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Archives for September 6, 2015

Autumn glory: Alan Titchmarsh’s tips on all-year-round planting

Class act

If you’re a more active grower, tip out your summer displays, clean up the containers, fill them with fresh potting compost then plant some autumn and winter bedding.

Winter-flowering pansies are firm favourites. They start flowering almost immediately, with bags more colour to come over the next seven or eight months. Even if the weather turns very nasty they are usually quite philosophical about it and merely stop flowering for a few weeks until things improve.

Winter pansies are amazing value and – the trade won’t thank me for telling you this – if you trim the plants back when they start looking scruffy in late spring, they’ll flower all next summer, too.

A tub of pansies looks quite glamorous but you can team it with that other autumn favourite – ornamental cabbage – for foliage interest. These little beauties come in sea-green, variegated with either pale pinky-mauve, a deeper purple or cream markings.

But come February or March, the coloured cabbages will be way past their best, losing their leaves, bolting or starting to rot, so they want pulling out. I’d grow the two in separate tubs so you can sling the cabbages and leave the pansies undisturbed.

Permanent planting

The third choice is an easy option that’s proving increasingly popular among people who are too busy to replant pots every season: an all-year-round planting scheme of dwarf evergreens.

This won’t be so colourful as flowers – but it’s a lot less work as the same planting scheme will last for several years.

Plants need choosing carefully 

so they don’t outgrow their containers too quickly. You could have a single large specimen in a tub – go for something fairly dramatic and architectural such as a trained topiary specimen – or pick a mixture of smaller plants that go well together in a wide, shallow container or trough.

Look out for plants that contrast attractively together or try a collection of little evergreen grasses, carex sedges or hardy ferns. 

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bruit de frigo enriches le paradis vert garden with multi-purpose spaces

bruit du frigo enriches le paradis vert garden with multi-purpose spaces
all images courtesy of bruit du frigo




earlier this year, le pertuis of la rochelle invited french studio bruit du frigo to design a tool of some sort that would add value and additional usage to a collective vegetable garden. the following creation process involved close participation between the design team, area inhabitants, the social center (le pertuis), and local governing bodies.

view from the children’s hut towards the kitchen




together, ‘le paradis vert’ was created, taking form as a series of five covered multi-use buildings. during a 10 day building workshop a team of contractors and participants cut, assembled, and painted all units. the structures center themselves around a large pergola that contains an open space with attached kitchen and tool shed. located adjacently, is a cocoon-like space for small children. the unit has sandboxes, musical walls, and a blackboard, which can be used for workshop purposes as well as play.

the children’s unit is equipped with musical walls, planting pots, and a sandbox 




placed slightly further then other shelters, is a designated ‘teenage’ hut. more of a grandstand then full building, it contains a small bench and (in the future) a punching bag. an additional two units are situated near small vegetable plots that grow different crops from the main parcel. 

small benches and a billboard define the kindergarten area, for use in workshops and for fun

the teen-space is a covered stand with a boxing bag (to come) and distanced slightly from other units 

view from the grandstand 

small spaces are placed in close relation with the garden parcels 

the garden is a soft and comforting cocoon amidst an otherwise industrial, and built urban context 

building site and volunteers  

applying homemade paint

two main elements — kitchen and kids’ hut — by night

project sketch 



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: nick brink | designboom 

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Simple Ways to Improve Your Self-Storage Curb Appeal – Inside Self

By Jon Fesmire

What do you think when you see a structure that’s dirty, painted a hideous color or surrounded by dying plants? You probably think it’s ugly, cheap and not worth your time. Maintaining an attractive self-storage facility can mean the difference between drawing customers or sending them to your competitors. You want people to notice your facility, but you don’t want it to be gaudy. Overall, it should be welcoming.

Curb appeals refers to the look of a property from the street and all outlying areas. Let’s take a look at some simple ways to improve curb appeal at your facility.

Contrasting Paint Colors

There are many ways to paint your facility, but your goal should be to find colors that complement the property itself as well as the surrounding neighborhood. This can mean similar colors or those on the opposite side of the color wheel. For instance, if your street is lined with trees, you may want to go for a palette of browns and greens, or browns and reds. The walls should be a different color than the trim, roof and window frames.

You might also consider adding geometric patterns. For example, paint a triangular section of a wall one color, and the other section a contrasting hue for an eye-catching look. Faux-stone siding for the lower part of an office-building wall can add a homey feel.

Lovely Landscaping

Self-storage facilities are generally designed to maximize rentable square footage, but there’s nearly always room for landscaping, particularly around the office or manager’s residence (if there is one). This can greatly increase the welcoming feel of a facility. You can add small trees, shrubbery and colorful flowers. If you don’t have one already and there’s room, add a pathway from the parking area to the front door. This makes a nice transition for visitors.

A short brick wall, from one to three feet high, around a garden area packed with colorful flowers or shrubs looks inviting. The bricks can be painted to match the property, or you can use natural stone to give the display a rustic feel. You can also add potted plants. Just keep weeds out of your landscaping and other foliage. It’s common to see used cigarette butts in pots and even in landscaped areas, so remove those and any other garbage when you see them.

If you own the land between the facility perimeter wall and sidewalk, adding trees and shrubbery there can make your facility immediately more attractive to passersby. If the city owns the area, make a request for added greenery. City officials want to beautify the community, so they might be open to your landscaping ideas.

Well-Maintained Lots and Drives

It can be costly to replace the asphalt in your parking lot and driveways, but doing so could really enhance your property. If you have numerous potholes, cracks and other problem areas, the expense of repair can be well worth it. There are also alternatives to laying new asphalt, such as patch repairs or an overlay. Consult an expert to find the best and most cost-effective method for keeping your parking and drive areas smooth and trouble-free.

If your lots are in good shape, consider adding a sealcoat at intervals of three to five years. Not only will this keep your roadways looking fresh, it can extend the life of your pavement. Uproot any weeds growing through any cracks as soon as you spot them.

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Hive of activity: Gathering promotes honeybee health in agriculture

DECATUR – Jerry Hayes wants to find a way to bridge the gap between the needs of production agriculture and feeding the world.

At the center of Hayes’ mission working for Monsanto is improving honeybee health, which he said is seen as a vital, but sometimes overlooked, part of the economy.

“We want to bring value to beekeeping that hasn’t been brought before,” Hayes said Thursday evening while speaking to members of Sangamon Valley Beekeepers Association during the group’s monthly meeting at Richland Community College.

Hayes had been at the Farm Progress Show sharing information with visitors, particularly farmers, about what they can do to protect such an important agricultural tool. He later spoke to the group that ranged from beginning to experienced beekeepers from around the Decatur area and answered their questions about bee health.

“Most are hobbyists,” said Don Miller of Decatur, who is president of the Sangamon Valley Beekeepers Association. “They find bee culture fascinating. You get mesmerized when watching the traffic coming and going. It’s a moving mass with complex organisms.”

Hayes has worked at Monsanto for the past three years but has yet to invent anything, as his focus is on education and raising awareness about the issue. He said having large agricultural businesses, including Monsanto, supporting honeybee research will be beneficial.

Bayer CropScience also was promoting honeybee health throughout the Farm Progress Show with displays inside the main gate of Progress City and at its tent.

“A lot of things can impact honeybee health,” Hayes said. “No farmer wants to hurt honeybees.”

Farmers can work with beekeepers to develop a trusting relationship and promote bee health by giving bees sufficient opportunities to thrive, Hayes said. Production agricultural fields aren’t a natural source of food for honeybees, he said.

Hayes said the mowing and landscaping of lawns doesn’t always help, either, with an abundance of herbicides and pesticides applied. He said at least a corner or patch of a yard could be left to help provide a healthy area for honeybees.

Miller wanted to bring Hayes into speak to the group to provide information about what has become a complex issue. Students from the Richland Culinary Arts program prepared a dinner before Hayes’ presentation that included honey roasted tomato bruschetta, grilled chicken breast with honey BBQ sauce or honey soy-glazed salmon and apple galette with salted honey ice cream for dessert.

“We are trying to show an appreciation for how much research companies are doing trying to figure out the puzzle,” Miller said. “The reality is a lot of money is on the line.”

Honeybee health is just one of the areas in which Bayer is trying to provide agricultural innovation.

“Now people have become interested in bees,” said Becky Langer, Bayer’s North American bee care program director for honeybee and pollinator health. “Bees are responsible for one-third of our diet, either directly or indirectly. We need to use the land to the best of our ability.”

The types of healthy foods consumers want such as fruits, nuts and vegetables are available due to pollination from bees, Langer said.

She said it’s best to let bees do their work as that is what they’re focused on doing as they’re usually job-oriented.

Providing forage for the bees can help, Langer said.

“Every little bit can make a difference,” Langer said. “It all builds up to make a difference.”

Bayer places an emphasis on research and development throughout agriculture, as CEO and President Jim Blome said it spends about $1 billion on research and development every year.

“Consumers demand we produce food in a safe, sustainable way,” Blome said. “We are continuing to invest in new ideas and have new products coming out of our pipeline.”

The agriculture industry is becoming increasingly pressured to meet the needs of a growing world population, said David Hollinrake, Bayer vice president for agriculture commercial operations marketing.

“We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us,” Hollinrake said. “We can’t do that without innovation.”

Hollinrake said a general mistrust of modern agricultural practices exists, so the company used the Farm Progress Show as a launching point for a new societal engagement program called AgVocacy. The company has trained nearly 1,000 of its employees as it begins to reach out and start conversations about the benefits of agriculture.

Bayer had a wall in its tent at Progress City USA on which it asked visitors to put their handprint to show support for its efforts. By the end of the show, the wall had more than 3,000 handprints on it.

“They know it’s about empowering the future of agriculture,” Hollinrake said. “It’s about changing the dialogue.”

Hollinrake said farmers will be leading many of the conversations as the agriculture industry needs to better connect with consumers. He said the company is looking more than 15 years ahead for the advances that could impact the agriculture industry.

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Letter: Roundabout is fine

Having repeatedly read David Grimes’ letters to the editor referring to the Aspen roundabout beautification, with negative rhetoric including “Why does the entrance to Aspen take a back seat to Basalt, Gypsum and Vail?” I felt compelled to respond (“Nasty-appearing roundabout, The Aspen Times, Sept. 3).

My kids can attest to the fact that I frequently comment on how beautiful is the natural landscaping at the Aspen roundabout. I love the evolving landscape with the wild iris, columbines and other seasonal blooms.

In addition to the beauty, my understanding is the natural plants are great for the environment. During the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival, one of the bee-expert speakers commented on how ideal the natural planting along Highway 82 was for bees and other pollinators.

Aspen is not Vail nor Gypsum. Please keep the roundabout and the highway as they are.

Maureen Poschman


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Environmental Journal: Providence College landscaping is extra green

Posted Sep. 5, 2015 at 11:15 PM

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Ginseng season

Posted: Sunday, September 6, 2015 12:30 am

Ginseng season

By Bob Beyfuss
For Columbia-Greene Media

The harvest season for wild ginseng opened on Tuesday.

American ginseng commerce is tightly regulated by the federal government, as it is listed on an appendix to a treaty called CITES. The CITES treaty is intended to protect rare or endangered species of plants and animals that are bought or sold internationally. It is CITES that prohibits the international sale of ivory, tiger paws, rhinoceros horn or certain rare orchids, as well as hundreds of other plant and animal species.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015 12:30 am.

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14 tips for late summer, fall gardening

1. Sustaining adequate moisture in the garden and landscape is the No. 1 priority for late summer and fall. Water trees and shrubs by giving them at least one inch of water per week, delivered slowly, around the plants as far out as the “dripline” extends.

2. Rejuvenate heat-stressed geraniums and begonias for the fall season by lightly pruning, fertilizing, and watering.

3. Don’t allow plants with green fruit or berries to suffer from lack of moisture. Hollies will frequently drop their fruit under drought conditions.

4. Prune out dead or diseased wood from trees and shrubs. Hold off on major pruning until midwinter. Pruning now may stimulate tender growth prior to frost.

5. Divide spring-flowering perennials such as irises, Shasta daisies, gaillardias, cannas, day lilies, violets, liriope, and ajuga. Reset divisions into well prepared soil with generous amounts of organic material worked into the top 8 to 10 inches. Water in thoroughly.

6. Prepare the beds for spring-flowering bulbs as soon as possible. It is important to cultivate the soil and add generous amounts of organic matter to improve the water drainage. Bulbs will rot without proper drainage. Purchase or order spring flowering bulbs now while the selection is good, but wait until later to plant.

7. Plantings at this time can provide landscape color for three seasons in central, east, and south Texas. Annuals set out early enough will bloom as soon as Thanksgiving, and frequently last until Memorial Day. Annuals that should soon be available in nurseries and garden shops include petunias, calendulas, pansies, snapdragons, stock, sweet peas, and violas (from seed).

8. Christmas cactus can be made to flower by supplying 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness and cool nights (55 degrees F.) for a month, starting in mid-October. Keep plants on the dry side for a month prior to treatment.

9. Replenish mulches around trees and shrubs.

10. Prepare garden soils during fall planting by adding organic matter: compost, pine bark, and manure. Use individually or in combination — the more the better.

11. Start cool-season vegetables, such as mustard, lettuce, arugula, broccoli, carrots, and turnips, from seed in well prepared beds.

12. Harvest okra, peppers, squash, and other vegetables often to encourage production.

13. Wildflower seed should be planted this month to ensure fields of flowers next spring.

14. If your lawn has been plagued with winter weeds, apply a pre-emergence herbicide now to kill sprouting weed seeds.

Ellis County Master Gardeners will hold training classes each Tuesday and Thursday throughout the month of February 2016. If you are interested in the Master Gardener Program and would like an application, please contact the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service office in Ellis County at 972-825-5175, e-mail  or find the application on the master gardener website, Be our guest at our monthly meetings which are held the second Tuesday of each month starting at 10:00 at the First United Methodist Church on West Marvin in Waxahachie. September will be our yearly planning meeting, but come October, we will again have a guest speaker on gardening.

Ellis County Master Gardeners have a website at Check this website for information on gardening in Ellis County, sign up for a monthly newsletter or access other websites including Texas AM Horticulture website. Questions for Master Gardeners will be answered with a return telephone call or email if you leave a message at 972.825.5175.

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