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Archives for February 7, 2016

Leaves of bay laurel plant have universal appeal – Tribune


Leaves of bay laurel plant have universal appeal

Updated 21 hours ago

Many herb enthusiasts are aware of what a delicious addition homegrown bay leaves are to the pantry. But this easy-to-grow culinary herb should be in everyone’s garden, not just the gardens of herb fanatics.

Bay laurel ( Laurus nobilis) is a large evergreen shrub or tree with fragrant, dark green, glossy leaves. A mature tree can reach upwards of 30 feet in height in its native Mediterranean climate, but here in Pennsylvania, where the bay laurel isn’t winter-hardy, the plant’s growth is often limited to just a few feet .

Bay laurel is hardy only in USDA Zones 8 through 11, but it does quite well in colder areas when grown as an annual. Bay laurel performs best in partial to full sun.

Where winter temperatures regularly dip below freezing, bay is most often grown in a container. The plants thrive in containers, as they are fairly drought-tolerant and require little maintenance. During the winter months, the containerized plant must be brought indoors to protect it from freezing temperatures. It grows easily in a bright window and requires only minimal irrigation throughout the winter. Because bay is slow growing, it needs to be transplanted into a larger pot only every four to five years.

Bay leaves are very flavorful and are most often dried before use. Added to pasta sauces, soups and stocks, bay lends a distinct flavor to dishes. The leaves are very tough, especially when dried, and are removed from the dish before it’s served.

To grow your own bay, start with a plant from a local nursery this spring. They are often found as small potted plants in the herb section. Plant your bay laurel in a glazed ceramic pot or ornamental plastic container with a drainage hole in the bottom. Use a high-quality potting soil mixed with a cup or two of coarse sand. For smaller plants, an 8- to 10-inch diameter pot works fine; larger plants will require a larger pot.

Place the pot in an area that receives at least six hours of full sun per day. Water it regularly throughout the summer, but do not overwater. Fertilize the plant with an organic, water-soluble fertilizer once a month. Enjoy your bay throughout the summer, but move it indoors as soon as the nighttime temperatures drop into the 50s (usually mid-September). Choose a bright window and cut down on watering. Do not fertilize the plant until you move it back outdoors again the following spring.

The leaves of bay can be harvested anytime during the growing season, though mid-summer harvests tend to have the best flavor. Use your thumbnail and index finger to pinch individual leaves from the plant.

To dry large quantities of bay leaves for later use, you can remove up to one-third of the total number of leaves on any one plant. Rinse the harvested leaves with tepid water, and pat them dry with a paper towel. Spread the leaves out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place the cookie sheet in a dry room, out of direct sunlight, for two to three weeks, turning the leaves over once or twice during that time. You also can dry the leaves in a dehydrator until they are crisp. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can put the cookie sheet into an oven set to its lowest temperature. Turn the leaves over every half-hour until the leaves are crispy dry.

Dried bay leaves can be stored in glass jars or air-tight, plastic food storage containers. Keep them away from light and moisture to prolong their shelf life.

Bay laurel plants can live for many years, providing hundreds of leaves for use in the kitchen. Dried bay leaves also can be used to keep weevils and grain moths out of the pantry.

Horticulturist and author Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio with Doug Oster. Her website is jessicawalliser.com.

Send your gardening or landscaping questions to tribliving@tribweb.com or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

Article source: http://triblive.com/lifestyles/jessicawalliser/9905772-74/bay-leaves-plant

Aboretum speaker will discuss front yard vegetable gardens that grow food, goodwill, happiness

Landscape architect Owen Dell learned as a young man that a front yard vegetable garden could be social glue that pulls a community together.

“When I was in my 20s, I lived in downtown Santa Barbara, in a big old Victorian, sort of hippy house. We’d sit on the front porch and hang out. We were kind of scruffy looking,” Dell said. “Down the street was a house for seniors. They sort of glowered at us as they walked by going to the grocery store or the post office.”

One year he planted a vegetable garden in the front yard. “The old people stopped to look at it, and talk. They were smiling, saying good morning. We gave them peas and tomatoes. It turned a lot of enemies into friends,” he said.

The experience made such an impression on Dell, he never forgot. “Not only were we growing food, we were growing goodwill and happiness,” he said.

Dell repeated the process several times over the years, most recently when he moved to Corvallis, Ore., three years ago.

“Same darn thing happened here. I put in a vegetable garden out front, starting in that devil’s strip between the curb and sidewalk. I now know 30 or 40 of my neighbors. We have become friends, help each other out,” he said. “I’ve come to believe the social value is as important as the lettuce and peppers.”

Dell will be in Lexington to give The Arboretum’s Founders Lecture on Feb. 10. His topic: Sidewalk Salads: Frontyard Vegetable Gardens. The next day he will be the keynote speaker at the Central Kentucky Ornamental and Turf Association winter horticulture conference where he will speak on Watershed Friendly Landscaping and Sustainable Landscape Management.

Dell is an author, educator and has worked extensively in areas of sustainable landscapes, watersheds and water quality. He is a permaculture designer and has pioneered sustainable landscaping practices used internationally.

But one of his favorite topics remains that of front yard vegetable gardening. Besides the social value to a neighborhood, planting something other than grass and ornamental shrubs in front of your house “raises that plot to a higher purpose,” he said. “We’re not just decorating with pretty plants anymore. That era has passed. We have to ask what does our landscape do.”

Sustainability “is very important” even on a small scale like a yard, Dell said. “Any plant will sequester carbon and make oxygen, doesn’t matter what it is. But obviously there is higher value to things that are native, have habitat value for the bees, the birds or create food for us.”

When asked why would a homeowner tear out lawn to put in vegetables? He replies, “You raise that land to a higher purpose.”

Higher purpose or not, if that garden is in front of your house for all the world to see, it better look good, Dell said. He will give tips on how to create a pretty, productive sidewalk vegetable garden.

“You apply the same design principles to your vegetable garden as you do a flower bed or a perennial border or anything. You’re just doing it with things you eat.”

If you take out your lawn and put in “a bunch of stuff that is neglected, poorly grown or is inherently unattractive to start out with, laid out in a way that doesn’t meet the requirements of good design, your neighbors are going to have to look at it,” Dell said. And they won’t be very happy with what you’re doing.

For that reason, he’s careful where he puts tomatoes, certainly never at the front of a garden because as summer wears on, they get leggy, need staking and can look pretty raggedy.

He will address safety considerations, neighborhood food sharing strategies, legal issues pertaining to zoning and restrictions imposed by home owner associations.

“In some places, you absolutely can not have vegetables growing in the front yard,” he said.

Beverly Fortune is a former Herald-Leader reporter. Reach her at beverlyfortune123@gmail.com or 859-948-7846.

If You Go

What: Arboretum’s Founders Lecture given by landscape architect Owen Dell who will talk on Sidewalk Salads: Front Yard Vegetable Gardens

Where: Gluck Equine Center, 1400 Nicholasville Road, University of Kentucky campus

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 10

Admission: $5; free for Friends of The Arboretum and students with ID.

Article source: http://www.kentucky.com/living/home-garden/article58971643.html

The secret tricks every gardener should know

Gardening is a craft. The woven knowledge of science and experience entwined with the creative.

Save our soil: extreme garden rescue tips
Five hard-to-kill plants for people missing their green thumb
The coolest pot plants to add to your home

Like all crafts, practice makes for a better outcome and the tips and tricks from green thumbs can be a life saver for the newcomer. Even the odd “old wives tale” can save the day.

Here are five things all great gardeners know to be true:

1. The biggest gift is compost.

Compost unfortunately is not something you can buy. It’s something that is made. Crafted, if you like, by combining garden refuse and kitchen scraps. It is the transformation of rubbish into natures probiotic vitamin booster.

Making it depends how small the green matter is (so if you can mulch it first or at the very least run the mower over it), how warm the weather and how regularly you turn it. If you have a tumbler, this is an easy and effective method of turning out your “black gold” in about a month.

Spread this onto the garden and let the earthworms take it into the ground, or work it in with a pitch fork. Either way, you garden will respond as if it’s had a dose of steroids and sick plants can turn the corner, as if they have been on a course of antibiotics!

Trick: You can hammer a cardboard tube into the garden and “post” scraps down directly and then place the plastic lid back into the tube to keep vermin out. Do this around the garden as the tubes fill up.

Compost Pohoto: Getty

Photo: Getty

2. Water is everything.

Sounds obvious, but water not only hydrates, it dissolves nutrients in the soil and feeds plants.

A deep soak once a week should get your garden by as too much of a good thing is always bad … your plants’ roots might have difficulty breathing simply because they are waterlogged.

Pots, raised beds and free draining soils are the answer here. Saucers under pot plants however is a big no-no. The only exceptions are ferns and hydrangeas, both of which think too much is never enough!

Water can also be great at helping to control pests. Many small insects thrive in dusty conditions, and areas of the house that are in rain shadows. Simply hosing down foliage or misting leaves can be a cure all.

Trick: Cut off the top of a soft drink bottle and bury (lid removed) the top down around the drip line of established trees and shrubs. When you water the garden, fill up these reservoirs and they will slowly water your garden right down at the roots.

Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

3. The more you take, the more you get.

Ok, life’s adage might work the other way round, but in the garden, pruning is everything! Unlike the economy, cutting back stimulates new growth in plants. Pruning makes your garden grow. It also makes shrubs look thicker and bushier, removes dead and diseased growth and trims off old flowers, encouraging further flushes.

Remember, you probably visit the hairdresser every five weeks to look good and in a similar way, so should your garden!  While you’re at it, throw in the “treatment”, a liquid hose-on seaweed solution to help leaves look green and lush and keep the roots happy too.

Trick: Pinch pruning, which is only removing a few centimetres of growth, works just as effectively at bushing up your garden as a chainsaw.

gardening getty

Photo: Getty

4. Don’t put up with weeds.

Weeds can be blown in, walked in or carried in on the mower. If you have your grass mown by a contractor, ask them to hide the blades down (or blower them) before mowing your lawn.

In the garden, annual weeds need to be removed before flowering, otherwise you’ll have another crop in no time. If you can’t pull them out, at least cut them back to prevent them flowering or setting seeds. If pulling weeds by hand, make sure to remove them “roots and all” so that they don’t regrow. Weed soup, a fertiliser made by steeping your “catch” in water for a few weeks and then using it as a liquid foliage fertiliser, and cooking with weeds (think dandelion salad), are both novel ways of using weeds.

If using herbicide like glyphosate (sold as Roundup and Zero), many green thumbs advocate adding dishwashing liquid (you can also buy a specially made surfactant) or vegetable oil to help make the spray stick to the leaves and penetrate their waxing cuticle. Mixing in food colouring will certainly help you see where you’ve sprayed and which weeds you have mixed. Also, hot weather, without rain forecasted or winds blowing is the most effective to spray in. If you’re poisoning onion weed, be sure to poison down the hollow of the flowering stem, so that the poison goes straight where it’s needed most. An eye dropper is useful for this.

Trick: If you don’t want to spray, boiling water straight from the kettle, and solar sterilisation, where you simply cover an area with black plastic and let the sun work on burning off what’s underneath for a couple of weeks, both work a treat!

Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

5. Keep out unwanted visitors.

These might not make the news, but the invasion of your veggie patch by white cabbage moth, your lawn with army worm and every new shoot by a slug or caterpillar can be the breaking of many an enthusiast.

Try placing white bread tags on fine florist wire around the cabbages (it tricks moths into thinking they are already habituated), saucers of beer around as bait for slugs and snails (they love a beer but can’t handle their booze), and use a Pestoil spray every month on your shrubs. This leaves a fine slick on each leaf that most bugs don’t find at all tasty so they will leave your “dressed greens” and go find a neighbours “undressed” garden!

Trick: If your dog is creating havoc digging, burying their poo back in the hole tends to deter them.

Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

For more from gardening writer Meredith Kirton, click here

Article source: http://thenewdaily.com.au/life/2016/02/06/secret-tips-tricks-every-gardener-know/

February gardening tips 101

Posted: Thursday, February 4, 2016 7:51 pm

February gardening tips 101

By Jill Zimmerman
K-State Extension

arkcity.net

|
0 comments

Have you ever thought of planting a woodlot, habitat for wildlife, Christmas trees or a tree windbreak?

Larry Biles, State Forester and oversees the Kansas Conservation Tree Planting Program at Kansas State University, has begun taking seedling orders for spring delivery.  

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      Thursday, February 4, 2016 7:51 pm.

      Article source: http://www.arkcity.net/news/nature/february-gardening-tips/article_63eedbe6-cbab-11e5-a7a5-6f91b153a62b.html

      GROW IT: Tips for February from the National Garden Gift Vouchers

      THERE’s nothing that screams spring is coming more than the stunning perfection of a brilliant red camellia in full bloom.

      Warm and vibrant, red is also energising and stimulating – a positive colour that awakens our life force after the dormancy of winter.

      Highly valued for their stunning floral displays and fresh, glossy, evergreen foliage there are dozens of varieties of camellias to choose from in shades of red, pink, white and cream – and they are currently Plant of the Moment in garden centres around the UK.

      Camellia flowers vary in size and shape and like azaleas and rhododendrons they are ericaceous plants which means they need to grow in acid or lime-free soil to ensure they stay healthy.

      Grown in the right soil and position camellias usually flower reliably with little care and attention, growing larger over time to develop into impressive flowering shrubs.

      Most camellias rarely need pruning, but if they outgrow their position individual shoots can be shortened, and plants can even regrow well if cut back hard into old wood.

      Depending on the weather, February is a time to turn your attention back to the outdoors and venture out to see how prepared you are for the start of spring.

      Here are some expert tips of what to put on your February ‘to do’ list.

      The essential spring job is digging and preparing, just as long as the ground isn’t waterlogged or frozen.

      Digging and forking the soil allows you to loosen it, remove weeds and add compost or manure, which will improve soil structure and create a moisture and food reserve for plants. There’s nothing better than digging and breathing in the smell of the soil as you turn it over, knowing that your efforts will be rewarded with some great tasting veg or fabulous flowers.

      National Trust

      This month there are signs of the approaching spring, with bulbs appearing and wildlife waking up as light levels and temperatures increase. There’s plenty to do indoors this month to prepare for the season ahead. Outdoors, as the garden comes to life again, it’s time to prune shrubs and climbers, such as Wisteria as well as evergreen hedges.

      RHS

      Create leaf piles in quiet corners of the garden border or leave a swathe of grass uncut; these offer mini-beasts places to spend the winter and provide ground feeding birds somewhere to forage. To help birds with springtime nesting, put out the fur from pet grooming so that birds can use the fur and line their nests (February and March and onwards). The RSPB has plenty of further information on how to help birds through the winter.

      RSPB

      Any Grow Your Own gardener should be thinking about the sowing season to come and soil preparation. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, the key job for this month is to mark out and prepare seedbeds and then cover them with clear polythene, cloches or fleece to warm up the soil before sowing seeds where you want them in the weeks and months ahead.

      Article source: http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/14258592.GROW_IT__Tips_for_February_from_the_National_Garden_Gift_Vouchers/

      Garden Tips: New veggies judged superior – Tri

      From time to time, I have written about the All-America Selections. These are new flower and vegetable varieties that have been judged to be the best performing new varieties for gardeners. All-America Selections is an independent nonprofit organization with the mission of “promoting new garden varieties with superior performance judged in impartial trials in North America.”

      When gardeners start ordering seeds or plants, they may see a variety that is new and improved, or better tasting, but they have no way of knowing the truth of these claims. However, if a new variety is a national All-America Selection, it is likely to perform well and offer something new or different than similar varieties. In fact, not only must an AAS selection perform well in trials around North America, it must also “have at least two significantly improved qualities” over current varieties to be considered for selection.

      While in the past flowers seemed to be the main focus of AAS selections, vegetables have been front and center in recent years. I suspect that is because many seed companies have been putting their energy into developing new and improved varieties, the focus of many gardeners.

      Let’s take a look at some of the new veggies winning the AAS designation this year. A tomato called Chef’s Choice Green F1 is a modern hybrid that looks like an heirloom with large (9 to 10 ounce) beef-steak type fruit.

      The fruit of Chef’s Choice Green F1 are pretty with green and yellow-striping. The flesh has a sweet, citrusy taste and good texture. Existing varieties that it resembles are Aunt Ruby’s Green, an heirloom, and Fried Green F1. Other desirable characteristics of Chef’s Choice Green F1 include its “well-behaved” 5-foot-tall indeterminate vines and resistance to numerous diseases. Seed for this tomato can be bought at Totally Tomatoes at totallytomato.com.

      On the other end of the spectrum of fruit size is Candyland Red, a currant-type tomato with small half-inch red fruit. These little fruit are sweet and richly flavored. Candyland Red resembles Sweet Pea and Matt’s Wild Cherry tomatoes, but differs from other currant-type tomatoes because its growth is not as rampant. Plus, the fruit forms on the outside of the plant, making harvesting the tiny gems easier. While more compact in habit than similar varieties, these plants still grow 6 to 8 inches tall and should be spaced 3 inches apart, with staking provided for support. Seed of Candyland Red is also available from Totally Tomatoes.

      Other AAS vegetable selections include:

      ▪ Pepitas F1 is a beautiful yellow-orange medium-sized pumpkin with green stripes, making it useful for fall decorating. In addition, its flesh can be baked and the naked or hulless seeds (pepitas) can be roasted and eaten. It will be available in 2017.

      ▪ Prizm is a short kale (10 to 24 inches tall) with bright green ruffled, curly leaves. The almost stemless leaves are tender with good flavor. The plants quickly re-leaf after harvesting. This kale is compact enough to be grown in containers and raised beds. Remember, kale is a cool-season plant and should be started early in the season. It also should be available in 2017.

      Look for 2016 and previous years’ AAS selections when buying garden seed. They are varieties that should do well because they are “tested nationally and proven locally,” All-America Selection’s tagline.

      Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

      Article source: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/living/home-garden/marianne-ophardt/article58511928.html

      On North Trail, new hope in college consortium – Sarasota Herald

      What appear to be motels have shoddy chain-link fences around them, a nonverbal “no vacancy” sign. Prostitutes and drug dealers roam the streets at night and sometimes during the day. Skeletons of roadside signs mark where businesses stood and died.

      This is what every day looks like along parts of the three-mile stretch of U.S. 41 — North Tamiami Trail — between Ringling College of Art Design and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.

      Long considered a blighted area of the city, the North Trail has attracted repeated revitalization efforts that have consistently fizzled. What’s left is the stained shell of motels and storefronts that saw their best days before Interstate 75 diverted many travelers from the corridor decades ago.

      But some hope a new partnership between local colleges will be the catalyst to make real and lasting changes to the corridor.

      New College of Florida, Ringling College of Art Design, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, the State College of Florida, Florida State University’s satellite arts program at the Asolo and Eckerd College in St. Petersburg announced last month that they would form a partnership called the Consortium of Colleges of the Creative Coast, nicknamed C4.

      The partnership will enable the colleges to share resources — such as campus police departments — and allow students to take courses at the various participating schools. For example, a student studying film at Ringling College could take a foreign language course at New College and a marketing course at USF Sarasota-Manatee.

      While the C4 partnership is primarily an academic one, local business owners and college leaders say they hope increased visibility of the local colleges will spur redevelopment along the North Trail.

      Larry Thompson, president of Ringling College, said the area creates first impressions for many Sarasota visitors, particularly for those who fly into the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

      Thompson worries those impressions are often negative.

      “Quite frankly it’s not the most appealing entrance — and that’s very understated,” Thompson said. “We do have prospective students and parents who have raised concerns occasionally about our location. When they drive into town and see some of the motels in the condition they are in, and, quite frankly, see prostitutes along the Trail, they get concerned.”

      Thompson said although Ringling has few issues with safety and security, the area surrounding the college also lacks the appeal of a vibrant college-centric atmosphere enjoyed by many campuses across the state and country.

      Rather than cookie-cutter condos and bland storefronts, Thompson and business owners along the North Trail crave a “funky” atmosphere for which other college towns and cultural districts are known. He envisions bookstores and bars and restaurants and boutiques — something that could appeal to younger people and artists.

      Few alternatives

      At Ringling, 24-year-old senior Alexa Kim tried to think of places for students to go nearby as she walked across campus between classes.

      “Right now there’s one pub, one pizza place and Burger King,” Kim said. “Other than that, because I don’t have a car, there’s absolutely nothing within walking or biking distance. Even Lido Beach is a 30-minute bike ride.”

      The closest late-night diner? Perkins Restaurant north of the airport. The closest late-night coffee shop? It doesn’t exist. Downtown is just a couple of miles from the Ringling campus, but most students shy away from $12 cocktails and $30 dinners.

      Kurt Schmalz, an 18-year-old Ringling freshman, said when he visits friends at the University of Florida, he is struck by the number of young people and places to hang out. But here?

      “You have to go out of your way to other people’s houses to have fun,” Schmalz said. “If no one is having a house party, you just sort of hang out in your dorm. Kids lose their minds because all they do is school — there’s nothing else around here for them.”

      Growler’s Pub, located across U.S. 41 from Ringling College, is one exception. Sherry Kolyno, who co-owns the craft beer pub, said it’s among the few places open past 9 or 10 p.m. on weeknights.

      She wants more competition.

      “If you go around any other college or university town, there’s a lot to do for college kids. But here there’s nothing; it’s sad,” Kolyno said. “It’s almost like the area around the colleges up here is a second thought. But USF is growing. New College is already a force. Ringling, my God, with their alums going to Pixar and all these celebrities they’re bringing in, they’re changing the city. But every time Ringling brings in a celebrity, this is their first impression of Sarasota. This is supposed to be a gateway to Sarasota, but it looks more like a dump.”

      She said she specifically designed her craft beer bar to be comfortable because there are virtually no other places students feel welcome around there. There are no options for late-night food. There are few places aside from the campus libraries where students can study. She dreams of a trolley service that could shuttle students between the local campuses. She wants to see apartments pop up to accommodate growing student populations. She’d like to see more bars so people who go to hers can have other options nearby. She wants to see enough restaurants and entertainment for people to make a night out of the North Trail.

      She’s hopeful C4 will make some of those dreams a reality.

      “I think it will make a difference because all the colleges are involved,” Kolyno said. “It’s helpful to band together and use combined resources to get things done.”

      Last week, some New College students and recent alumni who came to Growler’s for a trivia competition were less optimistic.

      “I don’t think it’ll spur any new development,” said Sydney Kruljac, a 21-year-old second-year student. “New College is only 800 students and Ringling probably has a little more than 1,000. USF and SCF are commuter schools, and a lot of those students already know people in the area because they’re from here.”

      Indeed, the student population of the schools, numbering a few thousand, pales in comparison to the tens of thousands attending the headline major state universities in Gainesville, Tallahasse, Tampa, Orlando and other cities.

      Thompson and other leaders have not offered concrete ideas for how to accomplish the transformation they seek. But he said it could be done by putting pressure on local governments to make the project a priority. The colleges aren’t in the private developing business, Thompson said, but they can help create new opportunities such as Ringling College’s soon-to-be-built professional sound stage facility.

      “C4 is not enough to get it done alone, but we can be a great catalyst and great partner in these efforts,” Thompson said. “It takes emphasis by governments, because the colleges can’t do it themselves. There’s no way. It’s basically a situation where developers have to have some faith that this would be a great place to really develop and make it into a vibrant community.”

      Spotty track record

      Failure has marked previous efforts to revitalize the area. In the 1990s, business owners and the city worked on crime prevention through environmental design, or CPTED — a concept that uses windows, fences, landscaping, walkways and lighting to help reduce crime.

      Later came the Gateway 2000 initiative, which ushered in the Ritz-Carlton, the Sarasota Bay Club and Gateway Park by the Van Wezel, but did little to change the miles-long stretch between Ringling College and New College.

      In the mid-2000s, efforts to clean up the North Trail morphed into Innovation 41. It aimed to create a cultural historic district along the same stretch of Tamiami Trail, but the effort died during the Great Recession. Thompson was heavily involved with the attempt.

      Perhaps the closest the area came to redevelopment was around 2006, when a company called Ram Development Co. bought several motels and properties with plans to tear them down. The group developed the Broadway Promenade across U.S. 41 from Gateway Park and the Van Wezel, among other properties.

      But after a zoning spat with the city, the group began to pull out of the North Trail area.

      That was the final straw for North Trail business owners and residents, including Jay Patel, who owns the Regency Inn Suites. His hotel is unlike other decrepit lodging options in the area — he just finished a renovation of the building and got neighborhood approval for every aspect of the project — from the paint colors to its soon-to-be new name of Sapphire Inn Suites.

      He and others formed the North Trail Redevelopment Task Force in 2008, which has since been renamed the North Trail Redevelopment Partnership. They met with city commissioners. They convinced the state to create the North Trail Enterprise Overlay Zone, which gave businesses incentives to relocate to the area. They helped the city create the North Trail Overlay District.

      Those efforts have resulted in some successes. Family Dollar took over a derelict gas station, a Walmart Neighborhood Market filled a former Winn-Dixie site and Goodwill is on the former site of a run-down restaurant. Growler’s Pub opened in 2010 along with Yummy House, LeAnh’s Vietnamese Restaurant and the Coffee Loft.

      But it’s still not the kind of major facelift Patel and others hoped for the area.

      He said each past effort failed because of two reasons: They lacked funding and lacked priority status with the city.

      “The city sees the low-hanging fruit. During the last boom it was the downtown area, this cycle it’s the Rosemary District,” Patel said. “Most development in Sarasota comes in by working with the city. But there has not been much city commission involvement here.”

      Jan Thornburg, a spokeswoman for the city of Sarasota, said almost all the changes on the North Trail have come from residents.

      “It has really been a grassroots initiative trying to get things going up there,” Thornburg said. “Even the overlay district came from residents and property owners.”

      The North Trail Redevelopment Partnership is raising money for its latest revitalization attempt, a study by the nonprofit developers ArtSpace.

      ArtSpace creates affordable arts housing and business facilities across blighted areas across the country in an effort to spur development and turn the forgotten neighborhoods into up-and-coming destinations. The study would examine what type of mixed-use development would best suit artists and locals. Patel and others have raised $11,000 of the $50,000 needed to do the study. But the group holds fewer meetings now than it did during the recession. Fewer people are involved.

      “The reason we stopped meeting regularly was because nothing was happening and people got frustrated,” Patel said.

      Thompson said he understands the frustration — he has felt it too. But if enough people get involved, the long delayed dreams for North Trail could finally become a reality.

      “This takes some real creative thinking to be able to mix all of these institutions together and bringing in people from community who would help support it,” Thompson said. “But it would have to be supported not just by students or faculty, but by other people in the town.”

      Article source: http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20160206/ARTICLE/160209699/2416/NEWS?Title=On-North-Trail-new-hope-in-college-consortium

      The benefits of native plant landscaping



      Posted Feb. 4, 2016 at 12:36 PM
      Updated Feb 4, 2016 at 12:38 PM


      Article source: http://www.starfl.com/news/20160204/benefits-of-native-plant-landscaping

      Once used by horse-drawn carriages, Willmore City ‘courts’ and ‘ways’ get a makeover



      A short stretch of La Reina Way, one of the “courts” and “ways” criss-crossing the Willmore City neighborhood near downtown Long Beach, has a new look after the completion of a pilot project in which city officials blocked traffic from a small section of the roadway and transformed it into a park-like, pedestrian-oriented setting.

      Instead of just looking like a regular alley, cracked pavement and all, La Reina Way between Chestnut Avenue and Del Ray Court is now adorned with benches, pavers resembling brickwork and drought-tolerant vegetation including irises, agapanthus and Mexican sage.

      “It’s a nice clean feeling. We don’t want extravagance,” said Ruth Meghiddo, a member of the Willmore City Heritage Association.

      In Willmore City, west of downtown, the courts and ways appear more like alleys, but are not quite streets. Routes like La Reina Way are too narrow to allow vehicles to travel in both directions, but like standard streets, they also provide access to some residences’ primary entrances.

      Willmore City’s developments date back to around 1882, and Century and Heritage Association President Kathleen Irvine said the courts and ways were laid out during the era when residents would have ridden horse-drawn carriages to get from place to place.

      By the early 2000s, however, Irvine said Long Beach’s city government no longer considered the Courts and Ways to be actual streets, resulting in a lack of regular maintenance.

      Heritage Association members’ work, in collaboration with representatives of the Arts Council for Long Beach and Long Beach Heritage, in 2004 to teach Edison Elementary School pupils on the subject of Willmore City architecture provided the genesis of La Reina Court’s improvement, according to the Heritage Association.

      Meghiddo and others working on the project then developed proposals to improve the current state of Willmore City. Their plans included enhancements for the Courts and Ways.

      “There are people where the main entrance, the addresses of people, is in the alley,” Meghiddo said. “Don’t you think they deserve more attention?”

      City government paid for the La Reina Way project by drawing upon a $170,000 grant obtained through Proposition 84, the 2006 bond measure written to provide nearly $5.4 billion to water- and park-related projects in California and $50,000 from the federal government’s Community Development Block Grant program.

      The Heritage Association will be responsible for maintaining the improved section of La Reina Way, according to the city.

      In a statement, area Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez said the La Reina Way improvements are “a perfect example of ideas turning into positive realities” and asserted the project may inspire other neighborhood groups to propose enhancements for other parts of the city.

      City government’s announcement of the La Reina Way improvements held out the possibility for its duplication at other Courts and Ways, and the Heritage Association has a list of 10 other places where they would like to see similar improvements. Priorities include Virginia Court between 11th and 12th streets; Virginia Court’s intersection with Melrose Way and the crossing of Park Court and Nardo Way.

      “If you’ve got kids, you’ve got a place for them to hang out,” Heritage Association president Kathleen Irvine said at the improved stretch of La Reina Way.

      “This makes it safe to walk or bike without being on the street.”

      Article source: http://www.presstelegram.com/government-and-politics/20160206/once-used-by-horse-drawn-carriages-willmore-city-courts-and-ways-get-a-makeover