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Archives for March 4, 2015

Creative decorating with houseplants, from floor to ceiling

This photo provided by Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random House shows Tradescantia Multiflora in the book, “Rooted in Design,” by Tara Heibel and Tassy de Give. The authors argue that houseplants can be low-maintenance, affordable and definitely worth the trouble, a beautiful and creative element in a homeís decor. (AP Photo/Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random House, Ramsay de Give, Maria Lawson)

Associated Press

In homes where space and time are precious, the future of the humble houseplant may depend on whether it can earn its keep.

Houseplants that endure tend to be either undemanding succulents, edible herbs, or plants that add enough to a room’s ambiance that they’re worth some extra effort. And a huge variety of plants are both easy and worth the effort, say longtime plant lovers Tara Heibel and Tassy de Give.
Their new book, “Rooted in Design” (Ten Speed Press, 2015), demonstrates that houseplants can be a beautiful and creative element in a home’s decor.
Houseplants connect the city dweller to the natural world and remind us of that symbiotic relationship, write Heibel and de Give, founders of Sprout Home, an indoor landscaping store in Chicago and Brooklyn, New York.
“A room filled with plants can be calming and inspirational as well as incredibly personal and expressive. Even aloe, a common household plant, can exude complexity and style when displayed creatively,” they write.
Dividing the home into sectors — wall, ledge, floor, air, table, kitchen and terrariums (including some for aquatic plants) — the authors suggest ways to present and care for a variety of indoor greenery.
“It’s easy to get pigeon-holed into certain ideas about plants — that they always have to be in a certain kind of container or always be on a shelf or on the floor — and you have to help people break out of that. Many people now have a really small living environment and think they don’t have room for plants, but hanging plants on a wall doesn’t take up any space at all, and it adds a lot to the decor,” Heibel says.
Houseplants can be practical, too, serving as walls or screens, or providing soothing aromas. Well-chosen plants can be considered an alternative to cut flowers, or viewed as tiny works of art.
Trays of miniature succulents in various shapes, colors and textures “can be irresistibly small and sweet and inexpensive, like candy,” Heibel said.
Unlike many other glossy design books, this one shows images of what look like actual, lived-in homes — several photos include cats — with some startling yet down-to-earth upcycling suggestions for plant containers, including mason jars, decorative cookie tins, and even glass electric-meter boxes and unused table lamps (with a cascading plant where a lamp shade might have been).
Old picture frames become stunning displays of maintenance-free dried moss (step-by-step instructions with full-color images included), and pieces of driftwood are dramatic mounts for ferns. Helped along by a few small nails or hooks, philodendron and bougainvillea can be trained to grow across an indoor wall, dramatically spanning anywhere from 5 to 25 feet.
Macramé plant hangers and terrariums, features from a generation ago, are back, but with a more contemporary feel.
“Our macramé is cleaner, more streamlined and more contemporary-looking,” says Heibel. “And the terrariums have much more use of graphic material and color and texture and shape.”
The book’s final section, The Roots, gives a plant-by-plant glossary of possibilities, with trouble-shooting suggestions.
“The most frequent question we’re asked is to recommend a plant that’s hard to kill,” Heibel said. “That definition differs from person to person. Maybe one person goes out of town for a month and another waters too much. People often don’t really think about care and maintenance before putting a grand indoor landscaping plan together. We want to make sure that what you’re planting lives.”
Two common misperceptions about houseplants, the authors say, is that they all require roughly the same care (they don’t) and that they’ll always look like they do when first purchased.
“You might look at a young fern in a shop and think it’s perfect, but you need to know that ferns grow and you’ll need to do some pruning,” Heibel says. “And people buy a succulent that’s cute and small, but then it grows a really long stalk or does other funny things. That’s actually part of the beauty of it, but it sometimes comes as a surprise.”

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Home & Garden Show coming to Fairgrounds

If you are tired of this winter and anxious about getting out, you might want to make it out to the Fairfield County Fairgrounds March 13-15 to get some good ideas on what to do.

The 37th annual Home Garden Show, put on by the Tri-County Home Builders Association, will take place at the Ed Sands building, at 157 E. Fair Avenue.

“This year we are going to have between 40 and 50 vendors coming to the show,” said Steve Fitzpatrick, president of the Tri County Builders Association and owner of Finishing Touch Renovations/The Windowman.

During the weekend, visitors will be able to meet with home and garden experts and learn about the latest technology in their respective industries. People will be able to reach out to local contractors who work on landscapes, hardscapes, remodeling and even new home construction, Fitzpatrick said.

Getting local contractors to participate is the goal of the annual show, which highlights local businesses, landscapers and home improvement companies from the Lancaster and the Fairfield County area.

“This is the best time to come out and visit with the local business owners personally,” said Chuck Miller, vice president of the Tri-County Home Builders Association and owner of MirrorScapes LLC.

“Once we get into spring, especially for landscapers like me, it’s difficult to meet with the homeowners, so this is a great opportunity to reach out and talk to the business owners themselves and talk about home improvement and landscaping ideas,” Miller said.

Fitzpatrick said the show will feature about five new vendors this year.

Landscapers will be on site, and during the show there will be how-to seminars, along with door prizes. Admission is free.

“We are going to have a food vendor there so people can bring their whole family out and enjoy the day,” Fitzpatrick said.

Miller said even if you are not interested in major projects, the show lends itself to people who are just looking for ideas on how to improve their landscape and their homes.

“Everyone who comes should be able to pick up and idea or two,” Miller said.


Twitter: @CarlBurnettJr

If you go

What: 37th Annual Home Garden Show

Where: Ed Sands Building, Fairifeld County Fairgrounds, 157 E. Fair Ave., Lancaster

When: March 13 from noon to 6 p.m.; March 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and March 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sponsor: Tri-County Home Builders Association

Cost: Free


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Pennsylvania Garden Show of York: Get ideas from backyard garden displays

What: Pennsylvania Garden Show of York

When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 6-7, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 8

Where: York Fair Expo Center, 313 Carlisle Avenue, Route 74 at Highland Avenue, York

Cost: $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and students, free for children under 12

For more information: Visit

Every year, some of the top landscaping companies in York County spend months designing a garden display in hopes of wowing guests and judges at the annual Pennsylvania Garden Show of York.

And those months of preparation boil down to just three days to build the entire display before judging begins.

Each display is judged in several categories, including color, architectural features, lighting, but the people’s choice award might be the most coveted of all, show consultant Cher Kondor said. Everyone wants to win the popular vote.

This year, impressing the customers is important because of the show’s theme, “My Own Backyard.” As the landscapers build top-notch backyard displays, customers will be looking for ways to incorporate some of the elements in their own yards.

While the landscapers will most likely set up extravagant displays, Kondor said the design elements are all very practical and can be translated to any home.

“Some are playful, some are elegant, and a lot incorporate things that make life easier,” she said. “You can expect the unexpected. When they interpret it, there will be all kinds of fencing, ways to make small areas look bigger. You’ll see all kinds of stuff.”

Aside from the garden display competition, guests of the 23rd annual garden show March 6-8 can also check out the Federated Garden Club District IV Garden flower show and the Garden Market, which will feature more than 100 vendors. Guests can purchase flowers and plants, artwork, enjoy wine and beer tastings, participate in free workshops and seminars, listen to live music and take part in croquet and cooking demos.

But before the show begins, here’s a snapshot of what you can expect from the landscapers.

Meadow View Gardens

Secluded from the rest of the landscapes, garden show visitors will find Meadow View Gardens’ unique night-time display in a separate dark room.

The idea is to show people how to enjoy a garden space at night, landscape designer Richard Jacobus said.

“I’ve never seen it done before at any other show,” he said. “That’s why I’m doing it. I like to be different.”

His 25 by 40 foot display will feature a paver patio, a pergola, a waterfall with a color wheel and stars covering the walls and ceiling to set the mood. Guests will also hear outdoor sounds of crickets and frogs while walking through the garden.

Kathy Savino takes photos of some of the artwork on display at the Pennsylvania Garden Show of York in Memorial Hall at the York Expo Center last year.

But the most important aspect will be the lighting. Jacobus will light up the pergola with white Christmas lights and 6-inch purple bulbs. Also, he’ll highlight trees and shrubs with low-voltage lighting, he said.

Trump Lawn and Land Co.

Mike Trump, landscape designer for Trump Lawn and Land Co., are taking the backyard theme to a new level by throwing a children’s “Alice in Wonderland” birthday party.

While the idea is to reveal a look that’s kid-friendly, Trump also made sure to add features that adults will enjoy, like a deck and patio with landscape lighting, a timber-framed pergola, putting green, fire pit and outdoor grill island. A treehouse and sandbox will also be included in the design.

To keep with the theme, a picnic table will be set up for a Mad Hatter tea party with decorations and balloons, he said. Guests can also expect to see 4-foot bronze sculptures of the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat.

A 25-foot Zelkova tree, shrubs and spring-blooming flowers, like daffodils, tulips and hyacinths will finish off the 30 by 45 foot display, Trump said.

Inch’s Landscaping

Inch’s Landscaping has a reputation to uphold after winning the competition four out of the last five years.

Rather than creating one cohesive design, the idea behind the Inch’s Landscaping garden display is to show customers a variety of different ways they can dress up their backyards.

“Everything we do can be translated very quickly to anyone’s backyard,” co-landscape designer Jeff Inch said. “We didn’t want to do one great backyard. We wanted to give people options like a la carte landscaping.”

Their display will feature a natural, custom-built fire pit, pond, pergola, patio, audio systems, outdoor furniture and a television playing cartoons for the kids.

But best of all, Inch’s Landscaping has incorporated a zip line into its display that children can test out during the show.

“We’re trying to provide outdoor living for customers,” Inch said. “Part of that is getting kids outside and enjoying time together.”

As they do every year, Inch’s Landscaping will also incorporate rare, unique specimens into the design, such as a large deodar cedar.

Participating landscape companies

Songbird Ponds

Hively Landscapes

Inch’s Landscaping

Meadow View Gardens

Michael Conley Pone Landscaping

Shiloh Landscaping

Strathmeyer Landscape Development Corporation

Trump Lawn Landscaping

Webster’s Landscaping

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Park and garden landscaping programs developed in 5 cities, 24 regions in …

Makhachkala, March 2, 2015. In Dagestan, the ministry of construction, architecture and housing in partnership with local authorities have done a great work on elaborating municipal programs for setting up new parks and gardens and landscaping the existing ones.

Dagestan chief architect Uvais Kamalov told RIA Dagestan that relevant programs have been developed in 24 municipalities and 5 city districts. The programs are supposed to be financed by the municipalities. In 2014, this work encompassed almost all regional centers.

They have also elaborated and approved master plans in 9 city districts. In all 10 existing city districts they have developed and approved land use and housing development regulations. Master plans for 206 Dagestani settlements have been developed on condition of co-financing from the republican and local budgets, of these 90 master plans are already approved.

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Garden Club series turns to Spring

The Granville Garden Club is presenting the third program in its four-part series titled “Gardens: The Four Seasons.”

The “Spring Garden” program, featuring area experts, will be March 12 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Bryn Du Mansion, 537 Jones Road, Granville. The program is part of the mansion’s Life/Local Series and is free and open to the public.

At 6 p.m., Chris Baker, owner of Baker’s Acres Greenhouse in Alexandria, will help turn thoughts to spring as he talks about new and exciting plant introductions for 2015 as well as some of the best plants of past seasons. In a fun and informative slide show, he will discuss exceptional annuals, perennials, vegetables, trees and shrubs to use in our gardens and landscapes.

At 7 p.m., long-time Granville resident and businessman Frits Rizor will talk about sustainable landscaping practices for the residential landscape. He has over 25 years of experience in landscape design and is currently chairman of Hocking College’s School of Natural Resources, where he teaches courses in landscape management. Rizor’s talk will focus on plant selection, integrated pest management principles, and other landscape practices that provide aesthetically pleasing and functional landscapes while minimizing the impact on the environment.

At 8 p.m., to top off the special “Spring Garden” evening, there will be a presentation and slide show exploring “The Dawes Arboretum: A National Treasure in Our Own Backyard.” Dawes, revered for its natural beauty and extensive horticulture collections, is a familiar site to many across Licking County and beyond. In this presentation, discover details of the Arboretum’s rich history and its future as Brent Pickering, director of its landscape operations, highlights current and planned projects, focusing on elements of construction and landscape design.

No reservations are required, but early arrival is encouraged for seating. The final program will be on June 11.

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Garden expert Kerry Ann Mendez to offer perennial ideas at Springfield Garden …

WILBRAHAM –Despite piling February snows, members of the Springfield Garden Club have been thinking spring: The club will present “Crazy for Perennials with Kerry Ann Mendez” on Friday, March 13, at 11 a.m. at the Wilbraham United Church.

“Defying winter and thinking spring, that’s our state of mind right now,” said Judy Cmero, publicity chairman for the Springfield Garden Club. “It takes an act of faith to look at three or four feet of snow and trust that underneath all that snow there really will be a garden come April, May and June.”

Mendez, from Kennebunk, Maine, is a nationally recognized plant collector, garden speaker and author of four garden books. She is the owner of Perennially Yours, a landscaping company focusing on the art of low-maintenance perennial gardening.

Perennially Yours gardens have been featured in numerous garden and lifestyle
magazines, newspapers, radio and television shows. Mendez is the author of The Ultimate Flower Gardener’s Top Ten Lists and Top Ten Lists for Beautiful Shade and is the founder of the annual Great Gardens and Landscaping Symposium. A lecturer and teacher, she gives more than 25 workshops and 60-70 talks annually. She has hosted six national webinars for “Horticulture” magazine.

“Flowers bring joy to our spirits and color indoors and outdoors,” she said. “We love to see color; it’s emotionally uplifting. It gives us great hope.”

The Massachusetts Horticulture Society recently awarded Mendez its prestigious Gold Medal Award for her distinguished role as a gardener, teacher and author.
Her website is

During the long winter months when it seems the only color outdoors is ever-green, Mendez keeps a positive attitude that “we’re going to get through this crazy winter.”

In fact, she even finds something positive about the snow: It is an insulator for the plants in the garden, it has a small amount of nitrogen to fertilize the soil, and when it melts it provides “refresher” water to gardens and water tables.

“It’s a blessing for many of our plants,” she commented. “Plants are breaking out of dormancy and demand a lot of water to support their growth spurt.”

At the garden club meeting, Mendez will present “The Perennial Plant Collector’s Corner ” with unique suggestions for plantaholics seeking unusual, fun, outrageous and underused perennials to transform their gardens.

Three plants she recommends are:

+ Brass lantern in the heucherella family, good for partly shady and shady areas. It has “stunning, colorful leaves,” she said, “beacons of light in low-light areas.”

+ Firetail in the persicaria family, with bright pinkish slender flowers that bloom from July to October and are drought tolerant and deer resistant. They also are good for butterflies and other pollinators.

+ Yellow wax bells from the kirengeshoma family, a perennial that can bloom in sun or shade and blooms late summer into fall. “It’s a very tough plant,” drought resistant and does not like being divided so can stay in the same place for years, Mendez said.

She acknowledges that not everyone has the time, energy or space to tend a big, beautiful garden. In her new book, “The Right- Size Flower Garden: Simplify Your Outdoor Space with Smart Design Solutions and Plant Choices,” she encourages readers to embrace the “small is beautiful” garden.

“Plants are not children or pets; we can get rid of those that are poor performers or cause us too much trouble,” she said.

Her Wilbraham presentation is a fundraiser for the garden club’s Scholarship Fund. Tickets are $10 for non-Springfield Garden Club members, available at the door. Ticket price includes a Vintage Garden Boutique with garden accessories, tools, books and magazines and a light luncheon tea.

Mendez will sign her books, which will be for sale at the event.

For more information about the event, call (413) 599-0462 or e-mail

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Kitchen Garden – Susan Parson’s tips for autumn

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Sarah is a fourth-generation farmer from Tullibigeal where her family ate what was in season from their farm and garden including lamb, milk and eggs. Fresh fruit and vegetables came from her grandmother’s rambling garden that was filled with grapes, passionfruit, huge old citrus and stonefruit trees grown for shade and fruit. Young Sarah used to collect native quandongs that her nana used to make delicious tarts.

In 2006 Sarah and Josh Curry of Major’s Point were married under an Australian kurrajong (Brachychiton ‘Bella Donna’).  The Pearse family, the original settling family in the area, had planted the tree. 

The family property covers 3200 hectares on the rich, fertile, sedimentary floor plain of The Bland. Sarah says the house yard at their farm has a range of soils from sand to heavy clays. The garden suffered losses during the long drought of the 2000s and, before replanting, they prepared beds with a thick layer of compost and mulch and let them rest for more than six months. 

Their raised vegetable beds are filled with half topsoil and topped with farm-produced compost into which they plant vegetables.  Curry uses seed and cuttings exchanged at the local garden club and from neighbours’ gardens but also orders once a year from Lambley Nursery Catalogue.  

Currently they are harvesting tomatoes, zucchini, squash, chillies, capsicums, eggplant, asparagus, strawberries, peaches and watermelons. Water is a huge issue and grey water is used on the garden. Recently a bore was introduced as backup.

 With Josh’s parents, John and Janet Curry, they run 2000 South African meat merino sheep, ewes and their lambs, which graze dual-purpose crops and pastures and are sold into the fat lamb market. A tiny portion goes into their home freezer.  

The Curry children, Ted, 5, Cate, 4, and Jimmy, 2, help in the kitchen and take interest in what they are growing and eating. Ted’s job is to let the chickens out every morning and collects the eggs and they all love picking something fresh for dinner each night.  It was in 2009 when Sarah had a “big baby bump” that she realised pulling apart lucerne bales was labour intensive and dusty work so Major’s Mulch was also born.

Josh’s aunty Margie Charlesworth has written three cookbooks about using fresh farm produce for families and friends.   Tea Pots Tractors is full of the family’s everyday favourites such as Vogue chicken.  Sarah uses Donna Hay and Maggie Beer’s cookbooks but  The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander is her “bible” because it shows how to use or preserve seasonal produce.

With at least two fresh zucchini to harvest each day, a favourite recipe is from Sarah’s nana.

Stuffed roasted zucchini

2 medium to large zucchini, halved and hollowed out

1 red capsicum, finely diced

1 small red onion, finely diced

2 rindless bacon rashers, finely diced

1 tsp flat leaf parsley

parmesan cheese

Halve zucchini and hollow out the flesh into a large mixing bowl and add the capsicum, onion, bacon and parsley.  Mix and season with salt and cracked black pepper.  Fill the zucchini shells with the mixture and bake in a hot oven (200C degrees) for five minutes, remove and grate parmesan cheese on top and place back in the oven for a further two minutes until crispy on top.  Delicious with lamb chops and smashed roasted potatoes.

Susan Parsons is a Canberra writer.


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GARDEN DESIGN: Well-made beds add air of sophistication

PARTERRE gardens may have been made famous by French places but you don’t have to be royalty to enjoy their classic beauty at home.

Versailles Palace Garden

PARTERRE gardens may have been made famous by French places but you don’t have to be royalty to enjoy their classic beauty at home.

Similar to knot gardens (which were designed to resemble a Celtic knot), this classic landscape design can add a touch of style to every outdoor area from the tiniest courtyard to a sprawling acreage.

A parterre is a formal garden with planting beds in symmetrical patterns, separated and connected by gravel paths. The beds can be edged in stone or tightly clipped hedges and are usually best enjoyed from above.

Low-growing hedging plants perfect for a small garden include buxus, diosma, duranta, native rosemary and hebe.

The spaces between the hedges are often filled in with flowers or vegetables.

Versailles Palace Garden

A parterre garden can be created in any yard to give it an air of sophistiction.

Be prepared to work to retain the shape to the design will become an overgrown mess.

Parterres can fit into any size garden, from a courtyard to rolling acreage.

The first step to creating a parterre is to sketch out a design.

It can be as simple as a hedge square, with an X-shaped hedge inside with a taller round or conical shrub at the centre.

The spaces could be filled with flowering annuals or simply covered in pebbles.

Versailles Palace Garden

The intricate designs of parterres are meant to be admired from above, so it can be good to plant there near a verandah or build a raised rotunda or summer house in the centre of the garden.

A focal point, like a fountain, statue or giant urn will complete the look.

More inspiration: Pintrest: YourHomeFairfax.

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Learn how to design your garden

By Staff report

Posted Mar. 3, 2015 at 10:38 AM
Updated at 4:51 PM

Holland, Mich.

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