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Archives for April 1, 2016

Garden Guide: Tips to great garden design

Not every plant needs the same level of fertilization, some being resilient enough to prefer a bit of neglect. In spring, a bit of wood ash in the garden and organic, slow-release fertilizer around the vegetables, fruit trees and several heavy-blooming perennials will get most of the job done. Generally, wood ash contains less than 10 percent potash, 1 percent phosphate and trace amounts of micro-nutrients such as iron, manganese, boron, copper and zinc. The largest component of wood ash (about 25 percent) is calcium carbonate, a common liming material that increases soil alkalinity.

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KMB launches new Clean Your Block Party initiative

Photo provided Members of the Rio Civic Club cleaned up the Rio Nature Trail during the Great American Cleanup.

By Tiffany Smith, YourNews contributor

PALM CITY — With a mission to create and sustain a cleaner, greener, more beautiful community, Keep Martin Beautiful, a non-profit, volunteer based organization is excited to announce the launch of the 2016 Great American Cleanup through the end of April. Along with other Keep America Beautiful affiliates across the nation, volunteers will be participating in various activities such as litter and marine debris removal, new community garden preparations, neighborhood landscaping and beautification, home repairs and painting, and household hazardous waste removal and new recycling initiatives.

Now in its 18th year, the Great American Cleanup is the country’s largest community improvement program with more than 4 million volunteers in 20,000 communities across the nation taking action to create positive change and lasting impact in their own neighborhoods.

“People from all walks of life participate in our local Great American Cleanup, from civic clubs and schools groups, to businesses and homeowner associations to families and retirees,” explained Keep Martin Beautiful president, Craig Ahal. “Our goal is to help engage and mobilize large numbers of volunteers throughout Martin County who will be able to make impactful improvements around town.”

This year’s new theme for the Great American Cleanup is “Clean Your Block Party.” This initiative provides best practices, activity ideas, and online toolkits to help volunteers coordinate a cleanup event on their own “block” of their neighborhood. In addition to the traditional road, beach, park, river and neighborhood cleanups, here are some other ways that volunteers can particulate in local Great American Cleanup activities in Martin County:

Brush with Kindness — Habitat for Humanity of Martin County: Saturday, April 16, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteers needed to paint and revitalize 20 homes in Golden Gate.

Students 4 H20 Stuart Beach Cleanup — Keep Martin Beautiful and Students 4 H2O: Sunday, April 24, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Stuart Beach.

H2O Expo “Saturday in the Park” Water Fest — City of Stuart and Students 4 H2O: Saturday, April 30, 9 a.m. to noon in Memorial Park. This is an educational outreach event for awareness of water conservation and Earth Day. Includes exhibitors, activities, demonstrations, food and entertainment.

Any cleanup project that occurs from now through and the end of April can receive recognition as part of the Great American Cleanup. Volunteers will be provided with trash bags, gloves, water and T-shirts (while supplies last).

For more information call Keep Martin Beautiful 772-781-1222, email or visit httkp:// or Facebook message us at

Thank you to the 2016 Great American Cleanup sponsors: Ace Hardware Stuart; Captec Engineering, Inc.; The City of Stuart; Cook Electric, Inc.; Jenkins Landscape Co.; Lowe’s; Martin County Solid Waste and Utilities Division; Niagara Water; Pinder’s Nursery; Reich, Mancini and Zequeira; Sailors Return; The Firefly Group; Wallace Mazda; Wallace Nissan; and Whiticar Boat Works.

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CitySquare developers seek to raze Notre Dame Church in Worcester

Posted Apr. 1, 2016 at 6:00 AM
Updated at 12:07 PM

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Home Improvement Project Dreams Come True at the Home and Garden Show

The Buckeye Valley Building Home and Garden Show at the Eaglesticks Golf Club offered inspiration for your next improvement project Friday.

With everything from roof replacement options to tips on creating your very own Zen garden, Executive Officer Tricia Robinson said you’ll leave with all you need to ready your home for the summer months.

“They get new ideas, home improvement ideas,” said Robinson. “They get things ready for the summer, spring so that way if they do have a landscaping idea, we’ve got a couple great landscapers here today. If they need their gutter replaced, if they need their basement repaired, if they need someone to build a home for them, any remodeling ideals, if they need a bank to finance it for them, we’ve got all those exhibitors here at the show.”

The show is free to the public but those coming out are encouraged to donate to Operation Spirit, a fundraiser that will help send care packages to troops overseas.

“We’re asking everyone to either bring a bag of candy, bubble gum, beef jerky, or to do a cash donation for them. “

The show will continue this weekend, Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tomorrow will feature an Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter and a Children’s Smoke House Trailer with the South Zanesville Fire Department.

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Longwood Gardens building its way through mud into the 21st century

The Main Fountain Garden at Longwood Gardens is a muddy mess these days.

The Main Fountain Garden at Longwood Gardens, designed by Pierre S. du Pont for his estate, is being restored to its 1931 condition, and then some. Slideshow

Great ruts of wheelprints gash the wet dirt. Pools of water collect in oozy lakes. Planks laid on the ground allow teetering passage for those without boots or waders. Shrieking beeps of backing construction machines pierce the air.

And it all looks just the way it’s supposed to.

“It’s not too often that you get to see Versailles being built,” Paul B. Redman, Longwood’s executive director, said as he took it all in from a high terrace in front of the Longwood Conservatory. “It will be a very Parisian park.”

Sprawling across nearly 1,000 rolling acres in Kennett Square in Chester County, Longwood Gardens is midway through a massive $90 million restoration and construction project – the largest capital project in its history – and it shows, like a careless slip.

But when it is finished, about a year from now, the critical five-acre Main Fountain Garden, designed by businessman and philanthropist Pierre S. du Pont for his estate, promises to be both a powerful restatement of the past and a showy display for the future.

The restoration will resurrect many nonfunctional elements of du Pont’s 1931 design, returning accessibility to areas that have been off-limits for years, recapturing the wonder of the original, which was inspired by du Pont’s love of Italian and French water gardens.

The whole south garden wall, with its balustrades, loggia, carved fountains, and walkways – augmented by a new rock grotto “for contemplation” – will be accessible to visitors for the first time in a quarter-century.

The restoration project is a prime piece of Longwood’s long-range master plan, which is focused, in part, on an effort to “reverse the eroding legacy” of du Pont’s vision, said Redman.

“The south wall, which we’re completely restoring now, when we shut down the garden in November 2014 [at the onset of construction], it had not worked for 26 years. It looked like a Roman ruin.”

About 4,000 pieces of carved Italian limestone – parts of fountains, basins, and decorative elements – were removed from the garden last year, separately crated, marked via computer tags, and taken off-site for cleaning and repairs. Those pieces of limestone, many bearing carvings by Italian craftsmen, are now being returned and reinstalled.

The guts of the garden – miles of pipes that will move more than 300,000 gallons of water around 380 fountains – are being completely replaced and tucked underground into newly built, easily accessible concrete tunnels.

No longer, when a pipe bursts, will backhoes rumble in to dig up plants and landscaping for repairs.

Tunnels will house all utility infrastructure – all pipes, cables, and wires, including connecting lines for the garden’s new surround sound audio feature.

Construction of the 12-by-12-foot tunnels, which run underground for about a quarter-mile, is complete.

When the fountains are fully operational, new technology will become very public, with patterned water displays filling the air. There will be weave jets, for instance, which Redman likened to projecting basket designs.

The garden’s centerpiece jet will propel water 175 feet into the air, about 50 feet higher than in the past. Other jets will facilitate a mixture of water and propane.

“It’s a flame feature,” said Redman. “The propane is ignited and comes out on top of the water. We’ll have 30 of those, the largest installation in the world.”

Some of these jets are already installed. More are coming.

In large, 60-foot-round basins, constructed for the lower garden area, nozzles of all kinds will provide endlessly varied water patterns.

“The new high technology – spring nozzles, moving nozzles, air-powered nozzles, lighted nozzles – is really going to make this dance and come alive,” said Casey McCabe, project manager for Bancroft Construction Co., which is working the site.

The main part of the project still to be completed is restoration of the 40,000-square-foot pump house. After that, the earth across five acres can be built up and landscaping can begin.

Rows of lindens will form allées around the core of the garden, boxwood hedges will wrap central fountain structures, and visitors will be able to stroll through the entire area.

All of this work, mud notwithstanding, is moving at a steady clip, completely self-financed.

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Longwood Gardens joined with the Longwood Foundation, Pierre and Alice du Pont’s charitable unit, to pay for it all. With combined assets of about $1.4 billion, the two nonprofits are shouldering all construction costs.

“We have the resources to take care of what we do here,” said Redman. “But we have to be very entrepreneurial in how we approach our business.”
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101-year-old park builder: hard work secret to long life – Sarasota Herald

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. (AP) — Every day for the past 30 years Woody Blevins has gone about meticulously landscaping about an acre of land bordering his home, turning it into his own private park.

He dons a straw hat and often spends eight hours a day with his mower, trimmer and clippers to make sure the manicured lot along State Road 19 keeps its curb appeal. But like a lot of older people who have spent too many days mowing, pulling weeds and sweating, he finally decided it was time to cut back.

He turned 101 on Wednesday.

Blevins and his wife, Leah, recently donated the land to the tiny Lake County town about 35 miles northwest of Orlando so it can serve as a public park for residents to enjoy beyond admiring it from the road. Howey-in-the-Hills has taken over maintenance, although Blevins can’t resist helping out.

“I didn’t realize I was making a park,” he said. “I just thought my lawn looked good.”

The lot is bordered by oak trees, and at the center sits a flagpole and a large circular shrub. Blevins dug trenches and installed an intricate electrical and irrigation system for the lot, which houses about a dozen large globe lights and 200 plants, including bougainvilleas, gardenias and lilies. He used concrete bricks to border plants and has poured about 300 bags of river rocks and mulch throughout the area.

“I love working hard and would much rather be outside helping grow something beautiful than out golfing,” Blevins said. “Everything you see out there, I did. I’m happy it’s going to be something that everyone will enjoy for years to come after I’m gone.”

An Ohio native, Blevins worked as a contractor for engineers and in construction, which helped provide him the skills to transform the lot from an old orange grove along the highway that cuts through the community of 1,200 into a park.

His lot has become well-known in the area through the years, drawing admiring glances from passing motorists and occasionally causing someone to stop with a blanket and picnic basket, not realizing it’s not public property.

One of Blevins’ neighbors, Richard Messersmith, has watched the land take shape for two decades.

“It’s amazing. He’s out there for hours and hours every day, making sure everything looks perfect,” said 76-year-old Messersmith.

Blevins’ green thumb has spread around the neighborhood. Many homes, including the one of Messersmith and his wife, Susan, also have well-groomed yards and polished gardens.

Blevins has invested about $25,000 in the park, but when the town’s water rates increased, it got to be an even more expensive project. He said his water bill one month topped $400.

Mayor Chris Sears said Blevins had approached him about his water bills, and the pair came to an agreement that gives the Blevinses free water for life in exchange for the land, which is on the tax rolls for about $24,000.

“I told him we’d name the park after him, and it would serve as a great tribute to all the work he’d done to make it such a beautiful display of Florida landscaping,” Sears said. “It’s just a win-win situation for everyone.”

The mayor said the lot is in a great location because motorists coming into town and traveling through to Clermont or Tavares pass by it. Blevins said it was an easy decision to donate the lot to the town, which was incorporated in 1925, when Blevins was 9.

“I could have sold it or built a few houses there, but I don’t want the money.” Blevins said. “I just wanted someone to take care of it since I couldn’t.”

Sears said Howey’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board has been making plans for the park, including an idea to transform it into a tribute for veterans and call it Blevins Patriot Park. The town is responsible for upkeep, but Blevins still helps out occasionally while also tending a small landscaped area near his home.

“Of course, I get a bit worried about him out here, but this is what he loves doing,” said 86-year-old Leah Blevins, who says she’s her husband’s “backup quarterback.”

Woody Blevins, who has one daughter, a grandson and two great-grandsons, said he doesn’t have any plans to limit his time outdoors.

“My doctor says he can’t find anything wrong with me. In fact, one of the last times I went, he told me I was in better shape than him,” Blevins said, laughing.

He attributes his health to two words.

“Working hard.”


Information from: Orlando Sentinel,

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Carmel Smart Gardening Fair returns

Home gardeners can easily waste hundreds of dollars on plants and products that do more harm than good and never achieve the hoped-for result, ultimately leaving folks disillusioned and poorer. There are ways to get more enjoyment out of gardening, spend less money, end up with bumper crops of flowers and vegetables and have a healthy home ecology. Gotta love them birds, bees and butterflies.

For 10 years, the UC Master Gardeners of Monterey Bay have brought together backyard gardeners, plant specialists, environmental scientists, water conservation proponents, wild fire protection agencies, horticultural groups and related vendors to share information and the love of growing things — with particular interest in smart gardening.

The 10th Annual Smart Gardening Fair will take place 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, April 2, Highway 1 at Rio Road, Carmel. The site is adjacent to the Crossroads Shopping Village. This free event, open to the public, provides an opportunity for local gardening groups, vendors and organizations to share their expertise about local gardening with the public.

Exhibitors will offer a wide selection of goods and services. Five renowned speakers, several demonstrations, food and plant vendors will round out the event. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions. Detailed information may be found at or 831-644-0161. The lead sponsor is the Water Awareness Committee of Monterey County, Inc. who will be on hand to offer water saving tips.

Visitors are encouraged to wear layered clothes, hats, and sturdy shoes. The site is uneven in places but there are no hills to climb. Coffee shops, restaurants and restrooms are all close by.

According to the Master Gardeners’ publicity information, “Ron Herman, the featured speaker, is responsible for designing many of North America’s largest and most intricate private gardens. After establishing his own landscape design office in his early twenties, Ron pursued graduate studies in Kyoto, Japan. He had seen pictures of Japanese gardens but studying them firsthand opened him up to the dynamics of the Japanese form, the interplay between formal and informal. The experience led to a lifelong study of Japanese design. Ron has authored numerous papers on Japanese garden design and co-authored A Guide to the Gardens of Kyoto. His work has been featured prominently in the national media and in several books on gardens. Besides numerous residential and corporate projects he has designed the East Wing garden at the National Gallery in Washington D.C.”

The Master Gardener Program is a community service organization whose purpose is to provide the public with University of California research-based information about home-gardening, sustainable landscaping and pest management. The program is administrated by the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) county offices, the principal outreach and public service arms of the University’s division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR). A group of highly trained volunteers, the Master Gardeners, convey all this information to the public through events, their website, social media and the distribution of educational literature. The local hotline number for questions is 831-763-8007.

Highlights of Carmel Smart Gardening Fair

Scheduled Speakers

10 a.m.: Aaron Dillon – Fruit Trees in a Drought, from Four Winds Citrus Growers

11 a.m.: Ron Herman – The Art of Restraint – Concepts of Japanese Garden Design, Landscape Architect

12 p.m.: Tom Snyder – Peppers – Eating your Rainbow, executive chef, Esteban Restaurant in Monterey

1 p.m.: Margot Grych, Leta Messenger – Herbal Insights – Growing and Using our Plant Allies, horticultural teacher from elementary to college level; nurse and herbalist

2 p.m.: Kristine Albrecht – The Wonder of Dahlias, president, Monterey Bay Dahlia Society

Gardening demonstrations going on all day

Hens in the Hood, Chicks in the City by Candice McLaren

Summer Fruit Tree Pruning by Peter Quintanilla

Developing and Maintaining Espalier Fruit Trees by Peter Quintanilla

The Secret Life in Compost by Otis Johnson

Beekeeping by Ron Morgan, Richard Carr

Teas – Growing your own Herbal Infusions by Sara Steiner

Making Rose Cuttings – Master Rosarians from the Monterey Bay Rose Society

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Agromin Gardening Tips: Plant smart in April for maximum results in your garden

With rainfall totals below average in southern California, April is the time to plant smart while saving water in spring and summer, says Agromin, an Oxnard and Huntington Beach-based manufacturer of earth-friendly compost products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities. Residents can obtain Agromin soil products in bulk or in bags at Rainbow Environmental Services (gate seven) in Huntington Beach and in bulk at South Coast Supply in Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos.

Add Mulch To Reduce Water Usage: The cost of water is on the rise and watering restrictions are still in place. Adding mulch to your yard can mean significant water savings. Depending on weather conditions, mulch can extend the period between watering by one to two days. Mulch holds in moisture, prevents erosion and keeps the soil cool. Till older mulch into the soil and add another two to three inches of new mulch around plants, shrubs and trees.

Plant Drought Tolerant Herbs: Some types of herbs do very well with little water. Herbs that thrive in dry conditions include sage, rosemary, lavender, oregano and thyme. All these herbs come from the Mediterranean region. Once their roots are established during the first growing season, they require minimal watering and love full sun.

Add Water-Saving Compost to Lawns: New lawn-related products on the market contain biochar, which enable more time between lawn waterings. Biochar is a naturally-produced soil amendment. Its tiny pores retain water, much like a sponge. Biochar also contains nutrients to help the soil and plants to remain healthy. As another advantage, biochar captures carbon emissions, which reduces greenhouse gasses.

Cover Bare Spots With Bark: Spruce up bare spots around lawns and gardens with bark. Chopped bark, usually 1/4” to 3” in size, can be placed in large open areas to give a yard a finished look – and requires no water.

Upgrade Your Garden Soil: Garden soil should be replenished with nutrients before new planting. First, break up hard soil and add organic soil amendments. Next, consider rotating your garden—for example, plant tomato where corn was grown last year. By rotating vegetables of the same plant family to a new location, you can better prevent crop-specific pests and diseases from reappearing.

Plant Heat-Loving Vegetables: Now is the time to plant most all vegetables, especially warm-season vegetables such as Armenian cucumber, artichoke, corn, cucumber, eggplant, melon, peppers, potatoes, squash, sunflowers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and zucchini.

Use a Drip Irrigation System: Avoid using sprinklers or other overhead watering because when doing so, much of the water evaporates. Install a drip irrigation system so water goes directly to the plant’s roots.
Water the garden in the early morning before 7:00 a.m., giving water time to soak deep into the soil before the heat of the day.

For more gardening tips, go to

About Agromin
Agromin manufactures earth-friendly soil products for farmers, landscapers and gardeners. Agromin is also the composter for over 50 California cities. Agromin receives more than 30,000 tons of organic material each month and then uses a safe, natural and sustainable process to transform the material into soil products. The results are more vigorous and healthier plants and gardens, and on the conservation side, the opportunity to close the recycling circle, allow more room in landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This article was released by Agromin.

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Lawn and garden tips for April

April is a great time to be outdoors and to get that lawn, landscape and garden off to a good start. April care practices for cool season turfgrass lawns include hand raking to remove debris and tree leaves, edging, mowing, power raking, core aeration and seeding or sodding.

Check your lawnmower and other lawn‑care equipment in preparation for the coming season. Mow the lawn at a height of three inches or higher. This is generally the highest setting on your mower. Leave the mower at the same setting all year long. Mowing at a higher height promotes root development. Power rake if the true thatch layer exceeds one‑half inch. Core aerate to relieve soil compaction and encourage root growth. Seeding, overseeding and sodding of cool season grasses can take place throughout the month of April.

Seeding a lawn in the spring is possible if done properly. Delay seeding until the soil temperature is close to 55 degrees. Apply a starter fertilizer that contains Tupersan. Tupersan will help to prevent crabgrass. Protect the seed bed with straw to prevent soil erosion and to maintain the proper moisture for the germinating seed. Keep the seedbed moist with frequent light irrigation.

If crabgrass is a problem in your lawn, don’t be in too big of a hurry. For best control of crabgrass, apply one half of your pre-emergence herbicide to an established lawn by mid- April and then the other half by June 1. Crabgrass normally starts to emerge when the soil temperature is about 55 degrees.

Heavy spring fertilization should be avoided. Applying too much fertilizer in April causes excess shoot growth at the expense of root growth. Wait until the early growth flush has passed before applying fertilizer. This would generally be in late April or early May. Wait to prune spring blooming shrubs such as forsythia and spirea after they have completed flowering.

Cut flower stalks back to the ground on daffodils, hyacinths and other spring flowering bulbs as the flowers fade. Do not cut the foliage until it dies naturally. The leaves are necessary to produce strong bulbs capable of re-flowering next year. When chrysanthemums show signs of life, dig up and divide large plants. Discard woody portions and replant divisions 12 to 15 inches apart well.

To extend the blooming period of gladiolus, plant early, middle and late‑season selections each week until the middle of June. Choose a sunny location and plant the corms 4-by-6 inches deep and 6-by-8 inches apart.

The last Friday in April is National Arbor Day. Plant a tree or support an organization that does.

Steve Tonn is an educator for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Washington County.

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Jack Christensen’s garden tips for the week starting April 9

1 Show camellias some love: Camellias perform best with a springtime feeding, using a slower-acting, balanced plant food. It’s also time to do some pruning — if it’s necessary to maintain size or shape, but camellias don’t require pruning. Complete any pruning before new growth emerges. This season has been relatively free of petal blight, the damp-weather fungus disease that causes camellia flowers to turn brown and rot. However, wise gardeners will remove dead and fallen camellia flowers, since they tend to harbor spores that could rekindle the fungus next season.

2 Time for a field trip: Take your kids or grandchildren to a garden center to look at all the flowering plants and let each child choose one or two to take home and plant. Periodically go out into the yard with them to see how “their” plant is doing and give them pointers on its care. My grandmother did this with my brother and I when we were preschoolers, and we loved to watch those plants grow and flower for many years. This helps children gain interest in plants and flowers, and learn about gardening while they also gain a sense of responsibility and grow wonderful memories.

3 A better compost pile: If you have a compost pile, be sure to moisten it once or twice a week during warm weather and turn it at least once a week. This speeds up the decomposition process and also helps you find and dispose of those unwanted, large, c-shaped white beetle grubs. When your compost is ready for use, use it to mulch around trees and shrubs to help keep the soil moist during hot or breezy weather. And if you don’t have your own compost pile, consider starting one. Whether you create your own compost or use the store-bought kind, all your plants will do better if their root zone is covered with a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch.

4 Battling aphids: Aphids multiply quickly in springtime, sapping the strength from a wide array of plants and producing sticky honeydew. Aphids are easily controlled with an abundance of ladybugs, or by periodic applications of insecticidal soap or malathion. However, you may also need to put out ant baits to solve the problem. Believe it or not, ants protect and nurture aphids, gently “milking” them for their sweet honeydew secretions. So do your best to keep those ants under control.

5 Fighting fungus: Keep ahead of fungus ailments on roses and fruit trees, by spraying with fungicide every 10 days until mid-June. Typical spring fungus diseases in Southern California are powdery mildew, rose rust, and blackspot on roses. Botrytis or brown rot on fruit trees needs to be prevented with springtime sprays. Effective spray materials have triforine or chlorothalonil as the active ingredient. They work by keeping fungi from spreading to new growth.

— Jack E. Christensen

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