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Archives for May 2015

Water rules, rates on council agenda

As the state tightens the screws on water use, the Hanford City Council will vote on an urgency ordinance Tuesday to enact stricter rules to help the city cut its water use by 28 percent.

During its May 19 meeting, the council weighed about a dozen ideas to help meet that mandatory target. The State Water Resources Control Board will begin checking the city’s progress starting with its June monthly report, due July 15.

Unlike a typical ordinance, which requires two readings and 30 days to take effect, the urgency ordinance would take effect immediately upon passage.

As proposed, the ordinance would restrict the draining and filling of swimming pools to once per year, prohibit the planting of rye grass and require conditional watering permits to allow newly-constructed buildings to water more than twice per week to establish new landscaping.

Another rule to be considered would ban charity and community car washes. The ban would apply to groups or individuals other than commercial car washes that offer to wash vehicles “in exchange for a fee, donation, other form of compensation, or for no compensation.”

If approved, the provision would not prohibit commercial car washes from doing business. Individuals and businesses could still wash their own vehicles as long as they comply with other applicable water restrictions.

The Hanford Joint Union High School District earlier this year banned clubs, sports teams and other organizations from using carwashes as fundraisers.

The revised ordinance also doubles fines for violating the ordinance. First-time violators would still receive a written notice. The fine for a second violation would increase from $25 to $50.

A third violation would increase to a $100 fine for metered customers. Flat-rate customers would be required to install a water meter at their expense.

The fine for a fourth violation would be $200. A fifth violation would result in the customer having a flow restrictor installed on their property until they prove that they have modified their water use and won’t continue to violate the ordinance.

The proposed ordinance would also amend the city’s definition of landscaping to allow residential properties to use “artificial turf and other permeable surfaces” on up to 50 percent of their yards. Currently, the ordinance precludes artificial turf by defining landscaping as live plant materials.

In related business, the council will consider paying Visalia-based engineering firm Quad Knopf up to $24,000 to conduct a water rate analysis and study. As residents work to conserve water, revenues to the city’s water fund have decreased by more than 10 percent. The state also recently required Hanford to begin chlorinating its water supply, which adds to expenses.

Additional conservation is expected to further decrease revenues, which cover the cost of staff, maintenance and other costs associated with providing water to customers.

The rate study will evaluate the existing rates to ensure that the water fund remains stable and is able to adequately maintain the water system in the future.

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Parents find solace in Madeira Beach park

One year ago, Bill Karns, 56, began conceiving his vision of R.O.C. Park after a trip to Ocala. There he visited Memories of Missing Smiles, a community memorial park dedicated to helping parents cope with the loss of a child. The tranquility of the waterfalls, walking trails, lush green grass and trees made a lasting impression on Karns, whose 26-year-old son, William, died suddenly in 2013.

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Allen: Children’s Fairyland’s still inspiring children and adults 65 years late

Once upon a time, 65 years ago, a group of civic leaders in a village called Oakland decided to create a very special place overlooking the waters of Lake Merritt, where the dreams of every child could come true. The village leaders named this special place Children’s Fairyland.

On Thursday, this magical park will open its doors for an adults-only party. The theme for the fundraising gala is A Cinderella Story and visitors (who are encouraged to dress in fairy-tale or storybook attire) will enjoy a memorable evening with festive food, drink, special performances and live and silent auctions — all under the twinkling lights of this 10-acre Oakland treasure.

Since its opening on Sept. 2 1950, Oakland’s Children’s Fairyland has entertained generations of children and their adult companions.

The idea for a low-tech children’s theme park is credited to two Oakland individuals: nurseryman Arthur Navlet and then head of Oakland’s Parks Department William Penn Mott, Jr. Together they approached a local civic organization, the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club, for the initial $50,000 funding to get started. Mott then hired local artist William Russell Everitt to design zany quarter-size storybook “sets.” Barnyard animals, Munchkin-style costumed guides, and fanciful landscaping completed the affect.

Some of the original sets included Pinocchio’s Castle, Thumbelina, the Three Little Pigs, and the one yours truly remembers best as a child — Willie the Whale.

The history files reveal that when the park first opened, the charge for admission was 9 cents to 14 cents depending on the age of the visitor. To go in, folks big and little had to first stoop down and make their way through a doorway in the shoe from the “Old Woman in the Shoe” nursery rhyme.

Files also say that Walt Disney toured the park, looking for ideas for his own “magic kingdom,” which would open five years later in Anaheim. Dorothy Manes, Fairyland’s first director, went to work for Disney, remaining there until her retirement in 1972.

In the early 1990s the well-loved park was showing signs of wear and tear, at a time when the city budget was experiencing cut backs. The Lake Merritt Breakfast Club members again stepped forward and assisted with helping Fairyland achieve its nonprofit status so it could apply for grants, receive bond funds and solicit donations.

Since 2002, Fairyland’s executive director has been C.J. Hirschfield, whose prior experience has included an extensive career in communications and television. As an Oakland parent, she remembers taking her own daughter to Fairyland. Hirschfield has a strong interest in reading readiness and childhood literacy, and has made it a priority to keep a modest admission price so that the park remains one of the Bay Area’s most affordable options for family entertainment. Grants from local foundations allow the park to waive the cost of admission altogether for 4,000 low-income children each year.

Among the newer attractions are the Jack Jill Hill, a bright green mound that encourages physical play, and the Fairy Music Farm Tunnel, a 118 foot long tunnel with interactive musical instruments and a series of murals showing fairies from different cultures. The latter project was funded through Measure DD, the Trust for Clean Water and Safe Parks (passed by local voters in 2002).

The Johnny Appleseed Café, the gift shop (where you can still purchase the highly sought after “magic key”) and the Storybook Puppet Theater are other popular features of this family friendly venue.

For more on the upcoming fundraiser gala at Children’s Fairyland, go to Fairyland is located at 699 Bellevue Avenue. The phone number is 510-452-2259. For more on Fairyland’s history, go to

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WSU Extension Master Gardener: Starts from a friend will grow into day lily … – Yakima Herald

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Secret Garden Tour set for June 6

Discovery Center at Murfree Spring has teamed up with with seven homeowners, along with Lane Agri-Park, to present the annual Secret Garden Tour.

Set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 6, the tour offers visitors views of residential and commercial gardens where ideas blossom and interest in creating beautiful landscapes can grow.

“The Secret Garden Tour will encompass a large part of our community this year,” said Courtney Morgan, mobile education coordinator and event planner with the Discovery Center. “There will be an assortment of gardens, including a magical woodland yard, a professionally landscaped yard, creative pool landscaping, a downtown urban garden and a backyard garden oasis.”

Tucked away at the back of Marymont Springs subdivision and situated at the edge of Overall Creek is the backyard garden of Amber and Rodger Eldridge on Rolling Creek Drive. An outdoor living space with a pergola covering a stone fireplace overlooks the tree-lined creek and rolling landscape.

There’s no secret that Dr. Joe and Mrs. Lynn Rouse have green thumbs. Situated on the corner of Marian Lane and English Hill Drive, their colorful landscape is located both inside and outside the fenced-lined yard. Visitors can get an insider’s look beyond the garden gate to see what’s in bloom.

Dr. Tom and Mrs. Cynthia Peltier use the towering trees to create a garden reminiscent of a storybook woods, complete with stone-line pathways and seating to enjoy the peaceful spot in their backyard. But they can also entertain poolside.

Opening their garden again are Dr. Joe Little and his wife, Billie, Discovery Center founder and former director. Situated behind Homer Pittard Campus School, their garden has been a favorite of previous tours. Dr. Joe Little spends many hours working in the backyard as well as the front yard to procure a garden reminiscent of his childhood.

He grew near Leiper’s Fork, where he and friends traipsed through woods in search of critters and creatures.

“Primarily it’s not a very sculpted garden. It is more of a woodland garden in part because of the wooded areas I grew up going to. … So I have brought in a lot of wildflowers, ferns … and you have the ability to see species of native plants that really work well in shaded areas,” Little said. “Garden shade is not a problem because most of these plants bloom in early spring before the trees have leafed out, which is the natural relationship they have in that ecosystem.”

A wood-chip-lined pathway winds through the backyard, which features hidden seating areas, a vegetable garden and even a pond. But you won’t find any koi in the water feature.

“Primarily, rather than fish, I do amphibians like toads and salamanders … more native types of things,” he said.

A wood fence keeps the backyard private, although the garden spills into the front yard where blueberry bushes and coneflowers grown together.

“The idea was to get rid of all my grass and use as many of the native species as possible,” he said.

Discover more gardens on the tour for just $10 per adult and $5 for ages 2 and older. Tickets can be purchased at any of the gardens, as well as the Discovery Center, 502 S.E. Broad St.

Open to the public; all are invited to purchase tickets at any of the participating gardens.

This year, the Lane Agri-Park at 315 John Rice Boulevard will also offer, as part of the Secret Garden Tour, garden demonstrations, family-friendly activities throughout the day and tours of their working gardens including the butterfly, herb, vegetable and rain gardens.

Admission to Discovery Center on Saturday will be included with any purchase of a Secret Garden Tour ticket. The S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Bus, a custom-built mobile classroom, will be on display for guests to view and tour. Also, guests can tour the Discovery Center (DC) Gardens, including six raised-bed gardens, a butterfly garden and a brand new aeroponic tower garden.

About Discovery Center

Discovery Center at Murfree Spring is a hands-on, environmental, cultural and educational museum for all ages. The 32,000-square-foot facility, in the heart of middle Tennessee, features programs and exhibits that promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) education.

Along with bringing in thought-provoking traveling exhibits, such as the current “Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering,” permanent interactive galleries include a mini Farmers Market, a Tiny Town, The Clark Maples Train Depot, a flight simulator, a two-story Superslide, Water Works, an aquarium featuring Tennessee water critters, live animals, and the outdoor Nature Play.

Adjacent to Discovery Center is the protected Murfree Spring wetlands with an elevated boardwalk providing walking views of a natural wetlands habitat home to ducks, herons, otters and muskrats. The Lily Pad Pond allows children to get up-close and personal with tadpoles, minnows, salamanders and more.

Regular Center hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-p.m. Sunday. General admission is $6 for ages 2 and older, and free for members. Memberships begin at $75 for families. Multiple free days are held throughout the year. To learn more and find out about new and upcoming programs and events, call 615-890-2300 or visit

Contact Nancy De Gennaro at 615-278-5148 or, or follow her on Twitter @DNJMama

On the Secret Garden Tour

The Secret Garden Tour is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 6 at eight Murfreesboro gardens.

Lane Agri-Park

315 John Rice Blvd.

Dorothy and Bob Fladung

2232 Sassafras Drive

Dr. Joe and Mrs. Billie Little

910 E. Burton St.

Dr. Jeffery and Mrs. Kristen Bell

1346 Shagbark Trail

Amber and Rodger Eldridge

2016 Rolling Creek Drive

Townes and Lisa Parsley

1115 Bella Vida

Dr. Joe and Mrs. Lynn Rouse

1709 Marian Lane

Dr. Tom and Mrs. Cynthia Peltier

1314 Shagbark Trail

The Discovery Center and Murfree Spring Wetlands, 502 S.E. Broad St., will be open as well.

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‘Big, Bold & Beautiful’: Garden tour slated for Friday, Saturday

Garfield County Master Gardeners’ 2015 garden tour, “Big Bold Beautiful,” is Friday and Saturday and features five locations in Enid and Waukomis.

The tour will be 6:30-9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. Tickets are $10 for adults, while children 12 and under are free. Tickets are good for both days and can be purchased at any of the featured gardens.

Advance tickets can be purchased at Visit Enid, 201 W. Garriott, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. this week. Proceeds benefit the Ron Robinson Oklahoma State University Horticulture Scholarship Fund.

Locations to be featured are: Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Center demonstration garden, 316 E. Oxford; Margie and Butch Meibergen, 2 Pebble Drive in El Paseo; Lana and Dale Tagge, 1411 Oakhill Circle; Louise and George Milacek, 1516 W. Wood Road in Waukomis; and Buffalo Point Event Center, 525 W. King in Waukomis.

In addition to the tour, there will be a plant sale and boutique at the extension center.

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, 316 E. Oxford, Enid

The area surrounding the building is tended by master gardeners from Garfield County and the surrounding area. It features many specimens from the Oklahoma Proven lists.

The Oklahoma Proven program features plants that will thrive in the Sooner State. All 16 perennials, four of the Oklahoma Proven shrubs and 15 of the annuals are growing in the demonstration garden.

Many of the plantings at the center are typical of xeriscaping, herb and landscape gardening.

The arboretum, garden shed, walking bridge, sidewalk foundation base and new gazebo also will be open.

Margie and Butch Meibergen, 2 Pebble Drive, El Paseo, Enid

The Meibergens’ home is an example of creative landscaping designs.

Accent pots are displayed in the front, side drive and rear of the home. The front flower beds are highlighted with lime hued Joseph Coat in the front, followed by pink begonias topped with blue salvia. Other plantings in the flower beds are lavender, golden yucca, Knockout Deep rose bushes, tulips, golden moneywart and Colorado ground covering. There are several native Oklahoma red bud trees placed around the front areas of the home.

With a love for Santa Fe, the Meibergens decided to create a real flare to their patio and pool areas. By the garage driveway are two pots topped with a unique metal cactus. Other accent pots hold a variety of pine, cedar and spruce trees. A great variety of trees are in the wild growth back drop area behind the pool, including Oklahoma leaf holly, golden round spirea, Chinese pistache, blue atlas cedar and flowering aster.

Lana and Dale Tagge, 1411 Oakhill Circle, Enid

The front of the Tagges’ home features a bed bordered with different types of lettuce, with other vegetables growing in the middle. Another raised bed garden has chard, green beans, kale, beets, onions and a few types of cabbage. Herb pots nearby include parsley, chives, mint, oregano, basil and garlic.

At the rear of the property is a new greenhouse built to overwinter their sago palms and other tender plants. There also are beds with irises, Knockout roses and peonies. These beds are backed up to a metal and brick fence that surrounds the swimming pool. There are pots, both large and small, placed here and there with a defined purpose. They are planted with established sago palms and hydrangeas along with various tropical palms, bedding plants, annuals and other perennials.

Louise and George Milacek, 1516 W. Wood Road, Waukomis

The Milaceks have what they call “garden rooms,” several areas made up of vegetable, perennial, island, shade and xeriscape gardens.

A stream circulates through the island garden, providing water for visiting wildlife. The perennial garden has been an ongoing and expanding project since it was created.

Special plants of note at their home include several varieties of viburnum, a large grove of sumac bushes, a catalpa tree and several Calycanthus floridus.

The Milaceks also have a large purple martin colony they enjoy March through July.

“It’s like living at a lovely resort,” Louise said. “Birds are singing for mates, building nests and raising their young. Butterflies are flitting around here and there, along with each week there is a new variety of plant showing off.”

Buffalo Point Event Center, 525 W. King, Waukomis

Built by Mo and Richard Anderson, Buffalo Point features a buffalo sculpture and water feature. The water feature design includes a stream that follows the natural slope of the land and empties over a fall into a pond.

The grounds feature a large vineyard — 750 bottles of wine were filled from the 2014 harvest — orchard, vegetable garden and landscaping. The barns roof helps collect rainwater, which is stored in 12 large, underground tanks holding 1,000 gallons each. The water is used for irrigation.

The perennials and annuals on the property are lifted and changed out several times during the year. The large number of trees surprisingly were planted just in 2013.

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Gardening tips for Levaghery ladies

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    June gardening tips from Agromin

    Hard work in the garden during spring will begin to pay off in June as plants take hold and flowers bloom, but there is still planting that can be done to create a beautiful summer garden, says Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly compost products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities.

    Residents can obtain Agromin soil products in bulk or in bags at Rainbow Environmental Services (gate seven) in Huntington Beach and in bulk at South Coast Supply in Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos.

    Thin Fruit: It may be tempting to leave all fruit on trees no matter their size, but thinning excess fruit results in less strain on the tree or vine and makes for better-developed remaining fruit,
    especially for trees bearing fruit for the first or second time.

    Plant Drought Tolerant Herbs: While some gardeners may cut back on vegetable planting this year due to the drought, herbs require little water. Rosemary, English thyme, oregano and sage all do well with minimal watering. Remember, however, as with anything newly planted, regular watering is needed until the roots are established.

    Control Weeds Before They Flower: All plants, including weeds, are growing well by now. Pull weeds before they have a chance to flower and spread their seed. Then cover the just-weeded area with mulch to keep weeds from returning.

    Caring for Avocado Trees: Although avocado trees are hearty once established, they are susceptible to overwatering during their early years. Plant your avocado trees in well-draining, loose soil. Let the soil around the tree become somewhat dry before watering. Flowers bloom in spring but most will drop off, leaving only the hardiest fruit to grow.

    Plant Pumpkin Seeds: Now is the time to plant pumpkin seeds so pumpkins are ready to harvest by Halloween. Seeds will begin to sprout seven to 10 days after planting. Leave room for the plants’ vines to spread and develop. The plants’ yellow flowers will begin to appear about three weeks after plant growth begins. The flowers will develop into pumpkins after they are pollinated.

    Plant Heat-Loving Vegetables: There is still time to plant vegetables that thrive in the summer heat and survive without constant watering once established.
    These include corn, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, okra, peppers, tomatoes, yellow squash, melons and zucchini.

    Deep Water Mature Trees: Although mature trees have vast root systems, they need watering in drought conditions. If the soil is dry six to eight inches below the surface around the tree’s drip line, water slowly so the water reaches deep into the soil. Only water when the soil is dry.

    Check Irrigation Systems: Repair broken sprinkler heads and leaks in drip irrigation hoses. Make sure water is reaching the right locations (and not watering unused space or hard landscape). Check your lawn while the sprinklers are on to see if there is water runoff. Make watering time adjustments when necessary.

    For more gardening tips, go to

    This article was a courtesy release.

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    Gardening: Tips to help you save money with spring gardening

    09:30 31 May 2015



    Living in a frost pocket it’s inevitable that each year you lose plants which are on the tender side, leaving gaps in beds and borders which need to be filled.


    Visits to the garden centre each year to replenish stock can be a costly exercise, but if you want to save money and gain a great deal of satisfaction, now is the time to have a go at taking softwood cuttings, which will need a little time but won’t cost you any money apart from a few small flower pots and a little compost.

    Easy-to-root plants include lavatera, helianthemum, choisya, deutzia, escallonia, hebe, hydrangea, lavender, philadelphus and weigela, as well as fuchsia and olearia.

    You take cuttings about 8-10cm (3-4in) long in late spring and early summer, before the stem becomes hard and woody, put them in a container of compost and cover them with clear polythene to prevent them wilting. When the cuttings have rooted – which can happen in around six weeks – they can be repotted or planted up in the garden.

    With this step-by-step guide to softwood cuttings, you won’t go far wrong:


    :: Always take the cuttings from a healthy plant, using a sharp knife or secateurs. Check there are no pests on the leaves or stems and that there is no disease.

    :: Cut the stem just below a leaf joint and remove the lower leaves, leaving the bottom half of the stem bare. If the remaining leaves are large, for example hydrangea or laurel, they can be cut in half to reduce loss of moisture through transpiration.

    :: Plants which flower on young growth, such as hebes and fuchsias, may have flowerbuds at the tip of the cutting which will need nipping out along with the tip.

    :: As soon as you have taken the cutting, put it in a polythene bag or bucket of water to stop it wilting until you are ready to propagate.

    :: Dip the cut end in hormone rooting powder or liquid, covering the lower 6mm (1/4in) of the cutting before inserting it in a pot filled with seed compost. You can fit five cuttings around the edge of a 10cm (4in) pot. While most plants will root without the aid of hormone rooting powder, more difficult species such as rhododendron and hollies need a boost to produce roots. Rooting powder also contains a fungicide to protect the new plant against diseases.

    :: Make sure the container’s drainage holes are not blocked because a waterlogged cutting is unlikely to take.

    :: The compost should be moist. Use your finger or a small stick to make a hole for the cutting and insert each one 2in (5cm) apart, but don’t firm them in.

    :: Water them with a fine rose to settle the compost around the stems and allow the excess water to drain.

    :: Label each pot.

    :: Thin-leaved plants such as fuchsias root best if the pot is placed inside a large, loosely tied plastic bag or clear polythene as it keeps the air around them humid, but don’t use this method for plants with silver, hairy leaves or they may rot.

    :: Stand the pots out of direct sun and draughts while they root, but in a warm humid spot and water them enough so that the compost doesn’t dry out.

    :: If you notice any faded leaves or flowers on rooted cuttings or plants in the next few weeks, remove them to prevent the spread of fungal diseases such as botrytis.

    :: In six to eight weeks they should have rooted and you will be able to repot them or plant them in the garden.

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    Brian Minter’s 3 tips for watering your garden in hot, dry weather

    The spring planting season is taking root, but the conditions have been incredibly dry across many parts of B.C.

    With the usual rainfall around most of the province yet to make an appearance, gardening in dry conditions could be tricky.

    Master gardener Brian Minter joined BC Almanac’s Gloria Macarenko to share his three tips for watering your garden when the rain is sparse.

      1. Make sure to water well

      “When we water, water well. Water your plants so that it actually penetrates deep into soil,” says Minter.

      It may seem obvious, but Minter says often gardeners will only water their plants a couple inches deep. He says it’s important to make sure the water goes at least four to six inches deep so the roots can take full advantage.

      2. Timing is key

      For the gardener who works the nine to five, 40-hour week, it may seem the only time to water one’s plants is after work in the evenings. Unfortunately that’s not ideal for plants.

      “Plants can waste water. If you water late in the evening, plants tend to transpire a good amount of that water away and waste it.”

      “Early in the morning is when the sun goes up and the temperatures on the rise. It will allow the plants to make the most of the water.”

      3. Don’t be afraid to let the lawn go brown

      The California drought — and recently the one in Washington state — is a sharp reminder to not take water for granted in our province. Minter says if the water stays sparse, prioritize where that water goes. He says the lawn is the first place to look when cutting out water use.

      “Lawns will tolerate drought, especially the new types of perennial ryegrasses. It’s better to use your water on foods and colourful flora that will make your garden look better.”

      “Lawns recover beautifully and are able to tolerate a drought. If we get good June rain they’ll bounce back just fine.”

      Read more of Brian Minter’s tips:

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