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Archives for April 19, 2016

Garden Design – Training and Course Overview

Garden Design - Training and Course Overview

The garden design curriculum program provides the knowledge and skills required to succeed as a garden design professional. Based on science-based gardening and plantsman techniques, both of which are essential to developing professional garden environments this course walks students through a wide-spectrum of projects and techniques.

The course will also cover new topics and interests so as to stretch and develop the understanding of design principle and plant knowledge in students. It also provides a solid understanding in garden design practice and theory, horticulture principles and sustainability thinking and practices too.

Course Objective

The aim of the garden course is to involve students in the study of natural science and creative arts in combination with horticulture.


Entry into this course will be based on completion of an undergraduate degree, a relevant higher education certificate course or equivalent. Applicants will either need to submit a qualification in art certificate, or be able to demonstrate an artistic portfolio at the time of the interview. Applications from students with life experiences are welcome.

Course Duration

This is a one-year comprehensive course that prepares students to enter the garden design profession.

Course Syllabus

The course covers a series of practical design projects, supported by an understanding of various garden design principles and concepts. The course syllabus helps students in developing the skills in planting design, hard landscaping, construction, drawing, garden design, design analysis, and presentation.

Career Prospects

Students who successfully complete the garden design certificate course may be eligible for higher credits into the master’s courses. Some of the career options after completion of the garden design course typically include entry-level garden designer or career building through updated skills, especially for those who already are engaged in this industry.

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Landscaping plan for Scott County roadways presented to county leaders

Beautiful poppy flower macro on the blurry dirt road background

Beautiful poppy flower macro on the blurry dirt road background

Beautiful poppy flower macro on the blurry dirt road background

Beautiful poppy flower macro on the blurry dirt road background

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — A group of Scott County residents is creating a plan to plant native grasses and flowers along more than 550 miles of the county’s secondary roads.

The Quad-City Times reports that the group has been meeting to formulate a plan since September 2015 and presented its ideas to the Scott County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, April 19. If the plan is approved, the county’s secondary roads department and conservation board could work together to implement the plan.

The project was up for approval on Thursday, April 21, according to a document from the Scott County Board of Supervisors.

The first step in the process would be to apply for an Iowa Living Roadway Trust Fund grant to conduct an inventory of what currently grows in the ditches of the bordering county’s roads.

County engineer Jon Burgstrum says the proposal won’t have an estimated cost yet.

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Why living around nature could make you live longer

This photo taken on October 18, 2008 shows the sun peeking through a canopy of trees on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah Park, Virginia. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

Living closer to nature is better for your health, new research suggests — and may even extend your life.

A study just published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that people who live in “greener” areas, with more vegetation around, have a lower risk of mortality. The health benefits are likely thanks to factors such as improved mental health, social engagement and physical activity that come with living near green spaces.

The research relied on data from a vast long-term Harvard study funded by the National Institutes of Health called the Nurses’ Health Study, which has collected health information biennially on more than 100,000 female registered nurses in the U.S. since 1976. The new paper analyzed participant data from between 2000 and 2008, taking note of any deaths that occurred and their causes. At the same time, the researchers used satellite data to assess the amount of green vegetation surrounding each participant’s home during the study period.

The researchers found that people living in the greenest places — that is, people who had the most vegetation within 800 feet of their homes — had a 12 percent lower rate of mortality from any non-accidental cause than people living in the least green places. Specifically, they found that the relationship was strongest for deaths related to respiratory disease, cancer and kidney disease. These results were the same regardless of the participants’ income, weight or smoking status and also did not significantly change between urban and suburban locations.

In statistical analyses, though, the researchers found that participants’ mental health, social engagement, level of physical activity and exposure to air pollution likely explained how the green spaces were making a difference.

This is all in line with the ways previous research has suggested greenness can affect health. Places with more vegetation are generally thought to be less polluted, and the presence of vegetation, itself, can help keep air cleaner. And green spaces like parks can help encourage people to get outside, exercise and engage with other people — all factors that can improve overall health. The effects on mental health may be somewhat less straightforward, but nonetheless important, as this study suggested.

“We were really surprised to find that the mental health pathway explained about 30 percent of the relationship between greenness and mortality,” said Peter James, the study’s lead author and a research associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

There are several theories about how nature affects mental health, said Howard Frumkin, dean of the school of public health at the University of Washington, who was not involved with the new study. One of them is known as the “biophilia” hypothesis, which was proposed by renowned biologist and naturalist E.O. Wilson. This theory embodies the idea “that we evolved as a species embedded in nature over most of our existence as a species, and something about that nature contact still resonates with us,” Frumkin said. “Something about contact with nature is soothing and restorative and thereby good for mental health.”

It may also be that the social engagement that green spaces encourage can improve people’s mindsets as well. “Social connectedness is a predictor of good mental health, which is in turn a predictor of good physical health,” Frumkin said.

Still, much remains uncertain about the exact mechanisms by which exposure to nature can improve health, Frumkin noted. And scientists are still trying to figure out what type of contact with nature works best.

“Is a it a view out the window or do you need to get out and walk among the trees?” Frumkin said. “Does a bush do the trick or do you need a tree? Does it need to be in leaf during the summer, or does it work during the winter when it’s lost its leaves? There are lots of questions about the mechanisms and specifically about what form of nature contact offers benefit.”  

James and his team hope to continue exploring the finer details in future research. They’re interested in looking more closely at some of the specific causes of mortality revealed in this study, especially cancer, in order to examine not just how greenness is connected to deaths but to the overall incidence of disease.

“We also do want to explore this with other cohorts,” James added. While he and his team controlled for demographic factors in this study, it’s still worth pointing out that most of the participants were white, and since they were all registered nurses, the socioeconomic range within the group was somewhat narrow.

James added that, while this study focused on greenness around the participants’ residences, it’s worth noting that most people spend a great deal of their time away from the home. So a good idea for future research would be to focus on a broader set of the spaces people interact with on a daily basis.

The challenge with all these ideas for future studies is that research on the health effects of greenness is difficult to get funded, Frumkin said, pointing out that even this study was “a piggyback onto an existing study that’s being funded for other reasons.” He feels that if more resources were afforded to the understanding of human interactions with nature, the health benefits could be immense.

“If we had a medication that did this — a medication that prolonged life, that addressed very different unconnected causes of disease, that did it at no cost and with no side effects — that would be the best medication of the decade,” Frumkin said. “But we don’t have a medication like that except for this ‘vitamin N’ — nature.”

Read more at Energy Environment:

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These striking numbers show just how fast we’re switching off coal

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Bad Landscaping Mistakes and Ideas

Published Tue, Apr 19th 2016

Most folks tend to concentrate only on flowering plants while ignoring plants with unique leaf textures or shape and colour.

Posted via Industry Today. Follow us on Twitter @IndustryToday

Even if you are not a pro, you can develop your own fantastic garden or do your own landscape. It’s not as difficult as it seems provided you avoid some common and bad landscaping mistakes and ideas. Here are the most common landscaping mistakes and ideas:

1. Overcrowding: When plants are small, even a 2-foot space between them seems like a lot. Most folks tend to buy more plants and reduce the space between plants because they don’t like the barren spaces. Well, guess what happens in a couple of years? Plants grow and pretty soon they start elbowing each and push into unwanted directions.

If the empty space bothers you, place some small potted plants in between – the kind you can remove later.

2. All-Season: The time of the year when you visit the plant nursery is important. Folks tend to choose plants that look good. But remember, these plants are probably looking good at that particular time of the year; what about the rest of the year? So always pick a mix so you have something worth looking at throughout the year – evergreen shrubs and trees with interesting bark, perennial grasses is another good example – these turn into lovely straw-coloured feathers in winter.

3. Maintain Focus: If you want to create sitting space, place a few garden chairs in front of a table and looking towards the garden. Don’t overdo it by adding reading lamps or rugs and stuff. The star attraction has to be the garden and not your sitting space.

4. Colour Scheme: When you’re planning a colour scheme for your landscape or garden, choose no more than 3 or 4 colours. Blue, silver, green and purple plants harmonise beautifully. Too many colours will cause the viewer to lose focus.

5. The view from within is just as important: When planning your Lawn or Mowing Businesses For Sale, don’t just plan it from the front like most people do. Stand inside your house, open a window and look out. Now imaging your garden. What’s the view through your window?

Your garden should not look good from just one or two particular angles. With a little planning and Imagination, you can make it look beautiful from all angles.

6. Compliment everything: When installing a deck, imagine how it will look with your garden or landscape. The colour of your outdoor deck, the path to the house, colour of your roof, door etc. should all complement each other in a way that allow the plants to steal the show. For example, laying the path with bright coloured tiles will highlight the path rather than the plants. A grey tiled or pebbled path on the other hand, will highlight the plants surrounding it.

7. Match pots carefully: Pots are like fashion accessories in your garden. Grouping mismatched pots or pots of different styles will have a jarring effect.

8. Variety is the key to a good landscape: Most folks tend to concentrate only on flowering plants while ignoring plants with unique leaf textures or shape and colour. It is these latter types that will add beauty to your garden during the non-flowering season.

Yes, there’s more to landscaping and gardening than you imagined. No doubt with patience and planning you can get it right but if you really want to get it right the first time, hire the professionals and none come better recommended than Fox Mowing.

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Drought tolerant landscaping planted in Watsonville


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Gardening: Historic Garden Week makes room for future green thumbs



Credenhill, a stone Georgian home built in 1938 in the Flordon neighborhood, has a variety of formal and informal gardens, including quiet places to relax and enjoy the views and a chef’s garden filled with leafy greens and herbs right outside the kitchen door. Photo by Sue Gouldman.

If You Go

Historic Garden Week

Morven Estate Gardens and House: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, weather permitting

Morven tickets are $15, $10 ages 6 to 12, and are not refundable; call (434) 296-4695 to verify conditions on tour day.

Flordon Area: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Flordon tickets are $45; $40 advance; $10 children ages 6 to 12. Offsite parking only. Shuttles available from University of Virginia Foundation parking lot on Boar’s Head Inn grounds.

University of Virginia Pavilion Gardens: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday

UVa tour is free. Includes Pavilion Gardens; Pavilion Homes, Students Room and Edgar Allan Poe Room on West Lawn; Carr’s Hill; Morea Garden and Arboretum; Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture; and Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

Posted: Monday, April 18, 2016 7:00 pm

Gardening: Historic Garden Week makes room for future green thumbs


The Daily Progress

From classically symmetrical flowerbeds to profuse azalea plantings to weathered statuary almost as old as a young nation, Virginia’s Historic Garden Week presents sights that honor the grandeur of time-honored estates.

But the passion of gardening speaks to hearts of different ages, and one doesn’t need to have centuries of tradition or even decades of experience to become an accomplished gardener. That freshly tilled plot is, in many regards, a level playing field. President Thomas Jefferson’s writings are filled with enthusiastic references to delicious yields and successful experiments that can resonate with today’s garden bloggers and backyard dabblers. If you have soil under your fingernails, or wish you did, you get it.

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Jane Dunlap Norris is the features editor for The Daily Progress. Contact her at (434) 978-7249 or

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Monday, April 18, 2016 7:00 pm.

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San Francisco’s Plan to Bury a Freeway

When the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937, the road leading to it, a hulking viaduct of concrete and steel known as Doyle Drive, split the northern tip of San Francisco in two, cutting right through the Presidio, the U.S. Army base that guarded the mouth of San Francisco Bay. For as long as the Presidio remained a base, the land’s division into two pieces wasn’t a huge problem.

But in 1994, the Presidio was decommissioned. The land has since been turned into a national park, and the buildings on it have been redeveloped as housing, restaurants, offices, art spaces, and more. With the Presidio thus transformed into a very public place, the fact that it was cut off from the nearby shoreline suddenly mattered much more. As it happened, Doyle Drive was in need of replacement, owing to a number of design flaws and damage from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. This provided an opening to rethink the road’s role in the landscape. Various road-centric plans were initially considered, but it was an idea from a Bay Area landscape architect named Michael Painter, who proposed surrounding the road with a tunnel and then covering the tunnel with parkland, that garnered the most support.

The view after the Presidio base was decommissioned (James Corner Field Operations)

The Doyle Drive replacement is tucked inside concrete tunnels. (Karl Nielsen)

A rendering of a map of the Presidio development (James Corner Field Operations)

“It’s created an incredible opportunity for us to stitch the two halves of the park back together,” says Michael Boland, the acting executive director of the Presidio Trust, which manages the park. The Doyle Drive replacement, completed in 2015, is tucked inside concrete tunnels, the roofs of which will serve as green bridges linking the two sections of the Presidio that were separated in the 1930s. (An existing surface street, Old Mason Street, still runs parallel to the shoreline, but is easily traversable by pedestrians and bicyclists.) The top of the now-covered road and the surrounding area will be landscaped by James Corner Field Operations, the landscape-architecture and urban-design firm behind New York City’s High Line. In the end, the Presidio will gain 14 acres of newly developed park space.

Putting parkland over roads is an appealing way to squeeze more public space into crowded cities. “Many parks these days are being built on brownfield sites or over roadways or on land—or in some cases above land—that historically you wouldn’t think of as suitable for parkland,” Boland told me. In Dallas, for example, the 5.2‑acre Klyde Warren Park opened in 2012 on a platform over a sunken section of freeway. Los Angeles and Seattle are now considering similar freeway-cap parks.

Klyde Warren Park, in Dallas (Klyde Warren Park)
A man in the Presidio nursery (Alison Taggart-Barone / Parks Conservancy)

Corner’s design features a terraced landscape that climbs from marshlands along the shore up to gently crowned tunnel tops, where a series of lawns, meadows, and sweeping pathways are interspersed with small gardens and nooks that block the breezes off the water. The new ground over the tunnels will be about 30 feet higher than most of its surroundings, offering heretofore unavailable views.

“When you step out on the tunnel tops, you really get a 360-degree, geographical sort of centering vantage point where you can take in every landmark and every place that’s significant in San Francisco and the bay,” Corner told me, ticking off the city’s skyline, Alcatraz and Angel Island, Marin, the grounds of the Presidio, and, most prominently, the Golden Gate Bridge. “A large part of the design, in addition to connectivity, is really celebrating views,” he said.

Top: A rendering of the terraced landscape. Bottom: A rendering of the forthcoming Presidio land development. (James Corner Field Operations)

The plantings selected by Corner aim to call back to the natural conditions that existed on the site before the road cut through. More than 50 native species of plants collected throughout the Presidio are now being cultivated in its nursery for the park’s landscaping, which is expected to start next year and be completed in late 2018. Various grasses and succulents will blanket the tunnels, and the bluff leading down toward the water will be covered in native shrubs and grasses like those seen atop other escarpments along the edge of the bay. The hope is that these groups of plants will create habitats for the diverse bird, butterfly, and insect populations of the Presidio, as well as a natural refuge for the city’s residents and visitors. What was once a freeway, Corner said, will become, in parts, “quite wild.”

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Top 10 tips for gardening with hayfever

Celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin says fuchsia and foxgloves are good low-pollen options

So you venture out into the garden to plant some summer bulbs, only to be forced to beat a retreat with a stuffy, runny nose and red, itchy eyes. If you’re one of the 20 per cent of Irish people suffering from hayfever, gardening can be anything but therapeutic.

As we head into the worst season for sufferers, hayfever medication Cetriz asked celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin and Boots pharmacist Paula Reilly to provide advice on gardening with hayfever and on creating a low-pollen garden. Here are their top tips:

1. Monitor pollen forecasts and garden in the evening or in the morning on cool cloudy days, Reilly says

2. Do not touch your eyes or nose during gardening to avoid the transfer of any mould or pollens

3. Rub a small amount of petroleum gel, or vaseline, inside your lower nostrils to help prevent pollen from entering your nasal passages

4. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to prevent pollen landing on your hair. The pharmacist also recommends that gardeners cover up and wear gloves, a long-sleeved top, sunglasses and a mask if you’re cutting the grass

5. Bathe or shower and change your clothes after being outside

6. Consider replacing your grass lawn with paving or gravel or plant ferns and camomile lawn as a grass substitute, Diarmuid Gavin advises

7. Ensure wildflowers and weeds, such as thistles, nettles and ragweed, are removed from the garden, Gavin suggests

8. The Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist also recommends that hayfever sufferers avoid male trees and shrubs such as the common ash, maple and holly as they produce large amounts of pollen

9. For beautiful, colourful, low-pollen options in your garden, plant fuchsia, hardy geraniums, foxgloves, colombine, crocuses and azaleas and avoid flowers that give off a strong scent like roses or daisies

10. Grow your own food by planting low-pollen lettuce, a natural antihistamine, blueberry bushes and apple trees in your garden

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Protect your garden from upcoming cold snap

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Garden Tips: Not all earthworms are beneficial – Tri

I started working for Washington State University on April Fools Day in 1980. The first question posed to me by a local gardener was the best way to kill earthworms.

Was this a joke?, I thought.

I gasped at the heresy of killing these beloved beneficial organisms.

I had yet to learn how terribly bumpy a lawn could become from the activity of nightcrawlers, the type of earthworm causing the problem.

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Earthworms are a group of soil-dwelling invertebrate animals called annelids. They have brown to reddish-brown cylindrical segmented bodies. They are considered beneficial because they feed on decomposing organic matter found on and below the soil.

As they burrow through the soil, they help increase and mix soil nutrients, reduce compaction and improve aeration.

So why would anyone want to kill these helpful creatures? Not all earthworms are the same. The one that causes bumpy turf is the common nightcrawler, Lumbricus terrestis Linnaeus. It is a large non-native earthworm, reaching a length of 3 to 6 inches. These nightcrawlers maintain permanent deep (up to 12 feet or more) vertical tunnels. As they feed on organic matter, they also ingest soil. As a result, they excrete soil enriched by the organic matter they ingested. This excreted fecal material is called castings.

Nightcrawlers can live six to nine years.

To maintain their tunnels, nightcrawlers deposit their castings on the surface in small mounds. Researchers estimate that nightcrawlers are capable of depositing up to 20 to 25 tons of soil on the surface, per acre per year. Unlike the earthworms that meander through the soil in search of food and do not maintain permanent tunnels or create mounds, nightcrawlers are not effective at enriching and mixing nutrients in the soil.

Nightcrawlers live longer than you might think, with an average life span of six to nine years. They are also hermaphroditic, having female and male organs. They mate and breed most actively in the cooler weather of spring and fall, breeding about every two weeks and producing two to 20 offspring each time.

With each worm capable of producing more than 100 offspring each year, it is easy to see how easily a population increase, especially when conditions are favorable.

Common nightcrawlers are sensitive to high temperatures, doing best when the temperature is about 70 degrees. This explains why their most active times for creating mounds of castings are in the spring and fall. They go deeper in the soil and are less active when temperatures are warmer or colder. They also need adequate soil moisture, with 30 percent soil moisture being optimum. Precipitation or watering is favorable to their activity.

Nightcrawlers can produce more than 100 offspring a year.

There are no pesticides recommended for controlling nightcrawlers, because it would also kill beneficial organisms and other earthworms. However, there are some things that can be done to help lessen the hazard that their mounds create:

▪ Use a dethatching or power rake that is set just low enough to rake apart the mounds, but not deep enough to actually remove lawn thatch.

▪ Use a lawn roller to flatten the mounds, followed by core aeration to relieve the compaction created by the roller. Core aeration alone may also help level a moderately bumpy lawn.

▪ Because moist soil is conducive to nightcrawler activity, avoid frequent shallow watering. Allow the surface of the soil to dry some between watering.

Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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