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Archives for September 7, 2015

Garden Views: Tips and tricks for testing garden soil

|       By Lynda Ellis

Contributing Writer

We add water and fertilizer to our soil. Are we adding the right amounts and types of fertilizer? Let’s have our soil tested to find out. Several companies can test soil, but the University of Minnesota is the only organization in the state that will test residential soil from homeowners.

Most yards have soil in several different areas; the two most important for us to test are found in lawns and gardens. While samples for a soil test can be taken anytime the soil is not frozen, the most common time is just before fertilizer application, in the spring or fall.

The test is only as good as the sample being tested. Dig five to 10 holes in the area (lawn or garden) you want to test. Dig 6 inches deep in gardens, 3 three deep in established lawns. Scrape off the grass or surface mulch or litter in each divot and put the dirt into a bucket. Mix them together, and take about two cups of this mix into a sample bag or box. If you want results for multiple areas in your landscape, sample each area separately and send in multiple samples. Label each sample, so you will remember where it came from.

Samples are sent to the University of Minnesota Soil Testing Laboratory, 135 Crops Research Building, 1902 Dudley Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108. Sample submission forms and other soil testing information are found at

Each test costs $17. In seven to 10 business days, you will get a report with the amounts of phosphorous, potassium, pH and organic matter in the sample, and recommendations for fertilizer. The soil test will not say if you have disease-causing organisms in your soil, plant-attacking insects or nematodes, herbicide residues that might be harmful to your plants, or beneficial microorganisms.

Look at the pH number. Most garden plants like soil pH between 6.0-7.0. Most lawn grasses like it between 5.5-6.5. A list of plants that prefer different pH ranges, and instructions on how to change soil pH, are found at the link at the end.

Next look at the fertilizer recommendations. They give you the amount in pounds of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to apply to a 1,000 square-foot lawn or 100 square-foot garden. Most Minnesota soils have sufficient phosphorus; add additional phosphorous only if starting a new lawn, or if the recommendations indicate it is needed. It may be hard to find an exact match to your recommendations in the fertilizers sold in garden centers; it is most important to match the nitrogen requirement.

With a little time and effort, you can receive exact fertilizer and other recommendations for your yard. For more information, including example fertilizer calculations, see

The Anoka County Master Gardeners invite you to visit our web page See Hot Topics there with gardening articles and other information.

Lynda Ellis is an extension master gardener in Anoka County.

Article source:

Simple mosaic stones brighten any garden

Ann Marie Price taught herself mosaic art, creating intricate designs and portraits with cut
pieces of stained glass.

Recently, she began balancing large projects with smaller ones: She turns her mosaic touch to
smooth stones that she picks up while beachcombing and mountain hiking near her Huntington Beach,
Calif., home.

“I’ve always been a collector of things, of small objects, of rocks,” Price says. “I’ve found a
use for all those little things I’ve picked up.”

Price keeps the design simple with a single vivid flower shape, spiral or leaf. The works can be
displayed indoors or out.

Chris Emmert of Eugene, Ore., creates mosaics on a variety of surfaces, including mirrors and
pendants, but primarily enjoys crafting mosaic rocks.

“I still enjoy doing it because I like the rocks. There’s never a bad rock out there,” she

Emmert mostly uses Pennsylvania bluestone; it’s dense, flat and can endure both hot and cold
weather. Emmert sells her mosaic stones at her shop, ChrisEmmertMosaic.

Garden designer Kathryn Boylston also makes mosaic stones and sells them at Sundance by Design,
a shop she manages in Evergreen, Colo.

“It’s a convenient, readily available surface that’s not going to blow away in the landscape,”
Boylston says. “It’s just a pretty little thing to have in your garden.”

Although the process is simple — adhere glass and other pieces to the stone with a waterproof
silicone adhesive and then fill in the spaces with grout — there’s still a learning curve.

“Don’t stress on the design. The first one is not going to be your masterpiece,” Emmert

Additional tips from these experts:

• Learn about the process. YouTube videos are a good starting point.

• Ask for scraps at a stained-glass shop.

• When finished adhering colorful materials, outline the design with painter’s tape, leaving
1/8-inch around the piece. After grouting, and before the grout thoroughly dries, remove the tape.
This will create a clean grout line, Boylston says.

Making mosaics soon becomes soothing and feeds the creative spirit, Emmert says.

“You’re creating rubble and then putting it back together again.”

Article source:

Design of veteran’s garden underway – The San Diego Union

— A local group of professional landscape architects is helping design the Veterans Honor Garden at the Veterans Resource Center run by the nonprofit Veterans Association of North County in Oceanside.

The American Society of Landscape Architects San Diego Chapter responded to the nonprofit association’s call for help. Three members volunteered to assist with the design of the proposed garden.

Local landscape architects Joy Lyndes, Jaqueline Higgins and Richard Risner are working with the nonprofit association’s CEO and founder Chuck Atkinson and the honor garden committee to develop a plan for the half-acre parcel of land next to the recently renovated center at 1617 Mission Ave.

The entry to the garden will center around a Peace Tree, an old olive tree, along with crape myrtle and jacaranda trees and drought tolerant plants. The proposed design features an honor wall, kiosk obelisk and translucent glass shade structure along with patriotic sculpture.

A stage and seating area will provide a framework for interpretive and educational displays and signs. The nonprofit is raising money for the construction of the garden by selling honor bricks to be displayed in the garden area. Donors can honor a family member, friend, military unit or veteran group along with company. The Honor Garden committee puts on dance events each month in the veteran’s center ballroom. The next dance 7 p.m. Sept. 12 with country music by Band Diego. Tickets: $10. Free for the first 20 active duty military members.

Call (760) 722-1277 or visit

Article source:

Small Auckland garden designed as ‘rooms’ to solve space issue

Small Auckland garden designed as ‘rooms’ to solve space issue

Inspired by their own garden visits, the owners of this small, skilfully designed Auckland garden are opening it for this year’s Garden DesignFest

Penelope Familton in her south-west courtyard.

A ceramic torch ginger artwork provides a pop of red.

The Terry Stringer sculpture of Fortuna was commissioned as a gift for Keith when he retired.

Queen palms balance the height of the house, their arching fronds echoed by a sago palm cycad (Cycas revoluta) below.

A long, narrow space along the south-western boundary leads to a small courtyard that receives morning sun; the clipped star jasmine and underplanted clivia bloom in spring with potted vireya rhododendrons adding colour intermittently through the year.

At Penelope and Keith Familton’s Remuera home,
the potager garden of square lightweight concrete planter boxes was designed to correspond to the window grid
on the townhouse behind;
the mature guava tree in the foreground is one of two kept
for their beautiful trunks.

They say the true test of a garden is the way it looks several years down the track. This Remuera, Auckland garden, designed by Bryan McDonald of Auckland Landscapes, has passed that particular test with flying colours. It has been 17 years since owners Keith and Penelope Familton commissioned Bryan and, apart from a few minor changes, the garden retains the original design’s strong lines and harmonious relationship to its surroundings. 

Keith and Penelope had requested an outdoor gallery theme for the garden to reflect their passion for the arts; structure was important, along with the ability to add different plants, as both are keen gardeners. The garden also had to relate strongly to the architecture of the Cook Hitchcock Sargisson-designed townhouse.

With limited space on all sides of the angular building and neighbours in close proximity, Bryan chose to create a walled garden comprising three outdoor rooms with proportions and angles based on the home’s design. The first was an entry courtyard on the south-east side of the house; the second a long, narrow garden running along the south-west boundary with a small courtyard at the end; and the third an outdoor living area cum gallery space on the sunny north-west side of the house.  

The north-western outdoor living cum gallery area of the garden with river stone squares, a clipped Australian frangipani (centre right) and a hibiscus hedge (left) provide textural interest; on the right bromeliads frame a bed of brilliant iresine.

The couple use the three rooms extensively, says Penelope, particularly the north-west outdoor living area, with its glorious views across the harbour and the CBD skyline. “The garden is so much part of the house. We live outside in the summer and make frequent use of it throughout the year. Both sets of French doors in the house open to a courtyard and upstairs doors also open to the balcony, so there’s a strong connection.

“When we came here, there was only a small apron of bricks by the door. The rest was grass, with rose beds that only looked nice for a short time from December to February. The rest of the time it looked uninspiring. We decided to get it properly designed. It was expensive at the time, but it meant we could use it a lot more, so we have no regrets.”

The garden makes good use of structure and texture. A variety of different surface and wall materials reflect the colours, patterning and structures of the architecture. The Familtons’ grandchildren particularly enjoy the river stone squares, says Penelope. “Bryan intended them to be used to display artworks, which we do, but my three granddaughters also build with the stones. They’re always doing things out there with them. It’s a bit like a sandpit I suppose.”

NZ House Garden September issue is out now

Plant texture and structure is provided by a curvaceous hedge of dwarf Australian frangipani that threads its way through the north-west courtyard behind tall queen palms, framing a Terry Stringer sculpture and trimmed into a sphere next to it. Along the northern boundary a clipped hedge of red Fijian hibiscus encloses the garden.

“We do all the trimming of the hedges as well as the gardening, which is quite unusual around here,” says Penelope. 

So what changes, if any, have they made to the garden over the years? Very little to the structural plants, says Penelope. “I planted some giant bromeliads among the iresine to give it more interest and we replaced an oversized schefflera in the corner with a canna. Coincidentally, it has the same cerise red flowers as the bougainvillea next to it. The tui love the canna flowers.”

The tui also adore the guavas produced by two large trees, one producing red fruit, the other yellow, in the opposite corner. “They were here, and already mature, when we arrived 27 years ago,” says Penelope, “so they must be at least 40 years old. We kept them because of their sculptural trunks. I make fruit purée and guava jam from them. They bring many birds to the garden – tui and Australian parrots. They make lots of noise; I love it when they come.”

Beneath the guava trees is a potager, a more recent addition to the garden, also designed by Bryan McDonald, using lightweight square concrete planter boxes. “We grow a lot of delicious things out there,” says Penelope. “In summer we produce enough lettuces and tomatoes for the two of us and in winter we have enough greens – spinach, kale, broad beans, bok choy – as well.” 

This year she and Keith have decided to open the garden to the public for the Auckland Garden DesignFest in November (see, a step they have not taken lightly. “To me our garden has always been something for us, not a display piece. But after visiting several gardens during the last Heroic Festival we realised that, if we can take pleasure out of looking at other people’s gardens, then we should reciprocate and open ours so people can enjoy it too.” 


Climate: It’s warm enough for frangipani to flower in the front courtyard. But because we are on a ridge it can be windy, as we are exposed to the north and south-westerly winds.

Hours spent in the garden per week: Weeks will go by when I do nothing, but the hibiscus hedge grows very fast in summer and I need to trim the iresine every month to keep it thick. I feed regularly with compost, worm liquid and Nitrosol, in spring and autumn. A little bit more time is involved with the vegetable garden, replanting crops as we use them.

Watering the garden: We have an irrigation system, even for the potager beds.

Most significant plant in the garden: The frangipani. It’s still in flower in June. We must have had 10 heads of flowers this year. It usually flowers well every second year.

Favourite new plant: I’ve just bought some lovely bromeliads, inspired by some of the gardens in the Heroic Festival.

Best edible crop: Broad beans. I eat them as I pick them, they’re so delicious raw. 

Help in the garden: We do everything ourselves, apart from tree trimming. The pleasure in a garden is doing it yourself. It keeps you in touch, otherwise you wouldn’t get to know your plants. Penelope Familton

 – NZ House Garden

Next nz-house-garden story:

Flower-filled garden in Masterton

life style Homepage

Article source:

Former factory town Greenville, SC becomes tourist magnet

GREENVILLE, S.C. — A few years back, I was on a plane to Florida when my seatmate, a stranger,
suggested that her hometown would make a good story for a travel writer.

“Greenville has become a wonderful place for tourists,” she insisted.

I was skeptical.

Even a few decades ago, this city in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains wouldn’t have
made many travelers’ must-see lists.

Times have changed, though, since the days when Greenville was a gritty industrial burg with
little to offer visitors.

During the past decade, Greenville slowly but steadily began to show up on lists of the
loveliest and most entertaining small cities in America.

Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor, AARP,
Southern Living, CBS News and others had all touted the city’s delights, I finally decided
I’d bite.

It was a good decision.

The catalyst for the city’s change from grimy mill town to tourist magnet was probably Falls
Park, smack dab in the middle of downtown.

The 32-acre park is on both sides of the Reedy River and its resplendent 60-foot falls, once the
site of textile mills and cotton warehouses.

The mills, now gone, powered the economy but dirtied the water and discouraged any recreational
use of the river and surrounding area.

Today, Falls Park encompasses the old Greenville Arboretum, established on the former site of
Furman University just below the falls in the 1930s. The Greenville Garden Club even snatched
second prize for the arboretum’s landscaping in the
Better Homes and Gardens “More Beautiful America” contest in 1932.

But Furman moved from central Greenville, and the park fell into decay in the mid-20th

The final aesthetic insult was the placement of the four-lane Camperdown Bridge, built in 1960
atop the falls, sending columns of concrete down into the falls themselves, blocking the
view and blotting out the sun.

If Greenville officials were looking for a shortcut to urban decline, they found it in their

The area underneath became a magnet for crime and illegal dumping, and an entire generation of
Greenville residents (and visitors) was denied the natural beauty in their midst.

Fortunately, new ideas about “urban progress” replaced the old. The bridge was torn down in
2002, and the surrounding park was reborn. (And, despite dire predictions from transportation
officials, downtown traffic was barely affected.)

Today, visitors can experience the falls from many vantage points. Perhaps the best is Liberty
Bridge, a magnificent 335-foot pedestrian suspension bridge that links both sides of the river just
downstream of the falls.

To call the park and falls breathtaking is an understatement.
Stunning better captures the experience of a visitor who suddenly beholds such a sublime
natural space while strolling along a lively city street. (I imagine that locals are, by now, used
to seeing the double-takes of nonplused visitors suddenly bewitched by the sight.)

The park is filled with colorful flower beds, verdant trees, inviting benches and winding rock
retaining walls and walks. Running through the park is Swamp Rabbit Trail, a multipurpose trail
that stretches for 18.6 miles along an old railroad right of way along the Reedy River.

The park has proved a boon to downtown commerce and is surrounded by hotels, music venues,
restaurants and interesting shops, many housed in restored historic buildings — including some of
the old cotton warehouses.

The city’s commercial and tourism hub is a 10-block stretch of Main Street that’s now shaded by
oak and maple trees and dappled with cute al fresco dining spots. Visitors also will find many
interesting businesses, such as Mast General Store, a sprawling shopping emporium that dates from
1920; and Dark Corner Distillery, producer of the first South Carolina bourbon (as well as other
spirits, but why bother?).

Main Street also is dotted with delightful public art and sculptures. Some are depictions of
historic figures from Greenville’s past, others are more fanciful. One of the most amusing is
Mice on Main, nine small bronze mice hidden — in plain sight — along Main Street. The
young and young-at-heart will find clue sheets at many local businesses with tips for finding the
mischievous metal mice.

Just across the Main Street bridge, which unobtrusively crosses the Reedy River above the falls,
is the West End Historic District with more visitor-friendly businesses and shops.

The West End also is home to “Shoeless” Joe Jackson Memorial Park. The small plaza contains a
life-size statue of Jackson, who played for textile and minor league baseball teams in Greenville,
his hometown, before becoming a baseball legend. And baseball still thrives in Greenville’s West
End at Fluor Field, home of the minor league Greenville Drive.

Greenville also offers plenty of cultural diversions, many of them conveniently bunched together
at Heritage Green, just three blocks from Main Street. The site is home to the Upcountry History
Museum, the Greenville County Museum of Art, the Children’s Museum of the Upstate and the
Sargent-Wilson Museum and Gallery of fine art, among other cultural institutions.

After experiencing all that Greenville had to offer, I was no longer asking “Why go?” but rather
“What took me so long?”



Article source:

Volunteer opportunities in Southwest Florida – The News

If you are looking for ways to volunteer, here are a few ideas:

Help out with furry friends. The Animal Refuge Center needs kind, caring, motivated volunteers. ARC is a no-kill nonprofit animal shelter in North Fort Myers that houses between 400 and 500 cats and dogs at any given time. Volunteers are able to interact with the animals by walking dogs; helping out with basic cat care including feeding, watering, scooping boxes and cleaning up cat houses; or simply socializing with the animals. Other ways to help on-site would be maintenance and landscaping and helping out in our office with answering and returning phone calls and greeting visitors/potential adopters. It also attends and hosts various events throughout the year and is in need of volunteers to help with transporting animals and talking to the public about ARC. Those interested in joining the volunteer team should visit the website at and fill out an application under the Get Involved tab. Contact Tina Hager, volunteer coordinator, with any additional questions at or 258-1278.

Take the Junior League of Fort Myers’ 50 for 50 Challenge. Since 1966, the Junior League of Fort Myers Inc. has contributed more than one million volunteer hours to community projects and programs. To celebrate the Junior League’s 50th anniversary in 2016, its members are encouraging all of Southwest Florida to join them in continuing their ongoing volunteer efforts. From June 1 to May 31, 2016, the Junior League is asking adults to commit to volunteering 50 hours of community service and/or $50 to the local nonprofit(s) of their choice. Children, ages 6 to 16, are asked to donate 25 hours. Families are encouraged to take the challenge together if they wish. During this same time, JLFM members will also commit to completing 50 community service projects. Participants may commit to the challenge and track their hours by downloading a form on the Junior League’s website at At the end of the year, the Junior League will hold a celebration honoring all participants with a certificate and commemorative pin next May.

Help out in the theater. The Laboratory Theater of Florida in Fort Myers seeks team-oriented volunteers. Seeking volunteer helpers in: building the set (putting up false walls and supports, creating basic windows, doors, stairs); painting (the set and furniture, sometimes including antiquing); sewing or repairing costumes; props (finding and/or coordinating props and furnishings by the show – some research needed); and front of house (greeting patrons, showing patrons to their seats, helping with concessions). Volunteers will be given times that certain events are happening and should confirm that they will or will not be participating. For information, call 218-0481.

Read with a student ReadingPals help build a foundation for literacy and a love of reading. By giving just a small amount of time, you can help children develop the skills and enthusiasm for reading, which is so critical to academic success. Volunteers are needed to read to 4-year-olds at school sites in Lee and Hendry counties. ReadingPals can choose from the following schools in Lee County: Bonita Elementary in Bonita Springs, Colonial Elementary in Fort Myers, Gladiolus Learning and Development Center in South Fort Myers, J. Colin English Elementary in North Fort Myers, Sunshine Elementary in Lehigh Acres, The Early Childhood Learning Center in Fort Myers. Volunteers will attend a short training to prepare for working with children, visit an assigned school one hour per week during the school year for 25 weeks and tutor two children for a half hour each. For information, visit

Donate office equipment. Dress for Success SW Florida is in need of computers, printers and office supplies to equip its new Career Center and open its doors to women seeking a better future. The organization is in need of at least eight new computers of the same type, eight matching tables, two printers and eight desk chairs. In lieu of furnishings, cash donations will be graciously accepted and are preferred. Major donors will receive signage and other promotional recognition. The organization also needs financial assistance to pay for a new enhanced website to help it reach additional clients. The new Career Center will be located at 12995 S. Cleveland Ave. Suite 152, in Fort Myers. At the Career Center women will have the opportunity to perform job searches, prepare resumes, train in retail and soft skills, attend entrepreneurial seminars, receive instruction in word processing and spreadsheet programs, and enjoy mentoring and networking, and obtain job placement assistance. For information, call Jen Diederich at 689-4992, email or visit

Help out in a clinic. Community Pregnancy Clinics is seeking volunteers for their Naples and Fort Myers clinics. Volunteers needed: RNs, certified sonographers, client advocates, office aides, education center instructors, material assistant support and mailing/special event assistants. CPCI provides factual information, free confidential services and life-affirming support to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. For information, visit

Assist seniors with health decisions.The SHINE Program is currently recruiting volunteers to help Medicare beneficiaries. SHINE is a free, unbiased Medicare and health insurance information, counseling, and assistance program whose specially-trained volunteers assist seniors in making informed health care decisions. A three-day new volunteer basic training is being offered at the Area Agency on Aging for SWFL office on Aug. 25-27. To inquire about volunteer opportunities or to request SHINE services in your community, call 866-413-5337 or visit

Get business experience. Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida is expanding their volunteer program. The Career Encounter Program allows adults and students — 17 and older — to come to the Goodwill Opportunity Center and receive office training. Use your spare time this summer to learn new skills while helping a nonprofit in multiple departments such as human resources, finance, communications and development, retail and operations and support services. You not only make a difference in your community, you gain skills and experience, increase the value of your resume, and make new friends. Contact Jourdan Gooden at 995-2106, ext 2214 or Natalie Tursi at 995-2106, ext 2249

Help seniors in need. Senior Friendship Centers is in need of receptionist and office volunteers. In order to assist the seniors in our community with their everyday needs, a friendly receptionist is needed to put them at ease while connecting them to someone who can help. Days and hours are flexible, but office hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Contact Margaret Baugher at 275-1881, ext. 203.

Write an article. Share your love of nature and of Lovers Key State Park through your writing skills. FOLKS (Friends of Lovers Key Inc.) is looking for volunteers to write articles about birds, shells, plants, paddling adventures, or whatever it is that you love about Lovers Key. Articles may be published in the FOLKS newsletter or Spotlight Magazine. 200-250 words for the newsletter, 350-450 words for Spotlight Magazine. No ongoing commitment is necessary. Just pick your topic and send it in via email to For information, contact Susan Suarez at

Help in the food pantry. Interfaith Charities of South Lee is in need of full time residents to volunteer at the food pantry in San Carlos Park. Volunteers are needed to pick up food donations from several local businesses. Volunteers are also needed to sort and stock food donations in the pantry and register clients who come for assistance. Call Brenda Adams at 267-3510 or email

Bring meals to homebound seniors. Community Cooperative is in need of volunteer drivers for its Meals on Wheels program to fill summer vacancy schedules. Community Cooperative serves more than 400 homebound seniors and more than 8,000 meals each month through its Meals on Wheels program. The agency relies solely on volunteer drivers to cover its current routes and transport delivery to drop-off locations across Fort Myers, North Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral, Estero and Bonita Springs. Routes take anywhere from 1-2 hours, and drivers must have current drivers’ license and insurance. For information, call 332-7687 or visit

Help out Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity is seeking help from the community. This next year they are looking to place 55 families in new and/or rehabbed homes in Lee and Hendry counties. Help is needed in the construction area helping build homes, rehab homes, work in the warehouse building walls and in the paint shop painting doors and trim. The ReStores (Thrift Stores) are looking for help with merchandising, sorting donations and on trucks picking up donations. Contact Paula Schenz at 652-1684 or email if interested.

Assist in the food pantry. The Salvation Army needs five to six people each Tuesday morning and afternoon to assist in its food pantry. The shifts are from 9 to 11 a.m. and from 1 to 3 p.m. Duties will include sorting canned goods and dry goods (rice, noodles, cereal), stocking shelves, moving boxes of food, assisting clients, packing grocery bags, and more. A volunteer orientation class and background check is required. Call Kris Volpone at 278-1551.

Mentor parents. United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Volunteer Center has recently launched a new Family Mentor Program and is partnering with the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida to recruit volunteer mentors who will be trained and matched with parents who have been involved in the child welfare system and are ready to be re-unified with their children. An ideal mentor will be one who can be non-judgmental, offer a minimum of an hour a week to work together with the parent(s), to offer a caring and supportive relationship to reduce the feelings of isolation. They will assist parents in the basic parenting education, knowledge and skills by teaching, coaching and modeling. To register to become a mentor or request additional information contact Patrice Cunningham at or 433-2000 ext. 272. Future training classes will be announced and posted at

Dedicate a tile. In honor or in memory of our loved ones who have battled breast cancer, Susan G. Komen Southwest Florida is constructing a tribute wall located at our Bonita Springs office. Pay a tribute and add a tile to the mosaic of pinks that bring honor, remembrance and color to our office and our hearts. The donation increments are as follows: $100 donation- 4.25″ x 4.25″ tile with 48pt. font; $200 donation- 4.25″ x 4.25″ tile with 72pt. font; and $500 donation- 6″ x 6″ tile, text to fit tile. To dedicate a tile, contact Amber at or call 498-0016.

Donate an old cell phone. Action Automatic Door Gate has partnered with the nonprofit Cell Phones for Soldiers Inc. in asking Southwest Florida residents to give U.S. military troops overseas an opportunity to call home by donating gently-used cellular phones. Funds raised from recycling cellular phones are used to purchase prepaid international calling cards. For every donated phone valued at $5, Cell Phones For Soldiers is able to provide two and a half hours of free talk time to deployed troops. Residents can donate phones and tablets at Action Automatic Door Gate showrooms at: 11360 Metro Parkway in Fort Myers and 275 Airport Road North in Naples.

Clean out your pantry. Bonita Springs Assistance Office is collecting food from seasonal residents who may be heading back north for the summer for the Choice Food Pantry at BSAO. Foods that can be donated include canned goods of all kinds, as well as dry goods such as rice, pasta and beans. Unopened toiletries are also appreciated. Food can be brought to 25300 Bernwood Drive, Unit 6, Bonita Springs, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. For information, call 992-3034.

Become a coach. Special Olympics Florida – Collier County is seeking assistant coaches for its 2015 stand-up paddle season. The season runs through Oct. 18, with practices scheduled on Thursdays from 5-6:30 p.m,. Additional practices will be held on Saturdays from 10-11:30 a.m. in weeks when the Thursday practice is canceled because of weather. Assistant coaches do not need to be experts in the sport. Basic stand-up paddle abilities and a willingness to work with athletes with intellectual disabilities will qualify you to help our program. All assistant coaches must complete the Special Olympics Florida Class A volunteer application, which includes a background check. To volunteer, contact the Special Olympics office by email at or by phone 775-1991.

Help out mothers in need. Destiny Diaper Bank is growing and expanding and needs volunteers. Do you have experience in fundraising, office work, sorting clothes, counseling, or just a great smile and a friendly face? Once a month, volunteers are also needed to call and remind student moms about the Student Mom Night Out events and volunteers are needed to help with set up at our events. Destiny Diaper Bank is also in need of volunteers for a fashion show in May. Call Rebecca at 910-8198 for information.

Volunteer at ACT. Abuse, Counseling and Treatment is looking for volunteers. It is in need of volunteers to be part of our On-Call Rape Crisis Team. Extensive training will be provided. This is a great opportunity to help victims of crimes and advocate for them. It also needs help in its Second ACT Thrift Store. By helping us you are helping victims/survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. Minimum age is 18 or 14-17 with parent. Call Elizabeth at 939-2553 or

Buy a paver stone. Paving stones are available for the public to purchase for the Burroughs Home’s “Walk of Friendship” before the grand opening of the all-weather pavilion, which is being constructed on the grounds. The stones will comprise the walkway into the pavilion. The stones can honor or memorialize an individual, organization or company and leave their mark on history. The pavilion will be a one-of-a-kind space in the River District for events, meetings, character education classes, and cultural events. The cost of one engraved paver stone is $300 or two for $500. All funds raised will go toward character and ethics education programs in the new pavilion being built on the grounds of the Burroughs Home. Email Angela Melvin at or call 337-9503 for information about securing an engraved stone order form.

Be a role model. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast launched the 100 Men in 100 Days Campaign, in hopes to match the more than 200 boys in the program with a male role model. 88 men from across the 10-county footprint have signed on to become a Big Brother, but the group is seeking 12 more to go to reach its goal of 100. Currently, 52 percent of the youth they serve in their program are boys and 39 percent of the volunteers are men. Having the positive influence of a Big Brother makes a real difference in a boy’s life. For information, call 855-501-2447, or email

Represent a child. Guardian ad Litem program is in need of volunteers age 21 and older who are Florida residents. Represent abused, abandoned or neglected children in the child welfare system and the community. An application is available on the website. A training course and a criminal background check screening are required. Volunteering is done on volunteer’s own personal schedule, other than court dates, which are set far in advance. Call 533-1441 for details.

Be a senior companion. The Senior Companion Program provides volunteer opportunities to seniors 55 years or older to offer companionship and friendship to frail elderly individual who are homebound and generally living alone. These volunteers serve 20 hours each week and receive a small non-taxable stipend, of $2.65 per hour and .40 a mile for travel, on-duty insurance, as well as annual health screening. Call the Dr. Piper Center at 332-5346 and ask for Jonah or Lourdes.

Be a tour guide at Lakes Park. The Lakes Park Enrichment Foundation is looking for tour guides for the E.Z. Rider program in Lakes Park, 7330 Gladiolus Drive, in south Fort Myers. Volunteers are needed to be driver/guides to tour guests through the park on 1-1.5-hour tours by golf cart. Volunteers will receive training on golf cart operation and provided with individualized training and a complete informational manual. Openings are available for both permanent positions or as substitutes. Driver/guides will need to be approved as Lee County Parks Recreation volunteers. Contact Paul Dover at or 533-7575, ext. 5 for more information on volunteering.

Assist at Hope Healthcare. RSVP of Lee County needs volunteers ages 55 and over for Hope Healthcare Services. Its mission is to provide exceptional care and support to every individual and their loved ones as they fulfill life’s journey. They provide Hospice, palliative care support and frail elderly case management to residents of nine counties including Lee. Volunteer opportunities include assisting patients, their families, assisting in the office and at special events, and at Hope Chest (their resale shop). Volunteers are trained for their positions. No experience is necessary. For information, call Bob Sheehan at 239-489-9188.

Donate to memorial. The renewed drive to finish the Freedom Memorial is stepping up its community outreach. The Freedom Memorial is on Golden Gate Parkway at Fred W. Coyle Freedom Park, near Goodlette-Frank Road. The monument will pay tribute to military veterans and first responders such as policemen and firefighters. The campaign seeks to raise about $1.2 million for granite and other materials for the U.S. flag-shaped memorial. The labor, like all other parts of the revival, is being donated. To make tax-deductible donations, go to The website also offers forms to download to buy inscribed bricks for $100 or $300. Purchasers can write their own tributes that will become permanent parts of the Freedom Memorial. For information about the Freedom Memorial, call Jeff Lytle at 285-4349 or Jerry Sanford at 596-7959.

Build a home. Habitat for Humanity wants to place 55 families in new and/or rehabbed homes in Lee and Hendry counties. Help is needed to build homes, rehab homes, work in the warehouse building walls and in the paint shop painting doors and trim. The ReStores (thrift stores) are also looking for help with merchandising, sorting donations and on trucks picking up donations. Contact Paula Schenz at 652-1684 or email her at

Assist with driving. Senior volunteers are needed to transport the elderly who need a ride to the doctor, dentist, pharmacy, dialysis or other treatments. Volunteers drive clients when it fits in with their schedules, and are located in same ZIP code. Call Leslie Jander at 332-5346 at Faith in Action/Dr. Piper Center for Social Services Inc.

Volunteer time with Special Equestrians. Special Equestrians in Fort Myers provides therapeutic horseback riding classes and equine assisted activities to individuals with disabilities in our community. The minimum age is 14 years old. One of the ways to help is working in classes as a side walker (walking beside the rider to help them with support and verbal cues). In addition to side walkers, they also need horse leaders for each of the riders in the class. Horse leaders need prior horse experience and must receive additional training at Special Equestrians. Other volunteer needs include grooming and tacking up the horses or helping maintain the stable area. They also have office work, grounds maintenance, fund raising and special events for those who do not want to work directly with the horses. Contact volunteer coordinator Priscilla Kovalsky at 248-4135.

Donate birthday toys and goody bags. The Community Youth Chorus takes a birthday party once a month to the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter to celebrate the birthdays of the kids living at the shelter. Their supplies are running low and are in need of toys for the birthday kids (all ages) and small goodies for our goody bags. For information, contact Debby Dorr at 561-9737, or visit

Join Cultural Park family. People who have a love for the arts and who share a commitment to excellent customer service, diversity of programming and teamwork will find Cultural Park Theatre Performing Arts Center a rewarding place to volunteer. Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to stop in during business hours and fill out a volunteer form. Contact Michael Moran at 772-5862, email or visit

Help out music program. Volunteer with Gulf Coast Symphony. You can volunteer as few as two to three times each year, or as often as a few times a week. Volunteer activities range from stuffing envelopes, answering phones and database entry, to assisting with symphony special events. For information, contact us at 277-1700 or email

Donate to food bank. The Salvation Army of Collier County is in need of donated canned food and non-perishables to stock their near-empty food pantry in preparation for the upcoming season. In an effort to fill the food pantry, it is requesting any donations be dropped off at its Administrative Annex, 3050 Horseshoe Drive North, Building B, Suite No. 260, in Naples. For information, visit

Become a literacy buddy. Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida is seeking volunteers for its 2015-16 Literacy Buddies Program. Volunteers, called literacy buddies, agree to receive letters and book requests from a child in an early learning facility served by the Early Learning Coalition. The buddy will in turn respond by sending the child a letter and a book. The children learn literacy skills through correspondence and develop an appreciation of reading. These exchanges take place three times. For information, visit the group’s Facebook page, or website, or email

Donate yard tools. The Animal Refuge Center has teamed up with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to get some extra hands in clearing out dry, dead and overgrown foliage on and around the shelter. They are asking for community donations of the following items: machetes, six-foot ladders, hand saws, pole saws, chain saws, a chipper, a trailer/area to dump yard waste, and any other gently used lawn equipment or modes of disposal for yard waste. If you have gently used items you’d like to donate or are able to help with clean-up, contact Tina at

Be a tour guide at Burroughs Home. The Burroughs Home, located in the River District at 2505 First St., Fort Myers, is looking for tour guides. Volunteers are needed to guide tourists through the home and gardens. Openings are available for both permanent positions and substitutes. Tour guides are provided with a thorough history of the home and the family who lived in it, and given a complete informational manual and individual training. Additional volunteer opportunities are available at the Burroughs Home. They include clerical work, special events, and tasks behind the scenes. Individuals with all kinds of interests are welcome, especially those who enjoy meeting new people and with an interest in history and historic preservation. Call Angela Melvin, 337-9503, for information about becoming a volunteer.

Drop off used cell phones. Preferred Travel of Naples has been designated as an official cell phone recycling drop-off point to benefit The Shelter for Abused Women Children. Recycled cell phones can be lifesavers for children and adults living in fear of abuse by providing vital access to police and ambulance services. Most of the donated cell phones will be given to at risk individuals. A designated recycling company will properly recycle remaining phones, and a cash donation for each phone will be made to the shelter. Cell phones can be dropped off at the Preferred Travel of Naples offices located on the third floor of the Sun Trust building in Naples at 801 Laurel Oak Drive. For information, call 261-1177, toll free 800-523-3716 or visit

Donate clothes or volunteer time. The Clothes Closet is a community outreach ministry located at Faith United Methodist Church at 15690 McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers. It is in partnership with more than 90 social service agencies in Lee County and through their referrals it gives free clothing and accessories to those in need in Lee County. Committed volunteers are needed for greeting, checking in, and assisting people and families as they shop for clothing. There is a special need for people who can help translate Spanish and Creole. For information, call 482-2030

Make food donation pickups. Interfaith Charities of South Lee, a food pantry in San Carlos Park, needs volunteers to make food donation pickups Saturday mornings at Costco Gulf Coast Town Center in San Carlos Park and Wednesday and Thursday mornings at Winn-Dixie Coconut Point in Estero. They also need front desk client intake volunteers Monday through Friday from 8-11 a.m. and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m.-noon. Call Brenda Adams at 267-3510

Lead a Girl Scout troop. Girl Scouts is a volunteer-led organization and is in need of new troop leaders and co-leaders for the upcoming school year. Girl Scout volunteers need to complete a volunteer application, criminal background check and complete proper training. Leaders and co-leaders have the opportunity to create a flexible schedule that works for them. Training, curriculum and support are provided. For information, visit or contact Yvonne Bras, director of membership, at 232-4475.

Gather donations for troops. American Legion Auxiliary Unit 274 sends care packages overseas to our troops. The group is asking for a donation from a corporate sponsor to continue shipping the care packages. To help, Visit or send checks to ALA Unit 274, P.O. Box 07526, Fort Myers, FL 33919. Call Sue Eaton at 466-6256 with any questions.

Donate a life jacket. The Sea Tow Foundation’s Life Jacket Drive is collecting donations from the public and local businesses of new and slightly used life jackets, which will be put into service on area Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Loaner stands. All used life jackets donated must be in serviceable condition with no rips, tears, broken buckles or missing straps. Please drop off any donations you may have to the Sea Tow Fort Myers office at 3725-A Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral. For information, call Heather O’Brien at 945-4820 or email

Volunteer time for MADD Mothers Against Drunk Driving is seeking volunteers in Southwest Florida for monthly court-ordered Victim Impact Panels in Lee and Collier counties. Drunk driving crash victims or their families are needed to share their experience, and volunteers are needed for the panels’ administrative duties. The group is also looking for individuals interested in serving on the steering committee for the second annual Drive the Lane Celebrity Basketball Game. This family-friendly event is focused on the prevention of underage drinking. This event features sports celebrities and local heroes playing a friendly, yet competitive game of hoops, supporting the message of prevention and celebrating our youth making good choices. For information, contact Lori Burke at 791-7560 or

Foster a wolf dog The Shy Wolf Sanctuary Education Experience Center in Naples is in need of foster families to care for abused, abandoned and neglected animals in Southwest Florida. Shy Wolf volunteers arrange a home visit with potential foster families to check references, assess the home’s fencing or containment and help train the caretakers. Animals that are available for foster care are matched with appropriate families. For more information, visit or call 455-1698.

Be a food pantry assistant for the Salvation Army. Volunteers walk them through the food pantry, provide information on other programs, and assist with computer applications through the ACCESS system. They also need Food Service Assistants to assist in the preparation of food items that will be served for meals, to assist with receiving food deliveries and putting away stock, and help with clean up. The food pantry is open five days a week and the kitchen is open seven days a week. For more information, call Kris Volpone at 278-1551.

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Ideas from Home & Garden Show add a glow for guests

Guests are coming for the holidays and your home hasn’t been updated since the last time they
visited — in 1998.

Homeowners can add sparkle without spending the money — or time — on a big remodeling job.

For ideas, we asked some local contractors and retailers, including a few of the 200 vendors who
will appear at next weekend’s Home Garden Show and Holiday Fest at the Ohio Expo Center.

In jobs costing from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, here are 10 ways to quickly add
some luster to your home for the holidays.

Replace hardware

New cabinet hardware can give kitchens and bathrooms a facelift at a modest price.

Kitchen shops, home-improvement stores and online retailers offer a huge selection of cabinet
handles and pulls, with prices ranging from a few dollars to more than $100.

Homeowners should expect to spend at least $7 an item for high-quality hardware, said Linda
Manket, owner of Premium Hardware in Gahanna, but “You can find all looks for all prices.”

Metal hardware remains king, and matte black is especially popular now. But hardware is
available in all sorts of materials.

“Wood handles are coming out that are gorgeous, and combinations of glass and metals,” Manket
said. “There are a lot of fun metals and glass, and porcelain, too. Plexiglas is starting to make a
comeback, and we’ve seen some very nice leather pieces, too.”

Reface cabinets

If the price of new kitchen cabinets is out of reach, consider refacing existing cabinets.

Refaced cabinets receive new doors, drawer fronts and matching veneer for the frames, providing
the look of new cabinets at far less expense.

“Our average refacing is $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the size of the kitchen,” said Chris
Morley, an estimator with Cabinetworks Kitchens in Columbus. “It’s roughly half the price of new
cabinets when you compare apples to apples.”

Refacing cabinets has other advantages. Lower cabinets can be refaced without removing the
countertop. Refacing can also be done in three or four days instead of a couple of weeks for new

Another option is resurfacing, in which the existing doors and drawers are painted or stained
instead of replaced.

Plant a tree

Homeowners might think of fall as a time to get away from the yard, but this is an excellent
time to plant trees.

“The tree will have dropped its leaves, but the roots are still growing so the tree will be
established by the spring,” said Mark Greiner, owner of Greiner Landscaping of Columbus.

Nurseries sell many tree species in pot sizes easy to wrangle by home gardeners and often
costing well below $100.

But homeowners wanting to make a statement can opt for larger trees.

Greiner suggested a 12-to-14-foot red maple with a 21/2-inch trunk that could be planted for
about $565 or an 8-to-10-foot multistemmed serviceberry for about $390.

Add backsplashes

Backsplashes have become a focal point of kitchen designs.

“Adding or changing the backsplash can make a huge difference,” said Kathy Morgan, co-owner of
Organized Home Remodeling in Columbus. “It can look like a whole new kitchen.”

Backsplashes come in a range of materials and prices, from a few dollars a foot for plain
ceramic tiles to more than $100 a foot for Italian porcelain tiles.

“Linear glass is still popular, although we see a bit of a trend away from that; some people
think it’s too busy,” Morgan said. “Subway tile — available in any color — is the tried-and-true
classic. Another look real popular now is thin-stacked stone if people want a rustic look.”

Do-it-yourselfers with experience can install backsplash sheets, Morgan said, but she encouraged
homeowners to hire a professional to lay tiles.

Install skylight tube

Tube skylights offer an easy way to brighten any room, but they are especially useful for
interior hallways, closets and bathrooms.

The tubes spread light throughout an area and come with accessories such as lights that allow
the tube to illuminate when the sun goes down.

Green Home Ohio of Columbus, which formerly operated as Capital City Daylighting, sells Solatube
skylights that can include a small solar-powered nightlight.

Besides providing a soft glow in the evening, the nightlight qualifies the skylight for the
federal renewable-energy tax credit, which allows 30 percent of the project’s costs to be deducted
from income taxes, said Todd Tamburino, owner of Green Home Ohio.

Green Home Ohio installs a 10-inch tube starting at $750 and a 14-inch tube starting at

Replace entry door

A new entry door can change the look of a house and add to a great first impression.

“The front entry makes a big statement,” Morgan said. “If it faces due east or due west, you
could have a beautiful wood door that’s all washed out.”

A new steel entry door is the only remodeling project that returns more than its cost when the
home is sold, according to the most recent Cost vs. Value Report prepared by
Remodeling magazine. According to the report, the average cost to replace a steel entry
door in central Ohio is $1,226.

The average cost of a new fiberglass door in central Ohio is $2,919, and wood can rise

Automate home

Full home-automation systems can run thousands of dollars, but many systems allow homeowners to
ease into the world of smart homes by adding conveniences for the holidays.

The Nexia system, for example, starts with a hub that allows a thermostat to be controlled from
a smartphone or tablet. Homeowners can add devices from multiple manufacturers that control garage
doors, lights, alarm systems or other home functions.

“You’re not locked into a full system,” said Russ Christian, owner of Best Service Heating
Cooling, which sells and installs the system. “You can just buy the add-ons.”

The thermostat hub starts around $325.

Overhaul closet

Updating a closet might not draw oohs and aahs from guests, but it could make their visit — and
your life — a lot easier.

“It makes a big difference for people,” said Morgan, who also co-owns Buckeye Custom Cabinets
and Closets in Columbus.

Retailers offer do-it-yourself solutions that can cost a few hundred dollars. For a
professionally installed closet shelving system, expect to start at about $100 a foot, Morgan

The price rises depending on the quality of shelving and the choices of accessories such as
drawers and pull-out racks.


There might be no easier or less expensive way to update a room than a fresh coat of paint.

This year, designers and color experts are opting for slightly muted shades of bright colors
such as blue, green and orange instead of the grays and darker hues popular a few years ago.

Sherwin-Williams, the Cleveland-based paint company, chose coral reef, a pinkish-orange shade,
as its color of the year. Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams, told
The Dispatch this year that the bright shade reflects a hopeful mood.

“There are signs of growth and recovery,” she said. “We’re feeling very optimistic.”

Expect to spend $50 to $100 to paint a room.


When all else fails, a serious cleaning can do wonders to improve the look of your home for the
holidays. And if cleaning isn’t your thing, hire pros for the work.

“A deep cleaning will be top to bottom,” said Debra Collins, operations manager with Exclusive
Maid Service in Columbus. Furniture, floors, cabinets, all kitchen and bathroom surfaces are wiped

Although Exclusive Maid Service includes vacuuming upholstery and washing windows as part of its

cleaning services, some companies don’t, so be sure to check.

Central Ohio cleaning services range from about $38 to $48 per hour per cleaner. Deep-cleaning
homes can take eight to 12 hours (four to six hours in the home with two cleaners) depending on the
number of occupants, pets and lifestyle, but there are ways to reduce the cost, Collins said.

“The No. 1 thing that inflates a professional cleaning service cost is clutter,” she said. “If
you want to be proactive and declutter prior to arrival, it will reduce your cost tremendously.”
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The holiday season is the busiest time for cleaners, so the earlier a deep cleaning is
scheduled, the better.


If you go

The Home Garden Show and Holiday Fest will run Friday through next Sunday at the Ohio Expo
Center, I-71 and E. 17th Avenue. The show will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6
p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults and free for children 12 and
under. Parking is $5 except for Friday, when parking is free with a voucher. For details, visit

The show features more than 200 vendors and exhibitors, a holiday marketplace and

Events include:

– Columbus Craft Beer Fest, 4 to 9 p.m. Friday

– Columbus Dispatch writer Bill Rabinowitz signing copies of his book The Chase: How Ohio State
Captured the First College Football Playoff, 6 to 8 p.m. Friday

– Ohio State University professor Mary Gardiner signing copies of her book Good Garden Bugs:
Everything You Need to Know about Beneficial Predatory Insects, WHEN Friday

– Visits from Iron Man and Captain America WHEN Saturday

– The Ohio State – Hawaii football game with former Buckeye running back Chris “Beanie” Wells,
3:30 p.m. Saturday

– A raffle for the Sunny 95 (WSNY) “She-Shed” decorated by morning host Stacy McKay

– Free OSU Undisputed Champions posters on Saturday AND SUNDAY?

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Gardening tips: how to reach a colour peak in the late summer sun

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