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Archives for February 3, 2016

$1100000 Homes in Seattle, Massachusetts, and Texas

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Handsome New-Build with Mature Gardens in Springs

Click here to view the full photogallery.

Everything about this shingled new build seems in excellent taste and well done—so why’s it been on the market for a number of months now? Asking price of $2.19M, while not a bargain, doesn’t seem too out of line, but perhaps we’re wrong. The property was carved out of the neighboring estate of the handbag designer and artist Judith and Gerson Leiber, which is why the gardens are mature. Want to enjoy them further? “Gravel meditation path encircles the estate.” Indeed, the brokerbabble flows lavishly throughout the listing: “This newly constructed, traditionally-handcrafted estate shines as the brightest and best of the Hamptons.” “a residence of solid craftsmanship rarely seen in today’s new homes…” The house doesn’t just have an outdoor shower; it has a “Prairie-styled outdoor shower of mahogany and Ipe hardwoods featuring hot and cold running water” with a rainfall showerhead. So yes, there are some very nice features for this price point. The house is 2400sf in all, with four bedrooms and 4.5 baths, and the plot size is 0.64 of an acre.

· Exceptional, Brand New, Bay-Area Estate Is For Lovers [Cocoran]

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Drought resistant landscaping on its way to completion

By Adriana Ruvalcaba

Copy Editor


The chain-link fences surrounding CSU Bakersfield’s new Demonstration Gardens will be coming down in the upcoming weeks. The CSUB Sustainability Committee founded the project to address concerns involving the university’s water usage on its landscaping. The Demonstration Gardens are located on three parts of campus: south of the Walter Stiern Library, in front of the Science I, and in front of the Science III.

The project focuses on irrigation, which consumes the most water on campus. The Demonstration Garden replaces high-water demanding trees and plants with ground covers such as bark or gravel. The gardens also include drought-tolerant plants that not only save water, but are aesthetically appealing.

Patrick Jacobs, Associated Vice President of Facilities and co-chairs for the Sustainability Committee, said that compared to the grass in those three areas, the university has already reduced the amount of water by 80 percent.

“What we’re trying to demonstrated to students and the community at large is that you can install landscape areas that don’t use a lot of water and are attractive,” said Jacobs.

According to Jacobs, the committee applied and received a grant of $243 thousand dollars from the Chancellors Office to be used for water conservation projects. The grant money came from the state, which has a budget of about $3 million dollars to be spent on projects relating to sustainability.

Associated Professor of Economics S. Aaron Hedge, who is also the Director of Environmental Resource Management and co-chairs with Jacobs on the Sustainability Committee, said that even with the recent rains from El Nino, the drought is still an issue. The Demonstration Gardens are a way to address the problem.

“First, it’s mandated by the state. Second, it’s what we need to do to deal with the situation,” said Hedge.

He said the best way CSUB can educate the community and students is by example.

“The drought forces us to be more intentional with the things that we do,” said Hedge.

Student and the Vice President of University of Affairs Anish Mohan, 21, said he thinks the university’s initiatives are amazing and cites the Demonstration Garden as a step in the right direction.

“Considering the amount of water that it takes to water grass in general…we’re saving a lot of water,” said Mohan.

Senior Tricia Cervantes, 21, said she thinks the project is a great way to help the state of CA and likes the appearance of the Demonstration Garden so far.

“The one outside of the library is better than the no grass we had before…it’s nice they added some plants there. Hopefully they’ll maintain it,” said Cervantes.

Her only concern is the wind could possibly blow the bark where students walk or it will be difficult to remove the leaves when they fall on the garden.

Senior Christopher Enriquez, 23, said he agrees with the plan, but is sadden by some of the changes.
“I really support the project and I understand the purpose of the project and the benefits of it because of the drought, but I’m really sad about the tree not being there,” said Enriquez.

Enriquez is referring to the tree that was in front of the Science I building. He is a nursing major, and the tree faced the nursing building as well. He said that he and his friends would sit under the tree and relax after class. Enriquez also heard some of his friends express the same feelings.

Hedge said that when the university was planned out 45 years ago, nobody anticipated a drought. Many of the trees, floras, and plants that were on campus were chosen for aesthetic reasons and required a large amount of water to survive. Unfortunately, the Coastal Red Wood tree that was in front of Science I needed a great deal of water. Both Hedge and Jacob understand the students’ reactions, but the decisions to remove the trees were done responsibly.

“We had non-drought tolerant plants in a place that is essentially a desert,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs said an arborist did come to CSUB to examine the trees, deciding whether the trees required low or high amounts of water, and if they could be transported. There are still about 15 trees left around Science III. There are also many Sycamore trees left since they can tolerate low-water levels.

As for maintenance and up-keep of the gardens, Jacob doesn’t believe it’ll be a problem.

“It’s less than the maintenance we’re doing now, considerably less,” said Jacobs.


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How to grow nectarines in Canberra – gardening tips

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Nectarine and peach trees need to be pruned back hard each winter. You can complete pruning in May if you wish to, following the fall of all the leaves. Remove some of the little lateral sprig branches and keep the height of the tree down to a manageable 2.5-3.0 metres. And as the tree ages, allow some new, low branches to grow up, so that you can renew the tree every five or six years. Otherwise, you can end up with a very tall, straggly tree producing only a small crop. 

 If there is any mummified fruit, remove and dispose at the time of pruning. Nectarine (and its cousin the peach) are susceptible to two disease problems and orchard hygiene is important. Brown rot is past on very easily by leaving the mummified fruit hanging on the tree over winter. The other problem affects the leaves, namely the fungus that causes leaf curl. Apply a pre bud burst preventative spray of the copper sulphate spray (premixed and sold as Kocide). If you are too slow to apply the spray in early spring, then the leaves become very infected and curl up and you can do nothing to help the cause. You will then have to wait for them to wither and dry up. They should then be removed and disposed of. The tree will produce a second crop of leaves, which normally will be free of any leaf curl.

There are now quite a range of nectarine varieties available. I have had most success with Red Gold and May Grand with their large, golden fleshed fruits. Goldmine is a good, old Australian white fleshed variety and Arctic Sweet is another good juicy, white flesh nectarine with bright red skin. Fairlane is a late maturing, yellow fleshed variety with very good flavour.  

This week in the garden

  • Plant out loose leaf lettuces, rocket and beetroot to produce a quick mixed salad leaf supply
  • Begin planting out your winter vegetable seedlings into a garden bed with plenty of compost dug in. 
  • Leave plenty of space between each seedling as they can all grow to between 30 and 40 cm in width. 
  • Plant a new planter box with basil and of coriander to provide for your late summer days. 
  • With apples, keep checking the crop and remove any apples that have been spiked with the codling moth, so the remaining fruit has a much better chance of staying clean.
  • After the recent rains, tomatoes, capsicums and eggplant bushes will grow vigorously so keep them well staked and tied up. 

Nectarine and berry pie


6 large nectarines

125g raspberries

125g blueberries

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp lemon rind

3 tbsp cornflour

¼ cup sugar

¼ tsp nutmeg

Sweet pastry

2½ cups plain flour

⅔ cup icing sugar

150g  butter

cold water


Preheat the oven to 220C. Prepare and then roll out the pastry, to fit a 23cm pie plate.

For the pastry: sift the flour and then combine with the icing sugar. Rub in the butter with your thumbs and forefingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add a little water, cutting it into the mixture with a flat bladed knife. Keep adding a little more water until you have rough dough. Knead with your hands gently to make the dough smooth. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then roll out the pastry to completely fill the pie plate and have ample lengths hanging over the sides of the plate.

Slice up the nectarines and mix them with the raspberries and blueberries. Add in the lemon juice, lemon rind, sugar and nutmeg and mix well. Mix the cornflour in a small amount of water until it is a smooth paste then add to the fruit mixture.

Arrange the fruit mixture in the centre of the pastry. Fold inwards the edges of the pastry over the fruit, towards the centre of the pie, overlapping as you go.  Bake the pie for 23-40 minutes until the pastry is golden and the fruit is well cooked and tender.

Garden design by Cultivart – The West Australian

Terraces and level-variances add interest.

The owners of this Floreat property wanted their new home to be an Australian version of the popular Hamptons style and called in Janine Mendel of CultivArt Landscape Design to create the garden around it.

“They didn’t want a stock-standard contemporary garden but sought something out of the box,” Ms Mendel said.

“We used a variety of material and plant textures to create a soft inviting landscape with good structure.”

Ms Mendel worked hard to link indoors and out, helping to translate the popular style that works so well in WA.

The Hamptons, well known for its rich and famous residents, is on Long Island’s South Fork in New York state.

It’s primarily a holiday destination and while the look is pale, soft, chic and sophisticated, it blends rural and natural touches, all bathed in sunshine. The natural elements in Floreat come from the garden and the swimming pool.

The owners wanted a well-structured garden that was functional as well as beautiful.

“To create a more functional and visual relationship with the internal living areas, I lifted the pool up to the internal floor level and created a pergola in a style that suited the Hamptons theme,” Ms Mendel said.

“The construction of this allowed for the drainage easement underneath the decking floor. It also meant I could bring the garden bed up to the top height and the planting would eventually screen the adjacent neighbours.

“The garden was then stepped down to create the stone sitting area outside the main bedroom. The view from here looks back towards the glass end of the swimming pool. The lower area has a lawn with trees to screen the house behind.”

Ms Mendel said the challenges of the site needed special consideration.

“It’s steeply sloping to the rear and there is a wide drainage easement along the northern side where the pool is,” she said.

“I designed the garden even before the old house had been demolished, which enabled me to make some small adjustments to the design of the new home such as pillar positions on the alfresco area to make the internal spaces work better with the garden.”

The pool has a Hamptons-style pergola.

“Many designers try to superimpose the design trend of the day on a home regardless of its architectural style,” Ms Mendel said.

“These owners had had a design done, which was hard- edged and contemporary and did not suit their design brief.

“They wanted a well-structured garden which was functional but also beautiful. They wanted something that reflected their living style, the interior design and the architecture of their new home.”

The landscape construction and pool installation was done by Urban Landscaping.

The “Endicott” crazy paving stone was from Eco Outdoor and the paving around the pool from Fremantle Stone.

Ms Mendel said she liked the composition of the design and how it worked with the existing slope of the garden.

“I love the softness of the planting and the fact it’s not simply filled with strappy plants,” she said.

“It has a variety of plants which complement each other in terms of texture and colour. It’s a garden that will mature into something even more beautiful and that will age gracefully with the house.”

Because this was a new build, there were no signature trees that needed to be retained. Instead crepe myrtle, Chinese tallow, camellias, gardenias, hibiscus, prunus, agapanthus, Pittosporum “Miss Muffet” and the twining vine mandevilla now grace the landscape.

CultivArt, 0414 865 747,; Urban Landscaping, 9249 8111,

The West Australian

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Hal Moe Pool group leaning in favor of civic center

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CHARLES HURT: Ted Cruz wins Iowa, but he won’t be the GOP nominee for president


DES MOINES — Well, that’s settled. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will not be the 2016 Republican nominee for president.

At least not if recent history is any guide. It has been 16 years since Republican caucus-goers here have accurately picked the eventual GOP nominee for president. In other words, not once in this entire century has Iowa picked the winner for Republicans.

SEE ALSO: Live Results: Iowa Caucus Map Results

Ted Cruz joins former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum, who won the caucuses in 2008 and 2012, respectively.

Neither Mr. Huckabee nor Mr. Santorum were able to convert those Iowa victories into any kind of groundswell of support outside the frozen cornfields of Iowa.

Mr. Cruz carefully followed the same playbook deployed in the caucuses won by his predecessors.

First, he built a massive and highly organized grassroots ground game. It was impressive. Also, Mr. Cruz spent significant money and a huge amount of time and energy courting Iowa voters.

Mr. Cruz was handsomely rewarded with the highest number of caucus votes of any Republican in history. Which means he is really popular — in Iowa.

Similarly, Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Santorum bet their entire presidential campaigns on Iowa, and it paid off for them as well. At least, in terms of winning Iowa. In the end, of course, those victories turned out to be meaningless.

Mr. Cruz also followed in the footsteps of previous Iowa winners in that he shamelessly and overtly deployed his religious faith as a guiding — perhaps overriding — reason for electing him. The man was literally quoting scripture during his campaign events. This preaching culminated in the creepy footage of Mr. Cruz directing his supporters to “awaken the body of Christ.” Ick.

Obviously, it is a strategy that works in Iowa. But I am also pretty sure that God is not so hot about somebody awakening the body of Christ for personal political purposes. Sounds, well, a little self-centered and diabolical.

And, unfortunately for Mr. Cruz, it doesn’t usually work so well going forward. Even in a place like South Carolina where they love their Christian politicians, Mr. Trump is beating Mr. Cruz by 15 points, according to the polls.

The problem for Mr. Cruz is that it is undeniable that Mr. Trump has at least broken through to Christian voters. Many of them trust him and believe that he is serious about fighting for them and protecting religious liberty.

Mr. Cruz’s impressive win Monday night, of course, sparked a wildfire of giddy gloating among the Great Punditocracy who find Donald Trump so vulgar and repellent. It is like the only thing that matters to them is winning.

But Donald Trump had the last laugh when he walked out on the stage to deliver his concession speech.

Story Continues →

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Denver readies short-term rental rule, multi-property owners push back

Denver’s proposed rules for regulating and taxing short-term rentals took two years to create. But even before the first official airing of the measure, resistance is building against limiting by-owner rentals to primary residences only.

Economists estimate that as many as 40 percent of short-term rentals offered on sites such as Airbnb, FlipKey and VRBO are marketed by people who own more than one property.

“We are already getting pushback on the primary-residence rule. It’s probably the most controversial,” said Denver councilwoman Mary Beth Susman, who chaired the city’s Sharing Economy Task Force.

Denver’s rule was crafted, in part, to help prevent a sweeping conversion of long-term rental units to more lucrative short-term rentals, further cinching the city’s tight, expensive housing supply, she said.

“It’s very likely that a primary residence owner uses the opportunity for short-term rental revenue as a way to help pay the mortgage or pay the bills,” she said. “But a person who comes in and buys up a multi-unit place and rents them all for the short-term has reduced the inventory of what might be affordable housing.”

The draft rule proposes a $25 annual license for residents who rent their home on a short-term basis. It limits short-term rentals to the licensee’s primary residence and requires the host to collect and remit Denver’s 10.75 percent lodger’s tax.

The city’s zoning code would require an amendment to allow short-term rentals of residences. The suggested regulations include safety requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as well as rules for noise and trash collection. The proposed rules also would allow long-term renters to offer accessory dwelling units for short-term rental, or entire homes, if they have their landlord’s permission.

All ads for the city’s estimated 2,000 short-term rentals would have to include the property’s license number.

The ordinance will be presented at four neighborhood meetings this month; the first is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at South High School, 1700 E. Louisiana Ave. A final proposal could be in front of the city council by May, Susman said.

Bruce Bennett folds a blanket in a room that he makes available to rent in his home in San Francisco via Airbnb. Denver is finalizing its rules for

“If we hear some good ideas from the people we are talking too, I’d like to incorporate them into the proposal,” she said.

In the last year the task force listened to short-term rental websites like and, apartment complex owners, neighborhood groups, homeowner associations, neighbors of short-term rentals and homeowners who are generating revenue renting to vacationers.

The task force didn’t want to ban rentals of less than 30 days, but it needed a framework to keep short-term rentals safe for users and to collect lodging taxes — just like hotels pay. The Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association urged the task force to collect the city’s 10.75 percent lodgers tax from owners who rent properties on the vacation rental market.

And any rules had to be both easy for the city to enforce and easy for short-term rental operators to follow, Susman said.

“This short-term rental model is very popular and it’s growing. It’s going to get bigger and bigger,” she said.

The primary residence rule will prevent property owners from building a short-term rental empire — and that’s a real thing.

A 2015 study by the Penn State University School of Hospitality Management looked at Airbnb rentals in 12 big cities, not including Denver, and found multi-unit operators accounted for nearly 40 percent of the short-term rental juggernaut’s $1.3 billion total revenue.

The study showed tremendous growth of the short-term rental platform, with monthly revenues in the dozen cities growing 60 percent in the 12-months that ended in September. And the fastest growing segment was operators with three or more units, with revenues for those so-called mega-operators climbing in $29.2 million in September from $16.1 million in September 2014.

Advocates of short-term rentals say the proposed rules ignore second homeowners and owners of vacation homes who can offset their costs by renting to visitors.

Others say they would happily come back into compliance after having their short-term rentals shut down.

Jason Walton started renting his 1896 farmhouse in Denver’s Sunnyside neighborhood three years ago. That first year, he made about $30,000. The next year, he made $60,000 and moved to an apartment down the street because his home was rented nearly 300 nights.

Then last spring, the city delivered a cease-and-desist letter.

He gathered almost 300 signatures petitioning the city to reconsider, but he was forced to shut-down his short-term rental to visitors that had included a Mexican television show that filmed a soap opera episode at his house, wedding parties and several touring musicians.

Over those three years Walton said he put $40,000 into his house, with new landscaping and other improvements.

“I never understood why the city wanted to get its fingers in my entrepreneurial idea. If I want to rent short-term or long-term, what’s the difference? I pay my property taxes. I would happily pay lodging taxes,” Walton said. “I was bringing money to the economy and people were spending in my neighborhood coffee shop and eating at local restaurants. It was very positive thing.”

But Denver’s proposed regulations are burdensome for homeowners, said Matt Kiessling, the executive director of the Short-Term Rental Advocacy Center, which was created by websites like Airbnb and VRBO parent to help municipalities craft regulations that won’t hurt the nascent short-term rental industry.

“From the brief outline, it seems a rather onerous set of regulations for home sharing,” Kiessling said. “It requires quite a bit from a registration and licensing perspective.”

Overly complicated registration and licensing programs can deter homeowners from complying, he said. In Portland, Ore., hundreds of hosts refused to follow new short-term rental regulations. When city leaders cracked down and demanded that Airbnb divulge the names and addresses of hosts who were not complying, the company protested, arguing they were not in the business of enforcing city rules.

If Denver’s rule requires hosts to include their tax license number on all listings, the city should not expect enforcement help from online companies like and, Kiessling said.

“We have serious concerns if a city points to the online platforms and says you guys need to make sure that information is included in any rental before it goes live,” Kiessling said. “That’s not the job of the Internet platforms.”

Jason Blevins: 303-954-1374, or @jasonblevins

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