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Archives for March 18, 2015

Hall win Lions Student Speakers Contest


Sounds of Spring

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Zaytuna becomes first accredited Muslim college in the U.S.

There are hundreds of accredited religious colleges in the U.S., but none of them have ever been Muslim.

That changed on March 4, 2015, when Zaytuna College in Berkeley, CA, became the first Muslim college to be accredited.

The school received accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, one of six organizations that work with the government to certify school quality.

Zaytuna is unique for reasons beyond its religious affiliation.

While it has the picturesque brick buildings and well-trimmed landscaping of many famous liberal arts schools, it only has around 50 undergraduate students, and it offers just one degree: a B.A. in Islamic Law and Theology.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, university professor of Islamic Studies at the George Washington University, compares Zaytuna to Harvard and Yale when they were first founded.

“They were established, as were most schools in the US, as part of a church or religion,” he explains. “They provided an ethical and spiritual vision in which educational exercises would take place. The same logic applies to Zaytuna, except with a Muslim framework.”

According to its catalog, Zaytuna “aims to provide its students a foundation in the intellectual heritage of not one but two major world civilizations: the Western and the Islamic.”

This goal is evident in its curriculum.

Students take courses such as Islamic Law: Purification and Prayer and Qur’anic Sciences, along with Philosophy, Astronomy and Rhetoric. To graduate, they must complete five years of Arabic.

In its letter granting Zaytuna accreditation, WASC “commends the institution’s achievements,” and said it has created “a rigorous and high-quality learning experience… that can be viewed as an exemplar in the liberal arts tradition.”

Nadia Chaouch, who attended Zaytuna’s summer Arabic program (which is separate from its B.A. program), calls the coursework “challenging.”

“It’s really obvious the students and faculty care about the mission,” she says. “It was a group of genuinely good people.”

Chaouch and Nasr believe Zaytuna’s existence — and its graduates — will help combat Islamophobia, the fear and/or prejudice toward Muslims.

“Having students who know Western ideas and well as Muslim ideas and the Islamic tradition will help a very great deal in combatting this blind Islamophobia,” Nasr says. “There’s so much prejudice and hatred.”

Dr. Colleen Keyes, Zaytuna’s vice president of Academic Affairs, says what Zaytuna is doing is “changing stereotypes.”

“We hope our grads will do great things for our society — for American society,” she says. “We want them to be upstanding citizens that contribute to the common good.”

Keyes says there have been some who have “taken issue with a Muslim institution achieving accreditation,” but that the school will “carry on and keep doing what it’s doing.”

She hopes to see Zaytuna in the top 100 liberal arts schools in the nation by 2020. With this status, students won’t have to choose between, for example, the prestige of Stanford, and the benefits of Zaytuna.

“I want us to become known as a college with a very high level of education that prepares students to do anything they want to do,” Keyes says. “Law, medicine, journalism, social work, teaching, you name it.”

Nasr believes Zaytuna is the first of what will be many Muslim colleges in the United States.

“This is the beginning of a process which we’ve seen in the case of other religions in the U.S. since the beginning,” he says. “We just had to wait a little bit longer for the Islamic community in America to be deeply rooted enough in the American culture as well as attached to its own Islamic culture to do this.”

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Landscaping students get practical experience through homebuilding program

By Maegan Murray

Hermiston Herald

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Hermiston High School junior Emily Vandehey may not want to go into a landscaping career after she graduates from high school, but she said the skills she’s learning from hands-on experience while participating in the Columbia Basin Student Homebuilder program will last her a lifetime.

In her advanced landscaping class, Vandehey and several other students are working in partnership with the homebuilding program, and with mentor and professional landscaper Doug Bennett, of Doug Bennett Landscaping, to design and then construct a landscaping plan for the student-built home.

Vandehey said, through the class, agriculture teacher Alyssa Davies has taught students how to identify plants appropriate for types of soil and climate conditions and how to draw landscaping plans to scale. Now, the students are working with Bennett to put all of their skills to practice as they plan for and then prepare to landscape the home.

Vandehey said the class has been especially useful for her because she plans to use what she has learned not only in her everyday life, but also in her future career as an agriculture teacher.

“It will help widen my understanding of (agriculture) opportunities in the region,” she said.

Bennett comes to the class every Wednesday to work with students for two hours at the homebuilding program site. Bennett said he and the students started by coming up with ideas of what they would like to see the landscaping plan include. He then helped narrow down their plant selections to what would work best with the climate and soil type of the area.

“I wanted them to get an opportunity to be creative and come up with their own ideas,” he said. “They are so used to doing it in the classroom and not being able to be as creative. So I tried to get them to think outside the box and utilize their abilities that will be easy maintenance, have curb appeal and be family oriented.”

Bennett said he invited the students out to his home in Hermiston so they could see some of the plants and projects he was experimenting with there. He and the students then took a trip around town where students examined landscaping examples at various businesses and lots.

Sophomore Wyatt Paschal said the whole experience has been useful to him because he too hopes to become an agriculture teacher one day, and he appreciates the opportunity to be mentored by someone who already is in the field. Like Vandehey, he said he will use the skills he learns with his future classes.

“We might be able to plant a garden,” he said. “It gives me a background on what to know. I think it will be pretty useful.”

So far, the students have mostly only tackled planning for the project. With spring right around the corner, however, the students are excited to get their hands dirty.

“We are just starting to be able to do some stuff,” junior Jansen Edmiston said this week. “We’re digging the fire pit right now, and we’re working on the back yard. We did the planting of the flowers by the main sign.”

The overall design of the yard has yet to be completed, Bennett said, but students are slowly making strides with the limited time they have available to get everything done. He said, in addition to a fire pit, the students would like to add a bench swing in the back yard and a variety of plants that will suit Hermiston’s climate. He said they have yet to start on the front yard.

Edmiston said she is most excited to see what the final project looks like when it is completed at the end of the year.

“I’m excited to see it all come together,” she said.

Vandehey agreed.

“Twenty years later, when we drive past the house, we can say, ‘Hey, I put that there,’ ” she said.

Paschal said he is also excited about learning the business side of landscaping. For the project, the students had to work with Davies to come up with a budget like they would in a real-life scenario.

“You get to go through your goals and priorities,” he said. “I like learning all the business perspectives.”

Bennett said he has enjoyed mentoring the students, even though they have struggled with staying focused at times.

“It is rewarding in a sense because, when we get it finished, they are going to be able to see it and reflect on it,” he said. “With this millennials generation, maybe some of them will want to become gardeners. This might help them find out what they are interested in.”

Bennett said the goal is to teach students the basics of landscaping and give them a background that could be useful in a multitude of career paths.

“I think this is very beneficial,” he said. “They get the construction side of it and the landscaping. Students learn some skills that they will maybe be able to learn in the future. Maybe they don’t want to be sitting in an office and want to be out doing more hands-on skills … It’s all about encouraging them to keep an eye open, get them to think about ‘What else can I do?’ What I’m trying to do is teach them life skills.”




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The Mulvihill garden in SLO: In the zone

Local News

Lucia Mar teachers, picket signs in hand, take to the streets

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Nievera Williams Design hosts garden tours Sunday

Landscape designers Keith Williams and Mario Nievera of Nievera Williams Design will conduct tours of two of their Palm Beach garden projects Sunday as part of the annual “Garden Dialogues” program sponsored by the Cultural Landscape Foundation of Washington, D.C.

From 10:30 a.m. -noon, Williams and the homeowners will lead a walk through the gardens at the Midtown residence, which features a series of landscaped “rooms” for dining, lounging and entertaining. Nievera’s similar tour will take place 4-5:30 p.m. at an award-winning North End garden, where the landscaping highlights the backyard pool.

Tickets are $45 each and can be reserved online at Space is very limited. Call (202) 483-0553.

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On the Secret Gardens Tour: The formality of a parterre flows into a party …

In the mid-19th century, as the riverside of St. Charles Avenue, between First and Toledano streets, was developing into a stately neighborhood, most blocks boasted just a few grand homes, with spacious private gardens and sprawling oaks filling the grounds in between. As early as the 1850s, according to one local historian, authors were referencing the area — in lower case — by a bucolic name. They called it the garden district.

Secret Gardens Tour

  • What: Fourteen private gardens will be open for viewing with proceeds benefiting the Brain Injury Association of Louisiana, with the money used to benefit brain and spinal cord injury recovery.
  • When: Saturday, March 21. Private tours, guided by landscaping experts, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Self-Guided tours will be from noon to 5:30 p.m.
  • Where: Self-guided tours are $25 if purchased by 5 p.m.  on March 18. After that, tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for students with identification, and free for children under five. Guided tours are $60. Details:
  • Admission: Saturday, March 21. Private tours, guided by landscaping experts, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Self-Guided tours will be from noon to 5:30 p.m.

Many of the larger lots have been subdivided over the century and half since, but today’s Garden District still features some of city’s most beautifully manicured landscapes. Fourteen will be on display this Saturday, March 21, for the Secret Gardens Tour, benefiting the Brain Injury Association of Louisiana.

The Garden District is no stranger to home tours, but this one flips the attention from architecture to botany.

Among the gardens included will be the one surrounding Tony and Katherine Gelderman’s 1852 side hall, a piece of property that encompasses about a quarter of the block.

This yard has a true New Orleans sensibility: one side is perfectly formal, the other is all about the party.

“With the tourists all around here, we thought it made sense to do formal over here, where they could see it,” said Katherine Gelderman, as she buzzed open the gate and recently welcomed a visitor into the formal parterre on the First Street side of her home.

The tall iron fence affords a partial sidewalk view of the lovingly disciplined garden design laid out in the linear space, with clipped boxwoods in a diamond pattern flanking a brick-lined path.

Low mondo grass spills among the hedges, and the George Tabor azaleas covered in buds are primed to turn the wall of green into a profusion of pink. Antique urns neatly planted with seasonal color — sweet alyssum and pansies of late — add to the formality.

In the center is a raised bed with a sugar-kettle fountain as its centerpiece. Closer to the street, four sweet olives provide a fragrant accent.

“When the buds fall, it looks like it’s snowing,” said Gelderman. “It’s our kind of snow here.”

Walk around the house, and the landscape changes from cozy manicured precision to a sweeping green expanse.

A massive lawn — you’d call it a small field if you saw it in a park — is the main attraction here. Framed by hedgerow of Savannah hollies, a line of crape myrtles and a handful of mature citrus trees, the layout is wide open in the center, calling to mind a croquet lawn or putting green. The emptiness is the advantage.

Just a few weeks ago, the lawn played host to the 500-person wedding reception for the Geldermans’ niece, as it has done in past years for their nephew’s wedding, their daughter Carroll’s 1,000-guest black-and-white masquerade debutante ball, nonprofit luncheons, cocktail parties, business gatherings, family volleyball matches and “birthday boils” with crawfish and cake.

“We thought about putting in a pool, but it’s really nice to have a big yard,” Gelderman said. “You can’t do all that with a pool.”

The Geldermans bought the property in 2001. At first, they lived in the carriage house while renovating the main home. At the time, there were large trees around the grounds‚ a big magnolia out front, a water oak and elm shading much of the lawn. Everything was overgrown.

“We had to do the inside (renovation); that was the priority,” Gelderman said. “In the beginning, I would just go out into the yard and dig up junk trees.”
Katrina took care of some of the others. “Lightning must have struck the water oak, because it was cut in half,” she said.

The elm, dying of a termite infestation, was removed not long after they moved in.
“I love trees. I had to leave the house when they took it out,” Gelderman said. “I couldn’t watch it.”

Over the years, the garden has evolved. The family has worked with several landscaping companies, and today, gardener Becky Reeder keeps everything freshly planted and neat and tidy.

Most of the work comes on the formal side.

Reeder estimates she spends about three hours a week clipping the hedges and keeping the parterre in check. She hand-trims the ball boxwoods to get the right shape.

When their now college-age daughter was young, Gelderman developed a morning gardening habit. “We would walk to school, and when I got home, I’d pick up the paper, and then pull off the plastic bag,” she said. “I wouldn’t go inside until I had filled the bag with weeds.”

Today, she still enjoys walking through the formal garden, picking camellias and other flowers in bloom and carrying them inside.

Parterres are landscapes at their most manicured. An outgrowth of the 16th-century English knot gardens, the parterre tradition of planting beds in elaborate patterns and clipping evergreens into sophisticated shapes became a must-have for 17th-century royalty. Versailles’ parterre is probably the world’s most famous, but the gardens can be equally charming in smaller size.

To fully appreciate the designs, they’re best viewed from above. The Geldermans’ bedroom overlooks the parterre from the second floor of their home. When the weather is nice, they throw open the windows. The fountain below provides a soothing sound track.

“We have our fun over here (in the lawn) and get our color over there (in the formal garden),” Gelderman said. “We’ve just had a great time in this yard.”

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Tips To Grow Calendula In Your Garden

Calendula commonly known as “Pot Marigolds” are brightly colored flowers that belong to the same family as daisies and chrysanthemums. These are found in a variety of bright colors like orange, yellow and lemon. The flowers are daisy like shaped and grow on long stems. In this article todat you can follow ways to grow calendula in your garden.

Calendula flowers are somewhat annual in nature, and the plants bloom throughout the season. They grow from mid-summer till the onset of severe winters. But for their unpleasant odour, these serve as good indoor plants.

5 Fastest Growing Plants

Calendula petals are used in a variety of recipes, from butter to wine. The petals have a lightly bitter flavor but still they are preferred for their intense color. They are also used as cake decoration items.

Growing Calendula
Calendula can be grown directly from seeds or they can be transplanted if grown indoors. It is important that the seeds are sown early before the beginning of summer. Calendula adapts itself very well to the pot culture. Hence it can be grown in well designed pots and can be maintained in the house balcony.

Calendula grows in any kind of soil. It does not require any particular kind of fertilizers but the flowers really bloom well if you add some good amount of compost to the soil.

Sow the seeds early in the season and cover them lightly with ¼” of soil. They require a little bit of sun and shade as well. They tend to show slow growth in extreme heat conditions and warmer climates.

Once the seeds are sown it takes 10-12 days to germinate. Calendula plants grow really fast. So if you sow the seeds well before summer then you can expect the first set of flowers somewhere around mid of summer.

Once the plant starts to germinate and grows a bit, then you can transplant it to your garden area. For those who wish to grow calendula on a larger scale in a wide area can directly sow seeds in that area. However, care should be taken to sow the seed 15” apart.

Maintaining The Plants
Calendula requires very low maintenance. Here are a few tips to maintain the continuous growth of calendula. Follow them see the beautiful flowers blossom in your garden.

As stated earlier, calendula grows in most kind of soils. However, it is necessary to keep the soil moist . So it is very important to water the plants regularly or twice a week depending on the climatic condition. In more temperate areas, watering calendula plants regularly will help them to brace the summer heat and the flowers will continue to bloom till mid winters.

Improving Soil Quality
Good quality of soil will produce healthier calendula plants. If you plan to grow calendula in the garden, it is advisable to add mulch around the plants to keep the weeds down. Adding a good amount of compost to the soil goes a long way in maintaining the calendula plants .

Cutting The Blooms
Once flowers bloom and die out, you should cut the dead blooms. This will not only make the plants look neat but will make way for new blooms.

Treatment For Insects And Diseases
Calendula flowers easily attract insects. The most common insect problem are Aphids which can be readily treated by periodical spraying of insecticidal repellent. Mildews can be treated with the help of fungicides.

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How to create and plant a family garden

Adults will want somewhere to relax with a book or a drink, and somewhere to have alfresco family meals, while children need a play area of their own where they won’t be told to be careful of the flowers every time they move.

And since it still is a garden, there should also be plenty of flowers – easy-care climbers and clumps of sturdy perennials rather than anything delicate.

So the adult relaxing area is best either next to the house, with easy access to the kitchen for bringing out drinks and food, or wherever the sun hits at the time you are most likely to want to be outside – perhaps the early evening?

Meanwhile, the children’s area must be visible from the house, so that even if you are in the kitchen you can still see what they are up to.

The large DIY stores have superb collections of swings and climbing frames these days, but it is easy to make things yourself.

For instance, a sandpit lined with bricks and sunk into the ground with a wooden lid to keep out cats and foxes, or chunks of wood sunk into the ground for jumping on are both reasonably simple to achieve.

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