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Archives for December 12, 2014

Gardening Tips: Celebrate the holidays with colorful indoor plants

Matthew Stevens

Matthew Stevens

Posted: Friday, December 12, 2014 1:13 pm

Gardening Tips: Celebrate the holidays with colorful indoor plants

By Matthew Stevens

The Daily Herald, Roanoke Rapids, NC


With just two Fridays remaining before Christmas, I’d like to use this week and next to talk about plants associated with Christmas. Plants such as amaryllis, Christmas cactus and the ever-popular poinsettia are commonly used as decoration or given as gifts during this season.

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Friday, December 12, 2014 1:13 pm.

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This week’s gardening tips: gifts for gardeners

Do you still need a gift for a gardener on your list? Gardeners often skimp when buying basic tools for themselves, such as garden forks, shovels, spades, hoses, trowels or hand pruners. Watch their eyes light up when you give them a well-made, quality tool that will make their work easier. Don’t overlook garden carts, knee pads, a fine pair of well-made gloves and decorative pots, especially for those who garden in containers.

Stocking stuffers — such as packs of seeds, rain gauges, small packages of fertilizer, water nozzles and plant labels — are inexpensive and useful. Books make super gifts. Finally, spend some time browsing your local nursery or garden center, where you’ll find many other gifts waiting to be discovered.

Tropical container plants moved indoors for the winter generally do not need any fertilizer since growth is slow at best. Most problems with these plants are associated with reduced light and dry air. Fertilizing plants struggling with these conditions will not help them. Provide as much light as possible, and locate plants where hot air vents do not blow directly on them.

Although they should have been planted by now, you can still plant spring flowering bulbs — such as leucojum, ipheion, anemones, narcissus, zephyranthes, ranunculus, ornithogalum, daffodils and Spanish bluebells — and expect good results. But don’t delay.

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Master gardener offers tips for prepping your garden for winter

By Edith Jones-Fleming
Master Gardener

Posted Dec. 12, 2014 @ 2:01 am

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Garden Tips: Fluctuating temperatures may have hurt plants

Local News

Wish List: Reading Foundation seeks books for summer reading program

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The American Society of Landscape Architects’ 2014 Best Residential Garden …

Each year, the American Society of Landscape Architects honors outstanding projects around the world, particularly those that incorporate careful stewardship of the land. Shown here are 2014’s award winners in the residential design category, with sites that range from rooftops to ranches and from Napa to New England.

Click to see the winners of ASLA’s 2014 residential design awards.


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LRH to present long-term master design for community garden

The public is invited to hear the University of Minnesota’s Design Team recommendation for a long-term master plan at Lake Region Healthcare’s wellness project “Lake Region Takes Root” Community Garden on Dec. 18.

Photo provided A volunteer group from Ag Country Farm Credit Services works at the garden this summer.Photo provided
A volunteer group from Ag Country Farm Credit Services works at the garden this summer.

Funded by Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Sustainable Building Research has created a Master Plan recommendation for Lake Region Takes Root including future phases and ongoing infrastructure projects such as a packing and receiving shed and handicapped accessible gardening spaces.

During a community input meeting held in Fergus Falls in October, the University of Minnesota Design Team made up of Alex Thill and Virajita Singh, provided three potential design scenarios for improving the sustainability of Lake Region Takes Root community garden.

Participants reacted to the preliminary design options and provided feedback. The design team has since completed additional research and incorporated the input of residents into the final design. The team will present a final design scenario at a public meeting on Dec. 18 and community members will have an opportunity to provide comments for improvement. A final comprehensive plan will be completed by early January.

“The goal is to provide Lake Region Takes Root community garden with a sustainable plan to help keep it successful for many years to come,” said Virajita Singh from the Center for Sustainable Building Research. “We have spent the last several months gathering community input, researching best practices and identifying achievable goals towards achieving sustainable practices that will allow the garden to serve the greatest number of people with the highest quality food in the most efficient manner.”

The public meeting will be held in the lower level conference room of Lake Region Healthcare’s hospital building from 5 to 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18. It is free and open to anyone interested in the project. Light refreshments will be served.

“We have only just begun in terms of the number of people we can reach and the amount and quality of food we can provide to families in need and improve community health,” said Jason Bergstrand, Lake Region Takes Root Garden Project Coordinator. “We are grateful for those that participated in the first planning meeting and those planning to participate on Dec. 18. We value the participation from the community as it is vital towards positioning Lake Region Take Root for long-term success.”


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Sunset magazine’s iconic headquarters, garden are sold

Sunset editor-in-chief Peggy Northrop vividly remembers the first time she walked into the magazine’s iconic offices in Menlo Park. “I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” she says.

But she’s also a lifelong publishing vet who had seen the financials, so the sale of the property Wednesday came as no shock. “I knew that having this spectacular building like that was a rare privilege that was perhaps unlikely to last, let’s put it that way.”

The seven-acre campus, centered on a ranch-style building designed by famed Mid-Century architect Cliff May, housed a complex including a test kitchen and gardens that helped influence several generations of California home cooking, gardening and decor.

Time Inc., which bought the magazine from longtime owners Lane Publishing in 1990, sold the  property to real estate investment firm Embarcadero Capital Partners only a month after it was first listed. Details of the sale were not disclosed, but the Silicon Valley Business Journal pegged the price as at least $77 million.

In a letter to Sunset employees announcing the sale, Time Inc. said a search was underway for a new location and that the magazine staff would remain in place through the end of 2015. The new location will be somewhere in the Bay Area, according to a Time Inc. spokesperson.

Sunset’s former home editor Dan Gregory wrote on his gorgeously illustrated blog Eye on Design that he could understand the sale, as the site is in the heart of the Silicon Valley, not far from Stanford University and only a few blocks from Facebook, and would surely sell for “surpassing Silicon sums.”

“But speaking as Sunset‘s former senior home editor who wrote a book about ranch house popularizer Cliff May, the designer of the building, I very much hope that whoever purchases the property understands its significance as an early and influential example of environmental design.”

Northrop insists on looking forward. “The building and the grounds are amazing, there’s no doubt about that, but they are not everything that the magazine is,” she says.

“One of the disadvantages of an iconic building is that it can make you very inward-facing. It was located in Menlo Park at a time when everyone was moving to the suburbs. But right now, the story of the west is people moving back to urban areas. We need to reflect that and clinging to an iconic building could get in the way of that.”

The Sunset headquarters opened in 1951, in a roughly 30,000-square-foot building designed by May and with elaborate natural gardens designed by famed San Francisco designer Thomas Church.

According to Gregory, magazine owner Larry Lane charged May with designing a building that  “must be definitely WESTERN in its general structure and in the material used and in the feeling and atmosphere which it creates. It must give the feeling of belonging to the site. In short, the kind of building that an easterner having read Sunset for a long time and making his first trip to California would expect to see.”

What the next Sunset headquarters will consist of is very much still up in the air.

“Of course we will need a test kitchen — that goes to the very core to what we are,” Northrop says. “I would hope we would also have our own test garden or at least a relationship with a garden.

“But while it would be lovely to have our own garden, we have relationships already with gardens all over the West — home gardens, research gardens, there’s no shortage. We’re constantly scouting other people’s gardens and writing about them. The things Sunset has espoused over so many years, now literally taking root all over the West.”

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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Seymour P&Z green lights apartments for former LoPresti School

SEYMOUR The former, historic LoPresti School, which served countless elementary school students over the last century will get a new lease on life as an apartment building.

The Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday unanimously gave Bridgeport developer John Guedes the green light to convert the vacant, 104-year brick building into 42 market-rate apartments.

The commission granted Guedes a zone change from residential to multi-family, paving the way for Guedes to start construction this spring. He anticipates the project should be complete by spring 2016.

“I think this is a home run to get a developer to come in and put this building back on our tax rolls,” said Commissioner Robert Koskelowski. “We don’t need this building; it costs us a fortune to keep and would probably cost $300,000 plus to knock it down. I think this is the best use for this property.”

Fellow commissioners agreed, saying converting the old school into apartments is a great fit for the surrounding residential neighborhood, which boasts a mix of both single and multi-family homes, as well as several apartment buildings and small businesses.

“It fits the area and may even help grow some of the smaller businesses in the area,” said Commission Chairman Dave Bitso.

Guedes plans to invest $5 million into the project, essentially keeping the historic brick exterior the same, doing some landscaping, creating about 80 parking spaces per unit and converting the former classrooms into 35, two-bedroom and 7, one-bedroom apartments. The units will likely range in price from $1,200 to $1,400 a month.

As president and CEO of Primrose Companies, Guedes said the 36-year old company specializes in adaptive reuses of historic buildings. He said he was drawn to the nostalgia of the old school at 29 Maple St., and is excited for its future.

Guedes was the developer behind the successful conversion of the former Birmingham Factory building on Shelton’s riverfront into 113 residential units, and has had other successes converting four vacant schools into apartments in Fairfield County.

The Board of Selectmen in June voted to sell the 52,426 sq. ft. facility to Guedes for $335,000. His offer was one of only two that came in after the building went on the market. The second offer was for just $1.

The school was decommissioned as an elementary school two years ago, and students there were moved into the new Chatfield-LoPresti School on Skokorat Street.

A town building needs committee previously determined it was best to sell the building. It costs the town about $80,000 a year to heat and cool it, due to the sprinkler system inside.

Economic Development Director Fred A. Messore has been working with Guedes over the past several months, and is anxious to see the building put back to good use.

“We believe this proposal is a great for the neighborhood and best re-adaptive use of the building…and will get it back on the tax rolls,” Messore said.

Messore added that proceeds from the sale will “be reinvested” into other town-owned buildings.

During a public hearing held prior to the commission’s vote, resident Jamie Brennan expressed some concerns, fearing the two-bedroom units could attract families with school-age children, potentially inundating the school system and burdening town services.

Guedes, however, said the apartments are geared toward “young professionals,” and older couples looking to downsize. Out the 113 units he built in Shelton, only six children live there, Guedes said.

Have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with the editors of the New Haven Register at

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Jefferson lawmaker makes history

Jefferson County Delegate-elect Jill Upson knows all too well we’re not promised tomorrow.

After her teenage daughter died in a car crash in 2010, Upson looked back on her life and realized something.

“She didn’t waste a single minute,” Upson said.

“Our time here is limited. Losing her and looking at the way she lived her life motivated me to step into public office.”

Upson, 48, was elected to the House of Delegates in November, besting Democratic incumbent Tiffany Lawrence by 12 points. In doing so, Upson became the first black Republican woman elected to the House. She said her election speaks to the dissatisfaction voters feel with the status quo.

“The fact that I won by 12 points in a district that’s something like .06 percent black shows that West Virginians are rejecting all of the divisive conversation you hear a lot of on social media and TV and network news,” she said. “I’m proud of my state. I’m proud of the fact that West Virginians care more about ideas and issues than race. I couldn’t be happier to be a West Virginian.”

Upson is a West Virginian by choice.

Originally from California, she married a Navy man, and the family, including a now 24-year-old son, moved around because of his job. They settled in West Virginia in 2003.

“I fell in love with the area and thought it was a great place to raise my kids,” she said. “We plan to stay here and retire, obviously.”

Upson said she doesn’t necessarily view her election as historical, but she campaigned with the hope her party would make significant gains in the state Legislature.

“I wanted to show voters they had an alternative and to get out there and talk about my ideas,” she said. “I knew the tide was turning and I received tremendously positive feedback getting out there and meting people. The full gravity of this election didn’t start to set in until a week or two after.”

Before the Nov. 4 election, Democrats maintained control of the state Legislature for 83 years. Republicans have worked earnestly over the past several years to change that with the focus of changing leadership in the House. More than 60 of 100 seats will be occupied by Republicans when the new Legislature meets next month.

Meanwhile, the Senate was tied after the election at 17 seats each until Sen. Daniel Hall switched parties and gave Republicans a slight edge. Both parties were expected to caucus over the weekend and vote on leadership. The new Senate president and House speaker will then make committee assignments. Although she’s happy to serve wherever, Upson has an idea of where she can make a real difference.

“Of course being a Navy wife for 25 years, I have a soft spot in my heart for veterans,” she said. “When I was going door-to-door during the campaign, so many were veterans. Unfortunately, many have difficult stories to tell. I would love to work on veterans issues and receive an assignment on the veterans committee.”

But that’s not the only place Upson could see herself serving. At 48, she is completing a degree from Shepherd University in business administration. She also has experience as a retail manager, so she has some thoughts on how the Legislature can prioritize to help small business owners across the state.

“I would say first and foremost, tax reform just because our tax structure affects so many aspects of our everyday lives,” she said. “That has to be up there because it is tied into jobs and overall quality of life for people. I think tax reform has got to be a top priority and I’d like to see it happen immediately so people can feel the relief.”

Upson said she saw first-hand on the campaign trail how the state’s tax system has adversely affected entrepreneurs.

“I talked to a guy who owns a landscaping business. Every little Bobcat and things he has there he has to pay these taxes on,” she said, referring to the state’s taxes on machinery and equipment. “He’s struggling to stay afloat. Things are so connected to tax reform that it’s crucial we take that on.”

Upson was sworn in on Dec. 1. She’ll serve alongside Delegate Saira Blair, R-Berkeley, who, at 18, is the youngest elected lawmaker in state history.

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or Follow her at

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Albuquerque’s Nowlin says it’s not about Astroturf and lawn chairs anymore

Albuquerques Nowlin says it's not about Astroturf and lawn chairs anymore

Damon Scott
Reporter- Albuquerque Business First


Young but established Albuquerque entrepreneur Nigel Nowlin has a formula for homeowners looking to landscape.

He says plan on spending about 10 percent of your home’s value — 20 percent if you want really high-end patios, waterfalls, fireplaces, etc.

“Don’t spend $500,000 on a home and expect to do $5,000 in landscaping,” said Nowlin, the owner of Landmark Landscapes. Nowlin understands it can be daunting — buyers close a purchase or have already been in a home perhaps after making interior upgrades and maybe feel a little cash poor. Inexpensive landscaping might feel right. “They love my ideas but sometimes hate my price tag. After cheap landscaping though, they are usually calling me back,” he said. See the accompanying slideshow to see some of Nowlin’s work.

What’s common pricing? Nothing too typical, says Nowlin, but his projects typically range from $10,000 to $100,000, with a core range of $20,000 to $40,000.

Nowlin, 35, has been doing landscape work and sales since he was 22. He broke off from a local company and launched Landmark in the throes of the recession in 2008, but said he was methodical and incurred no debt along the way. “It’s one of the most creative construction fields out there. I design it all with my clients on the spot in most cases. It all centers around the design — bringing a youthful, fun, fresh look to landscaping. Xeriscaping hasn’t changed much since the 1980s. But I give it a fresh look,” he said.

The UNM alum said he’s been inspired by his partner and family. Nob Hill’s Morningside Antiques owner Christian Dimery is his partner of seven years, and Nowlin said he has learned everything about running an ethical and high-reputation business from him. Nowlin’s father is renowned artist B.C. Nowlin, who is known for his big Southwestern paintings. His stepmother, Carol Estes-Nowlin, is an abstract artist and president of the Albuquerque Art Business Association.

505.348.8315 |

Commercial/residential real estate, retail, restaurants

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