political party are eliminated in the August primary.

For example, in the race for U.S. House of Representatives 4th District – Dave Camp’s seat – three Republicans and one Democrat are running. Only one of the three Republicans can win, and that candidate will square off against the Democrat in November.

For the Gratiot County Commission five member board, no two Republicans or two Democrats are running. Only three seats are being contested and only one Republican and one Democrat are running in each.

They will face off again in November, and in that election the commissioners will be chosen.

Here’s a look at two of those contested seats and the candidates.

District 1 includes Seville and Pine River Townships and Alma Precinct 2.

John Renneberg, the incumbent Republican is looking to be re-elected.

“After retiring from the state, I knew some form of community service was in my future and enjoy working for the betterment of Gratiot County,” he said.

“When I ran two years ago, I felt I would be able to address certain needs and wants in my township. i.e. emergency preparedness, a sewer system to protect our natural resource (Pine River) and blight concerns. I have been working toward achieving these objectives along with the local township boards.”

Renneberg will be up against Alma College Political Science professor Ed Lorenz, a Democrat.

“My reasons for running for county commissioner are threefold,” he said.

“First, I have been disappointed for some time with the behavior of the commission in the last two years.

“The role of the commission as I see it is to help make the county a better community and especially a place where the perspectives of the townships and cities are reconciled. The approach of the commission over the last two years has seemed to be to implement an ideology of a few and forget about reconciling different perspectives.

“Second and more specifically I have been disappointed by the failure of some current commissioners to participate in important local governance roles that they are expected to perform.

“For example, in March 2014, when we had a team of health workers here to conduct assessments of those exposed to PBB, neither Gratiot Commissioner on the Mid-Michigan District Board of Health attended the meeting to be briefed on the problems facing local residents. Their absence was especially notable since commissioners from neighboring counties did attend.

“Third, I have been especially disturbed by the past behaviors of some of the commissioners related to economic and agricultural development.

“Instead of trying to work to make sure we have the most effective economic development and farm support programs, some have engaged in an endless ideological battle over funding. They seem more intent on saving themselves money than working to help fellow residents find stable jobs and safe communities.

“I think it is time that Gratiot County got over endless divisions and began working together to make this a better community in which to raise our kids and grandkids. “While much is good here, we have many residents who need assistance that could be provided by effective economic development.

“The Gratiot County Commission needs those with new creative ideas, people who recognize their responsibility to serve the interests of all those in the county and are dedicated enough to work tirelessly for the people.

“There seems to be far too much cronyism and too little public service. Commissioners can’t find resources for basic public services but have the funds to raise their own pay.”

District 4 includes Arcada Township and Alma precincts 1 and 4.

Former County Commissioner and Ithaca High School teacher Tim Lambrecht is a Democrat.

“Why am I running? A couple of reasons. As our youngest child is graduating, I now have the time. I believe in serving my community and feel I possess the skills and knowledge to help the county. Finally, I’ve been urged to run by a wide range of concerned citizens.

“The most important job of the commission is to provide oversight and make sound decisions based on what’s best for the county. I not interested in ideological crusades. I’m interested in working with the board to make Gratiot County a better place to live and work. I’ve got a strong track record in that regard.

“I don’t have an agenda; the issues facing the county are similar to the ones that faced us when I was on the board previously. The difference is, because of some of the work we did then, we’re in much better financial shape now.”

Lambrecht will face newcomer and Central Michigan University landscaper Joe Richards, a Republican.

“ I’m a hard working average citizen,” he said. “I was born in Alma and have lived in Gratiot County all my life.

“A little bit of background on me includes being married for 21 years, raising three kids, graduating from M.S.U. with a landscaping and nursery degree. And I was recently elected vice president of the Alma Gleaner Arbor, which I have been a member of for several years.

“I have been a long time Republican. I am conservative and believe in small government. I am running to be a voice of the people. My goals are to work on the issues that are important to my peers, to keep county taxes low and to continue to oppose the use of PA88 as a tax revenue source.

“Gratiot County is a wonderful place to live and work. If elected to the position of county commissioner I would be very proud and I would work very hard to represent the citizens of the 4th District in the best manner possible.”

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What Greater Boston can teach the rest of the world

Sure, we must learn from other cities, but the flow of ideas shouldn’t be one-way.
Boston can teach the world a lot about running a great city.

Invest patiently in the waterfront. When Dick Dodd crooned “love that dirty water,” Boston’s waterways were synonymous with filth. Today, the harbor and the Charles River are dazzling urban assets because a century of investment has borne fruit. The Charles River Esplanade, or Embankment as it was known, was bare when it was dedicated in 1910. At the height of the Great Depression, Helen Osborne Storrow’s philanthropy paid for Arthur Shurcliff’s landscaping; Maria Hatch donated the Hatch Shell, turning the Esplanade into beautiful, usable urban space. Today, commuting along the Paul Dudley White bike paths has become a healthy alternative to driving. Meanwhile, the emergence of the South Boston waterfront over the past 20 years goes back to the court-ordered water cleanup that started under Governor Michael Dukakis.

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Public-private partnerships help disadvantaged kids. Private philanthropy has always been one of Boston’s best ideas, especially when it helps poor children. In 1982, the Boston Private Industry Council launched both its summer jobs program and a pioneering school-improvement agreement involving the business community, higher education, and school system. Boston’s traditions in this area are deep. The Home for Little Wanderers, still an important child-care agency, started as the Female Youth Asylum in 1799. City Year was founded in Boston in 1988, and it now sends thousands of volunteers to help tens of thousands of students nationwide.

Private groups can provide some public goods. Boston has a fantastic web of nonprofits performing key social functions. Across America, public housing agencies have often been dysfunctional, but since 1983, the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, an independent nonprofit, has helped house Bostonians by rehabilitating housing and distributing housing vouchers. The Pine Street Inn is now moving from housing the homeless in temporary shelters to providing more permanent accommodation. Nonprofit groups don’t always perform better than government, but they often face more market pressure, show more flexibility, and can jar loose private money more effectively.

Crowd-source public safety. The Boston Police Department is more effective because it gets help from ordinary citizens. The methods of community policing — the idea that cops should work with neighborhoods to solve crime and promote safety — were developed collaboratively in the 1980s, and Bill Bratton embraced those methods when he became Boston’s police commissioner. Over the decades, the department has developed the social skills so that neighborhood residents often trust them enough to tell them what’s going on, which makes for a happier city than more confrontational tactics.

Bring startup culture to city government. Boston’s Office of New Urban Mechanics devises innovations intended to improve the quality of city life. Its The New Urban Mechanics’ Citizens Connect app makes it easier to report problems. If you put Street Bump on your smartphone and put your smartphone in your car’s cup holder, then the city will automatically learn the location of potholes. Their One Card is “a school ID, a library card, and community center membership card, as well as a transit pass.” Why shouldn’t some part of government feel like a tech startup? (Disclosure: An institute that I direct has occasionally collaborated with the office on an unpaid basis.)

Unleash data. The old model for providing some new public service, like informing straphangers about when their bus is going to arrive, is to pay millions to some connected contractor. But the MBTA broke that model when it started streaming data on the current location of its vehicles. Within weeks, an independent programmer had produced an app that made it possible to learn when your bus would show up. Today, there are a bevy of such apps, including OpenMBTA and YourBus MBTA, that are well rated and free.

Wicked localism works.
Greater Boston is divided into scores of fiercely independent cities and towns. In many areas, from transit planning to social services, more regional cooperation would help. But there are great benefits to living in communities small enough to empower ordinary citizens. A free-spirited Somerville can elect a truly innovative mayor like Joe Curtatone. And there is something wonderful about seeing governments compete for citizens who can vote with their feet.

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Creating privacy with plants

Do you need some landscaping ideas that will allow you to enjoy privacy and quiet in your yard and garden?

It is not entirely possible to eliminate all of the annoying disturbances that are irritating, but there are solutions to minimize, filter and reduce many outside noises.

Here are some landscaping techniques to help reduce noise from traffic, pedestrians and noisy neighbors.

Sound barrier

One approach to decreasing the sound from nearby traffic is a sound barrier wall like the one you see along major highways. Made of stone or concrete, these are tall, large barriers that often can be unattractive and aesthetically unappealing.

However, they can be transformed to an attractive sound barrier with good design and the correct materials. Planting vertically with thick growing vines going up and over the wall, or incorporating an eye-catching design with stone or concrete can be pleasing to you and passers-by.


Another alternative for minimizing irritating noises is attractive fencing. A fence made of wood with plantings growing on the fence will help break up light, irritating sounds that interfere with enjoying your yard.

Reach for the sky with some of these vines to cover a fence;

• Clematis, a summer bloomer that likes full sun but cool roots. To keep the roots cool, plant shrubs or perennials around the roots or mulch around the roots. Prune the plant only in the spring.

• Virginia creeper is a tall grower, reaching up to 20 feet, and the birds like its colorful berries that appear in the fall.

• Trumpet vine is short-lived, but its vivid orange, trumpet-shaped flowers are pretty in midsummer, blooming on the fence.


For stand-alone vegetation, such as trees and shrubs, you can mix deciduous shrubs with those that maintain their leaves year-round.

Rose of Sharon, hydrangea, viburnum and Diablo Ninebark are a few shrubs that will drop their leaves come winter, but in the summer, they can act as a living fence.

For a living fence that provides year-round privacy, look for trees and shrubs that hold their foliage. Consider Eastern hemlocks, holly bushes, yews and Pieris Janponica.

Your favorite garden center or nursery can advise you on shrubs and trees that are fast growing, take little maintenance and have dense foliage.

While at your garden center, look for outdoor features that will bring a sense of calm to your yard and garden.

Wind chimes, water fountains and birdfeeders will add a feeling of tranquility. Place wind chimes where you can hear their melodic sound indoors, near an open window, and outdoors, near your favorite chair. Add a water fountain or a small pond to listen to bubbling water and hang attractive birdfeeders with ones that are suited for various birds. Ask garden center experts for special birdseed mixes that attract different birds.

Using landscaping to create a quiet haven can be achieved by finding solutions best suited to your yard and garden.

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Tom Eblen: Jefferson Street project aims to be gathering place for those who …

Nobody paid much attention to the old industrial building on Jefferson Street until July 17, 2008, when a spectacular two-alarm fire gutted Star Light Magic, a theatrical special effects company.

Jefferson Street is a much busier place now, having blossomed into a popular restaurant district, so a lot of people are watching and wondering about the construction going on there behind an elegant wall of brick, stone and wrought iron.

For nearly two years, the first phase of the project has been a commercial kitchen for Apiary Fine Catering Events. When finished in October, the facility also will include The Apiary, an event space designed for an urban infill setting.

The Apiary is owned by Cooper Vaughan, 39, a graduate of Transylvania University and Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in London. Before moving back to his hometown in 2006, Vaughan was a chef at Blackberry Farm, the luxury resort in Tennessee.

Working in partnership with his parents, Neal and Derek Vaughan of Lexington’s G.F. Vaughan Tobacco Co., he hopes to create a unique 15,500-square-foot food and beverage destination. And, as the name implies, Vaughan said he also wants it to be a hive of activity, a gathering place for people interested in food, wine and cooking.

“We want to be a place other chefs can use when they don’t have the facilities,” he said. “That’s the sort of energy we want around here.”

The Vaughans’ vision for the Apiary included special architecture and landscaping, a place with modern lines but a warm, timeless feel. To achieve that, they hired three top-notch local professionals: architect Brent Bruner, garden designer Jon Carloftis and interior designer Matthew Carter.

The Apiary’s biggest venue will be the 2,000 square-foot Orangery room, which has a 10-foot by 30-foot skylight and 18-foot-tall windows designed to match antique French shutters. When finished, the room will contain orange, lemon and pear trees. There also will be a 1,000-square-foot Winter Room, an intimate tasting room beside the kitchen and a French limestone terrace that can accommodate a big tent.

Salvage materials are a big part of the design. Reclaimed brick, wood flooring and beams came from old tobacco warehouses. Stone was salvaged from a farm that belongs to Vaughan’s uncle. Pavers were once part of a barn at Hamburg Place horse farm. Massive pine doors came from Argentina, and two antique stone fountains in the courtyard are from Europe.

The brick and stone courtyard walls are accented with custom wrought iron created by artists Matthew and Karine Maynard of Maynard Studios in Lawrenceburg.

“They wanted it to have a substantial feel that at the same time is modern and fits into an urban setting,” said Bruner, a principal at EOP Architects. “The level of craftsmanship they wanted is not what you see a lot these days.”

Good planning allowed Carloftis to get a head start on the landscaping so it wouldn’t look new when the Apiary opens. It includes a “green” wall of plantings in the courtyard and a well-established pear tree cultivated espalier-style.

Since the kitchen opened, Vaughan has given rent-free office space to Seedleaf, a Lexington nonprofit. Seedleaf works to increase the supply of affordable, nutritious and sustainably produced local food for people at risk of hunger in Central Kentucky. It sponsors community gardens, restaurant composting programs and classes that teach cooking and food-preservation skills.

The outdoor event spaces will include raised-bed vegetable and herb gardens designed by Carloftis and cared for by Seedleaf. Ryan Koch, Seedleaf’s founder and director, said they will both supply Apiary with food and subtly educate guests.

“It will be a unique opportunity to show how beautiful perennial herbs and some vegetables can be and how important local food is,” Koch said. “If we can help Apiary buy less food off the truck and get more out of their yard, I think people enjoying the space will appreciate that.”

The Seedleaf gardens and other landscaping will be irrigated with rainwater collected in a 12,000-gallon underground storage tank.

Vaughan declined to say how much his family is investing in the Apiary.

The designers’ goal with the building and grounds is to create indoor and outdoor spaces that gradually reveal themselves to visitors as they walk through. Vaughan hopes guests will notice something new each time they come.

“One thing we’ve been able to achieve is that not any one element screams,” he said. “A great event always has these elements of surprise. What’s behind the wall?”

Tom Eblen: (859) 231-1415. Email: Twitter: @tomeblen. Blog:

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Brave new gardening for brave new climates

Ripping out the front lawn and its bordering rhododendrons and replacing them with a landscape of native grasses, ground covers, succulents and rocks once seemed an unfathomable act of defiance. No longer.

As many parts of the United States grapple with drought and rising water bills, “The thought of an English garden in the Central Valley of California is sheer madness. It wasn’t meant to be, and it’s sucking up precious groundwater we need for agriculture,” said Ann Savageau, a design professor at the University of California at Davis, who recently traded in her lush green lawns for a desert look.

Instead of scoffing, neighbors stopped to ask her landscaper for his business card. Other California towns, including Sacramento and Menlo Park, have begun offering rebates to homeowners who remove their lawns.

Gardeners nationwide are feeling the effects of climate change. In the East, and other areas where heavy downpours have become more intense, a sustainable garden might include native grasses and other plants that do well in heavy rain and the dry weather that can follow.

“Awareness is changing in a way that is here to stay,” said Brian Sullivan, a vice president for landscapes at The New York Botanical Garden. “Yard by yard, region by region, the overall environmental impact of this trend, which I think is very positive, is substantial.”

Mowing and watering a traditional lawn requires a lot of time, money, water and fertilizers. Increasingly, many home gardeners want to focus instead on edible gardens and rethink the rest of their landscaping in a more environmentally sustainable and low-maintenance way.

It’s sometimes hard to know where to begin, however, and few people have the funds or time to tackle a total garden makeover all at once.

Some strategies:

Take it in steps

“Transitions should be made at your own pace, and you do these things in small steps,” Sullivan said. “Lawn has utility. We play on it, sing on it and look at it. You can still enjoy your lawn, but cut it down by a third or half, or go with ground covers you can walk on. They’re not the same, but it’s about shifting expectations.”

Susan Middlefield, horticulture editor for the Vermont-based National Gardening Association, said, “Less lawn means you’re putting less carbon into the atmosphere. Lawns are fertilizer hogs, and a lot of fertilizer also contributes to oxygen depletion in local waterways.”

Savageau retained a small circle of lush lawn about 12 feet across for her grandson to play on. It’s surrounded by agave and desert grasses.

Consider your site

When taking your yard in a new direction, experts say, the first step is to know your site. Do you have a slope? Is it shady or sunny?

Plants on the top of an incline will be drier, and plants at the bottom will be wetter. But when the water dries up, the plants at the bottom need to be fine when it’s dry, too.

Talk with local experts

Many arboretums, botanical gardens, native plant societies and local extension services offer brochures, online help and classes on suitable plants and landscapes for various climates and regions. Many also maintain native plant gardens to inspire home gardeners, and some communities offer incentives to homeowners making the shift toward more sustainable yards.

Melanie Sifton, vice president of horticulture and facilities at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York City, suggests that homeowners start with, an interdisciplinary effort toward sustainable gardens led by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas in Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden.

Consider a rain garden

Rain gardens are “a great idea for any part of the country,” Middlefeild said. “You take out a small area of lawn and make a depression into which you direct the rainwater coming off your roof. Instead of rainwater running down the driveway and overwhelming sewers, it goes into an area planted with occasionally heavy downpours in mind.”

In Vermont, she said, rain gardens often include summersweet, inkberry, shrubby dogwoods and purple coneflower.

“When there’s a big thunderstorm, you know all that water will be going somewhere useful,” she said.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s new rain gardens, planted with varieties of blue star, switch grass and black gum trees, have been successful and provide stunning fall color, Sifton said.

Where lawns are viable, think sustainable

“In areas with sufficient water, I’m not anti-lawn,” Sifton said. “Just be aware of water use, use organic fertilizers and aerate the soil a lot.”

Sustainable lawn varieties being used successfully in New York City include tall fescues mixed with Kentucky bluegrass, she said.


“Composting yard waste and putting out a bucket for rainwater are huge in their environmental impact, and are both very easy ways to start gardening more sustainably,” Sifton said.

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