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Archives for December 23, 2015

Cannon Beach OKs Haystack Gardens’ artificial turf lawn

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By Andrew Tonry

For EO Media Group

The Daily Astorian–>

By Andrew Tonry

For EO Media Group

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CANNON BEACH — Despite initial objections, an artificial turf lawn will be rolled out at Martin Hospitality’s Haystack Gardens Retreat Center by May.

The Cannon Beach Design Board unanimously approved a plan for significant outdoor renovation to the event space at 148 E. Gower St., across from City Hall on Thursday.

The approved additions include a new 6-foot wooden fence, stone retaining walls that double as seating, 12 lighting bollards, two covered areas, a swath of additional soft landscaping, and the installation of nearly 6,000 square feet of artificial turf. The inclusion of the artificial lawn was the project’s lone point of contention at the meeting.

“I don’t think (artificial turf) really belongs in our town,” Cannon Beach resident Jan Siebert-Wahrmund said. “It doesn’t fit the image of Cannon Beach. We need to seriously look at this.”

Dave Norstedt, representing Haystack Gardens, made his case for the artificial surface.

“With our climate here, it’s so difficult to maintain that lawn,” Norstedt said. “Either way, when you have 200 people out there for an event for four or five hours it’s hard to do one the next day, or even the next weekend.”

Norstedt said maintenance of the artificial turf would be easier than caring for the lawn.

Siebert-Wahrmund said she was concerned approval of an artificial turf plan could set a precedent.

“I don’t think it’s a good direction for us to go as a community, a community that cares about nature,” Siebert-Wahrmund said. “We care very much about how we do things here and I don’t think this fits. It’s a bad step.”

Design Review Board member Mike Morgan agreed. “I don’t think (artificial turf) should be in any way acceptable landscaping for public view,” Morgan said.

But since the property is out of public view, the plan would be acceptable, Morgan said.

Board members asked how Haystack Gardens’ outdoor renovation proposal would overlap with a previously approved plan to build a multifamily dwelling on the property. The plan for that apartment building — not yet built ­— overlaps slightly with the proposed outdoor renovations.

With the help of City Planner Mark Barnes, the new proposal was amended to accommodate both the outdoor renovation and apartment building designs. When and if construction on the apartment building begins, overlapping artificial turf could be rolled back.

Construction on the multifamily unit is intended to offer dormitory-style housing to Martin Hospitality’s seasonal employees. A start date for the project has not been determined, Norstedt said.

“The apartment building is on hold,” Norstedt said. “The cost of construction is a little bit higher than we anticipated right now, and we’re just weighing our options.”

The landscape renovations, however, have a target date.

“We want to be ready for the wedding season,” Norstedt said. “So we should have it completed by May.”




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Looking Back: Japanese Gardens

The Japanese Gardens at Terrace Park have endured many glories and hardships since they were first envisioned in 1928 by the park’s caretaker, Joseph Maddox.

Maddox was born Dec.16, 1888, in Ogden, Iowa. He grew up near Howard and married Anna Capen in 1907 in Perry, Iowa. In 1914, they moved to Sioux Falls, and four years later, Maddox was hired on as caretaker of what would become Terrace Park. Maddox also was in charge of creating the terraces that became the park’s namesake. While taking a correspondence course in landscape work, Maddox came upon the concept of a Japanese garden. He got word of such a garden in Faribault, Minn., about 50 miles south of the Twin Cities and took a trip to see for himself.

Maddox spent many of his off-duty hours laying out his vision. Local stones were used for building the temple, but he gathered interesting stones from the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains near Sheridan, Wyo., for the flower pots he placed along the trail. He sourced some smooth round stones from a trout stream near Cody, Wyo. He also obtained oddly shaped stones from all corners of South Dakota. The diversity of the stones collected not only represented his emotional investment in the project, but also added visual interest to the garden’s features. The rough landscaping and shaping of the garden was done by city work relief programs. Six years after Maddox began the project, the Japanese Gardens were finally finished, and the work was amazing. In 1934, Maddox’s brainchild was awarded Better Homes and Gardens Magazine’s More Beautiful America Award.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the U.S. Naval base in Pearl Harbor. The next day, war was declared on the island nation. There was no shortage of anti-Japanese sentiment at the time, and the propaganda generated by the U.S. did nothing to dissuade it. This feeling extended to Maddox’s Japanese Gardens. The tranquility of the garden was interrupted by vandalism and further damaged by years of neglect. In postcards and other media, the gardens were referred to as an Oriental or Chinese garden. Maddox had retired from his caretaker position by 1936. The abuse of his creation hurt him greatly. It was for years his fondest dream to have the garden returned to its former elegance. He died in 1979, never seeing this come to pass.

In 1988, a group of concerned citizens gathered to take Maddox’s garden under their wing. They formed the Shoto Teien Japanese Garden committee. They enlisted the aid of Ben Chu, an arborist from St. Louis who specializes in Japanese gardens. He’s been coming to Sioux Falls for 22 years to help the committee gently guide the garden into the peaceful place it is today.

Eric Renshaw of Sioux Falls has written the book “Forgotten Sioux Falls” and gives a historical perspective on his website

More Looking Back features: Lewis Drug

Auto service stations downtown  |  Lowell Elementary

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Biltmore landscape historian releases book on estate gardens and grounds

Having worked on the estate for 37 years, lifelong Asheville resident Bill Alexander knows his way around the Biltmore House and its grounds. As landscape and forest historian for the Biltmore Company, he’s responsible for researching, preserving and sharing the extensive story of the estate’s unique natural setting.

Two years ago, Alexander began working on his latest book (his two previous titles focus on the Biltmore plant nursery and Biltmore Village). This time out, his subject is the gardens and grounds of the Biltmore Estate: how they were conceived, executed and maintained through the estate’s history. Along the way, we catch glimpses of early environmental awareness, innovative labor practices and the simple enormity of the task undertaken by George Vanderbilt and the team responsible for the mature landscape we see at Biltmore Estate today.

Early days

Visiting Asheville with members of his family in the winter of 1887 and 1888, George Vanderbilt conceived a fancy that would be familiar to many tourists of today: he liked the area so well, he decided to buy some land here. According to Alexander, an area just to the south of Asheville near a railroad station caught Vanderbilt’s eye.

Alexander quotes the young scion’s later remembrance of his first introduction to the area: “I took long rambles and found pleasure in doing so. In one of them I came to this spot under favorable circumstances and thought the prospect finer than any I had seen. It occurred to me that I would like to have a house here.”

After returning home to New York, the energetic bachelor wasted no time in assembling a top-notch team of designers and advisors. While the names of architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted are the most famous associated with the project, Vanderbilt’s friend and attorney Charles McNamee played a critical role in the early formation of the estate.

McNamee moved to Asheville and began assembling parcels of exhausted farmland, overgrazed fields and scruffy wooded areas. He purchased many of the tracts under his own name, so that land prices would not be inflated as landowners became aware of Vanderbilt’s intentions. By the end of 1890, McNamee had acquired about 6,000 acres. In time, that area would grow to nearly 125,000 acres.

Making a plan

Alexander’s text, along with carefully chosen photos from a number of archival sources, illuminates the surprisingly strong influence Olmsted exerted over Vanderbilt during the planning of the estate. While Vanderbilt initially envisioned a formal park — similar to those he had seen in Europe — stretching from the Biltmore House to the French Broad River, Olmsted bluntly countered that vision with a more realistic plan: “You bought the place then simply because you thought it had a good air and because, from this point, it had a good distant outlook. If this was what you wanted you have made no mistake…[But] It’s no place for a park. You could only get very poor results at great cost in attempting it.”

Instead, Olmsted counseled, Vanderbilt should create “a small pleasure ground and garden” close to the house, while making the rest a forest. Olmsted called this course of action “a suitable and dignified business for you to engage in.” Thus were the seeds of the nation’s first formal program of forest management sown, eventually resulting in the establishment of the Biltmore Forest School.

Along with Olmsted’s early advice regarding the most suitable uses for Vanderbilt’s Asheville property, Alexander’s book makes clear how extensive and methodical were the design and planting techniques used by Olmsted and other designers to create the pastoral, naturalistic effects of the estate’s landscape, especially on the Approach Road, the Spring Garden, the Glen, the Bass Pond and the Deer Park. A strong environmental sensibility also comes through the text and photos, showing that the estate’s creators were concerned with preserving habitats for wild animals and birds, and with improving the depleted environment that had been previously damaged by overuse.

Huge undertaking

The book also touches on the many workers whose efforts contributed to shaping the vast estate. Superintendent Chauncey Beadle gets a whole chapter for his 60 years of service. Beadle’s contributions and capabilities were many: he collected and propagated a vast amount and variety of plant material used on the estate, assisted George and Edith Vanderbilt with business and personal matters, served as landscape architect for the development of the town of Biltmore Forest and published several works of botany.

Alexander summarizes: “The list could go on, but perhaps most importantly, Beadle was the common denominator, the continuum that spanned more than a half century of Biltmore’s operations from the establishment through the founder’s death, two world wars, the Great Depression, the changing of the guards in the Olmstead firm, and beyond.”

A reader might wish one intriguing photograph were larger: an image showing the landscaping department on a break from their work on the Approach Road in 1891. The photo shows an integrated workforce of white and black laborers standing shoulder to shoulder with Beadle and Vanderbilt. In an interview, Alexander remarks that the landscaping crew on the estate was one of the very first, if not the first, integrated workforces in the South.

Those fascinated to learn how large projects were accomplished in earlier times will enjoy reading about the railroad spur laid to transport materials to the building site, the on-site quarry, the construction of a brick and tile factory (supplied by clay pits on the estate) and the engineering associated with building roads, ponds and the Lagoon.

Images of America

Alexander’s book is part of the Images of America series, published by Arcadia Publishing of Charleston, S.C. This series connects local authors and historians with local audiences to preserve and pass on local history traditions. The format of the softcover books lends itself to browsing, with two captioned black-and-white photos on nearly every page.

That photo-driven format is both a strength and a weakness of the series: the layout is easy to flip through, but its captions don’t lend themselves perfectly to reading in a longer sitting. As a compromise between a narrative text and a coffee table book, the series offers authors a convenient way to provide historical information and readers a reasonably-priced and approachable way to access it.

For Asheville residents and visitors familiar with the Biltmore estate, The Biltmore Estate: Gardens and Grounds offers an opportunity to pick up some new facts about the endlessly-fascinating story of the property. The book retails for $21.99 and is available at Malaprop’s Bookstore in downtown Asheville, as well as at Barnes Noble and online booksellers.



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195 Things: Flowers, greenery show softer side of city’s industrial park

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