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Archives for March 7, 2015

13 Sweet text messages to send your significant other

close up of hand woman typing on smart phone

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) Everyone loves receiving a text message from their significant other. It can brighten their mood, remind them that you care or make them smile when they least expect it. Sometimes you might not be sure what to text, to help you leave a lasting and loving impression on your significant other, here are 13 text message ideas for him and her.

A portrait of a smiling beautiful woman texting with her phone

For Him

1. I miss you.

2. I can’t stop thinking about you.

3. I love it when you ____.

4. Good morning, I hope you have a great day!

5. I miss your smile.

6. When I think of you life gets better.

7. I’m attracted to this great guy who’s name is (insert husband or boyfriend’s name).

8. Good morning handsome.

9. I wish you were here right now!

10. When I look into your eyes I see a world I love being a part of. 

11. I hope your day is as nice as your butt!

12. You’re so hot you make me melt like ice cream.

Man texting on cell phone in a park

For Her

1. You light up my world with your smile.

2. Good morning sunshine. I love you.

3. You are my world and I couldn’t imagine it without you.

4. They say love hurts, that must be why I wake up sore every morning.

5. You are my MVP (most valuable player).

6. I’m the luckiest guy in the world because I have you!

7. Everyone is in need of water when you’re around because you’re so hot.

8. You are beautiful.

9. I hope you’re having a great day!

10. We are perfect together. Just wanted to tell you that.

11. You’re the woman I’ve wanted all my life.

12. You take my breath away.

And the best one of all for him or for her….

I love you

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President to join “Bloody Sunday” anniversary in Selma

Photo from NBC News, March 7, 2015
Photo from NBC News, March 7, 2015

SELMA, Ala. (AP) — President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and about 100 members of Congress are converging on Selma, Alabama, on Saturday for the 50th anniversary of a landmark event of the civil rights movement.

Obama will speak in the riverside town to commemorate “Bloody Sunday,” the day in 1965 when police attacked marchers demonstrating for voting rights.

The violence preceded the Selma-to-Montgomery march, which occurred two weeks later. Both helped build momentum for congressional approval of the Voting Rights Act later that year.

Thousands of people attend the annual observance of the anniversary, and organizers expect an even larger crowd this year.

First lady Michelle Obama will travel with the president, and former President George W. Bush also plans to attend. The congressional delegation will include U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, an Alabama native who was among the marchers seriously injured in the violence 50 years ago.

More events are planned for Sunday, with civil rights veterans leading a symbolic walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Police beat and tear-gassed marchers at the foot of the bridge on March 7, 1965 in an ugly spasm of violence that shocked the nation.

Today, Selma still struggles to overcome its legacy.

The city’s population has declined by about 40 percent to 20,000 in the last 50 years and Dallas County’s unemployment rate is nearly double the state average. Public schools in Selma are nearly all black; most whites go to private schools. Blacks lead the annual “Bloody Sunday” commemoration; whites lead an annual re-enactment of the 1865 “Battle of Selma” to attract Civil War re-enactors.

For Obama, the trip to Selma marks the continued celebration by the first black U.S. president of three of the most important civil rights milestones in America’s tortured racial history.

In 2013, Obama spoke at the 50th anniversary celebration of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Last year, he addressed the 50th anniversary of the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

On Saturday, Obama will lead a tribute at the Edmund Pettus Bridge to mark the 50th anniversary of what became known as “Bloody Sunday,” when police set upon scores of people marching from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest their inability to vote, clobbering and tear-gassing them until they were bloody.

The Obamas will be accompanied by their daughters Malia and Sasha. After the remarks, Obama and the first lady will join marchers in a recreation of the bridge walk.

Obama said last week that the family was coming to pay tribute “as Americans to those who changed the course of history” at the bridge.

“Not just the legends and the giants of the Civil Rights Movement like Dr. King and John Lewis, but the countless American heroes whose names aren’t in the history books, that aren’t etched on marble somewhere — ordinary men and women from all corners of this nation, all walks of life, black and white, rich and poor, students, scholars, maids, ministers — all who marched and who sang and organized to change this country for the better,” Obama said at a Black History Month observance at the White House.

Obama’s Selma remarks are expected to touch on the issue of voting rights. Obama also addressed the issue in his State of the Union address. His administration has challenged Southern states that have imposed new voting requirements, including showing picture identification before being allowed to vote and curtailing opportunities to vote early. Critics of these moves say they disenfranchise mostly minority voters and set back the gains won by civil rights marchers, including those who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

A divided U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 in June 2013 to remove from federal law the most effective tool for fighting discrimination against voters. Ruling in a case from Shelby County, Alabama, the high court eliminated the Justice Department’s ability under the Voting Rights Act to identify and stop potentially discriminatory voting laws before they take effect.

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Public Square renovation starting Monday signals a paradigm shift for public …

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cue the jackhammers.

On Monday, after more than a decade of planning, the city will start removing the two blocks of Ontario Street in Public Square to make the 10-acre civic space greener, more beautiful and more usable for people on foot, rather than cars.

The project marks a paradigm shift that’s radically fresh but also ancient in origin. For decades, the automobile has been a prime factor in planning the city, if not the only concern. At the square now, it’s the pedestrian.

View full sizeLandscape architect James Corner. 

Designed by the leading American landscape architect, James Corner, the project will transform the square, which is now a collection of four, one-acre quadrants set amid six acres of concrete.

Superior Avenue will remain as a bus-only corridor dividing the square into two rectangles, with an “event lawn” on the north, and a café, speaker’s terrace, splash zone to the south, along with fresh landscaping around the 1894 Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

A butterfly-shaped perimeter pathway will tie both halves of the square together, creating a loop trail that should imprint an image of health and physical activity on a civic space that hasn’t had such associations in decades.

Corner’s plan should turn the square from the open-air bus terminal that it is today into a place that’s better not only for transit users but also for picnickers, concertgoers, shoppers at farmers markets, or viewers of movies on summer nights. 

The 15-month, $32 million renovation, scheduled for completion in time for the Republican National Convention in 2016, is the most visible example yet of the city’s desire to reinforce the recent surge in downtown’s residential population by making the urban core more walkable and livable. That also makes it an about-face after decades in which the city allowed demolition of historic buildings to accommodate parking for suburban commuters, or built sports stadiums and cultural facilities catering to visitors arriving mainly by car.

Evidence of broad agreement on the need for change is embodied in the collaborative political roots of the nonprofit Group Plan Commission, formed by the city and Cuyahoga County to manage the project and other improvements to public spaces downtown.

View full sizeA schematic view of the plan for Public Square. 

Anthony Coyne, the real estate lawyer who also chairs the city’s planning commission, heads the new civic body, and he helped champion the makeover.

Collaboration is also visible in the funding of the project, which includes $24.5 million in grants from foundations and corporate donors, along with the critical $7.5 million in public financing through bonds to be issued by the county.

County Executive Armond Budish announced the bond financing in a press conference Friday at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, just off the square. The bonds, which require County Council’s approval, would be backed by revenues from the increase in real estate taxes generated by improvements to the Higbee Building for the Horseshoe Casino, which opened in 2012.

(Also on Friday, the non-profit Downtown Cleveland Alliance announced that its website would be a clearinghouse for information on traffic changes during construction. An information packet is included at the bottom of this post).

Of course, some readers and online commenters say Cleveland has no business touching the square until it cures poverty, fixes its underperforming schools and halts excessive use of force by its police. From that perspective, the project is a waste, a frill.

When asked on Friday to respond to such views, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson smiled.

“There’s never a right time [to do a project such as the square] if what you define as right is a time when you have no challenges,” he said.

As for the square’s current appearance, he said, “it doesn’t reflect the great city we are.”

View full sizeLAND Studio Executive Director Ann Zoller, left, spoke Friday morning with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson just before a press conference at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel on completion of financing for the renovation of Public Square starting Monday. 

It’s certainly easy to agree with Jackson’s assessment of the square, which has had many incarnations before reaching its current ossification and irrelevance.

Laid out in 1796 by city founder Moses Cleaveland and his surveyors from the Connecticut Land Co., the square served during the 19th century as an elm-shaded, New England-style commons.

As the skyline rose around it in the 20th century, the square became an outdoor living room used for celebrations, parades, military recruitment drives, political demonstrations and more.

The most recent renovation, completed in 1986, hardened the square as a collection of moderately decorative islands surrounded by traffic. Berms, retaining walls and planting beds provided separation from noise and tailpipe exhaust, but also shrank the usable space on the two northernmost quadrants.

The southwestern quadrant, a sunken plaza with angular terraces overlooked by the Terminal Tower, looks dysfunctional and dated. And the southeast quadrant wraps the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in sloping beds of ivy that seem to say keep out.

After 25 years of hard weather, and an especially brutal winter this year, the quadrants are in tough shape. Paving bricks and granite steps and cheek walls have been heaved by ice. Drains are sunken or broken and missing their covers. Everything is rimmed by salt. Ice fills the low spots that will turn into puddles when it’s warm enough to rain.

View full sizeBack in the day: Elm-shaded Public Square in 1885. 

Patching all of this, as the city has done for years, wouldn’t fix the real problem, which is that the square’s parts are too small and isolated to have meaning or critical mass.

Reaching the starting point for a turnaround has taken 13 years.

The city started brainstorming in 2002, when Jane Campbell was mayor, with a public forum at Old Stone Church, facilitated by the New York-based Project for Public Spaces. It drew 200 people.

The nonprofits now called LAND Studio and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance helped organize the event and nurtured the resulting ideas. By 2008, the organizations had raised enough cash to launch a redesign. Jackson, by then Campbell’s successor, signaled approval.

From a list of 11 candidate firms, project leaders including Ann Zoller, executive director of LAND Studio, and Joe Marinucci, president and CEO of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, chose James Corner Field Operations, which co-designed the widely acclaimed High Line Park in New York, a linear greenway atop an abandoned rail line in lower Manhattan.

In late 2009, Corner came forward with three concepts, two of which were premised on keeping both Superior Avenue and Ontario Street open to traffic.

One idea called for wrapping the square with a multi-story lattice covered with vines. The concept would have framed the square with shade and greenery, but also would have blocked views of surrounding buildings.

View full sizeA rendering of the idea of building a manmade hill over the central intersection in Public Square, one of several concepts unveiled in 2009 by landscape architect James Corner. 

A second proposal called for erecting an artificial hill over the square’s central intersection. The idea would have allowed cars and pedestrians to circulate freely and separately, but it also looked costly and more than a little strange.

As a third option, Corner suggested removing Ontario Street and filling the remaining rectangles with trees. That concept morphed into the present design, with its event lawn, splash zone, café and other features.

During the process, a 2012 traffic analysis by the San Francisco-based consulting firm of Nelson Nygaard showed that Ontario Street could be closed without causing mayhem.

If executed well, the renovation has enormous potential. But it won’t endure or function well without excellent maintenance and event programming, for which the Group Plan Commission will need to raise money beyond the $32 million for construction.

The square also needs to be well policed in ways that make residents and visitors of all walks feel welcome and safe.

If the city and county and other partners remain committed, an improved square could increase surrounding property values and encourage development on the ugly surface parking lots that extend several blocks west to the Warehouse District.

Beyond aiding downtown’s rebirth, the renovation could improve perceptions of the city and its still essential role amid the sprawl of Northeast Ohio. That’s an outcome anyone who cares about the future of Cleveland and the region should want.

Jackhammers never sound pleasant. But in this case, as a harbinger of a new age in thinking about Cleveland, the racket will be welcome. 

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Sandra Mason: Learn to love your landscape – Champaign/Urbana News


Every time I look out the window, I dream of green and then gorge myself on tantalizing images of flowers and fruits in magazines and catalogs. Glorious gardens immersed in the picture-perfect light of dawn shine in garden magazines.

Of course, out of frame is the butterfly bush that was crushed by the basketball as the kids were playing one-on-one.

Cropped and coiffured images are pleasant dreams but hardly the reality of gardening. Maybe it’s time for an adjusted aesthetic in our quest for garden perfection.

Our life coaches may come to us in the shape of a dog. One of my gardening acquaintances was blessed with a big Lab named Opie.

On hot summer days, Opie loved to dig in her garden and plop his big beefy body in the cool, moist soil.

She tried putting a big rock in Opie’s digging spot. Undaunted, Opie just found another spot to dig. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t keep Opie from digging a summer loafing spot.

She finally decided to recognize Opie’s landscaping aesthetic. She painted a beautifully adorned sign that heralded Opie’s contribution. Rather than explain to every garden visitor why she had a big hole in her garden, the “Opie’s Garden” sign was now a source of lighthearted banter about the joys of gardening. Instead of constantly fighting for perfection, she and Opie created a blissful alternative with her adjusted aesthetic.

First of all, learn to love your yard, even those quirky shady areas, wet spots and areas where the tree roots stick out. Certainly some changes can be made short of a bulldozer, but resolve now to quit fighting what is there. Work with what you have. Remember, in this ball game, Mother Nature bats last.

Remember, gardens evolve. They will not look exactly like you planned. As you plant, you will make changes, and Mother Nature will make changes for you. Each year it will look different, whether you want it to or not.

Some things will do well, and others will languish. If you expect your garden to be a constant like your living room with each item carefully placed and selected for color and size, then your garden will constantly frustrate you.

Just imagine the couch getting bigger every year as it overtakes the end table.

Maintenance can make or break a garden. You may have a beautiful design with great plant selection, but it will quickly fall apart if it isn’t maintained. Actually, another word for maintenance is therapy, but no one wants to be in the doctor’s office all day.

Be realistic about the time you have for maintenance. Perhaps several people in the household can mow the lawn; however, you may be the only one willing and able to work in the flower garden. Perhaps a small flower garden done well may be much more rewarding.

Your garden may not be perfect, but it may be perfect for you.

This is the perfect time of year to discover your garden perfection by participating in garden programs.

Attend the Vermilion County Master Gardener Garden Day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 14 at CrossRoads Christian Church, 3613 N. Vermilion St., Danville.

Learn about new plants, get your garden questions answered by Master Gardeners and enjoy great food and plenty of shopping. Register today at or call the Extension office in Danville at 217-442-8615 for more information.

Also, join Master Gardeners for “Edible Colorful Landscape” at 7 p.m. March 17 at the Champaign County Extension office, 801 N. Country Fair Drive, C. Extension horticulture specialist Jim Schmidt will share ideas for incorporating fruits and vegetables into a landscape design. The program is free and open to the public, but registration is required at Also, you can call 217-333-7672.

Also, Rooting for Change, the UI Extension Gardener’s Day this year, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon March 28 at Allerton Park and Retreat Center. Attract birds, pollinators, fairies, photographers and other gardeners with a morning of fun and informative classes. Register by calling 217-762-2191 or visit

Sandra Mason is unit educator, horticulture and environment, for the UI Extension, Champaign County. Contact her at 801 N. Country Fair Drive, Champaign, IL 61821, call 217-333-7672, email

Article source:

Get inspired to create a Japanese garden

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) When you think about an outdoor living space, you want it to be relaxing and peaceful. There’s nothing quite as peaceful as an Asian garden. Frederik Meijer Gardens is opening a new Japanese garden in June, and Harder and Warner Landscaping and Garden Center is showing how you can incorporate the style into your landscaping.

Harder and Warner has a complete Japanese garden set up at the West Michigan Home and Garden Show. It features elements that are important in Asian design such as stone, water, and plants. It also includes statuary, fountains, bamboo fencing, and lighting. The exhibit is set up so visitors can be inspired to see what it would look like at their homes.

Stop by Harder and Warner at the Home Show in the Garden G section through Sunday.

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Unusual fruiting vines offer tasty options for Western Pennsylvania gardens – Tribune

As you plan your 2015 garden over the coming months, consider finding room for a handful of fruiting vines. While many of you may have tried your hand at growing grapes, there aren’t many local gardeners I’m aware of who are growing these far more unusual fruiting vines.

All are hardy in our region and offer an excellent chance to expand your growing skills and your palette. They have unique, tasty fruits that are formed on vines that will readily cover arbors, pergolas and other sturdy climbing structures.

My favorite fruiting vine is our native maypop, or passionflower. Many gardeners think that passion fruits are only produced on the many tropical species of this plant, but the Eastern United States is home to Passiflora incarnata, the maypop. These vigorous vines die back to the ground each winter, but re-sprout in the spring and grow up to 15 feet high in a single season.

Fruits are greenish-yellow and taste tropical. The vine is hardy to minus 25 degrees F. Maypops are self-fertile, meaning they do not need a pollination partner; however, hand-pollinating the flower with a paintbrush will aid in good fruit set. The flowers are a beautiful purple color, and the fruits ripen in late fall.

Magnolia vine (Schisandra chinensis) is not a native species, but it is a delicious one. Hardy from USDA Zones 4 to 8, magnolia vine is a great choice for moist, shady areas, but it will also grow in full sun. The white, fragrant flowers are followed by bright-orange, tart fruits that are terrific in jams and juices.

‘Eastern Prince’ is one easy-to-find cultivar that is self-fertile and will easily climb up to 8 feet high. This native of northern China and Russia is hardy down to minus-35 degrees. Flowers occur in May and fruits mature in September.

Hardy kiwis don’t look anything like the fuzzy kiwis you find in the grocery store. These perennial vines, unlike their grocery-store cousins, are fully hardy here in Western Pennsylvania. They taste awesome, and their lack of fuzz means there’s no need to peel them. The fruits are borne only on female vines and can be eaten whole.

Though these kiwis are slightly smaller than fuzzy kiwis, the vines are prolific, producing fruits within three to four years of planting. You’ll need one male plant for every 6 to 8 females to ensure good fruit set. Look for Russian varieties like ‘Ananasnaja,’ ‘Natasha’ and ‘Tatyana’ as they are hardy down to minus 35 degrees F.

‘Michigan State’ and ‘Ken’s Red’ are U.S.-bred hardy kiwis that also offer big flavor and hardiness. Like grapes, kiwis are vigorous growers and need a super-sturdy trellis. Pruning is essential, so investing in a kiwi handbook is a great idea.

For more information on these perennial vine crops, contact the folks at Raintree Nursery ( or One Green World Nursery (

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners� at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control� and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.� Her website is

Send your gardening or landscaping questions to or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

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Gardening Tips: March questions and answers

Matthew Stevens

Matthew Stevens

Posted: Friday, March 6, 2015 11:45 am

Gardening Tips: March questions and answers

By Matthew Stevens

The Daily Herald, Roanoke Rapids, NC


Wednesday’s 70-degree temperatures were a good reminder spring is not far away. Here are a few of the questions I’ve been getting as winter draws to a close.

Q: We’ve had so much snow and rain lately, how will this impact my garden?

A: The winter months are usually pretty wet, with some form of precipitation or another, but it does seem like we’ve had an awful lot concentrated around the last month or so. The direct effects on your landscapes and garden will differ depending on the plants. For most, the wet weather we’ve had won’t be an issue. For some however, particularly bulbs, there may be some ill effects. Many bulbs, particularly some of the larger, borderline hardy ones like elephant ear, really don’t like a lot of moisture. Periods of heavy moisture in the summer aren’t as much of an issue, because the heat dries everything out faster, but in the winter, once the ground gets wet, it stays wet for awhile. There’s not much you can do about this immediately, but if you lose some bulbs this winter, consider replanting in a location with better drainage. Definitely try to avoid working in the garden until the soil has dried out considerably. Tilling, working or even walking on wet soil can do a lot of unnecessary harm to the soil structure.

Q: When is it safe to plant vegetables and annual flowers?

A: Typically, April 15 is considered the frost-free date in our area. That means historically it is incredibly unlikely we will have a frost past that date. However, in many years we have had frosts just a few days before the 15th and in others the last frost was in late March. Of course, this doesn’t stop some of our big retail chains from trying to sell tomatoes, petunias and other tender annuals, as much as a month before then. If you feel you must plant tender plants before April 15, be prepared to cover them on cold nights or lose them to frost.

Q: What is that purple weed covering my lawn?

A: It may be another week or two before henbit really explodes, but once it does I’ll hear this question over and over again. It is an annual, which comes back each year from seed. Though it often goes unnoticed until it begins flowering in late winter, henbit germinates in fall. Since it will die out as soon as the weather warms up, treatment of henbit now isn’t worth the effort or expense. Spraying and mowing might help some, but henbit is much easier to control when it is younger, or even before it germinates. To keep henbit from returning next year be prepared to apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall. Many of the same herbicides used for pre-emergent treatment of crabgrass in the spring can be used to control henbit in the fall. These include Barricade, Pendulum, Dimension and Scotts Halts. Be sure to follow the herbicide label directions before applying.

Matthew Stevens is the horticulture extension agent for Halifax County Cooperative Extension. If you have any questions about this article or other aspects of your home gardening, please contact Matthew at 252-583-5161 or

© 2015 The Daily Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Friday, March 6, 2015 11:45 am.

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City of Columbia offering gardening tips, demonstrations

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Spring is approaching, and officials with the City of Columbia are helping residents get their green thumbs in shape.

The City of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department and the Columbia Sertoma Club are partnering on Saturday to sponsor a citywide Community Garden Expo at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and Community Center.

The event is free and features seminars, demonstrations and vendors. Experts are also expected to be on hand to offer information on the economic, health and social benefits of community gardening.

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Tips for getting seedlings to thrive

Many of us now have trays of seeds and seedlings that we are nurturing along. They offer the promise of spring, a head start over direct-sown seeds or access to a particular favorite plant not available as a transplant. We have invested time, money and effort into these tiny plants so here’s a short list of reminders that will improve the chances of survival for these tiny plants. Remember to:

Remove any cover, dome, plastic bag that was used to create a humid environment as soon as the seeds sprout. Leaving the cover on will increase the chance of fungal problems such as damping off.

Keep the planting medium moist — not wet. Seedlings are extremely sensitive to watering problems. If the soil is too dry, the seedlings will quickly wilt and die. If the soil is too wet, rotting roots or fungal problems are likely.

Adjust the lighting as the plants grow. If you are using artificial lights, keep the lights a few inches above the top of your seedlings, changing the position of the lights as the plants grow. Seedlings too close to the bulb will scorch or burn; too far away and they will stretch and grow spindly. If you are using natural light, be sure to rotate your seedlings, as they will tend to grow toward the light source.

Increase humidity to compensate for dry indoor heating. Our heat sources, especially forced hot air, tend to dry out the air. Combat dry air with humidifiers, misting or humidity trays (draining saucers filled with gravel and water).

Provide air circulation particularly in stagnant corners. A lack of airflow creates several problems such as wet or damp foliage, spores settling on leaves and unnaturally stiff stems on seedlings. Provide a slight breeze, perhaps a small fan in your seedling area. It mimics the natural breezes that plants would experience outside. Your leaves will be dry; fungal spores will have less chance to settle on foliage and the stems of your seedlings will be stronger and more supple if they grow in an area with good air circulation.

Another good book

I spent time this weekend reading a new book on smart flower gardening. The book, “The Right-Size Flower Garden,” by Kerry Ann Mendez (St. Lynn’s Press, $18.95,192 pp.) provides excellent suggestions to simplify the garden by selecting the right plants and using a few smart gardening techniques.

The author is consultant, designer, writer and lecturer who focuses on low-maintenance flower and landscape gardening. The book is an easy read with plenty of photographs. Kerry shares her own journey to garden simplification as examples of her process.

Chapters such as The Custom-Sized Garden: Perfectly Fitted to Your Changing Needs, The Elimination Round: You Be the Judge, and The Big Swap — Plant This Not That! provide concrete advice on determining where, what and how big your perfect garden should be.

There are interesting special note pages in each chapter. For example, Flowering Shrubs That Enjoy Buzz Cuts describes select shrubs that actually benefit from extreme pruning — hedge trimmer or even chain-saw techniques.

Some plants are ideal for places where the snow smashes plants: along driveways, just off shoveled decks or that place where the snow cascades off the roof. She recommends smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), Blue Mist shrub/spirea (Caryopteris) and several others for these problem areas.

Garden classes

You can never know enough about gardening, I find. Techniques change, new plants and tools become available and interests change. Sometimes it’s just good to get together with like-minded people and brush up on things you may already do in your garden. The Penn State Extension Offices of Lehigh and Northampton counties and the Master Gardeners are offering a series of garden-themed classes:

Fruit Tree and Bramble Pruning Workshop: Improve your odds of a good harvest by learning the art of pruning fruit trees and brambles. Penn State Master Gardeners and the staff of Pappy’s Orchard will demonstrate and discuss proper pruning techniques. Participants can try their hand on some of the orchard’s trees. The workshop is 10 a.m.- noon March 21 at Pappy’s Orchard in Coopersburg. Workshop costs $12. Call 610-391-9840 for registration details or see

Spring Garden Series: Introduction to Organic Gardening; Organic Gardening Methods and Techniques — Pruning; and Vegetable Diseases and Pests. Four classes in two evenings: March 30 and April 6 at the Gracedale Tower in Nazareth, and March 31 and April 7 at the Lehigh County Agricultural Center in South Whitehall. Each workshop costs $8. Info: 610-391-9840 or

Gardening for Birds and Making Gourd Birdhouses: Learn to create a healthy habitat for the birds: what to plant, what to feed and more.

Gourd Birdhouses — Selecting Gourds for Birdhouses: Varieties to plant, seeds to buy, how to grow and harvest them. Finally participants will learn about curing gourds and making them into birdhouses. Participants will receive a finished gourd to customize at home with paint or shellac. Class will be held on 9-11 a.m. April 11 at the Lehigh County Agricultural Center. The program costs $25. To register: Visit or call 610-391-9840. Register early! Class is limited to 25.

A Gardener’s Bird Diary and Bird Nest Construction: Join Master Gardener Fred Buse for a summary of five years of bird observations in his garden and make a birdhouse from a gourd or wood. The class will be held At the Lehigh Gap Nature Center at 10 a.m. March 28. Info:

Sue Kittek is a freelance garden columnist, writer, and lecturer. Send questions to Garden Keeper at or mail: Garden Keeper, The Morning Call, P.O. Box 1260, Allentown, PA 18105

—Sue Kittek

This Week in the Garden


•Start seeds for: Dahlia, larkspur and portulaca. Finish sowing seeds for transplanting for: dianthus. Next week start: Leaf lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes.

•Create and follow a schedule for starting seeds. Check packets for instructions such as start indoors four weeks before last frost date. April 10-15 for southern Lehigh Valley, May 10-15 for northern areas) for the appropriate starting time.


•Test soil for new beds.

•Cut back ornamental grasses. Divide clumps when you see new growth.

•Examine shrubs and trees. Finish winter pruning.

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10 Tips for a Sustainable Garden and Yard

If you are wanting to be more sustainable in your home, don’t forget the yard and garden. The typical American yard uses billions of gallons of water and hundreds of millions of pounds of fertilizer each year. Why not leverage your lawn space more sustainably?

10 Tips for a More Sustainable Garden and Yard

1. Go organic. Eliminate chemicals from your yard and garden. Organic fertilizers last a lot longer and won’t cause lawn, flower or veggie burn like a chemical fertilizer will. Many chemicals to get rid of bugs these days are “systemic” and stay in the plant for months and even years and kill the bees and other beneficial insects.

2. Use mulch in your garden. Mulch is a home run. It keeps weeds from sprouting, it keeps moisture in the ground so you don’t have to water as often, it adds organic matter to your garden, and it looks nice.

3. Plant natives. Those trees, shrubs, flowers, grasses that are native to your area are well acclimated to your climate and pests. You can plant and they will take care of themselves.

4. Save seeds. Growing from seed saves you money, allows you to grown interesting varieties, and raise crops that are uniquely adapted to your garden conditions. You can get seeds by saving your own, your neighbors, favorites from the farmers market, and even from the produce and fruits you buy at the grocer.

5. Lose your lawn. Lawns in America are a big drain on the pocketbook and time while not providing food for your family or critters. Add decorative flower beds with natives. Start using at least a part of your lawn for growing herbs, fruits and vegetables for you and your family. Nothing is better tasting and better for you than fresh out of the garden and onto the table.

6. Water less. Purchase natives and look for drought tolerant in the descriptions of plants and seeds you are buying. Set up a rain barrel to use for the flower beds. Use drip hoses instead of sprayers these can save up to 70 percent on water. Use mulch in not only your flower beds but also your garden beds. Go organic on lawn care. Organic, all natural lawns are more tolerant of the summer conditions and need less water to survive.

7. Grow your own food. You can easily add fruits and veggies to your existing flower gardens. You can easily expand your garden beds to accommodate herbs and veggies. If you don’t have room for a flower and veggie garden bed, you can grown anything in a self watering pot. There has been a bonanza of new container varieties developed over the last few years. It is easy to grow and eat from the garden spring, summer and fall.

8. Plant perennials. Annuals take a great deal of inputs to grow from seed each year. With perennials, you get the benefit of the inputs for years and years versus just one. Don’t forget about perennial edibles, too! Herbs are a great beginners choice.

9. Compost. Don’t throw those table scraps in the trash to just go sit in a landfill someplace. Re-use their nutritional value in your garden by composting them. There are basically three types of composters: a bin that you layer browns/greens and it takes a year to break down, a tumbler type that you throw the browns/greens together and crank daily to mix up giving you compost in a couple of weeks, and an electric type that can be used indoors or outdoors that gives you compost in a couple of days. Why throw out all those food nutrients when you can reuse them in your own garden for free?

10. New methods for the lawn itself. For your lawn, mow high. The higher grass shades the ground, causing the soil to not dry out as quickly and helping keep some weeds from growing. Use an electric or manual lawn mower. We purchased a self propelled electric mower this past year and it works great! Don’t buy the typical seed mix. Purchase low growing grasses so you only need to mow monthly instead of weekly. Here is a site to purchase low growers for your area: Nichols Garden Nursery.

For more tips on organic gardening in small spaces and containers, check out Melodie’s blog at Victory Garden on the Golf Course.

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