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Archives for September 20, 2015

Small, gritty space envisioned as oasis on Portland peninsula

It is oddly shaped, steeply sloped and, until recently, had been largely forgotten.

The small gathering place at Bramhall Square, at about 3,400 square feet, might be one of Portland’s tiniest public spaces, but it is finally getting some love.

Liz Trice, founder of the co-working space Peloton Labs, is organizing a miniature wave of support for the miniature space.

“Sitting here and saying hello to people as they walk by, you realize this is a place,” Trice said. “There’s no reason it can’t be as vibrant as Longfellow Square.”

Trice and more than two dozen other people gathered in early September to brainstorm ideas to reinvigorate the swath of triangular real estate that hitherto had not much else going for it.

She said attendees talked about being inspired by the transformation of Congress Square Plaza, another formerly derelict public space that received intense scrutiny and support when the hotel next door asked the city if it could buy the plaza and expand its footprint into what had been public space.

Judging from the transformation of Congress Square Plaza – “which was basically a concrete pit,” Trice said – enough public support and creative input can turn Bramhall Square into an inviting place.

It will likely need all the help it can get.

Perched at the awkward, steeply graded intersection of Bramhall Street, Congress Street and Deering Avenue on Portland’s urban peninsula, the small triangle of space at Bramhall Square is occupied by four trees, three benches, one trash can, some mulch and not much else.

“We’ve gotten requests (for) maintenance and we’ve been responsive to those,” said Troy Moon, who manages open space for the city. “We’d be interested in hearing what ideas people have about it.”

Serenity is also in short supply.

Deering Avenue is a thoroughfare for ambulances rushing to Maine Medical Center, and across the street is the Bramhall Fire Station. Diesel trucks and city buses rumble by. But bustle isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“The ability to get outside and get a cup of coffee and sit outside, not in your office – it’s not without its challenges” at Bramhall Square, said Emma Holder, president of the Parkside Neighborhood Association and an advocate for Bramhall Square’s future. “You have to stop your conversation once in a while, while a firetruck blasts past.”

But “bustle is good,” she added. “It’s not stagnant.”

Another challenge, Holder said, was the accidental amount of privacy the small space provided by its overgrown trees and lack of bright lighting. Until the Department of Public Works trimmed back those trees at Trice’s request, it was a dark, overgrown place.

People would occasionally use it as a place to shoot up, leaving behind needles.

And then there is the slope issue, Holder said.

“If you’re sure-footed, it’s not much of a problem, but if you’re in a wheelchair or if it’s snowy or icy, it’s a bit of a problem,” Holder said.

Any larger redevelopment of the landscaping, such as a tiered design that would utilize the dramatic slope, would be costlier and therefore would have to go through the capital improvement process.

At the moment, Bramhall Square is also surrounded by some obvious vacancies and underutilized space.

A double storefront at 3 Deering Ave., a natural anchor tenant for the square, has been vacant for at least four months, Trice said. A handsome brick building across Congress Street set up for storefronts is instead being occupied by Maine Medical Center staff.

There is a third store, around the corner on Congress Street, that also recently closed.

In the meantime, Trice and others have borrowed some outdoor tables and chairs from Vinland restaurant and hope to raise some cash to buy light fixtures to hang from the trees.

Filling the voids east along Congress Street may be a matter of time, Trice said, as development marches toward them.

The Bramhall Pub is a few steps away; Tandem Coffee and Bakery is across Congress Street. Salvage BBQ is down Congress Street. And soon, Joe’s Smoke Shop at 665 Congress St., is the next closest property set for development, with 132 apartments expected to be built there.

“Its a critical mass issue,” Trice said. “This sort of feels like a void ready to be filled.”


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Editorial: We deserve a ‘legacy bridge’

We support the efforts of Vision Pensacola to create an impressive landing off the northern side of the proposed replacement of the Pensacola Bay Bridge.

The design is impressive, PNJ reporter Kaycee Lagarde wrote recently: “A roundabout, a suspended bridge extension to Gregory Street, bicycle and pedestrian connections, and landscaping and water features are among the group’s ideas for the intersection, which sees more than 43,000 daily trips combined between 17th Avenue and Bayfront Parkway, or U.S. 98.”

Any visit to Pensacola surely will include a stop at the bridge for photos or video. When thinking about San Francisco, the first thought for many is the Golden Gate Bridge. Pensacola deserves such a landmark.

That’s why today we call on business and political leaders to join the effort to make this proposal a reality. We particularly want to hear from Northwest Florida’s legislative delegation who can twist the right arms and get this included in the bridge-replacement project. We hope state Rep. Clay Ingram of Pensacola can exert influence on two fronts: first, in his role in the state Legislature; and during his presidency at the Greater Pensacola Chamber. His political influence was mentioned when he was hired in December.

“Clay brings energy, leadership, a unique perspective and highly developed skillsets important to this role and our organization. We are thrilled to have him serve as the chamber’s next president and CEO,” Carol Carlan, chairwoman of the Chamber’s board of directors, said at the time. “His understanding of small business development, finance and the importance of regional partnerships will be a tremendous asset that will allow us to continue serving the Northwest Florida business community.”

We’re confident the “business community” will rally behind the efforts of Vision Pensacola. In addition to the “Pensacola Beachball” water tower, photos of our emerald-green water and white sand, the bridge landing would become a powerful marketing tool used by small, midsize and large businesses.

During the Chamber’s annual meeting on Thursday, Ingram said “the chamber has repositioned itself to create a better business climate in the Greater Pensacola region.”

He also mentioned his team “is dedicated to maintaining economic prosperity and a better quality of life for those that choose to live and do business in this community.”

To be sure, additional tourists and publicity because of this impressive plan would add to the quality of life. We’re sure Vision Pensacola would welcome the support for the project, as we would.

The grassroots group has the support of Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward. He said not only will the landing be attractive, it will handle traffic concerns at the north end of the bridge:

“This project addresses all the issues we are going to have that will be exacerbated by the new bridge,” Hayward said in an email. “Vision Pensacola follows all our communities’ efforts to connect our neighborhoods with the waterfront. This is an opportunity to have a world class design that is at one of our most important gateways of our city. Our hope is that we can expedite both projects, the bridge and the landing so that they will complement each other.”

He said those who would like to support this effort they can contact Suzanne Lewis at (850) 377-2342 and/or Mike Thomas at (850) 380-8765. “The East Hill Neighborhood Association and North Hill Preservation Association are both in great support of this initiative and be contacted as well,” he said.

In Tallahassee, Ingram, who represents much of Escambia County, is chairman of the transportation and economic development appropriations subcommittee and oversees the budgeting for several agencies, including the department of transportation. We trust that means he knows how to get things done in the capital, including getting bureaucrats to think more creatively.

While the bridge project is moving forward, we are certain there is time to include this impressive structure that will forever change the bayfront landscape.

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Recycle tax money for water renewal

When faced with a crisis, Californians, whether garage tinkerers or civil engineers, are a people of big-idea responses to the big problem at hand.

That’s why, in the ongoing environmental crisis that is the four-year drought in our state and throughout the far West, so many citizens come forward with new — or remind us to recycle the best of the old — ideas for working our way through it.

Some of the more crackpot ones are interesting enough to hear out again, but are never going to actually happen. Every drought, here come the tweed-coated, bow-tied fellows at the cocktail parties extolling the notion of towing an iceberg down from the Arctic or up from Antarctica, anchoring it off Santa Monica, San Francisco or Monterey, and letting the meltdown somehow water our collective dichondra.

Thanks for the memories, guys.

The only really good idea is to build desalination plants. Forget the cost, sooner or later we’ll need the water.

Of course, a nuclear-powered desal plant might prove another matter, although shipping water via bullet train is an interesting idea. Then again, instead of using railroad tank cars to ship oil we could fill them with water.

As one smart headline writer had it last spring: “William Shatner boldly goes after Northwest water for California.” Yes, Captain Kirk in April announced his own big idea: A $30 billion pipeline from Washington state to California to help drain the soggy bits on the map in favor of the dry states. The Pacific Northwest is just drowning in the stuff, under this theory, and would dearly love to send some down the drain.

Even if that latter part were true, one of the many problems with this concept, oft-spouted by letter-to-the-editor writers, is that the Northwest is experiencing its own drought these days.

Better to stick with the somewhat more tried-and-true. And, barring a sudden renewal of the Sierra snowpack levels of yesteryear, one of the best of the big-engineering plans to alleviate the drought is to simply recycle the water Californians already use.

Homeowners know this. That’s why so many are installing rain barrels along with drought-tolerant landscaping.

If we were more on the ball, we could overcome the difficulties. There would be no “twin tunnels,” over which we could wage a war between the north and south. And farmers wouldn’t have to sell their water to SoCal cities either.

The land recycles naturally when irrigation water percolates into the aquifers beneath the state. But the domestic water that flows into our sewer systems is usually filtered and then sent out to sea. Filter it just a few times more, and it is just as clean and healthful as that from a mountain stream — minus the giardia.

After being derided as “toilet-to-tap,” a truly awful PR stigma, recycled water was a hard sell in previous droughts. But now there is a renewal of interest in using it, especially for irrigation, in our parched state. It’s not as cheap as simply draining off the Colorado River, but an investigation in the San Francisco Chronicle reports that it’s only half the price of that other favorite suggestion, desalination. And the 1.1 million acre feet of usable water that could be created through recycling would be twice as much as backward-thinking dam projects proposed for California.

But the newspaper reports that the Obama administration this year asked for just $20 million in recycling projects for all 17 states in the West. And the Republican House has ditched funding through “earmarks,” so that no member of Congress can individually propose spending on any project, no matter how important. So the budget passed with the support of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, does not mention recycling and contains no money for any water projects. It instead relies on transferring more water from the north to the south.

California sends more tax money to D.C. than we get in return. Let’s lobby to recycle that back to the nation’s green grocer.

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Trowel & Glove: Marin garden calendar for the week of Sept. 19, 2015


Garden exchange: The Marin Open Garden Project encourages residents to bring their excess backyard-grown fruit and vegetables to the following locations starting for a free exchange with other gardeners on Saturdays: San Anselmo from 9 to 10 a.m. on the San Anselmo Town Hall lawn; San Rafael from 9 to 10 a.m. at Pueblo Park at Hacienda Way in Santa Venetia; Novato from 9 to 10 a.m. at 428 School Road and from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the corner of Ferris Drive and Nova Lane; Tamalpais Valley at 427 Marin Ave. from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and Mill Valley from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at 427 Marin Ave. and from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Mill Valley Public Library at 375 Throckmorton Ave. Go to or email

Workshops and seminars: Sloat Garden Center has five Marin County locations that offer gardening workshops and seminars on a weekly basis. Check for schedule, locations and cost.

Workshops and seminars: The Marin Master Gardeners present a variety of how-to workshops, seminars and special events throughout Marin County on a weekly basis. Check for schedule, locations and cost.

Gardening volunteers: The Novato Independent Elders Program seeks volunteers to help Novato seniors with their overgrown yards Tuesday mornings or Thursday afternoons. Call 415-899-8296.

Nursery volunteers: Volunteers are sought to help in Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy nurseries from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays at Tennessee Valley, 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday; 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, or 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays at Marin Headlands Nursery; or 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at Muir Beach, 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays in the Marin Headlands. Call 415-561-3077 or go to

Nursery days: The SPAWN (Salmon Protection and Watershed Network) native plant nursery days are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays and weekends. Call 415-663-8590, ext. 114, or email to register and for directions. Go to for more information.

Garden visits: Marin Master Gardeners and the Marin Municipal Water District offer free residential Bay-Friendly Garden Walks to MMWD customers. The year-round service helps homeowners identify water-saving opportunities and soil conservation techniques for their landscaping. Call 415-473-4204 to request a visit to your garden.

Garden volunteers: Marin Open Garden Project (MOGP) volunteers are available to help Marin residents glean excess fruit from their trees for donations to local organizations serving people in need and to build raised beds to start vegetable gardens through the MicroGardens program. MGOP also offers a garden tool lending library. Go to or email

Harvesting volunteers: The Marin Organic Glean Team seeks volunteers to harvest extras from the fields at various farms for the organic school lunch and gleaning program. Call 415-663-9667 or go to

Around the bay

Landscape garden: Cornerstone Gardens is a permanent, gallery-style garden featuring walk-through installations by international landscape designers on nine acres at 23570 Highway 121 in Sonoma. Free. Call 707-933-3010 or go to

Olive ranch: McEvoy Ranch at 5935 Red Hill Road in Petaluma offers tours, workshops and special events. Call 707-769-4123 or go to

Botanical garden: Quarryhill Botanical Garden at 12841 Sonoma Highway in Glen Ellen covers 61 acres and showcases a large selection of scientifically documented wild source temperate Asian plants. The garden is open for self-guided tours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. $5 to $10. Call 707-996-3166 or go to

— Compiled by David Emery

The Trowel Glove Calendar appears Saturdays. Send high-resolution jpg photo attachments and details about your event to or mail to Home and Garden Calendar/Lifestyles, Marin Independent Journal, 4000 Civic Center Drive, Suite 301, San Rafael, CA 94903. Items should be sent two weeks in advance. Photos should be a minimum of 2 megabytes and include caption information. Include a daytime phone number on your release.

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Gardening tips: beware of the very hungry caterpillar

Box blight has been bad enough, but now there is a new bug in town, and it is bent on destruction. The box caterpillar has already munched its way through metres of hedging and defoliated treasured topiary on mainland Europe.
The bad news is that the greenish-yellow caterpillar, which lays its pale yellow eggs on the underside of leaves, and weaves cocoons of white webbing, is wiggling its way across London from the south-west of the city, so damage has already been reported in many gardens, especially in Clapham and Wandsworth.
“There are no preventive measures,” says Jenny Bowden of the RHS Advisory Service, which recommends two methods to try to stop the pest in its tracks. “The more organic route is to use a contact insecticide with the active ingredient of pyrethrum. It’s hit and miss, because you have to coat every insect whenever you see them, and by the time you’ve seen them, they may already have done the damage.
“Alternatively, use a systemic spray such as Provado Ultimate Fruit Vegetable Bug Killer that will poison the caterpillars when they ingest the leaves.”
Bowden says the caterpillar is a worse threat than box blight. “We’re looking at a rough ride for the future of box. At the RHS, we’re advising people not to plant a box hedge.”
What makes sense, then, is to think outside the box and look at suitable choices to replace London’s favourite clipped evergreen. Savvy garden centres such as Clifton Nurseries, though still offering box, suggest alternatives. Matthew Wilson, Clifton Nurseries’ managing director, says the best alternatives to box are shrubby honeysuckle Lonicera nitida and box-leaved holly, Ilex crenata.
“Lonicera has small, glossy leaves and will form a nice tight plant with pruning, although it needs rather a lot of pruning. Ilex crenata is better-behaved and from a distance is indistinguishable from box, apart from being a couple of shades darker. For a ball or cushion shape, try Hebe topiaria, which has a topiary-like shape without the need for pruning. And yew, although having very different foliage, can also be clipped into shapes such as balls and columns and is largely trouble-free.”

Bowden is enthusiastic, too, about Lonicera nitida because it grows well from old wood, and will usefully tolerate shade, as will Ilex crenata. She also suggests Pittosporum tenuifolium for edging and topiary. In her own borders, she has planted the more compact Pittosporum tenuifolium Golf Ball, which forms rounded, apple green punctuation points and responds well to clipping.
“For topiary, you could also use Ligustrum delavayi, the tiny-leaved, dark green privet, which has glossy foliage and little white flowers,” she says. “It’s a darker green than box, and is tolerant of shade and any soil.”
For hedging, she recommends Euonymus japonicus microphylla, which has a neat, upright growth. “In a sunny spot, I might consider Teucrium chamaedrys, which has oval, aromatic dark green leaves, grows to about a foot and makes a lovely edging. And in London, with its sheltered microclimate, you could even grow the small-leafed myrtle, Myrtus communis Tarentina.”
Bowden suggests we see the box problem as a chance to be more creative with evergreens. “Look at different shades of foliage. A lot have gold-leafed as well as variegated varieties.” Call it boxing clever.

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Gardening tips, free seeds and winning a day with Costa

PUT some seed raising mix on the shopping list so you can get your hands dirty this spring by growing your own herbs, vegies and flowers.

Starting yesterday and continuing until Friday October 9, the Sunshine Coast Daily will be giving our readers the opportunity to start gardening with a big seed giveaway.

Click here for your chance to win a day with Costa

An easy, environmentally friendly and fun way for the amateur gardener to get these seeds growing is by using an old egg carton as a tray.

Once the seeds start to sprout, cut apart the individual dimples and plant the seedlings straight into your prepared garden or pot.

There is no need to remove the sprouting seed from the cardboard carton, just plant the whole thing.

NEXT CROP: Children at the Sunkids Daycare Centre ready to plant the seeds that they picked up free with their copies of the Sunshine Coast Daily. Warren Lynam

Will Waterford from Caloundra Garden and Pet Supplies is a regular columnist with the Daily’s community papers and he sees this as an exciting opportunity for people to discover the joy of gardening.

Will said gardening was a pastime many Australians loved and the free seeds were a great opportunity for kids especially to discover the beauty in watching things grow.

“My first tip is to be patient as some seedlings come up in a few days and some in a few weeks,” he said.

“Developing a good healthy root system is important for a young seedling so water it with some seaweed fertilizer.

“Don’t over water your seedlings. Keep them damp but not wet, get your hands dirty and feel the soil – it needs to be moist.”

Will said in this type of weather from now until Christmas you could grow just about anything here on the Sunshine Coast.

“I’d encourage everyone to grab their free seeds and if they are having any trouble head into their local garden supply centre and have a chat with the experts.”

Don’t miss tomorrow’s Daily for tokens for Watermelon seeds, plus heaps of kids’ activities on our special seed-themed kids page, as well as in our school holiday guide.

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Fall vegetable gardening tips



• Beans

• Cantaloupe

• Corn

• Cucumbers

• Eggplant

• Okra

• Peppers

• Irish potatoes

• Sweet potatoes

• Squash

• Summer peas

• Tomatoes

• Watermelons

*Group together; remove when damaged by frost.

• Beets

• Broccoli

• Brussels sprouts

• Cabbage

• Carrots

• Cauliflower

• Chard

• Collards

• Garlic

• Kale

• Lettuce

• Mustard

• Onions

• Parsley

• Spinach

• Turnips

Veggies for Oct. 1 planting

• Broccoli

• Brussels sprouts

• Cabbage

• Cauliflower

• Tips:

• Plant broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower every six weeks to extend harvest.

• Don’t let vegetables get too big.

• Find out what size is best to harvest (small, medium, big or giant).

How to obtain a soil test kit

Available through local Texas AM AgriLife Extension Offices Victoria County, call 361-575-4581 or go by the office at 528 Waco Circle near Victoria Regional Airport

I know it may be hard to think about planting a garden right now, but now is the time for a fall garden – and here are some tips I have acquired in my own time gardening. Before you plant, think a moment about your garden. Get a soil test and then prepare your soil.

Test the soil

After sending soil to be tested, I just received my soil test results back from Texas AM University. So now what?

A soil test is a process by which elements (phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, sulfur, manganese, copper and zinc) are chemically removed from the soil and measured for their availability to a plant. The quantity of the nutrients that are available in the sample determines the amount of fertilizer that is recommended.

The soil test measures the soil pH, organic matter and exchangeable acidity. Now, there is no need to guess how much fertilizer or lime is needed in your garden.

Prepare soil before planting

Soil types vary greatly and some drain better than others. The success of any garden depends on soil drainage. Checking to see how wet or dry your soil is before you plant is important. If the soil doesn’t drain well, it is important to amend the soil or vary the contour of ditches to allow moisture to not stand in your garden spot. Success or failure can hinge on drainage and soil preparation.

Work your soil to a depth of at least 8 inches. This can be done by hand or with a garden tiller. Check your soil to see if it is too wet to till by taking a handful and squeezing. If the soil retains its shape, it is too wet. Wait a day or two and try the squeeze test again. If the soil is loose and crumbly it is ready to be turned.

Add plant-based organic matter in the amount of 2 to 3 inches or an inch of compost made with manure to the soil. Plant-based organic material can include grass clippings, shredded leaves and compost. Work this into the soil about 6 to 8 inches.

Fertilize. Apply commercial slow release fertilizer or organic fertilizer. Add the fertilizer before you plant and work into the soil 6 to 8 inches.

Traditional garden size

A good size for a garden is four feet wide and as long as you want it. That way you do not have to walk in your garden to plant or weed. You can have a 2-foot area in between and have another garden 4 feet wide. If you do this then you will not have to walk in your garden area and you will not compact the soil.

Nontraditional garden

I do not have an established garden. I use garden soil bags to grow tomatoes. I poke holes in the bottom of the bags to let the water drain. I then cut two holes in the other side and plant whatever tomato I want to grow. One has to water every other day because the bags dry out very fast. I have enjoyed a good harvest growing my tomatoes this way.

Old-time planting by the moon

When I was growing up my mother would tell me when it was time to plant. She did not have any of the modern planting guides or even think of writing to or contacting Texas AM AgriLife Extension. She used the moon as her guide. Here are some of the things she told me.

Plant above ground crops from the day after the new moon until the day of the full moon. This is known as the “light of the moon.”

Plant root vegetables from the day after the full moon until the day of the new moon. This is known as the “dark of the moon.”

Plant below-ground crops when the moon phases through the earth signs – Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn; plant above-ground crops when the moon phases through water signs – Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.

Weed your garden when the moon is in the infertile air and fire signs – Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius and Aquarius.

Vegetable specialist training

All theory aside, I have completed training as a Master Gardener Vegetable Specialist through Texas AM University and will be recognized at the next Texas Master Gardener Conference.

To become a vegetable specialist, I had to attend a hands-on, multiday training. My class was in San Antonio, and after attending the class, I then had to accumulate 20 hours doing educational programs. I can now help support the Texas AM AgriLife Extension efforts in educational programs.

As always when working in your garden, keep trying and never give up. Hard work pays off in the end – as it has for me.

The Gardeners’ Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AM AgriLife Extension – Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or, or comment on this column at


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In The Garden: Advice for collecting seeds

Posted Sep. 19, 2015 at 10:45 AM

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A fine line: Alan Titchmarsh’s tips on growing topiary in your garden

You don’t have to be the sort of person who files their CDs in alphabetical order to enjoy the orderliness of a formal garden. I know people often think of it as the “statues, symmetry and straight lines” school of gardening, but it’s not just for stately homes.

Out front

It can be a practical proposition for tiny front gardens or enclosed town courtyards, and it’s the natural choice to partner the frontage of a Georgian house. Forget about recreating a natural landscape – a formal plot is more like an extension of the surrounding architecture. And for a back garden big enough to create a series of “garden rooms”, one formal area makes a smashing contrast to natural, wild or woodland features. 

In my last garden, I was pleased with my small, formal patch, which stood on the only level area, making a visual “pause” between two sloping informal areas. You walked from natural and meandering to straight lines and back again in a few strides, with no solid barrier separating the styles.

My formal area started out as a rose garden with dwarf box hedges lining the paths, until I turned it into a garden providing cut flowers for the house. A formal garden is brilliant for growing anything you need to pick or work on regularly, as it’s well provided with paths. That’s why a lot of herb gardens are designed round a rectangular or circular shape with plenty of gravel or paving. 

Plotting and planning

It starts with the design. All you need is a pencil, ruler and graph paper. Choose a basic geometrical shape – a square, circle or rectangle – then divide it up into smaller bits. A circle can be separated into segments like an orange or concentric rings like a dart board, with a round central feature – a sundial, bird bath or plant container.

A square can be divided into four using two paths that meet at right angles in the middle, or a square within a square so you have borders round the outside and a flower bed or lily pond in the centre with paths between the two. A rectangular plot can be turned into a double border or floral walk, with a path and beds either side. 

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Garden Tips: Easy-care roses popular for busy people

Let’s face it, our lives are busy. While gardeners may not mind spending time in gardens, only the most devoted rose lovers enjoy the time and work it takes to care for traditional rose shrubs. Plant breeders, working to meet the needs of today’s gardeners, have developed easy-care roses that make this beloved bloom more accessible.

Recently, I mentioned that I was a fan of Oso Happy Smoothie. It is a rose with single pink flowers and a mounded habit, growing about 3 feet tall and wide. It has no thorns, is winter hardy and only needs a bit of shaping in the spring. It is resistant to powdery mildew and black spot diseases. It is a continuous bloomer, flowering in early, mid and late summer, and provides an abundance of raspberry pink blooms all summer long.

Oso Happy Smoothie is just one of the easy-care roses promoted by Proven Winners. This year, they introduced Oso Easy Lemon Zest, the newest member of the Oso Easy series. It grows about 2.5 feet tall and 3 feet wide, producing lemony yellow flowers that don’t fade to white once open. Like the other members of the series, Lemon Zest requires little pruning, is disease resistant, blooms continuously and is self-cleaning. Self-cleaning means that their faded flowers do not require the deadheading to encourage re-bloom that is needed with traditional rose shrubs.

Easy-care roses are not new to the garden scene. The Tesselaar company has been touting their Flower Carpet rose series since introducing Flower Carpet Pink 20 years ago, calling it the first eco-rose. Pink Splash with bicolor hot pink and pale pink flowers is one of their newer introductions.

Tesselaar says that roses of their series are low-growing and compact, disease resistant and require little pruning. They are also continuous blooming and self-cleaning. Depending on the cultivar, they grow about 2.5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Once established, they are hardy to Zone 5 and tolerant to low water and drought conditions. Their Next Generation Flower Carpet cultivars — Amber, Pink Supreme and Scarlet — are more heat tolerant than the older cultivars. They recommend pruning these roses back to one third their size in early spring.

The Knock Out series of roses, introduced in 2000, also has become popular. Like other easy-care roses, they are winter hardy, continuous blooming, self-cleaning and disease resistant. They grow about 4 feet tall and wide, and sometimes larger. There are seven members of the Knock Out series. I am partial to the Double Pink Knock Out for its pretty pink double flowers.

Knock Out roses work well in mixed shrub-flower borders or as a hedge. Pruning is simple. Most years, all that is needed is a little pruning in the spring to shape the plant and remove any dead, damaged or diseased canes. Every several years they need more severe pruning to remove one-third of the oldest canes. To maintain them as a hedge, use hedgers to cut them back in the spring to 2 feet below the desired size.

Some rose experts disdain easy-care roses for lacking the fragrance and beauty of traditional rose shrubs. William Radler, the developer of Knock Out roses, admits that these are not exhibition roses, but are intended for today’s busy gardener who wants low-maintenance roses that require less pruning and chemicals. However, Radler hopes to develop low-maintenance hybrid teas, floribundas and other traditional rose shrubs. If he does, that should make all gardeners who love roses happy.

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

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