Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for April 14, 2016

First Russian garden designer at Chelsea to tackle Fresh Garden

Having trouble signing in?

Contact Customer Support at
or call 020 8267 8121, or refer to our answers to frequently asked questions.

Article source:

Sweetwater Collaborative Are Water Wizards for Drought

Article Tools

Print friendly
E-mail story
Tip Us Off


Share Article

Facebook Facebook
Twitter Twitter
Google+1 Google+1
Digg! Digg!
Yahoo! Buzz Yahoo! Buzz
diigo Diigo
google google
newsvine newsvine
reddit reddit
technorati technorati
Yahoo! My Web 2.0 Yahoo!
Share on Myspace Myspace

Barbara Wishingrad and her crew of water wizards at the Sweetwater Collaborative are teaching Santa Barbara drought-weary citizens that what is old is still new. Where City Hall is now spending $60 million on a new-yet-ironically-old desalination plant, members of the Sweetwater Collaborative are systematically redefining “beautiful” in very-old-but-still-new water-wise terms. Exalting a landscape Wishingrad describes as “The American Riviera,” the collaborative promotes native, drought-tolerant vegetation and water uses that have evolved over the centuries in semiarid environments.

“We’re talking about astonishingly beautiful gardens without using so very much of our water,” she said. “It’s not necessary to use 50 percent of our drinkable water on our landscaping and flush so much of it down the toilet.” And Wishingrad isn’t just talking the talk. The Sweetwater Collaborative offers hands-on, detailed instruction on how to use less water while doing more. Twice a month, Sweetwater runs 90-minute classes on how to capture “run-on” water rather than “run-off,” using simple, low-tech steps to redirect and store water that would otherwise race down gutters, and how to reuse the gray water that flows from Santa Barbara washing machines daily. In addition, the collaborative leads in-depth workshops on how to reconfigure Santa Barbara’s landscaped outdoor environment to effectively store rainfall. Once a month, Sweetwater hosts a workshop for landscape professionals. The whole intent, Wishingrad explained, is to capture water that would otherwise be wasted and “to slow it, to spread it, and to sink it.”

Even Sweetwater’s outreach campaign is old-fashioned. On bigger projects ​— ​actual top-to-bottom backyard permaculture makeovers that can include the creation of rain gardens, mulch basins, and down spout diversions ​— ​the group uses “the barn-raising” approach. People still learning the methods can earn sweat-equity discounts for their own projects by spending at least 20 hours transforming other backyards. Not only is that the best way to learn, said Wishingrad, but it fosters a greater sense of community.

In person, Wishingrad radiates the quiet, friendly formidability of someone accustomed to landing on her feet. Born in Chicago 62 years ago, Wishingrad, along with her mother and four siblings, moved to the San Fernando Valley in 1968 after her father, a doctor, died. Graduating high school at age 16, Wishingrad moved to Santa Barbara two years later to be with her then-boyfriend and work a gig teaching arts and crafts for the city’s Parks Rec Department. Shortly thereafter, she bought a small herbal healing shop located at Victoria Court, eventually selling it and going off to study and to travel. While in Mexico, where she married, had two kids, and practiced herbal healing, Wishingrad lived without running water for a number of years. “I have experience with water supply that is different from most Americans,” she said. In 1998, she moved back to Santa Barbara, and in 2007, it dawned on her that water was about to become the new oil. She threw herself into sustainable watershed management and permaculture water management techniques and soaked up what she could learn at the Quail Springs Permaculture Farm and “learning oases” in New Cuyama.

She and five others formed the Sweetwater Collaborative shortly before the drought hit. “If there are so many committed environmentalists in Santa Barbara, how come our built environment didn’t reflect that more?” she wondered. They set out to answer that question, borrowing ideas from successful permaculture water management programs, and eventually embracing the hands-on approach because it was more effective and fun.

To date, city councils and water districts from Carpinteria to Goleta have contracted with Sweetwater to preach the gospel of rainwater management, landscape solutions, and the ABCs of graywater conversion. For property owners seeking to transform their yards, Wishingrad estimated it could cost between $5,000 and $12,000, but as much as $2,800 is available in rebates.

The Sweetwater methods also save the trees, many of which have died in the drought; far more are stressed and vulnerable. By directing otherwise wasted water to mulch basins, trees, whose roots help keep soil permeable, can be kept alive, thus increasing the carrying capacity of the earth itself.

In the long run, Wishingrad believes, properties that have made these adjustments will be better able to survive should the new “new normal” become prolonged drought. And, she noted, their property values will be enhanced.

Article source:

More improvements planned for Oval

Thursday, April 14, 2016

<!– 20110908 laa – was –>

Milford planning efforts focus on Nashua Street and the Oval.


The Nashua Street lot at Clinton Street, above, is being cleared for a CVS Pharmacy.


Courtesy photo
Members and staff at the Boys Girls Club of Souhegan Valley broke ground for an addition on March 30. From left are John Siemienowicz, Building Committee chairman; John Morison, Capital Campaign chairman; Taylor Caswell, Community Development Finance Authority executive director; Susan Taylor, Boys Girls Club executive director; Marrissa Allen, 2016 Youth of the Year; and Mike Tule, board president. The club has raised $2.2 million of its $3 million goal over the last 12 months for the addition, which will include a gym and teen center and is scheduled for completion by November.


<!– –>

Milford planning efforts focus on Nashua Street and the Oval.


Staff Writer

MILFORD – Twenty years ago, the center of Milford underwent an extensive makeover. Period lighting, brick walkways, new landscaping and small traffic islands were added to the Oval, and Milford received state and national awards for its downtown renovations. Another phase of those plans – renovations to South Street, leading off the Oval – will finally get underway this spring. And that won’t be the end of the renovations, say officials, who are now looking at the next phase, hoping to improve traffic flow and make walking safer along Nashua Street and in the Oval area.

On March 29, the town’s Community Development Department hosted a public session to lay out various scenarios and get input from residents.

Some of the ideas being considered for the Oval area are adding more crosswalks, reconstruct­ing the traffic islands to help large vehicles avoid the granite posts and curbs, and changing Mid­dle Street to one way to allow angled parking on its south side.

For Nashua Street, the focus is on improving traf­fic flow and pedestrian access between Clinton Street and Tonella Road.

Three designs are pro­posed: one with a cen­ter turn lane, one with a center boulevard and one with a center turn lane with landscaping in front of the plaza.

What there won’t be is a traffic light.

CVS, which is build­ing a pharmacy at the corner of Clinton and Nashua streets, offered to pay for one, but traffic projections for the Clin­ton Street-Nashua Street intersection don’t ful­fill state criteria, Jason Plourde, a traffic engi­neer who is on the town’s Traffic Safety Committee, told the audience of a few dozen people.

During the comment portion of the meeting, one woman criticized the Planning Board for al­lowing another drugstore when there are “eight pharmacies within a 21/2- mile” radius.

Board members ex­plained that a town can’t bar a business unless there is a law in place.

Board Chairman Chris Beers said he agreed there are too many drug­stores, but “CVS meets our ordinance.”

Other points that came up during the comment period:

  • Vice Chairwoman Ja­net Langdell explained how residents can change or add a zoning ordinance.
  • Selectmen’s Chairman Mark Fougere, who is also the Hollis town planner, said that town was able to keep out a second drug­store, a Rite Aid Pharma­cy, because it has a zoning ordinance that prohibits drive-throughs, and Rite Aid didn’t want to build a store without one.
  • A person complained about a lack of mainte­nance in downtown Mil­ford, including sidewalks that aren’t swept. Lang­dell said it’s a question of prioritizing town services in the wake of two default budgets.
  • Another person said the Oval was built to ac­commodate fire trucks and that they manage it well, and that drivers would drive faster if there is more room to maneuver.

The point of the meet­ing was to get input from property owners, busi­nesses and residents. Langdell emphasized that all of the plans are still only concepts and that the planners will seek additional commu­nity input before they make decisions.

There will be another public forum in June, and in October, preliminary plans will be present­ed for more input, with construction to begin in spring 2017.

According to Tim Roach, executive director of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, there is almost $1.9 mil­lion in federal and local funding available for Mil­ford’s downtown renova­tions.

To comment about the plans, residents are in­vited to email Community Development Director Lincoln Daley at ldaley@

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or

SELECT userDefStr5 FROM dbo.StoryAdditions WHERE storyId = #(gStory.getStory().storyId)#

set title = ##class(“webheadline”, gStory, 0, “textonly”)

set title = ##class(“headline”, gStory, 0, “textonly”)

var disqus_title = “#(title)#”;
var disqus_url = location.href;

var disqus_title = “#(title)#”;
var disqus_url = “#(legacyURL.Data(“userDefStr5″))#”;

for policy?

Comments from unverified accounts will be reviewed twice daily. Details here. Please verify your email address to allow immediate posting of comments.

View the full comment thread.


Article source:

Energy Adviser: Idea fair celebrating its 25th year

One of the best free family outings every spring sets you back just $6 for parking at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds. April 22, 23 and 24, the Clark Public Utilities’ Home and Garden Idea Fair is celebrating its 25th year.

“Twenty-five years makes our Home Garden Idea Fair pretty much a family tradition here in Clark County,” said Heather Allmain, communication services manager at Clark Public Utilities. “All activities and exhibits are free — from home and garden presentations to the huge plant sale, to discovering the excitement of Mad Science with hands-on experiments for kids.”

Hundreds of local home and garden businesses exhibit at the fair to show off their wares and expertise. For those getting ready for spring planting season, the plant sale coordinated by the Specialty Nursery Association of Clark County brings in more than 50 vendors selling trees, shrubs, vegetable starts, native plants, flowers and hanging baskets. In the 25 years since its beginning, the sale has grown into one of the area’s largest. This year the Landscape Showcase includes six full-sized displays presented by the Washington Association of Landscape Professionals and a new Patio Power! exhibit with inspirations for container gardening.

For those considering building a new home, undertaking a remodeling project, or seeking gardening tips, the Building Industry Association of Clark County and Think! Campaign will host the guest presentation stage with four expert speakers a day to help with a variety of projects.

“The Home and Garden Idea Fair is also a chance for our utility customers to learn about ways to make their homes more energy-efficient and comfortable,” said Allmain. “It’s where they can engage our employees in person and talk about anything from protecting wetlands to improving water quality, to the various rebates and incentives we offer related to energy-efficient home improvements.”

Tiny home on display

For anyone thinking big about living small, Wolf Industries’ tiny house will be on display in the Landscape Showcase, with outdoor spaces designed by Clark County Landscaping. Anyone wanting to truly downsize, or in need of a mobile escape, can tour the tiny home on wheels. The 10- by 25-foot house demonstrates how a small, energy-efficient portable house is as big on comfort and style as a larger home.

For energy-efficient homes on a larger scale, New Tradition Homes is building its new Innovation Home inside the Exhibition Hall, highlighting the latest technology for making a home beautiful, comfortable and energy-efficient.

Once again, the interactive Power Zone exhibit returns to help kids discover the power of electricity and ways to stay safe. The zone also features fun interactive activities, including a bicycle generator that allows kids to brighten a light bulb using their “muscle power” and the “hair-raising” Van de Graaf generator.

An LED light display will show off energy-efficient lighting, and the Plant Clark Neighborhood Outreach Trailer will demonstrate a home energy monitor, among other energy-saving devices.

Bring your burned-out CFL bulbs with you and save yourself a trip to the recycler. The utility will safely recycle your burned-out screw-in CFLs and exchange them for up to six new ones, plus a bonus LED.

Last year about 22,000 people attended the Clark Public Utilities Home and Garden Idea Fair. There’s no admission fee, just $6 for fairgrounds parking. Nonperishable food items for local food banks or donations for Operation Warm Heart, a program providing home heating grants to families in financial crisis, are encouraged.


Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.

Article source:

Home and Garden events calendar, April 16 and beyond

Send your calendar items to

Home and Garden tours


  • Garden Conservancy Open Day, East Bay: Explore four private gardens and one greenhouse in Berkeley, Oakland, Orinda and Richmond. Highlights include a Japanese style garden, panoramic views of the Bay, an artist’s subtropical oasis, water features in an urban woodland and a private pelargonium greenhouse. Hours vary by garden. April 23. Admission to each garden is $7; children 12 and younger are free. Held rain or shine. For tickets and information, visit or call 888-842-2442.

  • Clayton Gardens Tour: Self-guided tour of gardens and landscapes in the Clayton Valley area. Start the tour at the Clayton Historical Society Museum, 6101 Main St., in Clayton, where you’ll receive a map. All of the gardens are usually within a 1-5 mile radius of the museum. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 23-24. Tickets are $30-$35 and can be purchased from 2-4 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays at the museum; during regular business hours at RM Nursery, 6780 Marsh Creek Road, Clayton, or via PayPal at Tickets can also be purchased by sending reservation form and a check to Clayton Museum, P.O. Box 94, Clayton CA 94517. Held rain or shine. Proceeds benefit The Clayton Historical Society.

    Beyond the Garden Gate: Self-guided tour of five unique Lamorinda gardens with outdoor kitchens, water features, a chicken coop and a drought-resistant lawn replacement garden. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. April 30. Tickets are $40 (optional lunch $10) and can be purchased in advance at or on tour day, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Moraga Commons and at any gardens along the tour.

  • BAHA Spring House Tour and Garden Reception: “A Ramble ‘Round the Rose Garden.” Featuring nine open houses designed by Bernard Maybeck; John Galen Howard; William Raymond Yelland; A.H. Broad; Malcolm D. Reynolds and more. 1-5 p.m. May 1, Berkeley. $35-$45. Tour map, illustrated guide book and refreshments provided. Tickets and information:

  • Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour: Registration is now open for this year’s self-guided tour of Alameda and Contra Costa County gardens that showcase pesticide-free, water-conserving gardens that provide habitat for wildlife and contain 60 percent or more native plants. More than 40 garden talks will be scheduled throughout the day. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 1. Details:

  • Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek AAUW Garden Tour: Self-guided tour of gardens in the Alamo and Danville area. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 6-7. Tickets are $35 through April 29, $40 thereafter. Tickets, including garden locations can be purchased (cash or check only) beginning April 4 at East Bay Flower Company, 206 Sycamore Valley Road West, Danville, or mail a check payable to: “AAUW Funds” with a self-addressed business sized, stamped envelope to: AAUW Garden Tour, PO Box 996, Alamo, CA 94507. Tickets can also be purchased with a credit card at No children under 12 or pets. All proceeds benefit AAUW funds. For information, email

  • Lafayette Juniors Kitchen Tour: Visit six Lafayette kitchens with classic, traditional, and transitional designs including a kitchen featured as a frequent backdrop for Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn photo shoots. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. May 14. Tickets are $40 and include Kitchen Tour program and appetizers. A box lunch is available for $15. Tickets can be purchased online at and at Premier Kitchens, 3373 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette. Proceeds benefit four local nonprofit organizations.


  • Willow Glen Lifestyles Home Tour: Walking tour of homes and gardens showcasing the designs of the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose. Docents will be available to describe the unique qualities of each home. Boutique and lunch available. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 30-May 1. $20-$40.


  • Gamble Garden Spring Tour: Visit five private Palo Alto gardens designed for outdoor living. Marketplace and plant sale, silent auction, live music, box lunch prepared by Cafe Primavera. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 29-30. $30-$35. Details:

  • Silicon Valley Modern Home Tour: Self-guided driving tour of five private, modern residences including a recently renovated I/O house in Palo Alto designed by LNAI/Architecture; a condominium designed by Joseph Bellomo Architects in downtown Palo Alto; a home in Portola Valley designed by Tobin Doughtery Architects; an Eichler remodel by Design for Living, and a passive solar home in Saratoga designed by Srusti Architects. Attendees can walk through homes and meet with homeowners and architects. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. May 14. $35 by May 13, $40 day of tour.


  • Native Plant Garden Tour: Self-paced tour of San Francisco native plant gardens that range from highly designed to free-spirited and wild. Homeowners, designers, and California Native Plant Society specialists will be on hand to explain how these gardens conserve water, provide vital habitat and resources for wildlife, while reinforcing local coastal identity. Plants available for purchase at one of the sites. Hosted by the Yerba Buena Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. April 24. Free. Map and garden list:


  • Kitchens in the Vineyards: Partially self-guided tour of five homes up and down wine country with a focus on entertaining and the culinary arts, including a fully renovated Queen Anne Victorian, a historic cheese barn and guest home, and a modern cottage. The homes are styled by florists, and local chefs and authors are stationed at each home. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. April 30. $70-$75. Proceeds benefit Music in the Vineyards. 707-258-5559,

    Earth Day events


  • Earth Day Celebration: Exhibits, talks, learn how to test water quality, supply a wildlife habitat, use a weather station and more. Free garden tour at 2 p.m. (preregister for tour: 1-4 p.m. April 17. Pleasant Hill Instructional Garden at Pleasant Hill Education Center, 1 Santa Barbara Road.

    Home and Garden events


  • Just Tomatoes with Buzz Bertolero: Learn about soil preparation, the merits of heirloom vs. hybrid varieties, watering techniques and more. Sloat Garden Centers: April 2: 10 a.m. Concord, 1555 Kirker Pass Road, and 2 p.m. Pleasant Hill, 2895 Contra Costa Blvd. April 9: 10 a.m. Martinez, 6740 Alhambra Ave., and 2 p.m. Danville, 800 Camino Ramon. $10. Members free.

  • Great Tomato Plant Sale: Thousands of heirloom tomato plants representing more than 70 varieties will be available for purchase along with peppers, eggplants and other summer garden vegetables. Experts will be on hand to offer advice and answer questions. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. April 16, Mangini Agricultural Museum, Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, 1201 W. 10th St., Antioch.

  • Getting to Know Our Local Creeks, Ponds and Waterways: Free series of hands-on workshops for adults and youth exploring Walnut Creek’s numerous waterways through classes local field trips. 10-11:30 a.m. April 9: Introduction to Our Local Waterways (adult) and Where Does Water go When it Rains? (youth). The Gardens at Heather Farm, 1540 Marchbanks Drive, Walnut Creek. 925-947-1678,

  • Gardening Classes: Wednesdays, through October, at Our Garden, Wiget Lane and Shadelands Drive, Walnut Creek. 10 a.m. April 20: Growing apples and pears, with Master Gardener Darlene DeRosa. A Saturday class also is offered the first Saturday of most months. May 7: All About Soils.

  • Designing Native Gardens for Color and Interest Throughout the Year: Led by Pete Veilleux, landscape designer and owner of East Bay Wilds. Tour two native plant gardens in Oakland designed for year-round color followed by a visit to East Bay Wilds nursery. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. April 16. $35. Register:

  • Introducing the New California Lawn: Learn options for replacing lawns with drought adapted alternatives. 10 am.-3 p.m. April 16. Orinda/Lafayette/Moraga gardens. (Rain date May 7). $35

  • How to remove your lawn (and get paid for it, too): Sheet mulching workshop led by Kathy Kramer, coordinator, Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. April 17, Livermore location. (Rain date April 23). $35

  • Spring Vegetables Plant Sale: Hosted by Master Gardeners of Alameda County. Purchase varieties of heirloom tomatoes and peppers, eggplants, lettuces, greens, squash, beans and more; garden talks. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. April 23. Tennyson High School Farm, 27035 Whitman St., Hayward.

  • Composting Workshop: Learn to compost or improve existing compost techniques by following some basic steps taught in the Workshop. The workshop also touches on worm composting (Vermicomposting) as a means of turning kitchen scraps into a compost of exceptional quality. Instructional materials provided. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. April 23. Crockett Library, 991 Loring Ave. Reservations, 925-674-7831 or To learn more about composting or recycling, go to

  • A Passion For Pelargoniums: Join Robin Parer of Geraniaceae Nursery in Richmond for a one-hour talk in her greenhouse, normally open by appointment only. Learn how to identify, propagate and care for pelargoniums. Part of the Garden Conservancy Open Days Digging Deeper Series. 10 a.m. and noon April 23. $15-$20. Preregistration required., 888-842-2442.

  • Introducing the New California Lawn: Learn the options for replacing water guzzling lawns with drought adapted alternatives. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. April 23. Walnut Creek location. (Rain date May 14). $35.

  • Oakland Cottage Industry Spring Home and Gift Show: Shop for glass yard art, wood working, jewelry, baked goods, paper crafts, quilts, paintings, mosaics, hand made soaps and more, made by Oakland artists. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 30. Park Boulevard Presbyterian Church, 4101 Park Blvd., Oakland. Free.

  • Man’s War Against Weeds, Insects and Rodents: Hear funny stories and serious data that provides evidence for taking a precautionary approach to commonly used pesticides. 3-4:30 p.m. May 1. Lafayette Community Garden, 3932 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette. $5 suggested donation.

  • Pleasant Hill Garden Study Club: “Flora of Mount Diablo” by Jim Carten. 7 p.m. May 3. Pleasant Hill Community Center, 320 Civic Drive. Free. 925-323-9314,

  • Nature Explorers: Featuring nature-themed stories, garden walks, hands-on activities and fun projects designed for 2- to 5-year-olds. Classes are held in both classroom and outdoor settings. Light snacks are provided Parent/adult participation required. 10-11:30 a.m. Tuesdays. Sessions: May 3-June 7, June 14-July 19, July 26-Aug. 30, Sept. 6-Oct. 11 and Oct. 18-Nov. 22. The Gardens at Heather Farm, 1540 Marchbanks Drive, Walnut Creek. $8-$100. Children under 2 may attend for free with their registered older sibling; siblings older than age 2 receive a 10 percent discount. 925-947-1678,

  • Clayton Valley Garden Club Plant Sale: With locally grown plants such as drought tolerant perennials, succulents, vegetables, herbs, trees, Natives, and color bowl. Gently used gardening section will have garden art, birdhouses, decorative pots, garden furniture and more. 8 a.m.-1 p.m. May 7. Endeavor Hall, 6008 Center St., Clayton.

  • Pleasant Hill Garden Study Club Plant Sale: With color bowls, succulents, perennials, herbs, vegetables and garden-related accessories. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. May 7. Winslow Center, 2590 Pleasant Hill Road. 925-323-9314,

  • Growing Tomatoes: Master Gardener Helen Erickson will discuss best ways to plant tomatoes; how to grow in containers. 3-4:30 p.m. May 7. Lafayette Community Garden, 3932 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette. $5 suggested donation.

  • DIG Plant Sale: Wide selection of drought tolerant plants, Natives, succulents and more. 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. May 7. Wolfe Ranch, 700 Creek Road, Brentwood.

  • Get Smart Saturday Compost Giveaway: RecycleSmart is partnering with the UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa for the second annual Compost Giveaway. Presentations, booths, raffles and more. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. May 7. CCMG Our Garden, corner of Shadelands and N. Wiget, Walnut Creek. For a schedule and to register, visit

  • Mother’s Day at the Ruth Bancroft Garden: With dish gardens and other garden inspired gifts for mom, hands-on garden activity for all ages; picnic seating available throughout the garden. Docent-led tours at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Garden open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 8. 1552 Bancroft Road, Walnut Creek. Free-$10.

  • Pinole Garden Club: “Landscape Redesigning” presented by Joyce Edwards. 1 p.m. general meeting, 2 p.m. speaker May 10. Public Safety Facility, Alex Clark Room, 880 Tennent Ave. 510-758-2309.

  • Gardening with Nature in Mind: Join environmental educator Judy Adler for an in-depth tour of her half-acre Walnut Creek garden featuring chickens, a rainwater harvesting system, pond and native/and pollinator-friendly plants. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. May 21. (Rain date May 28). $35.

  • “How to install a drip irrigation system, lower your water bill, and get paid for it, too”: Led by staff from the Urban Farmer Store, Kelly Marshall Garden Design, Jennifer Smith, the Greensmith, and Kathy Kramer. Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Oakland location. $35.

  • Tuesday Plant Sales: Held year-round, 9 a.m.-noon Tuesdays, Markham Nature Park and Arboretum, 1202 La Vista Ave., Concord. Call ahead during wet months; rain may cancel events. 925-681-2968,

  • Plant Sale: Heirloom tomatoes, herbs, eggplants, peppers and more available for purchase. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through April 24. Moraga Gardens Farm, 1290 Moraga Way.

  • Docent-led garden tours: Tour the 10-acre Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Regional Park. 2 p.m. most Saturdays; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sundays. Wildcat Canyon Road and South Park Drive, Berkeley. 510-544-3169,

  • Danville-Alamo Garden Club: Meetings are held at 9:15 on the second Thursday of the month, Sept.-June, (except for December) at the Alamo Women’s Club, 1401 Danville Blvd., Alamo.

  • Vallejo Garden Club: Meets 9-11 a.m. third Saturdays monthly. Heritage House, 419 Farragut Ave., Vallejo. Email,


  • Native Drought Tolerant Plants: Learn how and why drought tolerant plants need less water, and how to plant and care for them. Wear garden boots, hat, gloves; bring water and hand pruners and other garden tools you like. Tools will be available for those who don’t have them. 9 a.m.-noon April 16. Nature’s Inspiration Gardens Guadalupe Gardens Court Yard, 411-421 Seymour St, San Jose. Free.

  • Native Plants: Learn about microclimates in order to select the right plant for the right place. 9 a.m.-noon April 23.

  • Milpitas Senior Center, 40 North Milpitas Blvd. Free.

  • Santa Clara County Rose Society: 73rd Annual Rose Show with hundreds of roses on display and new varieties available for purchase. 1-5 p.m. April 24. San Jose Almaden Community Center/Library, 6455 Camden Ave. Free.

  • Outdoor Environmental Science Homeschool Program: GRPC leads hands-on, outdoor programs that focus on the Guadalupe River watershed and the cultural and natural history of Santa Clara County, integrating scientific learning with an intimate experience of nature and place. For ages 5-12. 1:30-3 p.m. Thursdays, Guadalupe Visitor Education Center, 438 Coleman Ave., San Jose. Drop ins welcome but preregistration is preferred. $15 per student, per class. 408-298-7657,


  • Master Gardeners of San Mateo and San Francisco Counties Spring Garden Market: New varieties of tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, and herbs; educational stations offering expert advice. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. April 16. San Mateo County Event Center, Sequoia Hall, 2495 S. Delaware St., San Mateo. Admission and parking are free. calitem=312335g=45849.

  • Sustainable Landscaping: Learn how to create a sustainable, low-maintenance and water conserving garden. 6-8:30 p.m. April 21. Mountain View Public Library, 585 Franklin St. Free.

  • Homesteading 101-Berries: Learn the basics of growing blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. 2-4 p.m. April 23. Common Ground Garden, 687 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto. $30.

  • Rainwater Harvesting Gray Water Reuse: Explore methods for harvesting rainwater and capturing household gray water for using in your garden and landscape. 10-11:30 a.m. April 23. Twin Pines Senior Community Center, 20 Twin Pines Lane, Belmont. Free.

  • Designing Your Garden Space: Part one of a two-part course. Landscape designer, Morgan Vondrak, will cover a range of topics, including: basic landscape design, layout of planting areas and outdoor living areas, plant selection with a special focus on natives, sustainable design concepts including rainwater harvesting. Bring graph paper/pad, pen/pencils, a circle guide or compass, and a ruler to class. 7-10 p.m. May 7. Common Ground Garden, 687 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto. $36.87-$52.24.


  • Cactus Succulent Show: Hosted by the Cactus Succulent Society of the Monterey Bay Area. Members will be available to answer questions on growing these drought tolerant plants. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 23 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. April 24. San Juan Bautista Community Hall, 10 San Jose St., San Juan Bautista. 831-758-6645,

  • UC Santa Cruz Arboretum Garden Tours: Docent-led tours, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., first Saturdays monthly. UCSC Arboretum, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz. Free with paid admission to the Arboretum.


  • The Wild Bunch: Succulents, Cacti Fat Plants: Explore the strange world of water hoarding plants. Hundreds of varieties will be on view including Lithops, the treelike white ghost Euphorbia, examples of several Dr. Seuss-lke fat plants and more. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. Conservatory of Flowers, 100 John F. Kennedy Drive. Free-$8.
  • Article source:

    Entergy Gives Grant to Croton Point Park

    Friends of Westchester County Parks wants to add solar power capabilities to the Croton Point Park office, install two rain gardens at the park and educate the community about solar power and storm water management.

    Their plans will be partially underwritten by Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, which has given the group a $57,500 grant.

    “With increased development and impervious surface throughout Westchester County, storm water management has become a concern of every municipality and sewer district,” said Joe Stout, Executive Director of Friends of Westchester County Parks, in a prepared statement. “Many municipalities have increased requirements of site plans for storm water storage on site. The relatively new practice of creating rain gardens can fulfill this need while providing environmental benefits and aesthetically pleasing landscaping. So, we are so thankful that Entergy is helping us with this initiative.”

    Croton Point Park is one of Westchester County’s largest and most frequented parks, located on the banks of the Hudson River. A substantial portion of the land on which the park is situated today was the site of a landfill, which was operated by the Westchester County government from 1927 to 1986. The landfill has since been capped off and restored to green space.

    The park has several public attractions including: a miniature aircraft airport, boat launch, tent and RV camping, cabin rental, cross-country skiing, fishing, group picnicking, hiking and walking trails, a museum, nature study, pavilions, a playground, a snack bar, swimming, and a beach. On an annual basis, 110,000 county residents visit Croton Point Park.

    “This is a very important project and Entergy is pleased to help with this initiative at a park that is so well-enjoyed by our community,” said Joanne Fernandez, Government Affairs Manager at Entergy and Chairperson of Friends of Westchester County Parks.

    Stout added: “In addition to storing water, rain gardens also offer other benefits. The plants in the garden absorb water for use, and filter water in order to obtain nutrients and minerals from effluent. Use of a successful storm water control technique will benefit from increased education at public sites.”

    To learn more about Friends of Westchester County Parks, visit Follow Friends on Facebook at or on Twitter @Friends of Parks.


    Article source:

    In the Southwest, the new home on the range has ‘outdoor rooms’

    The large covered outdoor sitting area of the “Contemporary Farmhouse,” which the architect calls “a reverse-facing porch,” faces an outdoor dining patio that is open to the sky. (Brett Beyer)

    The “Contemporary Farmhouse” constructed in a subdivision outside Las Vegas, in what once had been a desert, is a modest-sized dwelling that lives big and throws convention out the window.

    This very different house, with its unusually large outdoor living areas and a smaller footprint that only covers about 50 percent of the lot, is not such a big leap for Las Vegas buyers, according to the builder, because they already have begun to move in this direction. But in the future, it could become a model for how homes are built in other parts of the country.

    Buyers here increasingly are choosing smaller houses to open up more area outdoors that can be turned into “outdoor rooms.” To get them, they are willing to jettison bonus rooms and large game rooms that once were highly desirable but have fallen out of favor, said Klif Andrews, division president for Nevada-based Pardee Homes, which built the experimental dwelling for the International Builders Show.

    “In essence, buyers are trading space inside the house for space that’s outside,” he said.

    This paradigm shift began about five years ago with the end of the recession and the introduction of a new generation of affordable, three-panel, stacking glass doors that are 12- to 15-feet wide, Andrews said. These were a “game changer,” he said, compared with the standard 8-foot-wide sliders, because the glass area in an outside wall could be much bigger, the opening is much larger when the doors are pulled back and the tracks in the floor below the doors are so minimal that they are barely noticeable.

    As the line between interior and exterior areas became less distinct, it was only a matter of time before homeowners began to spend more time out there, Andrews said.

    Indoor-outdoor relationships are a central theme in the Contemporary Farmhouse, but the first thing to catch a visitor’s eye is the exterior, an unusual marriage of rural and urban vernacular traditions that could only happen in a suburb of Las Vegas, a place where home builders have creatively reinterpreted Tuscan, Tudor, Spanish, Italian, French Mediterranean and Pueblo styles for more than 20 years.

    The simple single-gable shape of the second floor of the two-story Contemporary Farmhouse recalls the modest two-story, wood-frame houses that were built across rural and urban America from the 1890s to the 1930s, while the wide expanse of adobe-colored stone on the first floor is reminiscent of the simple, one-story houses that were built by working ranchers in the Southwest. And, surely a first for a production home builder, the lintels over the door and window openings, as well as the retaining walls for the landscaping, are made of Cor-Ten steel, a material more commonly found in bridges and highway overpasses because its protective, rust-colored coating resists real rust.

    While this atypical mix suggests that something unusual is afoot, the design celebrates what is inside as much as what is outside.

    The main indoor living area of the 2,100-square-foot house is L-shaped, with a living and dining area in each leg and the kitchen centrally located where the two legs meet.

    The main living areas are open to each other. From the kitchen island, communication between household members in the living, dining, and outdoor patio is easy. (Brett Beyer)

    Four of the five outside walls that overlook three private outdoor areas appear to be entirely made of glass, because the outsized stacking glass doors in each wall are 12 feet wide and 8 feet high. Two sets of the stacking glass doors in the living and dining areas intersect. When each one is pulled all the way back, there is no corner post or anything else to indicate the presence of a wall — the space is completely open to the outside.

    The outdoor areas are neither garden nor lawn; they are furnished outdoor rooms, similar in size to the adjacent indoor spaces, paved with the same floor tile and enclosed on the far side by the five-foot-high, adobe-colored stone wall that surrounds the property. Two of the outdoor areas are covered, including one on the front of the house that the architect characterized as a “reverse-facing porch” because it faces the patio, not the street.

    The walls of glass and the outdoor rooms will beguile most visitors, but the scale of the interior living areas is equally important in creating the overall effect — a space that feels both expansive and intimate at the same time. The large openings for the stacking glass doors create the impression that the living and dining areas are quite large; in fact, they are 12 by 15 feet, a modest size that lends itself to intimate conversation and does not require oversized furniture to look right.

    Findings of a marketing survey of millennial housing preferences helped inform the design by Hans Anderle for Bassenian Lagoni Architects of Newport Beach, Calif.

    The survey focused on a subset of this group — the 46 million millennials between the ages of 24 and 35 who have been notably skittish about purchasing a home, compared to similarly aged members of previous generations. The survey was commissioned by TRI Pointe Group, the parent company of Pardee Homes, and carried out by Ketchum International. Zeroing in on an even smaller subset of those millennials who are homeowners or actively looking for a house, the survey produced some surprising findings. One of the biggest was the desire for outdoor living space. It was the No. 1 “must have,” even among those who live in places where outdoor areas cannot be used year round, said Linda Mamet, Tripointe’s vice president for corporate marketing.

    The spacious feel of the modestly sized master bedroom is created by the sloped ceiling and adjacent outdoor deck. (Brett Beyer)

    Other surveys of millennial homeowners and home buyers have produced similar numbers. The National Association of Home Builders’s top must-haves for this group included a patio, front porch and a deck. A survey by Better Homes and Gardens of millennial-aged female homeowners found that a majority of respondents wanted a deck or patio in their next house.

    Delving more deeply into how millennial households actually use their outdoor spaces, the magazine found that more than half use it for family meals; 71 percent characterize it as an important area for their family to spend time together; and 70 percent use it for entertaining, a hugely important activity for this group.

    Jill Waage, executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens, suggested that an important reason for the popularity of outdoor spaces with millennials is the ease of furnishing them now. Compared with 20 years ago, outdoor furniture is much more affordable and virtually maintenance free. “You can leave it out there all winter and just hose it off,” she said.

    Additional findings in Ketchum’s survey led the design team to tailor other features to the perceived tastes of millennials. The closets are smaller and there is less kitchen storage because the data indicated that this group “wouldn’t own as much stuff,” Mamet said. There is no home office because the survey showed it ranking at the bottom of the millennials’ list of must haves.

    As many millennials have shown a keen interest in customizing their living spaces themselves, some interior finishes were selected as examples of DIY projects, said Los Angeles-based Bobby Berk, who designed the interiors. The repurposed wood paneling in the master bedroom is Stikwood, a thin veneer with a sticky tape backing that can be easily installed by a homeowner. The wood-like ceiling beams in the living/kitchen area are actually Fypon, a high-density polyurethane product that a homeowner can easily install and stain, Berk said. The wood deck on one side of the living area is another example of a DIY project.

    The large outdoor patio provides ample space for family dining and entertaining. (Brett Beyer)

    If survey data was an important design input, equally important was the nature of the project. It was a “concept house,” Andrews said. Likening it to a concept car at the annual Detroit Auto Show, he said that the Contemporary Farmhouse was intended to test the waters “well outside of our comfort zone and gauge the response. When you build a concept house, you throw it out there and see what happens.”

    How has the public responded? About 5,000 visitors toured the house during the International Builders Show in January, Andrews said. Millennials loved it, but so did every other home buyer demographic, including downsizing baby boomers and middle-aged Generation Xers. It turns out that the same things appealed to different groups for different reasons.

    For example, the first floor has a private suite with a kitchenette and a separate entrance at the front. The designers saw this as an accessory dwelling unit that could be rented to help pay the mortgage, a natural fit for millennials, who routinely patronize “the sharing economy” that includes companies such as Uber and Airbnb. Downsizing baby boomers took one look and saw a first-floor master. Generation Xers with aging parents saw its potential as an in-law suite. And all the households with family members who regularly come to visit for months at a time would use it as a guest suite.

    Is the crossover appeal large enough for Pardee to build more houses like this one?

    With some modifications, Pardee is hoping to offer ones very similar to the Contemporary Farmhouse next year. They are expected to sell for about $350,000, and if they do well, Pardee’s parent firm may begin to offer them in other markets.

    And given the copycat nature of the home-building business, other builders may offer them, too.

    Article source:

    Tilling with Tots – Gardening Tips for Olympia Kids

    My toddler has shown a lot of interest in gardening recently. Besides getting messy in the dirt, she also enjoys harvesting berries and watching plants grow. As a treat, she received a basket stuffed with gardening tools and seeds. She was overjoyed with the plan to grow her own vegetables, but there was one problem…I didn’t know where to start. That’s where Thurston County Master Gardener, Cindy Cartwright, stepped in to help get my little gardner started.

    steadman properties“I’ve been working with the Children’s Garden at Dirt Works now for eight years,” explains Cartwright. Dirt Works is run entirely by volunteer gardeners in our community with a focus on learning for all ages. “My kids were crawling around in the dirt since they were really little. The younger you start the better! I was really motivated by this program because I really believe that if you begin children at an early age to garden that they will have a vital skill for life.”

    gardening kids olympia
    Even the littlest helpers can get in on the gardening action.

    There are a lot of options when it comes to where you should plant your seeds. “Starting kids with gardening in pots is a great idea,” continues Cartwright. “It makes it easy for children to get around the area they are gardening in and pots are great for those limited to space.”

    “Pots should be at least six inches deep,” she adds. “If you are planning to grow vegetables in a pot, black pots can very helpful because they help to keep the soil warm. Just make sure there are holes in the bottom so it can drain properly.”

    “Another great option is a raised bed,” she says. “Square foot gardening is a big trend and a raised garden makes it easy. You want to make sure your child can reach the center of the planter so they can care for their plants.”

    gardening kids olympia
    Getting dirty in the garden is part of the learning experience for young children.

    “For a child, the perfect size bed is a 3×3 that is at least 6 inches deep,” says Cartwright. “If you divide that into even squares, that gives your child 9 equal square feet to plant. They can plant something different in each square. No matter what you choose, make sure your plants are in a spot where it can get 6-8 hours of sunshine each day.”

    When picking what to grow, get the kids involved. “Let your child pick out veggies that they would want to eat,” encourages Cartwright. “Even if it isn’t the right growing season for that particular item, they will have so much more invested in the process if they pick out what grows there.”

    To kickstart any beginners garden, skip the seeds. “If you are gardening for the first time, just buy starts instead of seeds. Some seeds can be tricky to get growing so buying starts can literally give you a jump start on growth in your garden,” she suggests. “But if your child prefers to put the seeds in the soil themselves, be sure to read the instructions carefully about how many inches apart and how many seeds can go in place. This is where that square foot gardening can be very helpful in determining what to grow.”

    gardening kids
    Dirt Works Master Gardeners teach kids the basics of growing their own plants. Photo courtesy: Dirt Works.

    Anytime is a good time to get started with your child’s garden. “Start it now! The weather is getting great! The goal is to have everything planted by Memorial Day Weekend. Cool season crops are great to grow right now.”

    “Gardening is such a wonderful introduction to science,” explains Cartwright. “It triggers a child’s imagination and teaches them a skill that they can use for the rest of their lives.”

    If you’re still hesitant about gardening with your little one, be sure to check out Dirt Works Children’s Garden. Cartwright can be found here all summer long offering free gardening programs to children ages 4-12 years old where they can learn all of the tips and tricks to becoming Master Gardeners.

    PrintFriendly and PDFPrint Article

    Article source: