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Archives for April 25, 2016

Wright-Inspired Usonian Cottage on Vashon Asks $374K

Buying a Frank Lloyd Wright original would be like trying to buy a priceless museum artifact. A 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 1,245 square foot cottage on Vashon lets you live in a house inspired by his ideas for $374,000.

It is called a Usonian cottage, a house that is both angular and blends into its landscape. The iconic long, rectangular, and repeated windows are carried into the interior shelving. The ceiling isn’t flat like many of his designs were, but the architects carried the theme into the ceiling with linear paneling. Refined simplicity was the idea, where natural materials like wood, and pragmatic materials like concrete are more than just paneling or poured floors.

Large roof overhangs are also part of the plan, providing more dry space, shade in the summer, while letting the sun shine in and warm in winter.

Living with the landscape is key, which may be one reason there aren’t any pictures of the entire house, just vignettes framed by foliage. One way to make the outdoors more welcoming is to create great verandas, and this one has in-floor heating. That must make it easier to shovel it, and maybe even dry it quicker after the rain.

Beyond the paved parts are about 3 acres of mostly natural landscaping with garden space and fruit trees; because the land is as important as the house.

For some architecture fan, this may be a dream house; especially, if they like washing lots of long, skinny windows.

· 16001 91st Ave SW, Vashon [Estately]

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More meetings set on MDOT’s downtown proposals

Maine Department of Transportation officials will hold three additional meetings and a public hearing on an estimated $4 million to $5 million traffic improvement project for downtown Wiscasset.

The first meeting is with the Wiscasset Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday, April 28 from 7:30 to 9 a.m. in the hearing room of the Wiscasset town office. The proposals include the addition of two traffic signals and widening the Main Street sidewalks by eliminating or reducing parking.

Gerry Audibert, MDOT regional planner and project manager, said an open house and public hearing would be held Tuesday, May 10 at Wiscasset Community Center. The first half of the meeting is from 3 to 5 p.m. and will allow for informal one-on-one discussions with traffic engineers. A public hearing will then follow from 6 to 8 p.m.

MDOT has also scheduled a meeting with Wiscasset’s Historic Preservation Commission for Monday, May 2 in the town office hearing room from 5 to 7 p.m.

At the open house, Audibert said tables would be set up where MDOT staff will answer questions or concerns people might have.

“We’ll have a continuous loop displaying options 1 and 2, and pre-addressed cards will be provided for interested persons to submit written comments and questions,” he told the newspaper Monday, April 25.

The public hearing will be similar to MDOT’s initial unveiling of the proposals held in March, Audibert added. The proposals include constructing new, wider sidewalks, improved street lighting and signage, landscaping and building at least one new parking lot. Both options include the addition of traffic signals and lighted pedestrian crossings at the intersections of Water and Middle streets.

Among the more controversial ideas within Option 2 is eliminating all parking on Main Street. The proposal includes razing the former CEI building on Water Street that once housed Haggett’s Garage and constructing a 29-space parking lot there. Another parking lot is planned at the north end of Railroad Street. Main Street between Water and Middle streets currently has 25 parking spaces.

MDOT believes either proposal will reduce summer traffic snarls as well as make the downtown safer for pedestrians. Before the project can get going, the townspeople have to determine which of two options they prefer. They can also recommend leaving downtown as it is.

Selectmen have promised to have a non-binding question for voters to indicate their preference when they vote on the 2016-17 town budget. Absentee voting begins May 13. Selectmen will make their recommendation based on the townspeople’s preference.

Both options 1 and 2 have several commonalities. The sidewalks would be widened on both sides of Main Street to comply with ADA standards and pedestrians directed to use one of only two crosswalks on the corners of Middle and Water streets.

Southbound traffic leaving the Davey Bridge would no longer be permitted to make a left turn onto Water Street, although the street would remain open to two-way traffic. Other amenities include adding benches, landscaping, lampposts and improved directional signage all paid for by MDOT.

MDOT also plans to both widen and pave Railroad Street (now dirt) that runs from the lower end of Main Street; and construct an asphalt sidewalk here. The state is proposing to construct a 26-space parking lot at the northern end of Railroad Street that will include two parking spaces for tour buses. Additional parking will also be added alongside the Creamery Pier.

The state would pay for all the engineering and construction costs. Audibert said construction likely wouldn’t begin until 2018.

Wiscasset Historic Preservation Commission members exchanged views about MDOT’s proposals when they met April 7. Among the concerns was the loss of Main Street parking and removal of Haggett’s Garage. The two-story brick building built in 1916 is located within the town’s historic district.

To view a 3-D download depicting MDOT options and other information go to


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Five Cities That Are Leading the Way in Urban Innovation

As part of Singapore’s efforts to maximize scarce resources, these Supertree sculptures in a park collect rainwater.

Cities are the future.

In 2008, for the first time in history, more human beings lived in cities than in rural areas. The United Nations projects that by 2050 nearly two-thirds of the world’s projected 9.7 billion people will be urban.

Some urban planners scratch their heads about how it’s all going to work. As ever-denser, more populous cityscapes continue to emerge, the eternal struggle to balance growth and quality of life shows few signs of abating.

Yet some ideas that address these types of problems are in place already and gaining traction in a handful of cities, including a few that are right under our noses.

To find out what urban-development policies and experiments currently hold the most promise, we asked more than a dozen experts—urbanists, architects, planners—what cities they think are worth watching now.

Their choices were illuminating. While the world’s megacities—Tokyo, Jakarta, Shanghai, New York City—get a lot of attention, for the most part the experts we asked picked cities a tier or two lower in size. None of the cities they highlighted, they thought, were doing everything right. But in all cases, the cities are taking some actions that the experts say demand our attention.

The five we ended up with aren’t meant to be exclusive. A larger list could have included London, considered by many to be the world’s most dynamic city, despite increasingly unaffordable housing. Seoul and Amsterdam, meanwhile, are among the leaders in putting “smart city” tools into the hands of their citizens.

With that in mind, here are five innovative cities that are worth watching.

SINGAPORE: Managing extremely limited resources

Most experts agree: In many ways, Singapore is a model of a successful, 21st-century city. It fosters business, promotes education and maintains a government largely free of corruption, though it also places strict bounds on personal behavior. But what deserves the most attention is how it manages its severely limited resources, a situation that cities around the globe will increasingly face.

The island city-state depends on neighboring Malaysia for much of its water. It imports 90% of its food and relies in part on a large group of non-permanent residents—about 30% of the population—to maintain economic growth. It also has to find ways to house its 5.5 million inhabitants, while keeping traffic moving in a dense yet bustling city that covers roughly the same area as New York City.

Singapore is “a city innovating under constraint,” says Edward Glaeser, a professor of economics at Harvard University. “You have a limited amount of land—you have to make sure you’re not wasting it.”

Take traffic. The city was a pioneer in “congestion pricing,” charging motorists for driving into the central business district during morning rush hour. A quota system restricts the number of new registered vehicles. Going forward, the city wants to require all vehicles to have a satellite-linked device that can calculate exact driving distances and make it possible to adjust tolls depending on traffic and the time of day.

Then there is water. The growing need for clean water will be among the biggest challenges this century, and Singapore is trying to squeeze more use from limited supplies. Two desalination plants can produce about 100 million gallons a day from seawater, about a quarter of the city’s needs. Singapore also looks to the sky: About two-thirds of the land surface funnels rainwater to be treated for drinking, and high-rises use it for flushing toilets. Changi Airport—frequently ranked among the world’s best—collects rainfall from runways to water the plants in the airport nursery and irrigate outdoor landscaping.

Singapore also has one of the world’s most ambitious wastewater-reuse systems. Four water plants using advanced-membrane filters and ultraviolet light as a disinfectant produce water that Singapore’s public-water authority says is clean enough to drink. However, the recycled water is mainly used for air-conditioning and for industry, including semiconductor plants that require water even purer than drinking water.

HOUSTON: Thriving but affordable

Pro-growth policies and light regulation, especially the lack of traditional zoning. make it easier and faster to build—and help keep housing more affordable for middle-income families than it is in coastal cities.

Many successful cities—most notably, London and San Francisco—have a glitch in their operating systems: Though they are growing rapidly, too many people are finding they can’t afford to live there.

Not Houston. From 2010 to 2014, the Texas city added more than 140,000 people, a 6.7% increase and second only to New York in the U.S. But the difference between Houston and other high-growth cities is that it has expanded its housing stock to accommodate its new residents. In roughly the same period, the Houston metro area issued construction permits for 189,634 new units, the most in the nation. It is not surprising, then, that more than 60% of homes in the larger Houston metro area are considered affordable for median-income families, according to the National Home Builders Association, compared with about 15% in the Los Angeles area.

Houston has “shown a capacity to grow without the kind of massive real-estate inflation that makes settling into places like New York, San Francisco, Boston, as well as London, all but impossible for middle-class families,” says Joel Kotkin, a fellow in urban studies at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism.

Many factors contributed to the recent growth spurt: Houston is the hub of the recently booming oil industry, which is now going through a painful bust. It boasts a nationally recognized medical center and is home to a thriving port. But affordable housing also contributed, Mr. Kotkin and others say, thanks to pro-growth policies and a light regulatory touch, especially the lack of traditional zoning.

No zoning makes it easier and faster to build, especially in response to changing economic conditions. A developer can avoid a lengthy and expensive rezoning process to build a townhome complex in a declining neighborhood of aging single-family homes. It might have to upgrade sewer lines and streets, but development costs are still low compared with other places. Although prices have risen some as builders replace older homes with nicer housing, the city stays affordable because so many new homes can quickly come on the market to keep up with demand.

The lack of zoning “actually does give the developer and design communities the ability to do things unlike anywhere else,” says Tim Cisneros, a Houston architect.

Says Mr. Kotkin: “While many on the ocean coasts yearn to restore the 19th-century city, the Texas cities are creating a template for this century.”

MEDELLÍN, COLOMBIA: Making high-profile investments in poor districts

The former drug capital has sought to connect poor neighborhoods to the rest of the city. This system of outdoor escalators and plazas extends a quarter-mile up steep hills in one of Medellín’s poorest districts.

Like many struggling cities, Medellín has looked to eye-catching building projects to revive its fortunes. What makes this Andean city different, however, is that it has placed some of its highest-profile projects in some of its poorest and previously crime-ridden neighborhoods.

Known to many as Pablo Escobar’s drug-and-murder capital of the 1980s, Medellín has undertaken a series of modernizations, such as a public-transit gondola system, the Metrocable, which serves poor mountainside neighborhoods surrounding the city. Striking new public buildings include the Spain Library, a group of giant stone-like monoliths overlooking a quarter once infamous for drug violence.

Perhaps the most ambitious project has been a system of outdoor escalators built in one of the city’s poorest districts. The escalators, which extend about a quarter-mile up steep hills and feature several small plazas, have won international innovation prizes. Tourism has grown, and the projects bring visitors to neighborhoods they might otherwise avoid.

It is still too early to know whether such expensive investments—the escalators cost about $6.7 million to build—will do much to improve the economic lives of those in poor neighborhoods. But they have done much to reconnect severely disadvantaged areas, which helps the whole city, says Michael Mehaffy, executive director of the Portland, Ore.-based Sustasis Foundation, a research and education foundation focused on neighborhood development. “It is in everyone’s economic interest to ensure that the poorer parts of the city are improving as well,” Mr. Mehaffy says.

DETROIT: Reducing red tape for neighborhood redevelopment

The city hopes to encourage startup businesses and small-scale redevelopment projects by creating ‘pink zones’ with a simpler approval process.

Detroit, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2014, doesn’t have a lot of money for revitalizing all of its neglected areas. So it is trying something more radical: setting aside areas where normal development rules don’t apply.

Developers and designers complain that, like many cities, Detroit’s onerous and outdated rules make it too difficult to rebuild or repurpose long-neglected retail areas. To try to reduce those obstacles without a time-consuming and expensive rezoning process, the city is proposing a handful of “pink zones,” where red tape will be cut to help small developers and entrepreneurs open new businesses and revive aging commercial strips. The goal is not to eliminate zoning but to ease some of the constraints faced by new projects, like minimum-parking requirements or environmental-impact reports.

With a $75,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the city planning department intends to recruit designers and planners to come up with a general framework for anyone who wants to start a new business or build in those areas. This might include pre-approved plans that can be used by builders to speed up a new development.

“You can create a great place, and you won’t have to go through months of red tape,” says Maurice Cox, Detroit’s planning director.

The idea of pink zones has been rumbling around planning circles for a few years. In the U.K., where it is called pink planning, it mainly aims to remove obstacles to new residential developments. It is part of a larger effort called “lean urbanism” that aims to reduce the regulatory tangle that can hinder new business.

Andrés Duany, a planner and architect who in the 1980s helped popularize the New Urbanism idea of walkable neighborhoods with a mix of housing, jobs and retail, is a leading U.S. proponent of lean urbanism. He says the idea came from all the young entrepreneurs and artists who in recent years were drawn to Detroit by cheap housing and space for launching new ventures. Detroit’s recent bankruptcy made that possible, he says, because the city wasn’t able to enforce its development rules and hinder the pioneering newcomers.

Detroit’s pink zones pilot program is the first test of this idea and is expected to serve as model for efforts to spur small redevelopment projects in other cities. “The city is ripe, the time is ripe,” says Douglas Kelbaugh, a professor of architecture and urban planning at the University of Michigan.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA: Improving walkability

To enhance walkability, maps are oriented in the direction pedestrians are facing, not always on a north-south axis.

Everyone knows walking is good for you. Vancouver wants to make it the top transportation priority.

The Canadian city may not be the most walkable city in the world, though it regularly makes the top 10. What makes it noteworthy are all the ways it is working to make the city easier, safer and more enjoyable to get around by foot.

Vancouver has made walking a key part of its public-health and “green city” goals. Roadways are being built and redesigned to favor pedestrians, for example, by installing pedestrian-controlled traffic signals on busy streets.

It also has changed development codes to make streets more attractive to walkers. The city’s zoning rules encourage density, which places more destinations within walking distance. Downtown buildings have storefronts and restaurants on the street level, while residential neighborhoods feature townhouses with raised porches.

“It is a big selling point,” says Lon LaClaire, the city’s acting transportation director. “People want to have good experiences walking around the city.”

The efforts are paying off. Residents walk exclusively for 26% of all trips within the city; the number is higher for those who live downtown, Mr. LaClaire says. Vehicle trips have declined citywide over the past 15 years, he adds, and the number of cars entering downtown has dropped 20% since 1996. As a result, Vancouver is ranked fifth by Walk Score, a unit of Redfin, which measures the walkability of more than 140 North American cities.

Mr. Totty is a news editor for The Journal Report in San Francisco. He can be reached at

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Transformation for Naples Botanical Garden to bring shade, water and foliage

Daily news file (2) The Balinese pagoda is part of the Asian Garden at Naples Botanical Garden on Bayshore Drive in East Naples.

A $1 million transformation inside Naples Botanical Garden plans to bring it more shade, more water, more event space and smarter gardening ideas.

The renovation begins Monday with a partial closure of the Florida Garden area.

It’s a notch in both growth and learning curves for the garden, said NBG executive director Brian Holley.

“The area that’s going to be affected most is the circular garden of Florida native flowers that’s surrounded by palms. When that garden was installed it didn’t have particularly good views from that area. Now with the growth of our plantings, there are some particularly stunning views, especially across Lake Tupke (the small west side lake). But people can’t see them because of the sabal palms,” he explained.

Those palms will be re-sited along the path leading to the garden’s birding tower, along with some benches to offer shaded spots along the marsh. The flowers in the circular garden will also move.

“Our intention was to show Florida’s native wildflowers. What’s been problematic is that a lot of times they don’t look good,” Holley conceded.

Anyone who has walked the Florida Garden when its red salvia has gone to seed and the dune sunflowers have matured into a leggy sprawl understand his comments.

The garden will still grow them, he said, but as additions to the plumeria house walkway landscaping, where the native plants will be less dominant when they’re in their dotage.

Miami-based landscape architect Raymond Jungles designed the renovation. He knows the gardens well; he also created its Brazilian garden and the 1-year-old NBG gardens around its new entry.

Under his design, the native plants garden, now fairly flat terrain, will become a promontory, by Florida standards, of 13 feet. A 25- by 40-foot chickee hut with a two-tier roof will sit on its peak facing west, toward Lake Tupke.

Sanctuary spaces
“It can be kind of a refuge, really a multipurpose space,” said Holley, who is envisioning it as a spot for yoga, classes and meetings. When complete, that area will have even more visual appeal: several smaller ponds that will contain Florida aquatic plants. Those will feed into a rivulet designed to cascade slightly into Lake Tupke, appealing to visitors’ ears as well.

Another smaller chickee, 20 by 30 feet, will face the botanical garden’s largest lake and its best bird-watching spots.

“We’re going to have native plants in there, but also good garden plants for Florida,” Holley said.

Some of those will have a history behind them. The botanical garden has been salvaging vintage landscaping, with permission, from demolition sites. The staff’s current rescue: trees and shrubbery around the Pelican Bay clubhouse in North Naples that would otherwise be torn out as the club undergoes a renovation.

Among them is a 2-foot diameter tabebuia tree — a prized landscape tree in Florida, with undulating branches and trunks that are covered in yellow blooms each March.

In fact, the garden has made such a name for salvaging landscaping that it now occasionally offers what it calls its “legacy tree” talk to groups.

The current Florida garden’s poled tomato plants, herbs and trailing squash that demonstrate food plants that can grow locally, will stay. So will the enabling garden geared to people with disabilities, with waist-high plants for wheelchair occupants and textured and fragrant plants for people with visual impairments. If anything, that area will get a wall bench that offers more seating, Holley said.

Added trees will offer shade around the Florida garden’s adjacent labyrinth, and a circular rest area known as Lucy’s Landing will get some shade palms over its benches as well.

“When we’re doing the redo, one of the things we really have come to realize is the critical need for shade,” Holley said. “This is Florida. It’s hot.”

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5 Simple Ideas to Wow your Guests

With spring cleaning underway, now is the perfect time to use items you may otherwise sell at your community garage sale, for your upcoming spring entertaining. With spring in the Sunshine State, now is the best time in Florida for a garden party.

Trace Kingham, Event Designer Entertaining Expert,  demonstrates how easy it is to utilize items from around your home to create your own Spring Garden Party with style. Whether you have a small patio or a large lanai, Trace’s ideas will spruce up your outdoor space with sophistication and style.

1.         Greet your guests with inspired Spring wreaths
2.         Pretty in Paper – unique vases made from paper products. easy affordable 
3.         Patio herb flower gardens made from unique vessels you already own
4.         Inspired spring beverages that will have your guests asking for refills! 
5.         Create your own water feature with old ceramic vases and outdoor landscaping stones


SUPPLIES: Large Ceramic Potting Vase (no hole)

                     Medium Vase with hole – drill carefully if necessary

                     85-100 gph fountain pump

                     40lb bag of Mexican River Rock or Rocks of your choice

                    ½” tubing

                    Plumbers Putty


Step 1: Take your small fountain pump and place in the bottom of a clean large ceramic potting vase. Depending on the height of your medium vase, I recommend you use a very low setting on your pump to create a nice flow of water.

Step 2: Carefully place your Mexican river rocks around the pump and and completely cover the pump, leaving a small opening for the tubing to come through the rock layers.

Step 3: Take your tubing and feed through the hole of the Medium Vase/Vessel. Use your plumbers putty and seal the tubing into the vase. To use plumber’s putty pinch off a decent amount, knead it, and roll it like you would make a snake. The snake of plumber’s putty should be positioned around the faucet base or the drain lip before it is pushed into the sink. Some sinks have a large void at the drain area will which you will be filling so roll enough to fill the gaps. Don’t be afraid to use too much because the excess will simply squeeze out and you can put it back in the container for use next time.

Step 4: Carefully place the tubing onto the fountain pump outlet and nestle the vase atop the river rock. Adjust until medium vessel is level.

Step 5: Fill the lower vase until it is about at the base of the river rock. Then fill your medium vase with water about one-half to three-quarter full.

Step 6: Plug in your pump and enjoy the beautiful fountain you’ve just created.


Inspired Spring Wreaths

When you guests arrive, nothing sets the tone than a beautiful spring wreath or florals on the front door to greet your guests. There are a number of simple things you can do to set the tone for your upcoming Spring Garden Party!

Idea #1: Take an old metal potting container and attached a 2” wide satin ribbon on each side. I used a small metal screw (for strong hold) and hot glue to keep in place. Use buttons or other elements to cover the screws.

Once you have secured your ribbon, place silk flower foam, found at your local craft store, and fill the bucket half-way.  Find some lovely silk flowers that you would like to use and create a gorgeous pot of flowers. I embellished my bucket with a “welcome” message.

Idea #2: Take an old Christmas wreath and remove all the decorations and ribbons. Using a wreath wire form, take bunches of silk flowers and tie off with floral designer wire. This too can be found at your local craft store in the floral section. Now you can easily place the bunch of flowers through the center of the wire form and secure to the wreath. Continue doing this until you have filled the wreath form. Adjust accordingly and then carefully wire the floral ring to the wreath. Hang and enjoy!


Container Gardening


Containers of your choice – variety of sizes and shapes

                Sand – small bag of play sand or fish tank sand

                River Rocks – Small and large

                Gardening Soil – Container Garden variety

                Plant Materials – Herbs, plants and flowering plants

                Satin Ribbon – size and color of your choice

                Embellishments (tassels, buttons, shells, faux jewels)

                Hot Glue Gun


When preparing for your Garden Party, I always recommend using containers that you have already and embellish them to add a bit of style and sophistication. 

When using containers that don’t have drainage holes, be sure to nice layer of sand, then a layer of rocks to create drainage for the soil above. If your flowers and plants don’t have enough drainage you’ll experience root rot by having too much moisture in your soil.

I use herbs mixed with flowering plants to create interest and purpose. I can then use some of the fresh herbs for cooking throughout the season!

Some of the ideas I have are:

1.       Satin ribbon with a jewel embellishment.

a.       Take a hot glue gun and place a small dot of glue in the place you would like to place your ribbon, carefully place on the container. (Be careful and always have a small bowl of cold water in case you get hot glue on your fingers.)

b.       Wrap the ribbon around the container and place another dot of hot glue to secure tightly around the container. 

c.       Finish with an embellishment using hot glue. Simple and easy style!

2.       Drainage Container.

a.       I found a rectangle planter without a drainage hole and placed layers of rocks. For my container I used river rocks on the lower layer and white decorative rocks atop.

b.       Using 4” cylinder ceramic planters, I placed stylish Zinnias in soil. These planters have drainage holes.

c.       I placed my plantings atop of the white rocks. Now I have a simple drainage catcher that is perfect for the center of a table or side table on my back patio.

3.       Garden Terrarium

a.       Using a 12” bubble bowl I had stored in my container cabinet, I made a shallow layer of Mexican river rocks.

b.       Removing most of the soil, but being very careful not to harm the plants. Place the plantings atop the layer of rocks inside the bubble bowl. Using a few additional rocks and carefully support the plantings in the positions. I found three plants works nicely in this size bubble bowl.

c.       Add a few ounces of water to keep the plantings’ roots moist.

4.       Paper Container

a.       Paper containers can be a fun way to get ready for a party and provide interest and sophistication. With so many varieties at your local craft and housewares stores, you can create interesting and awe inspiring designs for your upcoming garden party!

b.       Take a paper container. If it’s cardboard and lined you can seal the insides with melted candle wax.

                                                               i.      To minimize mess, I used an aluminum loaf pan to melt the candle wax. (you can find this in candle making section of your local craft store) I cut chunks of wax on a cutting board and placed in aluminum loaf pan. Then I put the load pan in a large pot of boiling water. The candle wax will quickly melt.

                                                             ii.      Carefully pour the hot wax into your paper container. Carefully rotate the container being careful not to let it spill out. Continue turning the container until all the wax has coated the inside of the container and hardened. Let is cool for a few hours.

                                                           iii.      Now you have a water proof flower container to use for arrangements and you can send these wonderful arrangements home with your guests as party favors!

Garden Party Cocktail

Having yummy spring time cocktails at a garden party is a must! Fresh flavors and fund cocktails make a party special. These easy do it yourself cocktails will impress your guests!

1.       Lemonade Vodka Tall Shooters

1 oz. Triple Sec

1 oz. Vodka, lemon

3 oz. Lemonade

Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into shot glass. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice for an added kick if desired. Garnish and add a straw for serving.

     2.   Spring Wine Cooler

3/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup lemon-lime soda


     Garnish: lime wheel, strawberries

Combine ingredients in a glass filled with ice. Stir and garnish with a lime wheel and strawberries.

3.       Spring Hive

1 oz. Moscato

1 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. peach schnapps

                1/2 oz. simple syrup

To make simple syrup combine equal parts of hot water and sugar and stir until dissolved. Combine all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Gently shake and strain into glass.





Container Garden Gazing Globes –


                Silver Glass Holiday Ornaments

                3/4” wood dowel

                Spray Paint – color of your choice

                Hot Glue Gun

Adding interest to your container gardens is simple and easy! Look through your old Holiday decorations. I found an old box of silver glass ornaments that are perfect!

Simple take a dowel that you can purchase at the hardware store or craft store. Cut it into about a 10” length and paint any color you desire. I painted my brown, because I had a can of brown spray paint.

Carefully remove the metal ornament hanger from the ornament. Using a hot glue gun, take a small amount of glue around the rim of the ornament opening. Place the dowel into the ornament and hold until hot glue has hardened.

Place your Container Garden Gazing Globes into the soil and you have a stylish decoration!

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Growing greener lawns, gardens at Rockport natural practices landscaping forum

ROCKPORT — How green can a yard get? What does “organic” or “pesticide/herbicide-free” really mean? Are organic blueberry and farm fields truly organic? And, do homeowners still use Round-Up? (Yes, they do).

But there are alternative landscaping and gardening methods far friendlier to the watersheds, drinking supplies, birds and bees. 

And, there are laws governing neighbors’ rights to know what pesticides are being applied on nearby properties. If a neighbor has signed onto the state’s pesticide notification registry, it is mandatory to contact them prior to any pesticide application, whether residential or commercial.

Some towns, including Owls Head, Rockland and Montville, prohibit herbicides or pesticides to varying degrees and types of applications. See here for the Maine municipalities with pesticide ordinances.

On April 28, the Rockport Conservation Commission will host a Natural Practices for the Lawn and Garden forum at the Rockport Opera House, 5 to 7:30 p.m., in the downstairs meeting room.

Guest speakers will be Henry Jennings, director of the Maine Pesticide Control Board, and Evan Frace, owner of Greener Grounds Landscaping. They will talk about chemical-free alternatives to pesticides and fertilizers, and how to manage yards without using toxins.

“Maybe you use chemical pesticides or fertilizers but would like to learn ways to reduce their environmental impact,” the Conservation Commission said. “Maybe you already use natural ways to care for your lawn and garden and want to learn more. Either way, this informative forum is for you.”

Common types of pesticides

  • Algicides control algae in swimming pools, lakes, canals and water used industrially or stored
  • Biocides kill microorganisms
  • Disinfectants and sanitizers kill or inactivate disease-producing microorganisms (like bacteria and viruses) on inanimate objects
  • Fungicides kill fungi (many infect and cause diseases in plants, animals and people; examples: rusts, mildews, blights and molds)
  • Fumigants produce gas or vapor to destroy insects, fungi, bacteria or rodents
  • Herbicides kill weeds and other plants
  • Insecticides kill insects
  • Miticides kill mites that feed on plants and animals
  • Microbials microorganisms that kill, inhibit or out compete pests, including insects or other microorganisms
  • Molluscicides kill snails and slugs
  • Nematicides kill nematodes (microscopic, wormlike organisms that feed on plant roots)
  • Ovicides kill eggs of insects and mites
  • Repellents repel pests, including birds and insects
  • Rodenticides control mice and other rodent pests
  • Rooting hormones and other plant regulators

For more information, email



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Tips for starting a backyard garden

Several homeowners recently have commented that they want to start a garden in their backyard this spring. I usually ask them why. The answers are quite varied. Some want to make sure their children really understand where food comes from. Others say they always helped their grandparents pick tomatoes during the summer, and they just want to see if they can grow tomatoes as large as grandpa did. Or they say the corn on the cob they can get at the grocery just doesn’t taste like that from their uncle’s garden.

If you decide you want to start a garden this year, here are a few suggestions that will help you be successful. First, find a place on your property that receives sun all day long, or at least all afternoon long. I suggest you start out small, say 10 feet by 10 feet or 20×20. You want to enjoy gardening. You don’t want to be a slave to the garden.

Next, cultivate the area with a tiller, or turn the soil with a spade. Then add organic matter to the soil and turn the soil again to mix the organic matter with the soil.

The importance of organic matter cannot be overstated. Organic matter improves the physical structure of the garden soil. If the soil has a high clay content, the organic matter will improve the permeability of the soil. If the soil has a high content of sand or silt, the organic matter will increase the soil’s water holding capacity.

There are several sources of organic matter. You can collect leaves or grass clippings and compost them before you add it to the soil. Some homeowners collect vegetable waste and compost it before they add the product to the garden.

You also can purchase organic matter in various forms such as peat moss, compost, worm castings or organic soils. Usually you can find them in bags or in bulk at vendors in our area.

As you use your garden area, be sure to make organic matter additions annually. You will find that your garden will produce more and larger vegetables throughout the years.

Happy gardening!

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Digging in with Tom Horvat: Tips and tricks to help you garden grow

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in The Register’s Spring Home Garden Special Section that appeared in Friday’s edition. For a copy of the special section, stop by The Register during normal business hours.

Spring is here and while most avid gardeners are looking forward to blooming backyard paradises, those without a green thumb are forced to contend with fake greenery or a rotting brown mess.

Tom Horvat, owner of Silver Cliff Landscaping in Richmond, has seen it all, and over the years, he has picked up some helpful tips for beginner gardeners.

According to Horvat, the early spring and warmer temperatures this year has ramped up blooming, and now is the perfect time to start planning and working on your garden. But you might still want to wait a bit before planting your favorite annuals.

“Spring started a little earlier than normal, which is great for us, we get to enjoy blooms a little longer and starting planting earlier. You are perfect as far as timing goes on perennials. However, I would emphasize that now is not a good time to put annuals in. May 10 is usually our day for that in the region. I would recommend waiting a little bit longer until it is a safe time to start planning your annuals,” Horvat explained.

The landscape and gardening expert said beginning gardeners should always be aware of recommended planting times in our region.

When planting your new spring trees, shrubs or flowers, Horvat recommends investing in the right kind of fertilizer and tones for your plants.

“One thing we always tell people is feed the plant when you install,” Horvat said. “There is all kinds of tones out there people can purchase and different plant varieties require additional nutrition. When selecting what plants they want to install in the gardens or backyards, they need to get educated on what type of fertilizer they require.”

Horvat said the importance of feeding the plant and preparing the right conditions to grow a healthy plant is especially necessary in Madison County.

“Our soil is not the best,” he said. “We have a lot of clay and by the time we dig into it the sub soil is depleted. Our soil really requires a lot of work to make something grow. If you stick a plant in our soil without some kind of help it isn’t going to grow very well.”

One way to combat our region’s soil conditions is to plan for a raised garden bed.

“It’s very popular right now and perfect for our area,” Horvat explained. “It really makes gardening simpler and you can control the soil conditions better. You just buy the soil and plant what you want. It’s so much easier.”

The gardening expert also said container gardening is a similiar alternative that can be used by apartment dwellers or those that don’t have spacious backyards.

“We have a lot of herbs coming in with the veggies,” Horvat explained. “A lot of people like to keep fresh herbs on their patios and we have a lot of nice containers that are perfect for that.”

Horvat said his employees at Silver Cliff Landscaping are well versed in the nutritional needs of the plants they sell and are currently running a special on raised gardening bed supplies.

As the Spring season kicks in, Horvat said Silver Cliff will be bringing in annuals, vegetables and will have weekly sales on flowering trees. He added, an important component of planting trees many gardeners miss is staking the tree.

“When you plant your trees, first thing you need to make sure of is to not get the hole too deep,” Horvat said. “Next, I cannot stress how important it is to make sure the tree is staked. You have to give the tree’s roots time to set, with the wind blowing it around, it pulls at the roots and the tree either doesn’t grow or it grows crooked. We recommend you keep a new tree staked for a year.”

Another faux pas of new gardeners is the tendency to drown their plants.

“People have a tendency to overwater their plants,” Horvat chuckled. “You need to water based on weather conditions and only water during especially dry seasons.”

Horvat said a popular new flower for spring is the Encore Azalea, a genetically modified version of the regular variety, which Silver Cliff carries.

“They bloom three times a year and can handle more sun than regular azaleas. It was developed in Mobile, Alabama, and requires less shade,” Horvat explained.

Another trend Horvat said that is taking off in Kentucky is the use of pine straw as an alternative to mulch.

“It’s really catching on and it’s a nice little ground cover,” Horvat said. “We sell it here and I recommend people start thinking about using it. It does a great job of keeping the weeds out, it’s natural and very nice-looking.”

Horvat said another decision to make for beginning gardeners or those that just want a nicer garden this spring is how to deal with pests.

“Bag worms are what is the most destructive in Kentucky and people need to be on the watch for them,” he said. “In central Kentucky, they start appearing in the middle of June and really like evergreens.”

Horvat cautions gardeners to read pesticide labels carefully, research and ask advice on proper use.

“It’s so important that they need to make sure they are doing it right,” Horvat said. “Some insecticides you can’t spray when it is over 85 degrees outside. It’s not good for the plants or the environment and people are not aware of the dangers of what they are using.”

Horvat, who is licensed in category 12 pesticides, said he welcomes anyone that needs help in understanding pesticides to visit Silver Cliff.

“You can come here and get good advice,” Horvat said of his business. “We want to help make your gardens better and make sure you are being safe in the process.”

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Garden Tips: Water wall devices can protect plants from frost – Tri

Like gardeners elsewhere, local gardeners like to get a jump on the season by planting tomatoes before May 1, the average date of the last spring frost. However, because tomatoes are warm-season plants, early planting with frost protection does not necessarily lead to an earlier harvest. Tomatoes need warm soil and air temperatures to grow and prosper.

The needed heat can be provided with Wall O’ Water plant protectors or similar water wall devices that consist of a cylinder of tubes made from translucent plastic sheeting. When the tubes are filled with water, they create a “wall of water” around the plants. Sunlight heats the water up during the day and that heat is released to the soil and air around the plant at night.

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Many avid gardeners use Wall ‘O Waters, or similar products like Kozy Koat Water Teepees, for getting a head start on the tomato season. However, gardeners often complain that it is difficult to fill the devices.

Instructions say to place the cylinder over an overturned or upright 5-gallon bucket, and use a hose to fill the tubes. Once the tubes are filled, the approximately 20 pound device is lifted off the bucket and placed where a tomato will be planted.

The process sounds simple, but gardeners find it hard to accomplish it without getting their feet wet or tiring their backs.

After researching a better way and not finding one, I brainstormed. I put the empty device inside a 5 gallon bucket and filled up the tubes. This was easy to do while sitting in a chair and without getting my feet wet. I then used the bucket to carry it to where it was needed and lifted it out of the bucket. It worked like a charm. Let me know if you have an easier way to fill up Wall ‘O Waters.

Local gardeners who use water wall devices have two other tips. One is to make sure the walls are secure when placed in the garden or they may blow over in winds. This can be done by placing one to two stakes inside the device when setting them in the garden. Some gardeners secure them with wire tomato cages inside or outside the cylinders, but watch for for wire ends that can puncture the tubes.

The other tip is to remove the devices when daytime temperatures are regularly above 80 to 85 degrees because the temperatures inside the walls will be higher and can climb enough to damage the plants. Removal before the plant gets much taller than the cylinders is advised because they are difficult to remove later without injuring the plants.

Are these water wall devices worth the trouble and expense? One university study showed that the use of the devices can decrease the time to harvest of the first ripe tomato by about 10 days, and less-expensive waxed paper hotcaps can reduce the time to harvest by 6.7 days. Interestingly, homemade covers made from plastic milk jugs actually increased the time to harvest by 5 days.

A study in Madras, Ore., showed that there was no significant difference in the date of first harvest between tomatoes planted a month early in water wall devices and those planted directly in the garden a month later. However, the total yield of ripe tomatoes for the plants grown initially in the wall devices was about eight times the yield of those planted later with no protection.

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

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