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Archives for April 21, 2016

“Mutual Understanding Mutual Respect”

On a cold crisp morning earlier this year, artist Matthew Duffy stood seriously contemplating his stainless-steel sculpture, “Mutual Understanding, Mutual Respect,” outside the front entrance of Reston’s new North County Government Center. Duffy, looking rough-and-ready and all suited up for welding, was preparing to tackle a problem with the sculpture’s connecting bolts.

Expressing his momentary frustration, Duffy, a sculptor as well as a certified welder who “operates a project-based art practice,” explained that the sculpture—two, sleek, fretwork hands reaching for each other—was designed and cut so it should have taken mere minutes for all the pieces to pop into place.

“Metal shrinks in the cold; it’s Murphy’s Law,” he said with some resignation.

Several months later, problems solved, the sculpture—a Fairfax County public art project done in consultation with the Initiative for Public Art-Reston (IPAR)—is almost ready for its unveiling at the official grand opening of the government building on June 18.

Finishing touches include buffing the stainless steel and installing lighting, landscaping and nearby benches. Later a sign also will be installed with artist and other information.

Referring to Reston founder Robert E. Simon Jr.’s belief that public art helps to define a community, Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins noted: “Public Art has indeed been fostered here and has always been a vital element in the planning of Reston. Throughout Reston, pieces of art tell a story about our rich history. … Frankly, in all honesty, I must confess I am a big fan of public art that inspires the community and engages the mind and senses.”

Hudgins, whose offices share the government center with the Reston Police Station, added that “incorporating artwork into our new facility is a demonstration of the county’s commitment to public art.”

Besides “reflecting the overall character of the Reston Community,” the Duffy sculpture, she continued, “reflects and celebrates the civic nature of the county offices, police station, library, and social services facilities surrounding it.”

Hudgins also happily reported that a public art project at the North County Government Center site is specifically designated in IPAR’s Public Art Master Plan for Reston, adopted in 2008.

She recruited IPAR from the project’s inception to work directly with county staff on the artist selection process and then on the siting of the sculpture so it could be seen from both the building’s exterior and interior.

Like Hudgins, Anne Delaney, IPAR’s executive director, believes that “public art provides a new way to experience the community and the site, and it opens our eyes. It suggests welcoming and openness and provides an aesthetic sense of place.”

The ideas that produced “Mutual Understanding, Mutual Respect,” Delaney said, were, in part, the result of Duffy’s in-depth research into “what was the mission of the building in the community and who are its tenants. … It creates a collective attitude.”

Duffy, 37, a site-specific sculptor who “combines technology with traditional artmaking,” said that he strives to do something different with every project.

Among those who own his works are “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert, “Family Guy” creator Seth McFarlane, and Dr. Doug Lewis, retired curator of sculpture at the National Gallery of Art.

Duffy explained: “I knew Reston was planned around ideas of diversity and community. … I see the sculpture and think about how things are worked out by citizens participating in government. Police going out on patrol and seeing the sculpture and thinking about helping people in the community.”

Alluding to the ongoing national furor ignited by police shootings in black communities like Ferguson, Missouri, he added, “Policing is an incredibly difficult job in the worst moment in people’s lives.”

Awarded the Reston sculpture project in February 2014, six months before the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Duffy elaborated: “It’s the idea of mutual respect in these difficult times. The idea of the handshake goes back thousands of years; it’s a sign of non-aggression, of peaceful greeting and respect. … Reston chose [my] sculpture before [police shootings] became a national issue. It’s a testament to members of the [selection] committee that included police, that they were already thinking about it.”

Kathleen Driscoll, Hudgins chief of staff, is equally intrigued by the “intellectual aspect” of Duffy’s design and “the handshake as a universal symbol of welcome … of mutual cooperation.”

She especially likes the fact that the sculpture’s two hands while reaching toward each other do not touch. “It’s a very dramatic gesture, kind of like the role of county government, stretching toward what needs to be done.”

On the purely aesthetic side, Driscoll also is an admirer of the sculpture’s stainless steel exterior.

Besides its sleek look, Duffy said that his choice of 11-gauge stainless steel also is highly practical because it does not require maintenance. Although the original intent was to have a highly polished exterior, he later decided on a matte finish, which reflects the surrounding colors and adds texture but is not a mirror image.

Inspired by the light and airy Chinese fretwork pattern called “cracked ice,” Duffy explained that his decision to interweave the stainless steel was both aesthetic and symbolic. He said, “It goes to the idea of connecting citizens with government and police.”

Well before reaching the stainless-steel stage, Duffy shared that he made two giant plywood models. Also a fine arts teacher at the Jesuit Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., he hired a group of top art and stage crew students to work with him during the sculpture’s preliminary stages.

Duffy—who studied sculpture at the University of Maryland where he received his BA degree and at the University of London’s Goldsmiths College where he earned his MFA—recalled how much he benefited from working with other established artists.

His own experience, he noted, included working as an assistant to American neoclassical sculptor Jay Hall Carpenter, who served for 20 years as the sculptor for the Washington National Cathedral. When not working on his own projects, he helps other artists at the innovative Washington Glass School in Mt. Rainier, Md.

“It expands my own thinking,” he said. “I hope I do that for my students.”

The entire sculptural process, Duffy acknowledged, though “rewarding,” is always very labor intensive and physically demanding. Also, when working on a project, he might not talk to people for days. “It’s kind of monastic.”

His creative process, he suggested, is a dichotomy. Having also once worked as a carpenter rehabbing houses, he said that he enjoys the physical labor after sitting all day in class or at a computer.

“I use a lot of technology,” said Duffy, who sold his first piece a week after graduating from college in 2001. “But when push comes to shove, I always go back to working by hand. It’s a good balance—a little bit of brain and a little bit of braun.”

Describing the Reston project as “big and complicated” and the initial competition for the commission “stiff,” Duffy further mused: “Now that the hands are done, I’ll starting thinking of the next projects. Similar but different, one project leads to another.”

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Backyard Landscaping Ideas, Time to Go Green Your Home

Spring is a time when you should turn your attention to implementing backyard landscaping ideas to renovate the area since the weather is ideal for greening up your home. Whether you select to increase the lushness of your lawn, plant a garden or add trees or shrubs to your backyard, the warmth and rains of the spring help your elements to thrive and grow. Before you proceed, though, you must make a landscape design plan to follow to ensure that you reach the ultimate goal of greening up your backyard.

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Is a Lush Lawn Your Goal for a Landscape Design?

If a lush lawn is the right landscape feature for your backyard, you may be starting it from scratch. When this is the case, you will need to till the soil with that economical piece of used farm machinery that you purchased recently. The soil must be a fine texture down to a depth of, at least, six inches to ensure that the roots of the germinating seeds can reach out for the necessary nutrients and moisture from the soil to ensure the grass grows in the optimal manner. In addition, you may need to add amendments to your soil to enrich it prior to planting the seeds. Your local extension office will test your soil for free upon your request.

Another important element of starting a new lawn is the fact that you will need the correct grass seed. Certain seed is right for full sun while others are for shady backyards. Read about some examples below:

  1. Full-Sun Grass Seed
  • Bermuda
  • Saint Augustine
  • Centipede
  1. Shade-Loving Grass Seed
  • Tall Fescue
  • Perennial Ryegrass
  • Kentucky Bluegrass

Once you buy the right seed, spread over the prepared area with a seed spreader or by hand. Water the area and place a layer of wheat straw on top of it to retain the moisture. Keep the area damp until the seeds start to germinate. Remove the straw and deeply water once a week unless sufficient rainfall happens in your location. If you have an established lawn, it may be time to fertilize depending upon the type of grass that is in it. Ask a local nursery for the correct fertilizer and time period for your specific grass.


Garden Design Ideas

Instead of a lush lawn, you may prefer separate garden areas that you scatter throughout the backyard with only grass or stone paths in between these areas. Your second hand farm machinery once again will be useful for preparing the soil for these areas. Draw a layout of your garden design ideas to ensure that your separate areas do not overcrowd your backyard. You need to provide the plants sufficient space to grow and expand. In addition, sketch in the plants you plan to add to these sections. Remember that you need to place shade plants together and full-sun plants together. On top of this, group those plants with similar nutrient and water needs in the same section.

When these garden sections have one side, two sides or three sides, always place the tallest plants in the back and then graduate down. To do this correctly, you should think about the sizes that the plants are going to be when they are fully mature. If your garden areas are four-sided, though, place the tallest plants in the center and graduate the plants down in size out from that point.

Along with all the other information about gardens, you can select a single color of plants or flowers, mix multiple colors together or plant a specific type of plant or flower. On this last one, gardeners cultivate only roses in their gardens all the time. You also can select one section to grow vegetables or a mixture of vegetables and flowers. The choice is yours.

Plants That Create Attractive Garden Edging

You may prefer to highlight each garden area with some type of garden edging plants. These plants grow in such a way that they do not detract from your flowers and other plantings. Instead, they act as an outline to enhance each section. We provide a list of possible plants for edging in the following information:

  • Alyssum
  • Bloody Geranium
  • Liriope or Monkey Grass
  • Persian Catmint
  • Sedum
  • Variegated Lilyturf

The above list is just a sampling of edging plants for the garden. Consult with your local nursery to learn which edging plants grow well in your location and sun exposure.


Other Landscaping Design Ideas

You can add water features such as ponds or fountains as a way to enhance all the above efforts while you also provide the soothing sounds that water makes as it moves. To further your enjoyment of your lawn or garden in the evening hours, solar-powered lights come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles.

Act today to green up your backyard with our effective landscaping ideas or other ones. Spring weather is mild enough to provide grass and plants an ideal start, whereas, the hot summer temperatures may be too extreme to do this successfully in your backyard

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Do you have ideas for your summer landscaping projects but don’t know where to start? Call Chakur Design Group …

Chakur Design group, LLC has been creating sustainable and environmental landscape designs for over 20 years. We pride ourselves in being innovative and diverse in our design projects and we especially take note in using recycled or earth friendly products all the way down to our soy based inks and recycled paper. We create lifestyles not just landscapes and are certified in several areas of the green industry. Work we perform: Landscape, Hardscapes, outdoor living areas, planting and full design work. Please call Chakur Design Group, LLC for a professional landscape design. 314-932-7501

Chakur Design Group LLC

7135 Saint James Square
Maplewood, MO 63143

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Meet Edwina von Gal of the Perfect Earth Project

Coming from anybody else this proposal might sound hopelessly optimistic. America’s lawns and gardens have long been fed a steady diet of fertilizers, pesticides, and weed killers, and the idea of abandoning such methods has never been an easy sell, despite mounting safety concerns about these substances. But Von Gal is one of the country’s most lauded landscape experts, having built her name conjuring gorgeous settings while honing environmentally friendly techniques. Along the way she has attracted legions of influential supporters and clients, among them Cindy Sherman and Ina Garten. Calvin Klein has hired her for numerous projects because, he says, “it’s important for a landscape to be not only beautiful but safe.”

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New Edible Campus satellite gardens sprout up around UNC


The Edible Campus project features edible and pollinator-friendly plants in nine different satellite gardens around campus. About 700 plants have been installed so far.

Emily Auerbach, a Chancellor’s Fellow who runs the project, said the nine gardens are called satellite gardens. They’re only the first component of Edible Campus’ two-part project.

“So far we have nine of the satellite sites up and going and we’ve accomplished four planting days with a total of 136 participants,” she said. “Our best estimate is that we’ve gotten about 700 of these high-functioning plants installed over the course of the last year.”

She said they’ve worked with UNC Grounds Services to identify sites around campus where existing landscaping can be replaced or new landscape can be created that features edible or medicinal plants.

Auerbach said the second component will be a central demonstration garden called the Davis Library Edible Garden. She said Edible Campus will partner with local organizations to bring teens of color to the garden to learn about sustainable agriculture.

“We want plants that are easy for people to interact with that have lower entries, so people can harvest a snack on their way to class,” she said.

“But (we’re) also focusing on plants that are minimal maintenance, that don’t require pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizer and require very little irrigation, and that ties into the environmental ethics that we have at the program.”

Alice Ammerman is co-chairperson of the steering committee for Food for All, the University’s campus-wide theme. She said the idea is not to feed the campus but to create more awareness of what can be done with growing food.

“It’s not so much an effort to produce a lot of food, it’s not like it’s a farm,” she said. “It’s more sampling and tasting.”

Tony Mayer, who works on the project, said construction for the central garden by Davis will start next winter. He said until then, there are satellite gardens in front of Lenoir Dining Hall, Fetzer Hall, SASB, Stacy and Aycock Residence Halls and Davis Library itself.

He said the satellite gardens around the Pit are the ones most focused on food. Other areas have food plants along with pollinator plants, which help the diversity and health of the ecosystem.

“The Davis garden will be the central showpiece of Edible Campus. It will have agricultural production, educational displays, better signage and places for people to hold workshops,” he said.

Mayer said the program is mainly about showing people where food comes from and engaging them with the landscape. He said the gardens aren’t just a backdrop — people can smell, taste and interact with them.

“Students can volunteer to work on the gardens, and that’s one of the great ways for them to get out of the classroom, away from the computer screen, get some air and some sun, and have some skills that aren’t just academic,” he said.

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See Lady Banksia roses, other blooms in 1932 Lord & Schryver private garden (photos)

Every gardener dreads the gaps: the times during the year when there’s nothing in bloom, zero that can be harvested and the yard looks as bleak as winter. Professional landscapers work hard to create year-long interest in gardens using a succession of flowering shrubs, annuals and perennials.

One of the first landscaping firms to master ever-interesting evergreen grounds was Lord Schryver, led by Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver, who founded the first woman-owned landscape architecture firm in the Pacific Northwest in 1929.

They operated for 40 years, and in 2015, their Salem residence and personal garden were each added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The property, called Gaiety Hollow, at 545 Mission St., is open to the public from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday, May 1; 1 p.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 11; 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. on Friday, June 24; and 1 p.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday, July 3. Admission is $5 for ages 16 years and up.

The May garden will include spring blooms of azaleas, rhododendrons, tree peonies and weigela. An original planting by Lord Schryver of the climbing, thornless rose, Lady Banksia, will be in full bloom, says Dee Hendrix, Board Member of the Lord and Schryver Conservancy, which oversees the private property as well as Deepwood Estate, at 1116 Mission St., which is the firm’s only residential designs open to the public.

The firm designed the Gaiety Hollow landscape in 1932, when they moved to the site where architect Clarence Smith designed new Colonial Revival-style living quarters and offices for them. Lord and Schryver used the “home garden” to showcase their work and experiment with new design ideas and planting schemes.

According to documents submitted for the National Register listing, the property is fully integrated through the use of axes that continue from house to garden, with designed views and vistas. This approach is consistent with the landscape architects’ design philosophy.

There are six gardens: entry, evergreen, north lawn, drying garden, parterre garden and west allee.

The property was listed because of its significant landscape architecture and building architecture, said Diana Painter, the National Register coordinator for the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office.

“It is perhaps the best example of their life’s work, a place where they could play out their design principles freely, unfettered by clients’ wishes,” said Bobbie Dolp, president of the Lord and Schryver Conservancy. “The garden draws on classical garden design traditions but also has a distinctive Pacific Northwest flair, showcasing plants suited to the region.”

The conservancy group is using Gaiety Hollow as an educational center and is raising funds to purchase it.

The site was named a contributing resource to the Gaiety Hill/Bush’s Pasture Park Historic District.

— Janet Eastman

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Tips for gardening on a budget

The cost of seeds and seedlings, soil amendments, pest and weed controls and tools can add up quickly. Instead of breaking the bank this year, carefully plan out your garden and take advantage of free resources whenever possible.

Whether you have hundreds of dollars to spend on your garden or a small amount set aside from your paychecks, trim your garden budget with these tips.

Plan your garden


Tips for ordering from seed catalogs

10 tips for beginning gardeners

Before you start your garden, determine how much money you have to spend on initial supplies, like seeds, seedlings and soil amendments. Take an inventory of your garden tools and decide if you need to purchase any additional tools. You can think ahead about weed and pest controls and determine what you’ll use.

You can keep garden records to track expenses throughout the gardening season and to determine if the money put into growing plants is worth growing them again in future years.

Choose seeds with space in mind

Only buy seeds that you’re able to use. You may want to plant four different tomato cultivars, but do you have enough space to grow them? And having a few colors of the same flower sounds lovely, but only if they won’t be crowded out in your flower beds.

If space is an issue, consider container gardening. Container gardening gives you the option to repurpose items like coffee cans or feed bags and use them to grow plants, even if the only space you have is on a porch or deck.

Choose seeds that will grow

Not all seeds will thrive in all hardiness zones, soil types and sunlight amounts. Do your research and choose varieties that have been known to grow well where you live.

If you’re starting seeds indoors, make sure you have the proper indoor climate controls. Pay attention to information printed on seed packets. If you’re ordering from a seed company, you may be able to access fact sheets for certain cultivars that provide details about pH levels, light, humidity and other factors.

Shop around for tools

If you’re an avid gardener, take proper care of the tools you already own so they last longer. If you’re a beginning gardener, only buy what is absolutely necessary. You can find information about garden tool care and about which tools to purchase here.

Depending on what tools you need to get started, or what tools you need to replace, take the time to shop around for prices you’re comfortable with. You want to buy quality products without going over your budget.

Be frugal

As the gardening season goes on, you can save money in the garden by conserving water, making your own compost and being proactive about pest control. These practices will help to keep your budget in check.

Oregon State University Extension offers money-saving ideas for gardeners, such as swapping seeds with family and neighbors, sharing soil and other materials with neighbors and using inexpensive items as plant markers.

How do you stick to your garden budget? Tell us in the comments below.


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Springtime tips for lawn, garden and fruit tree care

star-sponsored-nativeThe following is sponsored by Tri City Nursery Garden Center.

If you have a lawn, garden and/or fruit trees, here are some tips to keep them healthy this year.

Lawn Carelawn
Make sure your lawn is getting its proper nutrients and weed preventers. In spring you should be getting down your spring feed and pre-emergent, if you go later in spring a good spray of weed killers wouldn’t hurt. In our heavy clay soils it is also recommended to use some type of soil activator to break up the clay for the roots to grow better. Late May or Early June put down a Weed Feed. Mid-Summer a basic fertilizer and in fall a winterize. Tri City offers a 4 step program that will cover all your lawn care needs.

gardenVegetable/Small Fruit Gardening

Now is the time to start planting some cold weather vegetables. You should also be getting those garden beds ready with fertilizers and tilling the soils. Tri City Nursery has all your vegetable needs. We also have a big selection of unique small fruits; Honeyberry, Kiwi, Gooseberry, Goji Berry, Sea Berry along with multiple varieties of Raspberries and Strawberries. One of our favorite Strawberries is the Albion Strawberry. It’s more of a bush plant and the berry is consistently bigger in size with a very sweet flavor. We carry both potted and bare root berries.

Fruit Tree Sprayingapple-orchard

Fruit Tree Sprays is one of the best, and most important, sprays of the entire year. Fruit Tree spray means spraying a plant with ‘Dormant Oil’ or ‘Horticulture Fruit Tree Oil’ (depending on time of year) this spray can be applied in the late-fall, winter, or early-spring; sometimes it is needed both in the fall and in the spring.

A properly timed dormant spray will prevent, and kill, more insects and diseases than most other sprays during the year. Dormant sprays can also help reduce the amount of spraying needed later in the season.

Here is a link to USU Extension explaining the best sprays to use and when:

Now is also the time to get your Fruit Tree Pruning done.

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