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Archives for September 13, 2015

Garden Tips: Heat tough on plants not adapted to our summers

Two years of record heat is just too much. I am tired of seeing samples of crispy brown plants and being asked the cause of the problem. Quite simply, it has been hot and difficult for plants to survive, especially plants that are not well adapted to our climate.

Several weeks ago, I took a look at some local Norway and Colorado spruces that were turning brown and dying. While not always the best clue to the origins of a plant, these spruces’ common names do give us a hint that they may not be well suited to the hot, dry summer weather of the Mid-Columbia. Norway spruce is native to northern and central Europe and prefers a cool, moist, humid climate. Colorado spruce, native to the central and southern Rocky Mountains, is also best adapted to a cool, humid climate.

In their publication on Spruce Problems, the University of Illinois says spruces as a group “prefer locations with acidic, well drained soils” and that “spruces are not well adapted to hot, dry locations and often suffer when planted in the warmer regions of the U.S.” It also discusses heat injury of spruces, saying that high temperatures can cause damage, especially when the high temperatures are preceded by cool weather. Heat damage on spruces shows as browning and dropping of new needles, leaving dead branch tips. After two or three years of this, a spruce is pretty much dead.

Just because spruces are not well suited to our climate does not mean that you ca not find healthy spruces growing locally. However, our climate does stress them and makes them more vulnerable to attack by pests, like spruce mite, bud scale and needle miner. I did find spruce bud scale on one of the browning Norway spruces, but the infestation was not severe enough to kill the tree. At least we can be thankful that our dry climate keeps fungal diseases from being a problem here.

Flowering dogwood is another tree that suffers when faced with hot, dry, windy summer weather. In its native habitat, it is an under-story tree that grows in the filtered shade of other forest trees. It grows best in a moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil that is high in organic matter.

Dogwoods become stressed when planted in full sun and subjected to high temperatures, reflected heat and light from pavement and structures, wind, compacted soil, and poor watering practices. This stress shows up as curled leaves and crispy brown leaf edges. Nevertheless, many of these trees still put on a beautiful display of flowers each spring. To help dogwoods better cope with mid-Columbia conditions, plant them where they will have filtered shade and will not be subjected to a southern-western exposure or drying winds.

Dogwoods and spruce have very shallow root systems, making them more subject to drought and heat stress. It is advisable to keep the roots cooler and moist by mulching the roots with wood chip or shredded bark mulch. Apply a 3 to 4 inch layer of mulch all the way out to the tree’s dripline and beyond. Keep the soil moderately moist, but avoid excessive soil moisture. Be sure to water the spruces during the winter if the weather stays dry and mild.

Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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Garden calendar: Sept. 13 – Las Cruces Sun

Tree Stewards Sought: The city’s Parks Recreation Department and Keep Las Cruces Beautiful are now accepting applications for a fourth cycle of the Las Cruces Tree Steward Program. Training sessions will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, through Oct. 15 (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and from 8 to 10 a.m. some Saturdays. The Tree Steward Program is dedicated to the recruitment and training of community volunteers who will contribute to the care and planting of trees in city parks and public facilities. The program is seeking 25 volunteers to become tree stewards. To become a tree steward, each volunteer will complete 20 hours of training taught by certified experts on a variety of topics. The training is free and open to ages 18 and older. After completing the training, stewards are required to commit 40 hours of service that involves urban tree plantings, nursery assistance and tree inventories. For an online application visit Las Cruces Tree Steward at the city of Las Cruces website at Info: 575-541-2550 or

Gardening Class: 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at Casa de mi Alma, 920 N. Alameda Blvd. Class presented by Jackye Meinecke, local gardening expert. A Transplanting and Dividing Flowers class, multiply the plants in your garden for free, while adding beauty to your garden design. Learn what can be divided and transplanted, as well as the necessary skills and tools to successfully transplant flowers, shrubs and trees in your garden. Cost is $7.50, cash or check at the door. Reservations are requested. Class size is limited. Reservation or info: 575-323-0903, leave message; or

Fall Flower Show: Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Social Center of Good Samaritan Village, 3011 Buena Vida Circle. Mesilla Valley and Desert Daubers Garden Clubs, in association with High Hopes Garden Club will present a Standard Flower Show, “Weather or Not.” Come see new cultivars in horticulture, see what flowers and plants grow here locally, and see new flower design trends from Garden Club members and the NMSU design team. Free. Info: 575-522-2073.

Gardening Class: 3 p.m. Sept. 26 at Casa de mi Alma, 920 N. Alameda Blvd. Class presented by Jackye Meinecke, local gardening expert. Create shade around your home and garden with trees. The class is Choosing and Planting Trees. Learn to create beauty and shade around your home by choosing the best trees for your space and getting them off to a good start with proper planting. Don’t wait for spring. Fall is the best time to plant and establish trees in the Southwest. Cost is $7.50, cash or check at the door. Reservations are requested. Class size is limited. Reservation or info: 575-323-0903, leave message; or

Workshop for Growers: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 10 at La Semilla Community Farm, 350 Our Way, Anthony. Effective Organic Cover Crops and Crop Rotations for Organic Production workshop is for beginning, existing, in transition, and young farmers and ranchers who want to learn more about the production practices for cover crops, especially in organic production. Hosted by La Semilla Food Center in cooperation with the NMSU Organic Transitions Team and NRCS and sponsored by the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service/USDA Organic Transition Project 2015. Free but space is limited. Reservations or info:

Farm volunteer days: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays at the MVM Farm, 2653 Snow Road. Find out more about composting, vermiculture, aquaponics, laying hens and crop planning in this region. Info: 575-523-0436,

Sidewalk Nursery: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in front of the Mountain View Market Co-Op, 1300 El Paseo Road. Robledo Vista Nursery specializes in low water-use native and adapted plants. Info: 915-203-4385.

Garden question hot line: The county Agricultural Extension Office maintains a hot line for county residents to answer questions and solve problems related to home gardening, including trees, lawns, shrubs, native plants, weeds and insects. The hot line is staffed by trained master gardeners each Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. Info: 575-525-6649.

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Designs for home décor get a little brutal

Muscular. Brawny. Disruptive. They don’t exactly sound like the average descriptors for home décor, do they?

Yet they perfectly describe one of the most interesting new directions furniture and accessories seem to be moving in: Brutalist décor.

Brutalist architecture was first popularized by Le Corbusier back in the 1950s. A departure from the intricate Beaux Arts building style, it was all about using spare geometric forms, and materials like unfinished concrete, steel and glass. New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art is a Brutalist design by Marcel Breuer. Paul Rudolph designed the Art and Architecture Building at Yale.

The style moved into interior décor that also played with abstract forms and rough textures, adding an earthy color palette and incorporating other materials like wood, plaster and marble. Furniture by designers like Paul Evans and Curtis Jere found fans, and the style caught fire during the ’60s and ’70s. There are numerous nice examples of this style used on the sets of the movie “American Hustle,” as well as the popular TV series “Mad Men.”

So why is Brutalism once again having a moment in the sun?

“Brutalism is derived from the French word ‘brut,’ or raw, and I think it’s that sense of rawness that design lovers are attracted to today,” ventures Anna Brockaway, co-founder and curator of the online vintage-design marketplace Chairish. “Because of their brawny heaviness, imperfect finishes and rough, uneven dimensions, Brutalist pieces deliver gutsy gravitas to a space.”

Jeni Sandberg, a modern-design dealer and consultant in Raleigh, North Carolina, adds, “Brutalist works make perfect high-impact statement pieces, and collectors are snapping up pieces like wall sculptures and chandeliers.”

And New York designer Daun Curry says, “Design should challenge us, and creating contrast in an environment gives urgency, interest and dimension. Brutalist design is fascinating because it balances delicacy with harsh materiality.”

Curry’s favorite sources include 1st Dibs and Flair Home Collection. The former offers vintage pieces, like a 1967 Paul Evans patchwork steel cabinet and a Lane dresser with a Brutalist sculptured wood mosaic. Flair has a collection of Brutalist objets d’art in a number of metals and gilded plaster.

Kelly Wearstler’s Apollo stool is an artful stack of black or white marble circles; her Elliott chair is a sexy mix of curvy bronze and exotic fish leather; and her Array, District and Astral rugs bring Brutalist imagery to the floor.

James Bearden’s blackened steel Skyscraper floor lamp for Studio Van den Akker combines architecture and function.

At Arteriors, long a source for Brutalist style, round slabs of forged iron form the industrial-chic Potter lamp. The Payne chandelier is a kinetic arrangement of hand-cut, gold-leafed iron shards, while a copse of welded iron sticks forms the Ecko lamp. Armor-like metallic circles and squares form the Ulysses and Monty pendants.

“I recommend picking one statement-making piece to anchor a space, like a chandelier, credenza, cocktail table or wall sculpture, and then mixing in pieces from other eras and styles,” advises Brockaway, of Chairish. 

“Also, many Brutalist pieces are dark in coloration, so I prefer to balance them with a lighter surrounding palette.”

Think powerful yet playful. In terms of pop culture – more “Mad Men” than “Mad Max.”

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Residents make it clear what they’d like to see in proposed downtown arts village

VERO BEACH — More pocket parks, community gardens and landscaping were among the most common suggestions offered by local residents Saturday as they shared their visions for the downtown arts village project proposed by the Cultural Council of Indian River County.

More than 125 people met with designers and architects at the Heritage Center to offer their suggestions on what should be included in the final design plans for the possible arts village between 12th Court and 20th Avenue and 19th and 20th streets.

“There’s a wonderful synergy that happens when people work in groups and can build ideas off of each other,” said Barbara Hoffman, the Cultural Council’s executive director. “The excitement in the air comes from people being able to really visualize their ideas for the project.”

Residents also will be able to present their ideas during sessions this week at the Downtown Hampton Inn.

Among the most common suggestions made by attendees was the need for additional green space, pocket parks, community gardens and landscaping. Other outdoor concerns included addressing zoning restrictions and lowering traffic speeds in the area, as well as a need for more parking spaces, lighting and signs that would clearly identify the arts village area to visitors.

Jose Venegas, architect and consultant to the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, said, “Area identification is so important for the arts village. It will define the area to people visiting and expose the community to the vision that the area represents.”

Other suggestions focused on mixed-use options for existing buildings, as well as the possibility of renovating buildings for other uses. 

One concern raised was about making sure artists living in the area are not forced out by increasing rents as the area becomes more popular. Many agreed an association should be created as a watchdog to protect the needs of residents and businesses in the village.

“A community development corporation is a self-sustaining entity, with its purpose being to watch over the needs of the community,” said local business owner Neli Santamarina. “This ensures residents and businesses can thrive well into the future.”

When considering the appeal of the downtown area, attendees were in agreement with maintaining the charm of the arts village area, with many people suggesting a reversal to using historic named streets versus the current numbered ones.

Dana Little, urban design director for the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, summed up, “The overall interest is in maintaining the scale and character of the existing Edgewood area. The challenge is going to be moving forward with this when it comes to public policy and codes, and how that will affect the final design plans.”


There’s still an opportunity to offer input into planning for Indian River County’s cultural-arts village.

What: Designers and architects available to talk with the public about design of the proposed cultural-arts village

When: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday

Where: Downtown Hampton Inn, 611 20th Place, Vero Beach

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Chlorine Now Implemented Throughout Entire City During Water Boil Advisories


The City of Corpus Christi just released they have now implemented chlorine throughout the entire city as the water boil advisories continue. The utilities department will continue flushing and monitoring the system. but the city anticipates the change in chlorine to remain in effect for 30-60 days. No water boil advisories will be lifted until lab work is completed and confirmed. 

Recommendations for reducing the chlorine taste or smell:
1) Aerate the water (shake it or stir it) in a container
2) Refrigerate the water
3) Let faucets run 3-5 seconds before use 

You can find more information regarding the water boil advisories at

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Fall Home and Garden Show Continues Sunday


     Lots of people made their way to the American Bank Center Saturday for the fall Home and Garden Show.  There was no better place in town to get those do-it-yourself project ideas.
     There were plenty of booths to help families with planning their landscaping and home improvement projects.
     The event brought folks as far away as San Antonio to the American Bank Center.
     Throughout the day, all of your favorite 3 News anchors were on hand at the Home and Garden Show.
     On Sunday at 12, come out and meet our 3 News morning team!  John Thomas Kobos, Kristin Diaz, Alan Holt, and Sarah Acosta will all be there.
     Be sure to stop by and say hi!

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Local resort owners host annual fall tour

Jennifer Bateman, owner of Two Inlets Resort, reported the tour went very well with nearly 80 resort owners from 41 resorts from across the state attending.  The Congress of Minnesota Resorts holds the annual tour this time of year as the busy season winds down.  

“Owning and operating a resort can be a very isolating profession,” Bateman said. “During the busy summer season it’s very difficult to leave your property.”  

Bateman added, after Labor Day it’s easier for owners to leave their own resort and see other resorts still in full operation when the docks and boats are still in the water, flowers are still blooming, and cabins are guest ready.  

“The idea of the tour is to allow resort owners to look at each others’ properties and get ideas about landscaping or building or decorating, or really any number of things related to running a resort,” Bateman said. “Resort owners are generally very friendly people, so the conversations and idea sharing that takes place when we socialize is pretty productive.”  

Resort owners taking part in the tour reported a strong season this year. The weather overall was favorable throughout the summer and fishing was good.  

“People continue to be very interested in staying at lakeside resorts for a traditional family vacation,” Bateman said. “Staying at a resort is something that’s so unique, laid-back, friendly and wholesome.”  

Bill and Kim Larson own Loon’s Nest Resort on Fish Hook Lake with their son Grant and his wife Amber. This is the second year they’ve owned the resort and first time on the tour, which started at Half Moon Trail.  It’s the Larsons’ first time on the tour.  “I have resort jealousy,” Kim said in admiring the unique landscaping at Half Moon Trail. “Every resort is different. Ours definitely has its pluses but the tour gives us ideas to take away with us and implement.”  “Especially the landscaping,” Bill added.  

Half Moon Trail on Boot Lake features impressive gardens and landscaping with annuals and perennials throughout the resort which drew praise and admiration from the visiting resorters.  The Ahrendt Family has owned Half Moon Trail since 1993. Along with a large beach area the resort also has an outdoor heated swimming pool.  The second stop on the tour was Two Inlets Resort located northwest of Park Rapids on Two Inlets Lake.

Owners Jennifer and Bob Batemen recently completed a beach renovation and visited with other resort owners about the process they had to go through with state and local agencies to complete the project.  Two Inlets Resort features a 60-year-old turtle pond, recently planted lakescaping project, vintage small cabins, as well as newer two story cabins.   The Congress of Minnesota Resorts (CMR) is an industry association dedicated to the mission of helping family owned and operated resorts in Minnesota to continue as a viable segment of the Minnesota tourism industry.  

Bonnie Brand from Pine Cone Resort on Little Sand Lake is a member of CMR and finds the group a valuable resource for those in the resort business.  She said resort owners get into the business because they love people and the group on the tour Wednesday is “some of the nicest people you’ll meet.”  Brand added, “It’s amazing how helpful they are when, in fact, we are in competition for the same group of consumers,” Brand said.  The CMR tour finished at Brookside Resort with its nine hole mini golf course, recently remodeled indoor/outdoor pool, large lodge, 28 cabins, and cabin remodel project which began this year.

Results from a recent Explore Minnesota Tourism (EMT) survey of Minnesota lodging and camping properties revealed their strongest summer business growth since comparable data was first gathered in 2008. The informal survey showed summer 2015 occupancy and revenue levels to be up compared with summer 2014, with positive results extending across all accommodation types and regions of the state.  These results were assisted by good weather throughout the summer, contrasting with summer 2014’s late, wet start that put a damper on last year’s early summer resort and campground business. Looking ahead, the survey provided an upbeat assessment of business expectations for the upcoming fall season. Results also point toward increasingly positive financial health of Minnesota accommodations.

Open-ended responses reinforced the extent to which the weather positively impacted summer business, and reflected respondents’ renewed levels of investment in their properties to meet increasing customer expectations for services and furnishings. Results of the survey represent the strongest year-over-year growth in Minnesota’s summer lodging and camping occupancy and revenue since comparable data was first gathered in 2008. Strong positive summer 2015 occupancy and revenue results were seen across all accommodation types (i.e., resorts, hotel/motels, BB/historic inns and campgrounds).

These results were quite different from results from a year ago, when overall summer 2014 occupancy and revenue results were also quite strong but hotel/motels and BB/historic inns fared relatively better than resorts and campgrounds. That discrepancy was attributed to early summer 2014 adverse weather conditions, high water levels and flooding that posed challenges for weather-sensitive businesses. Each of Minnesota’s five tourism regions had positive occupancy and revenue results.

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2 outstanding Oregon gardens: See one Sunday (photos)

Two incredible private Oregon properties are included in the new book, “Outstanding American Gardens: A Celebration—25 Years of the Garden Conservancy.”


The 272-page hardcover ($50, Abrams) will be released Sept. 22 by the Garden Conservancy, which for 25 years has helped save and share American gardens that otherwise might be lost to development or remain hidden behind gates.

The book showcases 50 gardens with a range of styles and elements, from historic to modernist designs, traditional to exotic materials, and all levels of sustainability, including organic and xeric.

Eight of the properties are Preservation Gardens, which the nonprofit Garden Conservancy worked to save.

The other privately owned gardens are open to the public through the group’s national garden visitation program, says Jenny du Pont, president and CEO of the Garden Conservancy.

“Gardens stimulate all five senses. They bring beauty, spirituality and solace into daily life,” says du Pont. “Over the course of 25 years, we have found that anyone — or any community — has the potential to build and sustain wonderful gardens that can be enjoyed for years to come.”

Descriptions of the gardens, curated by Page Dickey, are paired with 194 photographs by Marion Brenner to reveal each gardener’s ingenuity and artistic talents.

The Jane Platt Garden in Portland

Jane Platt’s lushly layered 2 1/2-acre property in Portland’s West Hills is one of five private gardens open during the Portland Garden Tour West, a benefit for the Ainsworth Elementary School PTA, that takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 13.

According to “Outstanding American Gardens,” the late Jane Platt inherited her love of gardening and rare plants from her father, Peter Kerr, a Scottish immigrant who, at the end of the 19th century, developed Dunthorpe’s Elk Rock Gardens of the Bishop’s Close overlooking the Willamette River.

In 1939, she married John Platt and moved to a gently sloping former apple orchard. She created distinct gardens with “walls” of deciduous trees and conifers and a variety of shrubs. She was especially fond of rhododendrons and unusual and unique plants from around the world.

Today, many of the specimens she planted are among the oldest and largest to be seen outside their native habitats.

In 1988, Jane’s youngest son, David, took over the maintenance of the garden. He consults with his daughter Kailla Platt, a landscape architect, on the garden, and his wife, Lisa, urges him “toward the big changes that need to be made.”

Ernie Marietta O’Byrne’s Garden in Eugene

Ernie and Marietta O’Byrne began collecting plants more than 40 years ago and are legends in the horticulture world for creating a “magical” garden with thousands of plants, especially hellebore, growing on their 1 1/2-acre property.

There is a large rock and scree garden, crevice garden, damp-peat garden, conifer and heather garden, and a water-wise chaparral garden.

In 1992, they opened Northwest Garden Nursery after years of propagating hard-to-find plants to use in their landscaping business.

— Homes Gardens of the Northwest staff

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Take note of plants’ drought resistance during dry spell – Tribune

The past two months have been a great time to assess drought tolerance in plants. We had a wet spring, but once July arrived, we had very little rainfall and I found that many of my plants were suffering from moisture stress.

While some gardeners may enjoy watering their plants, lugging a hose from garden bed to garden bed is not my idea of fun. Personally, I’d rather choose plants with a natural resistance to drought than be forced to water my garden all summer long.

To help me decide which plants are the most drought resistant in my landscape, I find it useful to watch my gardens during years such as this one and take careful notes on which plants seem to be more drought-resistant than the others. These are the kinds of plants I want in my garden; things that wilt at the first sign of dry weather don’t last long in my landscape.

Succulent plants and cacti are known for their ability to withstand prolonged periods without water, so I’m always sure to include a few of these types of plants in my containers. But I’m not interested in growing a succulents-only garden. (Perhaps if I lived in California …) Instead, I want a mixture of plants with lots of colors and textures.

Here are six plants that made the cut this year for their tough-as-nails drought tolerance and their ability to stand up to the heat.


Silver Falls Dichondra: Grown as an annual, this trailing plant looks great spilling over the edges of containers and hanging baskets. The round, silver leaves look great all summer long, even in full sun. It’s native to parts of Texas and the Desert Southwest, so it doesn’t sweat the hot weather.

Portulaca: Also known as moss rose, this low-growing annual is perfect for edging a patio or in containers. Flowers come in red, yellow, pink, purple, orange or white, and can be single- or double-petaled, depending on the variety. The only downside to portulaca is that the bunnies really seem to love it.

Dorotheanthus “Mezoo Trailing Red�: Though this plant is a perennial in warmer climes, here in Pennsylvania we grow it as an annual. Its low-growing, trailing habit is perfect for spilling over retaining walls or containers. The variegated foliage is succulent-like, and the flowers can be reddish pink, white, yellow or orange, depending on the variety. Also called the Livingstone daisy, this plant really does grow best in hot, dry conditions.


Anise hyssop (Agastache): Not only is this perennial attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, it’s also one tough cookie. There are many species and cultivars of Agastache for the garden, but the one that does the best for me is “Blue Fortune.â€� It’s always loaded with blooms and doesn’t miss a beat, even during a drought.

Russian sage (Perovskia): This wispy perennial bears airy spikes of light blue flowers on its silvery blue foliage. The flowers are long lasting and don’t easily succumb to the stresses of a drought. It’s extremely winter hardy as well, making it a terrific choice for the garden.

Globe thistle (Echinops): Though this plant doesn’t strike everyone’s fancy, probably because of its spiky, thistle-like foliage, I love having it in my garden. The spiny, silvery foliage is topped with bright blue, round balls of flowers every summer. It’s also adored by the bees.

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners� at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio with Doug Oster. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control� and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.� Her website is

Send your gardening or landscaping questions to or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

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