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Archives for November 9, 2015

Simon Malls president: SouthPark glacier ‘was a mistake’ – Winston


Melinda and Mark Mickholtzick brought their twin 3-year-old sons Tyler and Bryce to see Santa at SouthPark Mall in 2013. After hearing “feedback” from customers, SouthPark mall reversed itself and announced Saturday it will include a traditional Christmas tree in its 2015 holiday display after all.

Posted: Monday, November 9, 2015 10:31 am

Simon Malls president: SouthPark glacier ‘was a mistake’


Winston-Salem Journal

SouthPark mall made a mistake when it chose to replace its traditional Christmas tree with a faux glacier, the company’s president said Sunday, and the controversial display will be removed sometime Monday, the Charlotte Observer reported.

“It was a mistake, and we had to correct,” Simon Malls President David Contis said Sunday. “If we lose money, so be it.” Indianapolis-based Simon Malls owns SouthPark as well as Charlotte Premium Outlets and Concord Mills.

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Monday, November 9, 2015 10:31 am.

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Celebrity Real Estate: Al Pacino’s ‘Scarface’ Mansion Sells for $12.26 Million …



NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE OR PAYMENT WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. The Giveaway is sponsored by Pleroma Media Inc., 42 Broadway, Suite 12-235, New York, NY 10004 (“Sponsor”). The Giveaway is void where prohibited or restricted by all applicable law, and all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.  Winners are responsible for any taxes, customs, and duties and like amounts connected with the prizes.

1.  ELIGIBILITY. The Giveaway is open only to legal residents of the 50 states of the United States and the District of Columbia who are the age of majority in their respective jurisdiction at the time of entry (19 in AL and NE and 18 in all other states). Sponsor and its advertising or promotion agencies, those involved in the production, development, implementation or handling of this Giveaway, any agents acting for, or on behalf of Sponsor, its respective affiliates, subsidiaries, licensees, service providers, and any other person or entity associated with this Giveaway are referred to as the “Giveaway Entities.” Employees, officers, and directors of the Giveaway Entities and members of their immediate families (spouses, children, siblings, parents and their spouses), and/or persons living in the same household as such persons, whether or not related, are ineligible to enter this Giveaway.

2.  PROMOTION ENTRY PERIOD: The Giveaway begins on July 14, 2015 at 12:00 a.m. EST and ends at 11:59:59 p.m. October 31, 2015 (the “Giveaway Period”). When applicable, the Sponsor’s computers will be deemed the official time keeping devices for the Giveaway promotion.

3.  HOW TO ENTER. You will receive one entry into the random drawing for the Giveaway Period when you provide a verified e-mail through our designated modal window interface. Limit one (1) entry per person/email address. Multiple entries will be disqualified. All previous winners of any giveaway or contest sponsored by Pleroma Media Inc. are not eligible to enter. Any effort by an entrant to misrepresent himself or herself through the use of aliases or multiple e-mail addresses will disqualify that entrant. Registrations generated by a script, macro or other automated means are void. You must be the rightful owner of the email address provided. In the event of a dispute as to the identity of the winner, the winner will be deemed to be the authorized account holder of the email address provided at the time of entry. Entrants must provide all information requested to be eligible to win. Incomplete or unintelligible entries, in the sole discretion of Sponsor, will be disqualified. Sponsor will not verify receipt of entries and assumes no responsibility for late, lost, damaged, misidentified or misdirected entries.

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One (1) Prize per Giveaway Period:An Apple Watch Sport™, which is a registered trademark of Apple Inc. Approximate Retail Value: $349. Limit one (1) prize per person/household. No substitution, transfer, or cash equivalent for any prize, except that Sponsor, at its sole discretion, may substitute a prize with a prize of equal value, due to unavailability of advertised prize. Each prize will be awarded provided each prize is properly claimed. The prize will be shipped by Sponsor to the winners within 1-5 weeks of the receipt of a signed affidavit for approved entries. Prize winners are responsible for all taxes and fees related to any prize received. Actual retail value of prizes may vary due to market conditions. The difference in value of prize as stated herein and value at time of prize notification, if any, will not be awarded.

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Investigation: Cost of ‘Bold Vision’ palm tree project under scrutiny

Driving along the Florida Turnpike and Interstate 95 from the Treasure Coast to Miami, you can’t help but notice the interchanges are now dotted with thousands of exotic palm trees. Many of them are so new they’re still braced with beams, while others have drooping, browning fronds showing signs of needing water or other attention.

It’s what the Florida Department of Transportation calls it’s “bold vision” landscaping project — an attempt to put a branded, South Florida look on the roadways to impress tourists and create a positive impact for the state.

“But the amount of money that it had to have cost,” said Pamela Tubbs, a bookkeeper for a Treasure Coast landscaping company.

Tubbs isn’t the only one asking questions. Other residents and landscapers said the thousands of palm trees are often planted too close together and there are too many.

“Overkill. They did too much,” said landscape architect Sal Ceraulo, of the Okeechobee Boulevard turnpike interchange.

A WPBF 25 News investigation into the project revealed that one landscape company has received most of the contracts for the Bold Vision work. Manuel Diaz Farms, in Homestead, has won the bids for Interstate 95 from Fort Pierce to Miami and the turnpike for the same areas.

“It’s been very obvious for a long time that only one person was getting millions of dollars’ worth of contracts to plant trees,” said Tubbs.

WPBF 25 News obtained contracts from DOT showing that in 2014 DOT awarded Manuel Diaz Farms a contract to landscape Interstate 95 in South Florida with a total cap of $10 million.

DOT records also show the state has paid Diaz over $4.3 million so far to landscape the turnpike. And according to records provided by DOT, Diaz has seven other current multimillion dollar projects around the state.

Tubbs said landscapers she knows have wondered why all the bids go to mostly one company.

“Why did this grower get all of these favors, why did this grower plant so many trees?” asked Tubbs, who said she wrote Gov. Rick Scott last year asking the same question, but never received a reply.

Diaz is one of the largest nursery owners in Florida.

In 2000, he was charged with grand theft and two counts of official misconduct for not delivering as promised $100,000 worth of palm trees to the Miami-Dade government.

According to court records, Diaz was accused of not delivering the right size, kind or amount of trees he was paid for, but by the time the case went to court, it was thrown out because the statute of limitations had expired. An appeals court upheld the ruling.

Since then, Diaz has received numerous state contracts.

Several sources who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal from DOT, said Diaz is somehow able to convince top DOT officials to include his pricey, exotic palm trees in the plans for the projects, even when original plans called for more native plants. Sources said even when DOT landscape experts objected, they were overruled in favor of Diaz’s choices.

One example — Medjool date palms costing over $7,000 apiece.

Ceraulo said there were other odd choices for South Florida highway landscaping.

“They’ve spent quite a bit of money on these Sylvesters (palms),” said Ceraulo, “and they could’ve put in a flowering tree and saved a ton of money and built up that same space.”

Diaz charged $2,500 apiece for the Sylvester palms, planting 161 of them at the Okeechobee interchange and netted $412,000 just for those trees. His total payment for the Okeechobee interchange was just under $1 million.

The town of Jupiter didn’t like Diaz’s plan for its turnpike exit.

In an email from Town Manager Andy Lukasik, the town complained Diaz’s other jobs looked “like a nursery was transplanted along the highway,” writing the contractor’s design appears to be in his interest so he can sell as much of his product as possible.”

The town said it would prefer using more native trees, such as oaks and sabal palms. But those objections were ignored and Diaz got the job, planting hundreds of pricey and exotic palms and pocketing millions.

DOT is required by Florida law to spend 1.5 percent of the cost of road projects on landscaping.

Tubbs said she doesn’t understand why, though, the state doesn’t spread some of the wealth around to various growers who would love to have the work.

“It feels like this is a political favor for someone who has hundreds of thousands of trees. We all went through a recession and he found an outlet for hundreds of thousands of trees with our money, state money,” said Tubbs.

DOT spokesman Dick Kane said the projects awarded to Manuel Diaz Farms went through “the normal, open and transparent competitive procurement process.”

Kane also stated in an email that “Mr. Diaz did not initiate the Bold Vision landscaping program,” as some sources had indicated.

Diaz declined an on-camera interview with WPBF 25 News, but his company manager said he would answer written questions. So far, he has not replied to the questions sent to him by WPBF 25 News.

Article source:

Garden winners share landscapes

Every year at Erie County Council of Garden Club’s fall general meeting its civic beautification committee gives out awards to three Erie County businesses with outstanding landscaping and gardens. On Oct. 21 the civic beautification committee of Kathy Welte of Elk Valley Garden Club, Barb Bol of Heather Garden Club, and Betty Holme of Waterford Garden Club announced the three winners chosen from a list of nominations given to them by garden clubs of the ECCGC.

The winners for 2015 are:

Small Garden: Shawn and Jeannie Leh, owners of Four Creeks Bed and Breakfast, 159 Main St. East, Girard. They were nominated by Karen Amish, of Elk Valley Garden Club. Accepting the award for the couple at the meeting was their friend, Marne Boyce. The couple was in England visiting their first grandchild. Amish told why she nominated them: “Shawn and Jeannie bought the property in 2006 and have been working nonstop to clean and revitalize the landscape. They have removed plants, reorganized, leveled the ground in the front garden, and began putting pavers down in the backyard garden. They brought English cottage garden charm to our grateful and beautiful little town.” Coneflowers, rudbeckia, pampas grasses and other greenery contribute to the English garden feel.

Medium Garden: American Legion Post 494, 42 Wall St., Girard, nominated by Karen Amish, of Elk Valley Garden Club. Rich Yuhas and Dave Jackson accepted the award, representing American Legion Post 494. Yuhas does the landscaping work. There are ornamental pines, holly, columnar buckthorns and grasses. Petunias, geraniums and marigolds add summer and fall color. “Legion Post 494 was beautifully renovated in 2012. The landscaping shows their honor to veterans past and present, as well as community pride. The gardens are a tribute to all veterans from all branches of the armed forces,” Amish said.

Large Garden: Sarah Reed Senior Living, 227 W. 22nd St., nominated by Lynn Jackson of Presque Isle Garden Club. Accepting the award were Gale Magyar and Carolyn DeMartino. Magyar is the owner of Special Touch Landscaping, who creates and maintains the gardens, and DeMartino is the executive director at Sarah Reed.

Jackson explained why she nominated Sarah Reed: “They have flowers, plants and shrubs lining every sidewalk and all the entryways. The colors and textures are beautiful, with interest from the spring through the fall. There is a small courtyard just east of the front entrance where you may find many of the residents outside enjoying the fresh air and beauty of the gardens. I like to take my mom for walks around Sarah Reed Senior Center in the nice weather. We love to talk about the flowers and plants they have around the outside of the building, and reminisce about plants she had in her yard, and ones that were favorites of my grandmother.”

Congratulations to the winning businesses and thank you for making Erie County more beautiful. We’ll be looking for more great gardens next year.


L.E.A.F. activity

Little leaves, Thursday, 10 a.m. Education Center, 1501 W. Sixth St. Beautiful Birds. Movement, stories and art for ages 5 and under accompanied by an adult at the L.E.A.F. Education Center from 10 — 10:45 a.m. $2 per child for children 2 and over. Free for members and children under 2. No preregistration required.


Garden club meetings

Wildflower Garden Club, Tuesday, 6 p.m., 117 Lencer Drive, Crown. Potluck dinner and installation of officers. Call Carol, 744-9695.

Presque Isle Garden Club, Wednesday, 10:30 a.m., 4703 West Ridge Road. Holiday centerpiece workshop. Bring greens, a container, clippers and decorations. Call Joy, 756-4095.

Albion Garden and Civic Club, Nov. 17, 6 p.m., 525 Ellis Road, E. Springfield. Marybeth Zeman will give a presentation on Alaska wildflowers. Call Peggy, 756-3811.

Westminster Garden Club, Nov. 17, 11:30 a.m., Hoss’s Steak House, 3302 W. 26th St. Members will make Christmas gift boxes. Call Eileen, 454-0739.


SUE SCHOLZ is a member of Presque Isle Garden Club. Send garden news to

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Garden Tips: Prepare for spring gardening by doing small chores now – Tri

Two weeks ago, I talked about the fall garden chores that should be done once fall arrives and cool weather starts to prevail. Here are some tasks that are good to do but are not absolutely necessary:

▪ Clean the vegetable garden: It is a good practice to clean the garden by removing plants that are finished producing or killed by frost. Plants without any obvious disease problems may be chopped and composted. However, if the plants were diseased, do not compost them. Once the plants are removed, add organic matter to the soil by tilling in finished compost or chopped up leaves.

Spring is busy, so the more cleanup you do now, the further you will be ahead next season.

▪ Pruning back roses? If you originally come from a colder area of the country like I do, you are probably familiar with the process of severely cutting back roses in the fall and covering the bushes with soil or a loose mulch to protect from the cold. Because winter temperatures here are usually not bitter, severe fall pruning is not needed and can actually make the plants more vulnerable to damage. However, after several hard frosts, it is good to prune tall rose shrubs to a height of about 3 feet to keep them from blowing in gusty fall and winter winds, and possibly uprooting the plants.

▪ Clean flower planters: Spring is busy, so the more cleanup you do now, the further you will be ahead next season. Take advantage of mild days to tidy flower container gardens. Remove plants, roots and all, by pulling or digging. Use a garden knife or a sharp trowel to dig and break up root masses and clumps of potting mix. (If you grew ornamental sweet potatoes, you may find a sizable tuber, or sweet potato, as part of the roots. These are edible, but are most likely not very tasty.)

▪ Garden tools: If you put tools away clean and in good condition, they will be ready next spring. Use a wire brush to clean soil off digging tools, and then use a flat mill file to sharpen blades, if needed. Do this by filing away from you using long strokes. If you have not done this before, you can probably find a how-to video online. For tools with wooden handles, rub the wood with boiled linseed oil. This helps prevent the wood from drying and cracking. If the handle is rough, sand it before applying the oil.

▪ Yard art: If you have any pottery or concrete bird baths, take time to clean them off and store them. If you leave them out in the yard, any water in them may freeze, causing cracks and chips. I winterize my bird bath by scrubbing out the bowl, wiping it off and placing it under the eaves (no room in the garage) with the basin upside down so it will not collect leaves, snow or rain.

If you have a bird bath or fountain that is too heavy to move, drain it, fill the bowl with burlap or blankets to absorb condensation, and then cover it with heavy plastic sheeting to prevent it from filling with moisture. Secure the plastic well to avoid problems with wind. If removable, take fountain pumps indoors for the winter. Also, clean off other types of garden art, like gazing balls and wind chimes, and store them.

Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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Genius behind Mormon Temple Square’s famed flowers dies, but his lush legacy …

Lassig was “a lovable, eccentric genius,” said Paul Anderson, an architect and a retired curator at Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art. “He had an intuitive feeling for gardens.”

Lassig, who was born in Salt Lake City in 1938, was drawn inexorably to the famous square as an 18-year-old, volunteering to weed and perform other odd jobs. He maintained his interest while serving a Mormon mission in the Far East, then asked and received permission to remain, after his two years were up, to tour the renowned Kyoto Gardens and study those techniques.

The future designer earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from BYU and completed three years of graduate work in landscape design at Utah State University, all the while apprenticing at properties owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He managed the gardens at the Mormon Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair in the 1960s. Then, in the early 1970s, Lassig got a call from then-LDS Church President David O. McKay, naming him the head gardener for Temple Square, a position he would hold until retiring more than three decades later.

In the past, the flowers on the prized property were arranged to spell out “LDS” or the Boy Scout symbol or were lined up in rigid rows as a formal English garden.

Plants don’t always cooperate, though. They died, leaving gaps of color, or those stubborn daffodils refused to stay in line.

So, as the number and variety of plants in the signature space soared from 22,000 to 165,000, Lassig pioneered a “skeleton, tendon and flesh” approach that gardeners across the globe emulate.

If a “sick plant” dies, he said in an oral interview with the LDS Church, “neighboring plants … are perfectly willing to occupy this vacancy.”

Lassig also helped plan landscapes at several Mormon temples and led the renewal of the church’s “Sacred Grove” in upstate New York, considered the faith’s birthplace.

He oversaw the army of volunteers it took to manage all the planting and pruning, weeding and watering. He also supervised the expansion and design of Christmas lights on Temple Square, creating a winter wonderland that attracts hordes of viewers every December.

Sometimes the master gardener had to argue with Mormon bureaucrats. In 1949, the church had planted a cedar of Lebanon seedling, which grew on Temple Square into a large, sturdy tree, near the south entrance. After a harsh winter, the tree was sliced in half by ice sliding off a roof.

To Lassig, though, “it [still] was beautiful and noble.”

Then construction jeopardized the tree.

“I promised to go to The Salt Lake Tribune,” he said in an oral interview, “and get them to photograph the little old ladies laying in front of the bulldozers with me.”

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Hertfordshire garden design duo taste Hampton Court success

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Their shared love of garden design grew first into a firm friendship, then a professional partnership – which saw them win Silver Gilt at Hampton Court this summer. Alice Ryan meets Vanessa Hoch and Rachel Pocock, the design duo creating spaces with brains as well as beauty.

A great garden should look lovely – that’s a given. But, say Vanessa Hoch and Rachel Pocock, it should be far more than a pretty face: it has to be practical, too.

“When we were training, we saw so many gardens that looked beautiful, but were totally impractical; you couldn’t live with – or in – them,” says Rachel. “What we’re interested in is real ital. gardens: gardens that work for the people that use them; gardens that give people genuine pleasure.”

It’s a description that befits the friends’ debut show garden: called Foundations for Growth, it exhibited at this summer’s Hampton Court – the largest flower show in the world.

Winning a prestigious Silver Gilt medal, only one step away from a Gold, the garden also won praise from TV’s Joe Swift. Touring the plot as part of his BBC coverage, he complimented the planting and said it was surely “one of many show gardens to come” from VaRa Garden Design, Vanessa and Rachel’s joint venture.

“Our aim was to do a show garden and for it to hold its own alongside all the others. . . So to win the Silver Gilt? It was just amazing,” says Rachel.

Even from the photos, it’s not hard to see why Foundations for Growth impressed the judges. Set out around a focal sunken area, the hard landscaping – in contrasting cool grey stone and warm rust-red steel – is clean and contemporary; all straight lines and sharp corners.

But the planting is soft, inviting, even voluptuous: great swathes of green – spanning tall, swishy grasses and low-growing tuffets of golden ilex – are punctuated with shots of rich purple (heuchera) and hot orange (day lilies).

There’s a drama in this juxtaposition of manmade and nature-grown; this garden is an interesting place to be.

There are adventurous touches, too. Take the use of astroturf; as Mr Swift put it, “people can be a bit snobby. . . but it works really well”. The sunken area is carpeted with faux grass, and skinny strips are inlaid in the walling of the raised beds, cleverly drawing your eye from ground to border. “We weren’t aiming for a naturalistic look,” says Vanessa. “We just thought of it as another texture; another source of colour.”

As a quote, etched on to a tall steel panel, reveals, this garden has a story to tell: “Information alone can never become knowledge, and knowledge never becomes wisdom, without some kind of rooting in the soil of experience” – James Raffan.

The theme – of education as a voyage of both academic and personal discovery – was inspired by Vanessa and Rachel’s time at Capel Manor College, where both trained in garden design. “That’s how we met: we shared the same table for three years,” says Vanessa. Collaborating on an end-of-course competition entry (they won), brought home how much they enjoyed working together: “We realised that we had lots of similarities, but also that we challenged each other to see other angles too.”

That design was the seed of their show garden. Garnering sponsorship from both Capel Manor and Provender Nurseries, which had backed the student competition, Vanessa and Rachel also drummed up support from their fellow students at the college: all the hard landscaping, for example, was done by trainees in construction.

“When you consider that none of us had done anything like it before, it is quite amazing,” smiles Vanessa.

Both she and Rachel took the Capel Manor course alongside part-time day jobs: Vanessa co-ordinates marketing and communications for a group of special schools, while Rachel is a senior physiotherapist in the NHS. Both also have children: Vanessa’s girls are 6 and 9, while Rachel’s three are in their teens.

“It was after having my second daughter that I discovered a more creative side to myself,” says Vanessa, explaining what drew her to the three-year garden design course. “I really enjoy my job – I love working with people – but, in a way, it wasn’t ticking my creative boxes either,” agrees Rachel.

The course proved rigorous and jigsawing it with their other commitments wasn’t always easy. “But our one day a week at college was our day, if you know what I mean? We loved it,” says Rachel.

Vanessa’s interest in gardening didn’t develop until relatively recently: “My grandparents and dad enjoyed pottering in the garden and growing veg, but I didn’t get into it at that stage. Though I have always had a thing for colour and texture – something which certainly comes through in our garden designs!”

Rachel began helping out in the family garden in her teens, and has tended her own plots and allotment on and off ever since. The first time she turned her hand to garden design, as opposed to more run-of-the-mill planting and maintenance, was 15 years ago: “For my mum’s 60th, we gave her front garden a makeover.

“It was a surprise: just like the kind of thing you see on the TV! It was a very traditional front garden – laid to lawn, privet hedge – and replaced it with gravel and lots of warm colour. . . She was very, very pleased. The garden still looks much the same today.”

While Rachel concedes that her own garden, in central Royston, is “in a transitional stage: the children have grown out of the climbing frame, so I’m just trying to work out what to do with it”, Vanessa says she’s “very lucky” with hers.

Living in half a converted school, in the Hertfordshire village of Radlett, her garden runs around three sides of the house. “It does have its challenges: it’s pretty narrow and completely enclosed, so there are no views. But I’ve experimented a lot with planting: when I started at Capel, they used to tease me about having a ‘one garden’, as in ‘one of everything’. . .”

Viewing one of VaRa’s completed projects – a domestic garden in Meldreth, where the pictures for these pages were taken – the friends’ skill as plantswomen really shines.

Though they’re happy to design plots from scratch, they’re also adept at revamping or enhancing small or problem areas of an established garden – and that’s exactly what they’ve done here.

Focusing on the area closest to the house, they’ve softened a wall, encasing the raised lawn, with planting; created a colourful pocket border in the patio; and injected interest in a gravelled bed – now home to the steel cube seats-come-sculptures which starred in their Hampton Court design. The tree-lined garden has a traditional, country feel – yet the cubes blend in beautifully. It’s an inspired move.

Planted to provide year-round interest, flame-coloured crocosmia and ruddy heuchera are currently stars of the show, along with swishy miscanthus grass and judiciously kept seed-heads.

Both Vanessa and Rachel agree a good garden needs high-quality hard landscaping, which brings style as well as function to the table. Plentiful colour is another must: they have a particular soft spot for autumnal oranges through reds to purple. And plentiful texture too: architectural foliage plants are a favourite, ranging from jungly fatsia to elegant grasses.

As well as planting with succession in mind, so there’s always something new coming through, the designers also like to create “moments: certain times when a particular corner or border comes into its own”. Memories of a Capel Manor study garden, where tulips and alliums reached a joint peak, are a guiding example.

“Seating’s another thing: a garden’s not just something to look at, it’s a place to be,” adds Vanessa. “When we sat on the steps, leading down to the sunken centre of our Hampton Court design, we were immersed in the garden; totally surrounded by the plants. That worked far better than I think either of us anticipated.”

Constantly on the look-out for inspiration, Rachel cites Derek Jarman’s coastal garden, down in Dungeness, among her favourite designs. Famously disparaging about the sterility of modernism, the film director’s garden is lush with naturalistic planting and features, including great hunks of rock, which stand proud on stretches of gravel. “Even though his style is very different from ours, I think it’s the most beautiful garden – which works so perfectly with the surrounding landscape.”

At the other end of the design spectrum, Vanessa is a big fan of Luciano Giubbilei, the Italian-born, Inchbald-trained designer behind 2014’s Best in Show at Chelsea – the cutting-edge contemporary Laurent Perrier Garden, all sheer stone walls, close-clipped hedging and tight-palette planting. “His work is so modern; I just think he’s a master at what he does.”

With their client list growing all the time, thanks to word-of-mouth recommendation more than anything, Vanessa and Rachel are currently working on a diverse range of domestic projects, from a small town garden (which has to cater for two children and two rabbits) to a sprawling country plot (complete with swimming pool and its own field).

Keen to collaborate with property developers to make the most of new-build outdoor space, they would also love to create a public or community garden. “There is something therapeutic about being outside in the fresh air and surrounded by green; surrounded by beauty,” says Vanessa. “It would be lovely to give that experience to a wider group of people.”

It’s clear, just from listening to them chat, that Vanessa and Rachel are round pegs in round holes. “In the last couple of years, we’ve done things we never thought we could or would do,” says Rachel. “Moving into garden design has changed my outlook,” adds Vanessa. “It’s opened up a whole new life for me.”

VaRa Garden Design offers a wide range of services, from creating a planting scheme for a single border to designing entire gardens. An initial consultation is free within south Cambridgeshire and north Hertfordshire. For more information visit

Pictures by Warren Gunn and VaRa Garden Design.

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Magical Gardens by Arne Maynard

Anybody who has spent time with British landscape designer Arne Maynard knows that he likes to think big. A new book, The Gardens of Arne Maynard (Merrell, $67), demonstrates this fact via a wealth of sumptuous photographs of grand-scale designs Maynard has created in both Europe and America.

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