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Archives for March 23, 2015

Wanted: Ideas on I-75 work

FRENCHTOWN TOWNSHIP — A public information meeting will be held Thursday on planned reconstruction of I-75 between N. Dixie Hwy and I- 275 in 2015 and 2016.

The forum will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p. m. at the Frenchtown Township Hall, 2744 Vivian Rd.

Local officials and representatives from the Michigan Department of Transportation will be present to explain the project and answer questions.

MDOT will give a formal presentation on the job at 5 p.m., said Kari Arend, a media spokeswoman for MDOT.

The meeting will offer citizens, business owners and commuters a chance to get updates on the project schedule and provide suggestions on several aesthetics and landscape themes for bridges along the I-75 corridor and for the “Pure Michigan” entrance signs at the Ohio line.

Work will get under way this summer. The project includes rebuilding 5.6 miles of pavement, 10 ramps and four bridges along with repair of another six structures, Ms. Arend said in a press release.

In addition, there will be lighting, sign, guardrail and drainage upgrades made along with landscaping improvements.

Citizens can help MDOT with planning a design for the corridor in Monroe County.

Further information about MDOT is available at

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Is the Lucas Museum Going Back to the Drawing Board?

[renderings by MAD Architects]

A Tribune story on Sunday suggested that as the debate over the Lucas Museum site continues to cycle through the court system, architect Ma Yansong may be revisiting his initial plans. We reached out to MAD, and Kate LeFurgy, a member of the studio’s press team, who said she “can confirm that the museum design is being refined but we have no comment on time line or extent of revisions.” While there’s certainly no guarantee an aesthetic change can overcome the legal diffiiculties posed by the Friends of the Parks’s suit, a new look could soften some of the opposition. Trib writer Melissa Harris certainly doesn’t soft pedal her own take on the controversy: by opposing a museum on what is now a parking lot, she says the Friends of the Parks are “living in a land of fairies and other magical creatures.”

Harris also has a few ideas. In light of Judge Darrah’s ruling that cites the public trust doctrine, she advocates the Lucas make direct overtures to the public, such as offering free admission, to mollify critics who claim this projet won’t benefit public interests.

·In Lucas Museum fight, preservationists are protecting parking lots [Chicago Tribune]
·Previous Lucas Museum coverage [Curbed Chicago]

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Landscape designer helps create innovative outdoor space

This week’s Monday QA features Bryce Bills, a landscape designer and foreman at John A. Anderson Landscape Design Inc. and a newly licensed certified nursery professional. A Sioux Falls native and graduate of South Dakota State University, he started working for his employer during college and was hired full time after graduation.

Question: What’s the best part about your job?

Answer: Being able to create innovative landscapes that provide clients with functional yet entertain-able outdoor living spaces. Also, meeting new clients and overcoming each of their landscape problems with original ideas.

Q: You recently became a new certified nursery professional. What was the most memorable part of going through that experience?

A: Putting in the hours in studying then finally realized I passed the test made all the time worth it. Collecting twigs of various shrubs/trees for my test prep. My room was scattered with twigs for weeks, so it was nice to know all the prep time was worth it.

Q: Any advice for people looking to do something new with their landscaping? What trends are you noticing?

A: Create a functional outdoor space that embodies your everyday lifestyle which may be entertaining, relaxing, gardening, etc. Current trends I’m noticing include outdoor spaces where people can entertain their friends and family within their space. This can be done by utilizing the many options of hardscapes: natural or modern materials, fire pits, seat walls, arbors, pillars, etc.

Q: What motivates you to be active in your community or profession?

A: The opportunity to give people the landscapes they envision in their minds, then hearing the stories on how much they enjoy the space that we created as a client/designer partnership.

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: I enjoy anything that involves being outside so landscaping fits the part. Any chance I get I’m fishing, hunting, hiking, mountain biking, boating, swimming, golfing, or hanging out with friends and family.

Q: What do you like about living in Sioux Falls?

A: Sioux Falls has plenty of options for entertainment and is close to countless spots in which I can fulfill the things I do for fun. Also, Sioux Falls is full of people that want to create a better city and new landscaping for residential or commercial properties enhances that.

Q: What can Sioux Falls do to attract more young professionals?

A: Being able to provide scholarships and different programs that get young professionals involved in what they’re pursuing. Doing this in a creative way that grabs their attention and gets them motivated for what their future potential could be. This could be done by providing different packages that might include scholarships, schooling strategies, and even tools or equipment they need.

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Roots and Shoots: Happy First Day of Spring

March 23, 2015

By Pamela Doan

Signs of spring (Photo by P. Doan)

Signs of spring (Photo by P. Doan)

Daffodils are pushing up through the mud. I saw a purple finch at the bird feeder this week (they migrate through). Constitution Marsh posted a photo of skunk cabbage emerging (one of the earliest bloomers). There’s hope.

I’m frequently asked about how to learn more about gardening and where to buy plants. We’re fortunate to have top-notch resources nearby. Here are some places to look:

Cornell Cooperative Extension in Putnam County
The extension program exists to spread the knowledge from Cornell researchers to home gardeners and industry professionals alike. The best thing about their workshops is that everything is based on tested scientific principles, and they’re forward thinking, dealing with real-life issues about climate change and the ecological impact. Their garden and landscaping workshops are free or low cost. See the schedule at

Stonecrop Gardens
This public garden here in Philipstown covers 12 acres and has diverse plantings, none very formal. You can learn a lot about design just by visiting frequently throughout the season. They offer guided tours and classes, too. The gardens open for the year at the end of March. Check for upcoming classes.

Putnam Valley Grange
Originally a fraternal order of farmers, the Grange is now a nonprofit open to anyone in the community. They offer a Backyard Farming Series that focuses more on livestock. The upcoming series in April includes raising chickens, turkeys and beekeeping. Details and registration are at

New York Botanical Garden
If you’re ready to study horticulture, gardening or landscape design in depth, the NYBG has certificate programs on these and other subjects and is known for the quality of their education.

Hudson Valley Garden Calendar
This site has listings for anything and everything related to gardening, including classes, shows, sales and seed swaps.

Resources for purchasing plants

Plant sales are held by Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District March 25 (order deadline), Native Plant Center April 25, Stonecrop Alpine Plant Sale April 25, Philipstown Garden Club May 9 and Master Gardeners May 16.

All of these are plant sales that you can visit on the date noted except the Soil and Water sale. Their seedling sale is online or you can mail in the order form and then pick up plants in April. Every year they offer a great selection of seedlings and bare root plants, many of them native to our area. It’s affordable (less than $2 a bush for blueberries, for example) and an easy way to add value to your yard for birds and pollinators. Visit

For a better selection of plants than you’ll find at a big box store, I like to visit Sabellico Greenhouses in Hopewell Junction for their wide variety; many are natives, and many are grown onsite in their own greenhouses. Their staff is knowledgeable and helpful, too.

Researching what to plant and where to plant it

The Native Plant Center maintains lists of recommended native plants for our area. has an extensive database of native plants. has resources for vegetables, herbs, perennials, woody plants and trees. Every plant has specific requirements for maximum growth and yield; this website can help make that happen.

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Touring Six Fabulous Private Gardens Across Miami Beach

Click here to view the full photogallery.

This 1939 Art Deco home on South Beach’s Lenox Avenue has been on the garden tour before, but new additions include pebble walkways and water gardens inspired by the tropical rainforests of Asia.

Click here to view the full photogallery.

This house, built in 1936 by architect Carlos Schoeppl on Sunset Island I’s Lucerne Avenue, was renovated and restored in 2014. It is surrounded by a garden by landscape architect Perry Guillot. Highlights include the bougainvillea and Art Deco fountain in the front yard, and the pool and outdoor entertaining areas behind. It’s now on the market.

Click here to view the full photogallery.

Originally designed by Lewis Aqui in 1998, this garden on Sunset Island I’s Northview Drive with its kidney-shaped pool and midcentury styling flanks an Art Deco house.

Click here to view the full photogallery.

“Villa Kasmar” on North Bay Road has recently gone through a major overhaul by its current owners. The front garden and courtyard, with its gurgling fountain, includes two magnolia trees, Alexander Palms, mondo grass, a lignum vitae tree, and bougainvillea. The backyard is lined by fishtail palms, clusia trees, and flowering plants.

Click here to view the full photogallery.

This garden, on 47th Street, includes a ‘rainforest’ front yard area with a collection of exceedingly rare and endangered palms leading a water garden in the courtyard, with Art Deco waterfall cascade salvaged from the facade of an old building in Chicago. Through the Art Deco house, the rear garden looks out over Lake Surprise. The landscaping was designed by Barry Miller of Savino Miller.
· The Great Outdoors coverage [Curbed Miami]

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Help available to manage landscaping, maintain water quality

The Smith Mountain Lake Association wants you to know your lawn care practices or lack thereof can greatly impact the water quality of the lake.

This is true whether you have lakefront property or you kick off your shoes miles from the pond. The fact is; If you use too much fertilizer or do not control soil erosion on your property, the excess fertilizer or eroded soil find their way into the lake.

Smith Mountain Lake is one of the most closely monitored lakes in the country, according to Jim Pilversack, who is part of SMLA’s Buffer Landscape Committee. The SMLA teamed up with Ferrum College to do scientific monitoring at the lake 28 years ago.

“We’ve been collecting data on water clarity, algae growth, phosphorous and other kinds of things that exist in lakes,” said Pilversack. “As lakes get older, typically they deteriorate, and this lake has not.”

Water quality is a fragile thing. The Smith Mountain Lake watershed includes Pittsylvania, Franklin, Bedford, Botetourt and Roanoke counties. Anything washed into the creeks and streams that feed the Roanoke and the Blackwater rivers ends up in the lake. So the Buffer Landscape Committee of the SMLA wants to you to start being a better water steward.

“For anyone that lives in the Smith Mountain Lake watershed our mantra has been slow and filter the flow of water across your property,” added Pilversack. “Whether it’s coming from your road, off your roof or it’s just from the rain that beats down on your property, then you’re are doing something to help protect the water quality of the lake,” he said.

So how does good landscaping help water quality? Slowing the flow of water gives it more time to soak into the ground, which benefits plants and trees, as well as the groundwater. It also helps reduce erosion. Captured water in barrels can be used to water gardens.

Spreading the flow is another way to slow running water. This can be done by removing downspouts and gutters and putting gravel around the roof drip line, that is, if your house has proper grading sloped away from the foundation. Pilversack also recommended routing downspout water to a rain garden or other planted and mulch-covered areas.

Remember the rest of the mantra — filter the flow. The more plants on your property, the more roots you have to filter the water. Plantings with deep root systems, such as perennials, scrubs and trees, help prevent runoff. Rain gardens, a rain barrel to catch water from gutters, berms and terracing are other solutions.

Another step is to replace your turf grass. Turf grass has shallow roots and requires more water and fertilizer than most native plants, Pilversack said.

But where and how do you begin?

The Buffer Landscape Committee has you covered. All you need to do is give them a call.

“We have Buffer Landscape Adviser Service Teams, BLAST, with two to four people who will walk around the property with the property owner and brainstorm ideas on how they can spread and slow water on their property,” Pilversack said.

After the visit, the team sends homeowners a report with suggestions so the owners can tackle the project on their own time.

If you want to learn more about becoming a better steward for water quality in the Smith Mountain Lake watershed, register for a free educational program sponsored by the Smith Mountain Lake Association. It will be held at the W.E. Skelton 4-H Center on April 12 from 1 to 4 p.m. Speakers will talk about native plants, turf grass substitutes, rain gardens, wildlife habitat, micro pollutants and water-wise landscaping, as well as tours of the buffer garden area, a rain barrel workshop, bluebird-house building and more.

To register for the free event, access

Registration is not required, but will help the association estimate space needs.

Smith Mountain Lake Association,,, 719-0690

Article source:

Gardening tips: Patience required in cold, wet spring

By Maryanne Sparks
Fauquier County Master Gardener

It’s not just seasoned gardeners who get the urge to play in the dirt this time of year. Almost everyone wants to see color after a cold and wet winter. But don’t go full force into your landscaping just yet. Remember that March remains a very tricky time to garden.

Here are some tips to give you a successful experience.

• Don’t go into your garden if the soil is too wet.

If you squeeze a handful of soil and water weeps through your fingers, then the soil is too wet to work. Even walking in your garden with wet soil will cause compression, eliminating air pockets necessary to provide oxygen to the root zone and to provide avenues for nutrient movement through the soil.

• Here’s an alternative: Plant containers for instant gratification!

Replace the old soil in your containers. Old soil has been depleted of nutrients and has been compacted. Soilless mediums will be difficult to rehydrate. Start with fresh material.

• Plant cold-hardy plants.

The last average frost in this area typically comes between May 5 and May 15. Don’t lose your plants (effort and money) to a late frost. You’ll be disappointed and discouraged. Try pansies or ornamental cabbage, and stay away from annuals such as petunias until May.

Buy healthy plants. Don’t think you can rescue a failing plant. Pop the plant out of the container. The roots should be white and fleshy like bean sprouts. Would you buy dry or rotting sprouts?

Buy the largest plants you can afford. Let the nursery do the task of caring for seedlings. When planting for the season, enjoy the larger 6- or 8-inch potted plant.

• And, whether planting in the ground or in a container, don’t forget to water your plants regularly for the first 2 weeks.

After the first couple of weeks, water your plants when the top layer of soil dries out. Water containers until the soil is saturated and water runs freely from the drain holes.

• Even though the calendar says “Spring,” Mother Nature still says “cold.”

Don’t be caught by surprise! So when your friends ask what you have planted in your garden, just respond with a simple, “It’s too wet.”

If you have gardening questions, contact the Horticulture Help Desk at the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office, 24 Pelham St. in Warrenton, by telephone at 540-341-7950, extension 1, or by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Article source:

Grow up: Tips for gardening vertically in small or large spaces (photos)

You’ve seen plants growing in containers up walls. And you probably appreciate the greenery, the pollinator-friendly flowers and the beauty of looking at floral rather than a concrete blocks or fencing.

But there are other hidden benefits to vertical gardening. Living walls transform unused space into gardens where small fruits, vegetables and herbs can thrive.

They also provide privacy, a buffer against wind and noise, and can help lower building temperatures in summer and prevent heat loss in winter, say advocates.

If you have installed ropes or a trellis to create a green wall in the past, you might be surprised to hear about the latest generation of “wall systems.” They come with water-recycling methods and custom containers, making them more complex than early green walls but so much easier to maintain.

A new book by Shawna Coronado, “Grow a Living Wall: Create Vertical Gardens with Purpose: Pollinators – Herbs and Veggies – Aromatherapy – Many More” ($24.99, Cool Springs Press), is a great guide to creating a garden that everyone can look up to.

Throughout the 160-page paperback, Coronado tackles options for living walls and suggests where to place them to maximize space, sun and the gardener’s goal.

Do you want to grow veggies or herbs outside your kitchen window for easy-to-reach fresh ingredients? Perhaps your landscape can use an upgrade with flowers or medicinal plants.

Some gardeners use vertical walls to provide a green net of air filtration near a living area or to protect exterior walls from exposure to direct sunlight and keep the indoors cool.

Maybe you want something simple: Only ferns. These fiddlehead producers are the perfect living wall garden solution for an extremely damp, humid and partial-shady area, says Coronado.

Is moss a problem for you? Bring Boston fern indoors in the winter then back outside for use as a vertical garden on a wall that continually grows green moss on it, she says.

Coronado, a columnist, photographer and spokesperson for organic gardening, spotlights 20 different gardens in her book. Here, she offers advice on what living wall system works best in various locations:

Tiny balconies and patios that are no larger than 3 foot by 3 foot are perfect for smaller living wall systems such a framed small box system. It offers stylish growing capabilities on a wall or door that does not overwhelm a newbie grower.

However, the walls in that same space could be filled to the brim with more than 40 plants with pocket vertical garden systems. Other gardeners have to have a large ground space to do that, plus they have to till and weed. There is no tilling or weeding necessary with a living wall system.

Sprawling gardens with large spaces and long stretches of outdoor fencing are another perfect arena for living wall systems. Most garden design along walls feature ground plantings or shrubs with little or no vertical eye appeal. Growing hundreds of flowers or ornamental edible vegetable plants along large stretches of outdoor fencing can be an amazingly beautiful addition to a garden.

With plants stacked on top of one another in a living wall system, gardeners have an area that is more confined with which to water. Weeding chores become unnecessary and watering becomes more sustainable because both self-watering systems and hand watering drip down on top of the plants below them. This means you will use less water to water a vertical wall garden.

Pollinator gardens stocked mostly with flowers to make it a haven for bees and other pollinators are increasingly important in an era where society is concerned about pollinator movement for food safety.

Envision vertical wall systems stretching across large metro areas to create pollinator corridors. These corridors can help pollinators survive longer by helping them find a path through hot cement deserts across North America.

Window box-style planter systems can be either stand-alone units or attached to a wall, gate or fence. Benefits of the window box style units include more soil and a wider planting zone, easy access for watering, and deeper root growing availability. Additionally, these units often hold more plants, so they work well no matter the size of space you have. You can easily cover an entire wall with this type of system or fit it in an extremely small nook. The units are versatile and long lasting. It’s easy to pull the container tray out of the unit to clean it.

Wall felt pocket systems are typically made from recycled BPA-free plastics. Each unit rests flatter against a wall than other styles of systems, so it might be more of a fit for very narrow areas. Watering is extremely easy with these units and many have self-watering tubes attached through the back of the system to enable lower maintenance. The only critical maintenance is the units need to be completely pulled down annually for cleaning and upkeep.

Framed small box systems work well in small spaces and easily hang on doors, gates, balcony fences and walls. Plants can be changed out effortlessly. They are easy to maintain, although Coronado had had more success watering from the front for outdoor units, rather than the top of the vertical wall garden.

Hydroponic box systems offer the advantage of not needing soil and are very easy to maintain. These systems work great with all variety of plants, but particularly drought-tolerant plants such as succulents. Each block unit must be soaked in water every few weeks to ensure the plants get the required water. For seasonal cleanup, take the unit down and pull the plants out.

Large freestanding systems are great for growing large quantities of plants and can fit in a 3 foot or less space. An advantage of the system is the self-watering pump. However, the units are often connected to a self-watering base and can be quite heavy.

Make-your-own system. There are dozens of different homemade living wall systems: cones or hanging containers, pallet gardens, glass jars or other small containers, and shelving unit style gardens. All offer money-saving and creative alternatives to purchasing systems.

— Homes Gardens of the Northwest staff

Stay in the loop. Sign up to receive a free weekly Homes Gardens of the Northwest newsletter and join the conversation at the Homes Gardens of the Northwest on Facebook page.

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Tips to begin your spring garden – Stephenville Empire

Littlejohn's Produce provides tips and tricks on early gardening

Littlejohn’s Produce provides tips and tricks on early gardening

Violas looking healthy and pretty inside Littlejohn’s greenhouse.

Littlejohn's Produce provides tips and tricks on early gardening

Littlejohn’s Produce provides tips and tricks on early gardening

Just a small section of Littlejohn’s Produce selection of seeds.

Tips to begin your spring garden

Tips to begin your spring garden

Fresh fruits and veggies at Littlejohn’s Produce.

Posted: Sunday, March 22, 2015 12:07 pm

Tips to begin your spring garden

By Josh Harville

Stephenville Empire-Tribune

With spring finally here, it’s time to begin thinking about that garden you’ve been dreaming about.

Mark Littlejohn, owner and operator of Littlejohn’s Produce, had some advice for those thinking of starting early.

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      Sunday, March 22, 2015 12:07 pm.

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      Mark Littlejohn,



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      Botanic Gardens president to discuss progress March 28, garden tips April 4

      Garden and nature lovers, and those interested in area tourism are invited to learn about the Delaware Botanic Gardens from 10:15 a.m. to noon, Saturday, March 28, at Georgetown Public Library. Michael Zajic, president of the nonprofit gardens, will give a half-hour slide show, and talk about the project set to open in 2017 near Dagsboro.

      The Delaware Botanic Gardens, located on Piney Neck Road, fronting 1,000 feet on Pepper Creek, a beautiful tributary of the Indian River, strive to exalt nature’s beauty, to delight and educate visitors, and to study and preserve Delmarva’s natural ecosystems through the creation of a unique, sustainable, accessible coastal-plain garden for the benefit of the public.

      The newest news flash is that famed regional landscape architecture firm Rodney Robinson Associates Inc. of Wilmington is providing its years of botanic garden design experience in moving the master plan forward.

      The following week, Zajic will give a presentation on Spring Garden Tips and Outstanding Annuals from 11 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 4, at the Cordrey Center of East Coast Garden Center located just two turns off Route 24, at 30366 Cordrey Road, Millsboro. The presentation will cover many areas of ornamental gardening to get gardeners started for the season, and will include tips on design, containers, landscape construction materials, ponds, lawns, fertilization, native plants, best choices for butterflies, ground covers, trees, shrubs and perennials.

      Outstanding annual flower and foliage plants will include some exciting new cultivars as well as things to consider when choosing annuals. A $10 donation to Delaware Botanic Gardens is requested. Delaware Botanic Gardens members attend free.

      Zajic was horticultural supervisor at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Md., for 23 years. His personal gardens have been featured on PBS’s “Victory Garden,” Home and Garden TV, and in many books and magazines. Zajic is president of the Delaware Botanic Gardens in Dagsboro, as well as owner of Delaware’s smallest botanic garden, Mill Pond Garden on Red Mill Pond.

      These presentations are part a series sponsored by the Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek whose mission is to create an inspirational, educational, and sustainable public coastal-plain botanic garden in southern Delaware for the benefit and enjoyment of the public. For more information, go to


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