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Archives for December 29, 2014

Brewster Pond Coalition up and running

By Rich Eldred

Posted Dec. 26, 2014 @ 4:45 pm

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Local artist wants to see Hagerstown ‘get pretty’ again – Herald

Artists’ lofts

Geneva Smith works on repairing a painting in her loft apartment on North Potomac Street.

Artists’ lofts

Geneva Smith works on a painting in her loft apartment on North Potomac Street as her daughter, Meela Grigsby, 5, recommends a video to watch.

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Posted: Sunday, December 28, 2014 7:00 am

Local artist wants to see Hagerstown ‘get pretty’ again

When Geneva Smith heard about the city of Hagerstown renovating lofts for local artists to live in downtown, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I was like, ‘Let me in there! Now!'” she said.

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      Sunday, December 28, 2014 7:00 am.

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      Column: Going green doesn’t have to be done all at once.

      Now is the time to own up to that one business resolution that may have fallen short in 2014: make your office more sustainable or ‘green.’ If this has happened to you, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. And if creating a more sustainable office environment wasn’t on last year’s resolution list, there is still time to add it to 2015.

      Advances in green design and sustainable products have come a long way over the last year and while the options of what you can do are more plentiful, it can also be overwhelming. But here’s something to remember: going green doesn’t have to be done all at once. Take the steps that are right for you, at the right time.

      Monitor energy use: It’s difficult to make decisions about implementing sustainable materials and practices into your business if you don’t know where you’re starting from.

      Monitoring company energy use can be as easy as charting your monthly electric bill or asking your energy provider to perform an audit. This information will tell you how much energy your building uses per month.

      After your audit is complete or you’re finished gathering the information on your own, use that data to establish new standards in your building that will curb energy use. Some ideas may include using task lighting instead of overhead lights, installing motion sensor lighting in rooms that aren’t utilized as often and replacing outdated office equipment with Energy Star models.

      Use your energy data or audit results as the baseline to compare your energy savings after you have implemented some of these ideas.

      Reduce water use: Saving water, just like any other resource, can mean big savings while doing something good for the planet.

      One effective way to save on water costs and usage is to install low-flow toilets, urinals and faucets in your office. If that’s a little too involved for you at this time, adding water aerators to your faucets can cut down on water use and are rather inexpensive.

      There can also be some significant water savings when it comes to landscaping. Selecting plants and landscaping that require little to no water can make an impact on usage while keeping your office exterior looking professional. When possible, chose native plants or adaptive vegetation that use less water and do not require fertilizer.

      Similar to auditing your energy uses, a business can easily monitor its water use by comparing past water utility bills against bills after water reductions steps have been made.

      Think long term on office improvements: Replacing materials such as carpet in your office seems like a straight-forward project. But doing a bit of extra research can ensure you are purchasing the most cost-effective materials that are environmentally friendly as well.

      When researching products, consider the initial cost of the material as well as the cost to maintain it once installed. Find out what the life expectancy of the product is and how it can be recycled at the end of its useful life. And take into account where in your office the product will be located. Will it be in a high-traffic area or one that is not used as often? Carpet tiles may be a green option for high traffic areas, allowing you to change out worn or stained areas as needed.

      Another option to consider is selecting flooring created from a renewable resource like bamboo, cork or wool. These are all products that can be replenished and use less energy to create the end product. As sustainable products have become more popular, choices in color and design have grown significantly while the price point continues to be more competitive.

      Lastly, don’t feel that you need to be the expert and do this on your own. Work with a trusted partner who has an understanding of sustainable products, how they work and how they can be monitored. They should be able to answer your questions and provide you with several options that meet your business goals and ensure you keep your resolution.

      — Miles Girouard is president of Hoffman Planning, Design Construction Inc., Appleton.

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      Christmas Trees Collected for Recycling Starting Monday in Onondaga Co.

      SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency will be collecting Christmas trees starting Monday.

      People can drop off trees at the Amboy compost sites in Camillus or Jamesville through January 10.

      The sites are open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. There is no charge to deliver trees to either site.

      In the spring, the trees are ground into mulch that in turn can be used in gardens and landscaping.

      People who live outside of Onondaga County are encouraged to call their local municipality to find out more about how trees can be recycled in their area.

      Most communities, including the City of Syracuse, provide a curb-side pick up for trees. They ask people put their tree to the curb without lights, tinsel, stands, or ornaments.

      For more information about the tree recycling program in Onondaga County, visit their website.

      Article source:

      A post-holiday tradition is recycling trees after Christmas

      Eau Claire, Wi. (WEAU)– If you’re eager for a little more room in the house or maybe a few less pine needles on the floor, the city of Eau Claire will take Christmas trees off of your hands… for free.

      Each year the Eau Claire county city organizes a program known as merry mulch. Eric Rasmussen says although it is a little early, it was time for the family Christmas tree to come down.

      “Well it’s the end of the season, so it’s time to get rid of the Christmas tree. We’re going to be out of town for New Year’s so now was a good day,” says Rasmussen.

      People can drop off their Christmas trees for free, instead of throwing them in their brush pile.

      “Just drive down, throw it on the pile and you don’t have to worry about it after that at all. It’s very convenient and it’s a very cool service that the city does. It’s as easy as coming down to Carson Park, making sure all the ornaments are off, and not worrying about it anymore,” says Rasmussen.

      “I’m just coming through from my sons and dropping off my tree. I can just drive in, unload my tree, and drive out, simple,” says David Ender, who was traveling through town.

      Once all the trees are collected, they will be turned into mulch, and come spring, that mulch will be available for public landscaping, and it’s all for free. City forester, Todd Chwala says the Merry Mulch program is a positive alternative to just throwing away Christmas trees.

      “If you don’t recycle your Christmas tree, it will end up at some point either being burnt or in the landfill, and the Merry Mulch program just reaches a higher purpose for the trees when the Christmas season is over. The mulch that is achieved from grinding up the tree can be recycled and be used for tending gardens and landscaping,” says Chwala.

      The Merry Mulch program will be going on until January 11th. If you would like to pick up the recycled mulch this spring, you can visit the Jeffers Road brush site in May.

      Article source:

      Botanic gardens continue to grow

      Posted: Sunday, December 28, 2014 8:30 am

      Botanic gardens continue to grow


      TRAVERSE CITY — The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park will be blooming come spring, thanks to recent grant awards.

      Board Chair Karen Matte Schmidt said officials and volunteers spent the last three years building the infrastructure at the garden near the Grand Traverse Commons so they can turn their focus toward planting in 2015.

      “This is going to be a major year for the garden,” Schmidt said.

      The largest project will be planting a 4,000-square-foot walled garden at the site of a 115-year-old horse barn. The barn was torn down in 1957, but the 9-feet-high walls remained.

      “This past summer we had those stone walls restored,” Schmidt said. “This will be the year when we bring in the topsoil and plant that garden, and that’s really exciting.”

      A $16,800 grant from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust will allow the garden’s board to hire a part-time horticultural specialist to oversee their planting plans.

      Officials plan to finish landscaping around the new visitor center and create new rain gardens in addition to completing the walled garden project.

      “We knew we would need a horticulturalist to work with us at that time,” Schmidt said.

      A $6,000 grant from the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation will help pay for three rain gardens in low areas along the garden’s trails to help filter rain water and prevent erosion.

      Schmidt said about 3,000 people stopped in the visitor’s center since it opened in 2013, and she’s optimistic more people will enjoy the park as the gardens continue to expand.

      “The whole look of the park is pretty rapidly changing form run-down old buildings to really lovely ones,” she said.

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      Sunday, December 28, 2014 8:30 am.

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      15 tips for winter gardening till spring arrives

      There’s never a time when the garden is at complete rest; even in winter, mulch and compost add nutrients to the soil, roots continue to grow, and rains soften the seeds that will germinate when the soil warms.

      Though spring seems a long time away, days are already beginning to lengthen and industrious gardeners know they need to use this time wisely.

      With the new year just ahead, I’ve made a to-do list that will keep me busy until spring arrives. If you’re at a loss, here’s a peek at what I’ll be doing in the next weeks.

      Renew garden soil: Rejuvenate vegetable and annual flower beds by turning over the soil when the weather is cold and dry to kill insects, weeds, and nematodes. Then, test and adjust the pH, and amend the soil with a layer of rich compost or leaf mold.

      Check your seed box: Before new seeds are stocked for the upcoming season, discard any that are more than three years old, along with those saved from the garden that are moldy or in poor condition. Then, make a list of what needs to be purchased.

      Save supplies for starting seeds: Many seeds can be started in about six weeks, so start stockpiling items that will be needed. For example, seeds can be started in egg cartons or deli containers, while plastic cups are easily cut into strips for plant tags.

      Irrigate annuals and new plants: Water cool-season annuals, such as pansies and violas, after a hard freeze so they can re-hydrate their wilted leaves. Keep an eye on newly planted trees and shrubs, too, especially those in windy locations where plants are susceptible to desiccation.

      Decorate empty window boxes and pots: Spruce up empty containers by adding cuttings of evergreens such as pine, cedar, and magnolia. Pushed into moist soil, fresh clippings should last through the final weeks of cold weather. Then, embellish the greenery by adding decorative branches and other natural materials.

      Make a propagation bed: Frame a small raised bed in an area that gets morning sun and fill it with an equal mix of peat moss and sand. In addition to rooting new cuttings, the bed can used to nurture divided perennials, harden off seedlings, and hold plants that haven’t yet found a home.

      Maintain cutting tools: With dormant-season pruning just weeks away, take time to clean and sharpen hand clippers and other cutting tools. To sharpen, follow the original bevel of the cutting edge with long strokes from a mill file. About ten passes will expose clean metal. Then, apply multipurpose oil to the blades and other moving parts and wipe clean with a soft cloth.

      Retrench beds and borders: Pick a sunny day when the soil is moist from rain to trench around garden beds and borders. Use a flat shovel to cut away the soil, creating a 3-inch deep, v-shaped channel between the lawn and planting areas. The trench will prevent grass from growing in beds, help keep mulch in place, and enhance the garden with a well-manicured look.

      Clean around camellias: Clean away spent camellia blooms as they fall to reduce the chance of flower blight. If the fungus does appear, sanitation is the best control. Remove and destroy all infected flowers and buds, and replace the mulch.

      Treat scale insects: Apply dormant horticultural oil sprays to trees and shrubs to smother scale insects, plus overwintering insect eggs, aphids, and mites. The exception is conifers, especially those with blue needles, as the oil will affect their color.

      Plant seeds of hardy annuals: Hardy annuals that need the effects of winter to soften their seed coats should be planted now. Smaller seeds, like poppies and alyssum, should be scattered over raked soil, but not covered. Larger seeds, such as larkspur, can be planted in furrows.

      Start cuttings: It’s not too early to take cuttings of plants that are overwintering indoors, such as begonias and geraniums. Potted now, cuttings will be big enough to transplant in the garden after danger of frost is past in mid-April.

      Force flowering branches: Collect branches of spring-flowering plants for forcing indoors, such as quince, forsythia, spirea, redbud, cherry, or apple. When temperatures are above freezing, take long cuttings that display plenty of plump buds. Then, split branch ends one to four inches and place them in a vase of tepid water.

      Visit public gardens: Treat yourself to new ideas and inspiration by visiting gardens in winter when it’s easier to study the framework of the landscape’s design, as well as focus on winter-blooming plants and others that provide seasonal interest — shapely conifers, dried grasses, and trees and shrubs with handsome bark or bright berries.

      Review books and periodicals: When all else is done, look through your gardening library and read or peruse books that were saved for just such a time. Also go through magazines, saved snips, and other materials put aside for later enjoyment.

      Article source:

      Simple Gardening Tips For Looking After Flowers In Winter

      Most flowers need attention during winter. Sometimes, the inclement weather can make your garden tattered and weather-worn. But with clever planning, you can keep your garden ready for winter. 

      Most people think winter is a worthless period. However, you should remember that it is a precious season where one can expect a lot of surprises and fragrances. More importantly, the beauty of the delicate flowers in this season can lift your spirits whenever you are feeling low.

      During winter, you to need to put your garden to bed and focus on the matter of cleaning up and covering up. Just because it is winter, it doesn’t mean you have to neglect your garden.

      All you need to do is prepare your gardens during winter by trying to clean-up the blackened stems and foliage of annual flowers. This will help in averting plant diseases caused by pathogens. It will also eliminate the insect eggs that predominate this season. The cold weather is a perfect time for planting flowers and to look after them.

      Try to keep your garden flourishing in winter by adding winter-blooming perennials and flowers that can grow in cool temperatures. You can even dig, raise beds and do general repairs during winters. Usually, harsh winters can damage plant growth and kill fragile flowers. There is a chance of the freeze causing the flowers to become limp, lifeless, black and twisted.

      Even the strong plants suffer during winters as the soil becomes frozen and roots incapable to absorb the water. In turn, the flowers die of dehydration. Only with a bit of extra care, you will know how to look after flowers in winter. Here are some garden tips in winter.

      Clean up
      If you want to know the gardening tips in winter, make sure to dig and fork the soil to loosen it. Try to remove the weeds and then include compost and manure to the soil structure for improving the texture of the loam. Remember that by creating moisture and food reserve for your plants, you will be rewarded with fabulous flowers. Flowers are prone to quite a number of diseases and insect pests. The fungus in winters will make leaves fall and also cause stem cankers. Make sure to tidy up your garden by removing the pest eggs and disease spores that hang around in it.

      Apply a layer of mulch
      Mulch tries to act as insulator by giving heat and moisture to the soil. Mulch protects the root systems of the plants from cold temperatures. It even acts as a barrier keeping the sunlight and winter cold away from the soil. As a protective layer, mulch is an excellent way to suppress the weeds. Mulch protects the perennial flower plants from the freezing of the soil during winters. It guards the winter flower plants from low temperatures and desiccation from dry winters. If you want to know how to look after flowers in winter, then evergreen boughs or pine needles are some of the organic mulches that can be installed on flowerbeds and around trees.

      Blanket or sheet
      If you are expecting a heavy freeze, you can protect your flowering plants by covering them with a sheet or a blanket. This acts as an insulation. It helps in keeping the warm air from the ground intact around the plant. Give them warmth to protect the plants in extremely cold weather.

      Watering thoroughly
      If you want to know how to look after flowers in winter, try to water them steadily to keep the soil moist until new growth appears. Sometimes, you need to lessen the water for specific flowering plants. Most flowering plants would prefer the soil getting dried up to a certain extent before you water them. 

      An important garden tip in winter is to fertilise your plants. Make sure to fertilise your flowers once or twice a month with water soluble plant food, which is a must for flowering plants.

      When young plants begin to snuff out growth, it is time to start pinching out the top half inch of the stems between your thumbnail and finger. You can pinch the lateral stem as well as upright stem. Pinching helps in fast growth and lush foliage. Ensure that the fragile plants are kept in pots instead of on the ground.

      These are important tips which can help you to look after flowers in winters. 

      Article source:

      Garden odyssey spans three decades – Times Herald

      By Adrian Higgins
      The Washington Post

      Posted Dec. 28, 2014 @ 2:01 am

      Article source:

      Design secrets… to creating your perfect garden

      With the dry season rolling in and the rains coming in right after, now’s the ideal time to look at the layout of your outside space and plan how it can best suit your lifestyle with expert tips and tricks – both big and small

      Sunken garden
      Furniture arranged on the lawn always feels temporary and annoyingly it has to be moved every time you mow. So, if you have the space, consider creating a sunken area for seating, furnished with a table, chairs and umbrella.

      Expert tip: Use this area as a planting opportunity

      Create planting pockets in the tops of the walls and make flower beds for scented blooms of salvia and lavender. Crazy paving from recycled broken slabs can made to fit any shape. Use them for wavy-edge beds that look interesting from an upstairs window.

      Outdoor room

      Turn your garden into a gorgeous room by transforming boring paving at the back of the house into a sheltered allweather dining area, protected by a pergola.
      Expert tip: A patio made from smooth paving gives an even surface for furniture, but you can extend the area for entertaining using gravel. Use aggregate of at least 20mm to discourage cats using it as a litter tray and allow 40kg per square metre.

      Sun spots

      Follow the sun and make a note of the best spots for sitting out at different times of day. Create seating areas that offer the alluring promise of a secret hideaway to read or take a nap in as well as being a place to congregate with friends.
      Expert tip: Nothing’s nicer than chilling in a flower meadow. So consider turning over part of your lawn to wild prairie planting with a mixture of herbaceous species and ornamental grasses. Leave a clearing for sitting and cover the ground with pavers or bark.

      Create a raised wooden deck to overlook the most scenic spots of your garden. Plant the beds behind the decking with colourful, scented plants but keep in mind that some of these may attract bees!
      Expert tip: Make your sitting area roomy enough to accommodate a 5ft bench and a coffee table or dining set with three or four chairs. When guests come, put a bouquet on the table, relax back and admire your handiwork!

      Paths can be used to not only link areas of the garden but to make strolling through it more interesting. So opt for curves and soft angles rather than straight lines and sharp corners because even the slightest curve in a path helps soften the view and makes it feel more peaceful. If you want to capture the look and atmosphere of an authentic old English garden, try combining different materials. Stone pavers, for example, are an attractive match for both gravel and decorative brick work.
      Expert tip: Why not create viewing points along your path? At spots where you’ll want to linger longer, fill the cracks between paving stones with low-growing colourful flowers, creeping greenery, and aromatic herbs such as thyme and pennyroyal that will release clouds of their sensuous fragrance when trodden underfoot.
      Style tip Seating is key to your design, so spend time thinking where it will be – beside the house or in a suntrap – and how it will look, from sunken patio, to decking or a simple brick area.

      Caroline Adeola Akinlotan is the Managing Director of RSG Property Services Lagos, 0813 281 7455

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