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Archives for February 25, 2016

Maryland Home and Garden Show puts landscape trends on display

It’s a sparse, serene Zen garden. Or it’s a three-season outdoor room, with grill and fireplace built in. Maybe it’s a cozy pocket for unwinding. Or perhaps it combines all of the above.

Trends in Baltimore-area landscape design are capitalizing on homeowners’ yearning for less maintenance, more environmental awareness, and a more natural look, as people continue to invest in outdoor living spaces that are attractive and functional.

“That’s the new American garden — you don’t have to have boxwoods and azaleas. You can have perennials and grasses, you can have texture,” said landscape designer Ashley Kidner of International Landscaping and Design in Baltimore.

Some 60,000 people are expected to turn out to see how he and more than a dozen others carry out such landscape design trends at the Maryland Home and Garden Show. Following the theme of “Art in the Garden,” the event — the largest such expo in the state — will have 450 displays and booths, which include landscaping displays, home improvement vendors, crafters and educational features over the first two weekends of March.

Kidner’s firm, for example, plans to feature in one of its displays a Zen garden, which relies on structure, texture and rocks. With few, if any, plants to tend, such spaces are drawing interest, he said. (International Landscaping has the premier space at the show because its display last year was deemed the best by a panel of landscape professionals from around the state.)

“You’ll have a few boulders, gravel and a few plants — probably a pine, a camellia, azaleas as a backdrop,” he said, describing tentative plans for that section of his space. “They can [require] less maintenance; they don’t have as much to them.”

Such exhibits are, of course, marketing efforts for companies, designed to engage potential clients in one-on-one chats. Many visitors leave with business cards or appointments for landscape architects and designers to come to their property to discuss applying their craftsmanship and designs there. But they’re also interactive, real-life versions of HGTV and Pinterest — a fountain of inspiration that visitors can glean from for their own spaces.

One trend that visitors can expect to see at the Home and Garden Show this year is a focus on functional spaces. With baby boomers downsizing, younger people wanting to grow things in city-sized spaces, and the general cry for less maintenance, the move toward making small areas beautiful and functional is growing.

“If we put in a small patio, you can have one of those small fire pits, and you can move it around and put it away if you don’t want to use it,” said Amy Wieland of Amy’s Garden Design in Catonsville, whose niche is small-area and container design.

Container gardens are also “becoming hugely popular,” said landscape designer Claire Jones of Sparks. And if seeing examples isn’t enough, Kate Copsey, author of “The Downsized Veggie Garden,” will give a seminar on gardening in small spaces at 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. next Sunday.

The use of repurposed materials will also be prevalent at the show. Used stone, metals and wood are finding new life in patios, walls, garden steps and sheds. For example, Casey Heckrotte of Forest Hill Landscaping is likely to use old chairs as planters in his display, and maybe the wrought-iron base of an old sewing machine topped with bluestone for a patio table.

“When you put it in the landscape, it becomes a piece of art,” he said.

The plein-air artists who will be on hand at the Home and Garden Show certainly see it that way. New to the show this year, artists from Zoll Studio of Fine Art in Lutherville will circulate through the expo, painting the landscapes on display. How they approach the gardens can serve as a good model for visitors, said plein-air painting instructor Lisa Mitchell.

“Under every great design, there is an underlying abstraction … that is created by shapes,” said Mitchell, who teaches at Zoll Studio.

Artists see these shapes first and details second, she said. Similarly, visitors viewing the landscapes at the Home and Garden Show can focus on how shapes and colors — whether it be plants, hardscaping or other elements — “work together to make a design,” Mitchell said.

What visitors observe at the Home and Garden Show can ultimately serve as a jumping-off point.

“People can go to see what the high design is, and they can expect to see it showing up at a more affordable level,” said Adele Ashkar, former director of the George Washington University landscape design program.

So while a high-end, built-in stone fire pit on display at the Home and Garden Show may be out of reach, people can use it as inspiration when “buying a nice fire pit from Target or a patio store, where things are geared to the more affordable,” she said.

People often take the trends they see at the show to home, garden and big-box stores.

Watson’s Fireplace and Patio in Lutherville has gotten “a lot of traffic after the Maryland Home and Garden Show” in previous years, said employee Megan Maddox.

“I think it does give them ideas,” she said.

If you go

The Maryland Home and Garden Show runs Saturday and next Sunday and March 11-13 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Road in Timonium. Tickets are $3-$12; children under 6 are free.

More trends to look for

•Four-season landscapes: Gardens offering a cold-weather look that’s beautiful, not bleak.

•A more natural look: Using texture, natural-looking groupings and native plants for a stylish, looser look.

•Mixed up: Flowers, herbs and vegetables in a single container or garden plot, providing edibles for people and a destination for pollinators.

•Lighting: Especially with energy-saving LEDs, better illumination will set the mood and enhance the view.

•Sustainability: From rain gardens and pollinator gardens to permeable pavers to help with runoff, green will be prevalent in more than color.

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306 Clermont Avenue

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The Place Where the Poor Once Thrived

“There’s a lot going on here which we don’t totally understand,” he said. “It’s interesting, because it kind of defies our expectations.”  

The Chetty data shows that neighborhoods and place mattered for children born in the San Jose area of the 1980s. Whether the city still allows for upward mobility of poor kids today, though, is up for debate. Some of the indicators such as income inequality, measured by the Equality of Opportunity Project for the year 2000, have only worsened in the past 16 years.

A tent city in San Jose in 2013 (Jeff Chiu / AP)

Some San Jose residents say that as inequality has grown in recent years, upward mobility has become much more difficult to achieve. As Silicon Valley has become home to more successful companies, the flood of people to the area has caused housing prices to skyrocket—median sale price reached $830,000 last year. By most measures, San Jose is no longer a place where low-income, or even middle-income families, can afford to live. Rents in San Jose grew a whopping 42.6 percent between 2006 and 2014, which was the largest increase in the country during that time period. The city has a growing homelessness problem, which it tried to address by shutting down “The Jungle,” one of the largest homeless encampments in the nation, in 2014. Inequality is extreme: The Human Development Index—a measure of life expectancy, education and per capital income—gives East San Jose a score of 4.85 out of 10, while nearby Cupertino, where Apple’s headquarters sit, receives a 9.26.

“Chetty’s data and the generation that it dealt with—things have changed since then,” said Dana Bunnett, the director of Kids in Common, a San Jose advocacy group. “It doesn’t strike me that it addresses what we’re really dealing with now in the community.”

Chetty’s study looked at more than 40 million children, focusing on the outcomes of those born between 1980 and 1982, and there’s a widespread consensus that it is accurate as far as their fates go. It indicates that for some in the 1980s and perhaps before, San Jose and Silicon Valley were indeed the land of opportunity, where anyone with drive could “make it.”

Chance of Intergenerational Mobility in America

The percentage chance that a child born in the early ‘80s in the bottom quintile of income made it to the top quintile in selected cities across the country (Datawrapper / Equality of Opportunity Project)

San Jose used to have a happy mix of a number of factors—cheap housing, proximity to a burgeoning industry, tightly-knit immigrant communities—that together opened up the possibility of prosperity for even its poorest residents. But in recent years, housing prices have skyrocketed, the region’s rich and poor have segregated, and middle-class jobs have disappeared. Given this, the future for the region’s poor doesn’t look nearly as bright as it once did.

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Does your house need a makeover? Seattle Home Show is the place to go

Spruce up your place, from decorating ideas to a major remodel, with information and inspiration from the Seattle Home Show’s hundreds of displays of home and garden vendors and services, through Sunday, Feb. 28, at CenturyLink Field Event Center.

The Seattle Home Show, the country’s largest and oldest home show, is owned and managed by the members of the fourth generation of the family that hosted the first Seattle Home Show in 1939, opened by special guests including first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Trends change, but home improvement’s a constant, including this year’s hot topics, technology throughout the house, remodeling for extended family or aging in place, outdoor living spaces, backyard cottages and decorating or remodeling on a budget. Complete homes are on display, some from a kit and others with themes including energy efficiency, and there’s lots of information on the most popular remodeling projects, kitchens and baths, additions, master bedrooms and outdoor rooms. Exhibits and products for downsizing, first homes, low-maintenance features, design and landscaping include expert advice at the Master Builders Association booth.

Seminars on the hour, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, include earthquake preparedness at 12:30 p.m., vegetable gardens and container gardens at 3:30 Friday, and how to save money, time and stress remodeling at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. If there’s too much for you to cover or inspiration from your visit requires more information, register to return to the show for a second day for free.

Seattle Home Show

Time: Noon to 6 p.m. weekdays, Feb. 22-26, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 27-28

Cost: $12/adults, $8/ages 60+, $3/ages 7-15, ages 6 and younger free. Registration required for second day free.

Location: CenturyLink Field Event Center, 800 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle


Other specials include free parking in designated areas for vehicles with four or more occupants and $1 parking at Century­Link Field Event Center and Safeco Field Garage for online E-ticket purchasers when you show your paper ticket or phone to the parking attendant.

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MWD budgets no money for popular cash-for-grass program

The Metropolitan Water District has no plans at the moment to continue funding an extremely popular turf removal program that has been credited with helping Southern Californians replace more than 100 million square feet of lawn.

Last year, in response to the continued drought, the district added a major injection of funding for conservation programs from its reserve funds. The injections turned what is typically a $20 million conservation budget into a whopping $450 million.

On Tuesday, the MWD’s Finance and Insurance Committee held a workshop aimed at developing a proposed budget for the next two fiscal years. District staff has suggested increasing funding for conservation programs by about $15 million over the next two years. None of the funding is currently proposed to go towards turf removal, and no additional dips into the reserve fund — called the  water rate stabilization fund — are being recommended. The final budget is expected to be decided by the board in April.

An official with the district said the decision to move away from turf removal reflects the need to pursue a wider range of strategies when it comes to promoting conservation.

“This is really a long-term transition that we’re making. We’re thinking about where people will be 20 and 30 years from now and what the landscape will look like in Southern California. And you don’t just get there based on paying people to remove turf. You get there in terms of changing people’s attitudes, developing greater awareness of the need for water efficiency,” said Deven Upadhyay, manager of water resource management for the Metropolitan Water District.

Upadhyay said it was infeasible to continue drawing on reserves to support the program and that the one-time infusion should be viewed as a success.

“To say that we’re reducing our efforts in terms of conservation is, I think, to belittle the fact that we really significantly stepped up during this drought to put a lot of money in that was really only funded because we had the reserves to do it. And now, to characterize that as a step down, I think, is a little bit odd, given that we were stepping up,” Upadhyay said.

Upadhyay said more focus will be put on providing rebates to customers who purchase water-conserving appliances.

Bob Muir, a spokesman for the district, said when the fiscal year ends on June 30, MWD is expected to have $450 million in its reserves. He said the amount falls within the $200-500 million range the district believes is necessary for continued fiscal responsibility, especially since sales from retail agencies are expected to come in lower as a result of increased conservation.

Others, however, are disappointed by the district’s current budget proposals. An environmental researcher with UCLA said it’s important to keep momentum going towards making drought-tolerant landscapes more accepted in Southern California.

“Landscape transformation is going to take time and dedication, and we can’t just do one-off programs and hope that that it’s going to actually change the culture of landscaping in Southern California, which has evolved over a hundred years,” said Stephanie Pincetl, a professor at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Pincetl said she and colleagues will be researching the various impacts that the cash-for-grass program had on the region, in terms of landscape change and possible changes in the urban heat island effect.

Meanwhile, she said a lot still needs to be done to address overall water conservation shortcomings.

“We need a lot more incentives. We need leadership on the part of the mayor and others. We need thought leaders to continue to tell us this is a good idea,” Pincetl said. “I think that what MWD has done is a really excellent first step, but it’s only a first step, if we really want to conserve water in the outdoor landscape. That’s the question: are we really dedicated to this shift that needs to take place?”

Efforts that benefited from the turf removal program have already been affected by the loss of the rebates, which dried up in early July due to high levels of participation.

Kitty Connolly, executive director of the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants, said fewer people have expressed interest in replacing their grass with native plants.

“We had lots and lots of people who found out about our organization through these turf removal programs, and there were a lot of people who came here for that explicit purpose. So it will reduce that segment of our customers and our visitors here and the people who take classes. We can already see that there are fewer people taking lawn removal classes,” Connolly said.

Connolly said she was disappointed that the district is considering suspending the rebate program but said if one were renewed, it would benefit from some changes.

“It was a great effort by MWD and quite difficult logistically to handle. But going forward, if they did, it would be nice to be more seasonally appropriate to when they required these transformations to happen,” Connolly said.

She said people who chose to replace their gardens with native or drought-tolerant plants in the early part of the summer were required to finish their projects during the hottest part of the year, necessitating extra watering at the least ideal time.

“The way the program was set up — which I think was ideally meant to make people more aware of their local conditions — in some regards, ignored local conditions,” Connolly said.

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Southern Spring Home & Garden Show opens Friday

Garden enthusiasts and home improvement buffs will discover ample inspiration and resources for spring projects at the 56th annual Southern Spring Home Garden Show, which begins a two-weekend run Friday.

Show-goers will find 375 exhibitors offering ideas, advice, and inspiration alongside the latest products in interiors, building materials, accessories, outdoor furnishings, lawn mowers, decking, flooring, and home renovation over more than 280,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space.

There will be 18 landscaped gardens showcase styles from around the globe including Tuscan, Japanese, and Chinese gardens. A special whimsical garden from Wales designed to delight children and adults features mythical creatures such as unicorns roaming by pink waterfalls.

Highlights include the “Ask a Designer” exhibit where members of the Interior Design Society of Charlotte offer advice free of charge, the “Green Market” featuring displays from the Bonsai Society of Charlotte and an extensive selection of Ikebana Japanese flower arrangements and hourly cooking demonstrations from Charlotte celebrity chefs.

The lineup of experts and celebrity guests scheduled to appear include Chip Wade, HGTV personality and home design expert, Pearl Fryar, the nearby Bishopville, S.C. resident and topiary gardener, and Joe Lamp’l creator and host of the popular PBS garden series, “Growing a Greener World.”

Michael J. Solender, correspondent

Southern Spring Home Garden Show

When: 10- 8 Fri. and March 4, 10-7 Sat. and March 5, 10-5 Sun. and March 6.

Where: The Park Expo, 800 Briar Creek Road, Charlotte.

Tickets: $9-11. Seniors $7, Fridays only. Children under 15, free with paying adult.

Parking: $7.

Details: 704-376-6594,

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Plan your dream garden with ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ new landscaping tool

If you’ve been spending the winter in hibernation, it’s time to dig out and get outside … the garden of your dreams has been waiting for you!

Your yard could be your own slice of paradise, providing peace, comfort and possibly even delicious vegetables! With the weekends getting warmer, many folks want a great-looking garden or even just a fun project to keep them busy. All it takes is a little bit of loving and some guidance.

You can get some guidance from trusted brand Better Homes and Gardens’ Plan-a-Garden Guide. First, you will need to sign up with the service by giving them an email address or you can sign in with Facebook. Keep in mind that this will automatically subscribe you to their email lists, but you can always unsubscribe later.

Next, you can map out your dream garden with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop planning tool. Just select a template that’s similar to your house and go crazy. You can add plants, benches, fences, trees, bricks, a gazebo and just about anything else you can imagine would go in a front or back yard. Save your project or easily print it out to take to the store when you go to buy supplies.

The Better Homes and Gardens also has lots of other tips within its website, including a lengthy list of personalized garden plans for both small and large gardens, a plant encyclopedia, a garden store, as well as other tips and tricks to help keep your garden green all season long.

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Preparing For Spring: Home & Gardening Tips

With spring around the corner, there are some preps you need to start now to get the perfect lawn and garden.

Home and garden expert, Tom Garcia has some tips.



While Spring may still be a few weeks away, now is the precise time to get your lawn ready. 

Before the temperature turns and the grass begins to grow, you will want to fertilize your lawn and put out your weed and feed. 

By doing it now, you will have the maximum effect on preventing weeds and getting your grass off to a great start.

Remove old grass, leaves and other debris that may have settled into your lawn over the winter. 

We want the new growth to sprout as best as possible and old leaves and such can inhibit that growth. 

Take a rake and clear your lawn so when Spring arrives your grass is ready to sprout with great health.



If you take the time to prune your flowering plants now, you can have great results once Spring arrives. 

Prune your plants to the inside to remove unwanted growth and help the plant bloom. Small shoots can be easily be cut to allow more growth to the larger stalks. 

Be sure, however, not to prune plants that flower right away, such as azaleas, because you can cut the flowering buds back and not have all that wonderful color for Spring.



Cool-weather vegetable plants are ready to go into the ground now. 

Whether working from seeds or plants, get them in the ground now to get them going. 

The cool weather will provide the growth you need for lettuce, radish and other wonderful vegetables that thrive this time of year.  I am at New Garden Nursery this morning and they have a variety of plants and seeds for most any cool weather vegetable garden.  

Copyright 2016 WFMY

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Get spring gardening tips during plant clinics – Daytona Beach News

  • 10 a.m.-noon Tuesday, March 1, Edgewater Public Library, 103 W. Indian River Blvd., Edgewater
  • 10-11 a.m. March 4, DeLand Regional Library, 130 E. Howry Ave., DeLand
  • 10-11 a.m. March 5, Deltona Regional Library, 2150 Eustace Ave., Deltona
  • 10 a.m.-noon March 7, Ormond Beach Regional Library, 30 S. Beach St., Ormond Beach
  • 2-4 p.m. March 8, Port Orange Regional Library, 1005 City Center Circle, Port Orange
  • 10 a.m.-noon March 15, DeBary Public Library, 200 N. Charles R. Beall Blvd., DeBary
  • 9-11 a.m. March 16, Sugar Mill Gardens, 950 Sugar Mill Road, Port Orange
  • For more information about the county’s Master Gardener Program, call the University of Florida/Volusia County Extension at 386-822-5778.

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