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Archives for October 18, 2015

We’re talking raised beds, native plants, composting, recycling, growing and … – Yakima Herald

Your garden probably has many shades of the color green with all that chlorophyll in those leaves. But how “green” is it really?

We have been hearing so much lately about “going green” around the house with so many ideas that might help save our planet, but what about your garden? Are you thinking you might want to make some major changes in your garden for next year? This could be the perfect time to get started. Maybe you are thinking of raised beds; they can be created by using recycled material, from old wood to brick to concrete.

Take a stroll around your yard this fall and begin with a look at the design of your space. Have you included trees that might provide cooling shade during hot summer days? Look at your watering zones. Are plants that require the same amount of water grouped together? Are they in the right location for the amount of sun and shade they need?

There are many native plants and ornamental grasses that do so well here in the Yakima Valley. Have you included some of these in your garden landscape? Have you considered xeric or dry gardening? Do you have a drip irrigation system to save water? Do you put mulch around your plants to conserve water and hold down weeds?

Are you a composter who regularly puts both green and brown waste into bins to later put back into the soil? Begin now with grass clippings, spent flowers and vegetables. Learn more about composting by going to Consider planting a “cover crop” that can be turned in to your garden next spring to enrich the soil and decrease the need for chemical fertilizers in your garden.

In dealing with insects, do you always use a cultural method first before turning to chemicals, and if you do use chemicals, do you read the label and follow the instructions carefully? To learn about all methods that help with insect or disease problems, go to the WSU site called Hortsense at

How about recycling? Do you use materials you no longer need, such as brick, old lumber or broken pieces of concrete in the garden, or do you offer them to places such as Master Gardeners, or the local Habitat for Humanity Restore, instead of taking them to the landfill?

Do you have too much lawn that takes so much precise watering? You might consider taking out some of that turf grass and replacing it with ground cover. You could create an area to grow some healthy, organic food for your family in that found space.

You might grow some of your own food and preserve it by canning, freezing or dehydrating. If it isn’t possible to grow your own veggies and fruits, consider buying locally from growers or at one of our area farmers markets. What fun they are, and buying local gives you the freshest possible while using little fossil fuel to get it to you.

Fall is a great time to begin thinking green as you put this year’s garden to bed for the winter and begin planning for next year.

Q. I see so many of the ornamental kales coming into stores for fall decor, and I love to use them myself, but I’ve always wondered whether or not they are edible.

A. The ornamental kale you see right now is one of the many varieties available to us. They are edible, but not very desirable because of strong flavor and
toughness; you would
need strong teeth to chew these kales.

Good quality kale can be grown in your garden all through the season and even in winter if you have hoops and plastic to cover it. Kale likes cool weather and develops a sweetness with the frosty cold.

Many varieties are so colorful you could use them for decoration as well as in recipes.

Look for labeling on seed packets that refer to curly leaves, red veins, blue-green leaves, etc. Kale is loaded with nutrients and vitamins A, D and K as well as being easy to grow.


Are you interested in becoming a WSU Master Gardener?

If you would like to join in on the fun of learning, and sharing, the most current scientific information about the various aspects of gardening, we encourage you to apply to the WSU Master Gardener Program before the Nov. 15 deadline.

Information and application are available at the Master Gardener Clinic in the WSU Yakima County Extension Office, 2403 S. 18th St., Suite 100 in Union Gap. Phone: 509-574-1604; fax: 509-574-1601; email: or download the information and application from our website:


• WSU Extension Master Gardener Program is an organization of trained volunteers dedicated to horticulture and community service. The Master Gardener Walk-In Diagnostic Clinic operates from 9 to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; volunteers are also available at the Yakima Farmers’ Market on Sundays. Questions about gardening, landscaping or this program may be directed to the Master Gardener Clinic at 509-574-1604 or you may leave samples for identification at the WSU Extension office at 2403 S. 18th St., Suite 100, in Union Gap.

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VIDEO: Brenton L. Saunders, president and CEO of Allergan and Parkland grad

The largest deal in Israeli corporate history was hatched over lunch in the richly textured dining room of 3 West, a New American-style restaurant in Somerset County, New Jersey.

There, Brent Saunders, CEO of Botox-maker Allergan, met for 2 1/2 hours with two executives from generic drugmaker Teva who wanted to own Allergan’s generic drug business. Saunders had rejected previous approaches by Teva, but this time around, the price was high enough.

“They had rethought the value of our business and had a new valuation, a higher valuation than they had before,” Saunders said. “I remember thinking their logic was sound.”

Negotiations ensued in the days ahead and the deal was announced two weeks later, on July 27, with Israel-based Teva agreeing to pay $40.5 billion — the 10th-largest pharmaceutical transaction in history, according to data provider Dealogic.

Long before Saunders cemented his reputation as one of the biggest dealmakers in the pharmaceutical industry, he was a 13-year-old business owner cutting lawns in the South Whitehall Township neighborhood where he grew up.

SS Landscaping, as it came to be known, started off simply enough, with Saunders and his two business partners — his identical twin brother, Wayne, and a neighbor — doing lawn chores for a few neighbors. But the brothers always took it to the extreme.

On snowy days, they traded their push mowers for snow shovels, rising at 5 a.m. to clear customers’ driveways. Eventually, the business expanded into landscaping, collecting a few employees (fellow neighborhood boys) and more than 50 clients along the way. The business even had a company car: a 1975 Chevy wood-paneled station wagon with 100,000 miles on it.

With their earnings, the brothers saved for college, funded ski trips and even bought a Trans Am. Before college, they flipped the business to a professional landscaper for a few thousand dollars.

“I think success breeds future success,” said Saunders, a 1988 Parkland High School graduate who was inducted into the school’s Wall of Honor in 2013. “It’s just something that you develop skills in terms of managing customers and leading people and taking great pride in what you do.”

Now 45, Saunders is no longer pushing mowers in the Lehigh Valley. He has rocketed to fame in the pharmaceutical industry through a string of blockbuster deals over the last 51/2 years, selling two companies for a combined $37 billion and acquiring another for $70.5 billion. And that’s not including the Teva deal.

Since 2010, he has put together deals for a combined $150 billion.

“We applaud Brent Saunders, who, in less than six months [as CEO], has helped to bring about in my opinion one of the best pharma mergers in the last decade,” legendary investor Carl Icahn said in a statement following the $28 billion sale in 2014 of one pharmaceutical company, New York-based Forest Laboratories.

A February cover of Forbes dubbed Saunders “Wall Street’s Drug Dealer,” painting him as a leader who prioritizes shareholder value over inventing new drugs.

At Allergan, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, for tax reasons but operating in Parsippany, N.J., Saunders is transforming the company into a leader in what he calls “growth pharma.” In the second quarter, sales increased for 12 of the company’s top 15 global brands, which include anti-wrinkle treatment Botox, chronic dry eye drug Restasis and high blood pressure tablet Bystolic. The company expects revenues of about $15 billion this year.

The Teva deal, expected to close in the first quarter next year, will reload Allergan’s balance sheet, and Saunders soon will have the firepower for another big deal.

It’s likely he won’t waste much time. Despite his eight-figure compensation last year, he rarely goes on vacation and detests quiet time. Colleagues of past and present say his self-awareness, drive and intelligence make him an effective leader — though Saunders struggles to explain why he’s drawn to such roles.

“I don’t know. I often think about that,” he said. “I tend to believe that if I’m going to be involved in something, I want to give it my all. … If I’m in, I’m all in. And, if I’m all in, I try to bring my best, which in many cases, winds up being the leader of the activity.”

He’s largely avoided controversy to this point, though last year, the New York attorney general filed suit against Actavis, later renamed Allergan, for its effort to convert patients from an older Alzheimer’s drug to a newer, pricier version before generic competition moved in. After a federal judge ruled against the company, it immediately appealed — ultimately to no avail.

Despite Saunders’ local ties, his visibility on cable TV — he’s a regular on CNBC’s “Mad Money” — and stature in the pharmaceutical industry, many Lehigh Valley business leaders have never heard of him. While Saunders is involved in supporting his family’s charity work at St. Luke’s University Health Network and Allergan has a small sales office in Center Valley, he lives and works in New Jersey.

“Sometimes these type of folks fly under the radar,” said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp.

In 20 years, Saunders has tackled overbilling issues at teaching hospitals, rooted out bad practices at Schering-Plough and, in just the last few years, made his case for being one of the nation’s top young CEOs.

Early entrepreneur

When Brent and Wayne Saunders were in Jewish Day School in South Whitehall — roughly 6 or 7 years old — their father, Charles Saunders, got a glimpse of one of their first business enterprises.

One day, when it was a little too quiet upstairs, Charles checked on the twins to see what was going on. He found the boys diligently at work in the bathroom, shaving soap and melting it in the sink with hot water.

“They were going to make shampoo and put it in bottles and go around the neighborhood and try to sell it,” recalled Charles Saunders, a retired urologist who now chairs St. Luke’s board of trustees.

Charles and his wife, Sheila, who co-founded Senior Solutions, the Lehigh Valley’s first geriatric-care management agency, raised their three children — Brent, Wayne and daughter Reed — on Cedarwood Road in South Whitehall. While the children received everything they needed, their parents also instilled a strong work ethic in them. Growing up, if they wanted something extra — like expensive clothes or a car — they had to work for it.

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New center in GR helps youth in need

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — On the first of the month, a new center opened in Grand Rapids to help youth in need of help.

The Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation is located on Madison and College Grove and is a partnership between the Bethany Christian Services Youth Department, Building Bridges Professional Services, and Double O Supply Craftsmen. It serves around 260 youth each year.

“Probably in 2016, we’ll probably add an additional hundred so we could be up to 360 or 400. A lot of the youth are labeled underprivileged or at risk, but we really look at the assets of our young people,” said Justin Beene, the director of the center.

The center is inside of a 120-year-old building and it took about eight months to get the building up to par. Beene said a lot of the work was done by the students the center serves.

“In this building, the landscaping was done by a lot of the youth, the painting, the doors and the floors, all this renovation of a vacant building,” Beene said.

Beene grew up in a low-income neighborhood in Grand Rapids and wanted to provide a program to give the youth something he didn’t have.

“I always had a dream of creating a place where I wouldn’t have to feel less than other people, that I wouldn’t have to feel subhuman because I was poor,” said Beene.

The center offers services including GED training, vocational training and certifications, mentorship, housing support, and employment skills training.

“We also have about 80 students every summer that we hire here locally and then we send out to work all over the city, different jobs of their interest,” said Beene.

Beene said the center serves a wide range of young people.

The Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation

“Sometimes we see youth who are in a major crisis. We see young people who are actively homeless and they don’t tell us for the first two months, but they’re living under bridges or living in the streets or sleeping outside of a mission or in the mission, and then we see some young people who again present very well and everything seems great, they seem to have a little bit of money, they have a car, but we realize there’s severe physical abuse or sexual abuse in their lives. We see young people from all over the spectrum. Often times they come to us because there’s some need because they’re looking for some type of help, but that’s not necessarily always the case,” Beene said.

Jameilla Ross, 20, is one of the students at the center. Four years ago, Ross was placed in foster care, became a mother and was struggling in high school.

“When you’re like 16 and you get into foster care, it’s kind of hard to find like foster homes or programs that you can do. I’m a teenager who had difficulties and like most teens, I needed help,” Ross said.

She took a life skills class for Bethany Christian Services and then got involved in the Youth Build Program at the GR Center for Community Transformation. Since then, she’s passed her GED, and now works for the center’s employment program as a barista.

“It’s our coffee shop. We’re going to call it the ‘Rising Grinds Cafe.’ If I didn’t have this job or anything like that, I don’t know what I would be doing right now,” Ross said.

In January, she plans to start college at Grand Rapids Community College and then transfer to Ferris State University to study psychology.

“College has always been my dream anyway so I didn’t know how I was going to get there, but I was,” said Ross.

Ross is aging out of the foster care program and said the center has also provided resources to help her.

“I asked for all the resources I can because I’m trying to move, get my own place, and I’m trying to get a car and I have everybody here to answer any question I would ever have,” said Ross.

She said the center has changed her life for the better, and has given her the tools to have a bright future for her and her son.

“It makes me think of how I’m going to leave my mark on this world. I think that’s what drives me the most. I just want to know when I leave, how am I going to be remembered, and this program has made it where I just I can put all my effort into the smallest things and it’ll be a memory that someone else is going to remember,” Ross said.

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Growing a life after incarceration

Part of the outdoor courtyard at San Francisco’s Juvenile Hall has been turned into a garden.

Three boys on a recent Monday sat at a picnic table underneath barbed wire to prepare basil and spinach pesto with oregano-roasted tomato garnish. Two boys in jail garb made lavender sachets, while another transplanted Chrysanthemums.

When they head inside, the kids put their thoughts in poetry and writing.

“I want to see something beautiful come from this ugly situation,” one boy, 16, wrote. “I love to see florescent, vibrant colors somewhere among all this white, gray and faded purple that fills our hours. I love to smell something fresh and good instead of chemicals and body odor.”

What began with a handful of seeds inside the detention-center classroom of a pair of San Francisco Unified School District teachers has become 16 plant beds, a fresh harvest every week and — with any luck — valuable life experience for youth offenders.

On an average day, about 50 to 90 teens go to school inside The City’s Juvenile Hall. While the usual stay is about three months, some kids find themselves incarcerated for periods of one to two years, according to Juvenile Justice Center teachers.

“They told us that what they felt they needed here was a space where they could care for living things,” said Megan Mercurio, an English teacher who started the program in 2010 with special education teacher Constance Walker.

While there are no numbers to show whether the Juvenile Justice Garden Project lowers the detention center’s recidivism rate, the head of Juvenile Hall said each program helps prevent kids from returning.

“The vast majority of kids that come through our doors don’t come back,” said Luis Recinos, director of the Juvenile Justice Center. “I believe that the programs that we are implementing… have an effect on recidivism and keep the kids from coming back.”

The teachers hope that the kids, aged 12 to 18, learn empathy, responsibility and alternatives to violence.

The garden began with a classroom of girls writing about, and caring for, a few plants. Then in late 2013, the garden moved into the outer courtyard where there’s space for planting, growing, harvesting and then preparing food. The move also meant boys were able to participate.

With the help of youth offenders at The City’s Log Cabin Ranch, a detention center for repeat offenders in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the courtyard was outfitted with handmade picnic tables and garden beds. The Log Cabin Ranch boys built and installed them at Juvenile Hall with guidance from the San Francisco Conservation Corps.

Staff and volunteers at Juvenile Hall also do their part to help. Mercurio and Walker on a recent Monday were assisted by the librarian Rachel Kinnon, a paid gardener named Laura McDonnell and Lori Caldwell, a professional gardening consultant who agreed to help out.

“It’s so well constructed, which is exactly what these kids need,” said Heidi Anderson, a spokesperson for SFUSD who visited the garden. “What these kids have experienced before here is a lot of chaos in their lives.”

One boy at the garden reaffirmed that.

“This is nice,” he said. “My side of San Francisco is…sketchy, no flowers. Everything is dead.”

The garden has also drawn praise from Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Allen Nance, whose department has approved an expansion of the garden to the other side of the courtyard.

“I could not be more thrilled at the opportunity to provide detained youths with the ability to be actively engaged with a gardening experience that is educational, emotionally soothing, and a healthy alternative to the structured routines of daily life in Juvenile Hall,” Nance said in an email.

The expansion means more plant beds built and installed by Log Cabin Ranch boys on the other end of the courtyard along a hillside. A landscaper, Dirty Hoes Landscaping, has already mapped out a design for the area, free of cost.

But Mercurio and Walker don’t plan to stop there.

The teachers are in charge of their own funding through a fiscal sponsor and were awarded grants from funders, including the TomKat Foundation, to sustain the program thus far. The garden costs about $1,000 to $2,000 a month, Mercurio said. They’re looking for some $50,000 more in the future.

Those funds would cover costs for a greenhouse, an outdoor kitchen and a Juvenile Justice Center farmer’s market, among other things. Mercurio and Walker also hope to include more students in the future.

Anderson, the school district’s spokesperson, said the teenagers in Juvenile Hall are gaining experience with the garden program they usually wouldn’t get at middle and high schools in The City.

“Most of our school gardens are at elementary level,” said Anderson. She hopes SFUSD will expand its ecoliteracy program to include funding for youth at Juvenile Hall, who are still considered students of the school district.

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Lush landscaping turns a pond into a paradise

“This is my de-stressor, my salvation,” she says. “People say, ‘Isn’t it a lot of work?’ But it’s not work when it’s your passion. It’s great exercise. That’s so much better than going to the gym.”

Cassell and her husband, Marty, had the pond installed behind their St. Charles, Ill., home on land that previously was used for a dog run and a volleyball court. They did plenty of homework before the first shovel hit the dirt.

“We went to 10 years of pond walks,” she says.

One thing they noticed, when they found a pond they really liked, invariably it had been built by the same company, St. Charles-based Aquascape, a designer and builder of ponds, water gardens and other water features, and designed by the same person, Brian Helfrich. That made the choice easy for the Cassells. They then did more research, talked to people and took free classes Aquascape offers. Only then did the project begin.

“There were no drawings,” Cassell says. “It was the vision that decided the design. There’s an old Russian proverb that translates something like, ‘The work will show you how.’ That’s how this was built. Each step shows you the next step.”

“Jan and Marty wanted a one-of-a-kind water feature, and they left us on our own,” says Chris Hanson, a construction foreman at Aquascape. “The hardest thing to figure out was the plumbing.”

Aquascape’s work on the pond took about a month. When the project was completed in spring 2008, the Cassells had a big waterfall, a bog garden, smaller streams and the pond. Jason Lenox of Ponds Inc. of Elgin installed two fire pits and a patio and the paths that pulled it all together. The entire project required between 150 and 200 tons of granite and limestone.

Impressive — but Jan Cassell’s efforts took it to a higher level.

“We tell people, we can build you a beautiful pond, but if you don’t have the landscape … ” Hanson says, his voice trailing off.

That’s where Cassell excels. The 40-by-20-foot water feature is surrounded by a variety of carefully chosen trees, shrubs, flowers and other plants, annuals and perennials alike. The result is a natural-looking environment.

“The pond is a sculpture-free zone,” Cassell says. “That’s important to consider: Are you going to have mermaids, birds on a stick, gazing balls? We’ve seen a lot of ponds that are beautiful but are destroyed by the cuteness factor.”

A pond owner can also break some rules. “Certain plants only grow in the shade,” she says. “But if you put their feet in water, they can grow in the sun — regular impatiens, New Guinea impatiens. You can plant hostas in the water.”

Care is also taken to choose plants that benefit wildlife — such as plants with berries, seedpods or flowers that attract birds (echinacea for finches, for example, and hibiscus for hummingbirds).

“We (choose plants) with one thought,” Cassell says. “What can they do for the wildlife?”

The ponds that Aquascape builds and designs vary in price. An 8-by-11-foot pond, for example, with some plants in and around it, starts between $8,000 and $11,000, depending on the type of rock and other factors. An 11-by-16-foot water feature would cost between $15,000 and $20,000.


In addition to the plants already mentioned, here are some that Jan Cassell added in and around the pond.

Weeping redbud: Also known as Eastern redbud, the small tree has branches and leaves that grow to the ground, but Cassell cuts them so its trunk is visible.

Ginkgo biloba: The tree provides interest in the fall when its leaves turn a bright yellow.

Hibiscus: Red, pink and white versions, all attractive to hummingbirds.

Water lilies: Cassell has two kinds, perennials and tropicals, in the water. She let the tropicals overwinter last year, but they’re not as robust as she’d like. “Not worth keeping,” she says. “I’d rather start with new ones.”

Potted plants: Cassell places several potted plants around the perimeter of the pool when the weather allows, then brings them inside in the winter, where they’re kept under lights for 16 hours a day. “They’ll scrape by,” she says. Other plants that don’t require so much pampering go into the sun room.

Northern sea oats: Cassell loves this ornamental grass with its fluttering seed heads, but it is an enthusiastic reseeder. “If (I let) the seeds drop I’ll be pulling those things forever,” she says. “So I have to cut the seed heads.”

Marsh marigolds: Native to marshes, swamps and wet meadows, these perennials offer beautiful yellow blooms from spring into summer.

Cattails: There are three kinds — miniature, standard and variegated — in the water, says Cassell. She does not get plants from the wild. “We do not introduce plants,” she says. “There could be critters, parasites, things that can harm the fish.”

Papyrus: Easy to grow, this sedge in Cassell’s pond comes in several varieties and sizes.

Pickerel: Growing to 2 feet, this perennial features spikes of soft blue flowers.

‘Gro-Low’ sumac: Also known as fragrant sumac, this small shrub can take a lot of pruning, Cassell says. It can grow in the sun or shade.

Ajuga, Irish moss, miniature sedum: These are just three of several plants Cassell places between steppingstones.

Junipers: Cassell plants these evergreen shrubs between some of the rocks around the pond but is careful to trim them to keep them in control. In fact, these days she spends most of her time weeding and trimming. “We’ve basically run out of space (for new plants),” she says. “You do have to replace things. It’s not like I look forward to something not making it through the winter, but if that happens, it’s an opportunity.”

Smaller-scale solution

A homeowner who lacks the space or the funds for a large water feature can still get many of the benefits on a smaller scale.

A pondless waterfall — just what the name implies — recirculates water from an underground reservoir. It’s essentially maintenance-free, says Aquascape’s Hanson.

“They can be from 2 feet high to one like we did last year, 27 feet tall,” he says. Capacity can be as small as 50 gallons.

A pondless waterfall means no fish to take care of — a desirable feature for some people — but still offers what people want most, the sound of running water. Pondless waterfalls from Aquascape start between $5,000 and $7,000, and get more expensive the bigger and longer they are.

“The nice thing about them, they can take on a footprint of 6 by 6 (feet) and look very nice. They can be as nice as something that’s 60 by 100,” Hanson says. “You can really adapt them by size and budget constraints.”

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From bulbs to beautiful

Planting tips

• Read the label. Most bulbs will provide excellent cultivation tips.

• Wait until the soil is between 45 and 55 degrees. You needn’t use a thermometer to tell, but you can. Usually that means night-time temperatures consistently in the 40s. Soil tends to hold heat longer than the air.

• Dig a hole according to package directions, generally about six to eight inches down and sprinkle a little 10-10-10 fertilizer at bottom. Bulb planters are handy special tools for the purpose, handy if you’re planting dozens, but  a trowel will do just fine.

• Drop in the bulb, sprouty (pointy) side up. It doesn’t really matter, but upside down bulbs will take longer to break the soil.

• Cover with soil. When the ground freezes, add 2-3 inches of mulch if the soil remains bare.

• While you’re at it, sprinkle a little fertilizer around already-planted bulbs for a boost, if you can remember where you put them.

• And so you will remember these bulbs, mark where you put them – you can recycle those little plastic coffee stirrers or wooden popsicle sticks for this purpose. Hint: popsicle sticks can be written on with a marker to help you remember the variety.    

When there’s a little nip in the air and frost gathers on the pumpkin, it can mean only one thing to a die-hard gardener.

Time to make spring.

A beautiful spring, too, as in the beauty that can only come from flowering plants that start from bulbs – those crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips that spread vibrant color and sometimes fragrance through warming air.

Trouble is, in the Fort Wayne area, if you’re looking to buy more than basic bulbs at the big box shop, your pickin’s might be a wee bit slim.

Despite the fact that now through mid-November is high season for buying and planting bulbs, several area florist and garden centers contacted by The Journal Gazette last week say they’ve stopped selling bulbs for fall planting.

In Fort Wayne, among them are Galbraith’s Landscaping Garden Centers, McNamara at Sand Point, Broadview Florist Greenhouses and Young’s Greenhouse and Florist Shop. None have bulbs in stock, although Young’s owner Brian Young says he’ll order them.

Other Fort Wayne garden centers – Stuckey’s Greenhouses on Tyler Avenue and DeWald Gardens – have already closed for the season. 

Amanda Henry, in sales at McNamara, says part of the reason for the lack of stock is ordering patterns in the industry. Bulbs are sold in large quantities, she says, and demand doesn’t match.

“I’m not saying we don’t get inquiries, but it’s not enough to justify (carrying) them,” she says of spring bulbs. “There’s no real profit in it for us.”

Young says people tend to forget about planting bulbs in the fall, when they’re busy with other yard chores. Every year, people ask about bulbs in the springtime, when that’s not the right season, he says.

“I guess the unfortunate thing is that the box stores give us such competition. They have the huge buying power, and they give us so much competition on price that it may just be that the independents won’t be selling bulbs anymore,” Young says.

Racquel Geller, in sales at Arbor Farms in Fort Wayne, says that business still stocks bulbs, available as single specimens and in bulk bags favored by landscapers. Bulbs give a pretty big bang for the gardening buck, she says – at her business, 20 daffodils, for example, can be had for $10.99 and 10 crocuses or six hyacinths for $5.99. Single tulip and other bulbs cost $1 apiece.

She keeps baskets of them near the cash register as “add-on items” – impulse buys, like mints at diners and chewing gum at supermarkets.

“I don’t really load up on them,” Geller says of bulbs. She says she sticks to relatively ordinary varieties “because it’s hard to know what’s going to be popular” from one year to the next.

The lack of demand is even more surprising considering that the price of one springtime tulip in a pot is often five times the price of the unplanted bulb, Henry of McNamara points out. Yet that is how many people get their bulbs, she says.

Henry says bulb quality can vary widely. She and others in the industry note that when it comes to bulbs, bigger is usually better because size indicates more food in storage for flowering. Also, while bulbs properly stored will last, she says, it’s difficult to know how they’re treated by a mass retailer.

Mass retailers also may not stock the more unusual varieties.

She says she now relies on specialty growers and Internet or mail order for bulbs for her own garden. 

Nonetheless, when the air is apple crisp – and soil has reached a minimum of 55 degrees – nothing can compare with dropping a few new bulbs, sprouty side up, into the ground.

“You have to think about what’s to come,” Young says.

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In the Garden: Fall lawn care tips

Posted Oct. 17, 2015 at 10:45 AM

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How to declutter your garden: Emma Townshend’s tips on clearing out

A friend of mine just joined the world’s poshest gym. Normal gyms, they take your money and then someone comes round perhaps once a session, says hello to you, and occasionally gives you helpful training tips such as “That rowing machine is broken” or “Jeremy Kyle is funny, huh?” My friend’s posh gym, on the other hand, gives you a heart monitor. Worse, they give you a heart monitor that can SEND EMAILS. One you have to put on when you start a workout, which measures how hard you’ve worked, and emails not just you but the gym boss (the gym boss!), to let you know when you’ve managed to clock a session of “sufficient effort”. And also, conversely, when you haven’t. 

It’s amazing how differently we behave when we know someone is looking. Two weeks ago, my friend Louis, a landscaper, came over to help me do some garden clearance. Or, as we were calling it by about two hours into the process, “heavy horticultural hoarding therapy”. “Don’t cut it all,” I started out saying, early in the day, “just cut a bit, and let me see how it looks.” Louis would patiently wield the secateurs and then I’d stand there, practically sobbing about the change. 

I found excuses galore: “My mum gave me that!”; “I grew this from a cutting”; “The birds/bees/moths like that one…” I compromised, I bargained: “You can cut the really long branches off, but please can we leave the rest?” I composed long apologia: “I know, it’s never looked good and it blocks all the light, but it would take ages to grow another one that big.” “Emma,” Louis would reply, “this plant is knackered. No matter how we prune it, it’s never going to look good.”

My breakthrough came on my first run to the dump. I sat in a queue with a car full of tippings and thought about how the garden looked to Louis. Jesus, I said to myself at the traffic lights, I’m like one of those people on those programmes about hoarders who go through all the dump boxes, taking things back out. I’m one of those pitiful people who can’t let go of anything. Who spends the whole programme turning tiny, self-involved circles around the person trying to help them. I drove back feeling chastened. I stepped out the back door and looked at the small area we’d managed to clear. “Let’s cut more,” I said, without regret. 

One of my biggest worries about dramatically changing the garden was the impact it could have on our local wildlife. To the east of where I live, there are 10 tidy gardens in a row: the kind of gardens that offer very little for birds and insects, bar a peanut feeder. My garden has always been overgrown, which makes it a good stopping-off point for more unusual garden birds, such as long-tailed tits, nuthatches and goldfinches. It also harbours toads, spiders and lots of beetles and bugs. So compromise was required in what we were about to do. For instance, we drastically cut back an elaeagnus (or silverberry), whose ugliness has always perplexed me, but watching the bees visiting the fragrant autumn blossom, I decided that it deserved a stay of (total) execution. 

Now, the garden contains about 50 per cent less stuff. An elder tree which had spent most of the year as a rolling buffet for fat wood pigeons is gone, hacked by axes. My view of other people’s loft extensions is still limited by frondy green, but now it’s (mostly) frondy green I rather like, such as a big palm and the fresh green of magnolia leaves. And happily for me, there are still butterflies; this weekend a Meadow Brown – which I’m going to take as a sign that our hard work on clearance has been noted.

Tips on clearing out

Get a skip

They do cost a couple of hundred quid, and more if parking permits are in operation. But that does give you an incentive to fill the thing and it eliminates runs to the dump. 

Call in a friend

Get someone who likes plants and will be gently encouraging. But, conversely, not someone who’ll take your chuck-outs back out of the skip. 

Sharpen your shears

Don’t try to clear your garden with blunt tools you inherited from your grandma. Either sharpen up or buy some Felcos (£33.49 for a pair of Model 2s,

Call in an expert

For larger clearance, there is nothing like a trained and licensed professional wielding a chainsaw. Not least because it offers great entertainment.


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  • Wildlife
  • Decluttering

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Get your garden ready for winter with these tips

What to do with your geraniums, shrubs and hydrangeas for the winter?

Baie D’Urfé landscape designer Kelley O’Rourke shared her tips for getting your garden ready for winter this week on CBC Montreal’s Daybreak.


Some annuals like geraniums, ivy and potato vines can be overwintered — a term used to describe plants that can wait out the winter and come back in the spring. 

But many can’t survive once the ground is covered in frost. O’Rourke advises removing the more tender plants from the garden before the first frost. Leave them by the side of the road, and the city should pick them up.

She says the earth can be saved and left in the garden to use next year.

Cleaning the garden

Make sure to remove all diseased plants or anything with mildew, fungus or black spots on them — otherwise the infected plants could come back to haunt your garden in the spring.

“When you’re cleaning your gardens, really rake them out. Turn the soil,” she says. Doing this will help clean out any bugs or pests you don’t want surviving the winter.

She also advises to cover any particularly weedy areas with a black plastic tarp.

“Leave it into spring and it will kill seedlings coming up,” she says.

As for prepping your perennials for the winter, O’Rourke advises waiting until the ground is hard before cutting them down to about three inches.

Fall planting

O’Rourke says gardeners can go ahead and plant perennials, shrubs and trees, as long as you make sure to water them well and then cover the roots with leaves or mulch to protect them over the winter.

“Now’s a good time to put bulbs in. You can even do that after the frost,” she says.

She also advises covering tender shrubs with fencing and creating cylinders filled with leaves to protect vulnerable trees and shrubs during the winter months.

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