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Archives for September 26, 2015

Chicago turns abandoned railway into urban trail

Chicago is well known for its splendid parks along Lake Michigan — the proverbial front yard of the Windy City.

Hilton concierge Jerry Johnson often sends guests across the street from his hotel on Michigan Ave. to explore Grant Park or Millennium Park and its famous silver bean, the Crown Fountain and Pritzker Pavilion.

For the past few months, however, he’s been directing some adventurous souls away from the lake to the newly opened Bloomingdale Trail northwest of downtown.

Built on a 2.7-mile stretch of abandoned Chicago Pacific Railroad line, it runs through the Wicker Park, Bucktown, Logan Square and Humboldt Park neighborhoods. The trail, which is dotted with public art, also includes two existing parks and two new ones, all at ground level.

There’s also a solar observatory at the west end. Artist Frances Whitehead worked with the Adler Planetarium to design the structure, which she was inspired to create from her travels in Peru. Visitors can reach the open-air observatory by taking a spiraling ramp that leads to the top of a man-made hill.

The combined system — the trail, the parks and the observatory — is called The 606, a moniker taken from the first three digits of Chicago’s ZIP codes.

“I was out there a couple of years ago when it was still something of an eyesore,” Johnson said. “But it’s really been transformed. When I hiked it recently, it was quiet. And because it is elevated, it was kind of serene. There were birds and wildlife there, and as more of the landscaping comes in, it will be a green ribbon through the cityscape.”

On a recent Sunday morning, Jeffrey Jones was resting on a bench with his bike beside him. Over the past two-plus months, he said, he’s jogged and biked on the new trail at least a dozen times. The Bucktown resident called it a “great addition” to Chicago.

“I like the design, the landscaping and the way it links the neighborhoods that it runs through,” he said. “I have friends who have made it part of their bike commute to work and others who come up here to walk their dogs. But I use it mostly for recreation and exercise. All in all, it’s a winner.”

According to Beth White, the Chicago regional director for The Trust for Public Land, that section of the city was in need of new parks. She said the 606 is emblematic of a movement in cities around the country to convert blight into green spaces. New York recycled a 1.5-mile section of elevated railroad — dubbed The High Line — into a park, and Savannah, Ga., covered a parking garage to restore an 18th-century town square.

The 606 cost $90 million to build, $40 million of which is coming from private sources, White said.

The Trust for Public Land is the lead private partner in the project with the Chicago parks department, spearheading fundraising, community outreach and other activities for the 606, White said.

The old rail line served the industrial corridor of the city for more than a century, she said, and has now been turned into both a functional trail and a “living work of art.”

When the line was first built, trains ran at street grade on Bloomingdale Ave., which was asking for trouble. After hundreds of people were killed in pedestrian-train mishaps all over the rapidly growing city in the late 1800s, the Chicago City Council ordered railroad companies to elevate their lines.

White said the old Chicago Pacific line included more than three dozen concrete and steel bridges, nearly all of which remain on the Bloomingdale Trail. It now has 17 on-ramps — all wheelchair accessible — to get up to the path, which snakes along the old railroad corridor.

The trail’s western end begins at Ridgeway Ave. and goes almost three miles to Ashland Ave. on the east, not far from the Chicago River, which it may one day cross, White said.

She said one of users’ favorite spots on the trail is the bridge at Milwaukee Ave., which arches over the street and frames views of the Loop. She said the lead landscape architect for the project, Matt Urbanski of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, did a great job with the trail and worked closely with artist Whitehead to turn the pathway into an “environmental sentinel.”

Using plants and shrubs, the trail will be used to show the difference that the so-called lake effect makes in the spring blooming schedule. Because cool lake winds keep temperatures down, forsythias, lilacs and other plants should bloom first on the west end of the path and then anywhere from 5 to 10 days later on the eastern end.

White said her group is working with 21 schools that are within a 10-minute walk from the trail, encouraging them to use it for recreation and academic programs. Young people from the bordering neighborhoods have been enlisted to serve as guides, too, answering the questions of visitors to the 606.

“This is in an area that didn’t have many parks,” White said. “And a city study showed that Logan Square was the second neediest in Chicago. We’ve known inherently for well over 100 years that parks add to a community’s quality of life. But in the past five to 10 years, research that quantifies those benefits to our physical and mental well-being has taken off.

“So we’re seeing a second wave of park-building all over the country. Planners are looking at communities and their parks in a much more holistic way, which is a pretty neat thing. The 606 is a wonderful example of that.”

More information: See for suggestions on how to access the trail via its multiple ramps.

For ideas on other things to see and do in the Windy City, see

Getting there: The 606 and its Bloomingdale Trail are on Chicago’s northwest side, roughly 90 miles south of Milwaukee via I-94.

Brian E. Clark is a Madison writer and photographer.

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Barre mulls potential of a car-free Pearl St.

BARRE — City officials are looking at turning the one-way section of a rarely used downtown side street into a generous pedestrian way that could pull double duty as an urban pocket park.

The idea of converting the North Main Street end of Pearl Street from one way to “no way” for motor vehicles wouldn’t noticeably change existing traffic patterns. However, consultant Carolyn Radisch believes it could open the door to a range of intriguing options for the 25-foot-wide strip of city-owned real estate that has long been bordered by two red-brick walls.

One of those walls is part of a building that once housed the family-owned Homer Fitts department store and is currently home to PS Furniture, which is closing its Barre location. The building, owned by Mayor Thomas Lauzon, is the front-runner to become the home of the planned Granite City Grocery co-op.

The other wall is on the two-story building where the Beltrami family ran its photography business for many years, and where Elysha Thurston recently opened one of her own: Ever After Photography.

Radisch, a professional planner with Greenman-Pedersen Inc., is interested in the open space between those exterior walls — a 160-foot strip of concrete and asphalt that starts at the curb line on North Main Street and extends to the rear of the former Homer Fitts building.

It isn’t much to look at, but it could be, according to Radisch, who says similar spaces have successfully been converted from streets to car-free gathering spots in cities like San Francisco, Paris and Portland, Oregon.

“This is the hip thing to do,” Radisch said while standing in the middle of Pearl Street this week. “To convert these alley spaces into public pedestrian and possibly even dining areas.”

Radisch was joined on her brainstorming site visit by more than a dozen interested people. The city was well represented. Lauzon was on hand, as was City Manager Steve Mackenzie and members of both the City Council and Planning Commission. However, there is broader interest in a proposal that stems from a master plan for the corridor that runs between North Main and Summer streets.

The Barre Partnership is interested in promoting a strollable downtown, and Josh Jerome, executive director of the organization, was on hand for the meeting. So were two members of the board of Granite City Grocery — Reed Curry and Phil Cecchini — as well as Sue Higby, executive director of nearby Studio Place Arts.

For the moment, Radisch said, the one-way section of Pearl Street is a blank slate, though by Nov. 1 she plans to present the city with a range of options for turning it into a traffic-free public space that, at a minimum, would serve as a pedestrian link between a municipal parking lot that will soon be constructed and the downtown.

However, officials believe what Mackenzie has dubbed the Pearl Street pedestrian way could lure walkers who live along the Summer Street corridor downtown, while providing a public space for those who live closer by.

Radisch, who will use the feedback she received this week to develop conceptual plans for the city’s review, said lighting and landscaping will be key, and public art — a painted mural, a piece of sculpture or both — would liven up the space. She said ripping up the road and sidewalk is a given and replacing them with a textured concrete surface could add to the character of the area.

Ideas discussed during this week’s site visit included occasionally screening movies on a sheet draped from the wall of one of the buildings and creating a space for performance artists.

According to Radisch, alley spaces typically lend themselves well to outdoor dining, which she said could be food for thought for the Granite City Grocery board if it decides to acquire the PS building from Lauzon.

Mackenzie said he’s eager to see what Radisch comes up with, and he isn’t ruling anything out.

“As far as I’m concerned, everything is within the realm of possibility at this early stage,” he said.

According to Mackenzie, the city will solicit a second round of public input once the conceptual plans Radisch is preparing are complete.


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New Miller Nature Preserve display focuses on keeping deer out: Short Takes on …

AVON, Ohio – Learn tricks and tips for keeping deer away from your plants at the new exhibit at the Miller Nature Preserve, 2739 Center Road, Avon. The “Oh Deer not in my Yard!” exhibit, created by Maple Leaf Landscaping of Bay Village, features ideas for deer-resistant gardens that are gorgeous. Contrasting leaf colors, shape and textures attract the creatures that are beneficial and striking in the landscape, but keep deer moving away. Ideas for shrubs to keep deer away include dwarf weigela and juniper shrubs. Perennials to consider planting include Japanese grasses and contrasting lungworts. Come out to the Miller Nature Preserve and enjoy the beauty. The exhibit is open daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. through Oct. 25. Cost is $2.

The “Oh Deer not in my Yard!” exhibit, created by Maple Leaf Landscaping of Bay Village, features ideas for deer-resistant gardens. 


Hall of Fame: Congratulations to the new class of members to the Avon High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The new class will be recognized Oct. 2 during Hall of Fame Night at the Avon Eagles vs. Lakewood Rangers football game at Joe Firment Chevrolet Stadium. An induction ceremony/reception will take place at the high school, 37545 Detroit Road, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m.

Those honored include: Marty Yonkof – Coached 31 years at Avon. Sports included girls volleyball, girls basketball and boys baseball.  Accomplishments include 340 wins in girls basketball, 1st in Lorain County; 394 wins in girls volleyball, second most wins in Lorain County and 20th in Ohio history.

Student Athlete Barbara Fielding (Braatz) Class of 1984 – Basketball: holds nine varsity records.  League MVP and Inland Conference Scoring Champion. Volleyball: three varsity letters, softball, three varsity letters. 

1968-69 Boys Basketball Team – Record 21-2, regular season ended winning streak at 60 games.  Conference Co-Champs, Sectional Champs, District Champs, first team in school history to make it to state Sweet 16.

Frankie Smitek Award – Recognizes individuals who through their actions, accomplishments, demeanor and positive manner, have supported athletics in Avon.  The 2015 Award honors Mickey Haag, Avon Athletic Booster President 1976-1992.

Fall festival: Pinehaven Garden Center and Greenhouses, 39424 Detroit Road, is hosting a fall festival Oct. 3 from 1-4 p.m. Cost is $10 per child and includes: pony rides (1 -3 p.m.), face painting, balloon art, pumpkin painting, scavenger hunt, straw maze, hay rides, stuff a scarecrow (bring your own clothes, straw provided), bounce house, craft, treat bag, and apple cider and cookies.

Halloween celebration: French Creek Square shopping plaza is hosting a Spooktacular Halloween Celebration Oct. 3 from noon – 2 p.m. The first 250 kids will receive a treat bag. Dress up the kids for Halloween and enjoy costume contests, face painting, balloon twisters, dance party and a photo booth.

Flu shots: ‘Tis the season. Come out and get your flu shots. The Lorain County General Health District is offering a Flu Clinic for adults and children Oct. 6 from 4-8 p.m. at Avon Middle School, 3445 Long Road. Log on to to fill out a registration form. Print the completed form and bring it with you to the clinic, along with your insurance card. Most private insurances and Medicare Part B are accepted. Without insurance, the cost is $25 per regular dose or $41 per high dose (ages 65+). For information, log on to or call the Flu Hotline at 440-329-7926.

Historical Society meeting: The next meeting of the Avon Historical Society will be held Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Old Town Hall of 1891 (corner of Detroit and Stoney Ridge roads). Terri Czup, city of media consultant, will discuss the new Landmarks Preservation Commission website and the History Walk. For information, call Stan Hawryluk at 440-934-0224.

Excel for beginners: Learn how to input data into a spreadsheet workbook at Lorain Public Library System’s Avon Branch Oct. 12 at 6 p.m.  The instructor will break down Microsoft Excel 2007 for participants to learn how to do things such as compose simple spreadsheet formulas, and choose layout and print format options.  Participants must be comfortable using a mouse before attending the class.  Preregistration is required and is available online at or by calling the library 440-934-4743. 

Library hoedown: The Lorain Public Library System’s Avon Branch is hosting a fall hoedown Oct. 13 at 6:30 p.m.  Families of all ages can come learn how to square dance, and hear about its history while enjoying seasonal refreshments.  Preregistration is required and is available online at or by calling the library at 440-934-4743. 

Craft show: Avon Church of God, 37445 Detroit Road, is hosting a Holiday Craft Show Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tables are currently available for vendors at $25 each. Call Rev. Lee Anna at 440-934-2270.

Commended Students: Avon High Schools boasts five Commended Students from the National Merit Scholarship program. Commended scholars are in the top 34,000 of 1.5 million students nationally based on PSAT test scores. The seniors are Cassandra Horton, Melanie Lander, Taylor Nowakowski, Thomas Paoloni, and Dorothy Zhoa.


Commended Students: Avon Lake High School has six students listed as Commended Students from the National Merit Scholarship program. The seniors include Cara Birkby, Jay Leiden, Brett Litzler, Alex Loar, Sarah Scott, and Jacob Walasinski. Congratulations to both Avon and Avon Lake students.

Presidents Tea: The Avon-on-the-Lake Garden Club recently honored 15 past presidents at the September Past Presidents Tea at the Avon Lake Public Library. Honorees included: Marybelle Arnold, Lois Boeddener, Doris Gaertner, Armgard Hartitz, Lillian McPherson, Gerry Paine, Mary Pajak, Char Pulit, Audrey Roberts, Elsie Robinson, Diane Ruma, Marion Russell, Janelle Schubmehl, Marilyn Swope and Jo’C Walker.

The Avon-on-the-Lake Garden Club will meet Oct. 7 at noon in the Gallery Room of the Avon Lake Public Library. Lunch is a potluck and attendees are asked to bring side dish, salad, or dessert with 10-12 servings. Entrée will be provided by the club. The program will be a “Perennial Plant Swap.” To participate in the swap, bring one to five perennial plants (or house plants), bulbs, corms, or rhizomes. Guests will take home the number of items they bring. For information, call 440-933-0893.

Pokémon open play: Bring Pokémon cards to trade or play on Pokémon Open Play day, Oct. 7 from 4– 6 p.m. at the Avon Lake Public Library. Play takes place in the Children’s department.  Registration is not needed to participate.

Community shred: A free Community Shred day will take place Oct. 10 from 9 a.m. – noon.  The new location for the event is the Ellen Trivanovich Aquatic Center, 32850 Electric Boulevard.

Paws to Read: Children can practice reading skills by reading aloud to a dog from Therapy Dogs, International or Pet Partners.  Dogs will be at the Avon Lake Public Library Oct. 10 for 15 minute reading “duets.” Registration Oct. 3 in the Children’s department or by calling 440-933-8917. 

Empty Bowls by the Lake: The 4th annual fundraiser is an artistic means to fight hunger in the community and takes place Oct. 10 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Bleser Park. Potters, educators, students and volunteers create hand-crafted bowls with local restaurants donating soup. Guests are invited to sample a simple meal of soup and bread, and in exchange for a cash donation, are asked to keep the bowl as a reminder of all the ’empty bowls’ in the world. A $20 donation includes a pottery bowl and unlimited soup. Children accompanied by an adult donor can participate in the event for $5 (ages 6-12 with no bowl). The event will also include entertainment featuring the Avon High School Electric Orchestra, and a silent auction/raffle. For information, log on to In case of rain, the event will be held at the Avon Lake United Church of Christ, 32801 Electric Boulevard.


Theatre show: Wait until Dark, a play written by Frederick Knott, will be performed at the Olde Towne Hall Theatre, 36119 Center Ridge Road, Oct. 9-10, Oct. 16- 18 and Oct. 23-24. Show times are 7:30 p.m. each night, except Oct. 18 which is a matinee at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children and seniors. For more information, log on to or call 440-327-2909.

Auditions for Shrek the Musical take place Oct. 10 from 2-4 p.m. at the theatre. Audition information is available online at The musical show dates are Dec. 4-6, and Dec. 11-12.

Friends meeting: Join The Friends of the North Ridgeville Branch Library, Inc. The next meeting is Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. at Lorain Public Library System’s North Ridgeville Branch.  Plans will be made for the next book sale and other fundraisers at this general membership meeting.  For information, call the North Ridgeville Branch Library at 440-327-8326. 

Potty training boot camp: Best-selling author Teri Crane will be at the Lorain Public Library System’s North Ridgeville Branch Oct. 7 at 6 p.m. for a potty training boot camp. Crane wrote Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day: Proven Secrets of the Potty Pro. Training tips and suggestions to free children from diapers will be discussed.  Preregistration is required and is available online at or by calling the library at 440-327-8326. 

Star Wars Reads Day: Kindergartners through fifth-graders are invited to master some Jedi mind tricks, make light sabers and even defeat Darth Vader at Origami at the Star Wars Reads day at Lorain Public Library System’s North Ridgeville Branch Oct. 10 at 2 p.m.Yoda may even make an appearance.  Preregistration is required and is available online at or by calling the library at 440-327-8326. 

Spookville: The annual event begins Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. and ends Oct. 10 at 9 p.m. at South Central Park. Spookville is a wooded ¼-mile trail that makes guests feel as if they are part of a horror movie set in the woods. Appropriate for all ages, the event is presented by North Ridgeville Lions. Cost is $2 per person.

Stash Dash: The annual race begins and ends at South Central Park Nov. 7.  Registration begins at 7 a.m., 1-mile fun run begins at 8:45 a.m. and the 5K race begins at 9 a.m.  Registration is also available online at the Parks and Recreation Department’s website at

Coupon books: North Ridgeville Seniors, Inc. is selling the “Our Town-All Around Book” to raise funds for the North Ridgeville Office for Older Adults (Senior Center). Books cost $28 each and contain savings of thousands of dollars in 2-for-1 and up-to-50 percent-off discount offers from local and national business establishments including restaurants, dry cleaners and stores. Additional discounts are also available for golf green fees, entertainment, services, casual/formal dining and more.

“This is a terrific fundraiser for us, a great value for anyone who purchases a book, and a wonderful gift idea for the Holidays” said Rita Price, director. “Each year most of our buyers return and often times purchase additional books for gifts.”

The Senior Center, 7327 Avon Belden Road, is open Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

If you have news to share regarding an event, award or other interesting tidbit happening in Avon or Avon Lake, and North Ridgeville send me an email at The column’s online version is at, which offers direct links for many of the news items listed.

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Brown lawn turns into labyrinth in healing garden

For decades, a large carpet of grass stretched across the central courtyard of Eskaton Care Center in Sacramento’s Greenhaven neighborhood.

In the best of summers, the lawn looked only OK, hampered by patches of shades thrown by the buildings and maturing trees. As the evergreens filled out, the beleaguered grass got less and less light.

Drought only made the kind-of-green space look more ragged. Instead of an uplifting oasis, the turf just looked sad.

Worse, Eskaton’s senior residents had trouble negotiating their wheelchairs and walkers across the lawn. Mobility issues made the grass a daunting obstacle. They wanted to be outside, to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. But the turf limited their access.

Heather Craig, the center’s executive director, saw potential in this problem lawn. Instead of trying to nurse the turf back to greenness, the space could be revitalized with low-water landscaping. At the same time, its access could be much improved – for walking, rolling and gardening.

“We work on ambulation and balance on different surfaces,” Craig said. “That’s important for mobility.”

Herself a gardener, Craig is a firm believer in the healing qualities of gardening, which she said is a stress buster in many ways.

“Go out in the garden,” she recommended. “It’s a lot cheaper than a shrink.”

Craig wanted to incorporate a labyrinth into Eskaton. From her own experience in healing gardens, she found the winding path could lead to inner peace.

“A labyrinth is a place to go and meditate,” she explained. “As you walk through, you lose yourself in your surroundings. It’s a cleansing of your soul.”

With input from residents, the center developed a water-wise plan that could save the trees while cutting more than half of its water use. In addition, it would provide therapy space for residents recovering from strokes as well as raised garden beds with roll-up access for wheelchair-bound gardeners.

To fund the transformation, the center’s foundation, residents and families raised $330,000 in donations to replace the worn-out lawn with a healing garden. Its focal point: a wheelchair-accessible labyrinth.

California’s drought prompted quick action; the center had to cut its water use by at least 25 percent.

By early June, the lawn was gone, replaced by water-wise shrubs and perennials. Birds, bees and butterflies soon found these flowering replacements to the old Bermuda grass. In late summer, the center courtyard felt alive with this backyard wildlife.

“We’re not done yet,” Craig said. “We’re making a living wall.”

Black felt pockets line a 5-foot-high wooden frame, awaiting flowers, vegetables and herbs later this fall. Plants will grow vertically in this soil-less wall.

“You can already see the transformation,” she said. “It’s truly a therapeutic space.”

Hundreds of family and friends joined the residents for a grand opening celebration last month and garden dedication.

Ron Walker, 77, a retired firefighter and Eskaton resident, gardens from his wheelchair, having lost his left leg. He loves the new garden.

“I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done by far,” Walker said. “It’s appealing to everyone who comes in here.”

Before, several residents liked to garden but had little sunny space to grow tomatoes and their favorite flowers. The lawn hogged all the available sunshine as well as a lot of water. Cutting back lawn irrigation also endangered the center’s many large trees, beloved by the residents for their beauty and shade.

“This was a huge, huge undertaking,” Walker said. “It’s really amazing. It’s more than a transformation from a lawn to a low-water landscape. It used to be basically an open field with grass. In winter, it turned into a lake. Now, residents will get a lot more use of this area.”

In early September, the Eskaton garden club members started planting fall vegetables and flowers in their new raised redwood beds. The soil sits at table height, making it easy for gardeners to feel the dirt between their fingers.

“I just love it,” said resident Rita O’Connor, 83, who suffered a minor stroke and now gardens from her wheelchair. “The garden is great therapy. You can sit in the garden and just look at the plants. They’re growing, getting bigger and better every day.

“I can do the same.”

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Master Gardener program is satisfying – Visalia Times

When I first moved to Porterville thirty something years ago, I remember driving around looking at different neighborhoods for a home.

I was so impressed with one home’s landscaping and appeal that I kept going back to that area hoping to find a house to buy.

What made it look so welcoming were the colorful blossoms spilling out of the window boxes, the perfectly trimmed low hedges with skirts of bright flowers lining the curved walkway and beautiful shade trees on the corner lot sheltering lush ferns, impatiens and coleus.

I became acquainted with the wonderful woman who created this inspiring landscape and she became my go-to source for all my fledgling gardening questions. Her cheerful and gracious generosity in sharing her wealth of information made me long to be just like her.

I discovered she was a Master Gardener and pledged to follow in her footsteps someday, which I did in 2010.

Master Gardeners are volunteers who share a common goal of educating the public in research-based home gardening practices, integrated pest management, and sustainable landscape practices in our community.

They are trained by and under the supervision of the University of California Cooperative Extension.

To accomplish these lofty goals, MGs are available to answer questions from the public in Tulare and Kings Counties by conducting office hours at the UC Cooperative Extension, information booths at several local Farmers’ Markets and at special events at local nurseries several times a year.

In addition, MGs offer workshops and demonstrations to the public on rose pruning, fruit tree pruning, composting, and other garden topics.

They serve the community by maintaining the roses at the Tulare County Courthouse and the Ralph Moore Rose Garden, as well as cultivating a new demonstration garden at Hurley School.

MGs mentor teachers and other adults who interact with youth in establishing school and community gardens.

Each Master Gardener gives a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer time their first year, followed by 25 hours of volunteer time in subsequent years, and acquires a minimum of 12 hours of continuing education hours annually to remain in the program.

The rewards of serving as a Master Gardener volunteer are numerous and varied.

From the new-found friendships outside of their local community to the fulfillment in sharing knowledge and gardening experiences with others or to improving one’s own personal gardening repertoire, being a MG creates a sense of purpose in giving back to the community.

Even though she always loved to garden, Nancy Hawkins, current MG President, joyfully admits, “As a Master Gardener, I now have the knowledge and support to garden properly.

I know which plants to use in our area, how to irrigate efficiently, and how to use and dispose of pesticides and fertilizers correctly. But, best of all, I have met a group of people who share my passion and enthusiasm.”

If you are interested in expanding your gardening knowledge and sharing your horticultural passion with others, the Master Gardener program may be perfect for you. A new training class will be offered in January of 2016.

The weekly classes will be held Wednesday mornings from mid-January through mid-June. To be considered, you must first attend an orientation meeting on October 14, 2015 from 3-4:30 pm at the UC Cooperative Extension (and Master Gardener) Office, 4437 B South Laspina Street, Tulare.

Afterward you need to complete a short, online MG Application. Qualified applicants will then be requested for a friendly interview.

More detailed information can be found on the Tulare-Kings Master Gardener website, at

Additional questions can be answered by Sue Long, Master Gardener Program Coordinator, at 684-3343 or

Priscilla Girard has been a Master Gardener since 2010 and lives and gardens in Springville.

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Trowel & Glove: Marin garden calendar for the week of Sept. 26, 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 Rafael from 9 to 10 a.m. at Pueblo Park at Hacienda Way in Santa Venetia; 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: Leyland cypress trees

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Don’t fertilize roses and other fall gardening tips


As I write this in mid-September, we are experiencing hot, humid weather. Any newly planted hydrangeas look unhappy. With hydrangeas, give them a long drink of water.

Even though the weather is warm, the cool fall air will soon hit. Here are some fall gardening tips to consider:

– Your garden needs to be cleaned up. Anything diseased needs to go in the garbage.

-Icicle pansies should be in soon. If you plant some, water them well and carefully cover with evergreens later for winter.

– If you planted containers, you can remove the tired annuals and put in grasses and mums. If you used perennials in your containers, they can be removed and planted in the garden.

– You can divide iris and peonies. If you wish to replant some in the same place, renew the soil and destroy any diseased parts. When iris form a ring with the centre bare, it is time to do this. Peonies can live for 30 years.

– Do not fertilize around your roses. Clean up around them. If you had black spot, put the leaves in the garbage. Next year, when the leaves come out try spraying them with an antidesicant, such as Wilt Pruf. The coating may keep spores from staying on leaf.

When you buy new roses, look for those with a shiny leaf. If you grow climbing roses and want more blooms, try to tie some canes so that they are horizontal.

– Wilt Pruf should be used on rhodos. Make sure they have been well watered. In winter, if the leaves are drooping, you know it is below zero. When it is warmer, the leaves are perky.

– This is a good time to plant shrubs or trees. Make sure they are watered well. If you wrap shrubs for winter, never use plastic. Burlap is available by the yard. There are solutions you can spray on shrubs or trees to deter deer and rabbits.

– Be careful with evergreens if you are using them for winter decoration. Do not bother the roots of the new plants.

Wilt Pruf can also be used on evergreens that you bring indoors for decoration. The spray will keep them fresh and acts as a fire retardant.

– Plan for next year by deciding where your crops will go. Think of rotating your beds. Don’t plant tomatoes where potatoes or eggplant were located.

– If you like garlic, October is the time to plant it. Garlic likes sun and some manure in the planting bed. Plant the bulbs eight inches deep about six inches apart and add mulch. They are harvested in July.

– Some root vegetables can be left in the ground if you have straw and can fix a bed so that you can dig them up when you need them and they won’t freeze They can also be stored in a cold room in soil. Cut the tops off.

– Fall is also the time to move clematis and honeysuckle vines.

Gardening hint

Every Labour Day weekend I can count on my Sweet Autumn clematis to be full of small white blooms. If you don’t know of this clematis, it is worth looking for. It covers the arch and is so full of buzzing bees that we don’t even try to use that archway.

Coming events

Oct. 1: Brantford Master Gardeners meet at 7:30 p.m. at the Brantford police station on Elgin Street. Speaker will be Leon Fleury, a Metis with vast knowledge of healing with natural herbs. To reserve a seat, call 519-442-1740.

Oct. 2-Oct. 3: Cleanup of Ferguson Cottage, 37 Grand Ave. S., Cambridge, by Galt horticultural club. Times are 6 p.m. to 7 p.m on Oct. 2 and 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Oct. 3.

Oct. 5: Lynden, St. George and Glen Morris gardening clubs meet at Lynden Masonic Lodge at 7 p.m. to hear guest David Hobson (Diary of a Mad Gardener).

Oct. 7: Paris horticultural meets at the Paris fairground at 7:30 p.m. Jim Hall will talk about preparing dahlias for winter.

Oct. 8: Brantford Garden Club meets at 7:30 p.m. at the civic centre auditorium.

Oct. 14: Joint societies of Norfolk meet at 7:30 p.m. at Simcoe Research Station.

Pat Locker writes a monthly column on information and special events of interest to gardeners. She is a master gardener, a flower and design judge, and a member of several garden organizations. If you have a comment or question send it to From The Ground Up, c/o The Expositor, Building 4, Unit 1, 195 Henry St., Brantford, N3S 5C9.

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Brilliant ideas: Alan Titchmarsh’s tips on growing plants in September

A letter appeared in a newspaper recently from a man who had returned from holiday at the end of August. “Why is my garden dead?” he asked. I had to smile. And sympathise. 

After a mixed bag during the summer, it was not surprising that his beds and borders had suffered.

I was tempted to write in and suggest that he was growing the wrong plants and that if he’d read Saturday magazine last week he’d have known what to plant, but I resisted the temptation. But it struck me that I might offer you a few more beauties that keep their powder dry for late summer.

If you find yourself in the same situation as the newspaper correspondent, go out and load a garden centre trolley with Michaelmas daisies, physalis (Chinese lantern flower, below left), sedums and the Japanese anemones I mentioned last week, but look out, also, for those late-flowering daisies, the rudbeckias and heleniums. 

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Five investing tips from your garden

I don’t have a garden. I don’t even like to go outside much. However, I know that many people love their gardens — and hate the weeds that try to overtake them. “If you were to track every hour spent in your garden, you would probably find that you do an inordinate amount of weeding,” writes Barbara Pleasant at Well, Barbara, I’m sure you’re right and your fellow gardeners would agree.

As a financial advisor, I see many parallels between gardening and building wealth — especially when it comes to the weeds. Several ideas on how to handle weeds in a garden apply to your finances as well. Here are five keys to managing the weeds in your financial garden.

1. Patience is a virtue

Timing is everything in weed control and in portfolio management. It makes more sense to pull weeds after a drenching rain than when the soil is parched and dry. When it comes to stocks, just because you’re ready to buy doesn’t mean the timing is right to invest. Sometimes you have to be patient and wait until it is wise to act.

2. Diligence is the mother of good luck

To grow more flowers, you need to “deadhead” plants — that is, remove withered blooms. Your portfolio also grows larger when you cull the investments that aren’t compatible with your goals. Each year you should rebalance your portfolio. That means selling some of the investments that did well and buying more of the ones that didn’t do as well so you maintain the right mix to match your goals. These practices take research and time, but are worth the effort.

3. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Putting mulch around your plants reduces weeding time because it deprives weeds of light while keeping the soil moist. Be proactive in preventing financial weeds as well: If you know you could fall for dubious deals, stay away from seductive ads and the people who offer them. Or, if you know it will be hard for you to stay invested when you see volatility in the market, avoid watching too much financial news.

4. An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

Innovative watering techniques can deliver the right amount of water to plants while starving weeds, thus saving you time. Financial experts can do the same for you with your money. Whether you choose a Certified Financial Planner or a Registered Investment Advisor or a company like E-Trade or Vanguard, accessing expert knowledge saves you time and helps grow your portfolio.

5. Enough is as good as a feast.

In the garden, you go after the weeds that have emerged, not the seeds hidden in the ground. You barely have time to manage the obvious weeds, let alone the hidden ones. Learning about money is no different. It’s impossible to keep up with all of the financial information that’s available. Try to not flood yourself with too much noise; information overload can overwhelm even the most avid researcher. Choose a limited number of unbiased non-sales resources to rely on for financial research and information.

Reviewing your financial situation to pull weeds can be as tedious as weeding your vegetable garden. However, consistent growth in gardens and portfolios require ruthless and consistent action.

As Frances Hodgson Burnett writes in The Secret Garden, “Two things cannot be in one place. Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.” So take the time today to do a little financial weeding.

Learn more about Kathryn on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor.

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