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Archives for July 29, 2014

Green Thumb Gardening – Tomato Tips For End of Summer and Planning for …

A few weeks ago, Lisanne Anderson posted on her KTEN Fan Page on Facebook asking about tomatoes. She go all kinds of ideas, suggestions, tips as to why this year’s tomato plants were so big and pretty and green, but …. no tomatoes.

So, on KTEN News Midday we brought in a tomato expert. Ed Supina with the Grayson County Master Gardeners explains what Lisanne did wrong, and may have a few tips for even the most expert gardener out there.

For more information on the Grayson County Master Gardeners go to

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Keep growing with season-extending gardening tips for fall

(BPT) – 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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Showhome Ahoy! Garden design reflects canalside setting at Waters Edge

Waters Edge

The stunning showhome garden at Taylor Wimpey’s new Waters Edge development in Hinckley features a fabulous canal boat inspired by the tranquil waterside setting of the new homes.

The barge construction forms a stunning decked area in the garden of the three-bedroom ‘Croft’ showhome at this exciting new development by the banks of the Ashby de la Zouch Canal in Leicestershire.

It’s the creative vision of Taylor Wimpey East Midlands’ talented Presentation Manager Deano Dane, who turned his drawings into a reality with help from colleagues Roman, George and Lee.

Deano explains: “I’ve worked for Taylor Wimpey for 17 years and built quite a few strange things in my time, but this is the first time I’ve built a barge. I really enjoy the challenge though.

“Our Sales and Marketing Director Mariana asked me to build a barge, so we went to Sawley Marina to have a look at some barges there. We chatted with people there, took some measurements and then I sat down, did some sketches and ordered a load of wood!

“We built it from scratch and it took a week and two days and cost about £1,000 in materials. I’m really pleased with it. You step out of the patio doors of the showhome onto the barge – it’s like posh decking!”

Deano is now looking forward to his next challenge – a ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ theme at Taylor Wimpey’s new Dragonfly Meadows development at Pineham, near Northampton, which he’s hoping will feature a homage to the famous scene in which Harrison Ford is chased by a giant boulder!

There’s a superb selection of new homes currently available to reserve at Waters Edge, including two-bedroom coach house-style apartments from £129,995, three-bedroom houses from £169,995, and four-bedroom designs from £244,995.

To make moving even easier and more affordable, Taylor Wimpey offers a range of helpful homebuyer incentives, including Help to Buy or Part Exchange, with full details available from the Sales Executive.

Waters Edge is an exciting new development on the western fringes of Hinckley, an attractive town which offers an excellent selection of facilities for day-to-day living, including shops and supermarkets, pubs and places to eat, medical facilities, a library, a theatre, and a leisure centre with swimming pool, fitness suite and sports hall.

Families will appreciate that schools for children of all ages are just a short distance away, including nearby Westfield Infant School, which was rated ‘outstanding’ in its most recent Ofsted inspection, and Redmoor Academy and John Cleveland College for older pupils, both rated ‘good’.

Hinckley lies 12 miles from both the cities of Coventry and Leicester, putting a wealth of high street stores, leisure and entertainment facilities within easy reach.

The A5 is close by for easy access to the M69, which links to the M1 and M6, while Hinckley railway station provides direct services to Leicester and Birmingham New Street, with connections to London St Pancras via Leicester.

Further information on the new homes at Waters Edge is available by visiting the Sales Centre, located off Nutts Lane, Hinckley, LE10 3EG, and open daily from 10.30am to 5.30pm. Alternatively, visit

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Olive Garden update: How designers tackled the job

The front door of Olive Garden's new prototype design 665 N Orlando Ave in Winter Park.

The challenge: Bring new life to a 30-year-old Olive Garden restaurant chain by redesigning 800 restaurants.

That’s what Philadelphia designer Karen Daroff tackled when she landed Darden Restaurants’ overhaul of its largest brand, with the help of Darden staff including Todd Taylor, senior director of design. Darden says the renovations cost up to $600,000 per location.

Darden declined to provide specific data on how the redesign is being received. But in an email, a company spokesman said the first two restaurants redesigned are seeing increased traffic percentages in the mid-single digits.

Following is an interview with Daroff and Taylor, edited for clarity and brevity.

Q. How did you approach the job of redesigning Olive Garden?

DAROFF: “We visited Darden’s headquarters and several Olive Gardens and we were asked to make a presentation on what our thoughts were. We learned that it was a family friendly approach they wanted, and that we were celebrating Italian food, with aromas, music and space, as the guest enters. We really wanted to have the brand celebrated, from the curb to the table. After we returned to our studio we did a think tank, and used a storyboard approach, which we have learned is a very effective way of communicating with our clients. We also researched elements of the Italian countryside and urban Italy.

TAYLOR: We were looking to make it much more contemporary, and not necessarily stuck in time. We look at where Italy is today. Right now, most Olive Gardens are reflective more of Tuscany and Old World Italy. We wanted that to reflect modern Italy and cities like Florence and even Milan.We also looked at families having a good time. We wanted to appeal to families and expand the market to attract millenials. We also wanted it to be comfortable and friendly for existing guests.

Q: How are customers reacting to the first two restaurants redesigned?  What’s next?

TAYLOR: We can’t release data, but the reaction is positive. We’re seeing increased traffic at both locations where the new design rolled out, in Fort Walton Beach and in Winter Park. As you know, there are 75 more restaurants set for renovation this year. The next group of renovations will be in Indiana.

Q. What qualified Daroff Designs for this job?

DAROFF: We have 25 years of developing unique branded environments. We have worked on several national restaurant brands, but 800 is really unique. I’ve worked on Rainforest Cafés, the food service area for the land pavilion at Epcot Center, and the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, at Universal Orlando.

TAYLOR: We selected Karen and her team based on their presentation and their understanding of where we need to go. We had to find a design that works for different shapes and sizes, varying from 6,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet. We gave them a lot of collateral material on the front end, our logo studies and other feedback.

Q: What are some of the new design elements and why did you include them?

TAYLOR: The new round table in the family room is very popular, it never goes unbooked. We had a family room before but this is bigger and gives more feeling of being in a separate area. The round table is something we studied, because it allows people to interact more which each other than a square or rectangular table.

DAROFF: For one thing, we increased the feeling of separate rooms. We did open up the space more, especially the bar area. The service areas are visually separated, and entrances in and out are not as disruptive. On the exterior, the awnings and the entry tower are both new. There are some tower features for the Tuscan Farmhouse restaurants, but this is new.  There are more rustic elements, like the stone walls, juxtaposed with more modern features like the wine wall. We focused on authenticity. The open area brings more of the food aroma to the waiting area.

Q. Did you travel to Italy for this?

DAROFF: My husband and I travel to Italy almost every year as he used to have business there, and of course it is a global center for design. We enjoy many longstanding relationships with friends there, and are particularly fond of visiting with friends who have a vineyard in Tuscany, and enjoy staying in their 900 year old castello. Over many years I have assembled a vast photo library of the countryside, lush Tuscan vineyards and extensive olive orchards especially in the Tuscany area as well numerous charming Italian bistros and restaurants visited throughout Italy. Many of these personal experiences, along with additional research and images contributed to the planning and design process.

Q. What about the design reflects Italy?

DAROFF: We looked at some of the newer and more contemporary restaurants in Italy, light wood and natural stone, etc. We wanted to open up the vista you have when you walk in, move the hostess up front. The video that plays in the waiting area, that shows Italian scenery, was meant to immediately begin the experience. The wine crates and trellises overhead reflect the prevalence of wine in Italy, as does the plum color – which is also the color of fresh olives. The colors and design are fresh and vibrant but the lantern-style lighting, the stone and wood, contribute to a more intimate warmth.

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​ABJ editor: Austin may be on verge of horrible transportation mistake (again)

Perspective phase 1

There might be a few more skyscrapers along the highway and perhaps not as many treetops, but this rendering from the Reconnect Austin group shows how I-35 could seemlessly snake through downtown if it was depressed with more bridges built over it.

Colin Pope
Editor- Austin Business Journal


The proposals to put I-35 underground look nice, but I worry we’re focusing too much on form and not enough on function.

If you’re not up on the latest ideas for I-35, see the Austin Business Journal July 25 edition cover story. It says state planners want to solidify the big, once-in-a-lifetime I-35 improvement during the next couple of years. At this point, it looks like we’ll sink the highway below ground level downtown and add one lane each way.

As we move forward on the sunken-road idea, I can’t help but wonder: Is this the best we can do to taper traffic on this beast?

Adding a toll lane each way will help, but it’s not enough. I see the growth this city can expect long-term, and I also spend about one hour each workday on I-35. When I merge those two perspectives, I get scared about my future commute.

State planners have met with Austinites more than 100 times in recent years to get our take on I-35 traffic and how we may fix it. Here’s the message they got from Austin: If the Texas Department of Transportation proposes anything that doesn’t try to erase that highway by putting it underground, it’ll be fought at every turn. I think we have sent an unwise message.

I appreciate TxDOT’s desire to include Austin’s wishes, but I’m sorry to say we are the last community to be trusted with long-term transportation decisions. I present to you Loop 360 as Exhibit 1, a great example of what we get when we meld social engineering with road engineering.

In my opinion, every precious dollar we can squeeze for I-35 should be allocated toward getting cars moving. I don’t even want TxDOT to foot a bill for landscaping right-of-ways. I think that with the help of fine organizations like Keep Austin Beautiful, we can figure out the aesthetics locally. TxDOT should focus solely on the pavement and steel that keeps cars rolling.

Will adding one lane each way on I-35 downtown be sufficient?

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Above and Beyond with Pinterest

By Kelley Sloyer

Above and Beyond with Your Pinterest Boards Your Pinterest page is filled with full and engaging boards, you have a nice following and you get daily repins. The hardest part for Pinterest beginners is over. But now what? Take your page to the next level with these quick and easy tips.

Create a group board

As you know, customer engagement is one of the big keys to success for your business. But coming up with new ways to spark conversation on social media can be tricky. Pinterest’s group board feature will help.

A group board is a board that you and others you invite can add Pins to. It helps make your business become more approachable and increases your visibility. Start by creating a group board that is related to your business type. It can be a board of favorite products purchased at your store, favorite recipes from your cafe, trends for the upcoming season, or even landscaping ideas. The possibilities are endless! Fill in all of the information about your board and start adding Pins. Then tap into your list of followers to find any of your current customers and pinners who have repinned from your boards in the past, and invite them to join your new board. Simply click “Edit” on your board, and type in the name of a person you would like to invite. The person’s name will appear, and you can click on it to automatically send an invitation to their email.

If you would like to invite more Pinners, ask your fans on Facebook and Twitter! Post or tweet a message that includes a link to your Pinterest page, and ask your fans to Like or RT your message if they have Pinterest and would like to join your board. Be sure to communicate that they need to follow at least one of your boards first! To give added enticement for them to join the group board, consider holding a contest where the 10th person to add a Pin to the board will receive $5 off their next purchase. Then feature that fan’s Pin on your social networks for even more engagement.

Cater your Pin descriptions for Guided Search

Pinterest has more than 750 million boards and 30 billion Pins, so creating a keyword-filled Pin description to help your Pins show up in searches is more important than ever, especially with the introduction of the feature, Guided Search. For now, this feature is mobile-only and appears once a user taps on the magnifying glass on their iPhone or Android to search for Pins. Once the Pinner starts to add in a search term, results automatically start to appear. The Pinner can select an option or continue to type in the search term of choice. Once the Pinner taps “Search,” the results will appear along with a scrollable list of options to help narrow down exactly what they are looking for. If a Pinner is searching for a blue sweater, once they tap search, they will have scrollable results like “Outfit,” “Navy” and “Royal.”

So what does this mean for you as a business? Add specific descriptive words to all of your Pin descriptions. For example, if you are ready to add a Pin of a new sweater that just arrived in your store, the important keywords you need to include in your description are the brand name, complete color, material and other important information. When a potential customer is searching for that navy blue sweater by the designer you have pinned, it will have a better chance of appearing in the guided search results.

Utilize new tools to promote your boards

Cross-promoting your Pinterest page through Facebook, Twitter and email is a great way to gain new followers and spread the word about your page. But are you promoting it on your website? Pinterest has made it easy to do so with Widget Builder. With a few clicks you can customize the Pin It button and Follow button for your website, or showcase a Pin with Pin Widget and feature up to 30 pins with Profile Widget and Board Widget. Your customers can easily discover new Pins when they visit your website and Pin them to their boards. SnapRetail designed a Pin it button of their own for subscribers to add to each image they send in an email. From there, customers can click “Pin it” to Pin the picture to their boards. Pinterest is releasing another way to promote your Pins in conjunction with your website with paid ads. This will be a game-changer, because you will only pay when people click through to your ads. Pinterest Ads are only in testing stages right now, so join the waitlist here:

As Pinterest continues to dominate social media, more and more features will be released to help you increase your online footprint, and most of all, your sales. In the meantime, implement these three new tips on your page, and enjoy boosted engagement.

Kelley SloyerKelley Sloyer is the interactive copywriter for SnapRetail, a ready-to-use online marketing solution that helps independent retailers engage and sell to customers, using email and social media. She has a retail and writing background, earning a bachelor’s degree in communications media and journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit

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trip to France will help Smoketown to blossom – The Courier

France is a long way from Smoketown, but its influence will be visible in the local neighborhood when members of YouthBuild Louisville begin applying lessons they picked up at the Potager du Roi — Kitchen Garden of the King — at the Palace of Versailles this summer.

As part of an apprenticeship program, recent YouthBuild graduates LiQuiyion Mitchell, 19, and Sierra Preston, 18, traveled from Louisville to France, along with two mentors, Mai Nguyen and Lyn Wenzel, to work in the garden, using hand tools and wooden crates.

“Everything was very traditional — very old-school,” Preston said. It was “backbreaking labor.”

The two-week trip, which lasted from May 26 to June 9, enabled the group to learn gardening and landscaping skills that can be used “in this neighborhood that’s undergoing a lot of revitalization, a lot of change,” Nguyen said.

“Lynn Rippy, the (YouthBuild) director, is really all about community development and being there for all of the changes in the neighborhood and pointing it in a creative direction,” said Nguyen, environmental program coordinator for YouthBuild Louisville, an education, job training and leadership program.

YouthBuild also will benefit by getting an improved garden on its Smoketown campus — since the team that traveled to France can apply its skills in that local garden and share them with future crops of YouthBuild students.

On the trip to France, the YouthBuild team worked the land at Le Potager du Roi, which was built between 1678 and 1683 by Jean-Baptiste Quintinie — at the request of Louis XIV — to supply fruits and vegetables for the king’s table. Quintinie was known for developing sophisticated techniques and getting results against season, according to the garden website. For example, he had strawberries in late March, cherries in May and cucumbers in early April.

The garden, which has been open to the public since 1991, contains hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables, according to the website.

“We harvested a lot of strawberries,” Preston said. “We harvested spinach. We harvested turnips, carrots, rhubbarb.”

The group also planted beans and tomatoes and interacted with Antoine Jacobsohn, director of the Kitchen Garden, and other staffers.

Preston and Mitchell said they were impressed with the design of the garden and the use of unfamiliar techniques, such as grafting, and interesting ways of shaping trees. In France, “they’re known for art, so everything is more than a plant; it’s an art piece,” said Preston, who’s from the Portland neighborhood.

The group also did some sightseeing to art museums and other tourist attractions and tried new foods, such as fried frog legs, escargot and foie gras. Highlights for Mitchell, who’s an art buff, included getting to see the Mona Lisa and going to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

“Tell me who has the chance to do that?” said Mitchell, who’s lived in various parts of the Louisville area, including Newburg and Shively, and out of state.

The $9,000 trip was paid for through multiple sources, including a crowd-funding campaign and private donor match, and a fundraising party with art, food and music.

Preston and Mitchell were chosen based on several factors, including interest, availability, interviews, attendance, service hours and educational and career goals.

The trip was the result of a collaboration between YouthBuild Louisville and I.D.E.A.S. 40203, a contemporary art chamber of commerce in Louisville.

Theo Edmonds, co-founder of I.D.E.A.S. 40203, thought the trip would be good for the students’ personal growth. “I believe that anytime that an individual can broaden their horizons, travel, experience how other people and other cultures do things differently that it allows a person to see more possibilities in their own life.”

But he also thought the trip could benefit Smoketown, where I.D.E.A.S. 40203 and YouthBuild Louisville are working to establish a Creative Innovation Zone with the help of a $250,000 grant from ArtPlace America. That project will promote beautification through environmental design in the neighborhood and is expected to lead to entrepreneurship, job creation and education programs too.

“The Creative Innovation Zone will benefit the most by having young leaders from the community step up and own a major piece of this for themselves,” Edmonds said. “Whether we’re talking food and jobs or whether we’re talking food and environmental design, the skills that (LiQuiyion) and Sierra picked up can applied in both of those.”

YouthBuild and I.D.E.A.S. 40203 have been working together for more than eight months, Edmonds said. When Edmonds began learning about YouthBuild through Rippy, he thought back to a conversation that he’d had with a landscape architect friend Christian Duvernois of Residency Unlimited, an artist residency program in New York.

“Christian was down here working with us at I.D.E.A.S. on an art-related project,” Edmonds said. “We started thinking about how art and landscape architecture and food production, all these things — wouldn’t it be interesting to combine all those into a program?”

Duvernois, who was born in France and still has connections there, suggested linking up with the King’s Garden, and Edmonds thought involving students from YouthBuild seemed like a good way to “cultivate leadership” since young leaders are needed in Louisville.

“It’s going to be an invaluable asset to us as we develop the Creative Innovation Zone to have Sierra and (LiQuiyion) working with us because they’ve been to where food and science have been tied together for hundreds of years, so them bringing those skills back to work with us on the project in Smoketown is going to emerge in ways that we can’t really yet even know,” Edmonds said.

The students, who sell produce in the area through Kentucky State University’s Thorobred Nutrition Kitchen Program, said they are glad to be a part of transforming Smoketown.

The urban neighborhood was once the home of Sheppard Square, a barracks-style public housing complex that is being replaced with a mixed-income development as part of a major federal revitalization effort. That complex and similar ones around town were known for poverty and crime.

“I wasn’t allowed to be down here because of how Sheppard Square was portrayed and now it’s changing and we’re so involved, so we really know the back story of the new Sheppard Square,” Preston said.

Reporter Darla Carter can be reached at (502) 582-7068 or on Twitter @PrimeDarla.


Read more about the YouthBuild students’ trip on the I.D.E.A.S. UrbanGreen blog at

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Landscape Logic column: Help your garden cope with the heat wave

Very hot temperatures combined with more humidity than usual are creating stress and other issues in some gardens in Eagle County.

The good news is there are simple things you can do to help plants get through the heat wave.


Here are two ways to help minimize heat stress in your garden:

• Proper watering is critical to help plants cope with heat. Plants can feel stress in the heat just like people do and consistent watering is critical to keep plants out of a vicious cycle of stress and recovery. Check the soil moisture more often than usual and water when it starts to dry.

• Adding mulch helps soil retain moisture. High temperatures can suck the soil dry, but mulch helps the soil hold on to the water you apply, keeping it available for the plant’s roots. Common mulches include wood, straw and even newspaper. New research is indicating that compost is also effective as mulch when applied 2 to 3 inches deep.


Blight is another weather-related issue

The heat combined with higher humidity this year is leading to blight – a fungus problem. It is most common on tomatoes, but can sometimes impact peppers and eggplant.

It shows up first on lower leaves as dark spots, progresses to browning leaves and can quickly kill the plant. Rainy weather and overhead irrigation can spread the spores within one plant and also to other plants.

Here are some tips for dealing with blight:

• Check plants for spots on a regular basis — every few days is best.

• If you see spots on leaves, pinch off the leaves.

• Discard the leaves and do not put them into the compost pile.

• Prune lower branches to open up the plant so it gets more air circulating through it. Trim away the lowest 6 to 8 inches of branches at the base of tomatoes so there is little or no foliage touching the soil. This type of pruning helps mitigate the humid conditions that promote blight.

• Using a tomato cage or trellis to support branches also improves air circulation and is recommended by scientists at Colorado State University.

• If overhead irrigation (spray irrigation) is used, water early in the morning so that leaves can dry out more quickly from sunshine and warmer temperatures.

• Drip irrigation prevents splashing water that will spread disease spores.

• Keep the garden weed free, as weeds often harbor many diseases, including blight.

Growing veggies is a sustainable and healthy use of resources. And the more you apply sustainable landscape principles to your gardening effort, the more good you do for your own garden, your neighborhood and even our planet through conserving resources.

Keep gardening sustainably — it’s good for us all!

Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.

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Zoopolis Tour 2014 showcases yards with natural landscaping

On Sunday, Aug. 3, any time from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the public is invited to view seven sites in the Fond du Lac area. The Zoopolis Tour, “nature in the city,” specializes in properties that are making room for bio-diversity and reducing lawn turf.

Typical American homes, school or church yards, apartment or condo grounds do not leave much room for nature. Lawn turf that is maintained as a monoculture carpet offers almost zero habitat and could be considered an ecological desert. Many of the bushes and plants are aliens to Wisconsin and chosen because they will be insect resistant. As a result, there is little to contribute to the eco-system. Many of our native plants, and birds are being threatened with extinction.

How can we make room for nature? Can we live together? This tour is an opportunity to see examples of what others are doing to restore natural habitat on their own property. There are many native trees, bushes, plants that can replace the grass and help the birds and insects.

1. Margie and John Winter, N6786 Hilltop Drive

Enjoy the view from the top of the ledge at this home. The focus over the years has been to plant trees, shrubs and plants native to Wisconsin to provide habitat for wildlife. The steepness of the property resulted in some erosion problems that were solved with a rain garden planting at the side of the house. Prairie gardens, shade gardens, naturalized perennial gardens (partial natives), an organic vegetable garden, and composting sites can all be viewed on the property.

2. Terri and Alan Fuller, N6275 County Trunk K

Enter a magical habitat garden that was started 30 years ago from a field with a couple of trees. The emphasis from the beginning was to live in a place with food for birds and insects, as well as a place of great beauty. The owners created a woodland garden, two ponds, a small prairie, a butterfly garden, and planted 35 tree and 23 bush species.

3. RJ Gross and Christine Watts, 220 Oak St.

There was only asphalt, concrete and grass around this old warehouse six years ago. Now the surroundings are like an oasis in the city. The river walk has been enhanced with landscaping, mostly native tree and bush plantings, flower beds, food for humans and birds, a grass garden and art work.

Roof water is collected in a 1,000 gallon rain barrel and used on the new plantings. Gardening on straw bales can be seen.

4. Sharon and Cal Lewis, 40 Roberts Court

Walk through an acre of beautiful prairie extending down to the west branch of the river. Starting with an open field, the owners planted and have maintained this prairie since 1995. More native plantings can be found around the house and in front by the street. Be sure to admire the well organized vegetable garden.

5. Liz Roy, N5806 Esterbrook Road

Explore a one and a half acre property that is slowly reducing turf grass. The owner has introduced a few plants but allows nature to take over. The back half acre is now wild and thick with dogwoods, prairie plants, milkweed, asters, coneflowers, etc. There are working chickens and a working bee hive.

6. Julie and David LaBoRoade, N6521 Canterbury Drive

See the results of careful research on what landscape features and plantings would attract birds. Even though the yard is like an island in a housing development, the owners have seen 35 bird species. In 2003 they began to place some of the many tons of rock in order to create crevices for insects and small creatures. Mulch is used rather than small stones because mulch recycles and helps insects. The trees, shrubs and flowers are designed to offer habitat and food for birds as well as surround the house with beauty.

7. Janet and Frank Johnson N7746 County Trunk C Eldorado

Discover a hidden gem in Eldorado. The owners started with an open field. For 40 years they have planted 55 species of trees, many of which produce fruits and nuts and planted many native perennials. The site includes a woodland garden, a beautiful pond surrounded by luxuriant growth, prairie plants and lots of biodiversity. Well worth the journey.

Tickets can be purchased for $10 at any of the sites on the day of the event. Children under 12 are free but must be accompanied by an adult. Profits from the tour will be used for habitat restoration and building trails in the city parks, open spaces and along the rivers. All ticket holders are eligible to enter a drawing for free prizes. Brochures with a map of the sites and tickets can be obtained in advance from the Fond du lac Convention and Visitors Bureau at 171 South Pioneer Road.

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Green Homes and Edible Gardens Tour is Aug. 9

Seven locations in Henderson County will be open to ticket-holders from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 9. Homeowners and gardeners will be on hand to describe their experiences and answer questions.

Tickets, which include directions to each location, are $12. Tickets may be purchased online at, at both Hendersonville and Asheville visitors centers, at the ECO office, or by mail.

Call the ECO office at 828-692-0385 for more information or visit

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