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Archives for February 13, 2016

Peyton Ellas commentary: More about plant communities

Posted: Saturday, February 13, 2016 2:28 pm

Peyton Ellas commentary: More about plant communities

By Peyton Ellas

Recorderonline.com

I am eagerly awaiting Peter Wohlleben’s book “The Hidden Life of Trees,” due out in English translation in September. Wohlleben and his book, a best-seller in Germany, was recently featured in a New York Times article (January 30, 2016). Basically, he’s been a career forester in Germany and wrote the book to show people how great trees are.

But we already know that don’t we? What has excited me about this book, though, is Wohlleben’s idea that appreciating the usefulness of a tree is not the same thing as knowing how great a tree is. In my work, I am often asked for recommendations for a tree that will grow fast, or provide a privacy screen, or provide shade, or some other attribute. I am not often asked to create a great plant community, but it is perhaps one of those “secret” values I can try to provide, since I know that a great plant community will be a great garden and the customer will find it beautiful, useful and easy to care for. It’s why we do site analyis, soil tests and learn about historical uses of the land.

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      Saturday, February 13, 2016 2:28 pm.

      Article source: http://www.recorderonline.com/news/peyton-ellas-commentary-more-about-plant-communities/article_23463fa6-d2a1-11e5-80ce-e311ce32ef8c.html

      Combine the best of the cultivated and the best of the wild – Virginian

      With rural areas becoming more urbanized every day, and wild areas becoming sites for pipelines, landfills, highways and more, backyard gardens are the last natural areas.

      “What can we do in these islands of green?” author Thomas Rainer asked.

      Rainer was speaking on “The American Garden in a Post-Wild World” at the recent Home Gardener Day in Virginia Beach, sponsored by the Virginia Horticulture Foundation. Rainer also is the author with Claudia West of a new book, “Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes.”

      A landscape architect from Arlington, Rainer argued that garden landscapes have to be taken a step further these days to create more sustainable natural areas in our post-wild world. The best of the cultivated and the best of the wild need to be combined, he said.

      “We need a more relaxed style of landscaping: more natives, less lawn,” Rainer told the home gardeners. “We need to reinterpret wild.”

      One photo in the book shows a small all-green garden full of ferns, but none of the green is lawn grass.

      Along with planting too much grass, Americans often think of plants as “sculptures,” Rainer said. Plants are placed so they will stand out independently from one another.

      “In the wild, plants grow in a community,” Rainer explained.

      In the book there are photos of plants on a forest floor growing right against, over and under one another. In one, May apples are poking up through a bed of trillium.

      As another example, Rainer lamented the liberal use of garden mulch. He said Americans think of mulch as a garden component, perhaps as though mulch were a ground cover.

      “Why do Americans like to show off their mulch so much?” he asked. “In the wild, plants form the mulch.”

      A self-sustaining garden should create its own mulch from the leaves of the trees above and shrubs and plants below. But most gardens have no natural layer, Rainer added.

      One of Rainer’s remedies is to plant more plants. In fact, he said, “work hard to get as many plants as possible in one space.”

      He even suggests that bare spaces, such as the strip of grass and gravel along the street or outside the fence, should be filled with plants. One photo in the book shows a vacant city lot that was allowed to grow into a natural meadow.

      “There’s so much that I want to bring back to the American garden,” Rainer said.

      He closed with five tips for gardening in a post-wild world:

      1. “Tame the lawn.” If you want a little lawn for the children to play on, that’s all right, he said, but think of the lawn as an area rug, not a carpet.
      2. “Create volume with herbaceous plants.” Plant flowers until they are tumbling over the edges of the beds. Use herbaceous plants underneath woody shrubs such as roses and azaleas.
      3. Layer more life into your garden.” Think of trees as the structural layer. Add a design layer of colorful flowers, and ground cover layers of sedges and creeping plants. With layering you can have more plant diversity.
      4. “Go wild.” Plant breeders have almost bred the life out of plants. The wild species are more beautiful but maybe not as colorful.
      5. “Be romantic.” Surround yourself with plants and flowers. “Enjoy your garden,” Rainer said. “Garden for more wildlife, but garden more for yourself.”

      Article source: http://pilotonline.com/life/home/lawn-garden/combine-the-best-of-the-cultivated-and-the-best-of/article_f25b52e6-587b-5ad6-b096-c6d3bd9fa8b9.html

      Northwest Flower and Garden Show starts Wednesday in Seattle

      The Northwest Flower Garden Show, the region’s largest garden show, opens Wednesday at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. The show will continue through Sunday (Feb. 21).

      Here’s what’s happening at the garden show:

      Display gardens: Twenty garden designers will create temporary pop-up garden displays, all individually themed, but based on an overall theme of celebrating the National Parks Service centennial and famous American landmarks. Be sure to check out the display from Olympia’s Nature Perfect Landscaping. The company’s garden is inspired by Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

      Vendors: More than 300 exhibitors will display all kinds of home and garden products, including greenhouses, garden equipment, outdoor furniture, fountains, hardscape materials, plants, seeds, garden art and jewelry.

      Vintage Garden Market: Find upcycled garden art and and restored treasures for the garden from a number of vendors. Nearly 20 sellers will appear at the show.

      Lectures: More than 20 lectures a day will take place on three different stages. Featured personalities include this paper’s garden columnist, Marianne Binetti, as well as Seattle-based garden personality Ciscoe Morris and Tacoma’s own Sue Goetz from Creative Gardener. Topics range from growing orchids to gardening in small spaces, heirloom seeds, garden art and gardening on a budget.

      Garden Wars: Daily at 1 p.m., find “Garden Wars,” hosted in the same style as the television show “Iron Chef.” PBS garden personality Joe Lamp’l will guide two teams through garden design projects. News Tribune and Olympian garden columnist Marianne Binetti will aid the teams in their construction of 10-by-10 feet gardens. Independent judges select a winner, with prize money going to charity.

      Northwest Flower Garden Show

      When: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 21).

      Where: Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Place, Seattle.

      Cost: $17 at the door or $5 discounted early-bird tickets at gardenshow.com/tickets.

      Information: gardenshow.com.

      Article source: http://www.theolympian.com/living/home-garden/article59602811.html

      Growing Sprouts Indoors, part 1

      Posted: Saturday, February 13, 2016 12:30 am

      Growing Sprouts Indoors, part 1

      By Bob Beyfuss
      For Columbia-Greene Media

      thedailymail.net

      I really enjoy hearing from you readers and I especially enjoy your suggestions for topics to write about. It is a bit of a challenge to write a gardening column in the dead of winter. This week’s topic was suggested by Diane, a reader from New Jersey of all places! Well, New Jersey is nicknamed “The Garden State.”

      By mid-February, most gardeners are getting desperate to grow something to lift our winter spirits. The groundhog has predicted an early spring this year, but spring cannot occur soon enough to cure the cabin fever that sets in mid-winter in homes throughout the Northeast. Some of us have already ordered our garden seeds for the upcoming season, but in general it is still too early to start seeds for our vegetable garden transplants, with a few exceptions. Onion seeds, not sets, may be started now, but just about everything else should wait another month at least. If you have Gro-lights or a sunny window, you are equipped to begin gardening right now and you can actually harvest a food crop in as little as a week this dark month.

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      Saturday, February 13, 2016 12:30 am.

      Article source: http://www.thedailymail.net/columnists/weekly_gardening_tips/article_85220108-d1e6-11e5-b455-e79d9227c28b.html

      From the Ground Up: Tips to get ready for spring gardening

      As the dark gloomy days of winter tick away on the calendar all gardeners look forward to spring. When spring finally arrives there seems to not be enough time to get everything done. There are things you can start to do now that will help you be ready for spring.

      Gardening tools

      Check your gardening tools. Did you store each and every one of them away as you should have? Or were you like some of the rest of us who thought, “I will do that later?” With the temperatures not being below zero every day, this is a good time to check tools and remove the dried dirt with a wire brush. Shovels, spades and hoes can be sanded with sand paper and sharpened with a file or whetstone. The entire shovel, spade or hoe can be lightly oiled. The wooden handles should be lightly sanded and rubbed with linseed oil or Tungoil.

      Speaking of oil, the bolt attaching the two blades of your pruners and loppers should also be oiled. Do this now to make spring work easier.

      Surprise your lawnmower repair man and have him service your lawnmower and sharpen the blade now.

      Seeds and Bulbs

      Wondering whether the packages of seeds left from last year or even the year before are still viable? Now is the time to check. Place 10 seeds between two wet paper towels. Place the towels in a plastic bag and keep in a warm place. Check those seeds on the anticipated ‘day of the germination time’ or a few days later listed on the seed package. If at least five of the 10 seeds have germinated, your seed is still viable.

      Ever wish there was a quicker way to plant all those small seeds in a long row in your garden? Make your own seed tapes. Cut stripes of newspaper one inch wide. Make an old fashion flour paste of flour and water. Paint the newspaper strips with the paste. Place seeds on the strip using the spacing recommended on the seed package, fold the strip in half and allow to thoroughly dry. Plant the entire strip in the spring at the recommended depth on the seed package. Water well and cover with soil. This is much faster than slowly placing each seed in that long row when you have many other spring chores to do. This works especially well for very fine seeds such as carrots.

      Last but not least check any bulbs that you may have in storage. Soft and rotting bulbs should be discarded to keep the other bulbs ready for planting when spring does arrive. Think spring it will soon be here.

      Don’t forget to register for the Linn County Master Gardener’s Winter Gardening Fair on March 5. Hope to see you there.

      • For gardening questions, call the Linn County Extension Master Gardener Hortline at (319) 447-0647.

      Article source: http://www.thegazette.com/subject/life/home-garden/from-the-ground-up-tips-to-get-ready-for-spring-gardening-20160213

      Tips for preventing home fires

      Every year, homeowners in the U.S. suffer billions of dollars in property damage from home fires. 

      According to the National Fire Protection Association, most fires start in the kitchen. Oliver White, public information officer for the Rapid City Fire Department, said there are several precautions homeowners can take to decrease the chances of a fire starting in their home. 

      When cooking on the stovetop, don’t leave the kitchen, White said. If flames start in a pan, starve the oxygen of the fire by placing a lid or cookie sheet over it. Don’t pour water on it or grab the handle and try to move it, which could cause the flames to spread, White said. If you can reach the knob, turn the heating source off and allow the pan to cool to room temperature before moving it. 

      White said it’s also important not to leave the house if you’re using the oven. 

      The Rapid City Fire Department would like to see more home fire suppression systems installed. “I know there’s public opinion against being required to install residential fire sprinklers, but they allow more time to exit the building and they can prevent damage to the entire house,” White said. 

      Tests show that modern houses with newer building materials and furnishings made with synthetic materials will be at flashover conditions — the point at which items are heated to their ignition temperatures and flames break out — in just three minutes, while it takes older buildings 17 minutes to reach those conditions.

      “A ballpark timeframe calculates one minute to detect the fire, another minute to give your information to dispatchers. It takes us one minute to gear up and around four minutes to reach your home,” White said.

      Sprinklers are designed to go off individually and only if they have been activated by heat, he said. 

      Some homeowners have expressed concerns about pipes bursting due to freezing temperatures, but if the sprinklers are properly installed they are at no more risk than normal pipes of freezing.

      White said it’s important that households and businesses conduct fire drills twice a year. “Learn how to leave the XBox, family photos — and I hate to say it — but even the pets,” White said.

      He recommended conducting fire drills both during the day and also at night while children are sleeping. Most home fire deaths occur between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., while people are sleeping.

      “Surprise them,” White said. “See how long it takes for them to wake up and respond.”

      According to White, most home fire deaths occur between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., while people are sleeping.

      The winter months are also when the fire department responds to more calls dealing with fires caused by space heaters.

      “Don’t leave any active electrical equipment unattended, including space heaters in the garage,” White said. “And don’t leave your clothes dryer on while you’re out or asleep. They can catch fire.”

      White said these safety tips are not just for preventing damage, but also saving lives. “We’re always fearful to lose another life to fire,” he said. “We want to do whatever we can do to prevent that from happening.”

      Article source: http://rapidcityjournal.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/tips-for-preventing-home-fires/article_f0cdebb4-4f12-5d05-8044-e4857ae0bc93.html

      Garden Q&A: Tips for eradicating bed bugs

      We noticed what my spouse says are bedbugs about a week ago. Neither of us have bites, but I’ll admit some kind of bugs are in the bed. What’s a good pesticide for them?

      Just because you do not see raised bite marks doesn’t mean you are not being bitten by bedbugs. About a third of humans are insensitive to bedbug bites and show no skin reaction. That percentage increases in the elderly. No pesticides are available to homeowners that will effectively rid your home of bedbugs. Engage a pesticide company. Everything in infested rooms needs to be cleaned, super-heated or treated. Bedbugs can even live in appliances and walls. You cannot do this by yourself; however, these are some steps you should take as soon as possible:

      Garden QA: Finding herbs that can grow through winter

      Garden QA: Finding herbs that can grow through winter

      My neighbor has herbs growing in her garden all winter. I’d love to do that. Which ones can survive winter?

      Harvesting herbs in winter depends on the severity of the winter and how well-protected their location is. Parsley and sage stay green more often than other herbs, but winter survival is…

      My neighbor has herbs growing in her garden all winter. I’d love to do that. Which ones can survive winter?

      Harvesting herbs in winter depends on the severity of the winter and how well-protected their location is. Parsley and sage stay green more often than other herbs, but winter survival is…

      (Ellen Nibali)

      •Wash and dry all bed linens. A clothes dryer on medium kills bedbugs.

      •Have these bugs positively identified by sending the University of Maryland Home and Garden Information Center a photo, or by using a pest control company.

      • Invest in a specialized mattress cover that completely seals the mattress so bedbugs cannot live there. Get a good one that will not allow the bugs to enter around the zipper.

      •Once your beds are bedbug-free, place bedbug “pitfall” traps under each bed foot. Black is the best color to use.

      My huge potted boxwoods have blight. Must I change the pot’s soil if I don’t replant with boxwoods?

      Boxwood blight is a very serious, invasive disease. Every bit of blighted plant tissue is capable of spreading the disease to other boxwoods, as well as to pachysandra and sarcococca (sweetbox). If a leaf blows into a neighbor’s landscape, the disease will spread there, as well. As you can imagine, infected boxwoods should not be thrown in the back of a pickup and driven to the dump. It is extremely important that all remnants of the plants’ tissue, even soil scrapings, be disposed of correctly. If you did not have the plants diagnosed by a plant pathologist to positively confirm boxwood blight, contact the Home and Garden Information Center and send photos. Hopefully, we’ll find that your plants died of other causes.

      Digging deeper

      Cluster flies

      Flies have a justified association with garbage, manure and filth, but not these big fellas. That’s somewhat reassuring when dozens of cluster flies are bumbling at your sunny windows. These unusual flies are parasites of earthworms. In summer, their larvae (maggots) live inside worms outdoors. In late August, 3/8-inch adults, looking like big house flies, find a sheltered place to overwinter, including attics and wall voids on the sun-exposed side of a house. Warmth stimulates them to become active again, so they typically appear on sunny days in winter to spring and are attracted to light. They are a nuisance rather than a pest. Sluggish fliers, they can be swatted, vacuumed and even plucked up with a tissue. Pesticides are not recommended. Next spring, caulk and use weatherstrips on outside openings that provide points of entry.

      —Ellen Nibali

      Article source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/home-garden/bs-hm-garden-qa-0214-20160212-story.html

      Bunny Williams to bring her garden of ideas to Palm Beach

      From an early age, Bunny Williams enjoyed gardening outside her home in Charlottesville, Va.

      “I always loved digging in the dirt,” she says. “When I married and moved to New York, I told my husband I had to have a garden outside the city so I could get a spade in the ground. Some people golf, I garden.”

      She often gets lost, you might say, when she’s at work in her gardens, so engrossed is she in her efforts and enchanted by the passing breezes and singing birds.

      “I sometimes forget to eat lunch,” she says of her Connecticut landscape, which she replaced after she saw a French garden in Normandy. “I came home and redid the whole thing.”

      Williams, an interior designer and one of the country’s leading expert on gardening, will be in Palm Beach on Thursday to present “Creating Stylish Gardens,” a free talk sponsored by The Garden Club of Palm Beach as part of an annual program at the Society of the Four Arts. Her presentation will feature designs and photographs from her updated book, On Garden Style, first published in 1998 and re-released last year.

      “Newer designers are simplifying their gardens, and I find what young designers are doing more interesting,” says Williams, who will sign copies of her book after her lecture. “I wanted to get new photographs in the book as well as newer designs.”

      Williams trained as a decorator – she worked at one point for Parish Hadley Inc. — and eventually won a spot in the Interior Design Hall of Fame and on House Beautiful, Elle Décor and Architectural Digest’s lists of top designers. She also was honored with New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Living Landmarks Award.

      ‘Perspective and scale’

      She has brought the sensibility she honed as an interior designer to her garden designs, often approaching spaces the same way she would indoor rooms.

      “You have to think of the roof overhead, perspective and scale,” she says.

      This energetic whirlwind not only designs homes and gardens for clients, she’s also written several books, developed her own brand of home furnishings and added yet another garden to her list of personal projects.

      When she married her second husband, he already had a house in the Dominican Republic. That locale demanded a whole new gardening vocabulary – a challenge not unlike the one facing many gardeners who move to Palm Beach from northern areas.

      Gone were perennial borders and fussy flowers, replaced by an entirely new design aesthetic. According to Williams, masses of a single plant like ginger, for example, deliver more impact than using lots of different varieties.

      “Your choices of plant material are both simpler and more architectural,” she says. “A philodendron that you’d expect to see in your dentist’s office becomes exciting when you see it climbing up a huge tree.”

      She’s a big fan of flowering vines, often creating vertical gardens on walls and fences.

      “The other thing I love is that you can turn the wall of your house into a garden using vines and espaliered trees,” says Williams, who advises garden enthusiasts to travel to see the world’s great gardens. “If you’re going to learn about garden design, you have to see what experts in other parts of the world do.”

      Broad outlook

      In addition to gaining knowledge and inspiration from the gardens designed by Great Britain’s Russell Page, Williams learned much from the Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent, England. Garden columnist Vita Sackville-West created this famous garden with its series of “rooms,” each with a different color scheme, separated by high clipped hedges and brick walls.

      But Williams today increasingly appreciates simpler designs, which work especially well in the subtropics.

      On Thursday, Williams will share her formula for creating gardens of great style — from the initial envisioning stage on through choosing the right plant choices for tropical climates.

      Article source: http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/lifestyles/home-garden/bunny-williams-to-bring-her-garden-of-ideas-to-pal/nqPQp/

      The 15th Annual Hearth, Home and Away Show Starts Today

       This weekend’s 15th annual home show is the place to see what’s trending in home renovation.

      The Hearth, Home and Away Show brought to you by WHIZ and Colony Square mall starts Friday. It’s purpose is aimed at allowing local residents to view home improvement opportunities that local businesses have to offer. David Thomas said, you can find the latest home improvement styles. With nearly 20 vendors in attendance.

      “Keep an open mind, some people are coming with specific goals in mind. They want to do some landscaping or they want a deck or just a specific thing. But, there’s a lot of different things and different vendors out here a lot different things to give you different ideas for whatever project; it might be a project this year, it may be a project three years from now,” said David Thomas the owner, All Decked Out

      Thomas’ company centers around building homes, decks, roofing and siding. His business has been around for 10 years and since it’s existence they have attended the home show. Thomas said being apart of this event has been extremely beneficial for his company.

      “Absolutely, absolutely. You get out and you meet a lot more people obviously in a place like this then you do on a job sight,” said Thomas.

      The hours for the Hearth, Home and Away show for Friday and Saturday are 10am to 9pm and Sunday from noon to 6pm.

      Article source: https://www.whiznews.com/content/news/local/2016/02/12/the-15th-annual-hearth-home-and-away-show-starts-today

      What would Akron look like with bike-friendly streets?

      Better Block was a project that reimagined Cuyahoga Falls Avenue for a weekend last spring. The normally treacherous six-lane stretch of North Hill was narrowed to just two lanes, with widened sidewalks, parking and protected bike lanes on both sides of the street.

      Article source: http://www.cleveland.com/akron/index.ssf/2016/02/what_would_akron_look_like_wit.html