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Archives for September 9, 2014

It’s a storybook finish for beautification winner

Once upon a time there was a retired teacher who envisioned a children’s garden based on famous nursery rhymes and children’s tales.

Mary Ann Free set about this task on the family property called Hopewell Gardens, 2025 Pleasant Valley Road. The Frees live in a former one-room schoolhouse that closed in 1940, the year she was born. The old red brick Hopewell School was named in honor of the native Americans who once hunted in this part of Ohio.

“My husband Leonard mows. I garden,” she said, as she accepted her beautification award from the Mansfield Men’s Garden Club. “People always ask how many people take care of this garden and they are surprised when I tell them it’s just us.”

Front and center in her garden — and just a few feet from the road — are those pesky Three Little Pigs. Just as in the storybook, Mary Ann created their homes of straw, wood and brick. And she did so right under the nose of that nasty old wolf who stalked the three brother pigs.

She was inspired to build this famous tableau when her son and his wife tore out their red brick driveway. Free said once the bricks were stacked up, she thought they looked like the little brick house in the Three Little Pigs story.

She also re-created another famous animal trio, the Three Bears who returned home to find Goldilocks’ clumsy misadventures in their quaint little cottage.

Other beloved characters sprout throughout the garden. There is Snow White, who befriended those seven dwarfs she met in the forest, and that roly-poly Humpty Dumpty, whose fall from a wall shattered him, but made him immortal in children’s literature.

The garden also has Dorothy and her three companions: the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow. Visitors also can spot Peter Rabbit and another Peter who was a pumpkin eater, Jack and Jill, Little Miss Muffett and dozens more.

Free gives tours in her garden to preschool students and home-schoolers who call and schedule a date and time. An Ashland childcare visits the storybook garden in the beginning of the summer and at the end of the growing season. That way, they see the plants in the early stages and again at harvest time.

Her ulterior motive is to interest children in gardening by introducing them to seeds and plants which grow in profusion in her garden. She hopes some of the lessons she shares “click” and inspire youngsters to plant gardens of their own.

Children aren’t the only ones who stop and take a look around.

“When my husband sees cars slow down to admire the garden, he invites them to pull in off the road and offers them a tour. It’s not safe to slow down on that road,” she said. “We have had passers-by from as far away as Tennesee, Michigan and Vermont and we’ve even had a Red Hat group here this summer.”

Any group who would like to schedule a tour of Hopewell Gardens may call 419-892-2750.

Anne Miller is a feature writer for The News Journal. Contact her with comments or ideas at

Beautification winners

The annual beautification contest conducted by the Mansfield Men’s Garden Club featured a variety of landscapes and winners, including the mayors of Mansfield and Shelby in the civic category.

Mayor Timothy Theaker credited others for the honor, including the Downtown Mansfield organization for its civic beautification efforts throughout the center of the city. He gave a shout out to Jamie Thompson, Doug Versaw and Dalton Derr for their work on the project, as well Richland Newhope Industries for watering the plants this summer and to Pam Siegenthaler for serving as a “cheerleader” for downtown Mansfield.

Siegenthaler, the retired president of the Richland County Foundation, said she was driving to work one morning when she noticed how unkempt the flower beds and planters were in the downtown area. She visited the mayor and asked what could be done. Since finances were tight, they decided to recruit volunteers to plant and Justin and Lynn Marotta, owners of Possum Run Greenhouse, to come up with a plan on which plants to plant where.

Shelby’s Mayor Marilyn John also gave credit where credit was due for the Shelby Community Gardens, the largest such effort in Richland County. She introduced Christine Thompson, who oversees the project that began in 2009 with three participants. The current garden along North Gamble Street includes a variety of gardeners, including one maintained by Girl Scouts, who raise money for their troop by selling their produce at the weekly Shelby Farmers’ Market.

2014 Institutional Category Winner

The Waterford, a senior retirement complex at 1296 S. Trimble Road, was selected for its lush landscaping in a variety of locations, including the grand entrance and on patios around the building.

2014 Residential Award Winners

• Mary Ann Free, Hopewell Gardens, 2025 Pleasant Valley Road, Lucas

• George and Beverly Box, 3234 Ohio 13 South, Lexington

• Ralph and Mignon Rosinsky, 100 Grayson Court, Shelby

• Sue Donahue, 3224 Plymouth Springmill Road, Shelby

• Joyce Stander, 746 Clifton Boulevard, Mansfield

• Bill and Lynn Edmonds, 575 Woodhill Road, Mansfield

• Charles and Gwen Doty, 1052 Briarwood Road, Mansfield

• Dave and Rita McCabe, 321 Harker Street, Mansfield

• Doug and Mardy Beilstein, 1179 Pearce Drive, Mansfield

Mansfield Men’s Garden Club Member Award

• Renato and Elaine Siewert, 830 Shelaire Drive, Mansfield

Winners compiled by Mansfield Men’s Garden Club.

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Summer Internship: Working for the Family Business

Internships often play a critical role in job hunting as employers increasingly seek graduates with some real-world experience. A 2012 Marketplace and Chronicle of Higher Education survey found that employers place more weight on experience, particularly internships and employment during school, rather than academic credentials, when evaluating a recent graduate for employment.

With that in mind, BU Today reached out to five undergrads who interned this summer, asking them about their experience. We are featuring a different story each day this week.


Paige Seibert (SHA’15)

My internship:

This summer I worked as a winery intern at my parents’ business, Knob Hall Winery in Clear Spring, Md. The winery currently makes 18 different wines. We concentrate mostly on dry wines, including Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and some Bordeaux-style red blends. This internship was paid and was not for college credit.

How I landed the internship:

My parents started Knob Hall Winery several years ago, and it is still a small operation. There is always a lot of work to be done in the vineyard, in the winery, in the tasting room, and more. Someday my parents hope to pass the business down to my older sister and me. So when I was thinking about where to work this past summer, I decided that it would be beneficial to work at home again, to get back in touch with the winery. My parents know that I have access to great internships through the School of Hospitality Administration, so they have not pushed me to come work at home for years. This year, I went to them and suggested the idea of working at home.

Once I made the decision, I laid down some ground rules. I wanted to be paid, and I wanted to work 40-hour weeks. I asked my parents what jobs I would be needed for, and they gave me a list. During the course of the internship, I worked from that list and also took on some other projects I came up with myself.

A typical day on the job:

My responsibilities changed constantly. Some days I would be pouring wine at wine festivals around the state; other days I would be in the winery filtering eight wines. At the beginning of the summer, there were wine festivals every weekend. My work began with loading the truck full of wine and driving however far across Maryland to the festival. Then we would typically have a 10-hour day, setting up, pouring wine samples, and closing down.

At the beginning of the summer, we had wines from 2013 to filter and bottle. During the first round of bottling, we did six wines. This took two 12-hour days of filtering through a diatomaceous earth (DE) filter and then one 12-hour day of filtering through a lenticular filter. During this process, I assisted my mother, the winemaker, and John, our wine consultant. Following filtering, we had two days of bottling. We hire a traveling bottling truck, and everyone takes his or her spot on the assembly line. My job was dropping the screw caps on each bottle after it had been filled (some of our wines are screw-tops, some are corked).

Some of the other things I did included working on social media, specifically the winery’s Facebook page and Instagram account. I would help out in the vineyard if needed. For instance, one of the things that needs to be done at a certain point in the summer is de-leafing one side of the rows of grapevines. The leaves need to be torn off in order to expose the grapes to the morning sun, so that they can dry out (moisture in the grape clusters leads to mildew).

One project I came up with myself was to work on landscaping the property. Our family farm is more than 200 years old, and there is a lot of property. This means that it takes some work landscaping to turn the rustic old barn into an inviting wine-tasting room.

We have an old renovated stone house. It’s a big house and my sister and I are gone, leaving my parents with at least four empty bedrooms. So another thing I did was to help my parents create an Airbnb webpage. It’s a bit easier running an Airbnb than running an official bed-and-breakfast, but it still helps with expenses.

Career skills I acquired:

When working in a small business such as the winery, it is easy to see all of the different aspects of it. My father is the business manager, and he handles pretty much everything. His days shift between meeting with groups to try to get funding for our business, and delivering wine to Baltimore. I’ve learned so much about how a small business owner needs to be a multitasker. From getting all of the licenses and permits necessary to send wine to other states to coordinating filtering and bottling dates, there are constantly pressing things to  think about. Because I lived at the winery in addition to working there, business discussions happened at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In this way, I definitely feel I gained some real insight as to how much it takes to run a business like this. This knowledge will definitely come in handy in the future, wherever my hospitality career takes me. I am glad that I worked at home this summer in order to get a feel for the business. This way, I know what to prepare for regarding my future with the winery, and I can keep coming up with ideas to improve the business.

Seibert during the vineyard’s bottling process, just one of several tasks she was involved in.

What it taught me about the real world:

Small family-owned businesses are a dream to many, and many people also romanticize the idea of working at a winery. But in fact, it is a lot, and I mean a lot, of hard work. Since they started the winery, my parents have put in countless hours of work each week. During the busy weeks when we’re filtering and bottling, my mom can put in four 12-hour days in a row. And during harvest, the job is even more time-consuming. The demanding nature of the business makes it hard to get any time off. My mother was fortunate to get a few breaks at slow periods during the year, but my father has hardly gotten a vacation day since we started the business. This summer I experienced the hard work firsthand. My first week as an intern included filtering, bottling, and a two-day wine festival. I put in about 65 hours that first week.

Biggest mistake I made:

My biggest mistake was failing to plan ahead for a wine festival. It was new and local, so we thought it would not be a big deal. But the festival was absolutely insane, with people waiting in line for an hour and a half at each winery, and there were only three of us to serve and sell at our stand. We had to make two trips back to the winery to bring more cases of wine.

Most frustrating thing about the internship:

Working at home for parents can sometimes be frustrating. Work and personal life completely overlapped, so sometimes it was hard to feel like the workday was over. When a day ended, there were some times when business discussions or arguments were brought up over dinner. It’s hard for my parents to stop thinking about the business. However, they have gotten better about dropping business talk at the dinner table. It was hard sometimes when I was trying to take a day off and relax at the farm and my mom would call me over to help clean the wine filter from the day before. There’s always something that needs to be done.

My proudest accomplishment:

Coming home with a fresh pair of eyes, I was able to see what expenses we could cut and what really needed to be organized. I am really happy I was able to help my parents with this (even if they were sometimes annoyed with my nagging during the process). I helped them get rid of vehicles that were no longer necessary for the business. We’ve had interns from around the country recently, and they have their own cars to drive when they work here.

I also organized a shed area next to the tasting room. Previously, there had been vineyard equipment, tasting room equipment, and landscaping equipment all mixed together. Now, the tasting room can have easy access to extra tables, the crew can easily access the harvest lugs, and others can access the extra mower. I realized that organizing is something I really enjoy. I also helped to organize the recycling system at the winery and in my dad’s office.

Most important lesson I learned:

The most important lesson I learned is that as a business owner, organization and preparedness are absolutely essential.

My most surprising or unexpected experience:

I was really surprised when the Taste of the Valley Food and Wine festival in Hagerstown was so busy. None of us expected the crazy day that awaited us. People waited for more than an hour just to taste the wines, and we sold more than 10 cases of one of our wines.

What I learned about the real world that inspired or frustrated me:

The wine industry is a very friendly one. My parents know many other Maryland winery owners, and they all exchange ideas and expertise and help each other in hard times.

Overall grade and whether the internship lived up to my expectations:


If I had it to do over, I’d…

Take more initiative to work more closely with my dad and get hands-on experience with all of the paperwork and coordination he does on a day-to-day basis.

My advice for others seeking an internship:

It is never too early to start looking for an internship. I interviewed for my first one in October of my freshman year. Especially at SHA, it is really important to have work experience in addition to what you are learning. I have had four internships with small family-run operations. For those who like having many different roles and tasks, smaller businesses will be exciting for you. If you are looking for a clear-cut set of guidelines in an internship, however, it would be better to look at a bigger, more corporate atmosphere. Another way to see if an internship is going to be a good fit is to ask some questions yourself in the interview. By asking specific questions about what you will be doing, it will help give you a sense of what the internship will be like.

To find out more about what it’s like to be a intern or how to spend your summer doing research, visit the Summer Experience Showcase, hosted by the BU Center for Career Development on Wednesday, October 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. at 100 Bay State Rd. Fellow Terriers will share stories about their diverse summer experiences.

Tomorrow, part three of our summer internship series: An Introduction to the Health Care Industry.

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Poe Mill residents to make community’s ‘front door’ more welcoming

A vision to revitalize the Poe Mill community includes adding a new park, landscaping and re-investment into the area.

But blocking the view to that vision for many is the corner of Shaw Street and Buncombe Road, the front door into the mill village, just outside the Greenville city limits.

Residents believe the “uninviting aesthetic appeal and concentration of criminal activity” at that corner creates an impediment for attracting new investments, families searching for affordable housing and future visitors.”

A few years ago, they began gathering to put together a plan that would make the area more appealing. On Saturday, they’ll begin putting that plan – The Poe Mill Gateway: Mural Project – into action.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 13, residents will gather at the convenience store on 1410 Buncombe Road, where they’ll hold a kick-off party and begin painting a wall mural on the wall of the store.

The image they’ll paint will symbolize the community, said Kwadjo Campbell, president of the New Poe Mill Neighborhood Association. The hope is that it will instill community pride, he said.

“We looked at studies that have been done in other areas,” he said. “When you change the aesthetic appeal of an area, that makes people want to taker greater, grander ownership.”

“If you can get people to feel good about their community and about what’s happening in their community, they’ll take care of their community,” he said.

The project, they said, is part of a larger strategy to improve the intersection of Buncombe Road and Shaw Street, a “major gateway into Poe Mill and its proposed park.”

The park is proposed on the 11-acre site of the former Poe Mill, which was destroyed by fire in 2003.

In 2013, the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority received $800,000 in federal brownsfield grants from the Environmental Protection Agency that to clean up the old mill site.

Officials have told The Greenville News that half of the brownsfield money will be spent removing hazardous substances from the 117-year-old mill.

The other half will be used to clear the site of remnants of the old mill so it can be transferred to the recreation district to begin park planning and development, said Martin Livingston, GCRA’s executive director.

According to Livingston, the mural project is entirely owned by the community.

The redevelopment authority only provided funding – $2,000 in Community Development Block Grant monies. The other $500 is via of Grant Assistant Partnership, a creation of city of Greenville and United Way of Greenville County, through the Greenville Dreams network, Livingston said.

“Poe Mill is sort of on the rebound. They’ve had some troubling times and now they’re on the rise, so this mural project is one, we felt, would keep them on that trajectory,” said Bradley Robinson , United Way Community Engagement Manager.

The mural project is an implementation of the neighborhood association, a grassroots movement of residents and neighborhood stakeholders mobilized to improve quality of life in Poe Mill.

The association organized two neighborhood community meetings in fall 2013 and summer 2014. The F.W. Poe Textile Heritage Society was also engaged in providing mural concepts and ideas in summer 2014, the association said in its narrative about the project.

Local artist Adam Schrimmer was hired to install the mural. He is responsible for the training and the oversight of project volunteers, the association said.

The mural, Livingston said, will help a corner of the neighborhood that really needs eyes on the street.

“I think that’s primarily why the neighborhood wanted to do it but also the color, the aspects of the mural, will create an inviting corner of the neighborhood,” he said.

The HOME Depot is providing in-kind support for project materials. On Saturday, Sept. 6, Home Depot’s Team Depot volunteers helped residents prime and prep the wall for mural.

The project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2014.

Campbell said the community’s plan for revitalization also includes new houses, landscaping, a traffic circle and “we’re trying to recruit more nonprofits to come in.”

He said Greenville Tech’s Quick Jobs is helping to train some residents to become certified so they can apply for some of the environmental jobs that will come with the mill site work.

“It’s not guaranteed that they’ll get those jobs, he said, but at least they’re prepared to access the opportunity.

Everything that’s happening in Poe Mill now is working in synergy, Campbell said.

“The community is going to turn. I moved here about eight years or nine years ago from the DC area and one hour outside of the downtown, prices are blowing up,” he said. “We’re three or four minutes from downtown and we can already see people buying up homes, professionals like myself.

So, Campbell said, in communities like this, gentrification is going to happen. It’s already happening in parts of the downtown area. The way to stop gentrification and maintain traditional residents is to get them educated and provide them with better jobs through the education.

“That’s what we’re doing. We want the people who have always lived here, the low income community to come up with everyone,” Campbell said. “That’s why it’s just as important to provide this pretty aesthetic look as well as some tangible job training.

It’s all in concert to make this community the experience the renaissance it’s due.”

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Pensacola can learn from New Orleans

Rain gardens, cisterns, and pervious roadways and sidewalks instead of stormwater drains.

How about a master resiliency plan that factors in planning and paying for rising seas, storm surges and other coastal disasters and environmental issues such as beach erosion?

What about shifting the investment of money from recovery to resiliency?

These are all features either at work or being discussed in New Orleans, a city that’s on the front lines of facing living with or fighting off too much water, which is swallowing the entire delta and displacing large populations.

I was there this past week attending a Society of Environmental Journalists annual convention that focused on Risk and Resilience: Lessons from Louisiana on the realities of coastal living. Journalists and scientists, government officials, nonprofits and experts from all over the country and foreign countries attended the event.

During the five days I was there, I took fields trips, attended workshops and participated in breakout sessions led by experts in their fields delving into the progress the city has made and the challenges it still faces.

The message that was driven home over and over again was that New Orleans is the poster child for what’s to come for other communities. While the politically charged issue of what’s causing global warming continues to stall action in many areas, one only need to look at South Florida or the Gulf Islands National Seashore’s Fort Pickens Road as canaries in our state’s coal mine.

It only takes heavy rain or full-moon high-tides to inundate roads and parking lots along Fort Pickens and in South Florida. Flood waters migrating into neighborhoods are pushing raw sewage into the bathtubs of South Florida homes.

New Orleans is in crises mode, and may have already lost the battle, according to some schools of thought. We have a chance to get ahead of the game.

The overarching mantra at the conference was the need to plan for reducing risks not controlling them. After all, the Army Corp of Engineers learned that the best built system can be overwhelmed. We learned that lesson during April’s historic flood when stormwater systems collapsed.

The key to developing a resiliency plan is conducting a risk assessment of the entire two-county community, one that factors in all sorts of coastal hazards. And a plan that does not hinge on the government continually bailing us out of each disaster, but a well-thought out plan that reduces the need to be bailed out. One that creates a benchmark to measure resiliency progress.

The resiliency panel said there is no better time than now to consider such a plan with the potential for BP fine dollars to pay for projects. Such a plan should be implemented before we have to spend billions to ward off the Gulf of Mexico from downtown Pensacola. And certainly before raw sewage starts backing up in Gulf Breeze, the west side or in East Hill neighborhoods.

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Diana Swigert retires from Roscoe Village

Even though she’s retired from the Roscoe Village landscape department, Diana Swigert can’t help but fiddle with flower pots outside the visitors center or check the trees in the Frances B. Montgomery Memorial Garden right next to it.

Montgomery has been dead 25 years and the two worked together a long time, but Swigert still refers to the Roscoe Village co-founder as Mrs. Montgomery. She had a particular way of gardening and landscaping, and Swigert felt as if it were her duty to keep it going.

After 35 years with the recreation of a canal-era town, the 64-year-old has recently called it quits. She’s not out of the woods just yet, as she helps pull weeds twice a week at Clary Gardens and the rest of the time she spends in her own garden, which Swigert gives a big grin to the notion of doing.

Swigert and Montgomery shared a passion for perennials. Swigert felt Montgomery was ahead of her time because her concept was to be concerned not with the actual flower, but the plant itself. It was all about mixing foliage to make sure you had different textures and colors and always something in bloom.

“They were all blended together, and they were a design in themselves, just the foliage. Then you had the flowers on top of that,” Swigert said.

Swigert’s mother, Nancy Lonsigner, was working as a historian for the tourist attraction in 1979 when they needed extra help one day at the Roscoe General Store. That turned into four years there for Swigert and another year at the Alley Shop.

“I like to pull weeds,” was Swigert’s matter-of-fact statement to why she moved to the landscape department. “I like to pamper the flowers and make them perfect.”

At the time, Montgomery oversaw all the gardens and the areas around the buildings. Today, Roscoe is filled with private businesses, but previously, most everything was under the Roscoe Village Foundation control. That included restaurants, and Montgomery saw that they had fresh flowers on their tables every day.

Keeping the streets and sidewalks tidy also was a must. Swigert said Montgomery even had a certain way she wanted the lawn mower pushed to give the grounds an even look.

“What was nice, though, was she never changed her mind about how she wanted it,” Swigert said. “If she didn’t want a white vase on the table the first year you worked here, she didn’t want it there the year that she died.”

Another lasting tradition was live greens for Christmas ornaments. Swigert has pledged to help with events during the season still because it’s such a special time in Roscoe. Montgomery was adamant that holiday decorations be handmade in the style of the 1800s.

Volunteers are fondly called Christmas Elves and Garden Elves who pitch in. Swigert sees them as another way of keeping the Roscoe landscaping traditions alive.

“The importance is to instill in other people how important it is to be a gardener,” she said. “It’s passing on the information we know to someone else, and in turn, they help us when we need extra help.”

Swigert felt she owed it to Montgomery to keep her style going, because that was part of making Roscoe Village unique and a focal point of beauty for the county.

“This is her garden and her town,” Swigert said. “I admired her and continued her way. I always called it the Mrs. Montgomery way.”


Twitter: @llhayhurst

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Free Drought Tolerant Landscape Event at Descanso Gardens

Published in the Pasadena Independent

Pasadena Water Power Department (PWP) customers can receive expert advice on cutting their irrigation bills with California-friendly plants, plus get bargain-priced rain barrels during a free Drought Tolerant Landscape Rain Barrel Event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 14, at Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Dr. in La Cañada Flintridge.

Space is limited but PWP customers can reserve their seats now by calling the Pasadena Citizen Service Center at (626) 744-7311 or

To receive a free rain barrel at the workshop, participants must purchase one in advance at by Wednesday, Sept. 10. Click the “Events” tab and choose “Descanso Gardens. The $85 barrels come in a choice of black or terra cotta, with a brass spigot that attaches to any garden hose. Pasadena residents can then apply for a $100 rain barrel rebate through Metropolitan Water District’s website, Attendees are not required to purchase a rain barrel.

During the four-hour event, a landscape expert will show participants how to maximize their water-bill savings by choosing drought-tolerant plants and groundcover. Participants will also learn tips for putting their rain barrels to work, capturing rooftop runoff and providing backyard plants with chemical-free and nutrient-rich water.

This is event is co-hosted by PWP, City of Burbank, City of Glendale, City of South Pasadena, Crescenta Valley Water District and Foothill Municipal Water District.

Landscape irrigation accounts for up to 50 percent of Pasadena’s water use. To help residents conserve, PWP offers a long list of rebates on water-saving landscape fixtures, as well as a $2-per-square foot turf removal rebate to entice property owners to replace thirsty lawns with drought-tolerant, native landscaping. Find a full list of available rebates, as well as conservation tips, a water-saving landscape guide, before-and-after photos and how-to videos at

Stay connected to the City of Pasadena! For the latest PWP news, visit or follow PWP on Twitter @PWPnews. Visit the City online; follow us on Twitter @PasadenaGov,, and like us on Facebook at Or call the Citizen Service Center, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at (626) 744-7311.

Source Beacon Media News

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‘Tis the season to harvest

Posted: Monday, September 8, 2014 11:41 am

Updated: 11:42 am, Mon Sep 8, 2014.

‘Tis the season to harvest

By Bob Beyfuss
For Columbia-Greene Media


The last week of August felt more like the dog days of July than early fall, as the heat and humidity pushed the heat index well into the 90s. It is very dry as I write this, due to hit or miss thunderstorms, which have mostly missed my garden the past week. I am not complaining, as the heat spell helped to ripen my tomatoes. I finally have enough to indulge in my BLT’s and salads. Soon I will be canning sauce made with the garlic I harvested back in July and the peppers and onions I am now picking. It was much too hot to can last week anyway.

I find that I am never too old to learn something new in the garden and this year was no exception. A couple of weeks ago I accidently dropped a tree into my garden, which took down the fence, but did very little other damage, except for breaking the top six inches off one of my Brussel’s sprouts plants. Now, two weeks or so later, I see that, that one plant has already produced some very large sprouts whereas the other seven plants still have tiny ones, about the size of a dime. I may break off the tops of a few more today to see if I get the same result. I usually do not harvest them until late October or even November so this may provide a bit of an earlier crop.

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Monday, September 8, 2014 11:41 am.

Updated: 11:42 am.

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Gardening tips: How to grow alstroemeria – or Peruvian lilies

But even more impressive is their flower-power in a garden’s border, blooming from June to November once established.

Like many people I have sometimes been put off from buying sludge-coloured alstroemeria, but now these South American perennials are available in increasingly attractive colours.

Thomson Morgan have been selling bare roots of a Peruvian lily variety called ‘Planet Mixed’ for the last few seasons, and although mine did not amount to much in the first year they have been very impressive this year.

They have had absolutely no special attention, although I grow them in a large terracotta pot to protect them from slugs, and after deadheading them a few weeks ago they have produced new buds.

Although Peruvian lilies originate in a warmer climate than ours, they can survive winter temperatures of at least -5C, and much lower according to some claims.

If you plant them before the frosts arrive, they should be well established by next summer – although covering them with a woodchip mulch will give them some extra protection.

They prefer moist but well-draining soil in a sunny or partly shady position, and it is worth digging in some home-made compost to provide them with extra nutrition.

Planting them in pots has the additional benefit of making them moveable – so you can put them in the border if you want to fill a gap for a while or move them to a sheltered place if the weather turns Arctic.

And, of course, now you can buy some really exciting varieties, such as Alstroemeria Rock and Roll, which is exclusive to Gardening Express and not only has striking red and gold flowers it also has superb variegated foliage which is almost as attractive as the flowers.

Rock and Roll grows to about 2ft or more tall, so it is good for the middle of a border, or you can play safe like I do and keep it in a pot.

For more information go to and

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Tips and Tools for Gardening


On Monday’s show, The Natural Gardener, John Dromgoole, stopped by and spoke with host, Amanda Tatom, about some garden tools that are top notch for keeping your garden looking great. He showed us great tools for weeding, a mesh to throw over your garden to keep insects out, a really cool tool to pick fruit without bruising it, and a good pair of gloves are always needed. John spoke on the importance of investing in a good tool rather than continuing to replace cheaper models that will break much easier.

Correction: the Gardening 101 classes on Tuesday is at 10am and the one on Wednesday is at noon. In the clip, it is stated that these were both at 9am.

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Stress-free garden: Tips for fall planting and growing

Go ahead and picture your plentiful fall bounty of homegrown veggies and flowers. After all, fall in Northwest Florida is a many-splendored thing.

If you plant now in a traditional garden, raised beds or even in pots and containers, you can harvest all fall and enjoy a myriad of blooms. Options include seeds and starter plants.

With all types of delicate butterflies fluttering from plant to plant in the small lush garden at The Garden Gate in Gulf Breeze, the nursery’s owner, Emily Peterson, helps customers with ideas for the upcoming cool season. The small business specializes in native plants, perennials, herbs, butterfly and bird gardening.

“I love talking about fall gardening,” Peterson says, while pinching back some thick coleus that will last until the first frost. “The fall is the best time of year in our area to garden. We have lots and lots of choices for flowers and vegetables in particular.


“There is still time to get a fall crop of tomatoes and peppers if transplants are set out,” says Peterson, who also holds classes on local gardening, crafting and cooking with homegrown herbs and vegetables.

“Fall is the best time to grow leafy greens and start root crops. Start seeds or transplants of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, turnips, Swiss chard, cabbages, lettuces, arugula, garlic and onions.”

Beth Bolles,a horticulture extension agent with the University of Florida/Escambia County Extension, says, “The fall/winter vegetable garden is more enjoyable because of nice weather, and plants often do well because weather is less conducive to pests.

“Stores will soon have transplants (broccoli, lettuce, kale, cabbage, collards, Swiss chard, mustard) and seeds (carrots, turnips, beets) for purchase,” Bolles says.

Fall is a good time to replenish your fresh herbs. Herbs grow better in our area in the cooler months — including cilantro, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Use seeds or young plants.


Northwest Florida gardeners can also enjoy many types of flowers. It is an excellent time to plant perennials, allowing them to get their root systems established before spring, Peterson says.

“We have many fall blooming perennials such as firespike, lions ear, muhly grass and cassia to make gardens beautiful until frost,” Bolles says.

“We also divide many spring flowering perennials to gain more plants for our garden or to share with friends,” Bolles says. Perennials to divide in fall include daisies, coreopsis, yarrow, stokes aster, daylily, verbena, patrinas and black-eyed Susans.

Large retailers Lowe’s and Home Depot stock loads of fall-blooming annuals such as chrysanthemums, pansies and verbena.

Mums offer one of the widest varieties of shape and color. The traditional fall colors are numerous shades of yellow, orange, maroon, rust and red.

When buying mums, select tightly closed buds that are showing only a small bit of color. Like mums, pansies are perfect for plant beds, borders, containers and large groupings. Pansies come in an array of color combinations, including yellows, purples, blues, and oranges. Verbena comes in a wide range of colors and best of all, attract butterflies.


During the autumn, keep bulbs in mind to reap early spring blooms, Peterson says. Certain spring bulbs, such as tulips, must be pre-chilled to grow here.

The secret is to pre-chill them in your refrigerator before planting and treat them as an “annual bulb.” Chilling tulip bulbs in the refrigerator mimics the cold nights found in cooler areas, such as Holland, where tulips grow in abundance. Cooling tulip bulbs is important. Without chilling, the flowers will be short and small. For the best show in our area, gardeners suggest buying and chilling new bulbs each fall.

Peterson says good bulb choices for the Gulf Coast are Dutch iris, paper whites and wood hyacinths. Paper whites and amaryllis can be forced to bloom during the holidays in containers.

Bolles also suggests bulbs of daffodils, hurricane lilies and walking iris.


Now is the time to prepare gardens for flowers and veggies.

Bolles says if you’re planting in an area already used for spring and summer plants, be careful to remove all dead or diseased plant matter, including roots.

Test the soil to check the pH level and to determine what nutrients you might need to add. Till your soil a few weeks before planting, and then add organic matter, such as cow manure or compost. Make sure your garden gets at least six hours of full sun and is close to a water supply.

Don’t forget pots and containers.

“Usually in fall, the container plants we have grown since spring are tired and need replacing, to be repotted or sometimes divided,” Peterson says. “Use fresh potting soil when dividing and repotting. Use a mix that matches your watering habits and the needs of the plant.”


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