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Archives for September 9, 2015

Fabulous Beekman Boys appearance, Master Gardener seminar and sunflower tips …

Josh Kilmer-Purcell, left, and Brent Ridge discuss how they’ll get their new dining room table inside their home during an episode of “The Fabulous Beekman Boys,” which ran on the Cooking Channel. Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell will appear at the upcoming Country Living Fair. 

BEEKMAN BOYS IN COLUMBUS: Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, of the Cooking Channel’s “The Fabulous Beekman Boys,” are among the celebrities appearing at the Country Living Fair, Friday-Sunday, Sept. 18-20 in Columbus.

The Country Living Fair, sponsored by Country Living magazine, features more than 200 vendors including antiques sellers, food purveyors, artists, furniture makers, crafters, and more. Attendees also can enjoy cooking, crafting, and DIY demonstrations at the fair.

Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell will speak at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, and sign copies of their new book, “Beekman 1802 Style,” the same day from 2 to 3 p.m.

Other special guests include Cari Cucksey, star of HGTV’s “Cash Cari,” DIY Network designer and stylist Joanne Palmisano, and Country Living editors.

The fair is open 10 a.m. –to 5 p.m. daily; gates open for early birds at 8:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Head for Ohio Village, 800 E. 17th St., Columbus.

One day admission is $13 in advance and $16 at the door; three-day weekend passes are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. An Early Bird three-day weekend pass costs $40 and gets you early admission at 8:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. There is free admission for children ages 16 and under.

 For additional details, click here.

 MASTER GARDENER FALL SEMINAR: Laura Deeter, associate professor of horticulture technologies at the Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute, will give a keynote speech on “The Best Garden is Your Garden” at the Master Gardeners of Cuyahoga County 2015 Fall Seminar, “Gardening Through the Seasons.”

Other sessions will discuss native plants as pollinators, climate change, Lakeview Cemetery, plant disease management, trees, flowering shrubs and 50 plants that changed history.

The fall seminar is 8:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31 at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 5800 Rockside Woods Blvd., Independence. Admission is $48 and goes up to $50 after Saturday, Oct. 17; lunch is included. Register online here. 

SHOWY SUNFLOWERS: Sunflowers are among the showiest flowers in the garden, and some varieties give seeds for snacks. Here are some tips on growing spectacular sunflowers and how to harvest the seeds, courtesy of the Buckeye Yard and Garden Line’s Jacqueline Kowalski:

Plant sunflowers in full sunlight. 

Sunflowers mature 28 – 85 days after planting, depending on the variety, so it is easy to have sunflowers all summer long.

 If you are growing sunflowers for their seed, cut and dry the flower when its back begins to turn yellow. Hang the flowers up to dry and to keep them away from birds and squirrels.  The seeds are ready to harvest when the back of the flower is brown and dried, the leaves have all fallen off and the black-and-white striped seeds are full.

 Roast sunflower seeds in a shallow pan at 300F for 30 – 40 minutes or until golden brown for a crunchy snack.

 For more sunflower growing tips, click here.

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10 Tips for the September Gardener

Published: September 9, 2015, 1:35 pm

Updated: September 9, 2015, 6:18 pm

  1. Remove bagworm egg masses from evergreen shrubs to eliminate the spring hatch from over-wintered eggs.
  2.  If rain is lacking, continue to thoroughly water trees, shrubs, planting beds, and lawn areas. It is especially important to keep newly planted evergreens watered.
  3. Plant shallots and garlic outdoors.
  4. Use a mulching blade to finely chop fallen leaves and let them decompose on the lawn. Core-aerate to reduce thatch on lawns.
  5. Limit herbaceous plant material located a few feet away from the house to eliminate hiding places for insects and mice that could wind up indoors as temperatures plummet.
  6. Beets, parsnips, and carrots can be covered with a thick layer of straw or leaves and left in the ground for harvest, as needed, during the winter. This may not be an option in areas with heavy vole populations.
  7. Avoid the spring rush and have your soil tested now by the UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory ( Incorporate recommended amounts of limestone and fertilizers into the vegetable and flower gardens for next year’s growing season.
  8. As tomatoes end their production, cut down plants, pick up any debris and put dead/diseased plant parts in the trash or take to a landfill. Many diseases will over-winter on old infected leaves and stems so these are best removed from the property.
  9. Weed and mulch perennial beds using a loose organic material such as bark chips or leaves to keep down weeds, preserve moisture, and give roots a longer time to grow before the soil freezes.
  10. Outwit hungry squirrels and chipmunks by planting bulbs in established groundcovers. Lift and store tender bulbs, i.e., cannas, dahlias and gladiolus after first frost.

For more information please contact the UConn Home and Garden Education Center at or 877-486-6271.

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Garden calendar: Learn tips to keep your lawn lush till winter

FALL LAWN CARE: Learn how to feed and treat your garden for lush growth and color throughout fall. 10:15 a.m. Saturday. All Calloway’s Nursery locations. Free.

BACKYARD CHICKENS: Learn the basics of raising chickens. Topics covered in this free class include breeds, coops, supplies, feed and bird health. 10 a.m. Saturday. Trinity Haymarket, 1715 Market Center Blvd., Dallas. Free, but reservations requested. 214-202-2163.

EXPLORERS WALK: Explore Fair Park’s Texas Discovery Gardens with a family-friendly walk. Search for fall color and texture and experience a butterfly release. 11 a.m. Saturday. Texas Discovery Gardens, 3601 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Free with paid admission.

GARDEN ED: North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Road, Dallas, offers these events. 214-363-5316.

Alpha African Violet Society, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, free

Sketching the garden with artist Marian Hirsch, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday. $45, reservations required, 214-363-5316

Fall vegetables from seed, 10 a.m. Saturday, free

Weed control, 11 a.m. Saturday, free

Worm composting, 1 p.m. Sunday, free

Southwestern Fern Society, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, free

COMPOSTING: The Rockwall-Rowlett Garden Club’s monthly meeting will include a discussion on composting and vegetable gardening. 7 p.m. Wednesday. Harry Myers Park and Community Center, 815 E. Washington St. Rockwall. Free. 972-463-4989.

BECOME A MASTER GARDENER: Applications for Dallas County Master Gardeners are being accepted through Oct. 15. Participants will receive 72 hours of gardening classes and volunteer 72 hours in exchange. Master gardeners are involved in projects throughout the area including trial gardens, school and other community gardens. The cost is $215. For more information and an application see

Send event details at least 14 days before publication to Please include “Garden Calendar” in the subject line

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Piet Oudolf creates rooftop garden for New York condo building

Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, known for large public projects like New York’s High Line, has completed a project much smaller in scale: a private terrace for an apartment building in the city.

Oudolf conceived the planting scheme for the terrace atop the 57-unit luxury apartment building the Huys – Dutch for “house” – located in New York’s NoMad neighbourhood.

The former office building was converted into residential units last year with interiors by Dutch designer Piet Boon and was developed by the prominent Dutch real estate firm Kroonenberg Groep.

Oudolf collaborated with Boon, a friend, to design the 2,900-square-foot (270 square metre) rooftop terrace, which is shared by residents. His aim was to create a space where people feel “happy” – a goal for all of his projects, he told Dezeen.

“Whether it’s a large landscape or just a small garden, I want to create a certain ambiance where people feel happy,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to achieve.”

Oudolf is associated with the New Perennials – a design movement that promotes naturalistic landscaping over traditional, highly manicured gardens. “Even if space is very small, I try to make something very good that is not just decorative,” Oudolf said.

Related story: Piet Boon brings “Dutch design” to Huys apartments in New York

The Huys rooftop features four zones, each with a fibreglass planter filled with herbaceous perennials, ranging from flowering plants to sturdy grasses.

“The planters help frame each of these areas, allowing one to experience a bit of nature throughout the entire roof terrace,” said Oudolf. “When you are there, you are in and among the plants.”

The lower-level “piazza” serves as the entry zone and has a large planter bordered by a wooden bench.

A “corner lounge” features a large chaise lounge, and the “border area” contains additional seating, including furniture designed by Boon.

The “dining area” has an outdoor kitchen, along with tables and chairs – all covered by a wooden pergola. The terrace’s decking is made of concrete pavers and Ipe wood.

Oudolf said he is currently working on projects of varying scales, from hotel rooftops in Germany to a private garden in New York.

His portfolio includes significant public projects such as the High Line and Battery Park in Manhattan, and the Lurie Garden in Chicago‘s Millennium Park. He also designed the interior garden for the 2011 Serpentine Pavilion in London by Peter Zumthor.

Oudolf founded his practice more than 30 years ago and is based in Hummelo, the Netherlands.

Photography is courtesy of Paul Barbera.

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Town Center report released; work still on hold

For Islanders who haven’t been following the extensive Town Center visioning process, which began with a small group of city staff, residents and business owners in 2014, the recently released interim report may seem long and technical. For those who have, there are no real surprises. Many ideas, proposals and policies are still up for debate.

City Manager Noel Treat said that one main takeaway from the report, released Sept. 1, is “that the Town Center Vision as adopted in 1994 remains strong and the basic outlines of that vision do not need to change.”

The 1994 plan features many of the same elements that Island residents are still asking for: public plazas, available parking, vibrant retail and safe, walkable, and attractive streets and sidewalks. But city officials said that the document was not specific or descriptive enough to achieve the envisioned results. One example is the “incentive program” that outlines trade-offs between public amenities and height bonuses. The program is too lenient, they said.

The major changes between the 1994 and 2015 Town Center visioning documents will be the way they are written: the new plan will be “prescriptive,” form-based and include graphics, a regulating plan and new street standards. It will also include a more substantial list of “mandatory” and “elective” requirements.

The proposed incentives have not yet been filtered through the lens of technical, market or legal feasibility, and may require additional changes.

According to the interim report, five-story buildings would be mandated to have: wide setbacks from the sidewalk, mid-block connections, walk-off requirements for non-residential parking spaces, green building standards, street level façade standards, site design features like benches, fountains or public art, landscaping features such as greenery, planting areas or trees, stepped back upper floors, additional building articulation, additional public parking, affordable housing and underground parking.

Developers could elect to have: an on-site public plaza, public access to an internal courtyard, affordable retail or a contribution to a proposed Town Center Improvements/Amenities Fund (for plazas, public parking, an indoor public gathering area, etc.).

The requirements are meant to infuse some diversity in landscapes, building forms and retail offerings, making downtown Mercer Island the “village” that Islanders seem to want.

Building height was one of the main concerns before both processes: in 1994, Mercer Island had a tough time attracting retail or developers because there was a two-story limit. In 2015, Islanders have expressed wariness about the “urban canyons” that rows of tall buildings can create, and their desire to maintain views of the sky, sun and surrounding hills.

Requiring stepped-back upper floors and additional building articulation is meant to avoid the “boxy-building” or “canyon” concerns. The goal is to not permit buildings that go 65 feet straight up at the property line. Instead, buildings three, four, or five stories in height will have more of a “wedding cake” appearance.

Larger parcels (based on frontage length) would be required to provide more variation of the building face to avoid a “canyon” feeling, allow more light and create the appearance of a smaller scale, more organic, village-like development pattern.

One of the more interesting and and undefined concepts is that of “affordable retail.” The idea is to ensure that rents are maintained at a level that is likely to attract retail tenants, especially small local businesses.

“This is an innovative concept with few national models that will require additional study and feasibility analysis,” the report said.

Graphics in the interim report show how buildings will be regulated in terms of height and topography, where primary and secondary retail will be located and how street types can vary based on sidewalk width, parking and bike lanes. But all of these topics are still being discussed among the 42-member Town Center Stakeholder group. And some Islanders have other concerns.

“Some community members raised other important issues and ideas that they feel should also be addressed in the coming months, including a Town Center traffic study, connections to transit, parking supply and a retail strategy,” according to the report.

The city is working to refine the next steps in the process, with the ultimate goal being the adoption of an updated Comprehensive Plan including a restated vision for the Town Center, and Development Code changes to make that vision a reality.

“Final action on the Town Center Development Code is still several months — and a lot of technical work — away,” Treat said.

The City Council will discuss the report at its Sept. 8 meeting.

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Planners say ‘yes’ to Yankee solar array project

DUBLIN — Yankee Publishing is expecting construction on its 100-kilowatt solar array to be completed by the end of the year, now that they have the blessing of the Planning Board to move forward.

Representatives for Yankee met with the Planning Board Thursday night to discuss the project’s site plan review and engineering plans. After a thorough discussion, the Planning Board felt that all concerns had been met and unanimously approved the project.

“I walked across the sidewalk to see if there was any visual impact, and I don’t think the motoring public will be able to see it,” said Planning Board member Steve Baldwin, of the project’s visual impact.

Finalized plans call for three rows of 132 6-foot by 4-foot panels for a total of 396 panels. The panels are static, meaning they are not motorized, and will be placed at a 25 to 30 degree angle. The panels will be approximately 3-feet off the ground at their lowest point and approximately 8-feet off the ground at their high point.

The entire array will be approximately 6,800 square feet, which allows for separation so one panel won’t shadow another. The array will be placed in the northwestern portion of Yankee’s field at the corner of Main Street and Monument Road, which is located behind Peter Pap Oriental Rugs.

The project will be protected by a 6-foot tall black, chain-link fence, which has four access gates. There will also be a row of shrubs placed in front of the array, to cut down on any visual impact. The field will still be used for town events.

With the project approved, construction is slated to begin around November, according to Kurt Penney of IRC Solar Roof Systems of Lewiston, Maine, the company that will be installing the array. The array will cost approximately $300,000, with Yankee Publishing owning the array after it’s installed. Yankee was approved for a $75,000 N.H. Public Utilities Commission grant to cover some of the costs.

Landscaping, noise and visibility from the road were three major issues brought up throughout the approval process for Yankee’s solar array, which began in May.

The largest concerns were potential noise and visual impacts. With the location of the array being on Route 101, many were concerned that it would be an eyesore while driving by, but according project manager Nick Golan, an engineer with TF Moran, of Bedford, the slope of the land makes the project hard to see from the road.

Additionally, a tree/shrub buffer will be placed in front of the array, to help the project blend in with nearby trees. The original plan called for the placement of arborvitaes, but Yankee president Jamie Trowbridge said that deer that inhabit the field would likely eat them.

“My wife is a garden designer and I’m confident that we can create an adequate buffer using something other than arborvitaes,” said Trowbridge.

With the system requiring an inverter to convert DC energy to AC, there was a concern that the system could produce a hum, but Golan said that the project is engineered in a way to make all abutters happy.

The only noise produced by the system is a light hum by a cooling fan. The inverter has been placed strategically so that it is more than 150-feet from all abutters, which studies prove is an effective distance to negate hearing any noise produced by the inverter.

Seven abutters showed up at their meeting to show support for the project.

“There have been enough efforts made by Yankee to satisfy abutters so I’m satisfied,” said abutter Peter Pap. “When the plantings fill out, I think it will be hard to differentiate them from the woods behind the array.”

In addition to approving Yankee’s solar project, the Planning Board also continued their discussion about creating a solar ordinance for the town.

Nothing has been finalized as of yet, and the board opted to have a discussion with a solar installer and then to pick up the discussion at a future meeting.

The board wants to create an ordinance in town because there is currently nothing addressing solar projects. The board has been debating a few different ideas including, streamlining the site plan review process for solar projects and creating a size cap for situations where someone would have to go through the site plan review process.

The board hopes to have a warrant ready for Town Meeting in March.

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.

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Phoenix FBI Building Leaves Prints In The Desert

At the corner of 7th Street and Deer Valley Road, north of the 101, sits a glistening new building that many people drive by every day. But by its very nature, not too many people have ever been inside.

While it is open to the public, you have to show ID, go through a metal detector and pass through a security screening just to get inside.

This is the Phoenix FBI building. 

Special Agent Anthony Farinacci says, for the most part, you need to be here on official business. And loitering is not encouraged.

Despite the clandestine nature of the services they provide, the building is actually clearly and purposefully marked.

On the edge of the property is a large metal and stone sign that’s marked with a gigantic thumb print. It’s a theme that continues inside the heavily guarded building.

In the lobby, the thumbprint theme is juxtaposed with artistic representations of DNA markers. Rectangular bands with striations appear in the windows, on the tile floors and even in the carpet.

Farinacci said it’s a symbolic way to show how the agency has evolved, “taking the new technology of DNA and showing that in comparison to the fingerprint of the FBI at its inception.”

Establishing identities is still a large part of what the FBI does. But instead of dusting for prints, the agency now relies heavily on biological and technological markers to find who they’re looking for as they investigate cases across a growing field of priorities.

While they do conduct some investigative work here, the new $154 million building serves primarily as an administrative headquarters and a home base for agents across the state. Construction was finished in 2012 in an attempt to consolidate all of the FBI’s Phoenix resources under one roof.

Steve Lichtenberger was the lead architect for the building. He said, unlike most other buildings, they worked with the government to give this one an identity.

“Part of this building does have some of the sciences of the FBI,” Lichtenberger said. “We wanted to reflect that, so we wanted to find ways that we could, in a sophisticated manner, tried to embed those in the design.”

And the design ideas aren’t limited to inside of the building. The landscaping looks like typical Arizona xeriscaping. But viewed from the offices above, the bushes, rocks and cactus on the edge of the property form the shape of the iconic thumbprint as well.

Lichtenberger said a secretive assignment like the design of this building is unique.

“It’s challenging because you have to isolate the work from the rest of your studio. It’s challenging that you can only speak about certain things. It’s challenging that you may never go back in certain spaces once you’ve designed them,” Lichtenberger said.

“But it’s kind of exciting in a certain sense that you’re designing something that a lot of people aren’t going to appreciate, but you know what you did for that project and it will always be there.”

He said he hopes that just like a thumbprint and DNA, the architectural signature will give its secretive tenants a sense of identity.

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Gardening tips from a pro

Want to make your carrots sweeter as the winter grows longer?

Len Ballek, senior ecologist with Seattle-based Herrera Environmental Consultants, says it’s possible.

Before the ground freezes, throw a synthetic fabric or straw or even a waist-high pile of sawdust onto the carrots still buried in garden soil. Not only will the carrots keep through the long, cold winter months, the carrots will become sweeter, thanks to the frost.

Ballek traveled to Butte Tuesday from his Missoula office at the behest of the Butte Natural Resource Damage Restoration Council. Ballek is providing his plant expertise to Butte-Silver Bow County, Montana Tech Native Plant Project, and Norm DeNeal, a local, large-scale gardener.

All three have received funds from the BNRC – to the tune of $550,000 – over the last four years to stabilize soil in reclaimed sites on the Butte hill by planting trees and different types of vegetation.

BNRC, an appointed advisory council under the state’s Natural Resource Damage Council, is now paying Ballek close to $20,000 to take a look at that work and advise all three on ways to improve the health of the plantings on reclaimed land.

Overall, BNRC has dedicated around $6 million toward revegetating the Butte hill.

While Ballek advised Butte-Silver Bow reclamation specialist Tom Malloy at county tree stands near the Granite Mountain Speculator Mine Memorial a mile north of Butte, he took time out to talk to the Standard to lend local gardeners a few fall planting tips.

With cooler temperatures ushering in a change of season, gardeners are probably thinking about getting ready for next year’s fruit.

Ballek said that at this time of year, gardeners often chop down vegetation out of a summer’s garden and haul it off.

Ballek said that instead, he mows everything down, then lets it lay on top of the ground. He said letting the dead vegetation rot into the ground is good for the soil. 

Another recommendation Ballek made is to forget tilling the ground at this time of year. The Vermont-based National Gardening Association states that gardeners sometimes till their soil in fall to expose overwintering insects, bury plant parts, and mix in soil amendments. But Ballek said doing so is actually not good for the soil.

“It breaks up soil structure,” he said.

And the old wives’ tale about putting a green tomato in a brown bag to ripen is true, Ballek said.

But, if the tomato has any red spots on it at all, he said to just keep it on the kitchen counter; it will likely ripen soon.

While plants are Ballek’s purview, not birds, he stated this is a good time of year to bring in those hummingbird feeders.

Birds need to head south so they can get ready for winter. And at this time of year, the feeders attract bears. 

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