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Archives for April 2015

Spring gardening tips


garden, gay news, Washington Blade

Merrifield Garden Center offers an array of colorful plants.

Visit Merrifield Garden Center to see our enormous selection of colorful plants. Fresh shipments arrive daily. Here are some tips to spruce up your yard or other outdoor space this season:

  • Spring is an excellent season to fertilize your flowering trees, shrubs and perennials with Merrifield Flowering Plant Food. Use Merrifield Tree and Shrub Food for lush, green growth on evergreens and shade trees.
  • Before adding fresh mulch to your flower beds, apply a weed preventer such as Preen, Amaze or an organic alternative – corn gluten meal.
  • The first impression of your home is your landscape. Create eye-catching curb appeal with beautiful foundation plantings, a thick green lawn and lots of gorgeous color.
  • Hanging baskets and container gardens add spectacular color. When creating a container garden, use Merrifield Potting Mix and Soil Moist – a water-grabbing polymer that absorbs excess water and releases it into the soil when needed.
  • Visit our display gardens to get great ideas for your landscape.
  • Continue planting your edible garden. Now’s a great time to plant basil, beans, corn, cucumbers, garlic, onions, squash, tomatoes and much more.
  • Keep your rose bushes on a spray program with Rose Shield or Neem Oil for gorgeous blooms and healthy plants.
  • Trees are Mother Nature’s natural purifiers, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing clean oxygen into the air. You may be planting trees to beautify your landscape, but you’re also helping to protect the earth. We carry a magnificent selection of trees for every style and budget.
  • Time to plant apple, pear, peach and other fruit trees. Fruit trees require two different varieties to pollinate properly. Please ask one of our plant experts to guide you selecting varieties.
  • May through early June is an ideal time to fertilize your lawn with Merrifield Premium Lawn Food to keep it green and healthy.
  • Control weeds in your lawn with Weed Beater Ultra or Speed Zone. If you seeded your lawn this spring, you must wait until the new grass has germinated and been mowed two to three times before applying. Always follow label instructions.

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Spring clean your flower beds: Tips and tricks for your May garden

It is time to find your gardening gloves, dust off your garden shoes and sharpen and oil your pruning tools, hoes and shovels if you did not already do so last fall.

∎ By now you should have had a bevy of fall-planted bulbs like daffodils and tulips to enjoy. Don’t forget to allow the leaves of these spring bloomers to yellow and die back before removing them, as the nutrients contained in the leaves and stems need time to return nourishment back to the bulbs. Try holding the withering foliage down with landscape fabric clips or weight them with pebbles, covering them with mulch to camouflage them.

∎ Check for winter damage on your shrubs and cut off any dead or damaged wood.

∎ Remove leaves and any mulch covering your perennial plants. Discard dead plant material and any debris that may have blown in over the winter. Now is a good time to move existing perennials that you may want to relocate and to divide overgrown perennial clumps.

∎ Once you have cleaned up your garden beds, spread a layer of compost over the entire area. It will “rain in” nicely over the next several weeks, giving your garden beds a boost, ensuring stronger and more vibrant late spring and summer flowers. Be sure to thoroughly water and fertilize newly planted shrubs or perennials.

∎ Early in the month, plant flowers that won’t wilt during chilly spring nights, like pansies, snapdragons, sweet alyssum or fragrant, flowering stock. All of these thrive in cool weather and grow well in pots.

∎ Hold off leaving outside the hanging baskets of flowers you may receive for Mothers Day until later in the month. Post-Memorial Day is always a good timeline to follow.

∎ Common hanging plants like fuchsia, bacopa and violas can handle some cool nights; however, tender annuals like sweet potato vines, impatiens and nasturtium cannot take even a light frost. Better to be safe than sorry and bring them in when cooler temperatures are predicted.

∎ Herbs can hold their own in early spring containers just fine.

∎ Some early blooming spring perennials to consider are bleeding hearts, blue phlox, bugleweed, columbine, cushion spurge, early speedwell, English daisy, mountain bluet, pansies and violets.

Want more tips? The Bow Garden Club will meet May 11 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss growing heirloom tomatoes at the Old Town Hall, 91 Bow Center Road in Bow with Ken Cook of Rusty’s Heirloom Tomatoes. For more information, visit

(Joyce Kimball is a member and former president of the Bow Garden Club and the New Hampshire Federation of Garden Clubs and a UNH Cooperative Extension-trained Master Gardener.)

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Garden Tips: Upcoming garden, plant sale events in Tri-Cities

Local News

Rep. Vern Buchanan declines to seek Senate seat; will instead run for re-election to House

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Gardening gang celebrate silver win

Shani Lawrence Garden Designs and new business, Made for Gardens, won silver at the recent Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show in Cardiff. (24775200)

Shani Lawrence Garden Designs and new business, Made for Gardens, won silver at the recent Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show in Cardiff with their garden Nurture in Nature. (24775202)

Shani Lawrence Garden Designs and new business, Made for Gardens, won silver at the recent Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show in Cardiff with their garden Nurture in Nature. (24775205)

Shani Lawrence Garden Designs and new business, Made for Gardens, won silver at the recent Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show in Cardiff with their garden Nurture in Nature. (24775208)

A wildlife fence was part of an award winning garden created by Shani Lawrence Garden Designs and new business, Made for Gardens, (24775211)

Shani’s original design for the garden was featured in the RHS magazine.


First published

in News

by Becky Hotchin

A Goodwick gardening gang is celebrating a silver win at the recent Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show in Cardiff.

Shani Lawrence Garden Designs and new business, Made for Gardens, created the show garden entitled Nurture in Nature.

Made for Gardens is a Pembrokeshire business partnership between Daniel Jackson and Tim Wickenham who are designing and crafting outdoor pieces for gardens from sustainably sourced timber.

Shani Lawrence Garden Designs is an established garden design partnership working throughout West Wales.

The garden was part of the RHS Simple Spaces, Amazing Places campaign to get people to turn their grey spaces green. The brief was to design an urban garden for a young family with two small children who were interested in wildlife, especially birds, insects, hedgehogs and outdoor play.

“We felt it was important to design and create a low carbon, sustainable garden,” said Shani.

The main material used was timber which came from the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) where they are gradually felling Douglas fir as part of their sustainable woodland management programme.

Made for Gardens’ Dan and Tim watched the timber being pulled out of the woodland by horses, going through the mobile timber mill and then took it down to their workshop in Solva.

The final pieces including a serpentine bench, children’s den, raised beds, outdoor blackboard and wildlife fence then went off to the flower show.

A lot of the plants were locally sourced from Penlan perennials in New Chapel, Penrallt garden centre in Moylegrove and Fishguard garden centre. The beautiful water feature was also locally made by Gideon Petersen of Creative Spiral in Llandissilio.

“We were thrilled to be awarded an RHS Silver Gilt medal for our show garden,” said Shani.

For more information visit and

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Young garden designer to showcase designs at Grand Designs Live

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Landscape Architecture Students Build Ties With Designs for Friendship Garden

Keiji Uesugi issued a challenge to the students in his landscape design class: Visit the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego’s Balboa Park and craft concepts for the garden’s ongoing expansion.

Their task in the fall quarter was to come up with ideas for a children’s garden that would fit into the 10-acre expansion.

In small groups, students brainstormed possibilities while integrating Japanese garden design and the concept of friendship. This also meant thinking about the broader context of the project, such as the areas surrounding Balboa Park, local demographics and weather patterns.

Nicole Nguyen, a third-year landscape architecture student, and her team designed a memorial space, planned horticulture classes, and created mental and physical exercise programs for garden visitors. She enjoyed the real-world opportunity to plan and design aspects of a large project.

“This was, by far, one of my favorite experiences that was beneficial for my studies, since this was really the first time since starting the program that we got to have a partnership with a real-life site and individuals that are a part of the future for the project site,” Nguyen says. “Most importantly, the feedback we received allowed for my group, and even the rest of the groups in the studio, to really push our designs forward.”

Uesugi and his father, Professor Emeritus Takeo Uesugi, have been closely involved with the garden’s expansion project. The younger Uesugi, who has been taking his students on fieldtrips to the garden since 2011, thought it would be the perfect opportunity to bring his aspiring landscape architects on board.

“Visiting in-progress construction sites is an essential part of the students’ understanding of landscape systems and construction materials. So as the Japanese Friendship Garden construction commenced, it was the perfect time to develop an ongoing site-visit program to the garden,” he says.

For the second year, he also had his winter 2015 landscape construction class build and design benches. The class selected four benches for donation to the Japanese Friendship Garden. In March, the students presented the benches to Japanese Friendship Garden President Dennis Otsuji, the garden’s board members and staff. The donated benches will have plaques that explain the connection between the Japanese Friendship Garden and Cal Poly Pomona.

Corey Cameron, a third-year landscape architecture student, worked with three other students to design one of the winning bench concepts. Cameron, who started visiting as the garden as a first-year student, has enjoyed seeing the project’s progression.

“Both the bench design and children’s garden design was a great experience,” Cameron says. “Group work, in general, is very important to understand as a designer, and something we as landscape architects must deal with professionally. By gaining real feedback on designs that could be implemented for real clients, as well as researching Japanese gardens, we benefitted as a class and developed better as architects.”


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10 ideas to make outdoor living space inviting

Outdoor living is popular everywhere, but Arizona homeowners do it best. We’re experts at turning our backyards into a second “living room/kitchen/family room” we can use almost all year.

We talked with many outdoor living experts to come up with 10 ideas for making your outdoor living room more inviting:

Fire pits — They’re still building outdoor fireplaces, but the latest must-have is a fire pit. Portable ones are sold that look like mini coffee tables with places to set food and drink. Remember with fire pits and fireplaces, you can’t burn real wood in many places in Arizona very often — if at all. Hook up devices to propane or natural gas.

Misters, foggers — Misters have been around forever, but the newest misters for cooling off your outdoor living room are more versatile and efficient. For a long time, misters hung in tubes along ceiling edges of covered patios.

“But today you can bring the misters in from out on the periphery of the action to where the people are,” says Pete Rambo of MistAmerica in Scottsdale. “You can have misters in ceiling fans that broadcast the mist in a 360-degree radius.”

You can mount the newest misters onto your existing shade umbrellas. Or have free-standing fans blow mist over your seating areas. For July and August, pumps can put out billowing clouds of fog across your swimming pool and patio. To create the perfect outdoor climate all year, try a free-standing heat lamp or two on cooler evenings.

Built-in seating — “We used to build a beautiful patio for someone and then when we left, homeowners would move in some tables and outdoor chairs and lounges,” says Chris Wellborn of Vicente Landscaping in Prescott.

But now homeowners want permanent built-in seating when a yard is landscaped. Benches shaped from blocks of stone or pavers can form a semicircle in front of a fire pit or fireplace. Or they can serve as seating for a built-in table. Although they’re often capped off with flagstone or slate, you might add cushions to make benches more inviting.

As for free-standing patio furniture, Stephen Ramey of Today’s Patio in Phoenix says the biggest seller among today’s homeowners is wicker furniture made of PVC with a UV inhibitor. It’s tough and durable in the Arizona sunshine and lasts 10 times as long as wicker made from natural materials.

“Metal can be durable,” he says, “but it gets too hot in the sun. You can still have the old-fashioned look in wicker, but now it’s being used in contemporary styles as well.”

As for cushions, the longest lasting and most durable are covered in Sunbrella fabric which is impervious to fading.

Multiple cooking options — One barbecue grill isn’t enough for many Arizona homeowners, especially in July and August when they want to cook every dinner outside to avoid heating up the house. Besides a grill area, you want individual burners for side dishes. Many outdoor chefs add a smoker or an egg-shaped kamado-style cooker to their backyards. Buy a gadget or two for your grill to turn it into a pizza oven.

New ways to light up the night — Incandescent lighting is long-gone. Switch to the latest low-voltage LED fixtures in your backyard for more lighting power at less cost. To make everyone feel comfortable outside in the evening, you need several layers of lighting: overhead light fixtures on the ceiling of the covered patio; path lights to take you in and out of the house; lighting on your favorite ocotillo or saguaro; and maybe even strings of lights or a few tiki-style torches. And don’t forget lanterns on the dining table.

Electronic garden-tainment — The number of all-weather outdoor TVs on the market are increasing. These are HDTVs designed to withstand extreme temps and outdoor weather. However, they are a bit pricier than regular HDTVs. If you prefer to set up just one indoor TV on the patio for special sports events, take it inside when not in use or at the hottest or coldest times of the year.

Artificial turf — For more active entertainment, consider adding make-believe grass for a miniature practice putting green to amuse golfers while the steak is on the grill. Artificial turf, used properly, can soften the landscape and you don’t need to worry about watering or overseeding.

Foodscaping — Arizona homeowners love growing their own food. Why not make economical use of all that eternal sunshine? Carefully tended artichokes and purple cabbages can make great landscaping plants. But if watering, fertilizing, covering and uncovering, and killing pests seems overwhelming, try a portable foodscape of containers filled with cherry tomatoes and herbs mixed in with dwarf lemons and oranges in pots. It’s a lot easier to grow things on a patio than in rock-hard soil out back.

Bed-head xeriscape — You don’t really want to put in a couple tons of crushed granite surrounding a cactus or two, do you? That’s a tidy solution; you might never even have to spray with pre-emergent. But it’s also a yard that would make you really thirsty just looking at it. Lots of people are going for the bed-head look — lots of untidy plants that are overgrown, rumpled and easy on the water: agaves, ornamental grasses, sages, yuccas, palo verdes and a few yellow bells and fairy dusters.

Attracting birds and butterflies — Scented flowers and foliage can attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Consider red yucca, penstemon, butterfly bushes, Baja fairy dusters, lantana and autumn sage.

Next week: Developments in the solar world, from new products to changing utility rates and regulations.

For more do-it-yourself tips, go to An Arizona homebuilding- and remodeling-industry expert for 25 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday-morning “Rosie on the House” radio program 7-11 a.m. in Phoenix on KTAR-FM (92.3). Consult our Web site for other listings. Call 888-767-4348.

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Mayor Nelsen part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s water conservation meeting – Visalia Times

Fourteen mayors on Tuesday sat down with Gov. Jerry Brown to discuss and share ideas on how to bolster statewide water conservation efforts, and among those at the meeting was Visalia’s Steve Nelsen — the only representative from the San Joaquin Valley.

After earlier this month announcing a 25 percent statewide mandatory water reduction, the governor announced he will propose legislation that will help local officials enforce conservation requirements.

The legislation would call for penalties of up to $10,000 to be issued to water wasters. It would also allow penalties to be issued by water agencies, as well as city and county governments.

Mayor Nelsen said he could get behind fining larger amounts to egregious offenders.

“The consensus from the mayors on fining was if you’re going to flaunt and not do what is necessary for water conservation and for the good of the state, then yes, we’re in favor of users needing to get the message,” Nelsen said. “Sometimes only through hefty fines can you get through to people.”

The large penalties would be issued to the worst offenders who repeatedly waste water.

The definition of what a flagrant water abuser is needs to be defined though, Nelsen said.

The city of Visalia currently has a penalty system for water wasters. Through the system, an offender will first be fined $125 and their second infringement will cost them $250, Nelsen said.

An offense could include having excessive water runoff. If an individual waters their lawn too long, causing excessive water to pour out onto the streets, they could be fined if warnings are ignored.

Last year, the city issued 2,500 warnings to water wasters, and 189 citations were issued, Nelsen said.

In Tulare, an offenders first violation will result in a citation, with the second costing $35, the third violation totaling $70, the fourth costing $150 and any additiional violations equaling $300 each infringement.

As of last week, 122 citations had been issued in Tulare during the month of April. There were 20 second-time offenders and one third-time offender, according to Tim Doyle, the city’s water utility supervisor.

Nelsen made a few suggestions of his own on how to fuel the state’s water conservation endeavors.

The state currently offers rebates for those who get rid of their lawns for more drought-tolerant landscaping.

The program in its current state goes down to the city level, where it takes time for forms to be filled out and processed.

That process should be quickened, Nelsen said.

“I think people would replace their lawns if they got instant gratification,” he said. “[Lawmakers] should do like they did with the solar industry, where you get a rebate at the end of the year — a credit on taxes because you’re asking people to spend, say $3,000, to take out their lawn and redesign their irrigation system. They’re out [roughly] $6,000. You have to figure out how to speed that up.”

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7 Affordable Landscaping Ideas for Under $1000

Landscaping doesn’t have to be an expensive investment. There are a lot of affordable projects that will make your garden look beautiful this spring. There are also many ways to make them last for years to come, so you don’t need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on maintenance costs. This year, take the initiative and make some affordable landscaping changes to your front and backyard to set yourself up for seasons to come.

Photo courtesy of Gardens for Texas in Dallas, TX

#1 Choose perennial plants – $10 to $50
Perennials save you money because they come back every year, whereas annuals have to be replaced every year. Perennials can last for years and sometimes require less maintenance. They come in various colors, shapes, and sizes. You can invest in perennial flowers or shrubs, depending on what you need. Some perennials to choose from include:

  • Catmint
  • Saffron
  • Daisies
  • Sage
  • Poppy
  • Lavender
  • Agave

#2 Plant more native species – $10 to $100
To keep maintenance down, lean towards putting more native species in your landscape. Native plants have acclimated to the climate conditions, which means they need less care. This also means they don’t attract pests or problems that exotic species do. To learn what plants are native to your area, check with a local nursery or a lawn care professional you trust. They will know what to recommend. Landscaping professionals, in particular, can look at your soil conditions and how the sun hits your lawn to determine which plants will thrive best.

Photo courtesy of Legal Landscaping, LLC in Heath, TX

#3 Install soaker hoses – $20 to $40
Instead of watering plants every morning or relying on sprinklers, think about investing in soaker hoses. Sprinkler water sometimes evaporates before it can fully cover your plants. Soaker hoses, on the other hand, release water near roots so plants get the nutrients they need. This will save you money otherwise spent on a sprinkler system or hand watering every day, which will cut down your water bill significantly.

Photo courtesy of Tender Earth, LLC in Eugene, OR

#4 Invest in a young tree – $100 to $150
Trees are highly beneficial, not only to your yard but also your home. If you install a tree near your home, it can lower your air conditioning costs. Instead of buying and planting a grown tree, invest in a young tree. They’re far less expensive and easier to handle — and it’s a long-term investment that pays back. If it has fruit or flowers, that will be an added benefit to your landscape. Just be sure to pick a species that won’t grow too long and damage your home exterior. If you aren’t sure about what kind to get, ask arborist questions so you know what maintenance and care goes into different species.

Photo courtesy of FC AC Lawn and Landscaping in Indianapolis, IN

#5 Seed or sod a lawn – $200 to $400
Whether to seed or sod a lawn depends on your square footage and how much time you want to invest in maintenance. Seeding a lawn is far less expensive in terms of materials. Sod is more expensive to install, but you’ll get a lawn faster. You do the same amount of preparation to get seed and sod established — mulching, fertilizing, raking, etc. Sod takes more time and labor at first because you have to lay down each roll. Seed takes more time and maintenance in the long term for it to grow.

Photo courtesy of Solterra Development, Inc. in Palm Springs, CA

#6 Replace lawn with rocks/pebbles – $50 to $100
If you don’t feel excited about a seed or sod lawn, you can go with rocks and pebbles instead. Adding stones or boulders to your landscape is simple and less expensive, depending on the square footage. You can then add some shrubs and plants to make it look more natural. You have your pick of rocks and pebbles from landscape materials suppliers, so you can find a type to match your home exterior. Whether you want real rocks or plastic/composite ones, the possibilities are just about endless. And the best part is, it’s basically zero maintenance — all you have to do is move them back into place should you see a hole form.

Photo courtesy of Around the Ground Landscaping, LLC in Bernville, PA

#7 Add stepping stones – $20 to $100
Stepping stones are a great addition to a stone or green lawn, especially if you need to connect two elements of your landscape with a pathway. You can do this in a wide variety of ways, whether it’s digging holes and laying in a mixture of cement, buying stones and installing them in your yard and so forth. Because this can be a labor-intensive task, you might need a stone professional’s help. It just depends on the size of the stones and the look you’re going for in the yard.

Photos courtesy of DesignMine

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Lose the grass and get $100

More Information

SAWS landscape incentive

After clearing 200 square feet of turf, SAWS customers can apply for the $100 coupon at Applicants are eligible for up to two coupons per season, totaling $200 for 400 square feet of cleared grass.

The current season ends June 30. A new plant list will be compiled for the fall.

To redeem the coupon, customers must choose 15 plants from a list of 27 designated by SAWS. Plants must be purchased from the following participating nurseries: H-E-B, Fanick’s Garden Center, The Garden Center, Milbergers Landscaping Nursery and Rainbow Gardens.

The cleared are must be filled with 1 cubic yard of mulch or rock such as decomposed granite.

Other residential watersaver programs include incentives for the instillation of a patioscape and irrigation design. Visit for a full list of available incentives.

Customers who participate in the program must allow for a follow-up inspection by SAWS.

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