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Archives for January 5, 2016

Former Boy Scout Camp, Now a Waterfront Home

  • Location:

    Salem, United States

  • Price: $3,750,000

The owners acquired this 32-acre Boy Scout camp in Salem, Conn., complete with hiking trails, and turned it into a year-round vacation home.—Stephen Lee

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Officials not releasing information about deer cull in Ann Arbor

As the debate over killing deer in Ann Arbor parks continues, it remains unclear whether any shooting has begun.

The cull was scheduled to begin as early as 4 p.m. Monday.

But city officials and the U.S. Department of the Agriculture, whose sharpshooters are contracted to carry out the cull through March 1, so far have declined to comment on how the cull is progressing if it has started.

Asked on Tuesday morning to confirm whether USDA sharpshooters shot any deer overnight in Ann Arbor parks, the USDA declined to release any information and indicated it wouldn’t be providing such details until the cull is completed.

“Public safety is our top priority and in order to make this action as safe as possible, information specific to reduction activities will not be provided,” said Pam Boehland, a spokeswoman for USDA Wildlife Services.

“However, USDA and local law enforcement are in coordination and are working with state and local officials to ensure public safety,” she added. “Final numbers will be released when cull activities are completed.”

Lisa Wondrash, the city’s communications director, would only say that the city’s deer management plan is “currently being implemented” and the designated parks are closed as scheduled until March 1.

The cull permit approved by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources runs through March 1.

Two dozen parks and nature areas on the north and east sides of town will be closed from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays during the cull.

Weekly reports on the cull are required to be provided to the DNR. City officials have not yet indicated whether those reports will be made publicly available.

Protests against the cull continued at Monday night’s standing-room-only City Council meeting. Though there were no items related to the cull on the agenda, the meeting ended with council members standing behind their 10-1 decision from November to proceed with killing up to 100 deer this winter.

The city’s stated goal is to reduce the deer population in order to reduce negative deer-human interactions, such as complaints about damage to gardens and landscaping, and to support biological diversity in natural areas.

The city conducted a helicopter flyover last year that found 168 deer in areas in and around the city. Annual culls are planned over a four-year period.

Ryan Stanton covers the city beat for The Ann Arbor News. Reach him at

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Public talk about colorful drought landscaping – Sonoma Index

The public is invited to hear Karen Boness, owner of Wild Willow Landscape Design, speak on “Master Planning Your Garden for Year-Around Color.” Boness is an expert on colorful drought-tolerant plants and she serves on the design team of the Sonoma Garden Park and recently completed a master plan of the gardens for presentation to Sonoma City officials.

Boness earned a permaculture design certificate at La’akea Gardens on the Big Island of Hawaii and furthered her studies at Merritt College in Oakland, where she received certificates in both landscape horticulture and landscape design.

The Valley of the Moon Garden Club meets at the Sonoma Valley Veterans Building, 126 First St. W.

A “Meet and Greet” time is at 6:30 p.m. with the meeting presentation beginning at 7 p.m. 

The club provides refreshments, a plant raffle and information on club programs. Members are free and guests are $5, which can go toward the $20 membership fee.

For additional information, visit

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Weird Gardening Tips To Know


Gardening is one of the most enjoyable hobbies. This will make your life colourful and will fill each day with the hope of something new for the next day. While looking for improving your effort, you might have come across many of the effective tips that are constantly told by experts in the field.No matter whether you consider gardening as a hobby or a profession, it is better to have some effective ways in your mind. Traditional and natural methods are used by many. But to find some weird garden tips, you may need some trial and error or you may get some instant ideas accidently.When you hear of some of the weird garden tips, you may think it’s crazy. But, it will work more effectively than you imagine. Many ideas tried and tested by people can be useful for you as well.Here are some weird gardening tips for you.

Weird gardening tips are:

1.Egg Shells: Calcium rich egg shells will definitely boost your garden. Dried egg shells are great natural fertilizers. Don’t throw the shells in the dustbin. Just crush it and throw them into the soil. It is even good to start planting your seeds in egg shells. It can be a perfect pot for your little seedling.

2.Epsom Salt: Epsom salt contains high quantity of magnesium and sulphate. Plants need these nutrients to enrich it. Tomatoes and peppers usually get more benefits from this gardening tip. It is better to add one table spoon of Epsom salt into the soil before planting.

3.Use Diapers: Tear the diaper covering, take out the gel and soak it in water. You can mix this gel with soil and can use this to grow plants. But, avoid this for growing edible plants.

4.Forks For Pets: Your pets may spoil your garden by walking or running through it. All your hard work will be of no use because of pets. Don’t worry, there is a good idea! Just keep some plastic forks in the soil. Try this simple weird tip and see that your pets stay away from your precious garden.

5.Powdered Milk: By adding powdered milk to the soil, you can produce sweet and juicy tomatoes. Try it and get good tasty tomatoes. These gardening tips are effective and productive.

6.Sweet Cucumbers: If you want cucumbers to be sweeter than normal, plant it near the sunflower. One of the most familiar features is that both need same soil. Stalks of sunflower also help the cucumber to climb. This is one of the effective gardening tips.

7.Cooking Water: Don’t waste your vegetable cooking water. This water is said to have high quantity of nutrients. It can be a good fertilizer. Just save the cooking water and let it cool down. This is the best option to grow a healthy garden.

These are the weird gardening tips.

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Gardening tips with Malcolm Campbell

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City Garden Cafe employees donate tips to animal group

MANSFIELD – Anya Todd is not used to such generosity.

“I have to do a lot of begging normally to get this kind of donation,” she said.

Todd, the director of the Mid-Ohio Animal Welfare League, spoke Monday before receiving a donation from the employees at City Garden Cafe. Employees donated their tips for the year, amounting to $631, along with money they raised.

The combined donation to MAWL totaled $876.

City Garden Cafe is operated by Richland Newhope Industries in partnership with the City of Mansfield. The cafe provides employees with disabilities the opportunity to receive on-the-job experience in a food-service setting.

Cafe employees donated their tips to the Club for Animal Respect and Education at Newhope. The club has been raising money the last month for the MAWL.

MAWL, which recently recognized its 10th anniversary, is a small, volunteer-operated organization whose mission is to protect and promote value and respect for all animals. When able, the group accepts animals into foster, home-based rescue.

“Our primary concern is bringing low-cost spay and neuter services to the community,” Todd said.

Todd called Monday’s donation “humbling.”

Jane Imbody, Newhope’s director of community relations, said the cafe employees chose MAWL as the group they wanted to help.

“I thought it was a real good idea,” cafe manager Leeann Means said. “I’m a big animal person.”

Sean Conrad, shift leader at the cafe, said he and his fellow employees didn’t mind giving up their tips. They made a similar donation last year to the service and support administration at Newhope for personal items and food.

Means oversees six employees.

“They’re a great staff to work with,” she said.

Located on the third floor of the municipal building, the City Garden Cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays. It serves breakfast and lunch items, including specialty sandwiches, salads, soups, desserts and gourmet coffee.


Twitter: @MNJCaudill

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First acoustic garden for RHS event at Malvern

ONE of the UK’s first acoustic gardens is to feature at this year’s Royal Horticultural Society Malvern Spring Festival.

It will be designed by Pippa Shennan of Wotton-under-Edge, near Stroud, and form part of the Festival Gardens at the event on the Three Counties Showground from May 5-8, which was formerly known as Malvern Spring Gardening Show. Titled “A private refuge – a hidden gem” the garden is believed to be the first to have been designed specifically to cut out external noise through the use of acoustic fencing and a careful choice of water features, plants and trees.

Ms Shennan has drawn on personal experience for her design. She explained: “As I have a problem with external noise and privacy in my own garden I decided to design something that addresses these issues. It is a common problem, particularly in towns and cities, so hopefully my design and the ideas contained in it will be something from which others can benefit. The design and building of a show garden is an expensive business so I am looking for sponsors who might have an interest in helping me to achieve my aim”.

Ms Shennan added to her degree in agricultural botany by achieving a pass with distinction in garden design only three years ago and then setting up a consultancy, Earthmark Garden Design. Recently she has also gained a diploma in garden design, planting design and horticulture and become an accredited partner of Wildflower Turf Limited with specialist knowledge of designing, installing and maintaining wildflower environments.

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William Gray :Can a Professionally Designed Garden Add Value to Your Home?

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Capability Brown – the landscape architect renowned for designing over 170 country house estates and gardens during the 18th century. His elegant style of undulating parkland and serpentine lakes can still be seen at dozens of locations, including Blenheim Palace and Stowe.

Capability Brown’s legacy lies at the heart of our passion for gardens. Outdoor spaces enrich our lives – whether it’s a family garden to engage children with the real world, a water garden to attract wildlife or a ‘garden room’ in which to escape, relax and entertain.

A well-designed garden with ‘wow factor’ can also add significant value to your property. According to Peter Rollings, CEO of London estate agents Marsh Parsons, “A town house in the capital with a good garden greatly adds value to that property – by as much as 20%. In exclusive places such as Notting Hill, strikingly similar properties can have an astounding 40% price discrepancy simply because one boasts an outdoor space.”

“Selling a house is all about standing out from the crowd,” says Rollings. “Designer gardens add something special that can’t be recreated elsewhere.”

This property sold by Knight Frank in central Oxford featured a tiny walled garden designed by Sarah Naybour to include a stunning parterre.

Garden designer Marcus Barnett has noticed that the demand for good garden design has increased substantially in recent years. “People have become much more aware of gardens and almost everyone now appreciates the difference between a ‘nice garden’ and a really beautiful one. They also understand that a great garden will increase the value of a property significantly.”

From uttering those fateful words “We really must do something about the garden,” to stepping outside into that ‘dream space’, a professional garden designer will work through several stages to ensure that the client’s brief and expectations are met. But what ‘designer’ garden features do house buyers look for?

“Low maintenance and quiet areas seem to be key words, together with architecturally designed water features,” suggests Damian Gray from Knight Frank. “Developers building one-off new country homes realise the importance of branding in the gardens as well as fixtures and fittings inside the house.”

“The key thing about a garden,” says Ed Sugden of Savills, “is that it should compliment the house and the landscape in terms of proportion and style. The balance is beauty against maintenance, and this is where a professional landscape gardener can advise on the best style of garden to suit the property and the lifestyle of its owners.”

Marketed by Savills, Duntisbourne House in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds was re-landscaped by Tom Stuart-Smith and features a terrace with panoramic views of the Frome Valley, a hornbeam topiary garden, yew-cloud hedge, prairie planting and an organic walled kitchen garden.

“Quite apart from the overall wow factor,” says Marcus Barnett, “a good garden design can do a lot to accentuate a house’s strengths and disguise its weaker points. First impressions are particularly important in determining the price people are prepared to pay for a house.”

William Gray is a professional garden designer, writer and photographer (

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Medford man develops website to make yards more eco-friendly



Keeping the state’s waterways and oceans clean and free of pollution can start in peoples’ backyards, and a new website, developed by a Medford resident, can help get people started.

The new interactive website,, is part of a bigger campaign that provides practical ways for property owners to reduce the negative impacts of storm water runoff on waterways through the design and creation of environmentally friendly lawns and gardens, said creator Kevin Sparkman, who grew up in Medford Lakes and now lives in Medford. The free website was developed to help NJ residents learn about low-impact landscaping in order to reduce pollution in the area’s lakes, streams, rivers and bays.

“In our society, we’ve come to place a great deal of emphasis on the lawn as a symbol of success, pride and as a representation of what the typical landscape should look like. However, the typical lawn requires incredible resources (fertilizers, herbicides, irrigation, mowing, etc.) to keep it healthy,” he said. “If not applied appropriately, the fertilizers and herbicides move beyond the property and into the surrounding environment and eventually our water bodies.”

The idea came from a similar website started by the State of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and was begun locally by the Barnegat Bay Partnership, who learned about the work Sparkman did for the Florida project.<!–


“We had discussed the possibility of replicating the Florida project in New Jersey and following the passage of the New Jersey Fertilizer Law we began plans to build,” he said.

The Christie Administration has adopted some of the toughest fertilizer standards in the nation, said Kyra Hoffmann, an environmental specialist with the Department of Environmental Protection, who helped develop the website. These standards are designed to reduce nitrogen and eliminate phosphorous in runoff that causes excessive algae and aquatic plant growth.

“At the DEP, we are doing everything we can to help reduce the fertilizers, pesticides, automotive fluids and other contaminants that run off into our lakes, rivers and streams – but we need everyone to pitch in to improve water quality,” she said. “We strongly encourage everyone to browse the site and make a difference by putting some of these ideas into practice.”

The project was funded with a grant from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. The overall project includes the implementation of pilot landscape projects by the Ocean County Soil Conservation District in conjunction with Barnegat Bay Partnership.

“The Partnership is working to address a number of pollution problems that are impairing the health of Barnegat Bay,” Sparkman said. “While the genesis of the project was the Barnegat Bay Partnership, the site was designed so that anyone in NJ could use it and learn from it.”

Another aspect of the site is integrating native plants into a landscape, which helps bees and other wildlife without creating a lot of effort on the homeowners part, Sparkman said. Most lawns provide no benefits to animal species including beneficial insects like bees, butterflies and other pollinators, that are important to the overall ecosystem, he said. Continued…

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Design Recipes: How to enjoy your outdoor environment in winter

What could be more wonderful than relaxing at home? These days as people are looking for opportunities to enhance their homes, many are investing just as much on their exterior space as they are on their interior spaces. Outdoor environments can be useful and functional, not only in warm months but in cold months as well. From selecting the ideal project, pricing your project and selecting those to perform your winter renovation project, with the new year, why not take on a new renovation project?


There are a number of outdoor renovation projects that can be fully planned and executed during winter. When looking for ideas and inspiration, first decide how you wish to use your outdoor space in colder months. Some ideas that come to mind include outdoor saunas, outdoor spas, as well as outdoor fire pits and fireplaces.


The first step in the renovation process should be to determine what type of project you wish to take on and an ideal outdoor location. From here, I suggest that you begin to gather inspiration images in order to be able to narrow down the creative and aesthetic aspects relating to your project. There are numerous websites that will have galleries and after photos of actual projects submitted by home owners.


The selection of a contractor and landscaper can be an integral and critical aspect relating to the success of your project. I believe landscaping is the necessary icing on the cake. Landscaping can truly help your outdoor winter renovation project come to life and many homeowners may argue is money well spent.

You will likely need to hire a contractor to do any prep or construction work, while employing a landscaper to design and plan your landscape. In some instances, depending on your outdoor project, an electrician or plumber may also have to be employed as well.


Although numerous renovation projects are ideal for winter, with some projects the weather will need to be taken into consideration. Projects that require digging, excavating or pouring of a foundation will need to be done prior to the ground freezing. However, once the foundation is in place, the installation of your project can happen even in snow. For example, if you are looking to install an outdoor spa, you are going to want to have your foundation in place prior to the ground freezing. After the foundation is in place, the actual outdoor spa can be installed all winter long.

When it comes to design preparation, planning and plotting out your project on paper can be a time- and money-saver, while not planning and making changes mid renovation can cause unnecessary cost over runs and expenses. Drawing and plotting the location of your renovation project is key to the pre-renovation process. Be sure to determine the measurements associated with your project, while also adding additional space for plantings and landscape as well as space for the project to be visually enjoyed from a far as opposed to feel cramped in your environment.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at

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