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Archives for January 6, 2016

What happened to the dandelions, violets and thistle?

The following is a satirical look at man’s environmentally unfriendly landscaping practices. It was sent to me many years ago by customers from both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

“Winterize your lawn,” the big sign outside the garden store commanded. I’ve fed it, watered it, mowed it, raked it and watched a lot of it die anyway. Now I’m supposed to winterize it? I hope it’s too late. Grass lawns have to be the stupidest things we’ve come up with, outside of thong swimsuits. We constantly battle dandelions, Queen Anne’s lace, thistle, violets, chicory and clover that thrive naturally, so we can grow grass that must be nursed through the annual four-step chemical dependency.

Imagine the conversation the Creator might have with St. Francis about this: “Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there in the Midwest? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-last blossoms attracted butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.”

“It’s the tribes that settled there Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great extent to kill them and replace them with grass.”

“Grass? But it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It’s temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?”

“Apparently so Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.”

“They cut it? Do they bale it like hay?”

“Not exactly Lord. Most of them rake it and put it in bags.”

“They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?”

“No Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.”

“Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow and when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?”

“Yes Sir.”

“These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.”

“You aren’t going to believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.”

“What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It’s a natural circle of life.”

“You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and have them hauled away.”

“No! What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and keep the soil moist and loose?”

“After throwing away your leaves, they go out and buy something they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.”

“And where do they get this mulch?”

“They cut down trees and grind them up.”

“Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. Saint Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?”

“Dumb and Dumber Lord. It’s a real stupid movie about …”

“Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story.”

With the new year, we should all try to be more environmentally friendly with our horticultural practices. We really should leave the fallen leaves in our gardens for natural mulch, not worry so much about a few weeds in our lawns and embrace the birds, bees, other insects and small mammals that also call Marco Island home. I wish everyone a prosperous and peaceful 2016.


Eileen Ward and her husband Peter own and operate a lawn maintenance and landscaping company.

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GREEN THUMBS UP: Landscaping for the Birds

Posted Jan. 6, 2016 at 12:00 PM

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The Bradley garden in Morro Bay will inspire a gourmet chef

Luxury to a gourmet cook is stepping outside and harvesting fresh herbs from your own kitchen garden.

Craig Bradley and his wife, Jeanell, planned their garden so one of two patios lives like a second dining room, complete with fireplace. Herbs of every variety grow here and entertaining is easy and sheltered from sea breezes. Driftwood sea life hangs on the wall, and attractive pots of succulents grace the top of the fireplace and flank the kitchen wall. An espaliered lemon tree, flush against the fence, hangs heavy with ripe yellow fruit in mid-winter, testament to a temperate courtyard entry.

A 1,600-pound bubbling tiered fountain with Spanish influence hugs the casita wall. Placing it was an enormous effort for Bradley and three of his friends, who were treated to gourmet barbecue for their hard labor.

Two walls of the casita by the entry showcase a collection of ceramic and concrete faces, several depicting Green Man, the spirit of the forest. Artistic efforts of the entire family appear throughout the garden.

Bellguard pavers look like tidy flagstone and are used throughout both patios. The simplicity of the pavers enhances the Zen-like stone fountain centered in the backyard. It beckons local birds with the music of falling water. A dry streambed meanders underneath a stone bridge.

There are no straight lines here, just curves that lead to seating areas and growing areas. A real treasure is the seating area near a rusted steel fire bowl with nautilus design cutouts. Under the stone bench, son Connor planted a selection of echeverias. Raised vegetable beds are located at the back of the garden.

The side of the garden that faces the street will eventually be screened by well-placed variegated Italian buckthorn shrubs and colorful coprosma hybrid shrubs in rose, cream and green. Large multi-trunked fruitless olive trees add height and a pleasant shade of green.

This lovely garden didn’t come together accidentally. Hope Merkle, owner of Los Osos Valley Nursery, worked with the Bradleys to ensure success.

“That was such a fun garden to work on,” Merkle said. “It was like painting with flowers.” There is great variety in leaf color and texture in the garden and an intricacy that charms. She selected five truckloads of plants, then used three truckloads to complete the job. Her son, Austin Lee, worked alongside Craig Bradley as they brought in mushroom compost and prepped for planting.

“Hope is just a fantastic person,” Bradley said. “She has local plant knowledge of what will grow in different areas of the garden.” The developer had moved different materials to odd locations on the property, making drainage difficult in some places.

Before they could begin planting the backyard there was a lot of work to do. Something had to be done with the concrete barbecue, concrete patio and big lawn with huge boulders around its perimeter. All that concrete and grass was removed, and then Zamora Landscaping Construction took care of the hardscape work.

“Jose (Zamora) really has a good work ethic. He works on one job at a time and is dedicated to getting your job done right,” Bradley said. Zamora had the equipment to repurpose the boulders into streambed and accent locations.

The home’s entry features octopus agave, a beautiful elephant food (portulacaria afra) with red stems accenting tiny green leaves. Well-placed boulders accentuate frilly echeveria hybrids and a selection of daisy-like aeoniums. Parrot’s beak groundcover in fuzzy gray-green with orange blossoms that parrot the name are located near an aloe so showy it looks like it could tango.

The low groundcover on this side of the home is grevillea. Yucca bright stars, coral aloe and blue wave agave lend emphasis to a low boulder. Ornamental grasses wave while the showy Australian shrub kangaroo paw (anigozanthos) and Leucodendron “Winter Red” add color.

Luxury to garden enthusiasts is being able to visit thoughtful gardens like this one. Fortunately, it will be on the 2016 Spring Garden Tour in April hosted by Morro Bay Branch AAUW. Proceeds from the $10 ticket provide local student scholarships.

Garden tips from Craig and Jeanell Bradley

▪  Every member of the family is important when planning a garden. Remember to provide space for all, including dogs.

▪  Look around the neighborhood and see what’s working for others, then give those plants a try.It’s important to get bids from at least three contractors.

▪  Succulents need good drainage and little water.

▪  Take time to enjoy the beauty.

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Floral design classes, carbon monoxide poisoning and room refresh tips: Home …

Learn how to make beautiful flower arrangements during a series of workshops at Lowe’s Greenhouse.  
FLORAL DESIGN CLASSES: Explore the art of floral design during a series of upcoming workshops at Lowe’s Greenhouse that will show you how to make natural arrangements for your home or special occasions.

You can learn to make a French hand-tied bouquet; an English garden arrangement; a head wreath; corsages and boutonnieres in make-and-take sessions.

Workshops are $50 each and include all tools, materials and flowers. Class sizes are limited and reservations are required; call 440-543-5123. All of the classes meet from 10 a.m. to noon. Lowe’s Greenhouse is located at 16540 Chillicothe Road, Chagrin Falls.

The dates are:

Workshop I: Saturday, Jan. 16 — Table arrangements and centerpieces

Workshop II: Saturday, Feb. 20 – Hand-tied bouquets and wedding bouquets

Workshop III: Saturday, March 12 — Head wreath and flower crown

Workshop IV Saturday April 2 — Corsages, boutonnieres and bows

AVOID CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING: Carbon monoxide — from portable generators, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges, or from burning charcoal and wood –- can build up in enclosed spaces and poison people and animals. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from carbon monoxide poisoning before ever having symptoms.

Here are some tips for preventing carbon monoxide poisoning:

Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home. Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern or portable camping stove inside a home, tent or camper. If your home is too cold, seek shelter elsewhere.

Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.

Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.

Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.

REFRESH YOUR HOME FOR 2016: Interior design expert Mikel Welch, who frequently appears on the talk show “Steve Harvey,” shares ideas for simple updates that will make your home feel fresh and new for 2016. Here’s what you can do:

       Declutter: Before the redesigning can begin, it’s important to have a clear workspace. Clean out and organize your home. Consider using a vertical storage system, like ones available at The Container Store.

       Add new accents: Painted accent walls are a thing of the past; it’s time to graduate to 3-D wall flats. Wall flats are lightweight 3-D wall panels that work together through an automatic pattern repeat to create large-scale textured walls of any size and shape. They lend character, drama, and depth to any space.

        Refresh the family room: Two easy renovations can leave your family room feeling brand-new. First, add a backsplash of mirrored glass to your bookcase -– the mirror opens up the room with reflection and by adding an intricate detail.

        Second, turn your holiday photos into a wall gallery. Use the same color matte and frame for consistency, or print images in black and white for a timeless look.

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Get Growing: Landscapers highlight water-saving designs at the Farm Show

Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Landscape Nursery Association | A landscape design by Danilo Maffeii that channels water where it is needed.

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Roads, facilities will be key projects in Broomfield in 2016

Focus session

City Council will hold a day-long focus session starting at 9 a.m. Jan. 16 at the Brunner Farmhouse, 640 Main St.

Before they do, the city wants input from residents about what should make the top of the list.

“We will be putting notices on our website and social media, asking residents to submit their comments to the City Council in care of the city and county manager’s office,” said Kevin Standbridge, deputy city and county manager.

The public is invited to attend, but there will not be an opportunity for public comment.

Residents wishing to share their ideas and concerns can call 303-438-6300 or email before the meeting.

In 2015, the Broomfield Civic Center was on the priority list, as well as economic development, the budgeting process and recreation facilities.

Some issues, such as transportation and acquiring water resources, carry over from one year to the next.

An update on each priority is detailed in the manager’s report as part of the City Council agenda the second meeting of every month.

A final list of priorities will be compiled and made available a week or two after the meeting.

City Council will look ahead to big issues at a day-long focus session later this month and discuss what city government’s priorities should be in 2016.

It’s a time to focus on things that aren’t otherwise captured by the capital improvement plan or budget, said Kevin Standbridge, deputy city and county manager. One example was last year when a group of parents whose children play lacrosse asked for more playing fields.

But the focus also will be broad enough to include those things that make the priority list every year and often carry forward from one year to the next. The future Civic Center is among those.

Improvements to 144th Avenue/Dillon Road are a priority in the coming year.

In September, City Council unanimously approved a purchase agreement with Safeway/Alberstons, Inc. for $3.6 million to purchase the vacant store at 120th Avenue and Main. The deal made final when it closed Dec. 7. The move is a significant one for the city’s Civic Center effort — a mixed-use space project that would serve as a park-like gathering place with restaurants, retail and minimal residential development. The Civic Center area is 61 acres and includes the George Di Ciero City and County Building, the police station, Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library, the Broomfield Auditorium, North Metro Fire Rescue District headquarters, the 9/11 Memorial, the Broomfield Community Center, the ball fields and The Bay Aquatic Park.

Standbridge last month said he is hopeful a developer will be chosen for the project by February or March.

Other existing or continuing priorities include road work and building construction and maintenance. Many of those focus areas are key in the Capital Improvement Program, and among the expenditures listed in the $275 million 2016 budget are:

Transportation projects

• 144th Avenue

The next major roadway slated for improvements is 144th Avenue/Dillon Road. The 2015 and 2016 budgets include $2 million for immediate improvements and $10 million in 2016.

• 120th Avenue

Last year Broomfield made $2 million available for the 120th Avenue Connection Project, which is expected to be complete in 2018.

The project is meant to ease traffic woes by connecting Colo. 128 and 120th Avenue, creating an easier route from U.S. 36 and Wadsworth Parkway to 120th Avenue.

The first two phases of the 120th Avenue Connection project were completed in September 2010. They included the construction of a new six-lane portion of Colo. 128 and a bridge over U.S. 36 that connects with Wadsworth Boulevard.

Currently the only way to reach 120th Avenue from Wadsworth is to head north and take the loop ramp near Industrial Lane.

Another round of work began in April.

Broomfield’s share of the total cost of the project, managed by the Colorado Department of Transportation, is 20 percent, or $19.7 million.

• Lowell Boulevard

Design of the second phase of widening and landscaping Lowell Boulevard, from Midway Boulevard to 136th Avenue, began in 2015. Construction is slated to begin this year.

The work will be the second step in the widening project. In 2014, the final design of road widening and landscape drainage improvements on Lowell, from 120th to Midway, was completed, in partnership with CDOT. Work began in January 2015, and that step of the project will complete Lowell as a four-lane arterial from 120th Avenue to East Midway Boulevard. It also will complete other improvements, including a dedicated right turn at East Midway Boulevard; complete curb sidewalks and landscaping along the Metzger Farm open space; a bridge over the frequently flooded Nissen Channel near 120th Avenue; a trail underpass to the Metzger Farm open space; and an upgrade to water and storm sewer facilities.

The project was designed to use $3.1 million in FASTER grant funds, a result of the Funding Advancements for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery Act of 2009. Revenue is generated through vehicle registration fees and fines established or increased by FASTER.

Broomfield’s share of the total cost for the entire Lowell project is expected to be $13 million.

Construction, improvements

• Health and Human Services

A new Health and Human Services building is expected to be completed this spring. The building, at the corner of First Avenue and Spader Way, will replace current, cramped space in Garden Center, which offers little room to have meetings with patrons and lacks private spaces to host supervised parental visitations, according to HHS Director Debbie Oldenettel.

In 2012, replacing the building, was deemed a top priority.

The HHS project’s total budget is $16.5 million

• Community Center

Money for $3.6 million in improvements has been budgeted for the first phase of maintenance planned at the decades-old Broomfield Community Center.

Improvements are needed to keep the center in compliance with safety and customer service standards, according to the city. Improvements to the HVAC system, the lobby, locker rooms and the elevator are planned. Major renovations to the center are expected to begin in May, according to city staff.

• The Bay Aquatic Park

This year $2.8 million worth of improvements will be proposed for The Bay Aquatic Park.

Two phases of construction were finished in 2014, when a new tot pool, a sprayground and shade structures were added. Contractors also repaired, re-painted and shined up The Bay’s larger slides and installed a new filtration system for the main pool. The price tag was $2.4 million.

Next, the renovation will include locker rooms, offices and the concessions stand.

• County Commons

The city has budgeted $4.7 million to develop a new athletic field area, dubbed the “yellow pod.”

The 13-acre project, which is slated to feature synthetic turf for year-round use, is next to the temporary dog park and an undeveloped area. Plans are for the dog park to be relocated to the undeveloped area.

The budget also includes $400,000 for replacement of the synthetic turf at Championship Field at the Commons.

• Open space

The 2015-16 Capital Improvement budget includes a possible $5.1 million to potentially purchase an open space property in northeast Broomfield.

• Pavement preservation

The pavement management and street sealing program will see $3.52 million in funding for 2016.

In 2009, Broomfield went from primarily overlaying and reconstructing roads to a more “pro-active approach” of mostly street sealing.

“This program is being closely monitored and evaluated to ensure that street performance remains at good or excellent levels,” the budget states. “The program has shown great success since the change in 2009.”

Water and sewer

This year an additional $5 million will be needed on top of last year’s $1 million for Broomfield’s share of the Windy Gap Storage Reservoir. Windy Gap is a long-term water storage project with a goal of making Front Range water supplies more reliable. The project involves building the new Chimney Hollow Reservoir, which would provide dedicated water storage for Broomfield and 12 other providers, including municipalities and water districts.

The Windy Gap project will cost the city an estimated $106.4 million, with the bulk of the cost planned in 2019.

The 2015 budget also included $17 million for the purchase of raw water rights; and $4.1 million in 2015 and $3.4 million in 2016 for pump station and pipeline construction at Siena Reservoir in Anthem.

The 2016 water budget also includes $1.5 million for replacement of the water control software.

A $7.8 million project, related to compliance with clean water standards, is one of several large 2015 projects that will continue into 2016.

Other projects include $3 million to finish constructing a lift station and sewer lines in north Broomfield and a $3.4 million project related to compliance with expanding the laboratory administration building.

Jennifer Rios: 303-473-1361, or

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Family restoring Victorian home in Dalton to original glory

Photo Gallery | Family restores Victorian home in downtown Dalton

DALTON — A Main Street Victorian home adorned with a grand oak stairway and stained glass windows will return soon to its turn-of-the-century glory.

Located at the corner of Main and Glennon Avenue, the two-and-a-half store single-family residence that had fallen into disrepair should be fully restored in six months, according to the new owners. J. Cristopher and Caroline Irsfeld bought the vacant, foreclosed home in October for $65,000, not for the rock-bottom price, but for the desire to save a dwelling that was structurally sound and retained much of its original interior.

“The house was telling us what to do,” Cris Irsfeld said.

The couple have teamed up with their daughter Alicia Jost and her husband, Eric, for the family affair restoration.

“I think it’s more fun because we are doing this together,” Caroline Irsfeld said.

“And together we have one brain and we have the same ideas,” Alicia Jost added.

Built in 1900, the wood frame house at 575 Main St. also features herringbone floors in pristine condition, hidden underneath carpet stripped away by contractor by Dale Dedrick of South Lee and his team.

The wallpaper has also been peeled away to reveal salvageable plaster walls, said Cris Irsfeld, a former Stockbridge selectman.

“And there were no cracks in the ceiling, a testament that this house is really built,” he said.

The Irsfelds and Josts were pleasantly surprised the quarter-sawn oak woodwork around the windows and doors remained unpainted, not always the case for older homes that change hands several times through the decades.

“The graciousness and quality of the wood work [is beautiful,]” Alicia Jost said.

Originally owned by the Bartlett family and once the home and office of Dr. David McCall, the interior is getting all new plumbing, wiring, kitchen, bathrooms and a wine cellar in the basement.

Stockbridge couple J. Cristopher Irsfeld and his wife, Caroline, right, are shown with their daughter and son-in-law, Alicia and Eric Jost. The family is

As for the exterior, a black fence resembling an early 20th century wrought-iron enclosure has been installed and the overgrown landscaping removed.

“They had so many bushes you couldn’t see the house,” said Eric Jost, himself a landscaper. “We’ll plant things that won’t grow 340 feet tall.”

The family brings a wealth of experience in old home restorations. The Irsfelds’ resume includes several classic homes in California before moving to the Berkshires 30 years ago. They spent the first decade in Stockbridge refurbishing Longview, a 226-year-old farmhouse.

Having inherited her parents’ passion for saving old homes, Alicia Jost, along with her husband, restored a century-old caretaker’s cottage, once part of a Stockbridge estate.

The Josts, and their two children, daughter Peyton and son Griffin, expect they will eventually be that young family the Irsfelds envision living in the Victorian house.

Apparently, the locals are thrilled about the downtown residential revival.

“There are a lot of honking horns … a Dalton fire truck came by a few days ago and [the driver] hit the siren,” Mr. Irsfeld said. “People seem to be very grateful that the sad corner house will live again.”

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.

The late 1800s Victorian home at the corner of Main Street and Glennon Avenue in Dalton had fallen into disrepair in recent years. Now it is getting

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What’s a yarden? Learn more in annual garden series

The annual garden series that gets novices into their Florida backyards starts Thursday, offering help on everything from making your orchids part of your curb appeal to creating a “yarden,” a veggie garden in your landscape.

All talks are at 10 a.m. on Thursdays at Unity of Naples, 2000 Unity Way, East Naples.

The Collier County Extension Service Master Gardeners Educational Garden Workshop Series for 2016 has planned the first half of its weekly seasonal series as follows:

Thursday, Jan. 7 —”Landscaping with Orchids”: A new topic and approach to enhance your garden by mounting orchids in your landscape. Speaker Judy White and her husband Dave have been in Naples for more than 37 years and have operated their orchid nursery business, Jade Orchids, for more than 23 years.

Jan. 14 — “Spring Bloomers”: Joel Toledo, owner of Green Door Nursery on Bayshore Drive, East Naples, shows how to brighten a yard or lanai with colorful blooming plants. He is a graduate of University of South Florida with a degree in environmental science and policy with a minor in wetlands restoration.

Jan. 21 — “Water in Your Landscape: When Less is More”: Thomas Becker is UF/IFAS/Charlotte County Extension horticulture assistant, an educator on “Florida-Friendly” landscaping for all who are re-landscaping or retrofitting community-owned areas to save water and improve its quality. He has a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and a master’s degree in training and development, both from Penn State University.

Jan. 28 — “Design Principles of Landscaping”: Master Gardener Chris Gilbert, who will offer ideas on curb appeal, comes from a career in the Boston area, working with Martha Stewart, Julia Child and PBS. He received an Emmy for his program on directing the restoration of the historic Governor’s Mansion in Richmond, Virginia.

Feb. 4 — “Edible Landscaping”: John Dawson will prove saving money can also looked and taste good. Dawson, a master gardener in both Maryland and Florida, writes for the Manatee County extension newsletter, is on its executive advisory board committee and has amassed over 2,735 hours of service as a Florida master gardener.

The second half of the series will be announced in late January. The complete series is $30, and it can be purchased through Eventbrite or at the door; single lectures are $10 each. Pre-registration is not required.


If you go

Master Gardener Workshops

When: 10 a.m. on Thursdays

Where: Unity of Naples, 2000 Unity Way, East Naples

Admission: $10, $30 for the series at the door or

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