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Archives for March 29, 2016

Focus on design will save time and money

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Events from March 29 to April 3

Annual Maple Weekend
Saturday Apr 2 Sunday Apr 3 – Province Wide
Giving you a first-hand opportunity to see how maple products are produced, from tree to table, along with the chance to taste and purchase quality maple products.  Participants in Maple Weekend can be found across the province in a number of maple syrup producing areas – see website for regional listings.  Come and talk to the producers in your local area. Many will be offering free samples of fresh syrup, as well as maple candies and confections. Enjoy pancake breakfasts, sugar bush trails, sugar making demos, and taffy on snow, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and more. Experience the traditional maple sugaring craft and taste why pure Ontario maple syrup has long been a favourite springtime treat and share in the fun of the sweetest time of the year.

The Harlem Globetrotters – 2016 World Tour
Friday April 1 at 7pm – Barrie Molson Centre
The iconic Harlem Globetrotters are coming to Barrie Molson Centre in Barrie with their most epic tour in history, as the world famous team celebrates its 90th anniversary world tour. A star-studded roster will have fans on the edge of their seats to witness the ball handling wizardry, basketball artistry and one-of-a-kind family entertainment that thrills fans of all ages. Join Globetrotter stars after the game where they will stay for an autograph, photograph and high five session for fans.      

42nd Annual Model Railway Show
Saturday Apr 2 Sunday Apr 3 from 10am-4pm – Lindsay
Once again will be featuring some of southern Ontario’s best operating model train layouts and hobby dealers, an enduring attraction for both model railway enthusiasts and residents alike.  The kids will love the Thomas the Tank Engine interactive layout that they can play with.  Plus there is plenty to see with replica vintage layouts and fantasy layouts created from the minds of railroad modelling enthusiasts.          
The 23rd Annual Spring Cottage Life Show
Friday Apr 1 to Sunday April 3 – Mississauga
Details:    More than 550 exhibitors will reignite the excitement of heading back to the lake with everything a cottager needs and wants, including boats, docks, water toys, paddle sports, décor and furniture as well as hundreds of experts in cottage building, renovations, septic systems, water treatment and green-energy solutions. Special Features of the three-day show will include walk-through model cottages, grilling demos, a dock party, kids’ activities and special appearances from Cottage Life Celebrities including Cabin Pressure’s design duo Colin Justin and What’s for Sale’s Rob Serediuk, as well as renowned décor maven Debbie Travis and Citytv’s gardening expert, Frank Ferragine (a.k.a. Frankie Flowers).    

20th Annual Home and Lifestyle Show

Friday Apr 1 to Sunday Apr 3 – Newmarket
The largest home show in York Region!    From landscaping to renovating to decorating, the show brings together products and vendors, expert ideas and home trends in one convenient location.  From kid-friendly fun to budget-friendly tips from the experts, you’ll find a great selection of entertainment and seminars, and the kid-friendly fun, including balloon characters, face painting, and colouring.  Plus – Dora the Explorer will be live on-stage and the kids can meet SpongeBob SquarePants.  And just outside the doors you’ll find Wickedly Sinful, A’s Pizza and Beavertails food trucks.

Maple Syrup Moon Festival
Saturday Apr 2 from 11am-4pm – Owen Sound
As the snow melts and the voices of the crows are heard ringing out over the tree tops, the sap begins to rise and our thoughts turn to the sweet anticipation of Maple Syrup.      Come on out to Grey Roots and rejoice at this traditional rite of spring. Learn its history from the early days of our Aboriginal people to our first European setters and beyond.  Enjoy maple syrup making and tasting, wagon rides,     Aboriginal games for kids, Pioneer demonstration and purchase Kiwanis Club pancakes.    

Killbear’s Maple Syrup Festival
Saturday Apr 2 from 10am – 3pm – Parry Sound area
Enjoy a pancake breakfast with fresh maple syrup at the Community Centre before heading to the park for guided tours of Killbear’s sugar shack,

Old-Tyme Maple Syrup Festival
Saturday Apr 2 Sunday Apr 3 from 10am – 4pm – Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area,
Come out and enjoy the largest outdoor Maple Syrup Festival in Grey and Bruce Counties! Enjoy pancakes and fresh maple syrup, history in action displays, dog agility shows, horse drawn wagon rides, kid’s activities, family games, sheep shearing, food vendors, sugar bush hikes much more.        

Sunnidale Small Hall Pancake Breakfast
Sunday Apr 3 from 8am-1pm – Stayner
Everybody is welcome to come out for a pancake and sausage breakfast served with real maple syrup.  $5 or $8 for hungry man special

Tap Into Maple
March 1 to May 31 – Ontario’s Lake Country
Filled with a variety of different stops throughout the region, the Tap into Maple route will get your senses flowing and your mouth watering. Come and experience  maple history, taste local maple cuisine, and create your own maple products. Make sure to pick-up your Tap into Maple passport at participating locations – 24 in all!  Show your passport and upon purchase or participation at each location you will be rewarded with a maple stamp on your brochure. Collect at least three stamps and submit your maple passport for a chance to win one of three prizes!

Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival
Open March 5 to April 3 on weekends – Stouffville
Come out and tap into spring! Enjoy demonstrations, wagon rides, activities and of course pancakes and real maple syrup! Plus enjoy special family-fun activities on weekends and throughout March Break.

Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival
Daily March 5 to April 3 – Woodbridge
Come out and tap into spring! Enjoy demonstrations, wagon rides, activities and of course pancakes and real maple syrup! Plus enjoy special family-fun activities on weekends and throughout March Break.       

The Ontario Travel Information Centre is at Mapleview Drive and Highway 400 in Barrie. They are open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Visit for more.

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Rain barrels available to water Redlands trees

REDLANDS El Nino may come, but Redlands trees — both established trees (some 100 or more years old) and young trees are suffering from the long-term drought. To help, some residents are dragging hoses out to water them, while others are employing rain barrels to catch rainfall.

Now a local agency, the Inland Empire Resource Conservation District, is offering rain barrels that attach to rain gutters and can be diverted to provide the deep watering that trees require during this time of mandated water restriction.

Redwoods most at risk but even oaks suffering

According to the city’s field services supervisor, Erik Reeves, Coastal Redwoods, Deodor Cedars and Incense Cedars are suffering the most from the drought, and are also being attacked by a microorganism (Botryospheria canker).

Afghan Pines are also affected.

Many of Redlands’ redwoods, which are not native to Southern California and have higher water needs, were planted in the early 1900s as street trees.

Signs of stressed trees include the loss of leaves or the branches dying at the tips.

Even some native California oaks are showing signs of stress.

In 2000, Patty Mariano Denning helped her neighborhood receive a grant from the California Relief Program.

It allowed residents on Buena Vista Street to plant more than 40 oaks in the parkways between Fern and Palm avenues.

The grant required that residents do the planting and the watering to get them established.

“It was amazing how people came together,” she said. “We had 40 people out to plant the trees, and some residents who had existing oaks volunteered to drag hoses out for the older homeowners to water their new ones.”

Towering oaks that were planted in the early 1920s on Buena Vista had been a mainstay of that street and other parts of Redlands.

Denning wondered why some had died or were dying and her research showed that too much irrigation, especially spray on the trunks, was causing fungal issues.

The grant allowed residents to plant oaks, but required that people not have lawns in the parkway. Some residents quit watering their lawns and some have put crushed granite in the parkways “both things that can’t be good for the tree,” Denning said.

“People are confused,” she said. “First we told them we’re watering them too much and we need to take out our sprinklers. Now they need to water. They’ve asked, ‘Which is it, water them or don’t water them?’”

It’s clear when trees are thirsty.

“You can really see the difference between the trees that homeowners watered well with occasional deep watering, and ones that others didn’t or the houses were vacant for periods,” she said, adding that the watering the street received during a recent city paving project also helped.

“Our goal is to maintain what we have, keep them out of stress by keeping them watered and trimmed properly.”

During periods of inadequate rain, Denning drags her hose out and places it halfway between the trunk and canopy and turns it on low enough so the water soaks in with none running off into the street or sidewalk. She waters it for most of the day.

IERCD to offer rain barrels

To increase education among residents on the ability to capture and make use of rainfall for trees and landscaping, the IERCD is offering some rain barrels to residents.

“Rain barrels can help prevent unnecessary runoff from properties and increase supplies for outdoor needs,” said Mandy Parkes, IERCD’s district manager.

A hose can be attached to the rain barrel, which can be diverted to areas such as trees. The drained area needs to be lower than the rain barrel. Also residents would need to alter their gutter to drain into the rain barrel, or hire someone to establish this.

Denning’s neighbors, Steve and Kirsten Colvey, installed a 65-gallon rain barrel in December on a side rain gutter.

Steve Colvey even put it on wheels so he could move it to water his parkway trees, although he plans to install one on a front gutter for that reason.

He’s been surprised how much rainwater he catches.

“In just last night’s rain, which drained a third of my roof, it filled up,” he said early this month. “When it overflows, I can run the hose to a planter and water it.”

Colvey bought the Good Ideas rain barrel on and paid about $125 for it, and bought a $4 part at Lowe’s to alter his gutter so it ran into the barrel.

How to water trees

Young trees need more frequent deep watering.

For older trees, slow, infrequent and deep watering is recommended. Some tree experts suggest every month or two or when the top six inches of soil are dry. But even a couple deep waterings under the tree’s canopy can be helpful.

Another option is taking a 5-gallon bucket and drill a small hole in the bottom to allow the water to leak slowly.

Some residents save shower water as it heats and irrigate trees that way.

According to Reeves, the city ordinance states that the property owner must water the tree within the city easement area on the appropriate mandated watering schedule.

The city encourages residents to contact the Quality of Life Department with any questions about trees in their parkways, or the amount of water they require. Email or call the department at 909-798-7655.

A limited number of free rain barrels is available. Call 909-799-7407, ext. 100.

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Northwest Trek offers sneak peek at new $1.9 million playground

A chorus of squeals, giggles and, yes, even some splashes filled Northwest Trek’s new playground Monday.

The $1.9 million, half-acre Kids’ Trek — one of the biggest playgrounds in the region, according to park officials — doesn’t officially open until Saturday. But a small group of South Sound families had the opportunity to test it out Monday for promotional photos and videos for Metro Parks Tacoma. Staff of The Olympian and The News Tribune were invited for a sneak peek, too.

“It’s incredible,” said Shelley Sprouffske, 38, of Rainier, as her preschool-age sons, John Paul and Alexander, played with their friends. “It’s an ideal kids’ paradise out in the outdoors.”

Kids’ Trek features:

▪ A 20-foot replica of a hollowed out cedar tree with cargo nets that kids can climb in.

▪ ADA-accessible slides and pathways.

▪ A toddler zone with mini log cabins and a sandbox.

▪ A nearly 100-foot-long stream that uses recirculated chlorinated water and cascades to a replica beaver dam.

▪ Some hidden surprises, including whimsical sculptures of a great blue heron, mountain goat and other critters; dozens of animal tracks and leaf prints embedded in the pathways; and a 16-foot-diameter “Eagles nest” play structure.

▪ Natural landscaping that features stumps and plants collected from inside Trek’s 435-acre free-roaming area and the space cleared for the playground. There’s also plenty of seating, with benches and picnic tables that were built from the park’s downed trees.

“It’s the biggest thing that Northwest Trek has provided in our 40-history,” said Alan Varsik, the park’s deputy director. “The biggest project.”

About 75 percent of the playground was built with a combination of grants and private donations, he said. In addition, $325,000 came from the 2014 Metro Parks Tacoma voter-approved bond, said Kris Sherman, a spokeswoman for Metro Parks Tacoma.

The playground was part of Northwest Trek’s 2008 master plan update, said operations and project manager Chip Heinz.

“A lot of the ideas were ours in-house and were brought through fruition with our staff working on it,” he said.

The project’s architect was MIG of Berkeley, California, and its contractor was Lake Tapps Construction.

Seattle-based Turnstone Construction was the subcontractor that did the playground’s Shotcrete work, which created its natural-looking rocks, trees and climbing areas. Take the 20-foot-tall tree trunk climber that’s 12-feet in diameter: It’s a sculpture based on a Western red cedar and features charred-like markings that help tell the story of the park’s 1924 fire.

“Everything about Kids’ Trek is designed to bring children into nature and let them experience nature and let them learn about animals and plants, and more about the world around them,” Sherman said.

Krista Simpson, 38, of Olympia, said she liked that Kids’ Trek had one entry and exit.

“You can essentially stand here and see everything,” she said, as her sons, Michael, 6, and Gabriel, 4, built a fort with large sticks in the playground.

Northwest Trek member Christine King, 63, of Eatonville said she thinks Kids’ Trek is going to be a popular destination for families.

“I love it, absolutely love it,” she said, as her 4-year-old granddaughter, Grace, played near the stream. “There is so much here that they can do, and play and experience. I would recommend it to anybody.”

If you go

What: Kids’ Trek, a new play area with slides, rope ladders, cargo nets, a sandbox, a stream and other elements.

Where: Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, 11610 Trek Drive E., Eatonville.

When: The playground’s grand opening will be 10 a.m. Saturday. After that, Kids’ Trek will be open during the park’s regular hours, which are seasonal, and are 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, through June 30.

Cost: Free with admission or membership. General admission is $10.95 to $21.95 a person, with ages 2 and younger free. Discounted rates are available to military families and Pierce County residents.

Information: or 360-832-6117.

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When it comes to water security, Hong Kong should suck it up

In the face of rapid urbanisation and more extreme weather conditions, a city would do well to ensure its storm water does not lead to flooding and – even better – that its rainfall can be channelled towards more productive uses than into gutters and drains. Recognising this, the Chinese government is making a big push to develop so-called “sponge cities”: it has identified 16 cities to take part in a pilot project to promote self-sufficiency in water management and resilience against extreme weather events.

Hong Kong, too, with its densely built city centres, should consider adopting these principles of water management.

Climate change could see half a reservoir of Hong Kong’s potable water evaporate per year, green group says

A sponge city is defined as a city which can hold, clean and drain water in a natural way, using an ecological approach. Though the term is new, the concept isn’t, as the principles that support it are widely used in urban design and planning. “Low impact design” in the US, “water-sensitive urban design” in Australia and “sustainable urban drainage” in the UK all aim to achieve similar purposes. If successful, they help to maintain the balance of the natural water cycle.

Urban development has turned our forests and fields into concrete buildings and paved roads with reduced water absorption abilities. This increases surface run-off and raises the risks of flooding.

To counteract such tendencies, a city can adopt designs that preserve the natural habits of the development site – such as by adding green infrastructure (green roofs and constructed wetland), building bio-retention systems (rain gardens) and rainwater tanks, and using permeable paving.

A sponge city can reduce urban potable water demand by maximising the reuse of rainwater, and restore the natural water cycle by reducing surface run-off and increasing natural groundwater storage. Not only that, a sponge city can also channel storm water for multiple uses, such as for landscaping in open public space and for wildlife habitats.

World Water Day: why Hong Kong should not be complacent about this most vital of resources

Given how precious Hong Kong’s water resources are, we should adopt the design principles of a sponge city for our water management, especially in new town developments.

Hong Kong has virtually no groundwater resource and very irregular rainfall patterns, so every drop of rain should be retained, whether as soil moisture or in vegetation, or in water catchment areas and creeks. Adopting a sponge city design in Hong Kong will not only restore the natural water cycle, but also enhance water security and add resilience towards climate change.

Water is a vital resource and we should not overlook its true value just because water tariffs are low in Hong Kong.

Vianne Law is China project officer at Friends of the Earth (HK)

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What’s Growing On: Effort on to restore historic fine art gardens

Posted Mar. 28, 2016 at 2:26 PM

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Spring Township business adds new dimensions to landscape design

Reading Eagle: Jeremy Drey | Owner Tom Connelly, left, with new designer Chris Savage. Savage studied commercial art and graphic design in college, and later taught himself how to use computer-aided design to build landscape features.

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Master Gardeners plan day of gardening tips at ‘Let’s Get Green and Growing’

Whenever Lyn Jerde posts new content, you’ll get an email delivered to your inbox with a link.

Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items.

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With weather warming up, tips to start your garden right

Posted Mar. 26, 2016 at 3:03 PM

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