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Archives for November 7, 2015

Springwater Greenhouse and Landscaping holds open house – The Marshall Democrat

The holidays are just around the corner and with the colder months upon us Springwater Greenhouse and Landscaping has tuned the inside of their greenhouse into a Christmas spectacle full of ideas and decorations.

As a part of the seasonal theme, Springwater has on display a wide variety of trees, decorations and Christmas-themed home decor set up in many festive arrangements and styles. The event draws in folks from around Missouri and even from surrounding states as well according to co-owner Paula Gorrell. The open house will last through the weekend and Gorrell said Springwater will be open until Christmas Day.

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Gardening: Yes, the fair is fun and games, but it’s educational, too – Florida Times

It’s fair time in Jacksonville and there is something of interest for everyone. Country music, exciting rides and sinful foods like fried Twinkies or fried butter are things that may pop in your mind.

But the history of fairs in rural America was a time to celebrate the harvest season so agriculture has always been an integral part of county fairs. The same is true of the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair, which started Wednesday and runs through Sunday, Nov. 15.

Don’t pass up on this opportunity to support a local event that offers fun activities for the entire family as well as an educational component, such as youth and adult horticulture contests, the Division of Forestry, butterfly encounter and The Florida Crops Exhibit.

The Livestock Arena is always a hit. Don’t miss Old McDonald’s Farm, especially the sow with her greedy piglets. Baby chicks are pecking their way through their shells in a nearby incubator. Rabbits, geese, chickens, goats, sheep and several breeds of cows all add to the atmosphere in this very urban setting. What kid wouldn’t like to see the angora rabbits or the zebu (miniature cattle) show Saturday? Also on Saturday at 1:30 p.m., the fair will have the largest Brahman show ever in the Livestock Arena. This is the closest that some kids will ever get to a farm, and it can be an eye opener.

Next, cruise over to the Exhibit Hall to check out the Florida Crops Exhibit. Visit the Extension Learning House and learn tips from University of Florida experts. Roam through the various rooms to find answers and solutions to a multitude of questions. Inside the home, look for ideas on how to strengthen families and set family goals, manage money in tough times, manage mildew in bathrooms and save money on water and energy.

For kids, consider getting involved in 4-H, a youth development program that is part of the University of Florida. Check out the latest information on Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles as you walk around the exterior of the house. Find out how to save money and protect the environment by using drought-tolerant plants, collect rain water, and add edibles to the landscape. Stop at the “Doctor Is In” booth if you have gardening questions. Master gardeners will be available to answer questions and offer landscape suggestions.

Lettuce is one of the featured crops at the exhibit this year. See some of the best varieties of lettuce and check out the different growing techniques. Compare hydroponic and aquaponic culture as well as traditional plantings. All can be adopted for home production to produce a quick turn-around crop.

Instructions are available to make your own grow bucket to produce tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and an assortment of other hard-to-grow crops. Once put together, it is almost fail-proof as long as you supply the water. If you have some extra pallets sitting around, find the pallet garden to get ideas on how this can become an attractive addition to the landscape.

Do you have invasive plants in your landscape? Lean about some common landscape plants that are invasive and how to identify and control them.

Another area features termites, a major problem for local residents. Learn how to prevent termites, identify the various types and various control options.

Agriculture has an annual impact of $70 billion each year, so we’re growing more than houses and people. Despite shrinking farmlands due to urban development, Florida is still a major agriculture producer and is one of the top U.S. producers of oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, sugar cane, sweet corn, snap beans, watermelons, squash and cucumbers. Farmers markets are growing throughout Northeast Florida in addition to community-supported agriculture. While at the fair, find out where you can buy locally grown produce, or buy into a local farm through a CSA.

A favorite exhibit for adults and kids is the bee display manned by members of the Jacksonville Beekeepers Association. These experienced folks can help you start your own hive. Check out the winners of the honey contest and pick up some local honey for yourself. Find the queen in the demonstration hive designated by a special mark.

Visit the Country Store and see what the master gardeners have canned this year at the Extension Canning Center. There’s an assortment of jams, jellies and pickled products, including some low- and no-sugar items. Master gardeners will be on hand to show children how to make a radish seed necklace on both Saturdays.

The Horticulture Exhibit allows adults and youth to compete for ribbons and cash awards for outstanding plants. Wander through this area and enjoy the many unusual plants. It will make you green with envy. If you have a green thumb, consider entering some of your plants next year. Go to the fair website, look under arts and crafts and click on horticulture.

The Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair is at 501 Fairgrounds Place, next to EverBank Field. Hours for the Exhibit Building are 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 3 to 10 p.m. on Friday; and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Veterans Day is Wednesday, so hours are noon to 10 p.m.

For more details on prices, entertainment and show options, go to

Terry Brite DelValle is a horticulture extension agent with the Duval County Extension Service and the University of Florida/IFAS.

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Holiday lighting pros make season brighter — and simpler

The holidays are headed toward us like a high-speed train. Pumpkins are giving way to holiday greenery and decorative lights.

For those whose holiday spirits are heightened by lighting up their home’s exterior, ponder this before you step on your first ladder rung: Clark Griswold in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” (If you’re unfamiliar with the holiday classic and its leading man, Chevy Chase, head to Netflix. Stat.)

Hanging lights on rooflines and in trees is not for the faint of heart. For the do-it-yourself sort, it’s vital to have the proper tools: sturdy ladders, extension cords, clips to attach lights to gutters, timers, etc.

For the homeowner who is happy to turn it over to someone else — yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus — look to an outdoor lighting specialist.

While using landscaping lighting professionals to hang lights is not new, there has sprung up a specialty niche of lighting pros who primarily do holiday lighting. Some may spread their wings to landscape lighting or even interior décor, but the heart of their business is exterior holiday lighting.

Like Santa, this is their big season.

Stephen Parry and Terry Duncan founded their holiday lighting business, Outdoor Lighting Pros, as second careers; Parry spent his first career in plastic pigments (think lunch boxes and matching thermos bottles) and Duncan was in the insurance business.

The two men, who are neighbors, wanted to buy or create a new business and saw a need for holiday lighting. They did their research and formulated a business plan, and now, they’re lighting up Williamson County homes and businesses.

The pair buys commercial-grade LED lights on huge spools and custom cuts the strands to fit the client’s specific roofline, porch, trees, yard and driveway. They hang the lights, maintain them during the holidays and then come back to take them down and store them.

They label the entire kit and caboodle with the owner’s name and address, so that if the happy homeowner invites them back next year to light up, everything is still specific to that particular home.

Edward Morales of Above Beyond Designs does exteriors and interiors during the holidays while maintaining his other career as a professional dancer.

“My background is theater, which plays a huge role, I think, in the holiday designs I do, both exterior and interior, for homeowners,” he said.

Morales’ business model differs in that in addition to custom-fitting the lights to rooflines, porches and trees, he presents the homeowner with the actual invoices on all materials, then adds his labor as a separate charge.

He takes down the lights, stores and labels them and then hands them over to the homeowner, so that next year, if the homeowner invites him back, there’s only the labor charge.

Or, if the homeowner is the Clark Griswold-type, he or she can do the DIY thing with those materials.

Ken Walters, a Franklin resident, used Outdoor Lighting Pros last year and is using them again this year.

“I used to do the lights myself, both when we lived in Franklin and when we moved to Oklahoma, before moving back to Franklin,” said Walters. “We came back to Franklin in 2009; our current home is larger and there’s more to light, including tall evergreens in the back around our pool.

“I decided instead of my haphazard efforts, ladders and all the work, it would be better to pay someone to do it.  We chose Steve and Terry and they did a super job. They showed us their ideas and the designs and gave us costs up front, so we knew what we were getting,” he said. “What a relief not to have to hang them or take them down, or store them for that matter. We just called them this year to come back and do it again.”

Walters says it’s worth the couple of thousand dollars he spends to have it done.

“It’s like landscaping; professionals know what to do, how to make things look and how to accomplish it. There’s no guesswork like there is if I do it myself,” he said.

Kim and Ryan Foster have lit their Princeton Hills home in Brentwood for the past few years. They use Morales of Above Beyond.

“It cost us a bit more the first year to buy all the lights and materials, but we own them. They’re stored here and we could put them up ourselves, but we prefer to use Edward (Morales). He’s a great designer. He’s extremely creative and extremely nice,” said Ryan Foster.

“He outlines the exterior of our home, does the trees, even lines our circular driveway and lights a fountain. We use him for a lot of our interior decorating as well; he has a great eye and fills our home with holiday cheer.”

This year, the Fosters will share that cheer with neighbors who will come to their home for the neighborhood holiday soiree. Princeton Hills has more than 160 homes; all are spacious.

Ryan says a good percentage of homeowners in the neighborhood lights up their exteriors.

Both lighting companies stress that the cost depends on home size, roofline (a ranch is easier to light than a three-story, for example), the intricacies of rooflines, landscaping, trees, driveways, porches and other factors.  They say each home is different, as are the homeowners’ requests, so estimates and prices are specific to each.

Outdoor Lighting Pros has a minimum charge of $750; Above Beyond has a minimum or $1,000. Estimates are free. Both companies are already up on rooftops and will be decorating until the first or second week of December.

Lighting help

Outdoor Lighting Pros:; Stephen Parry, 615-305-3259; Terry Duncan, 931-797-2045;

Above  Beyond Designs: search Above  Beyond Designs with Edward Morales on Facebook; 615-306-5359;

Lumenate Brentwood:; Luther Tanley and Blake Martin, 615-566-1639;

Christmas Light Pros TN;; Evan McCulty, 615-747-5550;

Light Up Nashville:; 615-509-3155;

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How to grow a neighborhood: The revitalization of Ensley

A walk down 19th Street Ensley might not, at first glance, seem like anything special. The street, once the epicenter of downtown Ensley, is lined with its fair share of empty storefronts and seasonal tax preparers closed until winter.

But walk down it with someone like Brian Voice Porter Hawkins and the possibilities start to appear.

On one corner of Avenue D, for example, is an empty field and parking lot next to the Bethesda Life Center. The parking lot houses, for now, wooden boxes full of soil. Come spring, those boxes will be a community garden providing some fresh produce and entrepreneurship to the area. A grassy field nearby will soon serve as a meditation garden. On the wall of the Bethesda is a mural celebrating the neighborhood. “Ensley Alive,” it says.

“Everything we’re doing here is very Ensley-centric,” said Hawkins, the director of The Color Project, which hopes to use community art to combat blight and negative perceptions of Ensley. “This place has been neglected for a long time.”

Walk back toward the interstate and you see hints of business growth, from the revival of the former Cotton’s department store as a boutique clothing store, to the work underway for REV Birmingham’s REVIVE program, there are signs of blossoming life in Ensley.

“It takes time to revive something that’s really almost just about dead,” said George McCall, Ensley’s neighborhood president. “That’s where we are now, trying to make a comeback.”

How Auburn University’s Urban Studio envisioned one side of 19th Street Ensley in a 2013 conceptual master plan. 

Bringing downtown to life

For years Ensley has had a reputation for poverty and blight, but a century ago it was an industrial boomtown. Enoch Ensley started buying land in the area in the 1880s with the hope of developing a steel facility for Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company, according to “Downtown Ensley and Tuxedo Junction: An Introductory History,” a pamphlet prepared for the City of Birmingham and Main Street Birmingham in 2009 by David B. Schneider.

The City of Ensley was laid out in 1887, incorporated in 1899 and merged with Birmingham on Jan. 1, 1910. For another several decades, it thrived until U.S. Steel moved all of the Ensley operations to Fairfield in the 1970s and white residents fled to the suburbs after desegregation.

“All the white churches and everything, they moved out,” said McCall, 72, who grew up in the neighborhood. “You still see white businesses in Ensley, but back in the ’50s and ’60s, downtown Ensley was something like downtown Birmingham.”

For decades, the neighborhood has suffered economically. It sits along and north of Interstate 20/59, just a 10-minute drive or so from downtown, but economic stability has slipped away.

There are signs that might be changing.

REV Birmingham is taking its REVIVE 2.0 program to downtown Ensley this month, with the goal of transforming at least one block of it into something as bustling as downtown Birmingham.

The plan includes Activate Ensley Day Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the 600 block of 19th Street, when volunteers are needed to work on the projects. They’ll paint exteriors, do some landscaping and make other improvements along that block, according to Brian Gunn, the district coordinator for REV Birmingham.

“REVIVE 2.0 is actually tackling a block in downtown Ensley to transform it during the month of November,” he said.

REVIVE also includes a few projects designed to bring life to a part of the neighborhood that doesn’t often get foot traffic, including an archive house of Ensley history, a jazz listening room and an initiative to turn the former Birmingham Police Department West Precinct into a cinema house.

While REVIVE will bring rapid change to one block of downtown Ensley, broader goals envision a neighborhood that looks quite different than it does now.

The Color Project and REV Birmingham’s REVIVE 2.0 are two projects that are bringing new life to the Ensley area of Birmingham, Ala. (Jon Reed/ 

Agricultural growth?

In 2013, Auburn University’s Urban Studio created a conceptual master plan for Ensley. It identified some existing anchor stores, including Ideal Furniture and Gilmer Drugs on 19th Street, and pointed out the potential for walkability along 19th.

Downtown Ensley, as envisioned in a conceptual master plan by Auburn University’s Urban Studio in 2013. 

The plan also called for new growth to focus on something different: agriculture. Ensley, founded as a factory town, could be the epicenter of an urban farming boom in Birmingham, the master plan said. It included space for gardens and farm stands in empty parts of the downtown area.

“The agriculture component was designed to afford opportunities for entrepreneurship for community members and to begin to draw attention from the 20th Street corridor into the actual business district,” Gunn said.

For the moment, though, the boxes filled with soil in the back lot of the Bethesda Life Center are about the only signs of agriculture taking root downtown. In the spring, the garden will be full of plants grown by community members who pay a small fee and volunteer at least eight hours a year in the garden, Hawkins said. People who use the garden also have to plant something every season, even if it’s just a cover crop.

The garden’s purpose is twofold: To provide fresh food in a neighborhood that doesn’t have great access to it and to provide an opportunity for entrepreneurship and community growth.

Gilmer Drug has some good produce, Hawkins said, but many people in Ensley get their groceries at stores that don’t have fresh fruits and vegetables. There’s also the fear that the soil, in a community that for decades bordered an industrial facility, might not be the safest to grow food in. So they’ve brought in good soil for the boxes and will use compost to make it as good as they can.

“We definitely want the first thing we grow here to be a success,” Hawkins said.

Volunteers have been working since May to build the boxes and dig trenches for the nearby meditation garden. Artist Ukuu Tafari worked from June to September on the mural, which depicts Ensley’s old steel works and names each neighborhood of the broader Ensley community.

Hawkins said the goal is to make sure the good things happening in the community help those who have always lived here and don’t push them out.

“I don’t want to work with people who don’t care about the space or the people in the space,” he said. “We want to make sure the people who lived here who stayed are taken care of.”

The biggest hurdle the neighborhood faces, though, isn’t its soil or its storefront facades or its infrastructure. It’s the neighborhood’s image.

The Color Project and REV Birmingham’s REVIVE 2.0 are two projects that are bringing new life to the Ensley area of Birmingham, Ala. (Jon Reed/ 

Image problems

McCall is Ensley’s neighborhood president, and his neighborhood stretches from about the old U.S. Steel plant to Avenue W, and from Village Creek to about 35th Street. It’s a big area, but it’s not as big as the area of Birmingham where the streets are named “Ensley.” In Five Points West, Ensley Highlands and other areas south of Interstate 20/59 that aren’t part of the Ensley neighborhood or community, as defined by the city, the street names still end with “Ensley.”

Even in Green Acres, which is far closer to Midfield and southwest Birmingham than to the old U.S. Steel plant, the street names say Ensley. The City of Birmingham annexed Green Acres in 1949, nearly four decades after Birmingham merged with the old City of Ensley.

McCall has seen how people refer to the entire west side as Ensley, and has seen how, when people see every bad thing that happens west of Legion Field lumped in with one name, it’s hurt the chances for growth in his neighborhood.

“It doesn’t make Ensley look good,” McCall said. “I guess people don’t know when they talk about Ensley, what Ensley really is.”

Ensley still has its crime, he said, but it’s not as bad as its reputation suggests.

“Ensley is a safe community,” he said. “You don’t see kids standing on the corners like other areas, you don’t see that.”

When Hawkins talks about bringing Ensley back, he sees the hesitation from people who live in other parts of Birmingham. He knows the thoughts of crimes that might have happened in Central Park or Five Points West are going through their minds.

“I tell them Ensley is really safe and they always challenge me on that,” he said.

Both Hawkins and McCall realize that the key to bringing Ensley back is to convince people of its potential.

“I believe it can come back,” McCall said. “You’ve got to get the people with the money that there is a need to come back to this area.

“There are opportunities out here that could make it come back to what it used to be.”

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Grover Beach business owners say vagrancy-related problems are rising

Despite the city’s efforts to reduce the number of negative encounters with the local homeless population, some Grover Beach business owners say they are having more problems than ever before.

“I’ve been here for five years,” said Grover Beach chiropractor Daniel Bronstein. “This is the worst it’s ever been. By far.”

Bronstein owns Beacon Chiropractic at Ninth Street and Grand Avenue, an area he says has been plagued by increasing problems with vandalism, aggressive panhandling and public disturbances in the past few months, stemming from a subset of the city’s homeless population.

The Grover Beach City Council considered the topic at its meeting Monday, and directed the city staff to set up a workshop with city business owners to brainstorm ways to address their concerns.

I’ve found hypodermic needles on my property, I’ve found human excrement on my property.

Daniel Bronstein, Beacon Chiropractic owner

“We’ve had fistfights, verbal altercations between homeless individuals, increased drug use — I’ve found hypodermic needles on my property. I’ve found human excrement on my property,” Bronstein said. “My patients say they don’t feel safe anymore, and my employees don’t want to be around once it gets dark.”

Grover Beach has struggled with a larger homeless population than other South County cities and what is perceived as vagrancy-related crime.

According to the 2015 Homeless Point in Time Census and Survey, which measures the size of the homeless population in the county, Grover Beach recorded 158 homeless people during a 24-hour period in January. Of those, 140 where unsheltered and living on the street, in abandoned buildings, cars and/or in encampment areas.

In comparison, Pismo Beach recorded 47 homeless people, and Arroyo Grande had 10 on the same day. (Oceano and Nipomo were included with other unincorporated county areas in the report. The total number of homeless people recorded in those unincorporated areas was 211.)

When people are relegated to living outdoors, there’s a host of problems that go with that, whether it’s trash, or poor hygiene or having no place to go to the bathroom. But you have to understand that those are the result of them having nowhere else to go.

Dee Torres, SLO Housing Connection

Many Grover Beach homeowners have opposed proposals by South County People’s Kitchen and other organizations to offer services to the large homeless population, such as a day-use center or free meals, claiming the services attract criminal activity. That evidence is mainly anecdotal, though the Grover Beach Police Department has in the past said there was a link between increased crime and the transient population.

In 2014, the City Council made dealing with those concerns a priority, instituting new ordinances and police programs aimed at trying to reduce the problems.

Camp broken up

The City Council passed an ordinance in February 2015 that made it illegal to ask for money near banks and ATMs, in front of businesses, in parking lots and after sunset. The city has also installed cameras in traditional “problem areas” across Grover Beach such as Ramona Gardens Park and West Grand Avenue, and increased foot and bicycle patrols in the downtown area.

In September, the Police Department, as part of a multiagency effort involving State Parks, County Parks and local homeless services organizations, broke up a homeless encampment south of the Amtrak Station at the end of Grand Avenue. More than a dozen trespassing citations were issued.

Though the move was meant to uproot that location’s homeless population, Bronstein claims it has actually increased the number of vagrancy-related problems in his area of Grand Avenue.

“It’s getting to the point where people are just picking up and leaving,” he said, adding that at least one former business owner told him the homeless population was a major reason she decided to leave.

Dee Torres-Hill, former director of homeless services for the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County, stressed that a lot of the negative interactions between business owners and some homeless individuals are situations that can’t be avoided when part of the population lives entirely outside.

“Living outdoors is problematic for everyone,” she said. “When people are relegated to living outdoors, there’s a host of problems that go with that, whether it’s trash or poor hygiene or having no place to go to the bathroom.

“But you have to understand that those are the result of them having nowhere else to go. It’s a vulnerable place to be in.”

Torres-Hill — now a volunteer with the nonprofit SLO Housing Connection, which helps homeless individuals and families find permanent homes — said many of the problems would go away if there were a greater push to help those people become housed.

People in crisis

“These people are in crisis, and I think we need to be more empathetic toward them,” said Torres-Hill, who says she gets referrals to help relocate five to 10 homeless individuals and families a day. “I sympathize with the business owners, I really do. But we have to understand that the reality is, these people often don’t have any other place to go. We have to make housing-first a priority.”

Bronstein and a group of fellow Grover Beach business owners have a different opinion. In October, several of them spoke before the council during public comment, asking for stronger ordinances prohibiting panhandling, and forming a community group composed of business owners and residents that would address the vagrancy problems.

“We’ve spent a lot of time and money to fix up the downtown area and make it more attractive to visitors and tourists,” he said. “We’ve spent all this money on this business corridor, but nobody wants to walk on it.”

On Monday, the council directed the staff to schedule a workshop with business and commercial property owners to give them an update on the city’s actions, and to discuss options such as forming a neighborhood/business watch program and implementing other security measures.

The meeting would occur in December or early January, Mayor John Shoals said.

“While we don’t want to step on anyone’s rights, we need to get to a level that makes folks feel like they are safe in this community,” he said Monday.

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Temple Square gardner Peter Lassig created beauty and touched lives

The world is a more beautiful, colorful and inviting place because of people like Peter Lassig.

For several decades, Lassig was the head landscape architect of Temple Square for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where he designed and managed the gardens and Christmas lights. The horticulture genius and service-oriented family man died on Oct. 25 at age 77. His funeral was on Nov. 2.

One of the things Clarissa Lassig Anderson will remember most about her father is how he served others.

“He was a great dad, but he was gone quite a bit serving others, even when he wasn’t at work. I think he touched a lot of lives indirectly through his gardens at Temple Square, but he also touched a lot of lives directly through service,” Anderson said. “He was an example. His greatest legacy is that he was dedicated to serving in his church, community and family.”

Christena Gates, a former director of garden guides at Temple Square, relished the opportunity to work with Lassig.

“I remember so many things, but one that stands out in my mind is how much he loved the Savior and wanted to be like the Savior. He was kind and gentle and loving towards everybody,” Gates said. “He had an innate ability to see the goodness in people.”

Born in 1938, Lassig manifested a love of plants and flowers at a young age. One day he went missing. His family members found him laying in a flower bed, talking to the flowers, Anderson said.

After graduating from high school, Lassig served an LDS mission in Japan (1958-61).

In the mid 1960s, Lassig was responsible for the gardens of the Mormon Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair.

Lassig earned a bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University and a graduate degree at Utah State. He worked on Temple Square under head gardner Irvin T. Nelson, and was appointed head gardner in 1972 after Nelson retired. He remained in that position until he retired more than 30 years later.

Among his many contributions to Temple Square, Gates highlighted Lassig’s role in innovating new designs that were displayed during the 2002 Winter Olympics, figuring out how to put a garden on the roof of the Conference Center, and his positive influence in training and mentoring a multitude of volunteers and workers.

Lassig also assisted in the restoration of church historical sites like the Sacred Grove in New York and the landscaping of Adam-ondi-Ahman in Missouri.

One sweet memory for Gates was seeing Lassig supervise a group of missionaries with special needs.

“They did little jobs around Temple Square and were able to serve a mission,” Gates said. “That made Peter happy that he could help give that opportunity for these kids with disabilities.”

Lassig knew every type of plant and flower and how best to arrange them in the garden, Gates said.

“He called certain plants ‘thugs.’ If you planted one thug, you had to plant another thug of a different variety by it so it wouldn’t take over the garden. He was very sensitive about plants and their personalities and how you deal with them,” Gates said. “I think some people come to this earth with abilities that they were given before they were born. I think Peter had a natural love and talent for gardening.”

Lassig really treated flowers as if they had a living personality, Anderson said. While he mostly spoke kindly to flowers and plants, he once threatened to cut down an apple tree if it didn’t produce fruit, even going so far as to call the tree “an embarrassment to society,” Anderson said. “The next year that apple tree was bent over with fruit.”

On another occasion, the family was traveling on the freeway when Lassig suddenly pulled over and ran across the busy road in order to see a certain tree he had only ever read about.

“He was thrilled to see this tree in its natural environment,” Anderson said. “We were like, my goodness, all that for this?”

When asked if her father had a favorite flower or plant, Anderson said he had several that he liked. In fact, he always compared himself to a pansy.

“The name pansy might make you think that’s weak, but in reality, a pansy is a resilient flower, rich in color and able to withstand cold temperatures,” Anderson said. “It’s resilient and beautiful.”

Lassig cared about people the same way he cared about flowers, his daughter said. He provided for one large family. He and his first wife, Sylvia, had eight children before she died in 1991. With his second wife, Janet, five more children joined the family.

Lassig served as an LDS bishop and was active in the Boy Scouts of America.

In addition to gardening, Lassig was passionate about music, dance and theater. At the end of a show or performance, he was not shy about jumping to his feet and clapping as loudly as possible, Anderson said.

“He didn’t care about embarrassment,” she said.

When Lassig was on his mission in the Far East, a sister missionary told him he was “clumsy with women” and would never get married unless he learned to dance. When he got to BYU, Lassig spent hours observing the ballroom dance team and practiced with any willing partner. With time he became so good that he was invited to join the tour team, although he declined out of respect for his wife.

Anderson said her mother didn’t like dancing with her father because she was taller than he was, so on Friday nights he took his four daughters dancing at a senior citizens center.

“He taught me the cha-cha, the fox trot, the waltz, the tango, the two-step, everything,” Anderson said. “We would whip around that floor, so enthusiastic that they had to ask us to tone it down because we were disrupting the old folks.”

Email:, Twitter: tbtoone

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Garden tips: cats, weed mats, seaweed fertiliser, flowering trees

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Floral fireworks: Alan Titchmarsh on growing Fatsia japonica in your garden

It’s not showy in terms of colour, but it has an undeniable architectural quality and is indisputably tough, in spite of its Asian origins.

When my mum and dad got married in 1947 they were given one as a wedding present, with the advice that they should bring it indoors for the winter. For some reason they never did, 

and it lived out in the garden until my mother died in 2002.

My parents lived in Yorkshire, which is testament to the hardiness of this resilient evergreen. 

I say evergreen because it is, except in the hardest of winters when it can lose a lot of its foliage – often thanks to snowfall. But come the spring, there are always new buds breaking.

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Garden executive passes on green tips

WHILE humans retreat to the blissfulness of indoor air-conditioning, Central Queensland plant-life has no other option but to withstand heat.

“Gardening executive” Patsy Crawford said golden cane palms, fox tail plants and annual ferns are few of the best to pop in your garden.

The gardening enthusiast discovered her green thumb 40 years ago, yet had to adjust to Mackay’s ever growing humid season when she moved to town.

About 15 years on and her garden has flourished.

Bromeliaceae and desert roses are summer favourites she suggests to invest in, passing on tips to Richard Brown who is the Mackay Regional Botanic Garden’s newest curator.

Gerberas and orchids were other favourites, Mrs Crawford said.

“It is getting hotter year by year, and these plants can survive,” she said.

“You need to invest in hardier plant-life to plant, because otherwise they wither.

“Plus, the less water you need to use, the less water you need to pay for.”

Mrs Crawford best gardening tips were to tend to your garden in the early morning and evening, and find shade for plants more delicate than others.

“If he has a shaded area, he can have crow’s nest ferns and hoyas,” she said.

“They like the sun, but can easily burn.

“If you protect them, they will flower.”

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Ninth Moon Floral Design Showcase opens at Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden …

More than two dozen of the Northwest floral industry’s top designers are competing in an arrangement competition currently on display at the Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland. 

The Ninth Moon Floral Design Showcase, organized by Portland’s Floral Design Institute, features elaborate arrangements from floral designers representing Oregon, Washington, California, Montana, Idaho and British Columbia.There’s an opening night preview party tonight between 7-9 p.m.

This year’s showcase features a chrysanthemum competition. Vancouver B.C.-based floral designer Louisa Lam will be creating a floral arrangement at tonight’s event. Several other participating floral designers will also be in attendance.

The arrangements will be on display at the garden through November 8.

It’s as good an excuse as any to stop by the garden, which will be closed November 23 while they refurbish teahouse windows and rehabilitate Lake Zither. The garden will remain closed through late January, 2016.

–Beth Nakamura 503-221-8218

Twitter: @bethnakamura

Instagram: @bethnakamura 

Lan Su Chinese Garden is located at 239 Northwest Everett Street. Hours are 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily. Admission is $9.50 with reduced rates for students, seniors and a special family rate. For details, see

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