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Archives for September 15, 2015

Your garden in September: Sean Murray’s tips for North East gardeners

Ornamental grasses can transform the look of your garden in autumn and well into the winter.

To be honest I’ve never been a great fan of ornamental grasses and that rather formulaic minimal designer look of a few grasses and great swathes of concrete.

But all that’s changed following a recent visit to Scampston Hall Walled Garden in North Yorkshire.

Here I experienced a masterclass in prairie-style planting in the schemes created by plantsman Piet Oudolf.

Ornamental grasses are planted skilfully with late summer stunners Echinacea Purpurea Rubinstern, Knautia Macedonica and Sanguisorba Officinalis Red Thunder creating a haze-like mist of autumn splendour.

Ornamental grasses tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. Autumn is a great time to plant Festuca, Deschampsia and Stipa as they all come into growth from late winter.

Late spring is the best time to plant grasses that originate from warmer climates, such as Miscanthus, Spartina and Panicum.

The soil needs to be warm enough to support those new root systems, they all dislike being planted in cold wet soil.

Grasses can look great in pots too where you can control their growing requirements with ease.

At Scampston Hall Walled Garden in North Yorkshire

Some of my new-found favourites include Spartina Pectinata, 1.2m tall with narrow, variegated blades, easily whipped up by the slightest breeze making dramatic shapes and adding a theatrical element to your space.

Stipa Gigantea is extensively used in show gardens and I can see why with its stately 1.5m airy seed heads that look amazing back-lit by evening autumn sunshine.

Arundo Donax Variegata is a real showstopper with its statuesque form at up to 3m. It screams ‘look at me’ whenever it’s planted, it will need protection or even lifting in winter in the North East but is well worth the effort.

I’ve grown Pheasant Grass, Stipa Arundinacea for some years for its haze of golden plumes at 60cm from July until midwinter it’s a self-seeder, which is a bonus.

From a design perspective I would be wary of planting blocks of grasses in a small plot however much you fancy that designer look. Remember you will have to look at it all year round, in the depths of winter some of them can look pretty tatty.

A client recently asked me for a design without grasses, ‘you know the grass that looks like dead hair in winter’.

That said, some do keep their form long into the winter so don’t be too eager to give them all a hair cut in the autumn as may can look overwhelmley beautiful laced with frost and capped in snow.

Sean Murray runs a garden design company based in Ashington, Northumberland, www.

Sean Murray at Scampston Hall Walled Garden in North Yorkshire

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Harvest tips take the freshest vegetables from garden to table (photos)

Summer’s tidal wave of ripe vegetables is slowing down, but don’t stop checking your garden every day. Now is the time to pick slow-growing vegetables, and you also need to keep an eye on varieties that need a touch of frost to achieve peak flavors.

Don’t rely solely on counting the days between seed planting and maturity; growth depends on temperature, rainfall and other factors. Some vegetables need to be harvested before any frost occurs, while others need freezing temperatures to complete their ripening. While some vegetables have a long harvest window, others can go from tender and tasty to tough and bitter overnight.

For juicy vegetables, pick them in the morning, right after the dew has burned off. Cloudy, cool days are ideal for picking vegetables.

Here are some additional tips for gathering the freshest bounty of the garden. The information comes from the following websites: Burpee, Better Homes and Gardens and Cornell Cooperative Extension at Cornell University.

An online guide to harvesting can be found here.

Beans, Snap

Bean pods will be the most tender when the seeds inside are small. From this stage on, the pods become more fibrous and the beans more starchy.


Harvest fall beets that are 1 inch in diameter before the first moderate freeze, or cover with 1 to 2 feet of mulch so that you can harvest them in winter.

Your garden’s broccoli probably won’t get as large as the ones in the grocery store. Cut the primary crown (where the individual heads come together) when it’s about 4 inches across. Harvest terminal head while florets are still tight and dark green.

Brussels sprouts

Remove the lowest leaves from stalks to improve sprout size. Harvest sprouts (small

heads) when they are firm in size, starting from the bottom of the stalk. Frost improves the flavor of Brussel sprouts, but harvest before the first severe freeze.


Harvest when heads are solid. If heads become over-mature, they may split. To prevent splitting, pull upward on head until upper roots snap.

Cantaloupes, muskmelons and honeydews

A ripe cantaloupe or muskmelon will have a tan or yellowish color beneath the corky “netting” on its skin. Cut the stem rather than breaking the fruit off, which creates a wound that invites the fruit to rot. Let the fruit ripen for another day or two at room temperature before cutting into it.


Carrots are fully ripe when their shoulders reach up out of the ground and the leaves turn dark green. Harvest at 1″-2″ thickness. Fall-planted carrots should be harvested before the ground freezes, or covered with 1 to 2 feet of leaves, straw or other mulch to keep the ground from freezing so you can still dig them up during winter.

Chard (Swiss)

Plants will provide greens from early summer to the first moderate freeze. Harvest Swiss chard continuously by breaking off the outer leaves.


Cucumbers are best when slightly immature, just as the spines soften and before the seeds become half-size. Pickling cucumbers will be blocky and not as long. Check the seed packet to see how large your variety of cucumber will get and how long that is expected to take. Cut cucumbers from the vine; don’t pull them.

Green beans

Pick the pods when they are smaller than their maximum size, to be sure that they are tender. Keep picking to encourage the vine to keep flowering and producing pods.


We hope you picked your lettuce before hot weather encouraged the plant to “bolt,” or develop a flower stalk, which makes the leaves taste bitter. If your lettuce bolted, try again by sowing more seeds for a fall crop.


Okra pods are ready to harvest when they are 2″-3″ long and snap easily or about four days after the flowers close. Cut off old, over-mature pods to encourage the plants to keep producing.

Onions are ready when the foliage topples over. Dig the bulbs and store them in a dry place to cure for at least a week.


Pick a test pod and open it when the seeds have begun to swell inside. You’re looking for peas that are round but still tender. Pick peas just before you are ready to shell and cook them. For snow peas and sugar snaps, taste a pod when it nears full size. You want a crisp, crunchy, fresh-tasting pod, in which the seeds have started developing but are nowhere near round. Pods left too long on the vine get tough and stringy.


Peppers are ready to eat when full-sized but still green. If left on the vine longer, they will change color to red, orange, yellow or brown, depending on the variety, and will deepen in flavor and become less crisp in texture. Hot peppers left to change color will get hotter.

Tubers are fully ripe after the plants bloom and start to turn brown and die back. Make sure your potatoes are brought inside promptly after harvesting.

Zucchini and other summer squash have the best flavor if you pick them when they’re about 4 or 5 inches long. Wait until winter squash rinds are thick enough that you can’t pierce them with your thumbnail, then squash for several months in a cool, dry place.


Generally, a tomato is fully ripe when it releases easily from the stem, and they develop the fullest flavor if they ripen in the sun on the vine. Pick green tomatoes a week or so before the first frost. The more mature tomatoes will ripen indoors if they are wrapped in newspaper and stored at room temperature.


When the spot beneath the melon, where it sits on the ground, turns yellowish, the melon is close to ripe. The rind also gets tougher, so test it with your thumbnail to how easily it dents. For old-fashioned full-sized watermelons, the traditional ripeness test is to thump and listen for a dull, hollow sound, but this may not work as well with the smaller “icebox” varieties. Ultimately, you’ll have to cut one open and decide if it’s ripe.

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Wharton’s gardens worth 1000 words

Editor’s note: Kaki Holt, whose weekly gardening column will return this fall, writes occasional columns during the warmer months.

I recently had the great fortune of visiting The Mount, Edith Wharton’s estate in Lenox, Mass. I loved both the house and grounds, which have been the target of a major restoration.

Having toured grand European gardens since she was a child, Wharton had developed defined tastes by 1901 when she began to fashion the 113-acre Berkshire Hills estate. This self-taught woman did, however, consult her niece, Beatrix Jones Farrand, on the design of the entrance, approach, driveway and kitchen gardens.

Farrand, later one of America’s premiere landscape designers, laid out swaths of sugar maple and pine forests underplanted by glades of ferns along the approach.

Today, this tranquil setting provides the backdrop for an array of contemporary sculpture, which I found jarring. Still, it’s an impressive landscape.

Wharton lavished the same care on her gardens as she did on the details of her classic revival house, claiming, “I am decidedly a better garden designer than novelist.” That’s saying something, from the author who would be the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for The Age of Innocence.

At any rate, she incorporated Italian, French and English elements into the gardens around the back of the house. Palladian-style stairs lead down from a veranda to marble-chip pathways before descending further to the Lime Walk, which connects French and Italian gardens at each terminus.

From her bedroom where she wrote The House of Mirth, Wharton looked down on her formal French garden, which today boasts dahlias, meadow rue, purplish blue, daisies, monkshood and bee balm. The boxwoods that line the beds today were unavailable in Wharton’s time.

“The varieties available then were not hardy enough for this climate,” said Anne Schuyler, house manager of the Edith Wharton Foundation, which is in charge of the $15 million restoration project. “We’ve sourced letters, photographs and archaeology to restore her gardens.”

According to Schuyler, Wharton used gardens in her books to help define her characters. Thus, it would have been unthinkable to restore her house without also tackling the surrounding grounds.

Wharton would have hardily approved.


If you go: The Mount, 2 Plunkett St., Lenox, Mass., is open seasonally to visitors through Oct. 31. For hours and ticket information, call (413) 551-5111 or visit


Lifelong gardener Kaki Holt has written extensively about horticulture for a variety of local and state publications. Additionally, she has spearheaded the founding of school garden clubs throughout Palm Beach County. A certified Master Gardener, she is a member of Garden Writers of America. Email her at

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Garden design, spring bulbs

Several new gardening classes are available this fall through Ridgefield Continuing Education. Landscape Garden Design (Mondays, Sept. 28 and Oct. 5; 7 to 9 p.m.; $49) focuses on looking at landscape as a series of rooms with different functions and covers elements of design, color theory, and how to create a design on paper to work from over time.

All About Spring Bulbs (Wednesday, Sept. 30; 7 to 9 p.m.; $31) discusses what to do in the fall to have a spring perennial garden that adds three months of color, deer-resistant bulbs, strategies for dealing with deer if you want tulips, and slides of the best bulbs for easy care in this area.

Instructor Laura Stabell is a master gardener, arborist, horticulturist and naturalist. She is also a landscape gardener whose work has been featured in magazines and on the Garden Conservancy open garden tour. She founded and directs the Saugatuck River Watershed Association. Advance registration required. Visit or phone Peggy Bruno at 203-431-2812.

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“Trash Poet” John Wesley Coleman III Announces New Album, ‘Greatest Hits’

Austin’s self-proclaimed “trash poet” John Wesley Coleman III incorporates his heady musings and witticisms with analog slacker rock. His new full length release, Greatest Hits, will be released on October 23rd by local imprint Super Secret Records. Following years of varied creative output at a breakneck pace, including performing with psychedelic five-piece The Golden Boys and releasing a combination poetry book/CD titledAmerican Trashcan, Coleman finds himself in new, unfamiliar creative turf – becoming a dad.

Greatest Hits chronicles Coleman’s evolution as he subscribes to a new “hustle” – growing older and raising his daughter – and his struggle to bridge new and old ideas of being an artist. Coleman essentially sums this up as “shit being more real now.” His specific and enigmatic songwriting has never been all about seriousness, however. Tracks like “Bong Song,” Coleman’s sweet ode to the stoner who longs for more love in the world after watching too much cable news, and “Lawnmower Man,” an improved jam Coleman wrote and recorded in 15 minutes after a particularly grueling and smelly landscaping session – another one of his many side hustles – illustrate his ability to craft songs that are playful and cleverly subversive, while also expressing immutable sincerity. Sonically, he takes inspiration from the Southern swagger of Dwight Yoakam and George Jones, the classic rock of Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, the punk rock turbulence of Iggy and the Stooges and The Ramones.

Greatest Hits expands Coleman’s repertoire of irreverent release titles (Urinal Cake 7″ was released in 2014) and features songs that “all sounds completely different, like they all came from different albums.” The 10-track album was recorded at East Austin’s Cat Eye Studios by Doug Walseth on analog 8 track to 1 inch tape, and some tracks were completely live. “Pick Up the Phone” delves into the friction between Coleman wanting to go out and be a part of the music scene and knowing that he is becoming more distanced from it as he gets older. He also notes that this can result in missing out on “partying under a bridge with Anthony Kiedis.” Coleman apologizes in his best growl for his eccentric personality on the psychedelic “I Touched Your Mind” and “Fallin Out of Love,” written by Austin songwriter Will Cope, finds Coleman channeling his country music heroes as he yearns to fall out of love so he can again experience falling back in it. “Television” was co-written with Austin based songwriter Nick Allison (Church Shoes), and Coleman’s chorus acts as a kind of love song to his TV, which keeps him company when he sleeps on his couch after being booted out of bed by mom and baby. Two songs on Greatest Hits come from a very interesting business venture Coleman practiced: Fans paid him $10 online and gave him a tidbit about themselves, and he would whip up a song and record it for them. “Miranda” was commissioned by an eponymous fan in Austin and turned out to be one of Coleman’s favorites. “Portlandia” was crafted for a couple in Oregon, and they told Wes they will play it at their upcoming wedding. “SleepyHead,” a garage rock lullaby that muses on the recurring difficulty of putting his daughter to sleep, features a guitar solo from local punk luminary Dean Beadles, who also produced hisLittle Miss Keith Richards album.

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20 Jobs Near Kennesaw: Target, Georgia-Pacific, Pure Barre Kennesaw

Here’s a roundup of recent job postings in Kennesaw.

Find more employment listings under our Jobs tab at the top of the page.

Post a job listing at Patch here.

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Latest vision of Trinity toll road likely to be scrutinized

Area transportation officials are poised to spend more than half a million dollars to find out if the meandering, tree-lined version of Trinity Parkway can be built as the first phase of construction for the large-scale version federal officials already approved this year.

The North Texas Tollway Authority board on Wednesday will vote on paying longtime project engineer Halff Associates $589,821 for concept schematics, traffic analysis and landscape review of privately funded recommendations for the toll road.

Those suggestions came from a team of 12 urban planning experts who came up with 20 design principles to make the road more like a serene parkway and less like a massive highway that has faced growing opposition.

Money for Halff’s new work is being funneled through the Texas Department of Transportation, but comes from the $3.2 billion the NTTA paid for the toll rights on Sam Rayburn Tollway. The Regional Transportation Council controls those funds.

“TxDOT is not funding the Trinity Parkway design,” said TxDOT spokesman Tony Hartzel.

The RTC provides policy and funding direction to the North Central Texas Council of Governments. In 2008, the RTC agreed to spend up to $85 million to design Trinity Parkway. More than $31 million has been spent, with most of that money going toward work needed to secure federal approval of the project.

The RTC discussed spending more money to see if new ideas for Trinity Parkway could be implemented last month but did not vote on the matter.

“I have approval for $85 million, and they’re not going to need more money than what’s already been approved,” Council of Governments transportation director Michael Morris said.

The RTC expects to be reimbursed by whatever entity eventually builds Trinity Parkway. The full build-out of the large-scale version is expected to cost about $1.3 billion. Federal officials say that’s the version they expect to eventually be built, even if construction comes in phases over decades.

Meanwhile, implementing the urban planners’ vision for Trinity Parkway could require the NTTA and the city to rework their 1999 development agreement. For years, the road was developed as a reliever route for traffic near downtown. Even though traffic estimates show the road would slightly reduce congestion in some areas while worsening it in others, that goal is part of the reason the Federal Highway Administration cleared the project.

The so-called dream team of urban planners and some city officials now say the road is needed to provide access to and views of the adjacent park also planned between the Trinity River levees. The Dallas City Council’s Trinity River Project and Transportation committee is slated to discuss plans to use $1 million from a nonprofit to develop detailed plans for that park.

The recommended design changes for the first phase of toll road construction call for parking lots off the toll road for people to stop and enjoy the planned recreation area around the river.

But the guiding development agreement for the project says that access to adjacent properties must come from “arterial streets or frontage roads, and not directly from the turnpike project.”

“Obviously, if there were to be a meandering parkway, there’d have to be some amendment to that particular section for park access,” NTTA spokesman Michael Rey said last month.

The NTTA board meets at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the agency’s headquarters at 5900 W. Plano Parkway. The work in the contract includes 3-D modeling to determine visual impacts of the road, its flood wall and adjacent landscaping. But it’s not clear what, if any, of the new work will be used to secure federal approval for the urban planners’ recommendations.

“We will not know what may need to be sent to federal regulatory agencies until the review is substantially completed,” said Mark McDaniel, an assistant Dallas city manager.

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Gorgeous gardens sprout all over Richland County

MANSFIELD — Beautification projects aren’t just professionally done cityscapes to improve a community’s downtown appearance. Many begin right at home, in neighborhoods throughout the city.

The Mansfield Men’s Garden Club has been recognizing homeowners who do a little more than trim the shrubs and water the grass. The garden club sends a committee out each summer to select the most interesting landscaping projects throughout Richland County. Residents are invited to submit nominations, but Lee Ludwick, one of the 2015 judges, says they selected some they came across while looking at the official nominations on their list.

Ludwick is proud that winners come from a variety of neighborhoods. One winner is from an enclave of exclusive homes off Marion Avenue while another is from an older neighborhood on the city’s north end.

“We look at all kinds of gardens before making our selections,” said Ludwick, whose own property on Grandview Terrace has been featured in newspaper articles and television segments. The 85-year-old gardener has a helper who stops by in the afternoons to mow, trim, weed and water.

Many of this year’s winning entries have more than flowers and shrubbery. Brenda Locke’s small garden shed on Woodland Road was made more appealing with the addition of colorful hanging baskets and overflowing flower boxes. Rhonda and Dan Scheurer house on Random Drive incorporated some of the owners’ favorite primitive collectibles just outside the front door of their cottage style home.

A waterfall feature is part of the landscaping at the home of Steve and Jennifer Tetrick on White Oak Court. The backyard pool is surrounded by lush plantings and thoughtful hardscapes. Tiny white lights illuminate the yard each night. This homeowner spends hours deadheading, blowing leaves and twigs into a pile to keep the sloping yard in tiptop shape.

Pink impatiens bloom in colorful profusion at the home at the home of Tane Ott on Reed Road while white flowers dominate the plantings in a wide bed at the home of Jim and Jane Kuling on Pavonia North Road.

Mansfield podiatrist Dr. Larry Zimmerman enjoys puttering in the garden, and it shows. Colorful flowers bloom all summer long around the family home on Charolais Drive. Although his wife, Suzanne, belongs to a well-established garden club, she gives him all of the credit for their landscaping.

On the other hand, retired MedCentral Hospital President Jim Meyer gives all of the credit to his wife, Jane, who enjoys working in her garden on Cedarlawn Court.

Residential Winners

Richard Siegel, 1995 Farmbrook Drive, Mansfield

Dan and Rhonda Scheurer, 2147 Random Drive, Mansfield

Dr. Larry and Suzanne Zimmerman, 1488 Charolais Drive, Mansfield

Scotty Catron, 649 Fairfax Ave., Mansfield

Steve and Jennifer Tetrick, 1500 White Oak Court, Mansfield

Tane Ott, 621 Reed Road, Mansfield

John and Sharon Dodds, 66 Church St., Bellville

Tom and Jill Fesler, 94 Sherbrook Road, Mansfield

Jim and Jane Meyer, 1350 Cedarlawn Court, Mansfield

Brenda Locke, 987 Woodland Road, Mansfield

Commercial Category

Arnold’s Landscaping and Garden Center, 3128 Park Avenue West, Ontario

Civic Category

Mansfield Lahm Airport, 2000 Harrington Memorial Road, Mansfield

Institutional Category

Biblewalk and Living Bible Museum, 500 Tingley Ave., Mansfield

Member Garden Winner

Jim and Jean Kulig, 3420 Pavonia North Road, Mansfield

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Saturday festival offers landscaping advice and more – The Virginian


As summer makes its last, sizzling stand, local gardeners are bracing for the fall.

The timing is crucial, according to Virginia Beach master gardener Stacie McGraw.

“There’s so much going on out there,” she said. “Fall ushers in shorter days and cooler temperatures, when plants get ready for winter by going dormant or dying back to the ground. But it’s also the optimal time to plant trees, shrubs and most perennials.”

Need guidance in figuring out how to work with the changing season? Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Virginia Beach Master Gardeners will host “Fall Into Landscaping” on Sept. 19. The festival is free, family and pet friendly, and held rain or shine.

Horticulture extension agent Andrea Davis said the 16th annual event provides plentiful information and the opportunity to pepper master gardeners with questions.

Three major topics will be addressed with lectures and demonstrations – basic landscape principals, environmentally friendly gardening, and water conservation.

“There is something for everyone, from beginning gardeners to professional landscapers,” she said.

Lectures will be held inside the center, in Room 125. Three speakers will be featured. They are:

* At 10:30 a.m., Kim Mack, a Chesapeake master gardener, will address landscape principals and planning. Whether adding plants to a landscape or revamping an entire area, gardeners will learn helpful information on landscape make-overs.

* Local landscape designer Meg French will speak on companion planting and garden designs to support nature. Held at 11:45 a.m., her lecture features new design trends and gardens that benefit insects and wildlife.

* The final lecture at 1 p.m. is “Storm Water Management in the Landscape,” by Mary Ann Kincaid. A Virginia Beach Master Gardener Water Steward, Kincaid will present information on creating buffer gardens to manage storm water in the landscape.

One of 252 Virginia Beach master gardeners, McGraw said water stewardship is of concern to gardeners – who frequently capture water for re-use – as well as nongardeners, who are concerned about the quality of water in the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.

Demonstrations in the Bayscape area include bulb layering at 11 a.m., rain barrels at noon, and tree planting at 1 p.m.

Throughout the day, plant doctors will field gardening questions. Walking tours in the arboretum and theme gardens will provide information about plants tolerant of heat, humidity and coastal conditions. The event also has plant sales, bake sales, a silent auction and children’s activities.

McGraw said the festival is user-friendly.

“Linger in the gardens, take photos and talk to our master gardener volunteers,” she said. “Anyone can garden, regardless of space or budget, and our goal is to help them, and their plants, be happy.”

Fall Into Landscaping is 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research Extension Center, 1444 Diamond Springs Road, Virginia Beach. It’s free, and open to the public. Golf carts will be available for individuals with disabilities. Information: 385-4769,

Irene Bowers,


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Hot sounds

Posted: Sunday, September 13, 2015 12:30 am

Hot sounds

By Bob Beyfuss with Paul Hetzler
For Columbia-Greene Media

We certainly need rain and some relief from the heat wave that rolled in over Labor Day weekend.

As I write this on Wednesday, it is drizzling at my house, but heavy rain showers were expected on Thursday. A 2-inch soaking would be wonderful! I do realize that in a few short months we will be longing for some heat, but for now my garden could really use some rain. This is what I get for mentioning last week that I have never watered my garden in 15 years!

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Sunday, September 13, 2015 12:30 am.

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