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Archives for December 21, 2014

Gifts to give yourself: Sow seeds in your garden right now for the new year

Christmas is the time for spring peas. (File photo)

MOBILE, Alabama — Last week, I encouraged you to give your garden a special gift for the holidays, and I even offered the perfect gift guide for all gardens along the Gulf Coast.

Now that you’ve done well by your garden, it’s time you gave yourself a gift of fresh garden vegetables and flowers for the new year, vegetables and flowers made for sowing during the holidays.

Sugar snaps

You can have your sugar plums. It’s visions of Sugar Snaps I have dancing through my head.

I didn’t plant my usual Christmas holiday Sugar Snap peas last year, and I still haven’t forgiven myself.

I don’t know what I was thinking. I got busy I suppose, and thought that somehow I would enjoy March and April just as much with what was leftover from the winter greens. By April 1, when I was desperate for the sweet green snap of plump podded peas and all my gardening friends were bragging about how good their Sugar Snaps were, I was too proud to ask for a handout, and way too late to do any planting, since Sugar Snaps and their spring pea kind are good only in spring.

That’s just not going to happen this year. I’ve already ordered my peas, and I’ll be sowing them directly in my garden, as I know I should always do, during the 12 days of Christmas. Don’t worry. They’re very hardy, and will grow right through the coldest days.

Sugar Snaps are among several varieties of spring peas related to those frozen green mediocrities folks in the South call English peas. Your grandparents, like mine, may have grown only those traditional green peas that are eaten round, naked and buttered, without the husky pod. Or you may be familiar with the spring peas whose tender pods are pea-less, the flattened snow peas so often seen in stir fries and Asian cuisine.

I would never refuse either, particularly fresh from the garden. But snap peas are a marriage of both — baby peas still nestled in plump edible pods — and they’re somehow better than either.

I grow many varieties of snap peas, but always start with the genuine Sugar Snap, which started the modern snap pea craze decades ago. I typically plant another row of the heirloom Amish snap peas, which are a bit less sweet, but just as good and some years more productive.

Both of these are tall-growing peas, so they’ll need a sturdy structure to climb on, and about 70 to 80 days to produce. If I plant now, I’ll enjoy 5 to 6 weeks of truly divine peas (nearly every night!) starting in mid-March. If I started them much later, I’d get only two or three weeks of joy before the vines collapsed in the heat of May.

Because I refuse to wait that long for the first taste of peas, I also sow newer, more compact varieties that produce a week or so earlier and don’t need staking, like Sugar Ann and Cascadia. This year, I’m trialing an extra early one called Sugar Sprint. These smaller varieties are never quite as good as the taller ones, but they’re getting better, and they’re always much better than no peas at all.

Tomatoes

You can plainly see the holidays are decked with red and green. If that doesn’t remind you to start your tomatoes from seed very soon, you’re not in the Gulf Coast holiday spirit.

Christmas starts the countdown for the first and last tomato. Gulf Coast tomatoes aren’t worth a toot after the first week in July. Most won’t survive midsummer humidity, and those few that do produce inferior fruit. So you need to ripen and pick most of your tomatoes during the Gulf Coast’s tomato sweet spot, from the middle of May to the end of June.

If you’re using varieties adapted to our climate, it takes 60 to 80 days from transplanting to get your first tomato (if it takes longer, don’t bother). Counting backward, you’ll need to have 12- to 18-inch high plants ready to go in the ground around the first of March (it would be a bit too cold to plant much earlier).

Now, it’ll take at least six or seven weeks for a typical gardener like me to grow a 12-inch tall tomato plant from seed sown in a container. Ergo, I’ll need to be sowing my seed on or about the 12th day of Christmas.

Now you understand exactly why we display so much red and green this time of year.

(P.S.: If you fail to sow your own seed in a timely way, the Mobile Botanical Gardens can help you recover with their annual Tomatopalooza in late February. But if you have a refined appreciation for the varieties of tomato flavors, you’ll want to start your own, to make sure you get exactly what you want.)

Petunias

You may argue there’s nothing special about petunias. If I were not in the holiday spirit of planting, I might argue the same.

But last May, while I was waiting for my new-fangled and color-coordinated varieties of petunias to finally bloom, I wondered why I didn’t start the seeds much earlier. And when the flowers quickly faded as in the heat of June, I remembered why petunias are spring and not mid-summer plants here. Petunias may hang on in summer, but by July they look as washed out as those old clumps of plastic flowers in the cemetery.

So I made a note to myself that I needed to start my petunias as soon as I started peas and tomatoes. I’m already thumbing through the catalogs.

As I’ve noted before, you could let the accountants at WalMart design your petunia garden for you. They’ve already decided on the half dozen varieties of petunias every gardener from Alaska to Alabama must grow. And though I’m confident that the number crunchers at the Big Box stores have an innate appreciation for beauty, design and garden practicality, their fashion sense often clashes with my garden. If you’re not satisfied with Kool-aid Red or Pink Bubblegum, you’re out of luck.

If I order my petunias from seed, on the other hand, I can take advantage of a full range of colors and forms. I can order petunias that are ruffled or picoteed, tie-dyed or as double-flowered as a rose. I can get petunias pale as the pink in a pearl or dark as the blue in blackberries. There are petunias that are sunset orange and fire engine red. Shoot, there are bi-colored petunias, with big yellow stars shining in a field of midnight blue.

But the only way I’ll ever get to enjoy most of these petunias is to grow them for myself. And to get the maximum enjoyment out of them before the summer heat, I need to sow those guys inside in early January. Their colors will be strong and bright when they starting blooming in the cool days of late February, and they’ll look grand for three or four months, long enough for me to have my fill of petunias for the year.

Bill Finch is chief science and horticultural adviser for Mobile Botanical Gardens, where he teaches his popular Gulf Coast Gardening classes. Email questions to plaingardening@yahoo.com. Speak to him directly on the Gulf Coast Sunday Morning radio show, from 9 until 11 on 106.5 FM. Watch him cutting up with weatherman John Nodar on the Plain Gardening segment on News 5 at Noon, every Friday on WKRG. 

Article source: http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2014/12/post_215.html

Weekend Gardening: Creative Gift Ideas For Your Favorite Gardener

December 21, 2014

by UF/IFAS Extension Service

Still don’t have a Christmas present for your favorite gardener? Take heart, there is still plenty of time to find, or make, that perfect “green” gift.

Many gardeners don’t think of their landscapes as just plants in the ground. To the knowledgeable landscape designer, the landscape is a series of rooms; rooms that may require decoration.

Garden art can be anything from the whimsical garden gnomes, functional obelisks or metal sculptures.

Garden obelisks can serve many functions. In addition to providing interest during all four seasons, they can act as beautiful focal points in the garden. They can make your garden look as if it was designed by a professional.

In a flower garden, they provide support for plants such as climbing roses, flowering vines and many other climbers and twiners. In the edible garden, many types of fruits and vegetables, such as various types of beans, can be grown on obelisks.

Obelisks come in many different sizes and shapes. Common shapes include tall, rounded or oblong forms, rectangular forms, and pyramids. Most vining plants will take to any shape. Choose the shape that is pleasing to you and blends in with your garden design. Obelisks can be made from a variety of materials including cedar, copper and wrought iron.

Furthermore, if you are an avid recycler, there are plenty of materials just laying around that can be made into a functional obelisk with a minimum amount of skill and time. Take a look on the internet and you will find plenty of help in fashioning a home-made creation.

A “growing” trend is metal garden art. Metal garden art can be fun, playful or even classical. It can be used to create a focal point in the garden or to brighten up a dull spot. From small garden stakes, to colorful wall art, to sculptures small and large, the possibilities are endless. With so many materials to choose from and so many artists working in the field you will be sure to find at least one piece to add color and character to your yard.

Again, if you are an avid recycler, you will be able to find many pieces made from recycled metal. Recycled steel drums or tanks, discarded bicycle or tricycles, old car parts, these all provide the raw materials for the creative eco-artist.

Copper is widely used in metal garden art because it is beautiful, durable and adds elegance to any garden. If allowed to oxidize it will age gracefully to a natural weather worn green patina. It can also be preserved with a clear coating to maintain its bright, shiny look. Copper sculptures, wall art and garden stakes add a touch of class to any decor.

For a classic look add a bronze garden sculpture. Bronze sculptures have been around for thousands of years. They remain popular today because they are classic, timeless and will last for generations.

Whatever your taste, classic, contemporary or just playful, garden art will warm your heart even on the coldest winter day.

Submitted photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

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Article source: http://www.northescambia.com/2014/12/weekend-gardening-creative-gift-ideas-for-your-favorite-gardener

Michele Bachmann’s not so quiet exit

Washington (CNN) — Statuary Hall inside the Capitol is the storied site of many key moments in U.S. history — from heated debates about slavery to inaugural lunches with presidents.

But Statuary Hall has almost surely never hosted a departing lawmaker rapping for national TV — that is until Michele Bachmann gave us her now famous rendition of the hip-hop song “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore.

“I look incredible. I wear your granddad’s clothes. I got twenty dollars in my pocket, and I’m going to the thrift shop down the road,” Bachmann, rapped, moving her body to the beat for effect.

It is hard to believe this is the same Bachmann who sprung onto the political scene shaking her fist in the air on the Capitol steps, rallying tea party protesters against President Barack Obama’s policies.

“I wasn’t politically correct, and I wasn’t as worried about my own political career,” she said. “I was really worried about the issues of the country. And what I was doing, I think, was just giving voice to what I would do if I was a mom back home.”


Bachmann: Spending bill was about amnesty


Bachmann at holiday party: Bomb Iran


Bachmann, King visit U.S.-Mexico border


Congress’ New Guard confronts the Old Guard


A farewell to Congress

This is Bachmann unplugged, as she exits stage right after four terms in Congress, eager to show that she can lighten up while still sticking to conservative principles.

“Nobody has to worry about competition from me, I’ll tell you that!” Bachmann jokes about her rapping, which she said she learned from her 27-year-old son Harrison during a family trip last spring.

RELATED: Bachmann touts the 10 Commandments in final speech

Bachmann has been one of the most polarizing politicians of the last five years — and few news organizations have held her feet to the fire about controversial comments more than CNN. Anderson Cooper’s “Keeping Them Honest” segment had its hands full with Bachmann statements to fact check.

We personally spent many a long day walking the Capitol hallways trying to find Bachmann to ask her tough questions — most famously about her comments about frivolous presidential spending, like on a dog walker, that turned out not to be true.

But now that she is on her way out of politics, we thought it would be interesting to get to know Bachmann beyond her big political persona.

Entering the Spotlight

It is hard to believe Bachmann has only been in Congress for eight years. But she made national headlines sooner than most backbenchers by embracing the tea party movement and becoming a de facto leader during the financial crisis.

“When I first came in, one of the first things that I did is I took on the president of my own party, George W. Bush, because George Bush wanted to pass a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street,” she recalled explaining her “no” vote for the bill. “We were in a completely different realm that doesn’t even make sense anymore, these numbers that we’re talking about. $700 billion is a lot of money! And so I asked the question, where did you get that figure from? And number two, what are you going to use it for? And I couldn’t get good answers.”

She jokes that she doesn’t know who is more excited to see her go, Democrats or her fellow GOP leaders.

“I don’t know who’s going to miss me more when I leave Congress — Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner — I have no idea! I’ve been a thorn, I think, in both of their sides,” Bachmann said.

Sexism in politics

Bachmann is eager to note that she was the only GOP woman to run for president in 2012, and says sexism is still very prevalent in politics.

“I’ll be frank with you — the way that I see it is that I think that when women speak, I don’t think that we’re listened to the same way that a man does. I know that I — I’m in a lot of venues where I’m the only woman. The only woman.”

“One thing that I notice is that when I walk into the room, the men are talking to each other — when I arrive — they’ll talk to each other when I’m leaving, and I’ll go up to them to try and get into the group and talk with them, but it’s different. It’s just different,” she admitted.

Bachmann and Jimmy Carter

In her final days in office, Bachmann took her family to a place in Washington Republicans don’t visit: the White House. She scrounged around the capitol for extra tickets from colleagues not planning to attend the annual Christmas party, so that she could bring all five of her children to see President Obama for the holidays.

Not surprisingly, she advised her kids to make their moments with the President count.

“I told them, look, you only get about a second with him,” she recalled.

“Make sure whatever you say is exactly what’s in your mind.”

Her initial political experience was not working for Ronald Reagan, as one would think, but on Jimmy Carter’s campaign.

“The first time I ever came to this city was to dance at the inaugural ball for Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale! Which is kind of hard to believe. But then I saw how their policies worked out, they were a complete and utter failure, and then that’s why I became a Republican, and I never looked back,” Bachmann said.

The Frustrated Landscaper

In a lighthearted lightening round of questions, Bachmann said her theme song is “Takin’ Care Of Business” by Bachmann-Turner Overdrive, naturally.

Who does she want to play her in a biopic? “Kristin Wiig,” who played Bachmann in Saturday Night Live skits.

If she could ask her musical idol Johnny Cash one question what would it be? “Ah, would you please sing at my next birthday party! That’s what I would say — not gonna happen! — but I do love him.”

What is Bachmann’s non-political reading material of choice?

“My favorite thing is landscaping. I love landscaping. And so what I’ll do is, mostly I put language into search engines, and if I want to look, like, at tulip gardens, or, like, Georgian gardens,” she said sheepishly. “I love English gardens, how they’re laid out. Japanese gardens, Asian gardens. So, I’m kind of a frustrated landscaper.”


Bachmann dodges questions on WH claims

Mistakes, Congress and beyond

Bachmann admits she “made mistakes” during her time on Capitol Hill. No doubt repeating some erroneous facts in conservative media about the cost of presidential trips, or ties Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s family had to Al Qaeda.

Some of those comments drew attention from reporters like yours truly, who tried to walk as fast as she could in heels to ask questions.

“That is one of the things I really like — I run stairs here. When we go, like, from the basement up, I’ll be in high heels and I’ll run the stairs because, the good thing is — you actually do get a workout, cause you can walk seven miles a day here, plus do the stairs,”

Will she miss us chasing after her?

“Oh, of course I will,” she said with a knowing laugh.

Though she may be leaving Congress, there is no way she going far from the political spotlight, whatever her next act may be.

“Well I’ll be involved in 2016 one way or another,” she said shermanesquely. “I am not looking at being a candidate, but I fully intend to be involved. This is a huge election where now we are tee’d up, both in the House and in the Senate, for the repeal of Obamacare.”

“When I ran for president in 2012, that was my motivation – I wanted to repeal Obamacare… I think that there will be a lot of momentum for that in 2016, and I want to be a part of that voice to help that happen,” she said.



Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/19/politics/michele-bachmann-exit-interview-with-dana-bash/

A tour of France, from Paris to Normandy, at leisu…

PARIS — Those sce­nic, sun-drenched com­mer­cials for Viking river cruises are sim­ply ir­re­sist­ible.

So last Au­gust, my hus­band and I flew non­stop from Pitts­burgh to Paris for three days in the chic French cap­i­tal, fol­lowed by an eight-day Viking river cruise into Nor­mandy. Monet’s home and gar­dens in Giverny topped my list of places to see; my hus­band was ea­ger to tour the beaches of Nor­mandy. He made a cou­ple of phone calls to Viking, filled out an on­line ques­tion­naire and we were set. If you do not wish to bother with lo­gis­tics and plan­ning, this may be your kind of va­ca­tion.

After ar­riv­ing in the City of Light we strolled through the Lux­em­bourg Gardens and the Tuile­ries, toured four mu­se­ums and climbed to the top of the Arc de Tri­om­phe and Sa­cred Heart, the fa­mous white church atop a hill in Mont­mar­tre.

We took a walk­ing tour of the Marais, the Jew­ish quar­ter filled with man­sions and de­signer shops. At the re­mod­eled Mu­see de L’Orange­rie, we drank in Monet’s “Water Lilies,” then walked down­stairs to see more Im­pres­sion­ist works.

The starting price in 2015 for Viking’s Paris and the Heart of Normandy cruise on the Seine River is $1,856 per person based on double occupancy. Standard staterooms are $2,556 and a range of suites is available.

The eight-day trip, which starts in Paris, travels to Rouen and returns to Paris, will have departures from March through December.

Information: 1-877-668-4546 or vikingrivercruises.com.

In 2015, passengers can book their own flights. However, if flights are booked through Viking passengers receive complimentary transfers between the ship and the airport.

What to buy: Long­champs leather bags, La­du­ree mac­a­r­ons, Her­mes scarves.

We watched flash­ing lights il­lu­mi­nate the Eiffel Tower at night, vis­ited Na­po­leon’s Tomb and me­an­dered along the Left Bank, stop­ping into Shake­speare Com­pany to shop at the in­ter­na­tion­ally known book­store.

In­vit­ing ca­fes, abun­dant out­door sculp­ture, ar­rest­ing ar­chi­tec­ture and or­nate bridges make Paris an un­end­ing vi­sual ban­quet, so we were a lit­tle sorry to leave Ho­tel Crowne Plaza in the Place de la Re­pub­lique to get on a boat. The ac­com­mo­da­tions were ar­ranged by Viking. Be­sides ex­cel­lent break­fasts and a com­fort­able room, the metro stop was just out­side the door, mak­ing it con­ve­nient. And our Viking guide at the ho­tel, Ar­naud, per­son­i­fied hos­pi­tal­ity and help­ful sug­ges­tions.

On a Fri­day, we boarded Viking’s Nep­tune for a cruise up the Seine River into Nor­mandy, a re­gion known for its cam­em­bert cheese and cal­va­dos, a brandy made from ap­ples. For us, it was a chance to re­lax and learn about art his­tory and food.

The Nep­tune, which was an­chored near the Eiffel Tower, held about 140 pas­sen­gers and 40 crew mem­bers. We im­me­di­ately liked its hu­man scale. An ear­lier voy­age through the Pan­ama Canal — on a gi­gan­tic ship that held 3,000 peo­ple — made us re­al­ize that be­ing mem­bers of the mul­ti­tude is not our cup of chai.

Upon ar­rival, each pas­sen­ger was wel­comed by Niko­las, a young pro­gram di­rec­tor from Bel­gium who be­came a fa­vor­ite for his per­son­able man­ner and ex­cel­lent pre­sen­ta­tions. The main deck held a front desk and a ca­pa­ble con­cierge named Sima who made our res­er­va­tion at La Couronne, a Rouen restau­rant whose cui­sine in­spired Julia Child to study cook­ing in France.

On one side of the re­cep­tion area was an ever-chang­ing se­lec­tion of freshly baked cook­ies, in­clud­ing but­tery mad­e­leines, cold wa­ter, a cap­puc­cino ma­chine, hot choc­o­late and hot wa­ter with a wide se­lec­tion of teas. On the other side was a neatly ap­pointed li­brary with cur­rent books, ta­bles and chairs. Beyond the li­brary was a large semi-cir­cu­lar glass-en­closed room with small ta­bles, com­fort­able chairs, a full bar and a dance floor.

If big cruise ships are gi­gan­tic float­ing ho­tels, this river boat was spa­cious but in­ti­mate. Our state­room was quite com­fort­able and well-de­signed. With few ex­cep­tions, we ate all of our meals aboard in a large third-floor din­ing room that af­forded views of the Seine. Break­fast in­cluded cold and hot buf­fets, but a chef stood ready to make cus­tom­ized om­e­lets and waf­fles, and wait­ers took or­ders for cof­fee and juice. Three-course din­ners in­cluded the choice of red or white wine. The staff was ac­com­mo­dat­ing, gra­cious and in­ter­na­tional.

Our first stop was Ver­non, a me­di­e­val town with a small, worth­while mu­seum with paint­ings by Claude Monet, Pi­erre Bon­nard and Blanche Hosch­ede-Monet, the daugh­ter of Monet’s sec­ond wife, Alice.

It’s a short bus ride from Ver­non to Giverny, and we ar­rived there in the morn­ing for a tour of Im­pres­sion­ist Claude Monet’s home and gar­dens. Monet moved to Giverny in 1883, and with the help of seven gar­den­ers, di­verted part of the river Epte to cre­ate his wa­ter gar­dens, which are like a liq­uid mir­ror. The view from the Jap­a­nese-style bridge helps you bet­ter ap­pre­ci­ate Monet’s art­istry. To­day, 10 gar­den­ers tend the grounds.

Be­sides wis­te­ria and wa­ter lil­ies, Monet planted hy­dran­geas and tree pe­o­nies, of­ten or­der­ing his nurs­ery stock from Japan or China. Tall stands of bam­boo line some of the paths, and there are great benches through­out the grounds. Tour­ists are able to walk through both floors of Monet’s home as well as his bed­room, where he died. The two-story pink house has green shut­ters and is filled with dis­tinc­tive an­tiques and Jap­a­nese prints. The enor­mous gift shop, which even sells fine china, was the painter’s last stu­dio.

Next came Rouen, a uni­ver­sity town with a cav­ern­ous Notre Dame ca­the­dral that sur­vived bomb­ing in World War II. The heart of Rich­ard the Lion­heart is en­tombed in­side the church, and a carved lion guards it. At night, a stun­ning light show with voices, im­ages and mu­sic was pro­jected on the front of the ca­the­dral.

Rouen is the town where St. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431, so the light show be­gan with flames be­fore seg­ue­ing to an­i­mated ver­sions of Monet paint­ings, in­clud­ing peo­ple in a boat row­ing up the front of the land­mark church. Our 2½-hour din­ner at La Couronne of­fered ex­cel­lent food, su­pe­rior ser­vice and a truly mem­o­ra­ble cheese course ar­ranged on a plat­ter large enough to hold a 12-pound tur­key.

Lexie Mar­tone led our ex­cur­sion to the D-Day beaches. An Amer­i­can woman who has lived in France for 40 years, her un­flag­ging en­ergy and knowl­edge made her an out­stand­ing guide. We vis­ited the D-Day Mu­seum in Ar­ro­man­ches and, later that day, the Nor­mandy Amer­i­can Ceme­tery.

The stat­u­ary and gor­geous land­scap­ing in this cem­e­tery make it one of the most well-tended places you will ever see. Amer­i­can vis­i­tors gath­ered at a 22-foot-bronze statue of a young Amer­i­can man while “Taps” was played. Then, vis­i­tors were asked to stand, face the slop­ing field of 9,700 crosses that mark the sol­diers’ graves and sing “The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner.” If you’re like me, emo­tion will make it hard to war­ble through the an­them. After­ward, vis­i­tors re­ceive roses to place on a sol­dier’s grave. Our only re­gret about this trip was that we wanted more time on Omaha Beach.

Our last stop was a day at Ver­sailles, a sump­tu­ous cam­pus of gar­dens, trees, a grand ca­nal and gilded, eye-pop­ping man­sions. If you want the full ef­fect of Ver­sailles, visit on Tues­days, Satur­days or Sun­days be­cause those are the only days when the foun­tains run.

After you see the Hall of Mir­rors, the Grand Tri­anon and the Pe­tite Tri­anon, your stan­dards for what de­fines over-the-top ex­trav­a­gance will mul­ti­ply by a fac­tor of 10.

Let oth­ers dream of a white Christ­mas, we’re dream­ing of our next Viking cruise.

Article source: http://www.post-gazette.com/life/travel/2014/12/21/A-tour-of-France-from-Paris-to-Normandy-at-leisure/stories/201412210026

Eco-friendly parking: $499000 – Springfield News

What it is: The amount the City of Springfield expects to spend to replace parking lots in the Center City government plaza with pervious pavement and other features meant to reduce stormwater runoff.

Phase I of the project, which included replacement of the public lot east of the Busch Municipal Building, wrapped up Dec. 16. A second phase of pavement work that includes replacement of an employee parking lot will continue through January. Planting of rain gardens and other water-management landscaping is planned for April.

Construction is estimated to cost a total of $402,000 (including a base bid of $388,002.90 and expected change orders), plus $40,000 for design and an estimated $57,000 for landscaping and irrigation.

The green parking project is a partnership between the city and the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks and is funded in part through the Springfield-Greene County Urban Watershed Stewardship Project Grant, nicknamed the Big Urbie project.

The big what? The Big Urbie project is funded by a $1.1 million federal grant the Watershed Committee received in 2011 from the Environmental Protection Agency (passed through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources), as part of a federal program related to the Clean Water Act.

The grant money is being used for a variety of projects that aim to reduce stormwater runoff and improve water quality in the Jordan Creek, Fassnight Creek, South Creek and Pea Ridge Creek watersheds.

City streetscapes, detention basin retrofits and rain gardens are among the dozens of projects funded by the grant listed on the project’s website, www.bigurbie.org.

Where’s the money coming from? Money from the Big Urbie grant isn’t paying all the bill for the parking lot project. City sales tax revenues still are being used to cover a majority of the cost.

The $499,000 total includes:

$138,000 in Big Urbie grant funds

$210,000, part of the city’s match, from the (no longer active) 2006 Parks/Waterways Sales Tax earmarked for lake, waterway and stream improvements

$100,000 from the city’s 1/4-cent Capital Improvement Sales Tax earmarked for stormwater improvements

$15,000 from 1/4-cent Capital Improvement Sales Tax earmarked for reforestation and landscaping to pay for a portion of the irrigation

$21,000 from 1/4-cent Capital Improvement Sales Tax funds to improve parking lot lighting for public safety

$15,000 from the Missouri Department of Conservation to fund landscaping.

Approximately $10,000 in city staff time also is being counted as an in-kind match for the grant.

What are the expected benefits? Carrie Lamb, water quality coordinator in the city’s stormwater quality division, said the pervious pavement, rain gardens and other features included in the project are designed to allow the first inch of rainfall in a given storm “to soak into the ground and be absorbed by trees and plants,” rather than running off into local waterways.

“Runoff from urban areas is one of the major sources of pollution to the nation’s waterways,” she said. “One inch of rainfall over the 1.3-acre area is approximately 35,000 gallons of water. Based on annual rainfall, that is approximately 1.3 million gallons of water annually kept out of storm drains and Jordan Creek.”

Lamb noted that the project supports several goals included in Field Guide 2030, the city’s long-range strategic plan, including the use of green infrastructure in city building projects and addition of stormwater management features in areas they don’t already exist.

While the water quality benefit “is the primary purpose,” Lamb said the project also can serve as an example for private developers, who often are in and out of government plaza to obtain building permits and other approvals.

“It’s a really great demonstration that we’re hoping will help inspire other projects like this,” she said.

Article source: http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2014/12/20/eco-friendly-parking/20697921/