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Archives for May 8, 2016

Garden Design Solutions: Ideas for Outdoor Spaces by Stephen Woodhams

Acclaimed gardener Stephen Woodhams burst onto the horticultural scene back in 1994 with his award-winning garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. His new book speaks to the inner gardener in us all

He won’t thank me for calling him middle-aged today, but when Stephen Woodhams announced his presence on the gardening scene, he was a young prodigy. Aged 24, he became one of the youngest gardeners to win a gold medal at the 1994 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and he has never looked back.

His new book, Garden Design Solutions: Ideas for Outdoor Spaces is the latest effort in what has become an impressive output within the sector. “From a young age, I always remember my parents were keen gardeners,” he says, reflecting on how his early enthusiasm for the subject arose. “We had a medium-sized garden at home, but we did grow fruit and vegetables, as well as dahlias and other cut flowers, and this inspired me at a very early age. My paper round money earned me enough to buy my own greenhouse, in which I grew bedding plants and then would sell some of them to my school teachers. I also managed to afford a motorbike thanks to a Saturday job which meant that, when I started studying at the RHS Gardens at Wisley, I was able to take on extra weekend jobs looking after people’s private gardens.”

He maintains that attending college is an excellent entry point for anyone looking to follow in his footsteps. “Going to horticultural college is a great start in the world of gardening and I’d encourage youngsters to do it as an introduction. From there you can travel the world learning how gardens are designed and implemented, and gain more practical experience on putting them together.”

That’s certainly something Stephen has done. He has produced urban, roof and country gardens in locations as diverse as the Mediterranean, the USA, the Middle East and Mauritius.

Connoisseurs point to the architectural character of his designs and the eclectic mix of textures and colours.

Alan Titchmarsh has praised the way they combine “flair with practicality and are always rich in atmosphere”. But was it always design rather than the business of digging and planting that appealed most?

“The best part of the RHS is that they give you basic training in all aspects of ornamental horticulture,” he responds. “You learn all about the basics of pruning, planting and digging. This is vital because if you know how to grow and look after plants, the design process is so much easier.” Of course, it’s at that point in their college studies that some people decide to go into other areas of horticulture, such as the commercial growing of vegetables, soft fruits and flowers. However, Stephen’s penchant was design and making the best of urban spaces. “I think anybody who has an outside space within any urban setting should try and cultivate it,” he insists. “To come home from work and water your plants, cut the grass or dig up fresh vegetables is such a good way to relax and unwind.”

It’s his belief that the imagination can be used, however unpromising the location, however tiny the space.

“There are so many ways,” he argues. “Using mirrors, for instance, can create the illusion of more space, especially if placed on opposite fences on either side of the garden. It can make the garden feel like it’s going on for eternity. And the addition of lighting always helps a garden feel more magical at night, rather than looking at a black hole outside. Highlighting a particular feature, perhaps a tree, will again make the space feel a lot larger than it really is.”

His new book expands on these concepts, and the photographs help the reader build a visual picture. In a country garden, he writes that it’s possible to blur the boundaries and “borrow” views from the countryside around you, something the earliest landscape garden designers like William Kent began to do in the 18th century. In an urban garden, on the other hand, that’s not so easy, and possibly not even desirable. But Stephen offers hints on how to utilise surrounding architecture or trees beyond your space. One of his designs for a rooftop terrace garden even manages to exploit a view across the Thames to the London Eye, the arrangements of shrubberies lending a gentle bucolic touch.

While hard structures play a considerable role in his ideas, he writes of the hierarchy of plants to be taken in order when planning a garden, with trees and shrubs first, then herbaceous perennials, and lastly the bulbs and annuals. There are chapters on seasonal planting, scented gardens and even a sensory garden. It’s an invaluable reminder of the need to think about an overall plan before you start, rather than just plunging in. There are case studies of traditional, formally planted gardens, Mediterranean gardens and low maintenance gardens.

I guarantee that, if you have only the faintest inclination to do something with your own green space, within a few pages of flicking through this book your fingers will be positively itching.

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Scituate selectmen candidates talk town’s green initiatives

Posted May. 8, 2016 at 5:00 AM


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Landscaper adds services to create niche

When you own a landscaping company, it can be hard to find a niche and stand out among the competition. However, in developing a business model, Green Bay SCORE client Ryan Rosenbaum has done just that.

Rosenbaum and his brother, Nick, started RNR Landscaping LLC of Green Bay in 2013. Although Ryan bought his brother out last year, he continues to operate under the original philosophy of offering a more creative and meticulous approach to landscaping.

“One of the biggest things for me is that I am a very detailed person, and passionate about the field I’m in,” Rosenbaum aaid. “I’m always learning and trying to come up with a new way to provide better service and come up with new ideas.”

Armed with 16 years of experience of managing jobs and working for a Fox Valley landscaper, Rosenbaum visited SCORE and took an entrepreneurial class at E-Hub in Green Bay while developing a 40-page business plan.

“One of the most important things I learned was to know where I wanted this business to go,” Rosenbaum said. “Mark Burwell (the program director for E-Hub) would tell us when he thought we weren’t taking the right path, and gave us some valuable tools for pricing and making financial projections.”

In taking classes and spending time learning about business, Rosenbaum and his brother also planned ahead and started to save and acquire equipment in the year before opening. With those assets, only a small bank loan was required for final equipment purchases. The credit union they visited was impressed with their business plan, and their request was approved.

With all the advance planning, RNR Landscaping had customers requesting its services on opening day.

He said, “For quite a few years, I had a lot of friends, families and different connections who had seen my quality of work and were pushing me to go out on my own. So, before we launched, I had quite a bit of work. From there, we began to build relationships with customers and they’ve passed along our name to others. That’s how we got rolling and stay very busy.”

Their wide range of services includes brick patios and walks, retaining walls and steps, lawn care and maintenance, pressure washing, lawn installation and repair, shrub plantings, patio or deck cleaning and sealing, seasonal cleanup, snow removal, and just about any other service associated with landscaping. Then, there are those 3-D renderings.

“At UW-Platteville, I learned how to use CAD-based programs to design plans and stumbled across a few programs that could take those drawings and recreate them in 3-D. I am able to give customers a better idea of what the job will look like. It’s taken us to a new level,” Rosenbaum said.

In addition to 3-D renderings, the company also offers a solid warranty and uses the highest quality materials.

“I see the clients’ projects as an investment in the future of the business,” he added.

As the business grows, Rosenbaum sees education as an important component and has obtained certifications in everything from pesticide application to paver installation. His three employees are highly trained with a similar attention to service and quality.

“In this field, I’m not going to grow unless I have the people I can be confident in,” Rosenbaum said. “I’d rather stay small and provide quality service and work than have three crews that are blowing through jobs and the end result compromises what we are as a company.”

Another challenge will be the ability to balance the demands of business and family.

“My wife and I have an infant son and I don’t want to be getting home late every night,” Rosenbaum said. “That will make it tough at times to juggle everything so that I’m devoting enough time to my family and company.”

Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and Past District Director for SCORE, Wisconsin.

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London Bay Homes Renovation and Design reports re

Submitted Past projects include interior renovations of a residential home in Collier's Reserve which included the kitchen (before photo).

Submitted Past projects included interior renovations of a residential home in Collier's Reserve which included the kitchen (after photo).

Submitted By Gravina, Smith, Matte Arnold Marketing And Pr

While homebuyer interest continues to be on the upswing in Southwest Florida, a number of homeowners are discovering a new love for current spaces with London Bay Homes Renovation and Design. Projects currently underway in 2016 have more than doubled compared to total number of projects for all of 2015.

The year-over-year record growth directly correlates with London Bay Homes’ reputation as a leader in the Southwest Florida luxury home market for more than 25 years and the company’s commitment to custom building through Private Label Living.

“Many of our clients have been living in the same community and the same home or condo for quite a while,” said Renovation and Design Director David Valladarez of London Bay Homes. “A lot of them will go out and look for a new home but realize they love where they live. Their community has become part of who they are, but their lifestyle has changed and their home no longer suits their needs. They want to modernize and update.”

Terrence and Patrice Magrath’s home was built in 2000. After moving to Naples full time in 2012, they soon realized that while the footprint of the home was ideal, the design had become dated. “The home was always lovely to begin with, but over time, it needed updates and modernizing,” said Mrs. Magrath. “We had previously worked with Michael Scott of Romanza Interior Design on home design projects. Because of their relationship with London Bay Homes, we knew that for the renovations we desired, they were they only option for us.”

London Bay Homes, known for creating luxury custom homes along Southwest Florida’s coast and in new-home communities from Sarasota to Naples, also offers full-service interior and exterior renovations, additions and space-planning services.

“We are true design-led builders and are very comprehensive in our approach — from landscaping to interior design,” said Valladarez. “We offer comprehensive renovations, including landscape, interior and outdoor environment enrichment. The beautiful thing about London Bay is we offer all design and construction services under one roof, whether someone is building from the ground up or renovating. Our clients don’t have to deal with three or four consultants, contractors and specialty contractors.”

“We were delighted to have the ability to work with the contractor and the designer at the same time. They made it a seamless, coordinated process. One hand always knew what the other was doing,” added Mrs. Magrath. “London Bay also took a holistic view to renovating the house. When they saw something that needed tweaking or improving, they were willing to make the appropriate recommendations. It looks like a brand new home.”

Many of the company’s recent projects involve opening up floor plan spaces to maximize entertaining areas between the kitchen, dining room and living areas. Expanding outdoor living environments also ranks high on clients’ wish lists, Valladarez said.

“This is Florida and people spend a lot of time outside,” he added. “Many of the requests have included doubling or tripling outdoor living spaces to incorporate cabanas, summer kitchens, fireplaces and fire pits, as well as redesigning existing pools, spas and landscapes.”

London Bay Homes Renovation and Design is also seeing an upward trend in projects involving homes that the company originally built. “After finding out that London Bay Homes originally built their home, the new homebuyers are contacting our office to inquire about making enhancements to accommodate their vision and lifestyle — whether that’s adding on a bonus room or integrating new technology,” Valladarez said. “For example, people like having their lights, sound systems and TVs controlled by one remote or iPad. It makes managing their living environments easy and enhances their lifestyle.”

David Krell and his wife, Barbara, worked closed with London Bay’s staff while renovating their home in Mediterra in Naples.

“When we purchased our home, we were immediately impressed by the building quality of the execution of the home, but the floor plan did not fit our lifestyle,” said Mr. Krell. “London Bay was the original builder of the home. Because of their trusted expertise, we knew that relying on them to make the adjustments we desired to fulfill our lifestyle would provide us with the peace of mind we needed to manage the renovations from out of state.”

The Krells’ renovations included opening up the main floor plan to create a more open, lighter concept. While the previous owners focused much of the design on entertaining — including a media room and sports bar — the Krells desired more space for visiting grandchildren and hobbies. A new bedroom with full bath was added, as well as an additional powder room. Renovations to the kitchen included new cabinets, a wine room, and an island with expanded counter space.

“My wife and I had lots of ideas for what we wanted for the home,” said Mr. Krell. “David Valladarez and his team were exceptionally accommodating to our desires. They listened and executed every aspect of the home to our specifications. The bottom line is that the key to any great experience is having the right people in place. London Bay has done a great job in recruiting a good team of quality individuals that we trusted with our home.”

From complete interior and exterior makeovers and room additions, to kitchen and bath renovations and architectural and design accents, London Bay Homes Renovation and Design covers the spectrum of home improvement services. The company’s commitment to Private Label Living ensures each project reflects the individual client and the home they envision.

London Bay Homes builds new luxury homes priced from $1 million to more than $10 million in many of the region’s most exclusive neighborhoods and communities. The company also builds private residences on individual homesites in the Sarasota Keys and along the Gulf of Mexico.

Online at

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Brenda Charpentier’s Forest Journal: NH’s wildflowers are making their spring debuts

Trout lily is out and about for spring in New Hampshire woodlands. (Brenda Charpentier)

NOW THAT I’M in my 49th spring, I’ve noticed something peculiar about May. No matter what troubles or sorrows I may have felt the weight of in a March or an April, I’ve found it nearly impossible to stay sad or grumpy about them for long in May. The wildflowers simply won’t allow it.

Each one seems to me a gentle nudge to have more faith, be resilient and cheer up: Whether as a dormant plant, bulb or seed, they just spent months under the cold, crushing weight of snow and ice. The new shoots are often tiny, with spindly stems. And yet here they are, unfathomably blooming, delicate yet strong and beautiful anyway.

Many of New Hampshire’s wildflowers bloom just once and are done, so the time to enjoy them is short. I’ve found that I enjoy them more when I get to know them, taste them if they’re edible (and abundant), learn their traditional medicinal uses and their sometimes funny, folksy names. Devil’s paintbrush, catgut, ladies tresses, Dutchman’s breeches, beardtongue – the names bespeak their looks, although they don’t always describe the flowering part. Goldthread, for instance, gets its name from its long, stringy, yellow roots.

This week, at least in south and central New Hampshire, some wildflower stars that stepped onto the forest stage are well worth grabbing a camera and guidebook and taking a walk to find.

Trout lily

I noticed a patch of these last week along a woods trail in Concord, just as a mated pair of cardinals landed on a branch overhead. I didn’t know whether to look up or down first! The female bird made up my mind for me by flying off, attentively followed by the crimson male.

Trout lilies go by lots of names; this first one comes from their long, oval leaves that have brown spots like a brook trout. Some call it dog-tooth violet for the shape of its root (never mind that it obviously is a member of the lily family and not a violet). And some call it adder’s tongue for the shape of its stamens or perhaps the shape of its two leaves as they first push up through the forest leaf layer in the spring.

Alternative medicine practitioners value this plant, making a tea from its root and leaves to fight fever and other ailments. Native Americans made a salve out of the crushed leaves and poured the liquid onto slow-to-heal wounds.

Wild-edibles foragers like it in salads or steamed or sauted, but I’ve never nibbled this one. It makes some people vomit, and I don’t really want to find out if I’m one of them.

Seeing trout lilies in bloom seems all the more special because it takes many years of growth for the bulb to get mature enough to actually send up a flower.

Solomon’s seal

This plant is just starting to stretch out its arching stem and put on flowers in the woods next to my house. It’s one of my favorites for its gracefully dangling, ivory-to-yellow flowers all in a row on the underside of the stem. It gets its name from King Solomon, Hebrew ruler and son of David renowned for wisdom in the biblical Old Testament. Most sources say that the name refers to scars left from former stems on the plant’s underground rhizome (root) that look like the wax seal monarchs stamped onto letters, using their rings to put a special symbol in the wax.

Later on this summer, pea-sized berries will hang like blackish-blue jewels where flowers bloom now.

Foragers and alternative medicine practitioners prize this plant’s leaves, stems and roots. Alternative medicines from Solomon’s seal have been used to treat all sorts of ailments and bruises. Gardeners cultivate it for the elegance it lends to shady spots in perennial beds.

Common purple violets

Despite their name, common purple violets come in white, too, and have heart-shaped leaves and lush foliage. These are so cheerful and pretty to see in the wild or along roadsides. Once they get into your garden, though, look out! I yank them out of my perennials every time I pass through the garden, kind of wincing to think of how sweet they are in bloom but scared for my other flowers if I don’t. This plant is so tenacious that if you leave any part of its root in the ground, it will sprout in no time and thank you very much for the pruning.

I get a kick out of people who write in online landscaping forums about their frustrations in getting violets out of their manicured lawns. In my backyard, if it’s green, it stays! Clovers and violets are most welcome among the struggling grass, but I’d really like it if the violets didn’t like my flower gardens so much.

On the flip side, I snack on many of the leaves and flowers I pull. This is one tasty and nutritious wildflower, with leaves full of vitamins A and C. I toss them into my blender with frozen blueberries, cherries and plain yogurt for a delicious smoothie.

New England is home to some 3,500 kinds of wildflowers utilizing every type of natural community. Some prefer shady, moist forests. Some prefer sunny meadows, and some like stream banks, floodplains, rocky slopes or alpine elevations.

Not one can grow in asphalt or cement. This diversity of needs of course makes the case for all of us who love wildflowers to help conserve them by conserving all kinds of habitats so that every future May will be as beautifully abloom as this one.

Note: If you don’t already have a field guide you like for wildflowers, check out the new one from the New England Wildflower Society: Wildflowers of New England, published by Timber Press.

Brenda Charpentier is communications manager for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Email her at

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PEG TILLERY | A rhodie for every garden

By Peg Tillery

Rhododendrons are one of the flowers we think about on Mother’s Day. May is usually the time of year when these magnificent plants are covered in their most dynamic blooms. The last few years, though, they’ve been about a month early in this area. Even though you’ve missed a few flushes of blooms you can still see plenty blooming in local nurseries on the Kitsap Peninsula. Or, treat yourselves to a drive across the Hood Canal bridge for two special treats where you’ll find two lovely nurseries with strolling gardens.

Whitney Gardens in Brinnon is renowned for its rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, kalmias, Japanese maples and other plants perfect for combining with these Pacific Northwest weather-loving beauties. It’s also expanded into a full service nursery.

Whitney Gardens Nursery is at 306264 Hwy 101 in Brinnon. The website is and you can find the garden on Facebook. Call 1-800-952-2404 or 360-796-4411 for information, visit the website for abundant details. The nursery is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily during spring and summer. Mother’s Day is the perfect time to visit the nursery. The website also includes a 112-page downloadable catalog with numerous photos.

Twenty-three years ago, when my husband and I began visiting Whitney Gardens to collect rhodies, azaleas and Japanese maples, we used the charts and information in the catalog to choose rhodie and azalea plants that would provide interest all year in the landscape surrounding our home. We were able to find a collection of rhodies that provide blooms for 10 out of the 12 months of the year. We have rhodies for shade, partial shade and full sun conditions. Foliage selections in every shade of green, variegated, deciduous and evergreen, with leaf and woody structure sizes ranging from minute to humongous. We did indeed also blend in Kalmia and lots of hostas to this luscious mixture of plants and plantings. Rhododendrons can be used as striking center of attention plants, or as screens bordering property lines. They are great paired with conifers.

Chimacum Woods Nursery at 2722 Thorndyke Road, Port Ludlow, a rhododendron species nursery and garden, is only 3 miles west of the Hood Canal bridge on South Point Road (even though the address says Port Ludlow). The nursery is known for species rhodies grown from seed. Owners Bob Zimmerman and Beth Orling are a dynamic team who love to answer questions and provide tours of their 7 acres filled with a treasure trove of species rhododendrons.

Visit or call 206-383-2713 for information. They’re also on Facebook. The nursery is open by appointment and the May garden open days with tours are May 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and all three days of Memorial Day weekend, May 28 through May 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Chimacum Woods website is filled with glorious photos of species rhododendrons along with a section of frequently asked questions and Zimmerman’s answers about growing rhodies.

Bob Zimmerman and Beth Orling recommend The American Rhododendron Society website,, for those who’d like to learn more about this versatile and mostly easy-care woody shrub.

One caveat, some rhodies can grow into treelike structures. You’ll see some of these magnificent treelike rhodies at Whitney Gardens. In our own garden we have a cluster of three rhodies (possibly planted at the same time nearly 40 years ago) that are over 30 feet tall and provide a lovely cooling spot to sit on a bench in the shade in the heat of summer. Perhaps that’s what attracted us to this home in the first place.

Knowing that many rhododendrons can grow massively huge, it’s best to do your homework before selecting and purchasing one (or more) for your own landscaping needs. Remember they’ll grow out in circular fashion, so don’t plant too close to the house, garage or other structures, near fences, or along roads, sidewalks or pathways.

The Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way is worth the drive. Visit or call 253-838-4646. It is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and free for children 12 and under.

Peg Tillery thumbnail

About Peg Tillery

Peg is a retired WSU Kitsap Extension Horticulture and Water Quality Educator and current WSU Master Gardener. She writes for West Sound Home Garden and emcees “Gardening with Peg” for the magazine blog.

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Aurelia Scott, writer, gardener and ‘Hero’ of Portland Trails, busy making city greener

Aurelia Scott arrived in Maine in November 1997, just months before one of Maine’s most infamous ice storms, which was funny (in a non-ha-ha way) since she was at that point primarily a gardening writer eager to get her own garden started. It seemed like that winter would never end. As she adapted to her new community she wrote a book about obsessive rose experts (including one of her then-neighbors) and became active in Portland Trails. We talked about everything from competitive rose growing to organics and the differences between personal and public green spaces.

HEROIC MEASURES: Scott was on the board of Portland Trails for 12 years and has served as the group’s president and interim executive director. She also put her writing chops to use as the editor of the newsletter for 14 years. As she retires from the editing job and the group celebrates its 25th year of greening the city by the sea, Portland Trails has selected her as one of its “Heroes.” She’s particularly proud of how the newsletter is received. “It’s been something that people told me that they look forward to receiving and actually made time in their busy days to put their feet up and enjoy it, which is rare these days.” Scott will remain on Portland Trails advisory board.

HAPPY TRAILS: She gives credit to Tom Jewell for the concept of an interconnected trail all around the city, an idea she supported from the get-go. “I said, ‘Let’s just make this happen,’ ” she said. “I take credit for being a cheerleader. It is a joy and a privilege to be involved with an organization that is helping transform for the better how Portland and its neighboring towns look and how people live and interact. I feel strongly about how important it is to have people be able to get out of their cars and walk safely between neighborhoods. We are creating shared, linked green space.”

Those 70 miles of continuous trails might be a given now, but Scott remembers “clearing the shrubs and the icky stuff away.” She remained on duty after the trails were laid. “One task that is assigned to all board members and most advisory members is to walk a trail once a month and report on it to Jaime Parker, our trails coordinator.”

OUT OF THE DESERT: Her background is as a gardening and travel writer. She got serious about gardening herself when she and her husband were living in New Mexico, although she admits hers was a very steep learning curve. “I did all the wrong things.” Which is fine, she said. “It is how you learn.” She took the Master Gardener class and had frequent phone consults with her father, who had managed the family’s backyard garden when she was a child. Coaxing life from clay in a dry climate wasn’t exactly preparation for planting a garden in Maine, so she retook the Master Gardener course when the couple relocated.

PLANT PUBLISHING: She’s the author of “Otherwise Normal People: Inside the Thorny World of Competitive Rose Gardening,” which featured one of her Portland neighbors, Clarence Rhodes, a frequent judge for the American Rose Society. “It’s about the crazy people who exhibit roses. Which is OK to say because they say that about themselves, about the lengths they will go to for the plants they love.” That’s been a theme. “I like very much to write about the intersection of people and plants,” she added. “We are learning more and more about how important plants and greenery are to the emotional health of individuals and the health of a city and a community and how they affect how people interact.”

She still writes about gardening for various outlets. But right now she’s working on something very different: an adventure novel for middle readers set in the 19th century and a memoir about “women and nakedness and lingerie.”

PEOPLE’S PARK: Here’s a surprise: “I no longer have a private garden.” In 2010 Scott and her husband moved to a condo in downtown Portland. That might have led to withdrawal symptoms if she hadn’t found various public gardens in need of helping hands. “I am on the ‘green gang’ of our condo,” she said, which does plantings around the buildings. She also joined the St. Mary’s Garden Club based in Falmouth, “a really environmentally conscious garden club.” “Those are my ways of having my hands in the dirt, which is important,” she said. “There have been times in my life where it was very important to me to have my own garden and be actively creating something in partnership with the plants. That time may come again, but right now I feel contented to help nurture something along, and it doesn’t have to be mine.”

BACK COVE BACKSTORY: Like, for instance, her really big shared backyard. Scott’s condo overlooks Back Cove, where she works on the Portland YardScaping Demonstration Gardens, a sustainable landscaping project that’s about more than beautifying. “It’s all with the goal of educating people on how herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers can damage our waters,” she said. “And how you can be a successful gardener without using any of those.” The 2.5-acre gardens, opened in 2011, feature trees, shrubs and perennials that can thrive without chemical inputs or massive irrigation. “Earlier in my gardening life, I often tried to push the envelope in terms of what plants would grow happily where I was living. I might want some exotics here or there. But you end up wasting some kind of resource for something that might be only moderately successful.” Like water in Taos or planting something that bugs love to eat in Maine, unless you use chemicals. “The longer I live on this planet, the more organic I become.”

HELPING HANDS ON DECK: But that means human intervention is required at Back Cove, say volunteers to take on tasks like pulling weeds and mulching with cardboard and bark. “It’s a big job,” Scott says. “It takes occasional heavy work and constant upkeep because obviously we don’t go around and spray things.” Idexx sends employees to help with the grunt work. “We would love to be able to expand that to other businesses.” (For ways to volunteer, visit the group’s Facebook page. Bonus: “You get thanked by passers-by. People say ‘Good work’ or ‘Thank you,’ and that is just wonderful and doesn’t always happen in your backyard.”






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The top nine tips for beginner gardeners

Planning is key 

It’s tempting, at first, to buy every pretty plant that takes one’s fancy and hope that it will survive. While the process of seeing what does and what doesn’t thrive is educational and useful, you will (and I did) end up with a chaotic collection of plants, which rarely looks good in a small space. Once you’ve established what you like, it’s worth sitting down and planning out what will work best for your urban garden and the time you want to spend there.

There’s no point in putting a delicate, sun-loving vine in a dark, blustery corner, or shoving a shade-appreciative fern in an exposed window-box. Similarly, it’s unlikely you’ll have room for a veg patch and a dining table, so planning helps make the most of your space. Eventually, the satisfaction of seeing your plans come together over the season will more than outweigh the instant gratification of an impulse buy – although it took me two years to learn that.

Read (or Google)

Boring, perhaps, but true. My gardening knowledge is small, but almost all of it came through delving through online forums, RHS guides and library books. You don’t need to go full immersion, it’s probably better to look up problems one at a time. If something seems too good to be true (“boiled lemons in water will deter greenfly”) it possibly is, but you’ll still be grateful to have learnt it. If you are getting advice online, make sure it comes from a similar climate to your own – finding out that basil grows abundantly in December in California is of little help in south London.

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Tips for getting started with perennial gardening

Bedford Garden Club edifies members, beautifies town

Perennial gardens can be planned around a number of themes or ideas. Silver gardens, medicinal plants, colonial gardens and many other themes can be the center of any garden plan.

Whether you choose a theme or not, map out the garden area on graph paper. Make selections considering the eventual height and space requirement for each mature plant, and locate plants on paper.

Tall plants are most frequently placed near the back of the perennial border and shorter plants closer to the front.

Another key factor involves the frequency of bloom. Select perennials which will bloom at different times throughout the growing season. Staggering blooming periods will provide some color at all times.

If color is lacking, gardeners can selectively place flowering annuals to help fill in the gaps in the bloom period. Be sure to coordinate flower colors with bloom times for maximum effect.

Planting: Many perennials are easy to grow from seed or cuttings. However, for the beginner, the best plan is to purchase young, vigorous plants from a local nursery or garden center. These container-grown perennials can be planted outdoors anytime during the growing season.

Set the plants in a hole placed at the same depth as they were in the container. Water well and enjoy the results.

Maintenance: Early in the season, lightlwy cultivate or weed the garden soil. Later, a light mulch of grass clippings, pine needles, shredded pine bark, or other organic material free of weed seeds will help control weeds, conserve moisture and keep soil temperatures cool.

Perennials may need a light fertilizer application each spring. Yellow leaves and poor growth are indications that fertilizers are needed. Select a complete general purpose fertilizer such as 5-10-10 and apply it at a rate of 2 to 4 pounds per 100 square feet. Excessive fertilization will stimulate unwanted leaf growth and may result in few blooms.

As the season progresses, remove faded blossoms, spent flower stalks and any dead or diseased leaves.

Be sure to weed the perennials periodically and water well during dry spells.

Dividing perennials: Most perennial plants should not be left in the same place without division for more than 3 to 4 years.

It’s time to divide perennials when the center of the clump grows sparsely, flowers are fewer and smaller and the clump gets too big or overcrowded Divide summer and fall flowering perennials early each spring. Spring flowering plants are best divided after they flower and enter a resting or dormant stage.

To divide overgrown clumps, dig up the plant with a garden fork and divide the clump into parts. Retain the outer portion of each clump and discard the mature center parts.

Keep three to five of the most vigorous outer side shoots and replant them. Discard the remaining materials, plant them in another location or give them away.

Growing perennials is a social hobby!

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What to do in your garden this May – tips from Audley End House and Gardens

08:00 07 May 2016

Spring bedding display in the Parterre


May has to be the busiest time of the gardening year with summer well on the way.

It is a glorious month, greener then any other with blossom on the trees, bulbs and shrubs bursting into life full of colour and scent and lawns looking lush. This month is rich with promise.

At Audley End we are truly spoilt in May. The Parterre and Pond Garden spring bedding displays are looking sensational with combinations of tulips, daffodils, forget me nots and wallflowers.

We vary the schemes each year so please come along and tell us what you think. In the Parterre we have my current favourite, Tulip ‘Greuze’. This tall single late tulip, introduced in 1891, is still sought after for its large purple flowers, which blend effortlessly with pinks and purples. The flowers are excellent for cutting too.

The Kitchen Garden is beginning to respond to the lengthening days and growing warmth of the sun. The trained fruit trees all around the garden are smothered with blossom and are not too be missed.

These are some of the jobs we are doing in the garden at Audley End and some ideas for you:

n With warmer temperatures at night, it is safe to put tender tomatoes and summer bedding outside, but not before acclimatising them. A change from the ideal indoor growing conditions to the cold, wind or wet that May can still bring will see plants go into shock.

n Pelargoniums appreciate re-potting and new soil we set them up nicely for summer. Prune 
back to healthy shoots and pick of any dead foliage. We have a fantastic display of Pelargoniums in the summer and always recommend growing these delightful plants.

n Vegetables can continue to be direct sown or planted including carrots, peas, broad beans salads and potatoes.

n Do not be tempted to mow off bulbs in grass until six weeks after the last flower. This allows time to replenish their energy and build up for flowering again next year.

n Plant out sweet peas this month. We love to grow and display sweet peas for their scent and cut flowers. We have started planting this week and have included old fashioned varieties such as ‘Cupanii’ and ‘Dorothy Eckford.

n Mow lawns weekly. May is the perfect time to give your lawns a boost with a spring/summer lawn feed. Feeding the lawn will improve vigour and reduce moss and 

The garden team is also preparing for the Antiques Roadshow which will be at Audley End House and Garden on May 26 from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Everyone is welcome to bring their treasures to this filming day. It is a great, free day out and no pre-registration, tickets or appointments are required.

We hope to see you then.

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