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Archives for November 3, 2015

My Last Blog Post for YourVoices

This is my last blog post on YourVoices. The Star Tribune is ending the community-focused blog that has included among others: writers, politicians, professors, chefs, contractors, moms, rappers and a cabbie.

It will transition to a feature called 10,000 Takes, first-person essays centered on the Minnesota living experience. Don’t be surprised if you read me there someday in the future. As a relative newcomer to this state I have plenty to say about being the perennial fish out of water surrounded by 10K+ lakes.

You’ll still find my gardening column in the Homes section on Sundays during the growing season. And don’t forget my personal blog, The Garden Buzz.

Until then I’m signing off…with gratitude.

But first a few words about blogging. Whenever I’m asked advice on blogging I tell people it’s like having an extra child. A hungry child that demands you create content, often out of thin air. At first you have so much to say but as time goes by and other life events and demands present themselves, the blog unlike your kids, often goes unfed. There’s nothing worse than a stale, starving blog withering away in the dusty corners of the Internet.

It’s not easy to keep that blog template filled with fresh ideas. But a walk around the block usually does wonders. You never know when the seed of a blog post will plant itself in your brain.

That said I’ve been pretty good about this one. Although it advertised me as a horticulture expert I’ve veered from the garden path many times. I’ve chronicled my encounters with wildlife, I’ve stepped up on my soap box, I’ve shared deeply personal details of my family and its ordinary but complicated story.

As an introvert I sometimes considered this blog my Emily Dickinson-ish “letter to the world that never wrote to me”. But then it happened that you did. I’ve been touched by the many supportive and positive comments posted by you, my readers. And the few unpleasant ones? They only served to toughen me up, because blogging is not for the faint of heart.

For the wannabe writer a blog is a great place to practice your calling and hone ideas. My blogs forced me to keep writing after our move to Minnesota temporarily derailed my then nascent freelance career. I’m glad I did.

It so happens this blog changed my life. A few years in, I received a call from the Star Tribune senior features editor asking if I’d like to write about gardening for the paper. That meant getting pay but more importantly, validation. Almost at the same time, the editor of Northern Gardener magazine contacted me with a similar request.

A bit later after I did a series of posts on bees and pollinator issues I got an email from a publisher asking if I would like to author a book on bee-friendly landscaping. I had a couple book proposals already in the air at the time, but ultimately ended up with that publisher, the one that found me blogging away at the Strib. (Shameless plug alert) My book, Pollinator Friendly Gardening: Gardening for Bees, Butterflies and Other Pollinators will be released February 1, 2016.

Not every blogger will want or get a book deal. But keep that in mind if you blog. Don’t just blah, blah, blog. Craft it. Keep it tight. Edit, then edit again. That blog is your resume, your public face, your audition. Make it count.

It’s been an honor and a privilege to be a part of YourVoices. Thank you.

Article source: http://www.startribune.com/my-last-blog-post-for-yourvoices/339906051/

City working to reduce pollution from stormwater runof f

Lancaster is looking to gain momentum in its 4-year-old program to block stormwater from polluting local streams that drain into Chesapeake Bay.

“We’re well on our way,” said Lancaster Stormwater program manager Ruth Hocker.

Hocker said the city now annually captures 45 to 50 million gallons of dirty water that gushes from parking lots, sidewalks, streets and lawns into local waterways and, eventually, the Chesapeake Bay.

The 25-year target is to eliminate all 750 million gallons of Lancaster’s runoff by installing more “green infrastructure” — rain gardens, vegetative roofs, rain barrels and porous pavements — that channels rain and snowmelt into the ground.

The city, he said, has completed about 40 of 60 planned projects to reduce the storm surges that overwhelm Lancaster’s treatment plant and sully the Conestoga River with oil, automotive fluids, pet waste, fertilizers, pesticides and raw sewage.


RELATED: City church transforms empty lot into green parking

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RELATED: Feds: Pennsylvania ‘substantially off track’ in Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts


But it must hatch more projects and win the help of more businesses and residents as it tries to cut the discharges and avoid potential federal Environmental Protection Agency penalties or mandates to alter its strategy.

“Our biggest challenge, I think, is engaging the community that is not here tonight,” Hocker said during a panel discussion Monday night at Tellus360 following a screening of the 2014 environmental documentary “Water Blues, Green Solutions.” The panel included Karl Graybill, city environmental planner, and Fritz Schroeder, director of urban greening for the Lancaster County Conservancy.

Green thinking

The city-conservancy partnership Save It! hopes to grow its network several ways.

It is seeking to make “green thinking” more common as it updates city codes and starts new public works projects, said Graybill, adding that such efforts will cut about half the overflows.

As part of that, the partnership is trying to educate more contractors and architects about the need to design sustainable structures as well as educate clients about them.

And, like Philadelphia, San Antonio, Texas, and South Bronx — urban success stories featured in the documentary — Lancaster is reaching out to more teachers and students.

For example, Save It! partners said they’re working with the Hand Middle School biology department to create community and rain gardens to capture 300,000 gallons of stormwater.

According to Schroeder, the partners also will tap the expertise of students from Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, which has established a water and technology certification curriculum.

Meanwhile, on Nov. 17, the city will hold the second two-hour workshop in a new series to educate contractors on its green infrastructure and stormwater management fee/credit programs.

The names of participants will be added to a list available to property owners by request. Between 60 and 70 building-industry professionals attended the first workshop earlier this year, Schroeder said.

On the public-works front, Hocker said after the meeting, “one of our bigger ideas” is to control the runoff into the Little Conestoga Creek from Route 30 and Park City Center.

Lancaster long ago opted for green infrastructure over installing huge holding tanks, which officials say could cost $300 million, more than twice as much.

Article source: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/city-working-to-reduce-pollution-from-stormwater-runof-f/article_1eb8c0ec-824e-11e5-9c63-53952de18ba1.html

Checking In: Former Alaska goalie Wylie Rogers tries to revolutionize goal pegs

A cross-section of The Wylie Post shows how it connects to the ice (Submitted photo).

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of stories checking in with college hockey personalities, past and present.

We’ve seen it happen a thousand times.

A goalie tries to move laterally in his or her crease and the net pops off its pegs during action and the flow of the game is stopped.

It took the mind of a former NCAA goaltender to want to fix the situation.

Wylie Rogers, who played at Alaska-Fairbanks from 2004 to 2008 before playing pro hockey with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies, the Central Hockey League’s Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees and a season in the Netherlands, was also an assistant coach for his alma mater from 2012 to 2014.

Wylie Rogers played at Alaska from 2004 to 2008 (photo: Alaska Athletics).

While coaching the UAF goalies, Rogers, now 30, started to get frustrated with the nets and the wheels were put in motion for The Wylie Post, a prototype that is a dual-spike peg with a short rubber post on top that won’t come free when goalies push against the post. It also allows the net to come free when a skater runs into it and no drilling into the ice is needed to install the product.

“During practices, the steel pegs weren’t holding up and before, you just learn to deal with the inefficiencies, but I really couldn’t ignore the problem any longer,” Rogers said. “When you try to teach a movement and it’s difficult to do with the equipment given to you, your head starts to spin a little bit about different ways to make it work.”

During part of his master’s degree workload at UAF, Rogers took a class called “New Venture Development,” where bringing an idea to life was the scope and students were asked to go through all the steps needed to make a product market-ready.

“My professor, also my mentor and friend, Dr. Ping Lan, doesn’t know anything about hockey and speaks very little English, but when I came up with this concept of what’s now The Wylie Post, he was like, ‘We got a winner here,’” Rogers said. “He really pushed me to keep going, so I made my first prototype, which was basically just a peg with a spike welded onto it and we used it in practice and it worked so well that we couldn’t use it in games because it was so dangerous — the nets weren’t breaking free at all. One of our guys ran into it and the net didn’t even budge.”

The Wylie Post has a zinc coating that helps it melt into the ice (Submitted photo).

Rogers then went back to Lan and, with his guidance, made some adjustments to make the product safe.

“Dr. Lan said you’re not done until everyone can use this,” said Rogers. “That’s where the wheels really started turning and we started playing with different ideas on how to make this become a reality. It’s been a lot of years in the making since then, but it’s progressed fairly quickly. Not a process I’d like to do over and over with all the testing, reworking and redrafting, but we’re weeks away from releasing this thing and launching this product.”

And to think that it all started as a home project.

“I started out making these things in my garage, mixing my own rubbers and pouring them into toilet paper rolls to try and somehow make this thing work,” Rogers said. “Obviously, I didn’t know the engineering side of it, but a professor from Alaska Pacific University, Ky Holland, approached me and said that he could help take this forward. We basically modeled the steel peg, but in a rubbery, urethane form, but that didn’t work because when you put the net on it, the net was extremely loose, so we made the new peg fatter and that’s when we knew we were getting close.

“It wasn’t until Ky said that he knew of some oil companies using zinc spray on arctic slopes of Alaska that we did the same thing, coating the bottom with a zinc spray to help the pegs melt into the ice a little better. No one ever thought to melt a peg into the ice and have it freeze at a higher level. Once we did that, it was pretty expensive as we then had to rewrite some of the patent on it.”

Rogers was married to his wife, Sarah, in the summer of 2014 and if The Wylie Post takes off, he’s banking on making that his full-time job.

“I’ve worked for my buddy’s landscaping company every summer for the past 13 years, so this has never been my primary job, but it will,” Rogers said. “Last winter, it was spotty time that I was able to put into this product and now that it is where it is, and the fact we just bought a house in Anchorage, my priority will be The Wylie Post, marketing it and getting it out there. It’ll be new to me, but I’ll finally be able to commit all my time and effort to making this thing a reality.”

Once The Wylie Post is approved for usage in rinks, a set of two will retail for $249.95.

More info and pre-orders are available at www.thewyliepost.com.

Article source: http://www.uscho.com/2015/11/03/checking-in-former-alaska-goalie-wylie-rogers-tries-to-revolutionize-goal-pegs/

Why Descanso Gardens has a Japanese Festival every fall



Descanso Gardens has long been linked to Japan and the local Japanese-American community. The relationship began through Elias Manchester Boddy, who purchased its land in La Cañada Flintridge in the late 1930s.

“Boddy had a small collection of camellias because they were very popular at the time, and he was interested in plants of Asian origin, and he was also quite an admirer of the Japanese people and Japanese culture,” Descanso Gardens Executive Director David Brown said.

In fact, in 1921 Boddy had written the book “The Japanese in America” (BiblioLife, $29). When he began landscaping at his Rancho del Descanso he hired noted horticulturist Howard Asper to tend the camellias.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942, the government issued orders establishing internment camps and the relocation of Japanese-Americans. When Francis Uyematsu, owner of Star Nursery in Sierra Madre, was ordered to the camps, Boddy purchased almost his entire inventory of camellias. He did the same for Fred and Mitoko Yoshimura, owners of Mission Nursery (now San Gabriel Nursery Florist) in San Gabriel, “so their investment in life wouldn’t go completely for naught,” Brown said.

Boddy’s camellia plantation grew to 60,000-100,000 plants, and he maintained a business selling the blooms until the early 1950s when Rancho del Descanso became a public garden. Brown isn’t sure when, but he believes it was sometime in the 1960s that Descanso Gardens started the tradition of celebrating the Japanese culture every fall with a festival.

Article source: http://www.sgvtribune.com/arts-and-entertainment/20151102/why-descanso-gardens-has-a-japanese-festival-every-fall

Why Descanso Gardens has a Japanese Festival every fall



Descanso Gardens has long been linked to Japan and the local Japanese-American community. The relationship began through Elias Manchester Boddy, who purchased its land in La Cañada Flintridge in the late 1930s.

“Boddy had a small collection of camellias because they were very popular at the time, and he was interested in plants of Asian origin, and he was also quite an admirer of the Japanese people and Japanese culture,” Descanso Gardens Executive Director David Brown said.

In fact, in 1921 Boddy had written the book “The Japanese in America” (BiblioLife, $29). When he began landscaping at his Rancho del Descanso he hired noted horticulturist Howard Asper to tend the camellias.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942, the government issued orders establishing internment camps and the relocation of Japanese-Americans. When Francis Uyematsu, owner of Star Nursery in Sierra Madre, was ordered to the camps, Boddy purchased almost his entire inventory of camellias. He did the same for Fred and Mitoko Yoshimura, owners of Mission Nursery (now San Gabriel Nursery Florist) in San Gabriel, “so their investment in life wouldn’t go completely for naught,” Brown said.

Boddy’s camellia plantation grew to 60,000-100,000 plants, and he maintained a business selling the blooms until the early 1950s when Rancho del Descanso became a public garden. Brown isn’t sure when, but he believes it was sometime in the 1960s that Descanso Gardens started the tradition of celebrating the Japanese culture every fall with a festival.

Article source: http://www.sgvtribune.com/arts-and-entertainment/20151102/why-descanso-gardens-has-a-japanese-festival-every-fall

THE DIRT ON GARDENING: Now is the time of year to give your yard some pizazz

THE DIRT ON GARDENING: Now is the time of year to give your yard some pizazz

TOM YODER | THE GOSHEN NEWSCreate a focal point like this circular designed garden. My wife, Bev, is in the background.

THE DIRT ON GARDENING: Now is the time of year to give your yard some pizazz

TOM YODER | THE GOSHEN NEWSThis 3-foot-tall tricycle replica with a circle seat displays a colorful basket of flowers.



Posted: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 5:30 am

THE DIRT ON GARDENING: Now is the time of year to give your yard some pizazz

By TOM YODER Columnist

Goshen News

This would be the perfect time to tackle a landscaping re-design. With the fall weather starting to wane and with freezing temperatures just around the corner this would be perfect for tackling that job that you have been putting off.

Maybe it is something as simple as edging a flowerbed that has no defining edges anymore or maybe it needs some new plastic edging to control “drift” of grass and sod into the bed. On the other hand, maybe it needs to be completely re-designed into a larger bed or artistically rehabbed into a more flowing design for the eye to follow.

Personally, I enjoyed creating focal points of interest. While this can be done with plants, trees, or shrubs, why not try a signature design or two of your own with landscaping nuances that you yourself have dreamed up or maybe have seen while browsing through a magazine.

You’ve no doubt seen patio designs that incorporate different styles and colors of brick or stone to create what one might consider a “painting” because the brick is laid out in the form of a circle in a circle or a circle infringing into another circle and in different patterns and colors to form an interesting art form. The same can be done with all kinds of landscape materials available by using your imagination.

Some might say: “I don’t have this artistic ability or imagination.” If this is the case simply look at pictures in gardening or landscaping publications to get your juices flowing and take it from there.

Some may be satisfied with the tried and true or the norm but gardening is also about creation, whether it is plant life or something you yourself designed with your gardens.

As an example, when I designed a raised bed in a tree line at the rear of my property out of railroad ties I wanted something different than the ho-hum straight lines. I cut treated landscape timbers into many 20-inch pieces which I then stood on end and buried 6 feet to create a 5-foot circle at the center lengthwise of the long bed. This 5-foot circle protruded half into the yard and half into the raised bed and included one of the trees in the tree-line. This circle was filled with rich soil and planted with an annual flower of some kind — usually petunias or impatiens of one color.

Also inside this circle was placed a piece of artwork, designed by an Amish man, which was a 3-foot-tall tricycle replica with a circle seat that would comfortably hold a flower basket. I was quite proud of this accomplishment because it became the primary center of attention of my raised bed.

This wasn’t the only focal point in my landscaping. I created a flowing perennial bed that included a kidney-shaped pond with a curved bench on a flat-rock surface that beckoned the onlooker and said: “Come and rest for a while and mesmerize yourself while watching the graceful Koi and butterfly-tail Shubunkin and watch the spray from the fountain dance on the water’s surface.”

The crème de la crème in the landscaping was a garden shed that I built with blueprints straight out of “Garden Shed” magazine that included a 3-by-4-foot window, with grids, and an appropriately built flowerbox just under.

Get your thinking-cap on and come up with some plans to beautify your home. It’s not too late yet this year.

Tom Yoder is a Master Gardener and can be reached by phone at 533-0172 or by e-mail at yoder.tom@gmail.com.


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Tuesday, November 3, 2015 5:30 am.

Article source: http://www.goshennews.com/news/lifestyles/the-dirt-on-gardening-now-is-the-time-of-year/article_2219f83b-1e9d-5dcc-9b8d-67ecbe34b16b.html

Were the drought restrictions necessary?

Driving through Beverly Hills, it doesn’t look like everybody was listening when on April 1st Governor Jerry Brown said, “The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past.”

Beverly Hills, like most California cities, did impose two day a week watering restrictions to save water but cut use by only 20-percent, well short of the 32-percent ordered by the state. The city was recently fined $66,000 for failing to comply.

Clovis was under the gun to cut consumption by 36-percent and managed 33-percent, and it shows. Assistant Public Works Director, Lisa Koehn, thinks the state-ordered cuts took a toll on landscaping throughout the city. “It’s very unsightly, it’s going to cost money to someday replace that, with other plantings or remove it, we’ve had a great loss of trees.”

One casualty was the Christmas tree in front of Clovis City Hall. It succumbed to disease because of a lack of water and will have to be replaced.

Many residents responded with drought tolerant lawns and fake grass. But, at UCLA’s horticultural gardens Actions News met with University of California Extension Service Horticulturist, Don Hodel. He doesn’t believe our public and private landscaping had to suffer. “My concern with the way the state imposed watering restrictions, is they were made without any knowledge of how plants grow, how they interact with the soil, how water moves into the soil and how the soil holds water.”

Instead of two days a week restrictions, Hodel believes that practical watering advice could have saved plants and trees. “We can have, or retain, our landscapes and receive the benefits they provide if we simply watered in a more precise or judicious manner and we have the research to support that position.”

Hodel isn’t sure if the state consulted any experts. The State Department of Water Resources was charged with implementing the Governors drought order, and Bill Croyle, the agencies Deputy Director, agrees it was a rush job. He told Action News, “Part of this was one size fits all there wasn’t a lot of time to get on top of this. The state water board was following the executive order.”

Hodel questions whether the order was even necessary. Noting, landscaping uses just a small fraction of the states water supply. “So if we never watered another tree, shrub, ground cover, blade of grass, potted plant in California again, the state would save 7-percent of its total water use. That’s not very much when you consider all of the amenities and benefits that plants in the landscape provide to urban living.”

Cutting that 7-percent by a quarter meant the savings amounted to less than 2-percent of the water supply. Hodel was among the first to publicly question the Governors watering restrictions in an LA Times Op-Ed piece, and wonders if there was a political motive. “Maybe people will think yes, I’ve really suffered, I haven’t been able to water my trees and my plants, so, yes, I want to vote for this new twin tunnels project, maybe that’s what the agenda is.”

Political or not, there’s no question the restrictions have saved water. Fresno Public Utilities Director Thomas Esqueda believes Fresno’s 27-percent savings will pay off. “When we save a gallon of water we save water that is underneath our feet, so that’s water we can go back and get later in the event this drought continues for a fifth year. “

But Koehn notes the groundwater saved by cities did little to benefit the overall supply. “Our savings were vastly outweighed by the pumping that was done to provide enough water for the crops.”

Hodel supports water conservation, He just thinks our yards, parks and medians don’t have to be sacrificed. “There’s a better way to go about it than what the state policymakers have given us.”

And despite Governor Brown’s pronouncement, Hodel believes, “Absolutely we can have our little green lawns.”

Article source: http://abc30.com/news/were-the-drought-restrictions-necessary/1065427/

THE DIRT ON GARDENING: Now is the time of year to give your yard some pizazz

THE DIRT ON GARDENING: Now is the time of year to give your yard some pizazz

TOM YODER | THE GOSHEN NEWSCreate a focal point like this circular designed garden. My wife, Bev, is in the background.

THE DIRT ON GARDENING: Now is the time of year to give your yard some pizazz

TOM YODER | THE GOSHEN NEWSThis 3-foot-tall tricycle replica with a circle seat displays a colorful basket of flowers.



Posted: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 5:30 am

THE DIRT ON GARDENING: Now is the time of year to give your yard some pizazz

By TOM YODER Columnist

Goshen News

This would be the perfect time to tackle a landscaping re-design. With the fall weather starting to wane and with freezing temperatures just around the corner this would be perfect for tackling that job that you have been putting off.

Maybe it is something as simple as edging a flowerbed that has no defining edges anymore or maybe it needs some new plastic edging to control “drift” of grass and sod into the bed. On the other hand, maybe it needs to be completely re-designed into a larger bed or artistically rehabbed into a more flowing design for the eye to follow.

Personally, I enjoyed creating focal points of interest. While this can be done with plants, trees, or shrubs, why not try a signature design or two of your own with landscaping nuances that you yourself have dreamed up or maybe have seen while browsing through a magazine.

You’ve no doubt seen patio designs that incorporate different styles and colors of brick or stone to create what one might consider a “painting” because the brick is laid out in the form of a circle in a circle or a circle infringing into another circle and in different patterns and colors to form an interesting art form. The same can be done with all kinds of landscape materials available by using your imagination.

Some might say: “I don’t have this artistic ability or imagination.” If this is the case simply look at pictures in gardening or landscaping publications to get your juices flowing and take it from there.

Some may be satisfied with the tried and true or the norm but gardening is also about creation, whether it is plant life or something you yourself designed with your gardens.

As an example, when I designed a raised bed in a tree line at the rear of my property out of railroad ties I wanted something different than the ho-hum straight lines. I cut treated landscape timbers into many 20-inch pieces which I then stood on end and buried 6 feet to create a 5-foot circle at the center lengthwise of the long bed. This 5-foot circle protruded half into the yard and half into the raised bed and included one of the trees in the tree-line. This circle was filled with rich soil and planted with an annual flower of some kind — usually petunias or impatiens of one color.

Also inside this circle was placed a piece of artwork, designed by an Amish man, which was a 3-foot-tall tricycle replica with a circle seat that would comfortably hold a flower basket. I was quite proud of this accomplishment because it became the primary center of attention of my raised bed.

This wasn’t the only focal point in my landscaping. I created a flowing perennial bed that included a kidney-shaped pond with a curved bench on a flat-rock surface that beckoned the onlooker and said: “Come and rest for a while and mesmerize yourself while watching the graceful Koi and butterfly-tail Shubunkin and watch the spray from the fountain dance on the water’s surface.”

The crème de la crème in the landscaping was a garden shed that I built with blueprints straight out of “Garden Shed” magazine that included a 3-by-4-foot window, with grids, and an appropriately built flowerbox just under.

Get your thinking-cap on and come up with some plans to beautify your home. It’s not too late yet this year.

Tom Yoder is a Master Gardener and can be reached by phone at 533-0172 or by e-mail at yoder.tom@gmail.com.


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Tuesday, November 3, 2015 5:30 am.

Article source: http://www.goshennews.com/news/lifestyles/the-dirt-on-gardening-now-is-the-time-of-year/article_2219f83b-1e9d-5dcc-9b8d-67ecbe34b16b.html

Your garden in November: Sean Murray’s tips for North East gardeners

There are many paths to becoming a better gardener and one of them is to improve your knowledge of the best growing condition of your plants.

I often see folks at garden centres with trollies full of plants, all requiring very different growing conditions and think to myself ‘you either have a very large garden with diverse planting conditions or that gorgeous lot will be struggling within six months’ I resist the temptation to interfere!

In Corfu last week the notion of right plant, right place was plain to see. Sea Kale Eryngium Maritimum with its deep roots delving for moisture was growing between sand and rocks at the edge of the sea. A masterclass from nature on matching plant to environment.

Its close relative Eryngium Giganteum Miss Willmott’s Ghost really is worth growing with its silver metallic leaves and thistle-like flowers. I’ve grown it this year in combination with Monarda ‘Squaw’ and orange/red tufted bergamot backed by Crocosmia Lucifer. For a hot border look it worked well.

There is still time to divide and replant established perennials or move those that are in the wrong place. Plants that need an early start next year such as Phlox, Persicaria, Crocosmia and Hemerocallis are best moved now.

Eryngium Giganteum Miss Willmotts ghost

Divide and replant the healthiest strong growing sections in drifts of five or more in well-prepared soil. This will give an established appearance early on next year and avoids that ghastly plant collection look where single specimens are dotted randomly about the border with no relation to one another.

Plants commonly planted in unfavourable conditions include acid/neutral soil lover’s camellias, magnolia and rhodendrons oh! And heathers, which in all cases are best in my opinion best left on the moors!

If you really want to grow plants that don’t suit your soil conditions grow them in containers with the right compost or better still focus your efforts on plants that like your gardens conditions.

With planting in mind I would suggest not relying too heavily on plant labels, those plants labelled ‘grow in shade’ often result in disappointment, many should read ‘likes sun but will tolerate some shade’.

I’ve grown Garryia Elliptica, a fantastic evergreen with long silver catkins, in February against a north-facing wall as suggested for years but recently found it does much better in full sun. I would recommend doing a spot of research before you buy, especially an expensive specimen plant. Consulting an experience plantsman could also save lots of disappointment and a small fortune in misplaced plants.

Sean Murray runs a garden design company based in Ashington, Northumberland, www.gardennarratives.co.uk

Sean Murray selecting plants at a nursery

Plants growing on a beach in Corfu show how plants can need surprising growing conditions

Article source: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/property-news/your-garden-november-sean-murrays-10377925

Your garden in November: Sean Murray’s tips for North East gardeners

There are many paths to becoming a better gardener and one of them is to improve your knowledge of the best growing condition of your plants.

I often see folks at garden centres with trollies full of plants, all requiring very different growing conditions and think to myself ‘you either have a very large garden with diverse planting conditions or that gorgeous lot will be struggling within six months’ I resist the temptation to interfere!

In Corfu last week the notion of right plant, right place was plain to see. Sea Kale Eryngium Maritimum with its deep roots delving for moisture was growing between sand and rocks at the edge of the sea. A masterclass from nature on matching plant to environment.

Its close relative Eryngium Giganteum Miss Willmott’s Ghost really is worth growing with its silver metallic leaves and thistle-like flowers. I’ve grown it this year in combination with Monarda ‘Squaw’ and orange/red tufted bergamot backed by Crocosmia Lucifer. For a hot border look it worked well.

There is still time to divide and replant established perennials or move those that are in the wrong place. Plants that need an early start next year such as Phlox, Persicaria, Crocosmia and Hemerocallis are best moved now.

Eryngium Giganteum Miss Willmotts ghost

Divide and replant the healthiest strong growing sections in drifts of five or more in well-prepared soil. This will give an established appearance early on next year and avoids that ghastly plant collection look where single specimens are dotted randomly about the border with no relation to one another.

Plants commonly planted in unfavourable conditions include acid/neutral soil lover’s camellias, magnolia and rhodendrons oh! And heathers, which in all cases are best in my opinion best left on the moors!

If you really want to grow plants that don’t suit your soil conditions grow them in containers with the right compost or better still focus your efforts on plants that like your gardens conditions.

With planting in mind I would suggest not relying too heavily on plant labels, those plants labelled ‘grow in shade’ often result in disappointment, many should read ‘likes sun but will tolerate some shade’.

I’ve grown Garryia Elliptica, a fantastic evergreen with long silver catkins, in February against a north-facing wall as suggested for years but recently found it does much better in full sun. I would recommend doing a spot of research before you buy, especially an expensive specimen plant. Consulting an experience plantsman could also save lots of disappointment and a small fortune in misplaced plants.

Sean Murray runs a garden design company based in Ashington, Northumberland, www.gardennarratives.co.uk

Sean Murray selecting plants at a nursery

Plants growing on a beach in Corfu show how plants can need surprising growing conditions

Article source: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/property-news/your-garden-november-sean-murrays-10377925