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Archives for October 22, 2015

Peoria Holding Public Meeting for Riverfront Park

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Farm spotlight: Donald Cochran at Young Road Tree Farm

Rockmart Farmers Market

Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2015 10:30 am

Farm spotlight: Donald Cochran at Young Road Tree Farm

Editor’s Note: Fourth of a series spotlighting local and area farmers, who participate in the Rockmart Farmers Market.

When you visit the Rockmart Farmers Market you can’t miss Donald Cochran.

Donald usually wears a straw hat with bird feathers sticking out of it and always has something to say that will make you laugh. Donald brings a lot of variety to the market; he plants spring, summer and fall varieties of fruits and vegetables each year. His farm is best known for the gorgeous Christmas trees grown there. At the market, he also showcases his beautiful tomatoes and thornless blackberries.

Cochran grew up in Taylorsville where his father was a farmer. He decided at an early age that farming would not be his chosen career.

After retiring from Lockheed, this congenial man realized he needed an exercise plan in order stay healthy and active. He chose farming. His exercise plan has turned into a passion.

He uses experiences remembered from his youth when he spent time with his family on the farm. He continues to add ideas he has developed.

He has discovered that mulch, collected from his sons landscaping business, helps grow all of the crops. Produce is irrigated from a small pond located nearby. Donald has several fields planted throughout his property where the best soils are found.

Cochran has thornless blackberries growing on every fence seen on his property. During a visit to the farm, you can see evidence of the pride he takes in his 60+ acres. Now 75 years old, Donald says each growing season closes he thinks to himself ‘I am done with this” but as February and March return he “gets a yearning to smell diesel fuel and see freshly turned soil”.

When blackberry and tomato season returns, visit Donald’s table for some delicious fruit and a few good laughs.


Thursday, October 22, 2015 10:30 am.

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Joining the Millionaires’ Club

 Taking your company to the next level. That was the focus on Steve and Jeff Rak’s presentation during LANDSCAPES on Wednesday.

Titled, “Managing to millions,” the brothers, who make up Rak Consulting, spoke on how contractors can work to get their company up to that million dollar mark.

In order to get your company to $1 million, Steve said it’s important to first work on getting your company to the next level. You can’t reach $1 million without working up from where you are.

Steve suggests seeing if your local landscaping association offers facility tours of other companies in the area. You can network, but you’ll also see ideas you may want to implement at your own company.

“Facility tours are such an inspiration,” Steve said. “We went on tons of facility tours and got a lot of ideas.”

Steve also pointed out that his company, Southwest Landscape Management, and Jeff’s company, Land Creations Landscaping, are not to be seen as the best.

“We’re not here to pontificate and say how great our companies are,” Steve said. “We’ve got a lot to do, just like everybody else.”

In order to start getting your company to the next level, you need to ask yourself the question: “Why do I want to get to a million?’ Everyone has a different reason, but you have to answer that question before you can start setting goals for your company. When you set the goals, make them realistic, make sure everyone on your team knows what they are, write them down and then look at them every day, and ask yourself “What am I going to do today to get closer to my goals?”

Jeff gave a few pointers on how to sell your business, which is what everyone has to do to get to the next level. One of the things he mentioned was that you need a great portfolio of your work. Jeff has a few portfolios, but one of them is a photo book he put together with an online program. He passed it around to attendees and explained that not only does he take it to jobs, but he also gives a copy to every homeowner whose yard was featured in it, as well as giving one to his dentist, hairdresser, etc.

“It’s a nice little tool because it tells a story,” Jeff said. “It really gives an opportunity for people to see what you do.”

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Redding struggling to hit water conservation goals

REDDING, Calif. –

The city of Redding is not saving enough water, according to Redding Water Utilities Manager John Wendele.

The city’s conservation rate so far in October is just 13.19 percent, far below the state mandated 36 percent. According to Redding Water Utility, since June 1, city customers have reduced water use by 28.36 percent. 

“This is a plea for help,” said Wendele. “We were doing pretty well in June, July and August, but our numbers started falling off in September and they’re way off this month.”

Redding already has tiered rates, citation warnings, and even water patrols. Now, it’s asking city water customers to cut back by watering one or two days per week instead of three.

“Our landscapes don’t need nearly as much water,” Wendele explained pointing to cooler weather and higher chances of rain. “We don’t need to be watering three days a week.”

Ellen Brammer is the yard manager at Wyntour Gardens, and she agrees with Wendele. She’s worked at the nursery on Airport Road for 10 years, helping people with their lawns and gardens. 

“They’re not going to look in their prime, but they’ll survive,” Brammer explained.

For people worried about their lawn, Brammer suggests they run the sprinkler twice a week, but water them a little longer than normal.

“If they increase their time a little bit if they get a deeper soak on the lawn and their trees and shrubs they should be okay with that minimal amount,” Brammer said.

Brammer suggests extending watering time by 10 extra minutes and watering deeper for trees and shrubs. 

A city ordinance doesn’t allow Public Works to mandate people cut back on watering days to less than three times a week, but Wendele is pleading with the public to take matters into their own hands.

The city also suggests people adjust their timer settings to 70 percent or less of normal. As well as replacing lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping.

“Everybody is tired of the drought. Every is weary. Everybody is drought weary,” Wendele stated.

Wendele said people have been making a strong effort to conserve, but with the cooler months coming, it’s going to be an uphill battle.

“I wouldn’t call it frustration, we’re just getting a little tired,” Wendele said.

The city much reach a 36 percent reduction by February, or it could face a $10,000 fine by the state. The city would foot the bill, but Wendele said it could impact water prices in the future.

Here’s a reminder of the ongoing water restrictions in effect for City of Redding customers.

– Even numbered addresses may water on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday only.

– Odd-numbered addresses may water on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday only.

– No on is permitted to water outdoor landscapes on any Monday.

– Permitted time to water is between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. only.

– Overwatering to the point of run-off is prohibited.

– Conspicuous watering of streets and sidewalks are prohibited.

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Packard a wealth of horticultural knowledge

e-mail this article link to a friendprint this articleFacebookTwitterDiggShareLarger | SmallerGENEVA — There are many books in the house of John Packard, former park commission chairman and an active, self-described life-long learner.

“I don’t think anybody can claim to have read them all,” he laughed.

Or was he kidding? Just after he said that, Packard appeared to notice that part of the household library was contained in one of the kitchen cabinets. “I guess that’s filled with books now, too,” he said.

Recently, the commission planted a burr oak tree in Charlotte Peterson Park, Highway H, to honor Packard for his 10 years as a commissioner.

He was chairman for almost half that time, before he resigned in 2012.

Three years later, commissioners still consult Packard on projects.

“He’s a walking library on plants,” Chairman John DeBaere said.

Packard has been a professional horticulturalist since 2002, which is the same year he joined the park commission.

He runs Botanica Fine Gardens and Landscapes — a horticulturally-focused enterprise which covers everything from prairie restoration to food production, plus landscaping and gardening — with his wife, Danniel.

That business started in 2002, after the dissolution of Mother Nature and Sons, which began with a partnership between the Packards and Mark Olson in the mid 1990s.

At the time, Mother Nature and Sons was a landscaping company with new ideas.

“We did natural landscape design, which was just coming into prominence, and organic maintenance, which was pretty much unheard of at the time,” Packard said.

“We were pioneering. We were inventing a brand, so to speak, and you know, now, there’s lots of companies that do natural landscape design.”

Packard is a self-taught horticultural expert.

“I had lots of mentors,” he said. “My old business partner, Mark Olson, lots of different nursery men, going to conferences, the UW Extension (program). Part of it was just sitting at the kitchen table, after the kids went to bed, reading.”

The commission

In 2002, the revived park commission’s first major project was the beautification of Charlotte Peterson Park.

Prior to the project, a rundown resale shop and an abandoned gas station flanked the entrance way to the Lake Como subdivision.

“People forget just how horrendous that corner was,” said Packard.

The commission tackled numerous projects while he served on it, including rehabilitating the Duck Lake Nature Trail and establishing Korona Park.

Packard believes the commission has come a long way, but there is still plenty to do.

“It would be nice if we had better accessibility to Duck Lake Nature Trail, (and) Korona Park, most people don’t even know that exists,” he said.

But serving on local government, in any capacity, requires a great deal of time, and usually, not a lot of credit. “Whether you’re an elected official or you’re just a volunteer working on the police commission, it’s a thankless task,” said Packard.

But he believes it’s a rewarding one.

“I met some wonderful people over the years,” said Packard, naming past and present commissioners such as Carol McLernon, Lynn Wesolek, Mike Sarton, Dawn Schiefelbein and DeBaere. “The list is endless.”

Packard said he resigned for a few reasons.

With 10 years being a long time, he also felt like with his horticultural experience he overshadowed other commissioners.

“It was a good group that was cohesive, hard-working. They knew what they were doing, so it was a good opportunity for me to get out of the way, so they could assert their strengths.”

The important lesson he learned was that everyone deserves to be heard.

“There’s a lot of different people out there, with a lot of different experiences, and they come together in this democratic body and they’re taking time out of their lives to be there. They deserve a listen,” Packard said.

He added that he tries to bring that into his family life, and his professional one.

“Just shut up and get out of the way, and hear what people have to say. And, at the end of the day, I think government or whatever your business, is better for that.”

Harmony with nature

Tai Chi is also why Packard resigned from the commission.

He became a certified instructor in 2011 and started Tai Chi Lake Geneva. Packard also teaches Tai Chi for the Williams Bay Recreation Department.

Packard also became a beekeeper. In addition to the apiary on his own 2 1/2 acre farm in the town, he has a hive at another farm in Hebron, Illinois.

All of his endeavors — even Tai Chi — springs from his passion for horticulture. Tai Chi follows Taoism, said Packard, which is “all about living in harmony with nature.”

The burr oak is Packard’s favorite type of tree, an emblem for Midwestern life.

“People moved out here, and this was not an easy place to live 150, 200 years ago — long winters, that kind of thing,” he said. “But you drive around Wisconsin in the winter, and you look out at the barren farm fields, there’s often a big, old, venerable burr oak standing there in the middle of the field, toughing it out.”

He hopes the tree grows to be a venerable one, and that people will enjoy Charlotte Peterson Park for many years.

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Garden calendar: Focus on natives for a tried-and-true North Texas landscape

FRIENDLY FUNGI: Explore the benefits of mycorrhizal fungi for landscape and gardens. David Steinbrunner will discuss “friendly fungi” as well as his new organic fertilizer, Wildroot. 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Trinity Haymarket, 1715 Market Center Blvd., Dallas. Free. Advance registration requested. 214-202-2163.

PROVEN PERENNIALS: Learn about the tried-and-true perennials for North Texas. The class will showcase the best natives and adapted plants for a diverse, beautiful landscape. 1:30 p.m. Saturday. North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Road, Dallas. Free.

CHICKENS: Chickens and supplies will be available for sale from John and Emily Ramos of Urban Chicken, and a class on seasonal care tips to help prepare the birds for winter will follow. Sale 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday; class is 4 to 5 p.m. North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Road, Dallas. Free.

LANDSCAPING BASICS: Learn how to landscape with native and well-adapted plants. Free class will be taught by Carrie Dubberley of Dubberley Landscape. 11 a.m. to noon Sunday. North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Road, Dallas. Free.

TECHNOLOGY AND NATURE: The monthly meeting of the Texas Master Naturalist Indian Trail Chapter will include a presentation on ways the master naturalist can use technology. Guests should bring their cellphones. 7 p.m. Monday. First United Methodist Church, 505 W. Marvin Ave., Waxahachie. Free. 972-825-5175.

BUTTERFLIES: The monthly meeting of the Dallas Area Historical Rose Society will include a presentation on ways to attract butterflies and other pollinators to the garden. 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Farmers Branch Recreation Center, 14050 Heartside Place, Farmers Branch. Free.

WOMEN IN THE GARDEN: The Dallas Arboretum and the Women’s Council celebrate trailblazers in the fields of landscape gardening, fashion and interiors at the ninth annual Writer’s Garden Literary Symposium. Architectural and garden historian Judith B. Tankard is among the speakers. 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 3. Rosine Hall, Dallas Arboretum, 8617 Garland Road, Dallas. $150. Advance purchase required. womenscouncildallasar

BECOME A MASTER NATURALIST: The North Texas chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist program is accepting applications for its 2016 class. The class includes 40 hours of classroom training and field trips to learn about Texas’ natural resources. Training begins Feb. 9 and continues each Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. through April 26. An open house will be held 7 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service, 10056 Marsh Lane, Suite B101, Dallas, and will offer more information on the program. Applications can be obtained at and will be accepted until Dec. 15, but class size is limited, with earlier application given priority.

Send event details at least 14 days before publication to Please include “Garden Calendar” in the subject line.

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Sustainable gardening tips, plant sale set at Central Park Gardens

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3 Tips to Prep Your Garden for Winter Right Now

1:00 pm ET
October 21, 2015October 20, 2015

Brigitte MERLE/Getty Images

The air outside is getting nippy, the leaves are changing, and though there’s still time to enjoy the warmer temperatures of fall, we all know that “Game of Thrones” adage to be true: Winter is coming. If you have a garden or even just a yard, it’s time to start thinking about how best to prepare your plants for winter. Much of how to care for your greenery during the fallow, cold months depends on the climate you live in, but here are a few general tips that all gardeners should heed to make the seasonal transition:

1. Prune to protect

Fall is time to think about protecting your garden—and one of the best ways to do that is to do a thorough pruning of the existing plants.

“You want to get rid of anything diseased or insect-infested, because those can, over winter, infect your other plants,” says Melinda Myers, a gardening expert and the host of the “How to Grow Anything” DVD series. So uproot those annuals and trim the perennials back to the ground. Find out the proper way to dispose of these things depending on your municipality, too—in most places, yard waste has a special disposal process.

If you’re dealing with more of a lawn than a garden situation, the trick is to keep mowing your grass. Why? It will increase its winter hardiness so you have a more lush lawn come spring.

2. Plant a few new things, too

Fall is actually a wonderful time to think about planting, and for looking at some of the seasonal plant sales for inspiration.

Please, Mr. Postman

Send me news, tips, and promos from® and Move.

“The air is cooler but the soil is still warm,” notes Myers. “For Northerners, that warm soil promotes root growth, while the cooler air is less stressful for plants. We tend to think of bulbs this time of year, but it’s also a great time to put in shrubs and even perennials. For warmer climates, you may be transitioning from summer crops to fall ones.”

If you enjoy watching the wildlife in your yard, planting a few ornamental grasses, trees, or shrubs with berries, or perennials—anything that has seedpods and could provide food for birds—will increase the diversity of wildlife on the property.

3. Keep plants warm

If you have vegetables or herbs and want to continue reaping the benefits, Myers suggests protecting them through the first hard freeze. You can do this a couple of ways: First, bring in cuttings from nonhardy plants before the first frost, root them, and grow them in a sunny window. Second, cover up the plants in the ground outdoors.

“Sheets work great,” Myers says. “You can cover them up late afternoons or evenings to trap the heat. But my favorite solution is using floating row covers, which trap heat but allow in light, air, and water. You can cover them and leave them on until the snow falls. I threw them on shallots, radishes, and spinach, and harvested greens that spring. And I’m in Wisconsin! It was great.”

Who knows? With a few of these simple steps, you could be eating salad fresh from your garden again by April.

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Think of garden design like home design

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Locals encouraged to participate in Woodland Park Sensory Garden design review …

Locals encouraged to participate in Woodland Park Sensory Garden design review process

Posted by Danielle Anthony-Goodwin on October 21st, 2015

Seattle Parks and Recreation is encouraging local residents to get involved in the schematic design review and provide feedback for the new Seattle Sensory Garden at Woodland Park Zoo.

A public meeting for this project will be held this Wednesday, October 21, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Phinney Neighborhood Association (6532 Phinney Avenue N – Red Room).

Seattle Parks and Recreation project manager and the design team of Fischer Bouma Partnership and Richard Hartlage of Land Morphology will provide project information and present the schematic design at the meeting. The design incorporates the feedback heard from the community at the first public meeting in September.

The project aims to develop a garden for the senses by adding sight, touch, smell, and sound elements to increase accessibility and provide a welcoming atmosphere and experience for all.  The Sensory Garden will be an expansion of Woodland Park Zoo’s Rose Garden.

The community-initiated project is being funded by the Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund. Seattle Parks and Recreation has been coordinating with Woodland Park Zoo, the Lions Club, Hearing Speech Deafness Center, Lighthouse for the Blind, ARC of King County, and the Phinney Neighborhood Association.

Click here to learn more. Contact Jay Rood from Seattle Parks and Recreation with questions and feedback at (206) 733-9194 or by emailing

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