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Archives for January 1, 2016

Bushfire garden recovery video helps rebuild effort

Blue Mountains City Council’s bushfire recovery team has produced a series of ‘how to’ videos to help bushfire-affected households re-establish their property with firewise gardens.

Blue Mountains City Council’s bushfire recovery team has produced a series of ‘how to’ videos to help bushfire-affected households re-establish their property with firewise gardens.

Released in December, the videos feature local bushfire-affected residents, experts and support agencies demonstrating various firewise approaches to gardening and landscaping to mitigate bushfire risk to homes.

Expert advice: Bushfire affected residents share their personal challenges of landscaping as they rebuild after the bushfires, and learning about firewise gardens in the council Bushfire Garden Recovery video series.

“Firewise landscaping is a critical ingredient to rebuilding in bushfire prone areas,” said Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill.

“Residents often express they don’t know where to start with landscaping or how to identify fire retardant plantings.” 

The bushfire garden recovery project originated from local bushfire-affected residents wanting to know how to rebuild their gardens in a way that is firewise. In a recent survey of bushfire affected residents, 80 per cent of participants identified gardening and landscaping as their biggest challenge to rebuilding.

The four videos provide specific and locally relevant information on landscape design and maintenance in bushfire prone areas, covering topics of managing weeds following a bushfire, how to design your garden to minimise bushfire risk, and personal stories of bushfire affected residents.

The project was achieved with the support of a $5000 NRMA grant and the assistance of more than 30 local volunteers.

Cliff Harvey from Winmalee, a participant in the filming, said “re-establishing a garden has been really important in our recovery journey, it’s the difference of feeling like you have moved back home not just into a house”.

“The bushfire garden recovery videos help to increase awareness about fire wise gardens and are an important resource for people rebuilding after bushfire and for those resident building for the first time or landscaping an existing garden,” said the mayor.

The video series feature the contributions from Hawkesbury TAFE on the importance of landscape design, expert advice from local Fire NSW and Rural Fire Service representatives, and council staff on mitigating property risk. Volunteers for the project included garden labourers from Baptist Church, local bushcare experts, and TAFE students.

“I would like to thank our local residents, experts and volunteers for sharing their stories and knowledge for the benefit of the wider community,” said the mayor

The videos are available on Blue Mountains City Council YouTube

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City, bar owners will tussle next week over plans to plant Celtic Gardens on …

Work has stopped at the old Shell station across from Walmart Neighborhood Market at Greenville and Belmont.

Work has stopped at the old Shell station across from Walmart Neighborhood Market at Greenville and Belmont.

If you were planning on spending 2016 drinking and dining at the new Celtic Gardens in the old Shell station on Greenville and Belmont Avenues, you might need to make other plans.

Three months after making its bow in the virtual pages of CultureMap — where Shawn Rao and Jonathan Serrano’s latest joint was introduced as a “capacious new concept … with so much food, beverage, and games that a millennial need never leave” — the owners and their attorney will go to the City Plan Commission next week to make the case they didn’t mislead officials to get a building permit. For now, at least, the city has ordered the pair behind The Social House to stop construction.

According to documents posted to the city’s website New Year’s Eve, at the end of July Serrano filed what’s called a Residential Adjacency Review Application with the Department of Sustainable Construction and Development, which is needed whenever someone’s building a business next to a neighborhood. According to Celtic Gardens’ RAR, the owners were just remodeling an old gas station “to a restaurant with a new parking lot.” It said there would be “a new interior,” as well as “exterior landscaping,” but said nothing about outdoor games.

City officials OK’d the doc on Sept. 28, and construction got underway. It lasted all of three weeks: On Oct. 14, days after the CultureMap item appeared, the city told construction crews to shut it down, shut it all down.

In a letter send to the plan commission on Wednesday, Assistant City Attorney Sonia Ahmed wrote that a stop-work order was issued because “an inspection of the site resulted in construction of an outdoor area that was not fully detailed in the original site plan submission.”

The original site plan submission

The original site plan submission, which says nothing about outdoor games

A month later, Serrano sent a letter to Building Inspection Coordinator Kiesha Kay in which he pleaded his case for construction. Wrote Serrano, Celtic Gardens was going to be nothing more than a “full service restaurant with a scratch kitchen” offering “organic and local produce in regional American favorites spanning from Hawaii to New York.” He continued:

“Similar to Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth, Celtic Gardens intends to bring a natural park element into an urban core,” he wrote. “Through the use beautiful transplanted live oaks that would normally be destroyed, manicured Magnolias, a perimeter of Leslie Nellie Hollies, and strategically placed landscaping and lighting, Celtic Gardens will create a natural dining atmosphere. To complement the dining and enhance the park feel there will be open spaces for people to play outdoor games such as ping pong, football, bean bag skeeball and life size Jengas.”

He closed his pitch by insisting, “Celtic Gardens will be an enhanced and vibrant green restaurant for Greenville and Dallas locals to escape the rushed nature of day to day city living.”

Click to enlarge: The most recent site plan for Celtic Gardens has an outdoor play space, which doesn't sit well with Lower Greenville residents or their council member.

Click to enlarge: The most recent site plan for Celtic Gardens has an outdoor play space, which doesn’t sit well with Lower Greenville residents or their council member.

That wasn’t good enough for David Cossum, the director of Sustainable Development, who said he needed more details than just a brief pitch. And it certainly wasn’t good enough for Lower Greenville residents, who aren’t big fans of bars and restaurants that let their insides spill outside.

In 2014 Blind Butcher pulled a request to keep its back patio open until 2 a.m. after neighbors protested the plan commission’s approval for a specific use permit. And the fact Jason Boso operates outdoor eat-n-drinkery Truck Yard factored into neighbors’ opposition to his plans to reopen Ship’s till 2 a.m., despite the fact it would be serving nothing more than beer and wine inside — which Ship’s had done for 65 years without complaints.

On December 4, Cossum sent Serrano an email denying the RAR application because “it does not contain sufficient information.” He gave the Celtic Gardens owners 10 days to appeal the decision, which is precisely what they did through attorney Roger Albright.

Thursday’s appeal in front of the plan commission will actually be a “quasi-judicial hearing,” according to city docs, with the onus squarely on the Celtic Garden-ers to make their case to the commissioners, who can side with Cossum, override his denial or find some middle ground. One thing’s for sure: Rao and Serrano have done nothing to endear themselves to the council member who represents Lower Greenville.

Philip Kingston told The Advocate just yesterday, “I can’t imagine coming to a neighborhood and poking it in the eye any worse than these guys have done. If these guys have the idea that this concept is going to be some sort of outdoor party scene, I’m committed to doing everything in my power to keep that from happening.”

Celtic Garden Docs

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Rodd Moesel: Take time to review landscaping, gardening goals

Welcome to the New Year 2016!  This is an exciting time of year as we say good-bye and close one chapter of our life and open and plan for an intriguing new chapter, full of hope and possibilities.

Just as we take time to examine and assess our personal lives at this changing of the years, it’s also a good time to review our landscape and gardening efforts of past years.

Did you get a lot of ice damage to your trees and need to allot some time for real pruning and shaping, not just storm response? Do you need to plant some trees and shrubs to replace some lost to age or ice storms or just to create new islands of shade and cooling in your yard? Do you need to plant a hedge to screen your view from current or planned development or to create a backyard room? Have you dreamed about starting or expanding a vegetable garden or creating a new flower bed? Do you want to add a patio and decorate it with a collection of container gardens?

Do you want to add a water garden and be able to meditate and ponder the world as you watch your koi fish? Do you want to plant a butterfly or pollinator garden to attract more butterflies and bees to your yard? Do you want your own cold frame to grow cool-season vegetables later into the fall and to get an early start on spring? Do you want your own winter greenhouse, equipped to grow your own spring vegetable and flower transplants or do you want to do a full year-round greenhouse with heating and cooling? Do you want to add an outdoor living room with a fire pit or kitchen surrounded by pretty and relaxing gardens? All these things are possible but you have to decide on what is your dream and then set about to make it happen. 

As we wrap up the Christmas festivities and start the new year, gardeners start to receive  seed and plant catalogs by mail and now email.  These beautiful pictures of the newest varieties of flowering annuals and perennials, tempting bulb crops, the wide variety of known and mysterious vegetables, fruits and berry crops as well as shrubs, ornamental grasses and trees can get almost any gardener fired up for the spring season. Some folks call these enticing garden catalogs and email blasts “garden candy” and they truly get gardeners in the spring spirit.

I am a proponent of the “buy local” movement and encourage you to support your local greenhouse, garden center and nursery businesses. Study and enjoy these catalogs, make out your wish lists and then visit with your local nurseryman for their advice and buy what you can locally or at least in our region. There are native plants that are well adapted here and many great plants that are not native but that still adapt well to our area that may be from similar temperate zones around the world.

Many beautiful plants that look enticing in these garden catalogs just do not adapt well to most Oklahoma conditions. Some plants can’t take our hot, dry, windy summer conditions; some can’t take our winter and other plants don’t handle our rain or drought surges well. A local nurseryman will often have experience to give advice on your selected new plants or to suggest a better variety or plant. If you can’t find the plant locally and it may be something you really want to try, check the plant hardiness zone and go for it. Most of Oklahoma is zone 7, with zone 8 south of us in North Texas and zone 6 north in Kansas. If the plant you want to try says it is adapted for zone 7 it could be fun to try something new. 

Have a great new year and we hope you stay warm and safe as you study your catalogs and garden web sites while setting your garden goals for 2016!

Rodd Moesel serves on the State Board of Oklahoma Farm Bureau and was recently inducted into the Oklahoma Agriculture Hall of Fame. Email garden and landscape questions to   




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Tom Karwin, On Gardening: Ensure planting success with these 12 tips

An important guideline for amassing plants in your garden is to plant when seasonal rains will water the plants as the establish roots and prepare for blooming in the spring. So, a good time to add plants to your garden is right now. Well, maybe not Christmas morning, but you get the idea!

With apologies to those of you enamored of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” here are 12 ways to succeed in that enterprise.

1. Plan to fill an existing space in the garden. Impulsively buying plants that catch your eye in the garden center can result in specimens that are too large or too small for spaces that need filling, or won’t complement plants next to those spaces.

2. Focus on plants that will add to your landscape style or theme. There are many alternatives to randomness in garden design. An explicit theme or style in your garden provides direction in the hunt for new plants, and adds coherence to the look of the garden.

3. Choose plants that will thrive in your garden’s environment. Most important is your U.S. Dept. of Agriculture climate zone, but also consider elevation, sun exposure and soil type.

4. Select plants of an appropriate size for the spot where they will grow. A common error is to install a plant that will outgrow its location.

5. Look for plants that are pest-resistant. With fuchsias, for example, a good choice would be a variety been bred to resist the Fuchsia Gall Mite (Aculops fuchsiae), a pest that’s difficult to control.

6. The logical corollary is to examine plants that you might buy to check for any evidence of “livestock.” The symptoms (e.g., chewed leaves, creepy-crawlers or their eggs on the underside of leaves) are usually unmistakable, but if you have any uncertainty, choose a plant that’s symptom-free.

7. Similarly, look for plants that are disease resistant. Several varieties of roses are both beautiful and resistant to powdery mildew and black spot. Why would you want to struggle with those diseases?

8. Again, before buying a plant, check for any sign of disease, or anything other than good health. Garden centers screen their plants diligently, to protect customers and their own reputations, but problems can be missed. This is most possible with amateur plant sales.

9. More and more, gardeners prefer plants that are free of toxic synthetic chemicals. Growers are beginning to label plants that have been grown without the use of neonicotinoids (“neonics”), for example, which appear to be harmful to bees. If the label doesn’t give assurance, ask!

10. To minimize your plant-buying expense, favor the garden center’s smaller plants. They should be well rooted, rather than freshly transplanted. In your garden, they will grow quickly to reach the size of more expensive plants.

11. On the other hand, to achieve an immediate effect, favor the larger plants. You will be paying the nursery for caring for the plant for months or even years, but the results may be worth the cost. An added benefit is seeing a well-grown plant’s structure.

12. Before buying a plant, especially one that fills its container more than others, check for healthy roots. Gently pull the plant from its container to examine roots for healthy color (usually white) and ample space in the container. Plants left too long in a container become root-bound, which can hamper their growth. On the other hand, such plants often could be divided into two or more for the price of one.

Tom Karwin is president of the Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and a Lifetime UC Master Gardener. Visit for links to information on this subject, and send comments or questions to

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Some garden photography tips for beginners

If you keep the
camera at the eye level, the background may be flowers, greenery, fencing,
boundary wall and even sky with a tilt. Understand that good composition begins
with the way you arrange the visual elements of design like line, shape, color,
light, texture and pattern.

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Garden tips: dendrobium beetles; propagation; azaleas; agapanthus

Enabling Cookies in Internet Explorer 9

  1. Open the Internet Browser
  2. Click Tools (or “gear” icon at top right hand corner) Internet Options Privacy Advanced
  3. Check Override automatic cookie handling
  4. For First-party Cookies and Third-party Cookies click Accept
  5. Click OK and OK

Enabling Cookies in Internet Explorer 10, 11

  1. Open the Internet Browser
  2. Click the Tools button, and then click Internet Options.
  3. Click the Privacy tab, and then, under Settings, move the slider to the bottom to allow all cookies, and then click OK.
  4. Click OK

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In the Garden: Tips to keep those holiday plants healthy

Posted Jan. 1, 2016 at 7:00 AM

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Welcome Mat: Home news, events in Metro Detroit

Send questions to ‘Ask a Designer’

Happy New Year, Homestyle readers! If one of your 2016 resolutions is to tackle an unruly room or design challenge, maybe it’s time to bring in reinforcements. Homestyle has teamed up with the Michigan Design Center on an ongoing series called “Ask a Designer.” Send your questions to Or mail them to “Ask a Designer,” c/o Michigan Design Center, 1700 Stutz Drive, Suite 25, Troy, MI 48084. Please include contact information; pictures are encouraged. Your question may appear in an upcoming Homestyle.

Nicole Curtis aims to premiere Season 7 at end of January

Mark your calendars, “Rehab Addict” fans. In a newsletter to her fans sent in mid-December, Lake Orion native Nicole Curtis says she’s hoping to get the new season of “Rehab Addict” out by the end of January. “Stay tuned,” she wrote to subscribers of her newsletter on Dec. 13. Season 7 will likely profile the makeover of Curtis’ grandfather’s old house – a house he built – in Metro Detroit. “Rehab Addict: Detroit” ran earlier this fall and profiled the restoration of the beloved Ransom Gillis mansion in Brush Park. Curtis teamed up with Quicken Loans on the project, which involved turning the abandoned mansion into a duplex. Curtis said the restoration, which included eight episodes, was a special series, not Season 7.

Terrariums: Gardens on a small scale

Terrariums are small indoor gardens that often include succulents or other small plants. Maria Colletti, terrarium designer for Shop in the Garden at the New York Botanical Garden and author of “Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass,” says when it comes to terrariums, “It’s the little things that bring joy.” Colletti encourages readers to think of themselves as garden designers on a miniature scale and draw inspiration from favorite garden designs. “There is such a sweet pride in creating and sustaining a small garden that you can peer into every day,” writes Colletti. To learn more about terrariums, English Gardens is hosting “Terrific Terrariums” at 1 p.m. Jan. 9 at all of its stores. At 2:30 p.m., they’ll offer a Make It Take It Terrarium Workshop. It costs $19.99.

Gorman’s opens Bernhardt Interiors Boutique in Southfield store

When Gorman’s Home Furnishings Interior Design opened up its Three-Day Clearance Center earlier this year next to its warehouse in Farmington, that opened up space in its stores once reserved for sale items. Now, that space at its Southfield location has a new name and purpose: Bernhardt. Called the Bernhardt Interiors Boutique, it officially opens today and features an upscale, fashion-forward collection of 450 Bernhardt items. The 2,500-square-foot space, devoted exclusively to Bernhardt, includes bedroom pieces, dining rooms, living rooms, upholstery, and accents. Gorman’s says it’s the exclusive Bernhardt boutique in Michigan.

New decluttering help? Local organizer offers tips on Jan. 12

It’s often one of the top New Year’s resolutions: Getting organized. If clutter and disarray are your Achilles’ heel, local professional organizer Betty Huotari of Logical Placement LLC in Fenton will offer tips on how to start 2016 on the right foot at 7 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Howell Carnegie District Library, 314 W. Grand River. Huotari is a certified professional organizer and former president of the Southeast Michigan National Association of Professional Organizers. Huotari’s talk is free and open to the public. Below are some of her tips for getting organized in the new year:

■Create a holiday or entertaining area/zone. It could be in shelving unit or cupboard kept downstairs so all the items you need are in one location.

■Organize your closest. It will take you less time to get dressed because the items in your closet are going to be the ones that you love and make you feel good.

■Create a system for your paper piles so they don’t stress you out and you can stay organized in the new year.

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Landscape Design School offered by State Garden Club

  • Thursday, December 31, 2015

Photo provided
Landscape Design School being offered by the State Garden Club.

The public is invited to attend two days of inspiring and educational lectures by some of the most noted gardeners, landscape architects, designers and horticulturists in the Lowcountry.

Each year the Garden Club of South Carolina and the National Garden Club offer a two day intensive study of landscape design. This year’s Landscape Design School (LDS) will take place Jan. 12 and 13 and will be held in Charles Towne Landing in Charleston. Course I is the first of four courses of the Landscape Design Study Program. Garden club members, home owners, public officials, nurserymen and others are urged to avail themselves of the expert instructions presented by outstanding lecturers engaged for the school.

The program is offered as a service to the public, but only members of a federated club of National Garden Clubs, Inc. are eligible for Landscape Consultant Certificates. The objective of the course is to lead students “through the beginnings of landscape design to the adaptations to accommodate the modern lifestyle and the future of landscaping.” (Stewards of the Land). The curriculum is intended to be taken in four courses with one course offered each year. These courses may be taken in any order and this year the group is starting with Course. Once a garden club member complete all four courses and pass all tests they will become a certified Landscape Design Consultant. A few of this year’s topics include Planning your Private Garden, Basics of a site plan, Color in the Landscape, History and so much more. Susan Haltom will present a special lecture of “Strong Southern Women in the Garden: The Weltys’ of Jackson and their Soil Sisters. Perennial favorite instructors include: Amanda Barton of Amanda Graham Barton Landscape Architecture Bill Eubanks, of Urban Edge Studio Glen Gardner of Glen Gardner Landscape Architecture Andrew Kohr of Stantec Consulting Services Inc. Gale Smith of Smith Ellis Designs Derek Wade with Carolina Landscape, Inc

The course fee is a modest $85 per person for the two day course and the test. Audit for only $70. For more information or a reservation, please contact LDS co-chair Kathy Wade at or 843-795-4769.

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Eat Your Yard! has information on 35 edible plants that offer the best of both landscape and culinary uses. Edible plants provide spring blossoms, colorful fruit and flowers, lush greenery, fall foliage, and beautiful structure, but they also offer fruits, nuts, and seeds that you can eat, cook, and preserve.

Author Nan K. Chase shares her first-hand experience with gardening, which lends the reader landscaping ideas as well as special culinary uses for fruit trees, including the crabapple and quince, nut trees, such as the chestnut and almond, and covering herbs and vines like the bay, grape, lavender, mint, and thyme. She instructs how to harvest pawpaw, persimmon, and other wildflowers for your meal as well as figs, kumquats, olives and other favorites.

Gardening General

Author: Nan K. Chase

Format: PBK

Weight: 1.41

Item Number: 6549

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