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Archives for April 11, 2016

Antiques Garden & Design show back at Botanic Garden

Unique objects beautifully displayed is the earmark of the Antiques Garden Design Show, April 15-17, at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

“There are less than a handful of antique shows that are in this type of setting — an actual garden,” reported Jodi Zombolo, senior director of visitor events and programs, who manages the Antiques Garden Design Show. “In a time where antique shows are not as popular as they used to be, we have been going strong.”

This is the 16th year of the event, which this year will feature more than 80 exhibitors. The show is divided into four areas: The Antiques and Midcentury Section; Design Row (artwork and accessories for the home); Garden Gallery Tent (garden furniture, plants, containers, tools, seeds); and Market Courtyards (gift items).

That’s part of the reason Zombolo cited for the continuing popularity of this event — the show goes beyond presenting only antiques. It also features items for the garden and design pieces. Sometimes these elements are combined.

London calling for garden designer Linda McKeown

IT is officially the biggest show in the world – in terms of flower shows, anyway – and the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show looks like it will have a Belfast competitor in 2017.

Linda McKeown, who runs Blue Leaf Garden Design, has had a dynamic garden design accepted into the ‘summer garden’ category of the prestigious London show.

Formerly an accounts clerk, Linda has been involved in garden design for the best part of 15 years now and has staged show gardens in Belfast and at the Bloom show in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, as well as coming up with a host of designs for private, commercial and public clients across the north – with musician Van Morrison perhaps one of her most high-profile clients.

Linda lives in south Belfast and also shares her gardening expertise while working at the Woodlawn Garden Centre in Carryduff a couple of days a week.

She explains that she was accepted to participate in this year’s Hampton Court Palace show but found it difficult to guarantee sufficient sponsorship and so has been allowed to take part in next year’s show to give her more time to get the required financial backing.

“Average costs for a garden at Hampton Court would be about £500 per square metre,” she says. “This design of mine is 48 square metres, so the total cost would be up to £25,000.

“I applied last November, so after Christmas they came back and said they’d be delighted to have my garden at the show. They need to finalise their show in the middle of February, so at that point I had to pull out because I didn’t have the sponsorship.

“But they told me they would defer it, which means the garden can go into the show next year and I don’t have to apply again. It gives me a bit more time.”

She sums up her Hampton Court Palace garden design as “a floating deck area with an elliptical pond and a walkway”.

“It’s quite tranquil, with very naturalistic planting. It has quite contemporary materials and the walkway is cantilevered across the pool to the deck and it has a canopy on top. The garden is eight metres by six metres, so it’s not huge. I’d call it ‘Super Nature’ but that could change depending on sponsorship.”

The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is the world’s biggest annual flower show, at which the gardens flank both sides of the Long Water.

Linda says she’ll go along as a spectator this year – it takes place from July 5 to 10 – and also to the Chelsea Flower Show in late May. While at Chelsea she’ll get to see inventive creations by the likes of Irish garden designer Diarmuid Gavin.

“Diarmuid is a lovely guy. People see him as a bit of a maverick and off the wall, but he’s doing the Harrod’s garden at Chelsea this year – so money will be no object there,” she says.

“The bigger gardens in Chelsea start at £1,000 a square metre, so it’s not unknown for some of them to cost up to £500,000.”

Linda lists Diarmuid Gavin, Dan Pearson, Cleve West, Andy Sturgeon, Tom Stuart-Smith and Dublin’s Paul Martin as big inspirations in terms of garden designers, which would suggest that it’s quite a male-dominated field, so the news of her Hampton Court Palace acceptance should be welcomed.

“There are more female designers now coming through,” she says.

Linda explains how she got into garden design and left her accounts clerk work behind her.

“I always loved gardening and when I had my two children I had time off and went back to study garden design and horticulture evening classes at Queen’s,” she says.

“I thought I’d love to be able to go into that and it worked out well, because I’ve been at Woodlawn for about 15 years now and it’s a lovely place to work and now that my children are grown up I have more time to work on the garden designing.”

She admits that being a garden designer during the post-2008 recession was a challenge.

“At that time the construction industry was badly hit and for anyone doing work on their house, gardens were the last thing they thought about. It has picked up since and now people are more clued in, thanks to all the TV programmes about home improvement and gardening.

“I think gardens are more important than ever now because houses are becoming smaller and the space we have is becoming smaller. Lots of people practically live in their garden now. Their houses are paved at the back and the doors open right out on to the garden so it’s almost like another room. No matter how small the garden is, you can always do something with it.”

While Linda says she loves the technical and artistic side of garden design and getting to use modern materials in a natural way, mostly she just loves “getting out into my garden”.

“I love it; it’s a passion. My dad gardened and grew tomatoes and mum loved her house plants, so I suppose some of it is inherited. And I love seeing other people getting enthusiastic about their gardens. My sister has an allotment on Annadale embankment and I work it with her.”

As for getting sponsorship for show gardens, Linda says some companies are happy to help out financially via product placement.

“In 2013 I designed a garden for Bloom (in Dublin) with Calor, so that was timed to promote their new portable barbecue. Mostly you try to get cash sponsorship and product placement.

“Then I work with a contractor to co-ordinate it all and get the garden built and then I do the planting and everything else.”

Potential sponsors can even include fashion designers and drinks companies, while lottery funding is another possibility.

And if she does make it to Hampton Court Palace next year, she says “then Chelsea would be the next aim for me”.

Linda’s design work has taken her all over Northern Ireland and she recalls once getting the opportunity to come up with a garden concept for Van Morrison.

“I never actually met him, but years ago I did a garden plan for one of his houses. It was for a house in Holywood, Co Down, and they loved the plans.”

So if any of Linda’s Van Morrison designs were to make it to Hampton Court Palace or Chelsea one day, she would surely have to title the garden ‘Cypress Avenue’.

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65 Side Businesses You Can Start

Not all entrepreneurs are able to jump right into full time business ownership. Some would rather start small or just stick with business ideas they can work on part time. If you fall into that category, have a look at the following list of side businesses you can start to provide supplemental income.

Side Businesses to Start

T-shirt Designer

You can sell T-shirts and similar products with custom designs or artwork on any number of online platforms. Sites like CafePress and Redbubble will print the shirts and handle other aspects of the sale for you in exchange for a portion of each sale.

House Cleaner

Set aside a day or two per week, or even just a small portion of each day, to visit clients’ homes and do a deep cleaning.


Set up a proofreading business online by letting clients send you their work and offering a few set prices or packages for your editing and proofreading services.

Virtual Assistant

People hire virtual assistants for a variety of functions, from responding to emails to organizing schedules. You can offer those services from the comfort of your own home.


If you start a blog about a topic you’re really knowledgeable about, you can monetize it through advertising, sponsored posts, affiliate links or infoproducts.

eBay Seller

You can easily open an eBay store for a number of different types of products, especially anything that’s highly collectible.

Portrait Photographer

If you’re well-versed in photography and have the right equipment, you can set up photography appointments with clients on the weekend or just a few times throughout each week.

Uber Driver

Transportation services like Uber and Lyft allow you to make extra money by driving customers to their destinations. And you can do it completely on your own schedule.

Social Media Manager

Offer your social media expertise to local businesses or small online businesses by setting up and managing their online accounts.

Yoga Instructor

Yogis, you can offer classes or even private lessons in your home, a rented studio space, or even online.

Tour Guide

side businesses 3

side businesses 3

If you live in an area that’s popular with tourists, you can lead tour groups or offer informational services on the weekends.

Dog Walker

Reach out to pet owners in your local community and offer to walk their dogs for a short time each day or even just a few times a week.

Web Designer

Lots of companies and even indiviuals will pay freelancers and Web professionals to design and create high-quality websites.

Tax Preparer

Offer to prepare tax returns for customers in exchange for a small fee. This side business is likely to be fairly busy during tax season, but not much throughout the rest of the year.

eBook Writer

Anyone can write and self publish books these days. Just come up with a concept, write, and then sell your book on platforms like Amazon’s Kindle library.

Computer Repair

If you’re knowledgeable about computers and technology, you can offer computer repair services to customers in your area.


Offer your services as a tutor to students that need help in a subject that you’re knowledgeable about.


Start a podcast where you talk about an interesting topic. And you can even charge for ads if your podcast has a sizeable base of listeners.

House Sitter

You can make money by watching people’s homes while they’re out of town. Build a client base in your area through word of mouth or even by using a site like

Vintage Seller

Sell vintage clothing, accessories and home goods that you’ve collected over the years at local flea markets, antique booths or on sites like Etsy or eBay.

Property Manager

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side businesses 2

If you own multiple homes or properties, or have the resources to buy them, you can make a business out of renting them out.

Vacation Rentals

For more short-term rentals, you can list your home or a part of your home on sites like Airbnb so that vacationers can pay to stay there.

Dance Instructor

You can offer dance classes or private instruction to adults or children in your home or a rented studio space.

Affiliate Marketer

Set up a website, blog or some social media profiles and earn money by posting affiliate links to relevant products or services.

App Developer

If you have some mobile tech savvy, you can earn extra income by putting together applications for businesses or even making your own.

Resume Writer

Charge a fee to put together professional looking resumes and/or cover letters for interested job seekers.

Estate Sale Service

When people have estate sales, they often use estate sale managers to help them put everything together. Charge a fee to help them organize the items and facilitate sales.

Handyman Service

If you’re handy, you can help customers fix things around their homes and finish random tasks.

Interior Designer

Help clients design and lay out their homes and guide them when it comes to other décor elements.

Mobile Laundry Service

You can provide laundry and folding services to local customers by picking up their items, washing and drying them and then returning them.

Moving Service

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side businesses 4

If you have a truck and some strength (or strong employees) you can help people in your area by packing their items and helping them move.

Product Licensing

Got a unique idea for a new product? You can create the idea, get it patented and then sell the licensing rights to another company so you don’t have to spend the time manufacturing and shipping the items yourself.

Vehicle Advertising

Some businesses will pay people to place ads in their vehicles and drive around. You can offer up your own vehicle as another income stream.

Professional Organizer

Help clients get organized by going through their homes and/or offices and coming up with systems for storing and utilizing all of their items.

Home Inspector

If you have some knowledge about homes and local codes, you can offer your services as an inspector for people who are buying and/or selling their homes.

Smartphone Repair

With the growing popularity of smartphones, more people are in need of repair services for things like cracked screens or broken buttons.

Hair Stylist

Use your hair styling talents to offer cutting, coloring and/or styling services to local clients out of your home or a rented space.

Makeup Artist

Likewise, you can offer makeup services to people before special events or those looking to purchase new makeup products.

Furniture Upcycler

If you’re the DIY type, you can purchase cheap or used furniture and give it an upgrade with some paint or other unique touches.

Junk Remover

When businesses or individuals go through construction or clean out their spaces, they may find themselves in need of junk removal services. If you have the right equipment, you can charge a fee to remove those items for clients.

Pet Groomer

side businesses 5

side businesses 5

Animal lovers, you can offer grooming services to dogs, cats and other furry friends out of your home.

Domain Seller

Just as you can buy and resell physical items, you can purchase online domain names and then resell them to interested buyers.

Online Course Instructor

Share your knowledge on a particular subject with interested students by offering online courses.


Love baking? You can sell baked goods online, at events or to local businesses.


Or if you prefer putting together more all-inclusive meals, you can offer catering services on the weekends or for occasional events in your area.

Logo Designer

If you’ve got some design savvy, you can offer your services to businesses looking for simple logos or other branding elements.


You can also offer your services as an illustrator for more in-depth pieces or even sell prints of your artwork.


You can build a variety of different items with wood, from furniture to small toys, and then sell them online or to local stores.

Event Planner

Help clients plan parties, weddings and other events by dealing with vendors, managing guest lists and organizing other aspects.


Use your writing skills to put together copy for websites or other professional outlets.

YouTube Personality

side businesses 6

side businesses 6

You can start a YouTube channel to share information about any number of topics that interest you. Then you can make money through ads or influencer promotions.

Social Media Influencer

You can also become an influencer on other social platforms, sharing information about various products and brands.

Music Instructor

If you play an instrument or even sing, you can offer music or voice lessons out of your home or a rented space.

Stock Photographer

Photographers, you can take photos and submit them to stock photography sites so that people can use or purchase them for their own sites or content.


Offer your services as a DJ for bars, restaurants or even special events in your area.

Business Consultant

Use your business knowledge to help others by offering coaching or consulting services to other business owners or related clients.

Public Speaker

Or if you have interesting knowledge on a topic, you can offer your services as a speaker for various events.

Jewelry Maker

Create your own unique jewelry designs and sell them online or at local craft fairs.


Or you can offer to mow lawns, pull weeds or do other landscaping work throughout the summer.

Athletic Trainer

Share your athletic or fitness knowledge with clients through courses or personal training sessions.

Pool Cleaner

Spend time outside and make some extra money during the summer months by offering to clean pools for people in your community.

Clothing Alterations

If you know how to sew, you can offer alteration services to customers who need clothing or other fabric re-sized or changed in some way.

Child Care Provider

Babysitting or child care services make for a great side business. You can run a part time day care out of your home or just babysit for families on occasion.

Voice Actor

Companies often hire voice actors to help with commercials, videos or other audio content. You can offer your services to those companies if you’ve got a unique or commanding voice.


You can also make some extra income by investing in businesses or even helping others choose where to invest their money.

Related reading:

Businesses You Can Start for Less than $100

Low Tech Business Ideas

Small Business Ideas for the Summer

Yoga, Tour Guide, Property, Moving, Grooming, Laughing, Pool Image via Shutterstock

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Remembering Avant-Garde Midcentury Furniture Master Vladimir Kagan

To the late master furniture designer Vladimir Kagan, who passed away last week, seating and design was an art form, akin to “interior landscaping.”

“We don’t all have to sit like birds on a telephone wire facing in one direction,” he told Elle Decor. “You need mobility and flexibility.”

Those two values remain central to Kagan’s legacy. The talented designer, who passed away on Thursday due to a heart attack, would always joke that while his father, a talented furniture maker in his own right, always told him to “measure three times and cut once,” he would cut three times and never measure. His intuition, however, would exert a sizable influence on midcentury modern design, creating a series of curved and amorphous pieces he would call “vessels for the human body.”

Born in the son of a Russian cabinetmaker in Worms, Germany, in 1927, Vladimir Kagan had an abbreviated childhood, interrupted by the rise of the Nazi government and immigration to the United States in 1938. Kagan followed his father’s footsteps and became a craftsman and designer, first studying architecture at the School of Industrial art and Columbia University before joining his father on the shop floor in 1947. Kagan, who was srawn to sculpture, quickly realized he wasn’t the same kind of designer as his dad, but, as he told the Financial Times, he “was damn good at conceptual ideas.”

Kagan opened his own business in 1949, and quickly rose to prominence with a series of daring, curved pieces, a stripped-down aesthetic drawn from Bauhaus ideas and an innate belief that furniture should be contemporary and comfortable.

“A lot of modern furniture was not comfortable,” he told the Financial Times. “And so comfort is: form follows function; the function was to make it comfortable.”

It’s possible to get a sense of his sinuous, modern style merely by scanning a list of his designs, such as the Serpentine Sofa, introduced in 1949, his 1947 barrel chair, or the Floating Sofa from 1952. They showed the early development of his vast vocabulary of smooth curves and organic shapes.

Kagan also seemed to posses an innate ability to attract celebrity and corporate clientele. His first major commission was the Delegate’s Cocktail Lounge for the first United Nations’s Headquarters in Lake Success, New York, , and he would go on to craft the furniture for the Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland, and work for stars such as Gary Cooper and Marilyn Monroe.

Kagan’s influence on the design world was deep and varied. A career-spanning book published last year, Vladimir Kagan, a Lifetime of Avant-Garde Design, contains praised from both Zaha Hadid and Tom Ford, whose decision to buy Kagan pieces for the Gucci stores in the ‘90s helped interest a new generation in the furniture maker’s work. While Kagan officially retired in 1988, he remained quite active (and maintained his own blog), with renewed interest in his work stemming from the reintroduction of classic designs in the late ’90s.

Why The World Is Obsessed With Midcentury Modern Design [Curbed]

8 Stellar Instagram Accounts for Midcentury Furniture Lovers[Curbed]

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Learn to landscape with edible plants

Sometimes gardening books are complicated, formulaic or intimidating with lots of data and complex charts. Information overload! But in Cheryl Beesley’s new book, “Landscaping with Edible Plants in Texas,” published by Texas AM University Press, she takes a natural approach, like she’s walking you through her garden giving helpful tips. And she is on every page. The concept of combining ornamental plants with edible ones in landscaping schemes is centuries old, but Beesley’s book is the first one to focus on edible gardening and landscape designs just for Texas. And that’s a daunting task since Texas has seven of the 26 U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones.

This soft-cover book is divided into three parts with 21 short chapters; most are less than 10-pages, complimented by plenty of photos and helpful diagrams that are easy to understand. That is one of the best features of Beesley’s book, it’s written for all types of gardeners from a novice — “What’s mulch?” — to the expert — “I was born with soil in my blood.” No stone is left unturned as the book starts in Part I — Planning Preparation with the first step in design, site evaluation. She states up front the importance of evaluating the existing site, structure, hardscapes and plants. Next is the garden layout where she explains design considerations, like style of existing architecture, scale and ideas for urban gardens.

“Farmers grow plants in rows, but we don’t have to do that. This book brings plants, like Swiss chard and Rosemary, into the ornamental landscape for their looks and value as edible plants,” Beesley said. The chapter on soil preparation reveals there are 1,200 soil series in Texas, and it’s not uncommon for several of them to appear in the same yard. She adds helpful information on soil preparation for healthier, nutrient-rich soil, simply make your own compost from leftover vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and egg shells mixed with leaves. For more complex soil problems, Beesley walks the reader through understanding the pH level of your soil, how to test it and what to add to it. Part II — Design focuses on the design elements and a unique problem with edible gardens, harvesting, a concern Beesley compares to working a 3-D puzzle. After you harvest vegetables from plants, what and when do you plant another in that same spot?  She gets to the heart of design with explanations on texture, form, size and color to aid a gardener in selecting the ideal plants. For instance, bold-textured plants have large, deeply lobed leaves that make a strong statement as a dense screen, like kale, leeks and Swiss chard. Some of the fine texture ones with a softer appearance are carrot, dill, and asparagus that often act as background plants. Good to know. This chapter also highlights the Parterre garden at Lake Austin Spa Resort and the children’s garden at the Olive Tree Learning Center. Both seem worth a trip to Austin to see these gardens for ideas and inspiration.

Part III — Edible Plants for Texas is about the huge variety of edibles from fruit trees, like pecan, apple or pear, and shrubs and perennial to herbs, including fennel, lemon grass and mint, plus vegetables like spinach and squash among many others. It is like an encyclopedia, a book in itself, filled with short descriptions and many photos on what to grow and how to grow it. Appendixes instruct readers on disease and insect control, additional variety selections, and plant and seed sources. As Beesley points out, vegetables and fruits — long relegated to their own plots and often hidden from view — can become beautiful and practical additions to the ornamental landscape. Cheryl Beesley is a longtime designer and gardener with a Master’s Degree in landscape architecture and has more than 20 years experience in landscape design. “Each site is unique, so use the book as a guide, but be specific to your site as to what you want to grow and eat,” she said. It’s obvious that Beesley wants to help gardeners succeed, and her book is the first seed of knowledge on how to select a plant and grow a lovely, functional edible garden as part of your Texas landscape design. Start digging!

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Landscaping legacy: Urban gardening project to help neighborhoods

Tamadrian Fuller, grandson of Emma Fuller, passes out food after ground is broken on a new urban gardening project in memory of his grandmother.

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Landscape business branches out

For one thing, as of last week the business has an office outside of the homes of the people who work there. There’s a brand new logo in the works. And everyone involved is ready for big things to happen.

Anhalt has been working toward this moment since he was in high school. His father was in lawn care, and Anhalt always knew he’d go into the landscape business. He studied at Dakota County Technical College, then worked a series of jobs with other landscape businesses in the area. Every decision he made along the way was geared toward learning what he needed to know to run his own business. In his first internship, Anhalt was given a choice between working with designers or doing installation. He chose installation, because he figured if he knew how to install the products he was selling it would eventually make it easier to design and to meet with clients.

Now that he’s in business for himself, Anhalt does mostly hardscape. He designs and builds stone patios and natural areas.

In everything he does, the focus is on sustainable landscaping practices. He works with native plants. He works with stone that is mined locally to reduce the fossil fuels needed for transportation.

“I think it’s important for everybody,” he said. “It’s one of those things where, as we move farther and farther from the earth, as we stop dropping houses onto what once was prairie land and now is corn, we just move farther and farther away from the earth and it affects the ecosystem majorly.

“It’s kind of a domino effect where you have to bring some of that stuff back and find a balance to co-exist.”

Eventually, Anhalt would like to operate a sustainable nursery filled with native plants.

For now, though, he just keeps getting busier, which is what led him to open an office.

The more work he got, the harder it was to have employees working from their own homes.

“You get more paperwork as you get more involved,” he said. “It’s just organized chaos, more or less. It’s inefficient to work that way. If you leave a document at home, it just doesn’t work.”

Three years into things, it feels like a brand new beginning.

“Each year gets consistently busier and consistently more complicated,” he said. “It’s all gone pretty well.”

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In the Concrete Jungle, NYU Gardens Thrive

Abigail Weinberg, Deputy Feature Editor

Ferns and columbines spring up along the shadowy alley east of Bobst, tulips bloom on Bleecker Street, wildflowers cover the Kimmel rooftop and vegetables grow behind Bareburger and Citibank. This isn’t a description of a distant utopia — it’s the fruit of NYU’s urban landscaping projects, seen by everyone but acknowledged by few.

NYU’s gardens have transformed concrete plots into oases of plant life. Coles may no longer house NYU athletics, but it is still home to 4,000 bulbs that bloom each spring. Twenty two species of oak tree sprawl across a half acre of land in NYU’s Silver Towers Oak Grove, first planted there in the 1960s. The cogeneration plant on 251 Mercer Street, which produces heat and electricity for NYU buildings, sits beneath 13,000 square feet of native trees, shrubs and perennials. And the roof of the Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life is covered with native greenery, which is visible from the upper stairwells in Kimmel.

These are just a few of NYU’s 700 outdoor green spaces in the concrete jungle, all of which are maintained by Supervisor of Sustainable Landscaping George Reis, Groundskeeper Michael Begasse and a landscaping crew of NYU students.

Among Reis’s most notable contributions to NYU’s urban landscape is his 2,200-square-foot garden in Schwartz Plaza, east of Bobst, which was featured in the New York Times in 2009. This native woodland garden, full of ferns and columbines, resembles the plants which inhabited Manhattan upon its discovery by Henry Hudson in 1609.

Across from the 60,000 square foot NYU-owned Sasaki Garden in Washington Square Village is a strip of land maintained by the Community Agriculture Club, a model of student involvement in urban farming. The group hosts canning and oil-infusing workshops, wreath-making sessions and springtime salad parties with the greens they produce.

“We’re really trying to foster community in our garden space and just act as a place where people can come and learn about urban agriculture,” said co-president and Gallatin senior Margaret Weinberg. “We’re really like a social gathering place with a dual mission of having a garden and a green space and producing food.”

The academic counterpart to this community club is Steinhardt’s Introduction to Urban Agriculture course within the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies. Students enrolled in this course work in the NYU Urban Farm Lab to learn about the application of horticultural skills in a city environment.

“It’s mostly stuff related to the efficacy and healthiness of growing plants in urban environments,” said Community Agriculture co-president and CAS senior Katie Dorph.

“They’re more of an academic space and we’re more of a casual community space,” added Weinberg.

Whether or not students acknowledge the work of urban agricultural landscapers, the fruits of their labor are omnipresent, from the 108 sidewalk planters filled with treeform hydrangeas, liriope and seasonal flowers to the 8,000 square foot memorial garden on One-Half Fifth Avenue. Even at the most urban college in the world, flowers are always underfoot.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 11 print edition. Email Abigail Weinberg at [email protected]

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Experts offer tips to achieve gardening greatness this year

The calendar flipped to April and pleasant weather was in the air for a while before turning cold, a reminder that it may be too early for put plants outside or in the ground.

Jackie Bower of Bloomin’ Idiots Garden Center in Old Forge said people have been jumping the gun.

“For the last few weeks, people have been asking for hanging baskets, and I’m telling them it is just too early, be patient,” she said. “People were champing at the bit.”

May is the traditional go-time for planting, she said, or maybe the last week of April if the forecast looks warm.

Low-maintenance plants and plant-it-once perennials are the rule of the day.

Years ago, the rose bush ruled rows and landscapes. Part of their decline in popularity was due the maintenance involved, such as protecting from frost, pruning, removing blooms at the season’s end. While roses remain more rare on the homefront, Bowers said some hybrids roses, such as the Knockout Rose, is hearty, very low-maintenance and comes in a variety of styles.

Bower said butterfly gardens are popular, with people planting what are known as butterfly bushes, whose flowers resemble lilacs, and other flowers known to draw pollinators.

Gardeners with the itch to get dirty can take on some tasks while putting off others, said Terry Schettini District Director for the Masters Gardener program for Penn State Cooperative Extension that serves Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Wyoming counties.

Here are some tips:

■Get a soil test.

If you haven’t done so in three to five years, it’s a good idea to get a soil test that will give an overview of the soil nutrients and recommended treatments. A test, which costs $9 and is available at Penn State Cooperative Extension offices, is key to knowing what is in the ground and whether the soil needs anything.

“People hesitate to spend $9, but I tell them to consider the cost of a bag of fertilizer you may not have to use,” Schettini said.

■Don’t work wet soil.

People can remove dead plants. But they should resist turning or working the soil too early when it is probably wet, he said. People should wait for a dry spell until the soil is drier or “friable,” able to crumble in your hands.

■Don’t do everything at once.

Avoid marathon gardening sessions by breaking up duties of tilling, mulching and planting, Schettini said. Working a little at a time is better for you and the garden.

Consider size at maturity. Don’t be anxious to immediately fill up spaces in the landscape or garden. If you cram small plants into area without considering their size at maturity, you’ll be creating more work for yourself as you battle the plants back, he said.

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Mellow yellow: Alan Titchmarsh’s tips on growing ‘Canary Bird’ roses

Choose your ‘Canary Bird’ in the nursery or garden centre right now and seek out one that looks youthful and vigorous. If your plant takes off – as it should if well-watered before knocking it from its pot and teasing out the roots – it should settle in well and delight you each spring with its generous show of single pale yellow flowers, held among the most delicately ferny foliage. Only the Scotch briars beat this plant’s foliage for gentility; it really is an absolute treasure.

The attraction in terms of cultivation is that this is a rose that needs very little in the way of pruning. It will grow, in time, to a height and spread of around 8ft, but only those branches that die out, or that grow in an inconvenient place, need to be cut out in late winter and early spring. Otherwise you can leave this beauty alone.

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