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Archives for February 19, 2015

Learning the world: The Outdoor Classroom Project brings outdoor education to …

Learning the world: The Outdoor Classroom Project brings outdoor education to early childhood centers


View a slideshow of Allan Hancock College’s outdoor education center.

The outdoor facilities at Allan Hancock College Children’s Center contained dozens of young minds exploring its diverse space on a recent, and windy, Tuesday morning. Three distinct yards separate infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, and each area teemed with a variety of activities despite the limited real estate.

PACKED WITH POSSIBILITIESThe Outdoor Classroom style of yard design offers kids a range of activities in a natural, holistic setting.PHOTO BY KAORI FUNAHASHI

In the yard designated for infants up to 2 years old, a group of boys and girls stood around a small table containing a trough of water, splashing toys into the small pool, laughing and playing with each other and an Early Childhood Studies student staffer. The children learn far more than just gross motor skills and spatial awareness from the activity, explained AHC’s Children’s Center Lab School program director Yvon Frazier, but how to interact as well.

“Interacting with peers is good for learning how to take turns, those social rules that society puts on us,” Frazier said. “At this age, it’s not appropriate for them to share, so we have multiple items that are the same, so if they have the desire, they get to use it, and as they get older they learn how to share with their friends.”

Not far off, a small boy wearing a bowl as a hat was climbing up a slight, sloping hill; he sat and observed the yard, smiling as others followed him. Nearby, another boy was playing alone in the sandbox and took a spill, landing front first onto a patch of pavement. Within seconds of his cries, a student staffer had scooped the tot up, calming him in less than a minute. It wasn’t long before he was toddling off to another part of the yard and engaging in another activity.

In the next yard over, where whirlwinds of preschoolers did everything from blowing bubbles to kicking a soccer ball around the large lawn area, the scope of diverse activities was apparent. A group of kids enjoyed a swing set. A small cabin-like structure was packed with children playing house, doing make-believe laundry and cooking imaginary lunch. Musical instruments, crafts, blocks, and other toys were at the ready, and none of the kids were relegated to any one activity.

“We want children to be independent. We are very child directed, which means we follow the lead of the child,” Frazier said. “We’re out here to help support them, but as you can see, the staff are just following the lead of the children, and whatever they are interested in, that’s what they are doing.”

The Hancock Children’s Center Lab was completed three years ago thanks to funding provided by Measure I. With support from the Orfalea Foundation, the college was able to connect with The Outdoor Classroom Project (OCP), and called on Eric Nelson, OCP’s founding director, to help design the center’s outdoor space, which is crafted to foster child-directed learning.

The Outdoor Classroom Project provides consulting and educational services for early childhood services providers, from schools like Allan Hancock College to Santa Barbara County Office of Education preschools in Santa Maria, Lompoc, Las Alamos, Buellton, Santa Ynez, and Santa Barbara. Upcoming chances for education include a gathering on Feb. 26 for county educators to share information, make connections, and discuss outdoor education, as well as a series of specialist training seminars starting in March at the OCP headquarters in La Cañada. The OCP couldn’t operate in Santa Barbara County if it weren’t for funding provided by the Orfalea Foundation, which includes The Orfalea Fund and the Santa Barbara Foundation collectively. The Orfalea Foundation focuses a large portion of its efforts on early childhood education, and includes several programs that work synergistically with The Outdooor Classroom Project in an effort to enhance the quality of life in Santa Barbara County, explained the foundation’s early childhood education director Adrianna Foss.

“Our work in early childhood education has been specifically targeted at improving the quality of early education for young children in North County and South County,” Foss said. “We feel like there is no better investment in the health and well being of our community than helping children get a great start to life.”

Daycare is a necessity for many parents, especially for working students, explained Hancock’s program director Frazier. So the setting in which the childcare takes place, especially during the formative first years, is paramount to a kid’s overall physical, social, and cognitive development. The crafting of a preschool yard may not seem like an indicator of later academic success, but educators like Frazier and those with OCP contend that an appropriate play area can inspire a lifelong passion for learning, physical activity, and environmental awareness.

“[Eric Nelson] worked with his landscaping department to help us construct our yard so that they are child friendly, that they provide opportunities for children to learn,” Frazier said. “And, they have a natural feeling instead of that institutionalized look; it’s more like a backyard or a park, where children want to be.”


Out is in

Children are unpredictable. Screaming across the yard one moment and silently studying the movements of a caterpillar the next, there is no telling what will capture their attention. More and more early childhood research is showing that this seemingly erratic behavior is actually a sophisticated approach that children take to exploring the world, their peers, and even themselves.

INSIDE COMES OUTThe Outdoor Classroom Project seeks to bring many indoor activities, such as snack time, outdoors as well.PHOTO BY KAORI FUNAHASHI

The Outdoor Classroom Project, in collaboration with the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, has contributed to this body of research, including through two studies available on the nonprofit’s website Educators at the Child Educational Center in La Cañada documented infant- to preschool-aged children interacting within its yard, and it revealed the creative ways that kids build knowledge and skills with imagination and unstructured play.

One of the studies, titled “Child-initiated Experiences in the Nature Explore Classroom,” detailed a variety of encounters between children and the yard. Kids often crafted their own games, building upon one another’s ideas and enhancing their social understanding as other playmates asked to join in. It’s these open-ended experiences that The Outdoor Classroom Project seeks to foster, explained Carol Capito, who does consulting and training in Santa Barbara County for OCP and the Orfalea Foundation.

“That’s how children learn … through relationships,” Capito said. “They need to establish those relationships with the other kids and the teachers. And we really need to trust that kids, given the right environment, will learn.”

The study also highlights the importance of a few key features of “experiential learning.” In order for the kids to properly engage in their own learning, they must have independence and control over what they learn, they must feel secure in their learning environment, they should learn in the company of others, and their learning should cover a variety of skills and knowledge holistically.

Autonomy is something most toddlers demand, no matter how nicely they are dictated to. Giving a developing mind choice enhances curiosity and soothes fussy temperaments, Capito explained. The Children’s Center Lab School at Hancock is designed to foster these choices, such as the long glass doorways, which can fold in accordion style, that open the classroom up into the yard, blurring the line between inside and out. The children are allowed to choose where they want to play, Capito said, and the results enforce OCP’s mission.

“Most of their classrooms have indoor-outdoor flow, which allows children to choose if they want to be inside or outside,” she explained. “So the children are allowed to choose where they want to be pretty much all day, which is really important because if they choose to be indoors and learning, that’s fine, but they find that even the infants are preferring it outside.”

MAKING RIPPLESThe Allan Hancock College Children’s Center Lab includes three yards where infants, toddlers, and preschoolers take charge of their learning under staff and student supervision.PHOTO BY KAORI FUNAHASHI

Once out and about on the yard, the kids are free to explore their interests. In this way, they build skills more directly, according to the research cited in OCP’s study. They also get immediate feedback on the actions they take, building their kinesthetic and motor skills along with intrapersonal skills among peers.

“We often say in the OC[P] that we want children to take risks, as safe as possible, but not as safe as necessary,” Capito said. “They need to learn what their bodies are capable of, and they can’t do that if someone is always standing over them saying, ‘Don’t do that, you’ll get hurt!’”

On that windy Tuesday at Hancock, a preschool-aged boy was holding the hand of a college student, who made sure the boy kept his balance as he slowly walked along the top of a narrow rock sculpture that was a bit taller than he. Once stationary, the student slowly let go of his hand, enabling the boy to test his balance alone. Another child called out to the student at that moment, causing her to turn away. The boy hopped off the wall, landing in the loose turf of the sandbox. The boy didn’t receive any admonishment for the action, though he did surprise the teacher, and was off to test his skills elsewhere almost immediately.


Coming full circle

Capito leads workshops and offers other guidance to local educators, not just through the Outdoor Classroom Project, but also for the Orfalea Foundation’s Preschool Food Initiative. The initiative is designed to raise food quality standards, feeding practices, and family communication, but especially focuses on educating young children about food and increasing food literacy. The most powerful tool has been schoolyard gardens, Capito explained, which falls perfectly in line with OCP.

Raised planter boxes support blooming sunflowers, creeping vines, and leafy greens across the yard, giving the Hancock yard a pastoral feel. Kids cultivate edible plants together with the teachers, Capito explained, and sometimes gardening is new to more than just the children.

TAKING CHARGEThe kids at Hancock’s Children’s Center Lab are allowed to explore the toys and attractions the yard has to offer, freely following their interests while interacting and exploring.PHOTO BY KAORI FUNAHASHI

“A lot of teachers don’t like worms, but they are learning to overcome their fears and learning right next to the children,” she said. “When a child sees them attempting and trying, that makes them feel very comfortable and confident doing it themselves.”

That piqued curiosity around growing vegetables often creates a feedback loop between the schoolyard and the home, with preschoolers asking their parents for broccoli, cabbage, and kale, Capito said. Unfortunately, Capito also explained, several local preschool gardens have been victim to vandalism, specifically preschools located on elementary school campuses.

“We just had one in Los Alamos, where somebody came in and ripped up their garden, tore it apart, and ripped the trees down at the ground level,” she said. “The poor preschoolers; they don’t understand why someone would come in and do that, and it’s very disheartening to the teachers.”

Educators with the Orfalea Foundation and OCP are trying to raise awareness regarding the garden vandalism problem and hope parents will explain the importance of gardens and food with their kids. The Preschool Food Initiative can only reach so far, but the hope from the outset is inspiring a generation of adults that eat healthfully, are physically active, and feel a connection to the natural world around them.


“When these children become adults, they will be making decisions in Sacramento about our National Parks,” Capito said. “If they don’t have a connection to nature, they could very well be the ones say, ‘Hey, we don’t need the Los Padres or Montaña de Oro, who cares if we shut it down?’”

In Hancock’s Children’s Center, where the plants are safe from marauding vegetable vandals, the children pick the food they are about to eat for lunch, learning about their world while Hancock students learn how to engage and learn with the children. For program director Frazier, it’s a legacy that was handed down to her from her teachers and one she hopes to offer every student, whether still in diapers or enrolled at Hancock.

“For me, I just want to give that back to our community, because it was given to me,” she said. “I want to be able to provide something that students can have that they may take with them for the rest of their lives.

“So, it might be just a seed that we plant here with students and children,” she added, “but we can be a part of that for them, part of their life, and hope that they are successful and they get what they need.”


Contact Arts Editor Joe Payne 



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Riverfront ‘Creative Campus’ Coming to Elysian Valley

On a chilly Saturday morning, more than thirty people made their way over to Elysian Valley to get a look at a project that’s got the community wondering what’s in store for its future.

Developed by Terra River LLC, the Elysian Valley Riverfront Creative Campus looks to “create meaningful connections to the Los Angeles River” as its website prominently states.

The project will re-use two existing riverfront buildings and re-develop a vacant lot that was formerly used as an excavation equipment yard. It will also construct an approximately 40,000-square foot mixed-use building that consists of 40 live-work units arranged around a landscaped central courtyard; eight of the units will be reserved for low-income households. Approximately 15,500 square-foot of commercial space will be on the ground floor. Tax credits have enabled Terra River to offer discounted rents for non-profits, and river or community businesses.

Because of the Density Bonus incentives it received by reserving a portion for affordable housing, Terra River was able to increase its building height from 45 feet to 56 feet, which will be set back between 60 and 90 feet from the River. The development will have underground parking, three stories of studio units (about 700 square feet), and three-bedroom units (around 1,100 square feet) arranged in a U-shape. There will be 33 studios and seven three-bedroom units.

While taking attendees around the development renderings, Robert de Forest, co-founder of Terra River, points out that the company has taken pains to ensure this development is conducive to the neighborhood. “We’re trying to build for the future but respect what’s already here,” he said.

Rendering courtesy of Killefer Flammang Architects

Rather than build a more cost-effective ground level parking, Terra River invested in subterranean parking. It also designed the commercial space not to be an intimidating wall of retail, but porous blocks that open to the Allesandro Street and the River, peppered with greenery.

It also plans to eventually lower or remove the seven-foot concrete wall that separates the property from the Los Angeles river and open up the existing 1947 bow-truss building to the Los Angeles River bike path, so people can move freely from the path into the development. “This building is really just like a tent, supported by poles. We can open up this whole structure to allow the Los Angeles River through,” explains de Forest.

Terra River is also working on a street-end park concept on Allesandro Street, which they hope would soften the transition between the development and the river. Landscaping also plays a large role in the project. In site plans, seating areas can be found alongside riparian landscaping. De Forest also says that a storm water recycling system with a giant cistern at the basement would be implemented at the project, which would help capture, treat and re-use the water instead of allowing urban runoff to flow through pipes and onto the river, which is what the current neighborhood infrastructure does.

Terra River also plans to welcome the community by involving local labor in its construction. It’s aiming to have 25 percent of work hours on the project performed by Elysian Valley residents or from other low-income River-adjacent communities. It also plans to host community events around or near the Campus and making improvements to public spaces nearby.

Despite these locally focused initiatives, the neighborhood continues to be wary of what a development this size means for Elysian Valley. RAC Design Build principal Rick Cortez says, “The development has good ideas, but I think it might the right development at the wrong spot.”

The architect questioned whether the picturesque renderings actually presented the scale of the project versus its surroundings to the public that morning. He notes, “This is the longest street that’s on a dead end in the neighborhood and that’s going to be a 56-foot development right next to the river.”

Rendering courtesy of Killefer Flammang Architectsg

Though Cortez is still reserving his opinions for further discussion, local resident Robert Leyland-Monefeldt firmly believes this development is not for the neighborhood. “This is a single-family dwelling in streets that end in the Los Angeles river. We cannot handle the additional activity that they’re bent on bringing here.” Monefeldt fears the development’s planned 70 parking slots (which already represents an increase from the 57 required by the city) would be inadequate for the additional trips to the area.

Leyland-Monefeldt points out that there is so much more to address before adding a development such this to Elysian Valley. Only the 603 or 96 bus serves the area and it involves a lengthy walk to the bus stop. He also cites that even simple groceries are difficult to walk to from the neighborhood. Leyland-Monefeldt feels it would be better to relocate this project to another neighborhood that’s more accessible by public transit.
The almost 20-year area resident believes the best use for the property is to turn it into a Los Angeles River Urban Wildlife refuge that would be protected from further development. It would instead become an interpretative center that would educate the public about the Los Angeles River.

The Campus is currently still undergoing permitting process, but work might begin in the “next couple of months” says de Forest. Terra River plans to hold additional open houses to get the community’s feedback.

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Top things to do this weekend, Feb. 20-Feb. 22

Mary Poppins takes flight, Ariel and Tinker bell take to the ice,
handbells will be ringing, marathon hopefuls take to the streets, divers head
to the pool and the
Columbus Symphony does kid stuff.
Sunday night is for Oscar parties, but central Ohio is packed with activities
to tide you over until them. Here are the best bets for the weekend.



Home ideas

Ideas in home improvement, cooking, design and landscaping will blossom at the
Columbus Dispatch Home Garden Show, which continues through Sunday at the
Ohio Expo Center, I-71 and E. 17th Avenue. Hours: noon to 8 p.m. Thursday and
Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $13; parking is $5,
or $5.25 with a credit or debit card. Visit

Ohio State University Dance Department

“Watch from Here, Part II” will feature choreography by
Ohio State University Master of Fine Arts candidates. Showtime: 8 tonight and
Friday night and 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday,
Barnett Theatre, Sullivant Hall. Tickets: $15, or $10 for students, senior
citizens, and OSU employees and alumni association members. Contact: 614-292-7977,

Vox, Columbus Jazz Orchestra

Vox, an ensemble of the
Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus, will be joined by the
Columbus Jazz Orchestra. Showtimes: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday,
Lincoln Theatre. Tickets: $35. Contact: 614-469-0939; 1-800-745-3000,

Frozen fantasy

Disney on Ice will delight audiences under the sea with Ariel, in the forest with
Tinker Bell and on the race track with Lightning McQueen in its production “Worlds of Fantasy.” The
show will be in town through Sunday at
Nationwide Arena. Details: 614-246-7224,

Musical roots

Columbus Symphony and Chorus will continue the American Roots series on Friday and
Saturday with bass-baritone Kevin Deas singing songs from
Porgy and Bess. Details: 1-800-745-3000,


Romance is the theme of the Lerner and Loewe musical about two American tourists who stumble
upon a mysterious Scottish village. Showtimes: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Gahanna Community Theatre, Gahanna Lincoln Auditorium, 140 Hamilton Rd. Tickets:
$12. Contacts: 614-471-7445,

Big Ten Championships

Ohio State hosts the Big Ten women’s swimming and diving championships for the
first time since 2008. Times: Preliminary heats begin at 11 a.m., with final heats at 6:30 p.m.,
today through Saturday; diving events will begin at 1 p.m. Cost: $8, or $5 for children younger
than 18 and students; all-session passes: $40 and $25. Location:
McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, 1847 Neil Ave. Contact: 614-292-2624,

   *  *  *


Gaelic Storm

Kick up your heels with the lively Celtic rockers (based in California, by the way) who, in a
twist that belied their onscreen fates, found popularity after a prominent musical cameo in the
1997 blockbuster
Titanic. Location:
Newport Music Hall. Contact: 614-461-5483, Doors open: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Tickets: $22, or $25 on Friday.

Jana Kramer

From a lead role on teen drama
One Tree Hill to the recording studios of Nashville, Tenn., the 31-year-old
Why Ya Wanna country-music busybody also has sung the Nationwide Insurance jingle and
acted in their ads. Doors open: 7 p.m. Friday,
The Bluestone, 583 E. Broad St. Tickets: $17. Contact: 614-884-4646,

Tim Reynolds TR3

Best-known by casual fans for his work with the Dave Matthews Band, the guitarist — who plays
just about every other instrument, too — will entertain with his own rock-fusion ensemble, which he
founded in 1984. Showtime: 9 p.m. Friday,
Woodlands Tavern, 1200 W. 3rd Ave. Tickets: $17. Contact: 614-299-4987,

Puddle of Mudd

Famous for the early-2000s No. 1 singles
Blurry and
She Hates Me, the Missouri alt-rockers will attempt to make another splash. Doors open: 6
p.m. Friday,
Alrosa Villa. Contact: 1-800-745-3000, Tickets: $20

Greensky Bluegrass

The progressive Michigan ensemble of 15 years hit a milestone last September when
If Sorrows Swim, their eighth and latest effort, topped Billboard magazine’s bluegrass
charts. Showtime: 8 p.m. Friday,
Park Street Saloon, 525 N. Park St. Tickets: $17. Contact: 614-220-9151, 

   *  *  *


Time for tea

For its weekly
Family Fun time, the
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens invites children to dress as
their favorite Alice in Wonderland character and attend a tea party hosted by the Cheshire Cat.
Time: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Admission: free with conservatory admission of $13, or $10 for
students and senior citizens, $6 for ages 3 to 17, free for age 2 and younger and members. Contact:

   *  *  *


African dance

Feel the beat and the energy as the
Thiossane West African Dance Institute celebrates West African and black American
dance, music and culture — and its 15th anniversary season — with “Dance of Our Ancestors: A
Collaboration in Black Dance History.” The 22-member company and other local dance troupes will
perform at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the
Lincoln Theatre, 769 E. Long St. Tickets cost $20, or $15 for students and senior
citizens. Call 614-252-7077 or visit

New Albany Symphony Orchestra

“Shall We Dance: An American Salute” will feature big-band music with teams of professional
and amateur dancers. Showtime: 3 p.m. Sunday,
McCoy Community Center for the Arts. Tickets: $15 to $18; or $13 to $16 for senior
citizens and students; $2 additional on Sunday. Contact: 614-469-0939; 1-800-745-3000,

Babar and Friends

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra holds one of its Concerts For Kids on the 22nd
— featuring young actors helping to convey the story of Babar the elephant while conductor
Albert-George Schram leads the orchestra and gets a bit goofy himself. Location:
Capitol Theatre, 77 S. High St. Showime: 3 p.m. Sunday, with activities beginning
at 2. Admission: $12, or $8 for children. Contact: 614-228-8600,

Handbells Columbus

Members of Handbells Columbus want make listeners aware of the beautiful music
they play. In a concert that will demonstrate the versatility of the instruments, Handbells
Columbus will perform on Sunday at
First Congregational Church. Both sacred and secular selections will be part of
the mix in the performance, which is part of the Congregational Concerts series. Showtime: 4 p.m.
Sunday. Contact: 614-228-1741,

Last Chance for Boston

For one of the only winter marathons in the area and a last chance to qualify for the
Boston Marathon, runners will race on a fast one-mile loop. Several other
distances and a relay event will be offered. Time: 8 a.m. Sunday, with registration beginning at 6
a.m. Registration: marathon — $80; half-marathon — $60; 10 kilometer — $40; 5-kilometer — $35;
relays — $25 per team member. Location:
Crowne Plaza, 600 Metro Place North, Dublin. Contact:

Article source:

Los Gatos: Millennials seek tech-ready, smaller energy-efficient houses

As millennials enter the home-buying market in larger numbers, builders say homes will get a little smaller, energy-efficient appliances and laundry rooms will be essential, and home technology will become increasingly prevalent. These predictions are based on two surveys conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, one asking home builders what features they are most likely to include in a typical new home this year, and one asking millennials what features are most likely to affect their home-buying decisions.

Of the top 10 features mentioned by home builders, four have to do with energy efficiency: low-E windows, Energy Star-rated appliances and windows and programmable thermostats. The top features are a master bedroom walk-in closet and a separate laundry room.

Least likely features include high-end outdoor kitchens with plumbing and appliances, and two-story foyers and family rooms. This is because these features rate the lowest in their millennial survey. “Consumers don’t like them anymore, so builders aren’t going to build them,” said NAHB assistant vice president of research Rose Quint.

When NAHB asked millennials what features fill their “most-wanted” shopping list, a separate laundry room topped the list, with 55 percent responding they wouldn’t buy a new home that didn’t have one. Storage, linen closets, a walk-in pantry and garage storage made the top 10, along with Energy Star certifications. Respondents were willing to pay 2-3 percent more for energy efficiency, as long as they can see a return on their power bills.

If they can’t quite afford that first home, respondents said they’d be happy to sacrifice extra finished space or drive a little farther to work, shops and schools, but are unwilling to compromise with less expensive materials.

At an International Builders’ Show on home trends and home preferences, Jill Waage, editorial director for home content at Better Homes and Gardens, discussed the importance of outdoor living to millennials, as well as their knack for technology. Since they generally don’t have as much ready cash or free time, millennials opt for less expensive, low-maintenance choices, like a brightly painted front door, strings of garden lights, landscaping that needs less watering and mowing and larger patios.

Millennials increasingly seek ways to control their heating, air conditioning, security, lighting and electronics, like televisions and sound systems, from their phones. “They want to use their brains for other things, not for remembering whether they adjusted the heat or closed the garage door,” said Waage.

“Although millennials are delaying household formation, including marriage and homeownership, studies continue to show their desire to own a home remains strong,” said Chris Isaacson, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors.

A survey from the Demand Institute indicates that over the next five years, 8.3 million new millennial households will form nationwide. The same survey found 75 percent believe homeownership is an important long-term goal and 73 percent believe ownership is an excellent investment. Seventy-four percent of those surveyed plan to move over the next five years, with the top reason being need for better housing–48 percent prefer to own, not rent.

Additionally, the California Association of Realtors’ “2014 California Millennial Survey” that polled 1,000 California residents ages 18-34 also found more than half expect to buy a home in the next five years.

“Millennials are optimistic about homeownership and future home prices. It is very likely we will see the share of first-time home buyers grow, especially with the latest move by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lower down payments to 3 percent for first-time home buyers,” added Isaacson.

Home builders are optimistic, too. “All these events lead me to believe that more people will come into the market, and as younger, first-time buyers, they will demand smaller, more affordable homes. Builders will build whatever demand calls out for,” Quint said in the NAHB report.

Information is presented by the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors at Contact

Article source:

Home&Garden show springs to life in Charlotte

Whether you’re planning a sticking a few extra daisies in the ground or mulling a dream kitchen makeover–advice and inspiration are bound to drive a lot of your decisions.

That’s one of the big draws of the Southern Spring Home Garden Show now underway in Charlotte. The show draws thousands of homeowners who course through the endless displays elbow-to-elbow in search of ideas, gadgets, and the chance to pick up tips at how-to clinics.

Billed as the largest home and garden show in the South, the extravaganza has been staged each spring since 1961 by Charlotte-based Southern Shows, Inc. It runs this weekend and next at The Park Expo and Conference Center.

You can expect to find everyone from a rose whisperer to an azalea wizard, a pro on pests to a grass guru, and a working woodwright. More options:

•  The cooking stage features chefs working with every ingredient from beef to buttercream.

•  On the home ideas stage are experts with practical demonstrations on how to make your do-it-yourself projects easier and more cost efficient.

• On the garden stage showgoers find tips on gardening in spaces both small and large, pruning, and backyard vegetable beds.

For the entire schedule for all four venues, visit

And that’s just the beginning. In addition to heralding spring, the consumer-friendly show brings together over 350 vendors and exhibitors to give area residents ideas to improve their own homes, gardens and lawns.

“Guests tell us the show is a big time-saver for them,” says Mardee Woodward, the show’s manager for the past seven years. “They don’t need to run all over town visiting one supplier after another. They don’t have to make a lot of phone calls or online research.

Three Trends to Watch

The marriage of interior design and construction. “New construction clients are not just looking for a general contractor who can read a blueprint, says Jerehmy Warner of Muse Residential, Concord, one of this year’s vendors. “They’re looking for design services as well as somebody who can build or remodel their home.” Muse provides full-service remodeling and design services including a showroom with flooring, tile and other accessories and furnishings. Warner says the company caters to customers who have learned the value of integrating each aspect of their project from HGTV. He predicts more contractors will add these services.

Expanding outdoor living. Chad Little of Bushwackers Landscaping of Charlotte, another vendor, says 90 percent of his business involves adding “hardscape“ elements like patios, pavers, fire pits, retaining walls and water features to existing landscapes. “People want more living space outdoors,” says Little. “They’re learning that landscaping is more than plants.”

Pepping up your pool. Sunmar Construction of Charlotte, which specializes in pool installation and remodeling, has installed a pool at the show. “We’re getting tons of calls requesting the renovation of existing pools,” says Clara Vasquez of Sunmar. “Homeowners want to entertain around their swimming pool, and call us to redesign the area to make it higher-end, to add outdoor kitchens with fireplaces and grills.”

Going digital

Your camera-equipped smartphone can be a great two-way tool. Use it to show contractors your space or examples of the look you’re after. Use it at the show to snap design ideas, color schemes and products.

Want to go?

The 55th annual Southern Spring Home Garden Show:

The Park Expo and Conference Center, 2500 E. Independence Blvd., Charlotte

Friday, Feb. 20: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 21 : 10 -7

Sunday, Feb. 22: 10 -5

Friday, Feb. 27: 10 – 8 .

Saturday, Feb. 28: 10 – 7

Sunday, March 1: 10 – 5

Advance tickets

$8.50 (with VIC card) at Harris Teeter locations.

$9 online at

Groups: $8.50 for group orders of 20 tickets or more when ordered in advance.

Tickets at the door

Adults: $11

Children under 15: Free with paying adult

Seniors (55+) get in for $7 on both Fridays

$5 admission on Fridays after 5 p.m. (at door only)

Parking: $7-cash only

Spring Home Garden show by the numbers

3 Buildings – all under one roof joined by a central lobby – occupied by the show.

4 Stages offering continuous live presentations.

5 Truckloads of dirt, weighing about 18 tons each, hauled in to create the gardens.

22 Gardens on display.

72 Tons of sand hauled in for sculpting by The Sand Man.

54 Years since the first Southern Spring Show.

350-plus Exhibitors and vendors.

675 People engaged in building the gardens and designer rooms

1,600 People working at the show in some capacity

30,000 Fresh blooms on display each weekend (tulips, hyacinths, daffodils)

224,000 Square feet of exhibition space

Taking center stage

Home idea and cooking stages will feature will feature a steady stream of demonstrations. Here’s just a few to watch for.

• Back by popular demand is Kevin Ylvisaker of Mukwonago, Wis., a nationally known floral trend consultant. He worked on the inaugurations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and was a judge at the 1997 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA.

•  John and Whitney Spinks of Jacksonville, FL, are known as “The All-American Sweetheart Couple” from HGTV’s reality show “ Flipping the Block.” They will demonstrate how to stretch your renovation dollar with their designer tips and tricks. Being self-taught, they feel interior design shouldn’t be confined to traditional rules or limited by designer prices.

•  One of the most unusual guests might be Randy Hoffman of Ocean City, MD, known as the Sand Man. Hoffman has been creating sand sculptures since 1981. Showgoers can watch him build masterpieces onsite during the first weekend.


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Garden club program will containerize your yard

EUREKA The Eureka Sequoia Garden Club will meet Friday at the First Covenant Church Carriage House, 2526 J St. The meeting starts at 11 a.m. with the program, and will adjourn at 1:30 p.m. A sack lunch is at noon. Refreshments and dessert will be provided; bring your own sandwich.

The program features Margaret Meister of Pierson’s Garden Center. She will discuss “Container Gardening” and how it is a good alternative to either planting in the ground or as an addition to traditional landscaping. She will cover soils, color bowls, hanging baskets, ceramic, clay and plastic containers and suggested plants to bring the most pleasure to the gardener.

Container gardening is the practice of growing plants exclusively in containers instead on planting them in the ground. This method is also useful in areas where the soil or climate is unsuitable for the plant or crop in question. Using a container is also generally necessary for houseplants. Limited growing space, or growing space that is paved over, can also make this option appealing to the gardener. Pots, traditionally made of terra cotta but also now available in ceramic and plastic, and window boxes are commonly seen. Small pots are called “flowerpots.”

Meister has been working in the horticulture industry for more than 25 years. She has an associate’s degree in horticulture from College of the Redwoods and has worked at Pierson’s Garden Shop for five years.

Prior to the program will be the monthly Floral Design Workshop at 10 a.m. on creating an arrangement with a “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” theme. Designers will create an all-green design. Bring your own vase and materials to create that contain just materials that are green in color such as leaves, stems, green-colored flowers (optional) and any objects that could add to the theme.

At noon after the program, the owners of “Garden Jewels of Lundbar Hills” have been invited to attend the meeting to receive Certificates of Recognition for their use of plant material, design principles and maintenance of their front yards. These winning gardens were featured in the Feb. 12 Times-Standard Home and Garden section. The winning front yards include those of Linda Fisher and Linda Hood, Bert and Susanne Campton, Rose Lawson, Dorothy Stimson, Mike and Susie Strickland, Cecilia Ray, Jan and Jim McAuley, Dennis and Deborah Andress, and Heidi and Pete Pettersen..

Visitors are invited to attend the program at 11 a.m. and the “Garden Jewels” presentation at noon.

The Eureka Sequoia Garden Club was founded in 1967 and is a member of the California Garden Clubs Inc. and the Humboldt District. Its goals are to create and promote interest in horticulture, gardening and floral and landscape design; to encourage and engage in civic beautification and the improvement of roadsides; to aid in protecting California’s native plants, wildlife and natural beauty; and to promote, and participate in, projects and programs that conserve natural resources.

For more information on the Eureka Sequoia Garden Club, its activities and monthly programs, contact President Mary Lou Goodwin at 442-1387.

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Tips: How to build a home emergency first-aid kit

Being prepared helps families alleviate fears and reduce potential losses related to disasters. In the event of emergencies or disasters, injured people need to receive help within the first hour of the incident. Often family members and co-workers are the initial first responders. First-aid kits are a necessity for attending to victims and should be kept in homes, vehicles, schools and workplaces.

You may purchase first-aid kits or customize your own kits for families, schools and businesses. Some kits are designed for specific activities, such as hiking, camping or boating.

Make sure your kits have all the supplies you may need. Include personal items, such as medications and emergency phone numbers, or other items your health-care provider may suggest.

Check kits regularly.

Make sure the flashlight batteries work.

Check expiration dates and replace any used or out-of-date contents.

Basic First-Aid Kits may include these supplies, though variations can easily be made to meet the specific needs of families, schools and workplaces:

•Adhesive tape

•Aluminum finger splints

•Antibiotic ointment

•Antiseptic solution or towelettes

•Bandages, including a roll of elastic wrap and assorted bandage strips

•Instant cold packs

•Cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs

•A box of disposable latex or synthetic gloves

•Gauze pads and roller gauze in assorted sizes

•Eye goggles

•First-aid manual

•Petroleum jelly or other lubricant

•Plastic bags for the disposal of contaminated materials

•Safety pins in assorted sizes

•Save-a-tooth storage device containing salt solution and a travel case

•Scissors, tweezers and a needle

•Soap or instant hand sanitizer

•Sterile eyewash, such as a saline solution


•Triangular bandage

•Turkey baster or other bulb suction device for flushing out wounds

•Activated charcoal (use only if instructed by Poison Control Center)

•Anti-diarrhea medication

•Over-the-counter oral antihistamine (i.e., Benadryl, others)

•Aspirin and nonaspirin pain relievers (never give aspirin to children)

•Calamine lotion

•Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream

•Personal medications

•Syringe, medicine cup or spoon


•Mylar emergency blanket

•Disposable diapers

•Personal hygiene items

•Towels, sheets, linens, pillows

•Scarf (sling)


For more information, go to;; or

Martin is an extension specialist with Emergency Response and Preparedness. This article was written in cooperation with Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Copyright © 2015, Daily Press

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Upcoming open house welcomes neighborhood newcomers, provides …

HINSDALE –Meeting your neighbors is an important part of settling into a new community.

With that in mind, there’s the upcoming Newcomers and Neighbors Spring Open House in March at the Hinsdale Public Library, 20 E. Maple St.

The social event will be hosted at 10 a.m. March 18 and provides a place for new residents of Hinsdale, Burr Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Oak Brook and Westmont to meet one another and meet other neighbors in their communities.

The event is free and open to all. Residents are encouraged to bring their friends and neighbors along with them to the event.

Coffee and light refreshments will be served. Following coffee, guest speaker Gina Lang from Hinsdale Nurseries will discuss her spring gardening checklist. Lang will share her knowledge on getting gardens and flower beds ready for spring planting. Her presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session, so attendees should come with their questions ready.

The deadline to register for the event is March 16. Questions can be directed to Sue Farrell or Cynthia Mayzell at


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Early spring in Vancouver: 3 tips for gardeners

The warm spring-like weather in Vancouver means many gardening enthusiasts have already got their hands dirty.

Tricia Sedgwick — the founder of an urban farm and garden project in Vancouver, The World in a Garden — dug into the ground over the weekend, but said it’s important for gardeners to take a few precautions to make sure their blooms continue into the spring.

“You want to be in your garden a little bit earlier and just observing,” Sedgwick told The Early Edition’s Rick Cluff.

“The role of the gardener is to observe what’s happening in the garden and look at what needs attention.”

Here are three tips she has for eager gardeners:

1. Watch out for frost

While the weather has been mild, it’s worth waiting for spring before planting crops, as it’s still possible for another cold snap to hit.

“If you plant something now in the ground and it sprouts, that sprout is at risk during a cold snap, said Sedgwick.

2. Stay on top of pruning

Sedgwick said winter crops like cauliflower, kale, and other brassicas are at risk of going to seed.

“It’s an easier harvest right now and things are growing a lot faster,” she said.

She said it’s a good idea to cut back some of the sprouts and blooms, to the plant doesn’t go to seed to fast — losing the spring harvest.

3. Take advantage of the weather

Sedgwick said it is a good time to start seeds indoors, to get them ready for planting in the spring.

“The plants that you are starting from seed, such as your celery, your early tomatoes that you would start seeding and putting in the greenhouse now in seed start trays — they’re going to be happy. They’re going to be warm.”

To hear the full interview with Tricia Sedgwick​, click the audio labelled: Tips for gardening in the early spring.

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Garden Tips: Moldy lawns showing up this spring

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