Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for April 18, 2016

Calling all design enthusiasts and green thumbs: 2016 spring home and garden tours

It’s time to take advantage of the warm weather and start exploring some of the most beautiful and historic homes and gardens in the Washington area. Options include private home tours, embassy open houses and of course the annual White House spring garden tour. Almost all of the tours offer free or discounted tickets in advance, so start planning now.

On the White House Spring Garden Tour, expect to see the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, the Rose Garden, the Children’s Garden, the Kitchen Garden and the South Lawn of the White House. April 16, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and April 17, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 202-456-7041. Free day-of-tour tickets distributed at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion at 15th and E streets NW at 9 a.m. both days.

The Georgetown House Tour will feature up to 10 of the neighborhood’s finest homes. This year, the event is being co-led by Jill and Scott “Scooter” Altman, a former NASA astronaut who appeared in the film “Top Gun.” April 23, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets include admission to a parish tea in Blake Hall at St. John’s Church, 3240 O St. NW. 202-338-2287. In advance $50, day of tour $55; groups of 10 or more $40 per person.

The Falls Church-Arlington Home and Garden Tour display gardens include four 100-year-old holly trees, mature boxwoods, an herb garden and a garden of Victorian-era plants. Part of the Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week, which includes more than 250 gardens, homes and landmarks across Virginia. April 26, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Historic Garden Week runs April 23-30. In advance $30, day of tour $40; other Historic Garden Week tours $15-$50.

The Garden Fair and Plant Sale, hosted by Friends of the National Arboretum, will offer traditional favorites, plus heirloom vegetables and rare plants from nurseries across the country. April 29, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and April 30, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave. NE. 202-544-8733. . Free.

The Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour this year features 12 mid-century modern homes designed by Charles M. Goodman. (Hollin Hills 2016 House and Garden Tour)

The Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage will include tours in Baltimore and in Talbot, Harford, Queen Anne’s and Charles counties on select days and times. April 30-May 28. 410-821-6933. In advance $30 per tour, day of tour $35.

The self-guided Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour features 12 mid-century modern homes designed by Charles M. Goodman. The neighborhood was developed as one of the first post-World War II planned communities in the Washington area. April 30, 12 p.m.-6 p.m. 703-944-6390. In advance $25, day of tour $30.

The Moyaone Reserve Homes Tour highlights a variety of architectural styles in Accokeek, including an unusual mid-century modern community situated inside protected parklands. April 30, 1-5 p.m. Before March 30 $20, after $25. Ticket price includes access to a post-tour wine reception and auction.

The self-guided Takoma Park House and Garden Tour, themed “The American Craftsman,” will focus on Park, Willow and Spruce avenues, as well as Valley View and Crescent Place. May 1, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. 240-393-6060. In advance $22, day of tour $25.

The Washington National Cathedral’s 2016 Flower Mart includes floral and horticultural displays, an International Floral Exhibit, tower climbs to the bell-ringing chamber, shopping at more than 80 artisanal booths, and children’s rides and games. May 6, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and May 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-537-2937. Free admission.

The Around the World Embassy Tour allows you to step inside more than 30 embassies and get a taste of international foods, fashion, art and dance. May 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Various locations in Northwest Washington. Free, photo ID may be required.

The Silver Spring Garden Club’s Garden Mart will feature sales of herbs, heirloom tomatoes, house plants, hanging baskets and more. May 7, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. West Terrace of the Visitor Center at Brookside Gardens. 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton. 301-962-1400. Free.

Del Ray House Garden Tour, sponsored by the Del Ray Citizens Association as a fundraiser for neighborhood projects and the Alexandria Scholarship Fund, typically features 10 homes and highlights work by local architects and builders. May 7, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Before May 1 $20, after $25.

The Georgetown Garden Tour, sponsored by the Georgetown Garden Club, will be centered on eight private gardens. May 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 202-965-1950. Before May 1 $35, after May 1 $40.

Capitol Hill House and Garden Tour, this year titled “Return to Barracks Row,” will be centered on Eighth Street and cover Fifth Street to 11th Street, as well as Virginia Avenue to South Carolina Avenue, in Southeast. May 7, 4 p.m.-7 p.m., and May 8, noon-5 p.m. 202-543-0425. In advance $35, tour weekend $40.

The day-long Shortcut to Europe: European Union Embassies’ Open House allows visitors the rare opportunity to look inside the embassies and experience the cultural heritage and national traditions of the 28 European Union countries. May 14, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Various locations in Northwest Washington. Free, photo ID may be required.

The Tuckahoe Elementary Home Garden Tour supports the award-winning Discovery Schoolyard program at Tuckahoe Elementary School. This year, the tour will highlight eight newly renovated homes. May 14, noon-5 p.m. In advance $20, day of tour $25.

The Historic Hyattsville House Tour will feature eight homes of various styles and periods, including a “Quartet of Victorians.” Tour starts at Hyattsville’s Municipal Building at 4310 Gallatin St. May 15, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. 301-699-5440. In advance $10, day of tour $15.

The Beyond the Garden Gates Tour spotlights 12 private and public gardens in historic Frederick, Md. May 21, 1-5 p.m. In advance $25, day of tour $30.

The Shepherd Park Garden Tour will cover the Shepherd Park, Colonial Village and North Portal Estates neighborhoods of Northwest Washington, May 22, 2 p.m.-5 p.m. $15, $7 for SPCA members.

This year’s Secret Garden Tour will take visitors through the Annapolis neighborhood of Murray Hill, between Spa Creek and Maryland Hall. June 4 and 5, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $30 in advance, $35 day of, available only after April 20.

— Compiled by Megan McDonough

Article source:

Kids to showcase garden designs

A special children’s competiton has been launched by Northumberland County Show to mark the 300th birthday of Capability Brown.

One of Northumberland’s most famous sons, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown hails from Kirkharle, near Cambo.

During his lifetime he created more than 250 landscapes in the UK, and his influence is seen across the world to the present day.

The Northumberland County Show intends to raise awareness of this event with a Children’s Garden Design Competition.

Schools throughout the county have been invited to get involved, and youngsters may also make individual entries.

Judy Willis, event organiser, said: “We want children to let their imaginations run wild. The judges will be looking for creativity, originality and a clear theme, and there will be marks for considering the environment, and good construction ideas too.

“Hopefully there’s going to be some colourful artwork and lots of fun and exciting features.”

The competition is divided into three age groups, with prizes for both 3-D models and 2-D drawings, paintings or CAD plans.

James Fell, who organises the Rural Northumberland Marquee on behalf of Northumberland County Council, said: “We’re delighted to host the displays and showcase the hard work and inspiration of our region’s young people. Some of the North East’s well known attractions have donated prizes and will be represented in the marquee alongside the Capability Brown area.”

Kitty and John Anderson, present day owners of Kirkharle, and their landscape architect, Nick Owen, will be judging the entries.

Kitty said: “On his daily walk to school from Kirkharle to Cambo, young Lancelot Brown walked through Northumberland’s stunning countryside. This, we believe, inspired him to recreate similar landscapes throughout England.

“In the North East he created landscapes at Rothley East Lake, Alnwick Castle, Gibside, and he left a design for Kirkharle, his birthplace.”

“John and I were amazed to find his original plan in an old chest of drawers when we moved into the house after the death of my father-in-law. The document is possibly one of his first designs so incredibly important.

“The drawing is now kept safe at Newcastle University’s Museum, but over the last few years we have been bringing the design to life.”

Northumberland County Show takes place on Monday, May 30, at Bywell.

Article source:

The Basics of Garden Design

T.V. programmes are full of garden design ideas, pristine gardens and floral displays giving us inspiration for our own gardens and motivating even the novice gardener to have-a-go at designing a garden. However, creating your new garden design can seem like an enormous challenge to the novice faced with the huge choice of materials, plants and features, plus the lack of knowledge of which plants will thrive in your own particular garden.

So Where Do You Start?

A garden should ideally work as an extension of the house, both visually and practically. The style must be in sympathy with its location and age of the house. For example a minimalist garden laid with decking and stainless steel structures would look out of context with a traditional cottage in the countryside.

Materials for patios, paths and walls should reflect the bricks and materials used for the house and surrounding area. Look at the older buildings in the vicinity which will probably be in the local material. The local material is usually the cheapeast and easiest to find.

Next relate the interior of the house to the outside e.g. the rustic effect of country-style furnishings would be suited to a sweeping lawn and planting in herbaceous borders while the design of a modern house would be completmented by clean lines, bold clumps of plants and concreteb materials.

Each Individual Garden is Unique!

Once the basic style of the garden design has been decided from then on each individual garden is unique. The character grows out of the specific functions required in the garden i.e. a family with children would require a play area, a wildlife garden would have planting to attract birds and butterflies and perhaps a pond and a garden for entertaining would need a large patio and seating areas. The constraints of existing features, local climate, aspect of the sun and soil type will all have to be considered.

When all these factors have been assessed then the next stage is to draw an accurate plan of the site. This involves marking in the house and any other buildings such as a garage or shed. Also mark all the ground floor windows and doors. This helps when placing trees or seating which can be viewed from the house. Next measure and mark in the boundary fences and walls. Not all gardens are a regular rectangle or square therefore take all measurements from the house as this will be at right angles to the rest of the plot. Remember to include any existing features that you wish to keep such as trees and good views.

The Final Result and Garden Design Will Be Worth It!

After the site is measured then the planning begins. Consider how large a patio you need, the proportion of planted areas to lawn, where the sun is at certain times of the day and how much privacy you require. Take time to draw your ideas onto several copies of the plan until you are completely happy with the layout.

As all garden designers experience this process will take a while but once you have completed the final layout you will have a plan to work to which can either be implemented in one go, or if the garden is large, in stages. The final result will be worth it!

Article source:

Real stars of Feed the Need are the volunteers

OCEAN SPRINGS — Music will be a big part of the attraction for the third-annual Feed the Need … music, fried fish and a very worthy cause.

Think small venue, the parking lot at Government Street Grocery, and musicians who are popular locally, along with two who tour nationally and have made a mark for themselves.

Cary Hudson, who was chosen among Top Ten Alternative Country Guitar Players by Gipson magazine, and Grayson Capps, who wrote and sang for the score of Golden Globe-nominated film (now on Netflix) “A Love Song for Bobby Long,” will be joined by Corky Hughes. Local favorites Blackwater Brass also will take the stage. Other musical guests include Rooster Bluegrass and Paul Kirkland Friends.

But the real stars of the event are the volunteers — a community coming together to fill a need at The Lord is My Help food pantry and soup kitchen.

Patrick Sullivan, owner of Government Street Grocery, said last year there were so many people in volunteer T-shirts, it looked alike a sea of them in the crowd. And the committee that puts together the event is a group of young professionals with great ideas and a lot of energy.

Head of the committee, Liz LeBleu, doesn’t even like to be called chairwoman, because she said it’s such a creative, group effort.

Last year they sold several hundred more tickets than the 500 printed. This year, they’re aiming at selling 1,000 and already estimate pre-sales at 500.

Tickets go on sale soon for the May 15 event.

Raising awareness

Feed the Need is a great source of income for The Lord is My Help, but it also raises awareness, “as we strive to end hunger and help people in need throughout our lovely community,” LeBleu said.

“We started this because they said they were struggling,” she said. “It keeps them afloat.”

The first year, they raised $9,000. Last year it was $18,000. This year, the committee hopes to double the donation again.

Every bit of the money raised goes right across the street to the soup kitchen, Sullivan said, that’s the beauty of having a community fundraiser.

The Lord is My Help, at 1205 DeSoto St., behind Phoenicia restaurant, is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. It provides meals to the elderly and home-bound, but also gives out meals and groceries to working families that can’t make ends meet. LeBleu said it doesn’t question need.

The nondenominational nonprofit survives solely on the donations of people and local churches. Some individuals sign up for monthly contributions.

The woman who started The Lord Is My Help, Kay Woods, is still the director. She’s also known in the community for her years as the director of the St. John’s Episcopal pre-school program.

About the volunteers

The event promises to be family fun with a cornhole tournament, silent auction with area artists and a raffle. Tickets are $15 in advance, and $20 at the door or $15 with a 10-can food donation.

The event has always been on a Sunday. When it started, three years ago, downtown Ocean Springs was closed on Sunday. Now it’s not, but Sullivan keeps his commitment and sets aside a Sunday for Feed the Need.

His employees donate their time.

Get tickets from any committee member, the Grocery, The Greenhouse on Porter, Eat Drink Love Catering, Hillyer House, The Office, Paddles Up or Kwitzky’s. They also will be available at Triple Threat Academy in Biloxi and PrescritpFit Medical Nutrition Therapy in Gulfport.

The all-star committee: Kait Sukiennik and Jessie Zenor, Greenhouse on Porter; Kelly Lane, real estate agent; Kendall Stevens, Wild Lilly Landscaping; Chase Sekul, Sekul’s Pool Service; Ali Leggett, biologist at GCRL, Sara and Wade Guice, Guice Woodworks; Sarah Reese, attorney; Ceci Snyder, Bay Area Food Bank; Rachel Evans, manager Government Street Grocery; Ben McKenzie, engineer; Megan Trochesset and Lauren Turner, teachers; Susannah Snyder, manager of Hillyer House; Corey Christy, marketing director at WAMA; Seth and Lauren Braden, Eat Drink Love Catering; Megan Broussard, office manager Dr. Stan Owens; Linda Pasvantis, nurse; Holly and Ron Horn, Southern Curio; Jeff Glenny, Mobile Marine; Amber and Johnny Mansholt, Champion Print and Design; Genine Dalgo, graphic artist and Amanda Sulcer, graphics out of New Orleans.

“I was blown away by how many hours we’ve put in on this,” LeBleu said. For all three Feed the Need benefits, LeBleu alone has logged 450 hours. She knows because they were asked to calculate their hours when someone needed numbers to apply for a charity grant.

Article source:

Newly approved Campus Master Plan to connect, improve campus

The Daily News |
Rebecca Kizer


Ball State has been working with SmithGroup JJR to create Campus Master Plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees during the last meeting. The plan includes various campus developments for the next 25 years. PHOTO COURTESY OF SMITHGROUP JJR


Over the last three years, Ball State has been working with SmithGroup JJR
to create its Campus Master Plan, which was approved by the Board of
Trustees at its last meeting.

The Campus Master Plan is a document that lays out the plans for campus development
for the next 25 years.

It outlines different areas of growth throughout campus, such as developing
the East Quad and the East Mall,
increasing residential areas and increasing engagement with the Village,
recreational and athletic areas.

Doug Kozma, co-leader of the SmithGroup JJR campus planning group, said the Campus Master Plan he helped create will bring significant change to Ball State and help students forever. But while the document has ideas for the future, it’s up to the university to implement them.

“Ideas aren’t a mandate for change; this is a when-we-choose-to change,” Kozma said. “This document can help guide that.”

Bernard Hannon, treasurer and vice president for business affairs, said there are eight big ideas the master plan consists of.

East Quad

While academic buildings currently run north, south and west, the Campus Master Plan has ideas to further develop and expand on the campus’ east side. This would include connecting to the new East Mall, which BSU architecture students designed.

East Mall

Bike and pedestrian paths will be established, connecting all parts of campus — from the Village to the Jo Ann Gora Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Hannon said it will be “a beautiful greenway, an opportunity for students to gather, meet, have lunch, enjoy themselves outdoors but also get the people and bicycles off of McKinley Avenue.”

With Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler working on his riverfront development project, the East Mall should complement and work with the project by connecting the new pedestrian walkway down to White River.

“The East Mall is one of the best ideas, I think, that comes out of this plan,” Hannon said. “It will create new mobility through and to campus.”

Activate University Green

The University Green area, including Shafer Tower, Bracken Library, the College of Architecture and Planning and the Whitinger Business Building, is a great location for campus activities, said Hannon.

“It already exists, we don’t have to create it. We just have to energize it,” he said.

Development in this area may include an outdoor stage or a new dining hall. Hannon said it could be an area for students to meet with each other, talk and share ideas.

This will also include renovations to the CAP building and the library.

Preserve and Enhance the Old Quad

This will include landscape preservation and enhancements, with a goal of making this area more friendly to campus visitors. Hannon said there are plans to either repurpose or replace Cooper Physical Science Building in order to further open up the quad area.

With the Beneficence Statue, “on an island, by herself,” Hannon said he would like to remove the landscaping behind it so the university can be seen more easily.

Hannon also said this area could even potentially be available space for another university college.

Engage the Village

With the pedestrian and bike paths in mind, a strong goal in the Campus Master Plan is to engage the Village. Hannon said it’s important for both residential areas and student life. With increases walkways to enter the Village, the entire city of Muncie may become more engaged.

Hannon said there is a potential to build south of the L.A. Pittenger Student Center in order to bring more students to the area.

Enhance North Residential Areas

With more houses and dining communities on the north side of campus, Hannon said they could improve the connections to the academic core of campus.

The master plan also includes ideas of renovating the Cow Path, by making it a parallel north/south pedestrian and bike path, connecting with the East Mall and north residential areas.

Consolidate Recreation

The plan details improving Ball State’s health and wellness image, with a new gateway and identity along Bethel Avenue. By creating new recreation areas around the Anthony Apartments, students may have a better place to be active, said Hannon.

“Students can spill out of their residence halls and go play,” he said. “It’s inconvenient for [them] to have to get in their cars just to play soccer.”

Enhance Athletics

Plans for new athletic facilities would include an indoor field practice facility, but in the long term, Hannon said. New basketball, volleyball and aquatic centers are in the plan as well.

Roads and traffic on campus

In addition to the eight big ideas, Jim Lowe, the associate vice president for facilities planning and management, said alterations to campus roads are a part of the Master Plan as well.

Lowe said these plans involve utilizing current “open spaces” on campus where students don’t typically congregate with one another. By developing these areas, he said he can connect the dots.

His plans also focus on the pedestrian and bike path circulation, and vehicle circulation and parking. He said their goals are to calm traffic, increase safety and draw the traffic away from “the heart of campus” and into the parameters of it.

A new parking strategy will also be implemented. Lowe said he frequently hears from visitors they “didn’t know where to park,” and he said they plan to fix that over time.

“We need to work on how to make the campus visitor friendly, we need better plans,” Lowe said.


Hannon said some of these ideas have already begun development, and some may be farther away, but every idea falls in either the “near-term,” “mid-term” or “long-term” categories.

“As you get further away from today’s date, the likelihood of something that’s on this list occurring becomes much less probable,” Hannon said. “Because things will change.”

Near-term (three to seven years): Worthen practice facility, New Academic Building, CAP renovation, Emens improvements, new residence halls, East Mall

Mid-term (five to 15 years): Academic Commons, University Green improvements, Bracken Library renovations, Village residence hall, aquatics renovation/replacement, Old Quad landscape improvements, new academic building, field-house, Emens parking garage replacement, Village apartments

Long-term (12 to 25 years): Noyer renovation/replacement, Woodworth renovation, Studebaker West renovation, Bethel recreation fields, new apartments, new academic building, Scheidler apartments repurpose

Article source:

Neighborhoods a keystone issue in Roanoke’s council, mayoral races

West End

West End

Workers in the West End neighborhood patch up asphalt Thursday on 13th Street Southwest after installing a storm sewer.

West End

West End

The area in the West End neighborhood along 13th Street Southwest is one of the parts of Roanoke where some see potential for a new “urban village.” How to get from boarded-up storefronts to a vibrant village is the question being debated among candidates for the three council seats and the mayor’s office. The area already is undergoing improvements in sidewalks, stoplights and other infrastructure.

Sherman Lea

Martin Jeffrey

Anita Price

Freeda Cathcart

Michelle Dykstra

John Garland

E. Duane Howard

Trish White-Boyd

Upcoming candidate forums

Williamson Road Area Business Association

Noon to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday

During the association’s regular meeting

Holiday Inn

3315 Ordway Dr. N.W.

Neighbors in South Roanoke

7 p.m. Tuesday

South Roanoke United Methodist Church

2330 Jefferson St S.E.

VWCC Government Students City Elections Forum

4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Thursday

Natural Sciences Room

Virginia Western Community College

3094 Colonial Ave S.W.

Posted: Monday, April 18, 2016 12:00 am

Neighborhoods a keystone issue in Roanoke’s council, mayoral races

By Matt Chittum

Hardly a discussion among the eight candidates for Roanoke mayor and city council has passed this spring without a consensus bow to the importance of the city’s neighborhoods.

“Neighborhoods” has become a buzzword, something easy and safe for all candidates to advocate for.

Subscription Required

An online service is needed to view this article in its entirety.

You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



Choose an online service.

    Current print subscribers

    Login Now

    Need an online subscription?



    Choose an online service.

      Current print subscribers


      Monday, April 18, 2016 12:00 am.

      | Tags:

      Roanoke City Council,


      Mayoral Election

      Article source:

      Win new water friendly landscaping for your backyard

      Four Steps to Convert Your Drab, Water-Thirsty Yard into a Fab, Water-Wise Escape

      Whether you’re landscaping a yard for the first time from the soil up or planning to overhaul an existing one, landscape projects can be exciting but also daunting. Add to that our challenging Sonoran Desert climate and years of drought, and all-of-a-sudden, planning a landscape makeover poses a whole new set of challenges – and it all funnels down to… Water.  

      But why should we care about water-use when designing our landscapes?

      Did you know that over half of household water goes into our landscapes? Converting a water-thirsty landscape of grass and high-water-use plants into an attractive low-water-use landscape, or Xeriscape, is one of the best and easiest ways to save water, save money on your water bill and create a landscape that is much easier to maintain. Xeriscape (zeer-ah-scape) is a term that defines a creative approach to landscaping that includes the use of seven principles to ensure that landscapes are water efficient, yet creative and colorful. Not sure how to identify if your yard has a problem with overconsumption or how to curb its water habit? Follow these tips and ideas from Water – Use It Wisely and help your landscape drink responsibly,

      1.    A Great Yard Begins with a Great Plan
      Weather you need to freshen up your landscape with a few new plants, you’re ready to remove grass to install a Xeriscape, or maybe your yard needs a total makeover, making a plan is the first important step. As you gather ideas for your design, visit one of many Phoenix Valley Xeriscape Demonstration Gardens for ideas and inspiration.  

      2.    Choosing Plants that Thrive
      Start with Arizona-friendly plants that are right at home in our climate. Use the plant selection guide on to select the perfect plants to thrive in our area. Turn to Pinterest for inspiration and check out Water – Use It Wisely’s board dedicated just to “Low Water-Use Plants” . Sign up for their monthly e-newsletter packed full of water-saving tips and a Plant of the Month.

      3.    Proper Irrigation to Keep Your Landscape From Soaking You
      Setting up or reconfiguring your irrigation properly will ensure that you’re watering properly (up to 70% of water use is outdoors) while keeping your landscape healthy and beautiful. An irrigation supply specialist such as Ewing Irrigation can help you find the ideal solutions for your unique irrigation needs. Landscape Watering by the Numbers: A Guide for the Arizona Desert (online version is a great resource full of locally relevant information.

      4.    Installation: DIY or Not – And How to Select a Landscape Pro!
      Decide whether you are going to tackle this on your own or hire a landscape pro. Many landscape professionals will even provide you with life-like renderings to help you envision your ideal, water-wise outdoor escape.
      ·    Love a Do-It-Yourself challenge? Check out resources on Water – Use It Wisely including Xeriscape: Landscaping with Style for the AZ Desert booklet and online resources  
      ·    Rather leave it to a pro? Or maybe you’d rather sit back, relax and let a team of experts transform your tired yard from dull-and-drab to fabulous. Learn more about hiring an ALCA certified professional .


      We’re here to help! Everything needs updating every so often and landscapes are no exception. One randomly selected winner will receive a backyard rehab prize valued at $8,000, brought to you by Water – Use It Wisely, ABC15 Arizona, Arizona Landscape Contractors’ Association, the Plant Something Campaign and Ewing Irrigation. ENTER NOW!

      Contest dates: April 18 – May 16, 2016.  
      Winner will be selected the week of May 23rd.

      About Water-Use It Wisely
      The Water – Use It Wisely campaign was launched in 1999 to promote an ongoing water conservation ethic among Arizona’s rapidly growing population. Partners include the cities of Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Peoria, Chandler, Glendale, Avondale, Surprise, Queen Creek, and Fountain Hills. Additional partners include the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, Global Water Resources, EPCOR Water, and Salt River Project.

      Article source:

      Poison ivy: How to identify – and deal with – the noxious weed

      Poison ivy is popping up in the woods, and in landscaping, lawns, flower beds and vegetable gardens.

      The plant contains urushiol and other chemicals that cause an itchy rash that afflicts up to 50 million Americans each year. To make matters worse, Duke University researchers say poison ivy is growing more vigorously now, thanks to global warming and higher CO2 levels.

      Know what to look for: Poison ivy usually grows as a vine, but can also take on a bushy form. It can grow anywhere, including in the middle of a sunny suburban yard. Its appearance changes throughout the year, and it looks confusingly like dozens of innocent plants, such as Virginia Creeper and blackberry.

      [Can you ID the poison ivy in these photos? Take the quiz]

      As Grandma told us, poison ivy has leaves in groups of three (remember? – “Leaves of three – Let it be!”) The middle leaf typically has a longer leaf stalk than the two side leaves.

      Poison ivy can also make very large, hairy vines that run up the sides of trees. These don’t always have leaves, but are filled with urushiol. When in doubt, approach any big vines with great caution.

      Dress for success: Dressing to avoid poison ivy is mostly common sense, such as long pants, long sleeve shirts, rubber boots and high socks. Gloves certainly help, but must be washable or a throw-away type. You can also try applying over-the-counter anti-poison ivy blockers, available at backpacking stores and online.

      Watch what you touch: No matter what you wear, if you mop your brow, you can spread the oil. If you are using garden tools, you can contaminate the handles with gloves that have contacted poison ivy. Put contaminated clothing in a bag and wash it before using again.

      Remember, the plant itself does not need to be alive to transmit the oil. Even after killed with herbicide or cut, poison ivy leaves, stems and roots still are full of urushiol.

      Take remedial action: The sooner you get rid of the oil after contact, the better. Wash your skin with a constant flow of water. Act quickly, since once urushiol has been absorbed into your body, washing doesn’t help. After a rash erupts, try topical itch relievers, a corticosteroid, or a folk remedy such as crushed jewelweed. Try not to scratch (more good grandmotherly advice) and let the rash run its course over a couple of weeks. People differ in their response to poison ivy If you have symptoms beyond itching, see a doctor.

      What you NEVER want to do: Never burn poison ivy. Burning can release the oil into the air. When inhaled, the reaction can be fatal.

      Never use power equipment such as string trimmers that sends ground leaves and sap flying everywhere.

      Never cuddle Fido after he’s had a romp in the woods, or wherever poison ivy is present.

      Managing poison ivy: When poison ivy is growing right in our flowerbeds or at edge of the playground, most of us want to get rid of it. You can succeed in limited areas, if you remain constantly vigilant to keep it from coming back.

      North Carolina State University advocates a chemical approach. When growing actively, poison ivy is vulnerable to the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) as well as to other herbicides used for brush control. Be careful when using any herbicide, since it can kill your garden plants, too. NC State has step-by-step instructions online:

      If you want to skip the chemicals, you can try pulling poison ivy out by hand V-E-R-Y carefully. Mike McGrath, popular past editor of Organic Gardening Magazine, has as good a guide as you can find with his PBD method (for “plastic bag dance.”).

      Article source:

      It’s not difficult to create a butterfly garden in your yard – Florida Times

      Starting a butterfly garden doesn’t have to be a big production. A few favorite plants in a well-chosen spot is all that’s necessary. Put a cluster of milkweed, zinnias and pentas on an apartment balcony and you may be rewarded with a visit from a monarch.

      It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Many of the plants favored by butterflies can be grown from seeds or cuttings.

      And avoid pesticides. Butterflies are insects, too.

      As with anything, it’s helpful to have a plan. What kind of butterflies are you trying to attract? And how much space do you want to devote to it? Will you be planting in sun or shade?


      Butterflies look for two kinds of plants, nectar plants and host plants.

      Nectar plants are usually brightly colored flowering plants and shrubs that provide food for butterflies and other pollinators. If you have landscaping around your house, you may already have nectar plants. But some plants are especially popular:

      ■ Zinnias are a golden oldie that never goes out of fashion. These annuals come in every color but blue, can be started by seed and stand up to our Florida summers.

      ■ Pentas are a staple of any butterfly garden. These perennials are ever-blooming and can take the heat, though they will die back in hard freezes. Reds and pinks are butterfly favorites.

      ■ Lantana is another old-timer that comes in many colors and shapes. Lantana has the reputation of being a big messy bush, and the older varieties are, but newer varieties, many of them dwarf, are neat mounding plants. It loves the sun but can handle some shade.

      ■ Blue porterweed is a perennial with flowers on spindly stems and is a butterfly magnet that is unfazed by Florida summers. There’s a red version but butterflies prefer the blue.

      ■ Butterfly bush or buddleia is popular with butterflies but not so much with humans because some varieties can be invasive. It comes in shades of pink, blue, purple, as well as white. Some varieties can grow to 6 feet. New dwarf varieties stay around 3 feet and are less invasive.

      ■ Mexican flame vine is an annual with bright orange blossoms that are a favorite of monarchs. It’s considered an annual but can survive mild winters.

      There are many, many more — purple coneflower, black-eyed Susans, verbenas, asters, plumbago, sunflowers, blazing star, lilies, as well as many herbs. To get ideas, go to a nursery and look for plants visited by bees and butterflies.

      Host plants are those on which butterflies lay their eggs and range from tiny weeds to towering trees. The caterpillars that emerge eat the leaves, often stripping the plant, but not killing it. Some butterflies such as the monarch have only one host plant; others like the buckeye have several. Many host plants — such as milkweed — also are nectar plants.


      ■ Monarchs: These orange-and-black beauties get all the attention because their numbers have dropped so dramatically. The development of crops resistant to herbicide allows farmers to spray their fields with glysophate (Roundup), which kills everything but the crops. It has wiped out the monarch’s host plant, wild milkweed, often found in agricultural areas. Now a nationwide campaign is underway to restore milkweed by planting it around homes, schools, businesses and parks.

      Milkweed is a large family of plants called Asclepias. The most commonly found in our area is Asclepias curassavica. You’ll find it in big box stores marketed as tropical, scarlet or blood milkweed. It comes in orangey-red and yellow. Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) has pink flowers and as its name suggests needs damp conditions. Asclepias tuberosa blooms orange and can also be found locally but you might have to hunt for it. There are many more milkweeds but these are the most available.

      ■ Longwing zebras: These yellow-and-black butterflies were designated by Gov. Lawton Chiles as the state butterfly. Their host plant is passion vine planted in partial sun. They are fun to watch because their movement is slow and graceful.

      Passion vines are considered a tropical with exotic-looking flowers in purple, blue and red. They need a strong fence or arbor. These can be invasive.

      ■ Gulf fritillaries: A strange name for a beautiful orange butterfly that is one of the most common in suburban gardens. Its host also is the passion vine but it likes the ones planted in full sun.

      ■ Eastern black swallowtails: One of the easiest of the many swallowtail butterflies to attract with a patch of parsley, fennel or dill. It’s a slow mover so it’s easy to watch.

      ■ Cloudless sulphurs: These solid yellow butterflies can be found all over the area year round. One of their host plants is cassia or senna, which can be a bush or a tree that blooms yellow in the fall.

      Next month: A look at the many swallowtails and how to attract them.


      Lilla Ross: (904) 359-4543


      Article source:

      Too excited to wait? Try these early-season gardening tips

      For those of us itching to do more in the yard than just raking the lawn, here are suggestions.

      Soil preparation

      Vegetable gardens and flowerbeds can be rototilled or “worked” when the soil passes the squeeze test. If after squeezing a handful of soil it crumbles apart easily, it’s ready. If it remains in a mud ball, it’s too moist and tilling or digging could damage its structure. Heavy clay soil can form hard lumps that adversely affect seeding and planting.

      Early vegetables

      Some vegetables enjoy cool temperatures. These cool-season crops can germinate in chilly soil and tolerate light frost as they grow. In mid-to-late April, plant peas, radish, lettuce, onion, carrot, potato, kale, kohlrabi, cabbage and broccoli.


      Protective covering or winter mulch can be removed by now. If portions of canes were winter-injured, prune back to live wood. Healthy sections are greenish-brown, plump and pliable. Damaged parts are dry, blackish-brown and brittle.

      New rose bushes can be planted now if they’re still dormant and not fully leafed out. Potted roses sold actively growing in full foliage should wait until mid-May, so frost doesn’t damage their new growth.

      Trees and shrubs

      Woody plants sold bare root or dormant potted types can be planted now. If garden centers offer trees or shrubs in full leaf, wait until the last half of May. Nursery stock is sometimes transported from warmer growing regions whose season is more advanced, and the material is susceptible to frost injury.

      Remove tree wraps for the season to allow bark to breathe, expand and receive sunshine and fresh air for the summer. Tree stakes are no longer beneficial after one or two seasons, and spring is a good time to dismantle. Trees develop stronger trunk fibers if they’re allowed to sway in the wind, so release them from staking after a year.

      Apply circles of wood mulch around trees following the 3-3-3 rule: 3 inches thick, stay 3 inches away from the trunk and apply a 3-feet diameter circle in a donut-shaped ring.

      Last minute pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs can still be done, preferably if they haven’t leafed out. Evergreens are best pruned in May and June.

      Perennial flowers

      Last year’s dead tops should be cut off slightly above soil level before new growth makes removal difficult. Overwintered stalks of ornamental grass are best removed now before new grass blades emerge.

      New perennials can be planted now from roots or bulbs that are still dormant, but greenhouse potted perennials that are in full growth shouldn’t be planted until there’s less chance of killing frost. May 15-25 is much safer.

      If existing perennials need dividing, it can be done now as new growth is just beginning but before becoming longer than about an inch. Not all perennials should be divided in spring. Some types should wait until fall, and there’s an easy rule-of-thumb for remembering. Perennials that bloom in spring and early summer are best divided in fall, like peony and bleeding heart. Perennials that bloom in mid- to late summer and fall should be divided in spring, such as chrysanthemums or tall phlox. Division is best in the season opposite bloom time.

      How often should perennials be divided? Types benefiting from spring division every one to three years include monarda, carnation, coral bells, delphinium, tall phlox and chrysanthemum. Every three to five years, spring-divide astilbe, campanula, coneflower and daylily. Hosta can remain in place five to 10 years, but divide in spring if needed.

      Wait until late summer and fall to divide iris, lily, peony and bleeding heart. Some perennials are best left in place without disruption, including baby’s breath, Asclepius butterfly flower, Russian sage and Dictamnus gas plant.

      Annual flowers

      A few cool-weather types can tolerate temperatures as low as 28 degrees, like pansy, viola, alyssum and petunia. Before planting, “harden off” in a protected outdoor spot by gradually exposing to cooler temperature, a little sunshine and slight breeze. This toughens greenhouse-grown plants that might be lush and tender.

      Outdoor containers can be planted anytime if you’re willing to move them indoors during freezing nights that are likely between now and mid-May. Some flower types are sensitive to chilly temperatures and are injured even if it doesn’t actually freeze. Impatiens and coleus are very sensitive.

      The prime time for most outdoor planting activity is still the 10 days between May 15-25.


      Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, worked as an NDSU Extension horticulturist and owned Kinzler’s Greenhouse in Fargo. Tune in to his weekly radio segment at noon Wednesdays on WDAY Radio 970. Readers can reach him at forumgrowingtogether//

      Article source: