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Archives for January 14, 2016

Philly Home + Garden Show: See inspirational designs, Property Brothers

If staring at the same four walls this winter has you thinking “Hmmm, beige or burgundy?” then head to the first Philly Home + Garden Show this weekend at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Montgomery County.

After 35 years managing the Philly Home Show (coming Feb. 12-14 and 19-21 at Pennsylvania Convention Center), Marketplace Events decided there was enough demand for another show.

You can gather knowledge and inspiration for home improvement projects from over 200 exhibits on home design, decor and remodeling, as well as gardening, landscaping and outdoor living.

Brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott, hosts of HGTV’s hit show “Property Brothers,” will give a presentation at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by an hour-long meet and greet at 2 p.m. The brothers aim to help couples find fixer-uppers and transform them into dream homes.

Other notable speakers include Chip Wade, host of HGTV’s “Elbow Room” (2 and 5 p.m. Friday and 11:30 a.m. Saturday); and Annie Amoon Richard, a professional organizer (1 p.m. Friday).

Featured exhibits include Smart Home, a full-scale house inside of the hall featuring the latest design trends along with cutting-edge devices and environmentally riendly materials; and six gardens that will provide ideas for creating a dream backyard.

Other highlights: Crafted, a market for finely crafted items, antiques and original art; Make-It, Take-It, a do-it-yourself demo station, hosted by Philadelphia designer Denise Sabia; Mailbox Makeover, an aisle lined with mailboxes, creatively designed by local artists and designers; and Front Door Challenge, a contest where guests have two minutes to create their best door display using accessories.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Daily tickets are $10; $8 if purchased online; free, ages 12 and under. The expo center is at 100 Station Ave. Info:

Ryan Kneller

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Gardens wanted for Wylde Garden Tour

Photo obtained via

Photo obtained via

The Wylde Center is looking for a few good gardens to be in the annual Wylde Garden Tour, formerly known as the Decatur Garden Tour.

The Wylde Center is looking for six or eight gardens to feature on the tour which takes place on May 14, 2016.

Executive director Stephanie Van Parys said all types of gardens can enter: “Vegetable gardens, flower gardens, koi ponds, beautiful landscaping – all apply!”


Interested gardeners can email Kalia Edmonds with the Wylde Center.

In other Wylde Center news, the annual seed and scion swap is happening Saturday, Jan. 23 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Decatur Library, 215 Sycamore Street.

The event is free and open to all gardeners. An announcement on the Wylde Center website says, “We’ll be swapping all types of seeds and cuttings for fruit trees (scions), including heirloom seeds, seeds you save from your own plants, and extra seeds you may have purchased. There will be people on hand to answer question about how to save seed and how to graft your cuttings.”

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Lincoln Twp. looks to add landscaping

Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2016 5:00 am

Lincoln Twp. looks to add landscaping


The Herald-Palladium


STEVENSVILLE – Lincoln Township is looking to update the landscaping around its town hall and various parks.

Arcadia Gardens, a landscape and design company from Stevensville, gave trustees a look at conceptual designs of what would be updated at North Lake Park, Lincoln Township Beach, Rudnick Park, the soccer field sign, the community center sign and the township’s municipal building.

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      Thursday, January 14, 2016 5:00 am.

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      Garden design: The best way to get shade is plan for it

      Big overhanging trees can make it fun to be outdoors on even the hottest day.

      And here we are, the fuss of Christmas Day is over, you have welcomed in the New Year in style letting your hair down, now it is time to just sit back and relax and enjoy the holiday period. It is summer.

      If you did the hard work for the rest of the year, this is the time to enjoy the benefits. You will have planned, you will have cleared, planted, weeded and, in particular, I hope, you will have mulched.

      This way your plants will keep the moisture in and their roots will be cool, thus not suffer in the heat. Just like you! You will not suffer in the heat if you have planned some good shade for your garden, so that you can use your outdoors even on scorching days. As usual, the secret of success is in the planning and preparation.

      Even if your garden is not shady now, it probably will become so in the next 10 years, because that is just the natural course of affairs when it comes to landscape.  The good news is that generally a shady garden needs less work. During the development of a garden, as sun-loving plants gradually peter out, replace them with shade-tolerant perennials. That way you will have a nice looking shady garden for you to enjoy in the summer.

      READ MORE: 
      DIY a foldaway potting bench 
      Guide to a great courtyard garden
      What are the best renovations?

      There is good shade and bad shade.  Shade that’s good for some plants and for you, and shade that kills the plants you like, the sun-loving ones. Shade constitutes a bigger problem for city gardens than for country ones, as nearby buildings, walls and fences tend to create shady areas for at least a few hours a day.

      Also, shady positions can be very dry because obstructions that cast a shade also create a rain shadow. And of course big trees and neighbouring beautiful vegetation may be great for them, but may well be a shade problem for your garden.

      However, a shady garden is not such a terrible thing as you may think. With plants it is possible to bring life to corners that are devoid of sunlight. Nature has given us many plants that thrive only in these circumstances.

      You should choose shrubs that brighten the atmosphere instead of making it lifeless, and choose evergreens with shiny leaves, which are highly reflective of light. Variegated leaves produce a light effect, hostas cope well in the shade and some varieties have gold or white borders or are striated.

      Other plants, like Nandina domestica have cheerful red berries; clivias enjoy dry shade and I even have a rose that thrives in this situation, it’s called Rhapsody in Blue. Walls can be painted a light colour to reflect more light for plants and trickery with mirrors can be used to make small areas look bigger and more planted than they actually are.

      Shade-loving plants can be positioned to lean on to house walls, such as helleborus and bergenias for late winter; primroses and convallaria for spring, followed by hostas for the summer. These old faithfuls die down in autumn and winter, but will reappear all of a sudden when it is their season. They are brilliant gap fillers, too.

      When it is hot, even shade-loving plants will still need some watering, so choose carefully when creating shade. The beauty of some shade-loving plants is that they flourish in damp microclimates and so give you lush foliage. It is important, though, to keep scale in mind when planning the shade garden.

      The easiest way to create a garden that will give you shade in the summer is the obvious: use New Zealand natives. They are evergreen, have a light texture, will survive all extremes of weather, they are always there for you and require minimal maintenance. Some, like pittosporums, grow well in tubs too, so they can be used on decks or courtyards, even enabling you to move them around to different positions during the year for best advantage.

      Hard materials too come into play to create shade. Trellis or fences beside a deck do a good job. Pergolas and arbours cast their own shade, then if you have a climber on them, you will get dappled shade or solid shade as you prefer.

      If you live in the country you will have the luxury of planting large trees that have thick canopies. This will give you the benefit of having plants that need full sun and then you get the shade below, for the shade-loving plants and for yourself.

      It is important to plant a garden that will have plants at their culminating point when you have the time to enjoy them. I love my old copper beech this time of year, and even my daughter has been spotted nestled in the bough, reading a book in the shade.

      But as usual, I cannot stress the following enough: the secret is in the planning. If you think your garden out well in advance, come this time of year you will be able to enjoy your break sitting outside with your favourite drink without roasting or gasping for air.

       – Stuff

      Next Home Property story:

      Dos and don’ts for a great courtyard garden

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      Garden designer to speak in Marblehead

      Posted Jan. 13, 2016 at 11:12 AM


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      Schools, community benefit from SPARK park program

      • Piney Point Elementary students Christina Galon,3rd,left,Adrian Troncoso,3rd, Jose Gonzeles, 4th, City Council Member Mike Laster, HISD Trustee Greg Meyers,  and Adrianna Calaballo,4th, walk on the new trail after the Piney Point SPARK Park Rededication Ceremony. Photo: George Wong / George Wong -Freelance



      Piney Point Elementary students Christina Galon,3rd,left,Adrian Troncoso,3rd, Jose Gonzeles, 4th, City Council Member Mike Laster, HISD Trustee Greg Meyers, and Adrianna Calaballo,4th, walk on the new trail after the Piney Point SPARK Park Rededication Ceremony.
      Piney Point Elementary students Christina Galon,3rd,left,Adrian Troncoso,3rd, Jose Gonzeles, 4th, City Council Member Mike Laster, HISD Trustee Greg Meyers, and Adrianna Calaballo,4th, walk on the new trail … more

      Photo: George Wong

      From “pennies for the park” and Friday jeans day to a fun run and commemorative brick sales, fundraisers held by some area elementary schools have reaped dividends not just for the individual school but for their wider communities.

      Piney Point elementary in the Houston school distinct and Nottingham and Valley Oaks elementaries in Spring Branch ISD recently dedicated new play and fitness facilities for pupil and community use through a partnership with the nonprofit SPARK Park Program.

      Piney Point is one of more than 200 schools across the Houston area to partner with the SPARK Park School Program.

      The idea is to put public school playgrounds to use outside school hours and on weekends by creating a park based on the ideas and unique needs of the school and surrounding neighborhoods. While all of the parks are different, a typical park features modular playground equipment, a walking trail, benches, picnic tables, trees, an outdoor classroom and a public art component.

      The value of a community park is not lost on Bobbie Swaby, principal of Piney Point, located at 8921 Pagewood.

      She said all of her pupils live in the surrounding apartments, and their families don’t have many options for recreation.

      “There’s not a lot of places to get out and exercise around here,” Swaby said. “This gives the community a safe place to come in and run and walk and get their exercise.”

      The school already had a SPARK Park but had lost the walking trail after the campus was rebuilt five years ago.

      Swaby said the community wanted it back, along with fitness equipment around the track to further the school’s involvement with the program Marathon Kids, which encourages children to run and be more active for life.

      The school’s Parent Teacher Association led the effort to raise $10,000 through collection of small change, movie nights, after-school snack sales, Friday jeans day and a festival that went towards the $125,000 worth of improvements.

      HISD kicked in $5,000, and the City of Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department put up the rest.

      The park also incorporates a series of Greek inspired columns, designed and made by students with help from local artist Marsha Outlaw, to serve as a learning tool and distance markers.

      The two Spring Branch ISD schools started from scratch to build their SPARK Park, each raising more than $300,000.

      Nottingham Principal Roy Moore said the school, located at 570 Nottingham Oaks Trail, already needed to update the playground.

      He said on seeing nearby Meadow Wood elementary’s new SPARK Park, parents saw the possibilities for creating a shared space for students and the surrounding neighborhoods.

      The Nottingham PTA led the nearly two-year fundraising effort through the sale of donor bricks, a fun run and generous donations from area businesses, local homeowner associations and other organizations.

      “This shows when you put kids first, people come together and support them, and we appreciate that,” Moore said.

      The funds were used to pay for a paved walking track and new field, work-out stations, a “gaga pit” for a variation of dodge ball, new prekindergarten play equipment, a field area, soccer goal and benches and landscaping.

      The pupils contributed by decorating tiles for the storage shed.

      “The kids are so excited of course – because they’ve got better options,” Moore said.

      “But they see how they contributed, and they take pride in it. They have some ownership.”

      Likewise, the PTA at Valley Oaks, 8390 Westview, contributed $356,000 for park improvements to qualify as a SPARK Park.

      The park features fitness equipment, a gazebo, play equipment and a track and soccer field.

      Trees for Houston planted dozens of trees at all three SPARK Parks.

      For more information, visit

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      Historic Sunnybrook Ballroom expected to fully reopen in March

      General Manager Luis Pereira talks about how work is progressing at Sunnybrook Ballroom during a sneak peak of the ongoing construction and renovations project at the historic venue.
      john strickler — DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA

      Lower Pottsgrove There’s a lot of activity going on at Sunnybrook Ballroom, as renovations and construction continue on the historic venue.

      While there is still a significant amount of work to be done, a grand opening, invitation-only event has been scheduled for March 4 with the “new” Sunnybrook scheduled to open to the public March 5.

      Last March, the Sunnybrook Foundation announced an agreement with Stokesay Castle owner Jack Gulati and the Gulati family, who also own the Reading Royals. Sunnybrook, LLC was formed to manage and operate the facility.

      After a June groundbreaking on a new wing at the facility, work began in earnest in August. The restaurant and bar have been closed since June, but the ballroom has been open for events.

      On Tuesday, The Mercury was invited by Sunnybrook management for a “sneak peak” at the new facility. General Manager Luis Pereira provided a tour, pointing out some of the highlights of the venue.

      “The weather has been very helpful as we’ve been working,” Pereira said, referencing the mild fall and winter so far.

      Much of the outside work has been completed, according to Pereira, but work continues on the interior. Tuesday afternoon, work was being done both inside and outside the facility — on the roof, interior painting, heating and air conditioning installation — at the same time open interviews were being held to fill open staff positions.

      “Things are going very well, and we are looking forward to the opening,” said Charles Gulati, president of Sunnybrook, LLC. He added that while things are slightly behind original projections, the company wanted to make sure everything was done correctly.

      “We want to do it right. The biggest delay for us is that we wanted to make sure that everything was done right. So if we found a problem, we fixed it or replaced it — we didn’t just make a patch,” he said.

      Gulati added that between the grant and renovations, “we will be close to a $3 million investment by the time we are finished.”

      The new wing is a two-story, 15,000-square-foot space that replaces a section that needed to be demolished after the facility was closed for four years. The area suffered leaks and other damage. That section had formerly housed the ballroom’s north alcove and the catering kitchen.

      Initially, Pereira said just the first floor — about 9,000-square-feet of the wing — will be open. It will contain banquet/meeting space for up to 170, a kitchen and a large ladies room. The previous ladies room located just off the ballroom will become a bride’s room for weddings.

      In the restaurant, renovations include a three-season, heated outdoor seating area. In addition, the space that had previously housed the restaurant’s kitchen is being turned into a private dining room for 30 people.

      “It’s something we’re calling the ‘speakeasy room,’” said Pereira. “Most people won’t know what it is, because it will have a fake door that looks like an elevator door.”

      Holly Becker, marketing director for Sunnybrook and Stokesay, said the restaurant and lounge will have a new name but said the new name will be unveiled later.

      Pereira said the ballroom itself has been undergoing some cosmetic upgrades. One change has been the construction of a wall at the entrance of the ballroom, which Pereira said will help with sound control. A men’s room is also being expanded and upgraded, and 11 heating and air conditioning units are being added the facility.

      Outside, the garden area has been redone as a wedding garden with a new concrete walkway and pavers.

      “We still have landscaping to do, and we will be adding a fountain,” Pereira added.

      J. Wilmer “Wil” Hallman is president of the Sunnybrook Foundation. He said the purpose of the foundation was to save the property. Grant money had been obtained, and the foundation was actively raising matching funds.

      “We did not get in it to run it. But we could go no further — it is difficult to raise funds,” he said. “This is going to be a win-win situation, and when it’s completed it will be quite nice.”

      Pereira, who is also the general manager for the Stokesay Castle, will be managing both properties. A total of 75 employees will be hired in a variety of positions. Sunnybrook is holding open interviews on Tuesdays in January from 2 to 6 p.m.

      One of the new hires is Ashley Heck, daytime restaurant manager. Heck, who moved to the area in August, said she saw the ad for Sunnybrook on a job site and did a little research before applying.

      “I was drawn to Sunnybrook. The location is beautiful, and I was just drawn to it. This is going to be great for the area,” Heck said.

      Sunnybrook first opened in 1926 as a pool. In 1931 the ballroom was added, marking the beginning of Sunnybrook’s “Big Band” era. Over the years, many of the biggest bands and performers took the Sunnybrook stage — many of them leaving their names written on the walls backstage. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

      The Sunnybrook Foundation was formed in 2004 to save the historic ballroom from the wrecking ball. Through the work of community volunteers, Sunnybrook reopened in 2008 as an entertainment venue; the restaurant and Chummy’s Lounge were reopened in 2011.

      The foundation continues to own the property and will hold its foundation events to continue to raise money to pay foundation debts, according to Hallman.

      For more information about Sunnybrook Ballroom or to find out about job openings visit

      To reach writer Donna Rovins call 610-850-0272. Email business story ideas to

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      Spring comes early at the Oklahoma City Home + Garden Show

      Oklahoma City Home + Garden Show

      Oklahoma City Home + Garden Show

      Oklahoma City Home + Garden Show

      Oklahoma City Home + Garden Show

      OKLAHOMA CITY-As Oklahomans stay bundled inside to escape the chill of winter, they can look forward to sunshine and springtime with inspiration from the 2016 Oklahoma City Home + Garden Show, January 15-17.

      More than 500 vendors and experts in landscape, remodeling and design offer creative, contemporary ideas sure to motivate any lifestyle enthusiast.

      Show highlights include:

      – Matt Blashaw, host of “Vacation House for Free” and “Yard Crashers,” will share his experience and knowledge of construction and home improvement.

      -Karen Rominger and Mina Starsiak, stars of HGTV’s “Two Chicks and a Hammer”– This mother-daughter team use their knowledge of real estate and renovation in their home remodeling business. They will offer useful tips on DIY design and home transformations.

      -Matt Fox, host of PBS television series “Around the House with Matt and Shari”–Using tools and supplies from local home improvement stores, Matt Fox will demonstrate simple how-to’s for great weekend projects.

      -Clutter Busters – Darlene Broderick will offer quick and easy tricks to organizing closets and storage spaces to bring simplicity and freshness to your home.

      -Rebuilding Together OKC– The show has teamed up with Rebuilding Together OKC to highlight their efforts to help low-income homeowners in the Oklahoma City area stay safe, warm and dry.

      -Hero Day – Active and retired military, police officers and firefighters will receive free admission on Sunday, January 17.

      -Relaxation Station – Attendees will have a chance to rest from shopping and sample tasty food and beverages. Head Country Foods will provide samples of their favorite sauces and raffle a grill.

      Visitors can also enter to win a fully-catered Superbowl Party for family and friends.

      -Newest Coolest Products–The latest in home automation and innovative décor solutions will be located in one convenient location. Get inspired to upgrade your home and your life.

      -Made in Oklahoma– Local manufacturers, craftsmen, artists and businesses will present some of the great products and services found right here in Oklahoma.

      -Expert Advice– Top professionals, including landscape designers, remodelers, and décor professionals, will offer expert advice on their areas of specialization. The Oklahoma City Home + Garden Show showcases new and innovative ideas, expert advice, products and services for home improvement and landscaping projects.

      This three-day event held January 15-17 is a chance for Oklahomans to shop, explore, save and learn from the professionals on hundreds of products and services for redecorating, remodeling, landscaping and fine home living.

      The show is open Friday 12 to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $12 at the door, or attendees can receive a $2 discount by purchasing tickets online at Children under 12 are free.

      As part of Hero Day on Sunday, all active and retired military, police and firefighters receive free admission by presenting a valid service ID at the east entrance of the Cox Pavilion.

      For more information about the event and tickets, visit the website or call 800-395-1350, extension 11.


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