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Archives for March 9, 2016

Coming up | ThisWeek Community News

Events and programs

Gahanna All-District Jazz Festival, 7:30 p.m. March 22 at the Gahanna Lincoln High School auditorium, 140 S. Hamilton Road. Jazz bands from all three Gahanna middle schools will perform, along with two bands from Lincoln High School. Admission is free. For more information, call 614-269-4727 or 614-478-5543, send an email to or visit the website

Starry Night Festival, 2 to 6 p.m. April 10 at Westerville North High School, 950 County Line Road. This free family festival will offer the community interactive learning opportunities with experts from Columbus’ educational, business and nonprofit organizations. Geared toward students through eighth grade and their families, the event theme this year is “Art and Science, fueling imagination.” For more information, visit

Gahanna Area Art League March display, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at Gahanna City Hall, 200 N. Hamilton Road. Artists will display pieces in various medias and styles with explanations of their work. Information on the artists, artworks, titles, medias and pricing are available at the show.

FRIENDS Stutter-Step 5K Run-Walk, 9 to 11 a.m. April 16 at McNamara Park, 7049 Big Walnut Road, Galena. FRIENDS is a national nonprofit dedicated to empowering young people who stutter, and their families. All profits are used for scholarships to help families attend the annual convention, which will be held July 28-30 in Dublin, along with other conferences. To register, visit

AARP Foundation Senior Community Service Employment Program assists unemployed Franklin, Delaware and Licking county workers ages 55 and over with securing employment. The program offers paid work experience, specialized training, upgrading of skills and job-search assistance. Age, income and residency requirements apply. Call 614-258-7295 or 614-322-0600, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Medical clinic, held by Vineyard Community Church, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of the month at the church, 15187 Palmer Road in Reynoldsburg. Free sports and school physicals, health screenings and treatment for non-emergency illnesses. VCC food pantry also is open at this time. Interested healthcare professionals who would like to volunteer, call 740-927-7729.

Medicare counseling, 2:30 to 4 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month at Wexner Heritage Village, 1151 College Ave. Additional sessions are available from 10 a.m. to noon on the first Wednesday and the third Monday of each month. Enrollment options, prescription drug plans and their benefits, Medicare Advantage plans, financial assistance programs for people with limited incomes and long-term care insurance will be discussed. The free, confidential, one-on-one service is being offered in partnership with the Ohio Department of Insurance’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program. To make an appointment, call Anne at 614-795-0927.


Capital University Alumnae Chapter meeting, 1 p.m. March 14 at the Moores Student Union on Capital University’s campus, 1 College and Main, Columbus. In observance of International Pi Day, Jane Baldwin, a retired professor of mathematics, will speak about math at Capital University. A pie sale will then be held from 3 to 4 p.m. Proceeds benefit the CUAC scholarship fund.

GRIN (Gahanna Residents In Need), 6:30 p.m. the first Thursday of the month at 760 Morrison Road, Gahanna. GRIN offers food pantry, clothing and financial assistance from 6 to 8 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of the month, 9 to 11 a.m. the first and third Saturdays and from 9 a.m. to noon on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. For additional information, visit or send an email to

Take Off Pounds Sensibly, 6 to 7 p.m. Thursdays in the Fireplace room at Mifflin Presbyterian Church, 123 Granville Road, Gahanna. TOPS is a nonprofit weight loss support group, and the first meeting is free for attendees. Visitors are welcome.

Gahanna Kiwanis Club, 6:30 p.m. the first Monday and 7 p.m. third and last Mondays of the month at the Gahanna Senior Center, 480 Rocky Fork Drive.

Gahanna Lions Club, 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at the Rusty Bucket restaurant, 73 N. Hamilton Road. Gahanna. Those interested in serving a worthwhile cause are invited. For more information, go to

Gahanna Rotary Club, noon to 1 p.m. Wednesdays at Jefferson Country Club, 7271 Jefferson Meadows Drive, Blacklick. Lunch is served at the meetings. Professionals and individuals from diverse backgrounds are invited to exchange ideas and work to solve community challenges. For more information go to

Gahanna Freedom Alliance, 7 p.m. on the third Thursday at the Gahanna Golf Depot, 789 Science Blvd., Gahanna. The GFA comprises informed citizens who take an active role in government affairs. The mission is to inform residents of decisions made by elected and appointed officials; to unite with others under the common banners of liberty, personal responsibility and wise stewardship of community resources; and to defend American principles. For more information, visit

Gahanna Toastmasters, 7:30 p.m. the second and fourth Mondays of the month at the Tri-County Veterans of Foreign Wars, 75 W. Johnstown Road, Gahanna. Call Ashlee Ralph 614-702-0986 or visit

Women Marines Association, Ohio-3 Florence Jelsma Fawley chapter, a veterans association specifically for women Marines, meets quarterly in the Columbus-Dayton area. For information, email

Urban Beekeepers of Central Ohio, 7 to 8:30 p.m. the second Thursday of every month at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 1450 E. Dublin-Granville Road, Columbus. Membership for calendar year is $10. Participants will learn from expert speakers, view demonstrations and join in activities. For more information email

AmSpirit Business Connections-Port Columbus Chapter, 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesdays at the Brook Hollow Conference Center, 676 Brook Hollow, Gahanna. AmSpirit Business Connections is a national organization that assists sales representatives, entrepreneurs and professionals succeed by creating a forum where they can exchange qualified referrals with other sales representatives, entrepreneurs and professionals. Guests are welcome.

AmSpirit Business Connections-New Albany/Gahanna Chapter, 7:45 a.m. Fridays at Scrambler Marie’s, 5729 N. Hamilton Road. The program focuses on networking opportunities for small businesses and professionals. For more information, contact Dan Wolt at 614-419-9103.

Gahanna Historical Society, 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month at 101 S. High St. Log House tours are offered from 3 to 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. For more information, go to

Gahanna Area Chamber of Commerce, 7:30 to 9 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month. Meetings focus on a variety of business topics and include new member introductions at breakfast meetings. For information, go to

Gahanna American Legion Post 797, 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4719, 75 W. Johnstown Road, Gahanna. All meetings are open to all eligible veterans. For more information on eligibility, call Malcolm Glasgow, post commander, at 614-476-3175.

Mothers of Preschoolers, 6:30 to 9 p.m. the first Monday of each month at Life Vineyard Church, 620 Alum Creek. The group offers fellowship and support for expectant mothers and mothers of young children. Childcare is provided for a fee of $2 per child.

Shipwrights of Central Ohio, a group for ship modelers, 9 a.m. to noon on the third Saturday of each month, Westerville Public Library, 126 S. State St. For information, visit

Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable, 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month in Towers Hall at Otterbein University. All welcome. Call Jim Schultz at 614-794-1247 or visit

Community Bible Study, for women and children through sixth grade, 9:30 to 11 a.m. Thursdays at Peace Lutheran Gahanna, 455 Clark State Road. Visit or call 614-855-9832.

Sunrise Masonic Lodge 783, 7 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 211 W. Johnstown Road, Gahanna.

Kiwanis Club of Eastern Columbus, 7 p.m. Wednesdays, at the VFW, 4100 E. Main St. Visit to find out how to help serve the community.

Olde Gahanna Community Partnership, 8:15 a.m. the second Wednesday of the month at the Olde Gahanna Sanctuary, 82 N. High St. Get progress reports on business and development issues. The group represents business and residents in the Olde Gahanna area. For more information, visit

Gahanna Jaycees, 7 p.m. the last Monday of the month at Massey’s Pizza, 261 Lincoln Circle.

Gahanna Historical Society, 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of the month at the John Clark House, 101 S. High St. New members invited.

Gahanna Rotary Club, noon Wednesdays at the Jefferson Country Club, 7271 Jefferson Meadows Drive, Blacklick. Call Brad Schneider at 614-471-8444.

Rocky Fork-Blacklick Accord, 7 p.m. the third Thursday of the month at New Albany Village Hall, 99 W. Main St.

Gahanna Black Parents Association, 7 p.m. the third Thursday of the month at Gahanna Lincoln High School, Room A160, 140 S. Hamilton Road.

Capitol City Chorus (Barbershop), rehearsals, 7 p.m. Mondays at First Community Congregational Church, 470 Havens Corners Road, Gahanna. For information, visit

Mid-Ohio Boogie Club, swing dance club, 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays at 1960 Schrock Road, Columbus. Dance lessons from 7 to 8 pm., with dancing to follow. Singles and couples as well as beginners are invited. Membership is $35 per year; cover charges are $8 for guests, $3 for members. For more information go to or call 614-939-1844.

New Neighbors League of Greater Columbus, monthly luncheon the second Tuesday of each month, informal monthly coffees in members’ homes and monthly book clubs for women who have moved to the Columbus Metro areas within one year of relocation. Visit for meeting times and locations. For information email

AmSpirit Business Connections-Towne Centre Chapter, 12:15 p.m. Wednesdays at Logan’s Roadhouse, 3969 Morse Crossing. The program focuses on networking opportunities. For more information, contact Tom Anderson at 614-679-0912 or For general information, visit

Support groups

Compassionate Friends, Providing Grief Support after the Death of a Child, 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at Ascension Lutheran Church, 1479 Morse Road, Columbus. For more information, call 614-882-8986.

Diabetes Support Group, sponsored by Mount Carmel/St. Ann’s Hospital, 6:30 to 8 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month (except holidays) at the hospital, 500 Cleveland Ave., Westerville. Participants will receive information on diabetes and diabetes self-care activities. Those diagnosed with diabetes and their family members and friends are invited. There is no fee. For more information, call Suzanne at 614-865-7254. Meetings are subject to change.

Parkinson’s Support Group, 1:30 p.m. the second Thursday of each month in the third floor multi-purpose room at the Forum at Knightsbridge, 4625 Knightsbridge Blvd. Call Dodie Wood at 614-481-8888.

Crohn’s Colitis Foundation of America, support groups for patients with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis as well as their family members, meeting in Reynoldsburg and Delaware. Visit for times and dates or call 614-889-6060.

Colorectal Cancer Gathering, led by an oncology nurse navigator. The group is ongoing; join anytime. Call Mount Carmel at 614-546-4180.

Lymphedema Support Group, led by a certified lymphedema therapist and a registered nurse. The group is ongoing; join anytime. Call Mount Carmel at614-546-4180.

Grief Process Support, led by hospice professionals. Various groups available. Call Mount Carmel Hospice at 614-234-0200.

Turning the Page on Cancer Book Club, led by registered oncology nurses. The group is ongoing; join anytime. Call Mount Carmel at 614-546-4180.

Celebrate Recovery, 7 p.m. Thursdays at Shepherd Church of the Nazarene, 425 S. Hamilton Road. This is a 12-step, Christ-centered recovery program for any hurt, habit or hang-up. Adults 18 or older. Visit under the Ministries link or call 614-471-3368, ext. 24.

Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, at Columbus Alzheimer’s Care Center, 700 Jasonway Ave. Open to anyone affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Call 614-459-7050.

Bipolar Anonymous, 7 p.m. Thursdays, at Maple Grove United Methodist Church, 7 W. Henderson Road. Call 614-895-1002.

Breast Cancer Support Group, led by a psychologist, social workers and registered nurses. The groups are ongoing; join anytime. Call Mount Carmel at 614-546-4180.

Depression Bipolar Support Alliance of Northwest Columbus, 7 to 9 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at Meadow Park Church of God, 2425 Bethel Road. Call 547-9788. Meadow Park Church of God is not affiliated with the DBSA.

Emotions Anonymous, a 12-step program for emotional wellness, meets from 4 to 5 p.m. Saturday and 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, at North Community Lutheran Church, 114 Morse Road; and from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, at Meadow Park Church of God, 2425 Bethel Road. Call 614-470-0397.

Families Anonymous, for parents of those with substance abuse or behavioral problems, 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at Overbrook Presbyterian Church, 4131 N. High St. Call 614-885-5199.

WoW (Widows or Widowers) Club, second Saturday of the month, call Mary at 614-309-0804.


Gahanna City Council meets the first and third Mondays of the month at 7 p.m. at Gahanna City Hall, 200 S. Hamilton Road.

Mifflin Township trustees meet the first Monday of the month at 10 a.m. and the third Tuesday of the month at 3:30 p.m. at the township meeting hall, 155 Olde Ridenour Road.

Jefferson Township trustees meet at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at the township hall, 6545 Havens Road.

Gahanna Civil Service Commission meets in January each year to organize for that year and thereafter on an as needed basis. Agendas and minutes for all meetings are available online at For more information call the city clerk’s office at 614-342-4090.

Gahanna Parks and Recreation Board meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of the month at Gahanna City Hall, 200 S. Hamilton Road.

Gahanna Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at Gahanna City Hall, 200 S. Hamilton Road.

Gahanna Landscaping Board meets at 6 p.m. the first Wednesday of the month at Gahanna City Hall, 200 S. Hamilton Road.

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Uchi sous chef Brandon Silva to head up culinary operations for Kirby Group

  • The Kirby Group has recruited Brandon Silva as their culinary director, with an eye for developing more food-centered concepts. Photo: Courtesy Photo



Bar and nightclub operator the Kirby Group has recruited Brandon Silva, a sous chef at highly regarded Uchi, to be their culinary director as they move toward opening more food-centered concepts.

After a long-planned trip to Copenhagen during the month of May, where he will stage in a number of high-profile kitchens, Silva will overhaul the menu at the Kirby Group’s busy Wooster’s Garden cocktail and beer bar, a popular year-old venue on Midtown’s southern reach. It’s planned to be a major step up, so that the food becomes as important as the creative seasonal drinks menu.

Then, in 2017, Kirby plans to open the ambitious Heights Bier Garden on a 40,000-square-foot property they own at North Shepherd Dr. and 15th Street.  That’s an area in the throes of rapid development, with the Treadsack Group’s ground zero of Hunky Dory/Bernadine’s just blocks up N. Shepherd, and a bevy of projects like Fat Cat Creamery, Southern Goods, Hugs Donuts, Ka Sushi and the upcoming Cane Rosso and Mellow Mushroom pizzerias close by.

Steven Salazar, a former sommelier at Kata Robata who is the Kirby Group’s food and beverage partner, says they’ll be building their Bier Garden from scratch on the old Longhorn Motors site. They’ll bring in fully grown trees for the landscaping and install a chef’s garden  for the use of chef Silva and his team. 

“We’re thinking about two stories,” says Salazar, “with possibly a more casual sports-bar feel upstairs. But nothing’s official yet.”  Not even the architect: Kirby is still in talks with contenders for the job.

Silva himself was tapped for the job after a months-long interviewing process in which Salazar talked to chefs from as far away as Chicago and Mexico City, vetting their sample menus and tasting their food.

“It just felt right with Brandon,” says Salazar of the chef who helped his mentor Mark Holley open Holley’s in Midtown, and who is known for the pop-up dinners he stages with friends like chefs Kenten Marin and Uchi’s John Gross. “He’s passionate in the right way, he has great technical skills, he’s ambitious and well-trained. And his vision matches ours. We’re homers. We want to add to the city with concepts that have a soul and an energy.”

So after the Wooster’s menu revamp and the Heights Bier Garden, what’s next? The Kirby Group and its lead partners, Jeff Barati and Andy Aweida (both of whom come from the world of finance), own about half a dozen properties scattered around the city, in addition to Wooster’s and a nearby nightclub, Vrsi, pronounced like the French palace.

Some of those sites may be used for bars or clubs, but the hiring of Silva is a strong signal that restaurants are in the offing — and that Kirby intends to be a serious player on the food and beverage scene.

Wooster’s Garden, with its lengthy list of 49 cocktails and 49 beers on tap, will celebrate its first anniversary this coming Sunday, March 13, and Silva will be one of the chefs cooking for the party.

Midtown restaurant neighbors like Holley’s, Artisans and Luna y Sol will be doing food for the festivities, too, along with a truck or two from the bar’s popular “Food Truck Sundays.” A live stage at the far side of the parking lot will feature music by Rex Hudson, Deep Cuts, Bang Bangz and Gio Chamba.

For another taste of Silva’s talents, try his upcoming pop-up at Glitter Karaoke on St. Patrick’s Day, which falls on Thursday, March 17. Silva’s menu will blend Southern, Latin and Asian ideas in patented Houston style, from braised goat bao with fermented cabbage, crispy garlic and black vinegar; to fried “hot” fish with dill buttermilk dressing, pickles and Wonder Bread; to a pork arepa with escabeche, cilantro and wasakaka, a Dominican citrus and herb sauce.









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Special elections could determine control of Kentucky House – Casper Star

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, left, campaigns with Republican House candidate Phillip Pratt in Georgetown, Ky., Monday, March 7, 2016. Voters on Tuesday are electing four state representatives in a series of special elections created by resignations and two strategic appointments by new Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. (AP Photo/Adam Beam)

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Inside the new National Trust gardens

After an onslaught on the brambles and couch grass, the sloping four-acre garden is now in pretty good order, and a programme of planting is under way. But the real interest is in the trees and shrubs, both native and exotic. Among the shrubs, the rhododendron collection is the highlight, and Joe told me that many had been planted in the Seventies by a Philip Brown. Had I heard of him? I certainly had. For Philip, a brilliant designer as well as a walking plant encyclopedia, spent 30 years working in the woodland gardens of Portmeirion, and there gave me much of my own education in rhododendrons. I have now put the two in contact. April and May are good months to visit Stoneywell, but there is plenty of summer interest, too.

Tredegar House, near Newport in South Wales, is contrastingly grand. The exact origins of the red-brick Baroque mansion are unclear, but William Morgan (whose family had owned this land since the Middle Ages) did come into a windfall when he married his cousin Blanche, an heiress, in 1661, so it is likely to have been built soon after. The gardens probably date from 50 or 60 years later; they consist of four acres of handsomely walled compartments, accompanied by an orangery. As such they are a rarity, for gardens of this period usually fell victim to the swing in taste towards naturalistic landscaping. An associate of Capability Brown was indeed engaged here in the 1780s, but he was clearly kept on a tight rein. One of the oak avenues from the earlier formal park also survived his activities.

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Desert Gardener: Tour offers landscaping ideas

“Welcome to my Garden” tour

The “Welcome to My Garden” tour is March 13, 1-5 p.m., and offers the public the opportunity to visit four unique gardens. Sponsored by Pecan Grove Garden Club, tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at Trading Post AZ in the foothills or at Yuma Nursery or Zinn Printing in town. Tickets are $10 and can also be purchased at any home on the tour.

Ready for the display

Ready for the display

Gerry and Ed Luterbach will show off their aquaponics and straw bale gardens on the “Welcome to My Garden Tour” sponsored by Pecan Grove Garden Club.

Posted: Tuesday, March 8, 2016 5:23 pm

Updated: 5:29 pm, Tue Mar 8, 2016.

Desert Gardener: Tour offers landscaping ideas

By Karen Bowen

If you need ideas for improving your landscaping, attend Pecan Grove Garden Club’s Welcome to My Garden tour, March 13, 1-5 p.m. A self-guided tour through four unique gardens will offer lots of creative ideas for adding pizzazz to your yard.

“The tour has become an annual event that everyone looks forward to,” said Willene Calvert, garden club member. “Each year, the variety of gardens on the tour intrigues the public and makes for a fun event.”

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      Tuesday, March 8, 2016 5:23 pm.

      Updated: 5:29 pm.

      Article source:

      Secret Garden Tour: Martin County gardens showcase native plants

      Gardener Ken Hooper, of Palm City, said he learned to embrace southern varieties and native Floridian plants. His garden is among those featured on this weekend

      Wakeman garden, one of eight gardens featured on the Garden Club of Stuart's Secret Garden Tour. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY GARDEN CLUB OF STUART)

      Bailey garden, one of eight gardens featured on the Garden Club of Stuart's Secret Garden Tour. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY GARDEN CLUB OF STUART)

      Fillippe garden, one of eight gardens featured on the Garden Club of Stuart's Secret Garden Tour. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY GARDEN CLUB OF STUART)

      Seven private gardens throughout Palm City, Jensen Beach and Stuart and a public garden at the All Saints' Episcopal Church in Jensen Beach are part of the Garden Club of Stuart's Secret Garden Tour. One of the gardens was designed by Ken Hooper, Neil Capozzi and landscape architect Mark Cain. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY KEN HOOPER)

      By Patricia Strutz, Special to Treasure Coast Newspapers

      STUART – Brilliant bromeliads, dappled orchids draping from majestic live oaks and pathways lined with massive ferns, this is just a sprinkling of what will be featured at the Garden Club of Stuart’s Secret Garden Tour.

      Eight gardens throughout Martin County can be viewed during self-guided tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 12 and 13.

      “This year’s tour brings a greater diversity of gardens. In addition to large estate gardens we’re showing several gardens where owners have done spectacular jobs all on their own without any help from professional landscapers,” said Kathy Chartier, tour co-chairwoman.

      All gardens will be staffed with garden club members and certified master gardeners to answer questions. Twenty unique plants will be identified at each property.

      A Stuart garden features more than 100 native plants such as Key West morning glory and Florida privet. Experts from Florida’s Native Plant Society will label many of them.

      It is the first time the Native Plant Society will partner with the garden club for the event.

      A Palm City garden has a life-size bronze mermaid statue surrounded by blooming bromeliads, towering macho ferns, colorful crotons, orchids, lettuces, green beans and tomatoes.

      “Originally, I planted all northern varieties that I was familiar with from living up north. They all died. I’ve learned to embrace southern varieties and native Floridian plants,” said Ken Hooper, of Palm City.

      “I’ve also learned to grow vegetables during the winter instead of during the summertime as we did up north. It’s too hot here from June through October for vegetables.”

      Hooper and partner Neil Capozzi, along with landscape architect Mark Cain, designed and care for the almost one-acre garden.

      “I secure the orchids directly to trees. Their roots cling to the trees and receive nutrients from it,” Hooper said. “They seem to prefer stringy, rough bark such as on European Fan palms.”

      In addition to the seven private gardens throughout Palm City, Jensen Beach and Stuart is a public garden at the All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Jensen Beach.

      “This is the oldest church in Martin County. It has beautiful woodwork and stained glass inside, but, five years ago the garden was simply hedges and invasive species,” said Louise Andrews, caretaker of the garden.

      She improved the sprinkler system and added bright splashes of color.

      “I planted orange bellflowers and cracker roses,” she said. “They are an old garden rose from ladies in Okeechobee that resist pests yet require minimum care.”

      She thinks the easiest thing about gardening in the Treasure Coast also is the most difficult.

      “It’s the soil. The sandy soil is extremely easy to dig into but you have to amend it with peat moss to improve the acidity,” Andrews said. “You also need to top it off with mulch so it holds water.”

      Event organizers said visiting the gardens is a great way for people to find inspiration and ideas for their own gardens.

      “In addition to focusing on native plants, one garden is adjacent to the water so the gardener grows salt-tolerant plants,” Chartier said. “Another garden showcases a 300-year old oak and a grove of rainbow eucalyptus trees which are rather rare around here.”

      The biennial event is a garden club fundraiser to support community projects, including Arbor Day tree planting, youth educational programs and maintaining gardens throughout the county.


      • What: Garden Club of Stuart’s Secret Garden Tour, a self-guided tour through eight gardens
      • When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 12 and 13
      • Tickets: $25, available on website or at area retailers listed on website. Attendees visit one of the three starting gardens listed on the website to receive tour booklets detailing all of the featured properties.
      • Contact:, 772-291-7782


      Article source:

      10 Gardening Tips For Beginners

      houzz logo

      The rewards of gardening are great — fresh air, exercise, beauty and relaxation, to name a few. But designing and planting your very first garden can feel like an overwhelming task. Luckily, gardens are surprisingly forgiving creations, and the best way to learn is by simply diving in. Here are 10 tips to help get a new garden off on the right foot.

      1. Get to know your site
      Take your time to get familiar with your property before beginning a new garden. Here are a few things you may like to try while you’re getting to know your landscape:

      • Take a leisurely stroll around your property with a notebook and make a rough sketch of the existing planting areas.
      • Add notes to your garden “map” about which areas get the most sun and which are shaded.
      • A simple soil test from your local garden center will tell you whether your soil is well-balanced in nutrients and pH.
      • If you’re thinking of growing edibles (vegetables, fruit or herbs), it’s a good idea to have your soil tested for lead. Most at-home kits aren’t reliable indicators of lead in the soil, but you can send your soil samples to the Lead Safe America Foundation for a free lead test. If you find that your soil has an unsafe level of lead, you can still grow edibles in raised beds or pots with new soil.
      • List which existing plants and features (such as fences or paths) you’d like to keep and which need to be replaced or removed.
      • Spend time just hanging out in your garden. Let yourself daydream and see if any creative ideas present themselves.

      2. Determine your style and goals. Gather a few images that inspire you and look for a theme. Are you drawn to lush flower-filled gardens or more crisply defined modern outdoor spaces? It helps to pair a few words with the pictures you’ve chosen, so try to come up with something that evokes the sort of garden you want, even if it’s not an “official” style term.

      For instance, maybe you’ll decide your style is Industrial Zen or Playful Modern or Simplified Cottage. While you’re figuring this out, it helps to keep a photo of the exterior of your home at hand — whatever style you choose should be able to work well with the architectural style of your home as well as your personal preferences.

      Once you’ve named your style, take a moment to jot down the activities and features you imagine enjoying in your landscape. If you have children, you may need a lot of open space for running around. Or perhaps you dream of relaxing in the middle of a big wildflower meadow — whatever it is, write it down.

      3. Start small. Dreaming is wonderful, but when it comes time to begin digging in the earth, it’s equally important to stay grounded in reality. The bigger the garden, the more time and energy it will require to maintain. Examine what you want (say, a vegetable garden) and then scale it down (for example, plant one raised bed rather than six). You can always expand next year!

      This holds true for purchasing plants too: It’s easy to get seduced by the bountiful plants at the nursery and come home with far too many. Remember, planting takes time, so buy only what you can comfortably get into the ground within the next day or two.

      4. Make a plan. Even if you’re planting only a single raised vegetable bed or cluster of potted flowers on the patio, having a plan is key. If you’re not sure which plants to buy, take a “research” trip to a local nursery (without buying anything!) and snap photos of plants you’d like to consider adding to your garden. Look at the tags and note down when they bloom, as well as sun and water requirements.

      Pulling this information together into a sketched-out plan (no artistic skills required) takes extra time initially but will make for a more successful garden in the end. Choose plants that bloom in different seasons for year-round color, and be sure to pick plants with similar sun and water requirements to plant together.

      5. Pick the right tools for the job (without going overboard). Having the proper tools makes garden chores more pleasant — but don’t think you need to buy out the store on day one. Just a few tools and supplies should keep your garden running smoothly. The basics include:
      Gardening gloves. Choose a pair that feels comfortable and protects against thorns.
      Shovel. This is essential for preparing sizable garden beds and for digging holes for trees, shrubs and large plants. A shovel with a pointed tip is more versatile than a flat spade.
      Trowel and weeding tool (or a Japanese gardener’s knife). Use these tools to dig holes for planting and pull weeds out at the root.
      Long garden hose and spray nozzle. Select a hose long enough to comfortably reach each of the main areas of your garden.
      Hand pruner. Sharp clippers can trim branches and cut back woody plants like rosemary.
      Metal rake. Use this to spread mulch and prepare beds for planting.
      Leaf rake. Use a flexible plastic or bamboo rake to gather leaves.

      6. Mix up perennials and annuals. A common newbie mistake is to grab too many plants from the “annuals” section at the nursery, making for a garden that dies back within a single year. For longevity and color, go for a mix of perennials (plants that come back year after year) and annuals (plants that bloom and die within a single season).

      7. Repeat, repeat, repeat. One great way to give your garden a professionally designed look (with little effort) is to repeat the same plants and hardscaping materials in different places throughout the landscape. Avoid picking one plant of each type, as this tends to appear jumbled — even in a wild English cottage-style garden, plants look best when repeated or planted in clusters. The same goes for other materials: Choose just a few hardscaping materials for paths, pots, planters and outdoor furniture, and repeat, repeat, repeat.

      8. Combine seeds and starts for an affordable mix.
      Starting an entire garden from seed can save money, but it can also be incredibly frustrating. Purchasing only started plants is not only expensive, but it also may limit your choice of what to grow. The best option is usually a combination of the two: Pick up some started seedlings at your local nursery and start some of your own from seed. Good plants to start from seed yourself include lettuce, radishes, beans, sunflowers, marigolds, cosmos and zinnias.

      9. Grow what you like. This sounds utterly simple, but it’s something even the most experienced gardeners sometimes seem to forget. Why grow squash if it’s not really your favorite? Over the years, we’ve stopped bothering to grow beans and zucchini, instead devoting extra garden space to family favorites like snap peas, radishes, Tuscan kale and mini pumpkins for Halloween.

      10. Further your garden education. Seeking out local workshops is a wonderful way to learn more about gardening and connect with other gardeners in your community. Check plant nurseries, community gardens and botanical gardens in your area for free or low-cost workshops on a wide range of topics like container gardening, using native plants, attracting pollinators, creating a water-wise garden and composting.

      Gardening is a lifelong learning experience, and even the most seasoned gardeners are learning all the time — so don’t beat yourself up if it seems that there’s too much to know. Just begin somewhere and take it one season at a time. The wonderful thing about gardening is that there’s usually room for do-overs.

      Tell us: Are you a newbie gardener? Share your challenges — and triumphs — in the Comments!

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      Tips and tricks for getting your garden ready for spring

      ROANOKE, Va. –

      Spring is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about putting your green thumb to use.

      Clark BeCraft, horticulture program coordinator at Virginia Western Community College, says right now we’re in a cool season. The best plants to put in the ground this time of year are pansies and violas. Crops such as lettuce, cabbage, kale and broccoli are good to plant this time of year, as well. BeCraft says trees and shrubs may also be planted now if the soil is dry enough for planting.

      Another way to begin prepping your garden for spring is to sow seeds indoors for transplanting outside later. Tomatoes and peppers should be started indoors around the third or fourth week of March.

      BeCraft says annual plants should be sown indoors about eight to 10 weeks prior to the frost free date of your area.

      “Good seed catalogs will provide a crop time chart to help you determine when to sow your seeds indoors,” he says.

      To ensure your hard work planting doesn’t go to waste, make sure to protect your plants from frost and temperatures below 45 degrees at night. Fabric row covers, buckets or boxes can be used to protect plants; just make sure whatever is covering the plant doesn’t touch the foliage.

      BeCraft says when starting seeds indoors a lightweight soil should be used. Soil that’s labeled for seed starting will provide the right balance of moisture and nutrients needed to germinate the seeds. Outdoor soil should not be used to plant seeds indoors. Click here to see a demonstration of how to transplant seeds.

      Before planting seeds outdoors, the soil should be tested to “determine what is needed to grow the plants you plan on using in your landscape or garden,” says BeCraft.

      He says it’s important to make sure you select the right plant for the environment you’ll be growing in.

      Soil test kits may be available at your local extension office. BeCraft says the kit can be mailed to Virginia Tech and they will send you information on how to improve the soil for planting and give you guidance on what type of fertilizer to use. Some local gardening centers also offer soil testing services, as well.

      BeCraft says it’s best not to till the soil if it’s too wet. It can ruin the structure of the soil and make it difficult for plants to grow. He also says you can use compost or composed manure to loosen and improve the quality of soil.

      There are some who believe planting your garden at night will make it grow stronger and faster. BeCraft says this has been a practice for centuries.

      “Some say it is folklore and researchers have studied the effects of the moon’s phases on plant growth. The theory is that just like the tide, gravitational pull also effects the movement of moisture in the soil and plants.”

      BeCraft says a perennial sale will be held at the greenhouse at Virginia Western Community College on Saturday, April 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will also be a spring plant sale on Friday, April 29, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, April 30, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Blue Ridge Wildflower Society will have a plant sale at Virginia Western on Saturday, May 7, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

      Click here for a list of events being held at the Virginia Western Community College Community Arboretum. You can also follow the Community Arboretum on Facebook.

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