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Archives for October 9, 2015

SML Charity Home Tour this weekend

Posted: Thursday, October 8, 2015 4:15 pm

SML Charity Home Tour this weekend

Since its founding in 1991 by Jeanne Wagoner and her husband Joe, the Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour has raised more than $3.8 million for nearly 40 area charities. For those in need in our community, these organizations provide critical services such as food, crisis financial aid and clothing, counseling, medical care, and advocates for abused or neglected children. In its 25th year, the Charity Home Tour continues to make a positive impact on the lives of people in the Smith Mountain Lake region.

The 2015 Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour, presented by VC Design Build, Inc., showcases eight beautiful waterfront homes that offer visitors many decorating, remodeling and landscaping ideas. This year’s mix of new and remodeled homes features unique kitchens, outdoor living spaces and spectacular lake views, as well as artifacts and collectibles that reflect the owners’ travels and personal tastes. All homes may be accessed by car or boat. Tour dates are October 9, 10 and 11 (Columbus Day weekend). Tickets are good for all three days, one visit per each of the eight homes.

To read more of this and other stories, pick up a copy of this week’s Smith Mountain Eagle on newsstands. Subscribe online by clicking this link:  or by calling 719-5100. A year’s subscription, which is just $31 in Bedford, Franklin and Pittsylvania County, also gives you free access to the Smith Mountain Eagle’s e-edition, an online version of the entire newspaper.


Thursday, October 8, 2015 4:15 pm.

Article source:

Mt. Lebanon High School ready for open house – Pittsburgh Post

If Mt. Lebanon High School’s very first graduates in 1931 could look into the future, they would see a school with fewer walls, open floor plans and a community gathering space, all illuminated by streaming natural light.

Once characterized by long hallways that were difficult for students to traverse from end to end before the class bell rang, the renovated school has two outer wings that are connected by a 750-seat cafeteria, called “Center Court,” which is the school’s central hub.

Mt. Lebanon High School principal Brian McFeeley said the new layout is more like a piece from Tetris, an online puzzle that players put together using different-sized, tumbling blocks.

The former layout was linear, like a long train. “Now we’ve made it more horizontal, so you can get from one space to another very easily,” said Cissy Bowman, district communications director.

“You can start at Center Court and get to any part of the building,” she said. Students can grab lunch and get to nearby rooms, including band, orchestra, music practice rooms, tech education facilities, the student activities area and library.

The new building layout trimmed the size from 545,000 square feet to 454,000 square feet, boosting energy efficiency. Security also was increased.

The Mt. Lebanon School District will dedicate its new high school during a ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday in front of the entrance on Horsman Drive with a reception following in Center Court.

The 1,700 students remained in the school as the $109.6 million renovation, which began in 2012, took place in phases over three years. All of the classroom spaces were completed in March.

Plans call for the removal of the 1972 addition and the building from 1928. One goal clearly heard during community meetings was the desire to preserve the original 1930 Cochran Road building.

“Every alumni of Mt. Lebanon High School has walked through that lobby,” Ms. Bowman said, pointing out that the original terrazzo tiled floors, with flecks of red, orange, gray and black, have been preserved. The color scheme was picked up by the architects and integrated as an accent in the building hallways and classrooms.

Some work won’t be completed until spring, including the demolition of the 1972 building and the installation of tennis courts, site work and landscaping.

The Center Court cafeteria not only serves as a common meeting area for students during lunch or between classes but also doubles as a venue for public functions.

Formerly the main gym, the cafeteria is lit from a wall of windows on the Horsman Drive side of the building, flooding the two-story room with natural light. Support beams were left exposed along with the duct work and the wooden gym floor is a polished reminder of the room’s previous use.

The new main drop-off entrance is at the back of the building on Horsman Drive and leads students up a wide, two-story staircase where inspirational quotes from Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln and Ralph Waldo Emerson are displayed on the wall.

Natural light was a desired design element. Now walls of windows in the cafeteria, gyms, main pool and art classes allow optimal outside light. Ceilings are slanted in the academic rooms to pull in more natural light.

Academic rooms are grouped by department. Getting lost, which was a rite of passage before, is less frequent now.

Senior Emma Dougherty remembers being a freshman in the old building.

“It was really confusing. Every floor, especially in the C building, had the same layout,” she said. “Now everything is so much more logically laid out. Generally, all of the math and the history classes are in one area; fine arts and sciences have their own section. It’s very easy to find your way around once you know where all the sections are.”

Sophmore Emmett Meinzer said his favorite portion of the new building is the cafeteria, which has individual chairs rather than chairs connected to the tables as before.

Other changes include the band and orchestra rooms in closer proximity, the main auditorium has been renovated and a large video display board announces upcoming performances.

Tall computer tables and comfortable seating areas are in the library for student discussions.

Wireless, high-speed Internet service is available throughout the school for students to use in the classroom. Most rooms have the latest technology including smart boards, multiple white boards and large flat screen televisions that can also serve as monitors.

The new state-of-the-art science wing was designed with either lab “trios,” a lab placed between two classrooms, or lab and classroom combinations.

“Before we might have six teachers sharing a lab, and that lab was nowhere near those individual classrooms,” Mr. McFeeley said.

Science and technology students can collaborate with science labs now placed near the tech education area, so ideas can be taken from conception to production using the 3-D printer or CNC Router among other equipment.

Technology education teacher Tom Shultz said he’s amazed by the transformation. “It’s very STEM-oriented. All of the rooms are connected. This layout allows us to let them bounce back from room to room to use the equipment,” he said.

A new skywalk crosses Horsman Drive, connecting the academic building to the new athletic building that holds the main gym, two auxiliary gyms, an eight-lane 25-yard pool, and fitness rooms.

The Mt. Lebanon School District completed renovation of its two middle schools in the late 1990s and all of its elementary schools in 2005.

Jill Thurston, freelance writer:

Article source:

Candidates for mayor say growth is coming to Southport

The two men running for mayor of Southport say this small city in southern Marion County is ripe for growth.

Republican incumbent Jesse Testruth and Independent challenger Russell McClure have different ideas on how to lure that growth as they compete to lead this city of about 1,700 residents for the next four years.

Testruth, 64, said his administration has worked to rebuild infrastructure and improve the quality of life in Southport.

“Right now we need mainly for people to start visiting our city and boost our downtown business,” Testruth said.

Testruth said a great community begins with its people.

He said he has worked hard to give folks a reason to visit the city by helping to launch a host of fun events, such as the Halloween party and parade on Oct. 24.

“Why wouldn’t you want to come to our city?” he asked. “It’s got shopping, restaurants, and we’ve even got banks and the famous Long’s doughnuts.”

Testruth said his administration has brought new businesses and residents to the city.

The Gerdt Furniture property, vacant since 2013, is being turned into new offices. A $10.8 million senior apartment complex is being built across the street.

The 93-unit Villas at the Plaza is being developed by the Partnership for Affordable Housing and includes 3,000 square feet of new retail space along Southport Road just east of Madison Avenue. The project is expected to be completed in 2016.

If elected to a second four-year term, Testruth said, he plans to work with the redevelopment commission to create the city’s first tax increment financing district, which would be used to fund municipal improvements designed to attract even more residents and businesses.

Tax increment financing districts allow cities to divert new tax revenue away from other taxing bodies — in this proposal, that would mean Marion County’s coffers — and use it to improve streets, sidewalks, sewers and other infrastructure.

The tax increment financing district would provide financing to the developers of the 93-unit apartment complex, with anything left over going toward other city improvements.

“I’m looking forward to the next four years,” Testruth said. “We’ve got a lot coming up.”

McClure, 52, has been president of Southport’s redevelopment commission since 2012. He joined the race too late to run in the Republican primary, which is why he’s running as an independent.

Southport, McClure said, can do much better.

“There’s a lot of things the city could be doing a lot better in relation to growing the commercial area and the general image of Southport,” McClure said.

As mayor, he said, he would work to improve the look and feel of the city. He wants the streets and sidewalks to look better than those in other parts of Marion County.

He wants to bring in nicer streetlights, better landscaping and improved signage.

“That way, when you cross into Southport, you know you’re in a different area,” McClure said.

The city has been stagnant too long, McClure said.

“I’ve been just kind of watching the direction Southport is going,” he said. “If the city isn’t growing, it dies.”

If elected, McClure said, he would leave the party planning to the parks department and other city officials.

As president of the redevelopment commission, McClure said he supports plans to create the city’s first tax increment financing district. This kind of district, he said, is Southport’s “best tool” for funding future growth.

McClure vowed to work with the Greater Southport Business Alliance and others to draw new development.

“City leadership has to take a stronger role in attracting business and being more business-friendly,” McClure said. “The parties, that could be a great job for the parks board. The city’s work should really focus on the city’s business.”

Call Star reporter Vic Ryckaert at (317) 444-2701. Follow him on Twitter: @vicryc.

Candidate biographies

• Vernon Jesse Testruth, Republican

Age: 64.

Family: Fiancée, Angie Kerner; five grown children.

Experience: Southport mayor since 2012. Vietnam veteran; retired from the U.S. Army. Worked for ADT home security for 33 years as a technician.

• John Russell McClure, Independent

Age: 52.

Family: Wife, Linda; daughter, Katie, 17.

Experience: President of the Southport redevelopment commission since 2012. President of the Southport park board from 2011 to 2012. Planning analyst for Indianapolis Public Schools from 2004 to the present.

Article source:

16 Wescustogo Lane, North Yarmouth

NORTH YARMOUTH – What a charming history this 1810 Colonial has. The Rev. Jehiel Richards House was built next to the North Yarmouth Congregational Church at the intersection of what is now U.S. Route 115, but in 1962 was moved a mile up the road to this lovely pastoral setting of 12.5 acres. The following year, the Pocket Watch Shop and Tea Room opened here, and for a decade operated as a popular destination for ladies seeking refreshments and stylish gifts amidst refined countryside surroundings.

Since that era, the 3,863-square-foot house has been a much-updated private home, and a property that retains wonderful period charm – note the front yard’s delightful little pond, and the brick patio/courtyard with its lovely hardscaping and semi-formal gardens, and covered porch with swing.

Overlooking this sweet landscaping is the former tea room, which has been renovated as a bonus/family/great room of about 500 square feet, with a cathedral ceiling, handsome gas stove, window bench seat and enough other built-ins to qualify as a library, too. The room has a shed attached and is part of an expansion to the original home that also includes a very large office (or living room) and two additional rooms (one, an ideal bedroom).

With the relatively easy addition of a bath, there is great potential here to create an in-law/guest suite. As is, there’s a full bath with soaking tub just across the rear foyer/mudroom.

The main level of the house is primarily open-concept, with lots of exposed brick and two woodstoves enhancing warmth and character. Flooring is oak or wide pine. The living room extends front-to-back and has newer built-in in the latter space. The big kitchen has white appliances, two bars (one butcher block) and oak cabinetry. Off the formal dining room is a south-facing sun room whose window glass is new.

Upstairs, two bedrooms in the south wing are served by a full bath. Across the wide landing and hall is the master suite: large, front bedroom; walk-in closet, and bath.

The basement has a great partial-daylight workshop, and there’s a huge (if unheated) workshop attached to the oversized, two-vehicle garage.

The home at 16 Wescustogo Lane, North Yarmouth, is listed for sale at $450,000 by Kate Huntress of RE/MAX Heritage in Yarmouth, and is being shown by appointment. For more information or to arrange a private viewing, please contact Kate at 846-4300 ext. 112; 232-9416, or at [email protected].


Produced by the Marketing Department of the Portland Press Herald, the Friday feature home is provided at no cost.

Send feature home suggestions to [email protected].

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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, Calif.’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.”

Article source:

Learn something new during Desert Garden Community Day

“It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something — it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially,” says psychological scientist Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas. “When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.”

Attempting to grow food in the Coachella Valley is indeed a journey beyond the comfort zone. Planting in May and harvest in July is familiar to all of us, but here in the low “tropical” desert the cycles are entirely different. We must forget what we have done in the past and reprogram the brain to see winter as the growing season…not summer. Perhaps doing so will count among those mentally challenging activities that keep the brain active and alive.

All of these new ways to garden come together in the Desert Horticultural Society of the Coachella Valley annual gathering of the tribes. It’s the 10th year of Desert Garden Community Day held at The Living Desert on Saturday, October 17. This is an incredible learning experience and an equally great social one for both novice and experienced gardeners who need help reprogramming their brain to understand both the transition to drought resistant desert landscaping and the methods of growing vegetables year-round.

During the event that runs from 8:30 to 1:00 PM, five hour-long classes will be held concurrently in different rooms each hour. Among the truly expert teachers are Glen Huntington on desert garden design, Robin Kobaly on local natives and Wendy Proud from Mountain States Wholesale Nursery will share her favorites from this supplier to our local nurseries (be sure to pick up their catalog – great plant list for locals!) You’ll also find classes on grass removal, small design and proper pruning techniques.

Log on to to peruse the schedule of speakers, their topics, rooms and class times. All classes are free so they fill up quickly – arrive early to be sure you get a seat.

At 10:30 in the Chase Board Room I will be giving a Power Point presentation and overview of my upcoming new book due for release at the end of December. Growing Vegetables in Drought, Desert and Dry Times: The Complete Guide to Organic Gardening without Wasting Water (Sasquatch Press) is your manual for relearning how to grow your favorite vegetables in drought and here within our crazy desert seasons. Although the book isn’t out for a few months yet, this presentation at Community Day is the ideal overview to get your fall garden off on the right foot until it arrives. You’ll also get some great tips on growing organic heirloom tomatoes this winter.

This is the first contemporary book to focus on growing in desert conditions and how to use minimal water to cultivate food here. Inspired by ancient waffle gardens of the Pueblo tribes, quasi-hydroponic containers and ultra modern drip irrigation innovations and protective “row cover” geotextiles, we can now easily solve problems that have long challenged desert gardeners in the past.

This annual event moved to the Living Desert last year so friends and family may enjoy this wonderful place while you’re in class learning. The newborn baby giraffe and other animals as well as exotic plants at this amazing desert resource will keep them busy until you all come together afterwards for lunch. During the event only, the Living Desert is offering three different tours of their gardens at 9:00 AM, 10:30 and 12:00 noon.

The folks at Desert Horticultural Society work long and hard to make this day a unique and valuable learning experience for both the valley and high desert. Come early to browse the information booths and exhibits, catch up with friends and stimulate your mind to learn more about water use, landscaping, food growing and desert plants.

So whether you’re trying to keep your mind sharp with a new skill, grow organic fresh picked produce or you’re removing your lawn to save water, Desert Garden Community Day at the Living Desert is where the social season begins each year in October.

For more information on The Desert Horticultural Society :

Visit : and

To contact DHS email

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Tips for growing Junipers




Garden Questions | Melinda Myers

National Park Service/Neal Herbe

Junipers prefer full sun and well-drained soil.

Q.I have been trying to grow a line of Hetz Junipers along the lot line as a windbreak. All but four or five are doing fine. I have watered both on the heavy side and light. Tried fertilizer, mulch … with no luck. I have replanted with new stock with the same results.

A.Start by evaluating the growing conditions throughout the planting area.

Junipers prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Check to see if the healthy plants receive more sunlight than the ones that died. If shade is the issue, you may need to use a more shade-tolerant plant on that section of your hedge.

Evaluate winter and summer winds. Winter winds and sun can cause evergreen needles to lose moisture. The plant’s roots are frozen and can’t absorb water, resulting in needle browning known as winter burn.

Junipers are pretty tolerant once established, but young plantings can be injured or killed. A physical windbreak around new plantings can help reduce this problem.

Now check the soil. Soil and drainage can vary greatly throughout even a small lot. Before replanting check the soil drainage:

Dig a hole about 1 foot deep and 1 foot in diameter where the dead junipers were removed. Fill with water and allow it to drain. As soon as it drains, refill the hole with water and measure the water level with a ruler. Measure the water level again in 15 minutes.

Multiply the number of inches the water level

dropped by 4 to get an hourly drainage rate. Less than one inch per hour indicates poor drainage and could be the cause of your plant’s demise. Most plants need somewhere between 1 to 6 inches of drainage per hour.

If drainage is the issue, you may need to replace this section of the hedge with more moisture-tolerant plants or amend the soil in this whole section of the planting bed to improve drainage.

Email questions to Melinda Myers through her website,, or write her at P.O. Box 798, Mukwonago, WI 53149.

© 2015, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved.

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The Secret to Growing Champion Trees? Garden Club Talk Offers Tips

The Edgewood Garden Club will dish some secrets and other tips for keeping trees healthy and long lasting at an upcoming open meeting at the William H. Hall Free Library.

On Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 6:30 p.m., a program by the Rhode Island Tree Council will shed light on how “champion trees” come to be and feature pictures of some of the significant trees throughout Rhode Island.

These “Big Trees” have been chronicled in a series
of calendars produced by the Tree Council. In recent years, the Council has
partnered with the Cranston Neighborhood Tree Planting Program to encourage
homeowners in the city to plant new trees in their yards and maintain existing

Trees, in addition to enhancing landscapes, provide shade for natural
cooling of homes and yards and shelter for birds and beneficial insects.
Questions from the audience will be taken at the program’s end.

The meeting is free and open to the public. There
will a short business meeting before the presentation begins. Light
refreshments will be served beginning at 6 p.m.

Edgewood Garden Club was formed in 1933. Its membership, about 70 men and women
strong, draws from the Edgewood, Pawtuxet, and Gaspee Plateau neighborhoods of
Cranston and Warwick, but some members live in other areas of the two cities.

It promotes gardening education and environmentally sustainable practices, and
local civic beautification efforts. Its current Cranston projects include support
for the World War I Memorial at Grand Avenue, and the E.S. Rhodes School raised
bed gardening project. It also maintains gardens at the Village Playground on
Commercial Street and the Monument Garden at Stillhouse Cove.

The William H. Hall Memorial Library is located at 1825 Broad Street in Edgewood.

Photo: A huge Black oak located in the Walnut Hill section of Woonsocket was recently crowned the state champion Black oak by the RI Tree Council. Champion trees are the biggest trees of their kind based on a point measurement system. The Black oak is a towering specimen measuring 90 feet in height. It also has a 14’ 10” trunk circumference and a 100 foot crown spread, good enough for a 293 total point score.

The Champion Black oak was discovered by tree steward Harold Monroe of North Providence, while he was on a trip to visit friends in Bellingham, MA.

The sylvan beauty can be found growing in the rear of the Ballou Home For the Aged, 60 Mendon Road, Woonsocket, RI. For more information on champion trees go to or e-mail RITree at

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Library’s annual Fall Garden Party features planting tips

The Friends of the Bossier Library will have their annual Friends Fall Garden Party on Oct. 17 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Bossier Library Historical Center, 2206 Beckett Street in Bossier City. Registration will begin at 1:30 p.m.

Tony Thornton, manager of Ellis Home Garden will present “The Colorful and Edible Expectations of a Fall Garden.” Friends board member Ginger Bryan says, “This will be Tony’s third time to speak to the Friends, so please plan to come to hear (and to see) what he has to say about fall planting.”

Patrons look forward to this event which is presented in the spring and fall. It is a perfect time to learn from Tony about gardening, get first-hand tips and information about a variety of plants.

Those planning to attend are encouraged to bring along a friend or two. There will be raffle drawings for garden gifts and each guest will receive a free flowering plant.

Current Friends can renew their membership for the coming year. Membership forms will also be available for anyone interested in joining. “Your ideas and suggestions are welcomed. Your financial help will be used for programs the Friends of the Bossier Library present to the public and for support of the library. The Friends of the Bossier Library is a non-profit organization and your donation is tax deductible” (Friends of Bossier Library).

Our Library! Gateway to the Past, Bridge to the Future.

Make a note:

Upcoming Fall Festival schedules:

•Aulds, 742-2337

Tuesday, Oct. 27 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Theme is Under the Sea.

•Benton, 965-2751

Friday, Oct. 30 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Face painting, popcorn, Halloween movie (G-rated), and games.

Bossier Central, 746-1693 and History Center, 746-7717

Wednesday, Oct. 28 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., for all ages. Crafts, games, face painting, and candy tour.

East 80, 949-2665

Saturday, Oct. 31. Fun, games, and candy.

Plain Dealing, 326-4233

Friday, Oct. 30 from 3:30-5 p.m., for ages 0-12. Games and prizes.

Haughton, 949-0196

Thursday, Oct. 22 from 3:30-5 p.m., for teens ages 13-18. Luau theme with games and snacks.

•Tooke Memorial, 987-3915

Thursday, Oct. 29 from 3-5 p.m. Face painting, games, candy, and the Pet Education Project.

New books at the library


•“The Fall of Princes: A Novel” by Robert Goolrick

•“Chasing Justice: A Matt Royal Mystery” by H. Terrell Griffin

•“Hiding Places” by Erin Healy

•“Falling Like Snowflakes” by Denise Hunter

•“The Sweetest Rain” by Myra Johnson

•“Trial Run” by Thomas Locke

•“Miracle Drug” by Richard L. Mabry

•“The Child Garden: A Novel” by Catriona McPherson

•“Finale: A Novel” by Thomas Mallon

•“The Admissions: A Novel” by Meg Mitchell Moore.


•“2016: The Old Farmer’s Almanac” by Robert B. Thomas

•“In Search of the Paranormal” by Richard Estep

•“Ghosts: A Haunted History” by Lisa Morton

•“Rising Strong” by Brene Brown

•“O’s Little Book of Happiness” editors of The Oprah Magazine

•“Whole Body Intelligence” by Steve Sisgold

•“The Gratitude Diaries” by Janice Kaplan

•“Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A Memoir of Humor and Healing” by Reba riley

•“How’s Your Faith” by David Gregory

•“Green Gospel: The New World Religion” by Sheila Zilinsky.

Vickie Hardin is associate director of public relations at Bossier Parish libraries.

Article source:

Stepping into the pleasures of a well-designed garden path

“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in — what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”

— Victor Hugo, “Les Miserables”

A front walkway is all business. It’s the primary path, leading visitors from the curb or driveway to the front door. But a path that meanders through the garden is an invitation to explore.

“From a design perspective, at the start of a path, we want to create a focal point, like a personalized piece of art, whether it’s a gnome or sculpture,” says Steve Kooyenga, senior landscape architect at Chalet in Wilmette. “I want to go down the path and get a close look at that object or plant.”

Designing a path begins with determining whether the garden is formal or informal. A formal-style path typically includes straight lines. Informal paths tend to have soft curving lines.

“I take cues from the architecture and the material used on the house or found on the property,” says landscape designer Kristin Pategas of Hortus Oasis in Winter Park, Fla. “If there’s brick on the house or natural stone in the landscape, I may repeat those materials in the path.”

Secondary paths — those found in side yards and backyards — can be made from many materials, including mulch, brick pavers, clay pavers, crushed stone, flagstone, bluestone or a mixture of any of them.

If the path leads to a garage and you live in an area with snowy winters, you’ll want a material that allows for easy snow removal. In that case, something firm, like brick pavers or flat stones will be better than mulch or gravel.

“Here, in Central Florida, I like using pine needles in a pathway because it’s a byproduct of the paper industry, and it’s sustainable,” Pategas says. “If I use steppingstones in the shade, I leave cracks and crevices between them for dwarf mondo grass, which is beautiful.”

A common mistake is using small, smooth stones, Kooyenga says. “Rock, river gravel or pea gravel are the worst things you can use. They’re all little round stones and when you step onto them you sink in, and it’s uncomfortable. We’ll use gravel for pathways, but it needs to be crushed and broken into pieces.”

A better choice is crushed or “decomposed” granite, he says. “You can walk on it, ride a bike or move a wheelchair, and there’s no runoff of water — it soaks right down to the ground.” To keep weeds from emerging, Kooyenga recommends using landscape fabric to separate the stone from the soil.

Stephanie Cohen, co-author of “Fallscaping: Extending Your Garden Season Into Autumn” (Storey Publishing), gardens in Valley Forge, Pa., where she tends expansive beds and borders of perennials.

“Since I have a stone patio, I use crushed stone in the back for the path,” Cohen says. “In the front garden, I use flagstone, which is more formal.”

Cohen’s 2-acre garden is crisscrossed with gravel paths that lead through several outdoor rooms. “The paths are narrow, and that allows you to slow down and look at the plants,” she says.

When using steppingstones, Kooyenga recommends placing them 27 inches apart from the center of each one, whether they are made from concrete or natural stone.

“It doesn’t matter how big the stone is, if you place them 27 inches apart from the centers of one to another, that’s the normal cadence or step or stride people will take and not have to look down,” he says. “If you make them too close or too far apart, it’s uncomfortable.”

When setting stones or other materials in the lawn to serve as a path, Kooyenga recommends placing everything at ground level. “You don’t want a tripping hazard, and you don’t want gravel, soil or other things to spill onto the path,” he says.

Don’t overlook lawn as a path.

“In small, narrow urban yards, homeowners sometimes want grass and garden space, so the lawn becomes the path,” Kooyenga says. He often varies the size of an informal path so it widens from 2 feet to 4 feet to make the journey more intriguing.

“Whenever possible, I like to use a curving path because it creates movement and interest,” Pategas says. “I like when the path disappears around the corner so you can’t see the surprise ahead — like a specimen plant or a bench.”

Tips from the pros

Getting from point a to point b. “Think about how you’ll use the path,” Pategas says. “You may need just a narrow footpath, or perhaps it’s something wider to get to an entertainment space that’s away from the house. A wider path allows two people to walk alongside one another.”

Mixing materials. “Using more than one material can be dynamic and exciting,” Kooyenga says. “It can indicate a transition in the garden, but it can also be tricky. It can look like you ran out of one material. It has to look designed, but there’s no hard and fast rule.”

Create a destination. “You can create a little hidden garden element at the end or around the corner of a path,” Kooyenga says. “I like fun things that reveal themselves — for example, a little fountain tucked away behind shrubs or a bench.”

Nina Koziol is a freelance reporter.

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