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Archives for March 28, 2015

Bill now due from Buckeye Lake dam neglect

BUCKEYE LAKE, Ohio — At least the Ohio Department of Natural Resources can admit its

And it has made big ones with Buckeye Lake, the largest being its decision decades ago to sell
the backside of the dam for private development.

Now, 370 homes sit atop the 4.1-mile, 177-year-old earthen dam, not to mention nearly as many
patios and docks and trees that, over the years, have converted a structure intended to hold back
millions of gallons of water into a lakeside home and garden show — to the possible peril of
thousands who live and work downstream.

“The same decisions would not be made now,” said Bethany McCorkle, spokeswoman for the state

Those decisions have astounded every engineer who has studied the dam’s structural

Michael Spoor, who has studied dams for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for more than 40 years,
said Buckeye Lake’s dam is “without precedent” in the number of man-made encroachments compromising
its structure.

Those impediments are the most significant source of the dam’s many defects, said a report by
the Corps that was commissioned by the state in April for $140,000 and released this month. The
Corps has direct oversight of more than 600 dams and inspects more than 2,000 dams every two

The state will pay for that mistake, as Gov. John Kasich announced last week that a new dam is
required to keep the region’s residents safe.

“We will build a new dam at Buckeye Lake. Period. End of story,” Kasich said in his
announcement. He anticipates that the project might cost $150 million and take five years to

Dozens of area businesses dependent on the summer influx of recreation dollars that the lake
draws will suffer in the meantime. Kasich ordered that Buckeye Lake remain at low pool throughout
the project because the Corps said that the risk of dam failure increases with the lake’s water
volume. Keeping the water low, however, makes it largely useless for many boats.

Assigning blame for the dam’s decline is difficult, as most of the decision makers are dead.

“It appears that sometime in the early 1900s, the state’s Board of Public Works began to sell
the land occupied by the borrow pits (where land had been excavated to use in building the dam) and
lease the land occupied by the back half of the dam to private persons for summer cottages,” the
ODNR’s McCorkle said in an email.

At the time, the area was largely undeveloped farmland. A few farmers, who had for years watered
their livestock at the lake, took the opportunity to buy the land from the state. By that point,
the lake had outlived its purpose as a feeder lake for the Ohio Erie Canal.

The canal system had been replaced by railroads, and Ohio’s Board of Public Works abandoned the
lake as a canal feeder in 1894, renamed the Licking Summit Reservoir as Buckeye Lake and dedicated
it as a public park.

The park’s popularity skyrocketed when the Columbus, Buckeye Lake and Newark Traction Co. was
founded in 1904 as part of a larger electric interurban railway system. Soon, people were flocking
to the lake from Columbus, and cabins, cottages and hotels began to spring up around it.

The development was encouraged by the state, helped by the fact that the president of Ohio’s
Public Works division, George Watkins, was among those who founded the Buckeye Lake Yacht Club in

By the time the interurban went out of business in 1929, Buckeye Lake’s popularity was secured.
A beach, arcade, bathhouse and two dance pavilions had been built near the current site of the
state park’s boat launch on Rt. 79. A year later, the park expanded into the Buckeye Lake Amusement
Park, one of the state’s most-popular destinations for the next 30 years.

Interest in owning a cottage on the lake was growing fast, and the landowners, both public and
private, were happy to oblige. The cottage locations were identified by the families who owned the
land: the Bounds Addition, the Myer Addition, the Neel Addition, the Rosebraugh Addition.

By the late 1950s, V.W. Flickinger, the first chief of parks after the creation of the ODNR in
1949, determined that the lands occupied by the back half of the Buckeye Lake dam were “no longer
needed for public recreation, parking areas, roads and highways, or other projects of a public

In June 1960, the “property surplus” was surveyed and subdivided into 77 lots. Documents
relinquishing the state’s interest in the lots were drafted by then-state Auditor Jim Rhodes,
approved by state Attorney General William Saxbe and signed by Gov. Michael DiSalle and Secretary
of State Ted W. Brown.

Those lots largely encompassed much of the north bank, from just west of the current state-park
site in the village of Buckeye Lake to North Bank Road just across the Fairfield County line.

Donna Braig, founder of the Buckeye Lake Historical Society Museum, bought her home — a cottage
built on the dam in the 1920s — in 1960 for $9,000. She leased the land that it sat on from the
Rosebraugh family for $50 a year.

“If you didn’t do everything just right, they could make you leave,” said Braig, now 88. “The
owners were the law. Your neighbors are too noisy at night? You called the Rosebraughs.”

The state also reinforced its claim to the dam’s upstream slope in the early 1960s, extending
the dam about 5 feet into the water by sinking a sheet-pile wall into the lakebed and

The state laid a sidewalk down the crest of the dam; the residents were to stay on one side and
leave the state’s side unmolested.

By that point, however, growth had slowed. The amusement park was falling into disrepair, and
interest in the lake had waned. By the end of the decade, the park’s wooden roller coaster lay on
its side, partly in the lake, pushed over by winds.

In 1971, the state Environmental Protection Agency imposed a ban on new construction within a
mile of the lake until a sewer system was installed to handle lake residents’ waste.

Completion of that tri-county sewer system in 1986 sparked a new surge in development. The large
landowners cashed in and began to sell their lots to their tenants, including the Braigs.

Soon, residents put additions on their cottages, or they demolished cottages and built larger
homes in their place.

With many new homes and new homeowners on the dam, it didn’t take long for residents to stretch
out across the walkway and use the state’s lakeside property for themselves, installing decks and
patios and landscaping. The state did little to discourage the trespassing.

“We didn’t (encroach),” said Braig. “My husband would not have allowed it. It wasn’t our land.
But as new people came in, they didn’t know, or they just thought they could get away with it, and
they’d build a patio on the lakefront. Then the next-door neighbor would see that and do twice as
much. And the state wouldn’t say anything.”

“There’s been a lot of tug-and-pull and a lot of discussion about it internally,” said Dan West,
a former chief of state parks. “It’s been such a long-standing issue that every administration has
had to deal with. You just can’t catch everyone all the time. It would take almost walking the dam
every day.”

Even docks, said Braig, were not monitored, even though drawings had to be submitted to the park
office for permits.

“A lot of people just draw up something little to get their permits and then go back and build
whatever they wanted,” she said.

After the Corps report, the state recently again imposed an indefinite moratorium on new
construction on the dam, including docks.

Many residents believe that the state created the problem by selling property rights and
allowing the homes to be built into the structure, and now the state blames the residents for
compromising the dam.

“The bureaucrats don’t understand that they ignored the dam for years, then come up with these
ideas, and then they’re surprised when people push back,” said Kreig Babbert, who lives on the dam’s
west bank and is a trustee for the Buckeye Lake Area Civic Association.

“It’s not that people don’t want the dam fixed,” he said. “It’s that they don’t want the
harebrained ideas that DNR proposes.”


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Ah, spring! Home show pulls a crowd

Home shows are a welcome way to kiss winter goodbye, even if the day brings snow flurries.

Despite lack of sun, the solar power set had no trouble finding listeners to their pitches. There were several vendors in that category, as well as gutter guys, siding specialists, patio people and even a cooking show, all at the Hudson Valley Spring Home Show, held at Gold’s Gym in the Town of LaGrange. It continues today, Sunday.

Visitors, many with memories of this winter’s rooftop ice dams, checked out Dutchess Gutter Helmet’s heated gutter systems that melt ice off the edges of roofs and keep drainage flowing. Joe Cauda of the Wappingers Falls-based company said, “We’re having a great response here. Great crowd.”

With energy costs rising, homeowners were checking out rooftop solar arrays.

Joseph DeMarco, representing Sunrun, based in Spring Valley, said, “You can save a lot of money,” and that was what visitors were most interested in.

John and Michelle Pink of the Town of Poughkeepsie grilled New York State Solar staffers at length.

Already well into research, John Pink said he had seen reports that said the minute you put solar panels on top of your house, their power begins to diminish so that years later, the output is only 60 percent.

“This guy was telling me the new technology is producing 90 percent in 20 years,” he said. But that may be laboratory results, he thought. He’s still studying. Michelle Pink also liked the displays of how to make the backyard more livable with some of the paving systems that vendors offered.

Stephen Rivieccio of Top Seed, a Milton-based designer and installer of landscaping and backyard installations, said the home show has been a good source of business for him for six years.

“We’re trying to drum up some work for the year,” he said. “A lot of it’s just keeping our brand out there. You may not get a job this week, but people remember you.”

Bill and Janet Ferris of Hopewell Junction looked over some of the patio displays, among others.

“I just like going through home shows,” he said. “Sometimes you get ideas. You meet some nice people.”

Craig Wolf: 845-437-4815;; Twitter: @craigwolfPJ


What: Hudson Valley Spring Home Show

Where: Golds Gym Sports Exhibition Complex258 Titusville Road, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603

When: Today, Saturday, until 8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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‘It’s been a long winter’: Bangor Home Show spurs spring projects

BANGOR, Maine — With historic snowfall totals and bitterly cold temperatures, a lot of people have not been thinking about spring renovations, but the warm weather is changing things, vendors at the 45th annual Bangor Home Show said Saturday morning.

“It’s been a long winter,” Bud Bruns, owner of the Greenworks Landscaping of Bangor, said standing at his display just inside the Cross Insurance Center. “We’re going to be probably 10 days, maybe two weeks, behind.”

“You can’t install windows. You can’t get next to the house because of the 3 feet of snow,” said Troy Pearl, owner of Pearl Contractors of Corinth, which is the new regional affiliate for Renewal by Andersen windows. “We will do our first install this week.”

“Nobody is thinking about painting in the winter,” said Braeden Sickles of Orrington, the branch manager for Collegiate Entrepreneurs.

All three said potential customers who went to the Home Show on Friday and Saturday morning are ready for the snow to be gone and to start of their projects, whether it be installing a sun room, such as Karen and Greg Bisson of Skowhegan, or adding on a pantry and expanding a garden, such as Sonia and Wayne Mallar of Bangor.

Others talked to vendors about installing a fence, a deck, a hot tub, a walkway, a foundation or adding insulation or other home improvement projects.

“New construction is one of the big things people are asking about [this year],” Pearl said. “Over the last couple of years, it’s certainly been renovations. That’s good.”

With more than 200 vendors lining the concourse and the arena on the lower level of the Cross Center, there is something for everyone at the event, which costs $7 for entry and runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Outside on display is a modular home, a log cabin and various sheds, along with a company offering stonework.

“When the sun pops out and the weather turns warmer, the phones go crazy,” Pearl said.

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Equestrian estate rich in history

LAWRENCE This historic estate, known as White Cloud Farm, offers investors ample zoning options for a day school, church or farmstead. This early 1800’s farm is listed by Gloria Nilson Co. Real Estate for $4.25 million.

Situated on more than 12.73 acres, White Cloud Farm presents a bucolic location ideal for raising and riding horses, keeping livestock or selective farming. It was also once home to Aviator Charles Lindbergh.

Interested investors will appreciate the numerous use and investment options presented by the property, its zoning and numerous residences and outbuildings.

Those outbuildings include a large primary barn with a full woodshop, silo, attached chicken coop and pen, multiple lofts, a 1-car garage and ample storage rooms. There are also two horse run-in sheds, one with four stalls and a tack room and the other with two stalls. A six-bay barn is equipped with a lambing room and overhead hayloft, an adjoining mechanic’s shop and utility storage room. A large pole barn is equipped with sheep stalls and farm equipment storage.

Five fenced and gated pastures open the property to additional livestock possibilities. The farm features ample landscaping specimens, raised gardens, numerous bluestone terraces and a gated entry. White Cloud Farm is partially bordered by open space.

Along with acreage and pristine views, the property includes three houses, each with three bedrooms. The main house features a pool and private pool house. The home at the rear of the property has been approved for subdivision from the rest of the property or can be maintained, along with a second house, to provide rental income. The property is currently operating under a farm assessment.

“This estate is a rare find with substantial acreage in Princeton for horse lovers, as well several zoning options that open up a range of income and investment options,” said Ermelinda Carnevale, sales associate with Gloria Nilson Co. “And being just four miles from downtown Princeton and a few minutes from major commuting options certainly adds appeal.”

For more information or listing price inquiries about the property contact Ermelinda Carnevale at or 609-921-2600, ext. 5645.

About Grloria Nilson Co.

Gloria Nilson Co. Real Estate owned by Dick Schlott, has serviced the most discerning buyers and sellers of residential real estate in New Jersey for more than 35 years with 21 offices and more than 700 sales associates throughout New Jersey and Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Its experienced sales professionals are experts in their markets, and are committed to uncompromising customer service. For more information or to contact an office near you, visit

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New ‘Living Landscape’ book encompasses need for biodiversity in public and …

Gardening books come and go, offering much of the same about container gardening, multi-season landscapes and weed and pest control.

Doug Tallamy’s books, however, strike a different chord and grab the gardener’s attention, especially anyone who wants to garden close to nature.

His newest book, “The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden,” is no exception. Co-authored with Rick Darke, the book follows Tallamy’s earlier publication, “Bringing Home Nature,” which is all about native planting and biodiversity. It promotes less lawn and more native species, and includes recommendations.

“The Living Landscape” is not about native plants, although it certainly includes them. Instead, it’s a lesson in the layers of wild landscapes and how they can be incorporated into urban living. The 400-page, hardback is attractively priced at $25.

American Daffodil Society convention coming to Williamsburg

Darke, a landscape consultant and photographer, and Tallamy, professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, discuss this concept during their keynote address at Colonial Williamsburg’s 69th Garden Symposium April 10-12, according to a Colonial Williamsburg press release.

On Saturday, April 11, Darke and Tallamy talk and then answer questions and sign books.

That afternoon, Yorktown senior extension agent emeritus Jim Orband discusses the ground layer of the landscape, including ferns that he likes to personally grow. On Sunday, April 12, experts cover vines and shrubs in the garden; Les Parks, curator of herbaceous plants at Norfolk Botanical Garden, and Andrew Koenig, arborist with Bartlett Tree Experts in Williamsburg, address trees and the canopy layer. Cost for the symposium is $295 per person. Register by calling 800-603-0948 or online at

The Living Landscape

In their new book, Darke and Tallamy guide you through the layers of a wild landscape — ground layer, tall canopy trees, smaller understory trees, shrubs, wet edges and wetlands, meadows and grasslands — and birds in every layer.

Hundreds of full-color photos, mostly of wildlife and plants common to everyday life — great blue heron perched on a branch fallen across water and tiger swallowtails “puddling” at the edge of a wet woodland — take you on a guided walk through habitats that make nature work like it should. The hope is that you will be motivated to incorporate at least some of those settings into your own yard, so home landscaping becomes part of the solution and not part of the problem.

“Our yards are part of local ecosystems,” says Tallamy, who uses photos of private and public gardens, as well as his own 10-acre property, as examples in the book.

“In the past, we thought nature operated someplace else, and that was good enough. So we designed our yards for beauty, but not for ecological function. Today, there is not enough nature left to create the ecosystem services that support humans, so we now have to produce ecosystem services at home.”

Fortunately, more homeowners are realizing the need to establish functioning landscapes, adds Tallamy, but developers are dragging behind. And, it doesn’t take much to make a living landscape successful at what it needs to accomplish, he says.

“Cement does not have to be the default landscaping in cities,” he said.

“Look at how successful the High Line in Manhattan has been. A thin strip of vegetation is supporting monarchs and several species of native bees. Flowering plants on rooftop gardens can do the same. Even tiny city lots can support trees, provide shade, help the watershed and lower the heat island effect.” The High Line is a park built on an elevated section of a no longer used railway. For information on what’s called the “park in the sky,” go to

“The Living Landscape” uses lots of photos and captions to show and explain how a walk in the woods demonstrates the different layers that can be duplicated on a smaller scale in a yard. Look for caterpillars, Tallamy suggests, because they are the most important component of food webs. Or, just look for plant diversity and you should hear lots of birds.

Go home and attempt to achieve what you have seen, felt and heard.

“We will probably design our landscapes more as edge habitat than deep woods,” he says. “But we can bring lots of life into our landscapes even if we keep them manicured and well designed. We just have to use productive plants.

Spring welcomes the arrival of fun and helpful gardening events

Spring welcomes the arrival of fun and helpful gardening events Kathy Van Mullekom Spring returns Friday and with it more educational and entertaining gardening events. Here are three local ones I think you will like and can learn from plein air painting or sketching, Historic Garden Week in Virginia and a new vegetable gardening symposium. Spring returns Friday and with it more educational and entertaining gardening events. Here are three local ones I think you will like and can learn from plein air painting or sketching, Historic Garden Week in Virginia and a new vegetable gardening symposium. ( Kathy Van Mullekom ) –>

“If you convince your neighbors to add plants as you are doing, you now have a much larger patch of habitat to work with. But even a small garden can be productive. A small patch of milkweed in Dover, Del., produced 150 monarchs in one summer.”

Tallamy’s favorite plants for supporting biodiversity in the mid-Atlantic region include:

Woody plants: oak, black cherry, willow, birch, poplar, crabapple, blueberry, maple, elm, pine, hickory, hawthorn, spruce, alder, basswood, ash, rose, filbert, walnut, beech and chestnut.

Perennials: goldenrod, asters, sunflowers, joe-pye weed, boneset, morning glory, sedges, honeysuckle, lupine, violets, geraniums, black-eyed Susan, iris, evening primrose, milkweed, verbena, beardtongue, phlox, bee balm, veronica, little bluestem and cardinal flower.

Why should gardeners and non-gardeners care about biodiversity anywhere?

“It is the species in an ecosystem that produce the ecosystem services that keep humans alive,” says Tallamy.

“For example, if we lose our pollinators, we will lose not just many of our crops, but 80 percent of all plant species and 90 percent of all flowering plants. Not an option if we want to remain on this planet. Shopping centers won’t do it for us. We need ecosystem function everywhere and the more species in an ecosystem the more ecosystem function we will get. Since we occupy nearly the entire planet, we must share the entire planet with the things that keep us alive. Creating living landscapes is not a fad; it is an essential part of our future.”

CNU Symposium

Coincidentally, Tallamy’s new landscape book spotlights extensive shrub plantings — a sweeping of sweet pepperbush transitioning into Virginia sweetspire — at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania.

Sharon Loving, director of horticulture at Longwood Gardens, is one of three speakers at CNU’s 18th annual Gardening Symposium April 11 in the Freeman Center at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, according to a symposium news release.

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Tips for gardening in dry shade | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

The end of March is a great time to add trees, shrubs, perennials and vines to the garden. The soil is warming up but most plants are still a bit sleepy from winter dormancy so they don’t mind being transplanted this time of year.

Here in Western Washington we have an abundance of evergreen trees and lots of shade. Add to this our plentiful overcast days and many gardeners struggle to add color to areas of dry shade.

Cedar trees are the worst for sucking the moisture out of soil and creating garden ghetto areas where nothing attractive wants to grow. Time to look at shade as an asset and landscaping in dry shade as the art of blending native plants, tough groundcovers and accents that even cedar tree roots can’t kill.

Landscaping in Dry Shade

There are different degrees of shade and dry soil. These plants all survive with at least a few hours of sun a day and some water to get them established. Watering new plants in dry shade is especially important during that first summer season as the roots become established.

Start with something tall – native vine maples or dogwoods fit into a wooded area of native cedar and hemlock with ease – but if you have enough space free of tree roots you can also add Japanese maples or even a tall evergreen like the shade tolerant Yew.

You can make a bold splash in dry shade by adding an evergreen shrub called Japanese Aralia or Fastia Japonica. Large shiny leaves give it a tropical look.

Another broad leaf evergreen for dry shade is Aucuba., especially the gold spotted cultivar called “Mr. Goldstrike’. Both Fastia and Aucuba were popular shrubs near shaded front entry areas in the 1950-s- then these bold foliage shrubs fell out of fashion.

Nurseries are once again selling these two drama queens because not only do they light up the darkness with bright foliage, berries and blooms but they do this without demanding a lot of drink. Divas that add drama without the drinking problems are always welcome at any gathering.

Next, add some mid-height blooming perennial plants.

There are not many perennials that can compete with the tree roots of cedar, fir and hemlock but if you add six inches of topsoil or compost and work this into the soil you can enjoy hardy cyclamen, Japanese anemone, euphorbia, hosta and surprisingly a peony or two. The key is to baby the new plants for the first year until they establish their own thick root system to compete with the trees.

A quick shortcut is to cover the ground under large trees with wood chips. Then set some pots on top of the mulch and grow flowers in containers. Impatiens, begonias, lobelia and fuchsia will all bloom in the shade – but do not expect these annuals to compete with tree roots. They are best grown in pots or a raised bed around large trees.

Finally, fill in the floor of the woodland garden with groundcovers.

If you fear aggressive groundcovers but want to avoid weeding any open space in a woodland or dry shade garden than consider using Vinca minor, creeping Jenny, or my personal favorite, lamium as a colorful carpet. These groundcovers will become a growing nuisance in any soil that is fertile or moist but in dry shade they will slowly spread to smother weeds and hide fallen debris.

Don’t be afraid to cut them back or even use a string trimmer to remove old or tatty foliage of established groundcovers in the spring. Cutting the tops off of groundcovers and then adding a thin layer of moo-doo, bark chips or topsoil is a good way to renew these plants no matter where they grow.

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Learn landscaping, vegetable gardening tips in Extension classes

Catherine Kirk and her daughter, Victoria Kirk, 9, plant a Japanese cherry tree on the grounds of the Parker Road government facility in Conyers where the Rockdale Cooperative Extension Office is located. The extension office will be offering home gardening and landscaping lunch-n-learn classes over the next several months. (Staff Photo: Karen Rohr)

Catherine Kirk and her daughter, Victoria Kirk, 9, plant a Japanese cherry tree on the grounds of the Parker Road government facility in Conyers where the Rockdale Cooperative Extension Office is located. The extension office will be offering home gardening and landscaping lunch-n-learn classes over the next several months. (Staff Photo: Karen Rohr)

CONYERS — If you want to develop your green thumb a little more, and you live or work nearby during the week, then consider taking your lunch to the Extension Office for the monthly lunch-n-learn sessions on topics related to landscaping and gardening.

The sessions run from noon to 1 p.m. on April 9, May 14, June 18, July 9 and Aug. 6, and are held in the Rockdale Cooperative Extension Office, 1400 Parker Road in Conyers. Those interested must pre-register and the cost for a class is $5.

Rockdale Extension agricultural agent Steve Pettis is heading up the series.

“When I was county extension agent in Gwinnett, I offered them there. They were successful, so I thought I’d give them a try here,” said Pettis, who began his position in Rockdale in August.

In April, Pettis will discuss “Trees and Shrubs of Interest to Southern Gardeners.” Pettis said the session is an overview of desirable, but not necessarily easy-to-find, trees and shrubs.

“I’ll include some of my favorite plants, such as lots of native plants like the oak leaf hydrangea, the native Piedmont azalea, and the Georgia oak, native to the rocky outcroppings of this area,” said Pettis. “They are plants you might run across while taking a walk in a state park.”

May brings a class on the “Home Landscaping for Beginners,” and those wanting to change the look of their yard are encouraged to bring video or photos of their property as it currently exists.

“The class will entail the basics of landscape design and the point is to try to show people that you don’t have to be an artist or a landscape architect to landscape. With a few basic concepts, you can do it yourself,” said Pettis.

“Pruning Trees and Shrubs” is the topic for the June session, and Pettis said come ready to trim some trees.

“That will be a hands-on class. We will be pruning some trees at Parker Road to teach proper pruning techniques,” said Pettis. “You can prune all summer long, particularly with trees like hollies and evergreens. People have to prune just to keep the plants from overtaking their homes during the summer.”

In July, in keeping with the season, Pettis presents, “Not all Bugs are Bad: How to Attract Pollinators and Beneficial Insects.”

“It’s a celebration of bugs,” said Pettis.

The group will discuss how to attract pollinators like butterflies and honey bees and predatory bugs that eat others, such as ladybugs and green lace wings and preying mantises.

He’ll talk about what plants to incorporate into the yard to create an inviting habitat for the insects and the importance of not destroying existing habitat. Pettis will also talk about the importance of giving the insects water and food, beyond what’s growing naturally in the yard. For example, honeybees enjoy a jar of sugar water. “Once they find it, they’ll come and drink every drop,” said Pettis.

Pettis said keeping these insects thriving is of utmost importance because they face great challenges and their numbers are declining, perhaps due to genetically modified crops or because of pesticides.

The monarch butterfly and the honey bee are under particular pressure as is evident by seeing less of the insects in the environment in recent years.

“In any event, protecting pollinators benefits us even if they’re not being threatened,” said Pettis.

As summer’s wane is on the horizon, Pettis offers the last in the series, August’s “Fall Vegetable Gardening.” In the cooler growing season, home gardeners can plant crops like leafy greens — cabbages, spinach, lettuce — as well as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus. Many of the vegetables are grown from seed and grow better in lower temperatures.

Pettis said some plants will come in fast, like the lettuce, and others will take over winter, such as onions.

Pettis said his purpose in offering the monthly classes is twofold.

One is to provide a reason for the community to visit the Extension office, where they can be exposed to all of the services it offers, including soil and water testing and the diagnosis of plant diseases.

The other reason is to simply expand their base of knowledge when it comes to planting and gardening.

“I’m getting to meet the public each time, with each phone call and email and class attendance. Over time, hopefully the classes will grow and possibly expand to include evenings,” said Pettis.

To learn more or to register, call Steve Pettis at 770-278-7373 or email him at or visit Pettis’ blog at visit

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Chive talking: Alan Titchmarsh’s tips on growing herbs in your garden

The problem is that they are so obliging that we tend to neglect them and after a few years they exhaust themselves and die out. For that reason it’s good to undertake a bit of rejuvenation at this time of the year.

Dig up a clump of chives and divide it into smaller sections that you can encircle with your finger and thumb. Replant these clumps a foot apart in a new patch of ground that has been forked over and refreshed with a dusting of blood, bone and fishmeal.

Mint colonies need rejuvenating, too. Prise up clumps and tear them apart, replanting them so that chunks of the sideways-running stems are just an inch or so below the surface of the soil with the shoot tips pushing up. Make sure they don’t dry out.

If your rosemary is looking a bit straggly, snip it back a little to encourage it to bush out. Clippings can be dried and used in cooking.

Very few herbs need richly manured soil, but if yours is on the dusty side, work in a helping of peat-free multipurpose compost.

And if you have no herbs at all? Get down to your local nursery now and stock up.

Don’t miss Alan’s gardening column today and every day in the Daily Express. For more information on his range of gardening products, visit

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IN THE GARDEN: Spring garden shows cultivate inspiration

Posted Mar. 28, 2015 at 7:00 AM

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