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Archives for September 16, 2015

Healing in a garden: Horticultural therapy feels good (photos, video)

Portland can’t claim to be the epicenter of gardens that heal, but there sure are a lot of academics coming here to study the positive effects nature has on health.

Landscape architecture students from Louisiana spent several days in Portland in early September, touring the therapeutic gardens at several hospitals, including a handful of different ones at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.

The students from Louisiana State University’s Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture learned how a plot of land can provided physical therapy and emotional support to patients of all ages — even babies — and their families.

They saw how dozens of children a day enter the 9,000-square-foot Children’s Garden, where they can follow the Yellow Brick Road and water yellow zinnias, pet a toy pig or Larry the Lion, and watch birds and hummingbirds.

The students also discovered that gardens designed to help burn victims need to have shade for sensitive skin, varied paths for those beginning to walk again and colorful flowers and other visual plants for people in wheelchairs.

A sign surrounded by flowers in a terrace garden between the labor and delivery unit and cardiovascular intensive care unit paraphrases Shakespeare: One touch of nature makes us all kin.

Nature-based design pretty much disappeared in America by the 1950s. In its place were corporate-style medical centers. Now, many hospitals integrate living greenery on their campuses.

The intuitive belief that nature is an essential component of health and healing has returned, largely due to the evidence-based healthcare design research of Roger Ulrich of Sweden, who will speak at the American Horticultural Therapy Association conference Oct. 9-10 in Portland.

Now, universities offer degrees in horticultural therapy.

Louisiana State University student Jazmin R. Castillo was impressed by the courtyard gardens adjacent to patient care wings at the Legacy healthcare facilities. The thoughtful design offered aesthetically rich vegetation as well as educational opportunities, she says.

“I was able to experience how that ideology is successful in getting different kinds of people to use and interact with the garden with peace of mind,” she says. “I observed how people were able to walk around the garden … touch, smell and water the plants, and engage in nature.”

Legacy Emanuel’s horticultural therapist Teresia Hazen, who installed the first therapeutic garden at the company’s Bishop Morris Care Center in 1991, spoke to the students about the unique challenges she and her team face when planning a garden.

Someone with a traumatic brain injury and patients undergoing chemotherapy are different, and so is the natural environment to comfort them.

These sanctuaries with shaded seating areas are also used for very personal events like birthday parties and memorial services.

Some of the gardens are open to the public, some are just for patients, their families and the medical team treating those who need healing. Doctors and nurses benefit from spending time out of recovery rooms and in gardens, too. 

“At Legacy, we believe that Nature in people’s daily lives: Helps reduce stress, renews the spirit, connects people to each other, and increases physical activity, all for health and well-being,” says Hazen. 

There are two types of healing gardens. Passive ones offer a quiet respite from the sterile hospital environment. Active ones are designed for patients who require a variety of therapy-driven activities, from cognitive to social therapies.

For example, the children’s garden offers opportunities for physical, occupational speech, horticultural and recreational therapies.

Landscape architect Brian Bainnson of Quatrefoil, a Portland design, landscape architecture and space planning firm, has experience with both types of therapeutic gardens. He was first drawn to the field when he was asked in 1998 to head up the design team of the Portland Memory Garden for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia at the Ed Benedict Park in Southeast Portland.

The garden has raised bed planters, walking rails and other features for patients with limited mobility. And the layout is understandable to someone with early-stage dementia. The pavilion at the entrance of the garden provides shade and acts as a landmark. 

Louisiana State University student Max Guzzetta say this garden was the highlight of his fact-finding trip. “Once they have made their way through the garden, the pavilion is intended to remind them that they are back to the start,” he says, approvingly.

Guzzetta also appreciated the looped path, four-season plant selection and safety precautions.

“Throughout the course of the trip we visited many fantastic healing gardens aimed to encourage the fast recovery of patients dealing with a wide variety of ailments or afflictions,” he says.

Seven of Bainnson’s garden designs have been completed at Legacy Emanuel, with more to come. In 2004, he designed the 9,000-square-foot Oregon Burn Center Garden, considered one of the best in the country. There is a playhouse that looks like fire station. A tuggable fire hose and try-on firefighters’ boots are tools for emotional and physical therapy.

At the Providence Benedictine Nursing Center in Mount Angel, Bainnson designed a courtyard therapy garden with a wider looped path system, activity areas, seating, shelter at the entry door and a central fountain providing soothing sounds of water throughout the garden.

As Bainnson does in his landscape projects, plantings also attract birds and butterflies.

— Janet Eastman and Kym Pokorny

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The design decisions that turned Relativity into Manifold Garden

William Chyr’s indie game Relativity seemed poised to do well. It presents an infinitely repeating world of complex Japanese and Chinese architecture, and allows you to shift gravity at will to manipulate the recursive nature of the world and get from the bottom of a building to the top by falling down. It’s a bit difficult to get your head around, but watching it in motion is mind-bending. But we’ll never know, because Relativity no longer exists.

Chyr is a formal artist known for his expansive installations created out of hundreds of balloons, and Relativity was an attempt to move into a virtual space that’s not constrained by the same restrictions as reality. (That, and an attempt to move onto something new before Chyr became forever known as “the balloon guy,” he confides to me.)

But today, after two years of development and multiple appearances at festivals and exhibitions, Chyr is tossing the name Relativity aside. It’s a bold move, and one not without risk; if people don’t get the message that the game is being released under a new name, then all of the anticipation Chyr’s built over the past couple of years will be for naught.

“It’s a bit of a bummer,” Chyr admits. “We got a lot of attention with the name [Relativity]. Every aspect of the game has been redesigned and refined, everything has changed, from the mechanics to the look. I think that a title is important enough to the game that it deserves to go through the same process.”

To his mind, refining the game and refining the name of the game go hand in hand. Just as the mechanics and the intended experience can change over time, so too can it move away from the original pitch, and the original name.

“Initially, Relativity came about because there’s an M.C.Escher painting of the same name,” Chyr tells me. “And that was the inspiration for the game. It was November 2013 when I first started making this game,  Inception had just come out. It seemed like a good way to learn Unity, and Escher seemed like a really cool subject, and I hadn’t seen anyone make a game specifically about the idea of walking on walls (although to be fair I hadn’t played games too much at that time). So the idea was to take that Relativity painting and make it into a game.”

Coming from the world of fine art, Chyr has gradually built up his understanding of  game development from a starting point of zero in the last two years, and the game that was formerly known as Relativity has moved far beyond that initial idea of turning the Escher painting into a playable game.

Chyr says that over time, the name ‘relativity’ increasingly seemed like a bad fit for his game’s high concept. “The problem is that when people hear ‘relativity’ they think of Einstein’s theory, and they then think it relates to time dilation, which the game doesn’t have” he tells me. “It is based on the idea that different gravities are relative to one another, but it’s difficult to override the prominent idea that people think of time when they hear relativity. So it was always going to be an uphill battle to get people to think the puzzles aren’t related to time.”

As he walks me through how he came up with the new title, it’s clear that the process itself has been very useful from a design point of view, forcing him to analyze what exactly his game has become, and how to encapsulate that in the minimum of words.

“I played Starseed Pilgrim, and that had a huge impact on the puzzle design of the game for me. Also, that game used to be called ‘Platform Planter’, when it started. It describes what the game is, and the game still builds out from that idea, and I think that Droqen [the developer of Starseed Pilgrim] could have released it as Platform Planter, but he came out with Starseed Pilgrim instead, which is not related to the mechanics, but is rooted in the theme. To me it’s so much more evocative, and I think Starseed Pilgrim is a beautiful name.’

“I think ‘Relativity’ is my version of Platform Planter, and came about when I was first prototyping and trying out ideas. Now the game is totally different. Now it’s called Manifold Garden. ‘Manifold’ is a math term that deals with the world wrapping that is in the game. It means that locally it’s Euclidian, but globally it may be non-Euclidean. I feel like in that regard ‘Relativity’ really doesn’t work, because you are walking up walls and changing gravity, sure, but it has gone a lot farther than that. So ‘manifold’ is a term to describe the way the world puts itself together, but is also something that refers to all these various mechanics compounding onto one another.’

“The ‘garden part’, now that I think of it, comes very much from Starseed Pilgrim. Japanese architecture has had a huge influence on the game, so you have gardening from a mechanical sense which we use to gate puzzles, but also a lot of what we’re interested in from the architectural side comes from Japanese garden designs.”

There’s no denying that the name of a game can have a huge impact on the perceptions of the player as they approach playing it, which Chyr’s example of Starseed Pilgrim/Platform Planter reinforces strongly. The concern, and the challenge for Chyr and those working with him on Manifold Garden, is making sure that altering the title at this late stage in development doesn’t prevent them from harnessing all the anticipation and interest that they’ve garnered over the past two years.

Chyr is hopeful it will be worth it. “The game hasn’t come out yet, and ultimately whatever attention you get pre-release doesn’t really matter compared to the attention you get after the release,” he says.

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North St. Louis homeowners push for revitalization and investment, one block …

Crumbling homes, missing bricks, dangerous streets, and crushing poverty — these details make up the overwhelming narrative of north St. Louis often offered by national media, local media and popular perception.

But Dan Lovings, a longtime St. Louis resident, moved to north St. Louis with the intention of owning and putting money into a house there. He meant to build a good home, increase property values, and join and contribute to the neighborhood. But to do so, he found, would require some individual initiative.

First, he worked on the simple things: beautification, cleanliness, neighborhood involvement. “When I first came over to the neighborhood, there was a lot of litter on the street for some reason,” Lovings said. “So I chose to start picking up litter. And after I started picking it up, other neighbors started picking it up. And now we have a pretty clean street.”

Then, Lovings decided to build an extension on his house, located in the Academy-Sherman Park neighborhood. He added a front-facing garage and a loft space above it. He put in landscaping work, adding shrubberies to the front lawn area bordering a vacant lot. And he joined his neighborhood association — for which he now serves as vice president. Some of his neighbors, he said, are following suit.

Contrary to popular perception, the neighborhoods of north St. Louis host many community members like Lovings, who initiate improvement and are dedicated to positive change, even if on a small scale. Now, filmmaker and author Phillip Johnson is trying to get more people to pay attention to those leaders — and to north St. Louis itself, as the area revitalizes block by block with coffee shops and farmers markets, park construction and housing development.

The idea of north St. Louis residents as agents of their own recovery is either discounted or unfamiliar in popular media, but community leaders and homeowners in the area beg to differ. Their efforts to increase the value of their homes and neighborhoods through restoration, beautification and municipal involvement have created a network of community partners and dedicated residents that are working to revitalize north St. Louis from the inside, out.

“Yes, you can look in the paper and you can hear stories of shootings and gang violence in north St. Louis, but there is always an alternative narrative,” Johnson said. “And I think it’s just as important to get that narrative out.”

There are beautiful, well-kept houses north of Delmar, Johnson said, and behind them are dedicated homeowners who decided long ago to stay in their shifting neighborhood and keep it from falling apart.

In his forthcoming book and video project, “Hidden Jewels of North St. Louis,” Johnson will tell the stories of those who own and reside in north St. Louis’ prime but ignored real estate.

Andy Krumseig is an associate pastor at Jubilee Community Church, 4231 North Grand Blvd., and director of its development corporation. A St. Louis expat who returned in 1994, Krumseig has rehabbed several houses on the block of Hebert Street. on which he lives. He explained that personal investment in north St. Louis housing has various benefits, even as it presents challenges.

“It’s an investment in my family, it’s an investment in our life, in our community,” Krumseig said.

But the changes he can personally make are incremental and limited. “I think it’s going to take a good amount of people that are going to say, ‘we are going to restore buildings, we’re going to restore lives, we’re going to make our community a strong and vibrant place.’”

“When you move into a neighborhood, when you buy a house, there should be things that are inherent, understood,” Johnson said. In many areas of north St. Louis, he continued, expectations for property are low — for renters, for homeowners, for visitors, for investors. Lovings, remember, had to start a street-wide movement to keep trash off of a neighborhood road. “The expectations in this community have to be brought up.”

But while the sentiment for community improvement might be contagious, the ability to enact it is not, Krumseig said. Picking up trash is one thing, but building a garage is another. Finances are a huge concern for many residents of the area — and without spare funding, tax or other monetary incentives, or the ability to take out loans, house rehabilitation is a pipe dream.

Prospects for refurbishing property in the area only got worse with the financial crisis of 2007-08. Krumseig himself bought another building in the neighborhood years ago as an investment. It was appraised at $110,000 before the economic downturn, he explained, and some years later he went back to get it re-appraised and refinanced for future work. “Well, I got the appraisal back and it had gone, not from 110 to 70 or 60 or 50 — it had gone all the way down to $12,000. And this was a building that was already rehabbed.”

Those numbers are dramatic — and problematic. But many residents of north St. Louis can’t even think about financing their homes; not simply for economic reasons, but because the area is largely made up of renters. Demographics in north St. Louis changed in the ’70s, Johnson explained, when many middle-class African-American families moved to the county. Now, much of north St. Louis property is owned by non-residents — straw parties, corporations or private investors — which Krumseig says lends to a sort of “impersonalness” in neighborhood leadership.

A high percentage of renters and a fair number of disinterested, absentee landlords — these are not favorable conditions for the kind of groundswell of investment that Johnson, Krumseig and Lovings want to foment.

Johnson retains hope. He has started a foundation, which, he says, will hopefully offer homeowners resources for home repair and development, thus kicking off a cycle of improvement. Homeowners who can afford to rehabilitate their homes and nearby properties become necessarily invested in improving the health of the community at large, even if it’s one step at a time. In turn, they empower their neighborhoods, attracting businesses, nonprofits and private investment.

Those kinds of ideas, he said, catch—especially if all parties to the neighborhood recognize that they share a responsibility to the neighborhood. Eventually, Johnson hopes that the efforts of homeowners like Krumseig and Lovings become the new normal.

Until then, they continue to spread the message among homeowners, renters and community members alike. Krumseig says he preaches the restoration of the neighborhood, “physically, spiritually, in all ways,” at Jubilee Community Church. “We live it out every day.”

Lovings engages with communities all over the city through the St. Louis Association of Community Organizations, and continues to play up the many qualities of north St. Louis real estate. Owners who sit on vacant buildings simply waiting for them to become valuable are missing out on their own property, he said. “These houses, they sit on an 18-inch foundation, stone blocks,” he said.

“The walls are three-layer-thick brick — I mean, they’re outstanding houses. I don’t understand how St. Louis is letting these houses fall by the wayside.

“That’s what I’ve always done, is try to raise the conscious level about our property and everything,” Lovings said. “We always call ourselves ‘ghetto fabulous,’ you know?” Because the property is fabulous — it’s just that no one comes to look.  

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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Lexington council moves ahead with plan for rest rooms, fountains, bike racks …

Local News

Tom Eblen: Paris Independent Schools celebrate 150 years of small-town pride

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Home Remodeling Ideas at Conejo Valley Home Remodeling & RV Show

Whether it’s adding extra touches in the home in time for holiday visitors or planning a bigger project for winter or spring, a one-shop stop for ideas and inspiration is the 41st Conejo Valley Home Remodeling RV Show, Saturday and Sunday, October 10 and 11 at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza (880 S Westlake Blvd Westlake Village).


Residents from the Conejo, Simi and San Fernando Valleys and as far north as Santa Barbara take advantage of the opportunity to learn about the latest in home and landscaping designs, in-house technology and energy savings. “Many homeowners have been coming to the home show for more than 20 years. Over 170 vendors are on hand ready to answer questions,” says Rick Goodman, the show’s organizer. Also this year, RVs and offroad vehicles will be on display from Simi RV and Offroad. “We’re excited to have the RVs back after a few years’ absence,” says Goodman. “Lots of those who attend the show like to have a peek inside these beautiful homes on wheels and dream of hitting the road in style.”


Drought-tolerant landscapes are popping up throughout southern California as water restrictions become the norm. Robert Kleefisch, owner of Good Earth Landscape, will be at the show to offer tips on water-saving landscapes and plant and hardscape selections. He cautions homeowners to do their homework before hiring a landscaper to tear out lawns and replace them with drought tolerant designs. “Drought tolerant landscapes have been around a long time,” says Kleefisch. “They don’t have to be all rock with a few plants. Many landscapers use the wrong plants or create landscapes that don’t fit the home or the neighborhood. Water-saving designs can involve an assortment of shrubbery and plant material that take into account color and texture. You want something that will last and look great years to come.”


If out-of-towners are coming for the holiday, Granite Transformations Ventura will be at the show to offer advice for a quick pick-me-up for an outdated kitchen or bath. The company offers new countertops and backsplashes that can be installed in as little as one day. “Our custom-fabricated countertops and backsplashes can be made of quartz, granite, glass, porcelain and at times a little mother of pearl and mirror for a slight bling effect,” says Terrance Riedeman, owner of Granite Transformations Ventura. “The products are fabricated at our shop and then permanently bonded to existing countertops or backsplashes. There is no demolition or downtime.” The products can also be installed around fireplaces, on bars and even in boats and RVs.


“Folks are a little reluctant to hire strangers or contractors and have them in their home for weeks at a time,” says Riedeman, whose company also does cabinet refacing. “Our process is quick and clean while filling the homeowners’ needs.”


Gourmet food trucks will be at the show on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., October 10. Home Show hours: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free passes are available online at Cost at the door: $4 per person. For more information, call 805-529-0760 or e-mail

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How our gardens grow

Wild art of Oklahoma Sen. David Holt shows a dozen people from China state Agriculture Department (28th and Lincoln) landscaping consisting of Oklahoma crops like corn and peanuts.

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Longvue Acres Garden Club marks 65th anniversary – Tribune

The Longvue Acres Garden Club is celebrating its roots with a 65th-anniversary celebration Sept. 22.

The event, which starts at 6:45 p.m. at Northmont United Presbyterian Church in McCandless, will feature refreshments, a video presentation, a memorabilia display, recognition of longtime members and recollections of its varied contributions to the community through the years.

Current and past members and anyone interested in the group are invited.

“As a nod to our founders, we’re encouraging members to glam it up with hats, gloves and pearls,â€� said Claudia Hickly, vice president of the garden club.

The Longvue Acres Garden Club was formed in the fall of 1950, when construction of the Longvue Acres Plan 3, located off Peebles Road in McCandless, brought many new homes to the booming area.

Unfortunately, the new housing plan lacked greenery.

“It was just piles of dirt and new roads,� said Hickly, 66, of McCandless.

To beautify the neighborhood, women living on Hazlett Road, Bingay Drive and Balmoral Drive organized the garden club. They held front-yard beauty contests to encourage residents to spruce up their properties and awarded money to homeowners who planted the most attractive landscaping.

“They even had a jingle: ‘Lend a hand, Do your share, Let’s have beauty everywhere,’â€� Hickly said.

The club had 40 to 50 members, who met monthly in the basement of founding member Gladys Kuhman, according to Hickly. Annual membership was $1.25.

Additional money was raised through plant sales held in Kuhman’s backyard, where asters, zinnias and petunias sold for 35-cents for a dozen.

Proceeds funded the garden club’s first community project: the 1952 supplemental planting and landscaping at the then-new Peebles Elementary School, located up the road from the Longvue Acres housing plan.

Subsequent plant sales funded trees and shrubs planted at the Northland Public Library in McCandless, the native perennial garden at North Park’s Latodami Nature Center and the trees at the southbound Bellevue exit of Interstate 279.

Funds also supported the Junior Gardeners Club at Peebles Elementary and a garden-therapy program for widows.

In 1995, Passavant Hospital, now UPMC Passavant, in McCandless needed help from local garden clubs to establish a Healing Garden across near the hospital’s chapel. A number of garden clubs responded, but Longvue Acres is the only one to continue maintaining its plants, which include a variety of viburnum; Korean spice; white clematis; morning grass; and fragrant tall, white lilies.

“The garden is beautiful. The all-white color makes it unique. We’re fortunate to have the continued support of the club for so many dedicated years,â€� said Passavant Hospital Foundation President and CEO Fay Morgan of Shaler, who will present the club with a certificate of appreciation at the anniversary celebration.

Today, the club has 35 members. It meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month for a variety of educational programs. Field trips have included a day tour of the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden in Settlers Cabin Park and a three-day excursion to Longwood Gardens near Wilmington, Del.

Membership is $15.

“We’re not a tea-and-sandwiches kind of garden club. Everyone gets dirty. The programs are excellent. It’s a good group. That’s why I’ve been a member so long,â€� said Bill Goff, 66, of Ross, who joined in the mid-1980s.

Jenna Noker, 44, of McCandless is one of the club’s newest members.

She learned about the club when a longtime member showed up at her yard sale in 2013 and complimented her on her yard, which features a vegetable garden, flowers and a greenhouse.

“She invited me to the garden club and even offered to pick me up so I wouldn’t have to walk in the room by myself. I’ve been hooked ever since,â€� Noker said.

One month after she joined the club, Noker’s next-door neighbor joined.

A month later, her other next-door neighbor joined. Then, another close neighbor began attending.

“It’s very low key and relaxed. Once a month, we go learn or see something new,â€� Noker said.

In the near future, club members are hoping to get approvals from McCandless officials to help with the landscaping of the new North Allegheny History Museum being built on Ingomar Road, near North Park.

“I also would love to see us start a kids garden club,� Noker said.

Laurie Rees is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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Terrariums offer introduction to gardening, extend season


Closed terrarium.


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Those over 40 can’t help but look around and see reminders of the 1970s: clothes and furniture in big bold prints, the rust, green, and gold tones of that time, the occasional Pet Rock, and even terrariums.

Wait … terrariums?

Yes, terrariums, and they’ve grown in popularity and are much like most of us remember them: glass containers that are sometimes enclosed and sometimes not, with tiny plants growing out of dirt with little stones or pebbles on top.

“They’ve made a comeback in the last two years,” said Mary Machon, the owner of Bensell Greehouse on Dorr Street in Toledo.

They’re a great way for gardeners to keep their thumbs green during the winter months, she said. They’re also a favorite way for parents and grandparents to introduce their little ones to gardening, she added.

This terrarium at Hoen’s Garden Center and Landscaping can be closed or open, depending on the plants that are used.


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Plus, students in classrooms and young people’s clubs, such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, take up terrarium projects to learn how plants grow and thrive, she noted.

“It’s affordable, and they are tiny,” Ms. Machon said of the little plants and their companion small glass containers. “It’s such a great project for kids. They get to touch plants. It’s an inexpensive way to start [youngsters] off, to get them interested in plants.”

Before discussing the containers and the types of plants that go inside them, let’s be clear about something: Fairy gardens and terrariums are terms that some use interchangeably because they think the small gardens are one in the same.

“No they’re not,” said Theresa Hoen, owner with husband Bob Hoen of Hoen’s Garden Center and Landscaping in Holland.

“A true terrarium is closed with plants that create their own environment. It usually has a small opening,” she explained, referring to the 40-something-year-old garden in a container that many remember. “Since then, we’ve embraced the opened terrariums.”

Fairy gardens, meanwhile, incorporate figurines of fairies. Sometimes people put other small figures inside these gardens too. Both are labeled miniature gardens, Ms. Hoen said.

“You can use fairy garden and miniature garden interchangeably,” Ms. Hoen said.

A plant is placed in a terrarium.


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How one describes the small gardens may depend on one’s preferences.

“What [changes] it from being a terrarium to a miniature garden is when you add accessories that create a miniature world,” Ms. Hoen said, referring to figurines.

While some contemporary terrariums have openings large enough to let the gardener insert plants and soil, Ms. Machon describes them as basically enclosed containers with no air flow other than what the plant produces.

Ms. Macon also said just about anything can be used for terrariums. Of course you can buy glass terrariums new, but don’t overlook thrift stores that are often loaded with glassware that can be turned into terrariums, she said.

“People used to use glass Mason jars. Now you can use glass blocks. I have an inverted jar with a plant in it. I have glass salt and pepper shakers,” that serve as terrariums, Ms. Machon said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Hoen said glass balls are popular now.

“There are really neat vessels,” said Ms. Hoen, adding that sometimes those vessels are not all glass. Some may have other materials, such as metal or wood on them.

“Most are glass, from glass globes to glass pieces that are more cylindrical. The sky’s the limit. If it holds soil, it can be planted,” Ms. Hoen said.

And what about the soil? Why not get it for your terrarium from your yard?

“Don’t go to the backyard. That dirt’s too heavy,” said Ms. Machon. “You want to make sure you use a really nice, quality soil, a nice loose soil, to make sure the roots can break through and use the space you give it. You won’t want anything that is too high in peat; peat holds water too long and [if] your root system sits in water too long, they could rot away before they get a chance to get established.”

It’s also vital to choose the right type of plant.

“Sometimes people will put a succulent with a foliage and they look great at first, but they don’t work well together,” Ms. Machon said. “You want to choose plants that can handle higher humidity and have leaf structure to them so they will not grow and pack inside the container.”

Among the preferred plant choices are pilea, wandering Jew, tradescantia, selaginella, and ferns, Ms. Machon said.

“There’s always baby tears, which is a wonderful one but we caution people because it’s aggressive. Some of them do flower, but they don’t necessarily have the dynamic, beautiful bloom,” Ms. Machon said.

Stone, bark, pea gravel, and mosses are great to put with plants in terrariums, Ms. Machon added. Ms. Hoen suggests first putting stones on the bottom of the vessel, as that will keep the roots from sitting in water because there’s no drainage system in terrariums.

After putting in the stones, Ms. Hoen said, “Then put a little charcoal that you use for plants to keep the soil sweetened and keep it from molding.”

Ms. Hoen describes interest in these little worlds as a passion among gardeners that easily transfers the love of terrariums, opened and closed, and to other miniature gardens.

“It has afforded us to garden 12 months out of the year,” Ms. Hoen added.

Also, they make great conversation items.

“They draw people in to see what you’ve done. If there are tiny flowers, they are neat little finds for people to take a look at,” Ms. Machon said. “You can start in the middle of winter. It’s a great Saturday or Sunday project, and a great way for people to get a great feel for gardening in the middle of winter.”

Contact Rose Russell at: or 419-724-6178.

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A pro offers tips to Butte gardeners, large and small

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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Gardening Tips: Never too early to get organized for winter

Tuesday, September 15, 2015   by: Susan Richards

I know gardeners don’t want to hear the ‘W’ word, but considering all the winter damage that showed up the last two springs, it’s time to do some planning.

Although wrapping and covering should wait until we get consistently cold weather in late October or early November, you should gather supplies now so you are prepared when the weather turns.

If you have broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendrons, holly, euonymus and boxwood, they need a good blanket of snow to insulate foliage for the winter.

Low-lying varieties usually do well in our area, but growth that sticks up above the snow can be desiccated.

You can prepare now to help prevent this damage.

Before the ground freezes, put some stakes in around vulnerable plants.

Have burlap or Arbortex on hand to wrap around the stakes to provide winter insulation.

Burlap has been the traditional choice, but Arbortex has a better insulating value.

It is a white, felt synthetic blanket that can be re-used year after year.

Unwrap on an overcast day next spring and then simply rinse Arbortex off, hang it to dry and fold it up for storage.

You can also keep it on hand for covering tender plants from spring frost.

Most evergreens won’t need to be wrapped if you have chosen hardy varieties.

However you might want to err on the side of caution this year, considering all the winter burn we’ve had on cedar and pine.

Also, Dwarf Alberta Spruce tends to easily burn above the snow line.

A wrap of Arbortex will help prevent this problem.

Upright juniper and cedar are prone to splaying open when we get loads of heavy, wet snow. Use an open mesh called Winter Wrap, for pulling foliage in tightly.

It will prevent this type of winter damage.

There is also a green shrub-guard available that is more rigid plus perforated to allow for good air flow.

Use this product if you have an evergreen in a spot that may get a very heavy snow load.

If you have a problem with deciduous shrubs having similar damage in winter, there is a strong, beige-coloured wrap available that blends in well with winter twig colours.

If you like to use a wooden teepee to cover evergreens, you have to use one large enough to allow for a six inch space between the wood and foliage.

Foliage that touches the wood will freeze and thaw numerous times over the winter as sun warms the wood and condensation forms on the inside.

If you have a hedge that is exposed to cold north winds or salt spray from a major roadway, set up a burlap or Arbortex screen.

Pound tall stakes into the ground about a foot in front of the hedge.

Staple protective fabric to the windward side of the stakes to create a barrier.

Tender roses, such as Hybrid Teas, Grandiflora and Floribunda varieties, need protection from northern winters.

In late fall, place a rose collar around the plant, secure it in place and fill it full of compost or soil.

The soil will freeze solid and stay frozen until spring. It is the repeated freezing and thawing that kills tender roses.

If you have a climber, cover as high on the canes as you can and prune away the remaining length.

Exposed canes will die over the winter.

White spiral tree guards should be put around the trunks of tender young trees to prevent rodents from chewing tasty bark in winter.

Don’t leave the tree guard on over the growing season though.

It provides a perfect haven for insects to hide!

If you have a young tree that may get frost cracks, wrap the trunk from the ground up to the first set of branches with Tree Wrap or strips of Arbortex.

Many maples are prone to this injury.

In early spring, on a sunny day, sap rises from the roots.

As the sun sets, temperatures fall quickly and sap freezes, expands and vertical cracks develop in tender bark.

Wrap insulates the trunk from temperature swings.

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