Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for May 14, 2016

7 of our favourite vertical gardens in the UAE

Vertical gardens, or living walls, are springing up across the UAE, as innovative new technologies, coupled with increased horticultural understanding, have expanded the potential design permutations of this living art form. Melanie Hunt picks her seven favourites in the UAE.


The Dubai offices and showroom of interiors brand ­Superstudio in ­Dubai feature a living wall by ­Vertical Garden Design. The feature includes rhipsalis, along with more-compact begonias, peperomias and streptocarpus.


The Hundred Wellness Center in Jumeirah features a moss vertical wall by Verdevip. The wall consists of moss harvested from bio-­sustainable areas, and is as low maintenance as it gets, providing that installation is made in environments where there’s a humidity level of 40 per cent and no direct sunlight. This makes it ideal for gyms, spas, pool areas and darker rooms. The tiny plants are treated with glycerol and food colourant before being attached to panels.;


The UAE’s office buildings are also increasingly being decorated with living walls. This vertical garden belongs to the Shah Gas Development Programme at the Abu Dhabi Power Plant, and was created by Sandrini Green Architecture. The garden consists of 1,900 cascading plants, which include green ferns, silvery aglaonema and the violet hues of ­anthurium.


There are 24 vertical garden installations at the Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort and Spa, which in total cover an area of 600 square metres. French botanist Patrick Blanc, who’s considered a global leader in this field, was responsible for the installations. The koru, a fern symbolising the embodiment of new life, is one of 120 species deployed at the resort.


Leopold’s of London’s cafe and brasserie on The Beach at JBR Walk enlisted brand concept design agency Creneau International to create its vertical garden. The 6.5-metre by 3.5-metre vertical garden cost Dh190,000 to instal, and extends adjacent to the staircase, from the ground floor to the first. Lamps are directed at the plants to provide additional lighting and to support growth.


Acacia, a subsidiary of Dubai-­based landscaping contractor Proscape, created a living wall that represents the UAE flag for the headquarters of the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority.


Acacia was also responsible for the living walls at the Hyatt Regency ­Dubai Creek Heights. Acacia exclusively uses a patented Biotecture system for its living walls, which features a by-product of basalt volcanic rock, which is spun to create a firm fibrous material that is then moulded into a series of “stone wool” ­panels.

Article source:

Keep an open mind when planning your garden

Whether it’s the MG Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show or your own display outside the patio doors, it’s a good idea to be diverse in your planning.

Even before the garden is constructed it’s wise to have a few different plans. That’s because plants can be fickle. All respond to the weather, and a sudden cold snap can stop plants in their tracks – while a burst of spring sunshine can push blooms over the top.

Early-flowering perennial Myrrhis odorata quickly changes its development to match the weather. It is only doing what comes naturally – ensuring its blooms are in peak condition to coincide with the parallel raised activity of bees. The plants don’t know they are destined for a show garden.

Hitting the mark

Grasses are much more predictable in their development, but each has to be 100 per cent perfect for judging day. That means you have to have a lot to choose from.

Bumbling along: a burst of spring sunshine can push blooms out early


Ferns are similar in their outlook – they usually look good, but for Chelsea, each and every one has to be better than that. “We have seven species of fern on the plant list and it would be a great decision to have to make if all hit the mark,” MG Garden designer Cleve West says. “It becomes a problem if none do.”

Keep flexible

A garden design has to be flexible and adapt to what is looking perfect for the day. The best-laid plans can go awry, even at the transportation stage, so it’s a good idea to have options, says West.

“There are only a few definites on the plant list, even this close to the show, but hopefully the skilled growers involved in the garden creation will nudge some forward and rein others back. It’s nice to have the widest choice possible. But it can – and does – cause sleepless nights.”

The MG Little Garden Awards celebrate the gardener in all of us. For a chance of winning fantastic prizes, simply share pictures of your own “Little Garden”.

Oh so pretty: a successful garden design should adapt to the weather


For more information and to enter*, visit

MG Investment says…

MG Investments, one of the largest fund managers in the UK and Europe, is sponsoring the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for a seventh consecutive year, reflecting shared values of innovation and excellence.

Gardeners know that you need experience, expertise and patience to enjoy growth in all conditions. For MG, the same is true for investments. With markets sometimes as hard to predict as the British climate, whether you’re looking for income or growth, it’s essential to take a long-term view.

Which means you shouldn’t be put off by short-term distractions, especially in uncertain times, or be tempted to time your investment activity in line with the markets.

This is why some investors are choosing to turn to experienced fund managers such as MG. You wouldn’t choose an investment fund without researching all the options – and you would expect your investment management team to put in similar groundwork.

MG’s managers research holdings thoroughly so that they get an in-depth perspective on each company’s prospects. Backed by MG’s heavyweight resources, they are also given the freedom to nurture investment opportunity in their own way, and follow their own convictions.

Holding a range of investments can help to deliver the right balance of risk, return and income to achieve your individual objectives.

For example, if conditions are difficult, it could be worth looking further afield for investment opportunities, and holding a blend of asset classes such as shares, fixed interest, property and cash. 

The value of investments will fluctuate, which will cause fund prices to fall as well as rise, and investors may not get back the original amount invested. MG is unable to give financial advice. If you are unsure about the suitability of your investment, speak to your financial adviser. 

*Open to residents of the UK only. 18+. Exclusions apply. Weekly competition opens 25 April – 10 June 2016. Maximum one prize per person. For full terms see

Article source:

A luxury tour of Thailand

THE BUDDHA, made of pure gold, is carved on a limestone cliff.

THE BUDDHA, made of pure gold, is carved on a limestone cliff.

We were savoring, sip by sip, the reds and whites inside a café—young wines harvested from the owner’s vineyard inside a Tuscany-inspired, 480-acre property. In a few more minutes, we were to board a chopper for a tour of Pattaya.

But for now, we were being feted like royalty at Silverlake Vineyard in Thailand, less than an hour’s ride from Pattaya.

Its founders, Surachai Tangjaitrong and Supansa Nuangpirom, were not around but its wine ambassador, Dennis Dila, a Filipino who grew up in Thailand, noted how wine-making has been appreciated, steadily picking up in the region and drawing visitors from around the world who are curious to try out “New Latitude vineyards.”


Thanks to Thailand’s dedicated viticulturists, New Latitude wine is a term predicted to become increasingly familiar in the coming years, just like Old World and New World wines. Over a decade ago, only grapes grown between the latitudes 30th and 50th were deemed suitable for viticulture. Thailand proved them wrong.

One of Thailand’s best

FRENCH Garden inspired by the gardens of Versailles, France

FRENCH Garden inspired
by the gardens of Versailles, France

Silverlake Vineyard’s sprawling property has whimsical windmills, colorful garden blooms in French-style symmetrical landscaping, Japanese bridges, gardens with metal porch swings and an open amphitheater designed for concerts and parties.

It produces one of Thailand’s best shiraz and shiraz blends like Tango Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2010 and 2012 Private Reserves. It also carries a 2011 Chenin Blanc.

The estate has facilities for making wine and juice. There’s a guided tour of the winery facilities, and wine-tasting at the Cellar Door, a charming little pub run by its small but efficient staff.

THE hottest ticket in townhelicopter tour of the city, seats up to 12 passengers.

THE hottest ticket in town—helicopter tour of the city, seats up to 12 passengers.

One of the thrills of going to Silverlake is the arresting view of the Khao Chi Chan mountain, where the biggest image of Buddha is sculpted on its limestone cliffs. Our guide said that the Buddha, measuring 70 meters tall and 109 meters wide, is made of pure gold.

This luxury tour—sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) with Flight Care Aviation Phils. Inc., the Philippine representative of TAT—included the hottest thing in Pattaya tourism at the moment: a 30-minute helicopter ride for a bird’s-eye view of the bustling beach town.

There’s a briefing prior to the tour regarding safety and emergency measures before the entourage signed waivers and climbed up the weighing scale for the handlers to determine how heavy is the entire group. The trip to the weighing scale proved to be a thousandfold more terrifying than the actual chopper ride, which went as smoothly as expected.

THE CITY of Pattaya, as seen from the chopper tour

THE CITY of Pattaya, as seen from the chopper tour

Admiring the city’s skyscrapers from the chopper is a completely different experience from, say, sailing on a yacht at sunset, watching the sun sink into the horizon and turning bright orange on one side, and admiring the coast of the Ocean Marina Yacht Club as it gently glistens, reflecting shades of Pantone into the sea.

By nightfall, we went back to the Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort—the six-starred, jungle-inspired, family-friendly hotel this side of Pattaya. Designed to resemble Jurassic Park’s Lost World, the two-building hotel is connected by rope bridges.

THIS temple in Nongnooch Pattaya  Resort gives you a sweeping view of the property

THIS temple in Nongnooch Pattaya Resort gives you a sweeping view of the property

There are man-made rivers and waterfalls, and a pathway that leads straight to the golden sands of the Wong Amat beach in north Pattaya.

A mere 15-minute ride away is the recreational center Fairtex, where we learned how to punch like a man and kick like a beast.

There are muay thai lessons, the real thing, complete with gloves and face mask. Fairtex is the home to many of the city’s best mixed martial arts fighters, male and female. One lesson won’t make a fighter out of you, but it’s a grim reminder that your self-defense instincts have become so rusty.

600-acre paradise

Another big attraction when in Pattaya is the Nongnooch Pattaya Resort. It’s a 600-acre paradise  with a botanical garden that opened in 1980. The property has an Animals Kingdom; French Garden inspired by the geometric gardens of Versailles; Italy Garden, with plants cut to form cones, circles, cubics, bars; Floating Garden; Heart Garden; Waterfalls; potted Desert Rose (Adenium) Garden native to Africa; Car Gallery, a collection of rare vintage sports cars; more than 100,000 pots made of baked clay in various shapes and sizes at the Pottery Display Garden; Stonehenge modeled after the famous 4,000-year-old wonder in Wiltshire, England.

A ROOM with a view at the Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort

A ROOM with a view at the Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort

Its more popular destination, however, is the Zoo Garden, where live animals can be petted. There are birds and deer and a tiger.

Back in Bangkok, we stayed at the fabulous boutique hotel, SO Sofitel Bangkok, which boasts a magnificent view of Bangkok’s skyline. It’s a hotel that supposedly puts you in your element, that is, your Chinese element. Floors have themes based on the five elements.

There’s the very Zen water element; blue-theme earth element, similar to the color of the planet; the wood element with murals on silk like the old Siam; and the metal element, contemporary modern suits in white with metal and glass; and fire element, with red as its dominant color.

THAI pottery, more than 100,000 of them, at the entrance of the Botanical Garden in Nongnooch Pattaya  Resort

THAI pottery, more than 100,000 of them, at the entrance of the Botanical Garden in Nongnooch Pattaya Resort

While in Bangkok, we were toured around its latest high-end shopping destination, the EmQuartier. This entertainment, shopping and dining mall is where Thai stars are seen shopping or strolling.

It has a man-made cascade 40 meters high, and a Qurator that serves as a platform for ideas that embrace Thai fashion sensibilities, highlighting 60 iconic and emerging designers in one single hub.

We ended the tour by dining at the Water Club, on the topmost floor of SO Sofitel Bangkok. Once again we found ourselves sipping wine.

Indeed, there’s more to Thailand than its pretty ladyboys, crazy tuk tuk rides and jaw-dropping sale prices. It is also about luxury, spending quality time with the family, and the unique experience that make you think you’re in Europe when you’re in the middle of Asia.

Log on here or e-mail [email protected].

Follow the author on Twitter and Instagram.

The jungle-inspired, six-star Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort, Pattaya

The jungle-inspired, six-star Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort, Pattaya

Article source:

Idea for children’s book came to author while working in landscaping 10 years ago

While working for a landscape design company as a student a decade ago, Jon-Erik Lappano often found himself daydreaming.

It wasn’t exotic vacations or a celebrity lifestyle that overtook his imagination. It was a children’s book that related to the very job he was doing.

“The idea for the story just came to me,” said Lappano, a Stratford Central high school grad. “I always had the characters and the basic plot in my head and would jot it down in various notebooks, but I kind of sat on it for about 10 years.”

Now, finally, that daydream is a reality with the recent release of Tokyo Digs A Garden, an illustrated book that introduces children to environmentalism.

Lappano’s brother-in-law, illustrator Kellen Hatanaka, already had two children’s books published by Groundwork Books and was looking to illustrate a more story-driven piece. When Lappano shared his story idea the two men decided to pitch it to the publisher.

Two years later it’s in bookstores and has been receiving favourable reviews, even having been featured in a piece in the New York Times.

“It’s been really, really cool to see it take form, and to see people responding to it positively has been awesome,” said Lappano. “To be covered in the New York Times is something I never would have imagined.

“When I was able to read it to (daughters) Maia and Amelia for the first time that was a really awesome experience. For me that made the whole thing worth it.”

That Lappano would write about environmental issues is no surprise. Raised by parents who were involved in the environmental movement, all of his schooling and work has been closely connected to that cause.

He worked for a time as a journalist and editor for the Toronto magazine Corporate Knights, which encourages businesses to become more environmentally responsible. And he’s currently communications manager for a non-profit called Sustainability CoLab, in charge of messaging and outreach for a network of non-profit organizations that work with businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.

The book feeds his passion not only for his work, but also his love of creativity and writing.

“I think it’s so important to have messages of environmentalism in ways that are accessible to kids to build up a strong ethic and love for nature at a young age,” he said. “There’s certainly a lot of books out there about gardens, but what I wanted to communicate with this book was that we don’t need to live in pristine wilderness to appreciate the natural world. Even in cities it’s out there waiting for us to discover.

“It’s important to find a balance between how we expand and consume with the health and vitality of our ecosystems.”

Lappano lives in Guelph with wife, Stephanie (Patch) Lappano — also a Stratford Central grad – and their two daughters, Maia, 5, and Amelia, 2.

His girls were “my first-round editors” as he read the book aloud to them and made changes in places where they began to lose attention.

The illustrations by Hatanaka, a Toronto native currently living in Stratford, brought the story to life in ways that Lappano said he hadn’t expected.

“Just the richness of the illustrations and the vibrancy of the colour — he did such a great job of depicting the garden taking over the city in ways that my mind wouldn’t have gone to so it was a really nice surprise to see that,” he said.

The name of the young boy in the story, Tokyo, also relates to Lappano’s summer job in landscaping. The designer he worked with was strongly influenced by Japanese aesthetics, and when Lappano showed such a love and appreciation of the Japanese style of gardening, it earned him the nickname Tokyo from his boss.

“I just thought this is such an eccentric and interesting name and it stuck with me,” he said. “I also thought it was really cool to have the name of the boy be the name of the biggest city in the world and one of the fastest-growing.

“He kind of embodies what’s possible.”

This is Lappano’s first book but it’s quite likely that it won’t be his last.

“I definitely would love to do more of this. I think it’s such a nice way to communicate ideas and just have fun with some of the things that swirl around in my head,” he said. “I just love telling stories to my daughters, so I might as well publish some if I can.”


Article source:

Hot Property: An eye for design

‘;display: inline-block;font-family: Georgia,Serif;font-size: 12px;line-height: 18px;font-weight: bold;text-transform: uppercase;}.numbered-list { counter-reset: my-badass-counter;}.numbered-list dt:before { font: bold 50px ‘Belizio Narrow SemiBold’; content: counter(my-badass-counter); counter-increment: my-badass-counter; position: absolute; left: 0; top: 0; color:}.numbered-list dt {position: relative;font: 23px Georgia;padding: 3px 0 2px 45px;line-height: 28px;color:}.numbered-list dd {padding: 0 0 35px 45px;}.updates { padding-top: 16px;}.updates:before { content: ‘ ‘; display: block; width: 230px; margin: 20px 0; border-top: 1px solid }.updates h3 { color: margin: 5px 0; font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; text-transform: uppercase; font-weight: bold;}.updates p { font: 14px/18px Arial,sans-serif; color: }.trb_allContentWrapper[data-content-type=htmlstory] .trb_mainContent_copyright {display: block;font-family: Arial,Sans-serif !important;color: font-size: 12px !important;clear: left;margin-bottom: 30px;}.trb_nav_signinLine a:hover {color: }.trb_nav_:hover {color: }trb_visualBrowseContainer_header, .trb_visualBrowseContainer_header_nextArrow, .trb_visualBrowseContainer_header_prevArrow {font-size: 10px !important;}.trb_visualBrowseContainer_header_nextArrow:before{font-size: 6em !important;}.trb_visualBrowseContainer_header_prevArrow:after {font-size: 6em !important;}html:not([data-content-mobile]) .trb_nav_main_submenu .trb_nav_submenulink:hover, .trb_nav_subMenuBlurb:hover {font-size: 10px !important;background-color: color: }html:not([data-content-mobile]) .trb_nav_main_submenu .trb_nav_submenulink, .trb_nav_subMenuBlurb {font-size: 10px !important;}.trb_nav_footer_submenu .trb_nav_submenulink:hover, .trb_nav_footer_submenu .trb_nav_submenulink {font-size: 10px !important;color: }ul[data-role~=navmenu_mainmenu], ul[data-role~=navmenu_submenu] { margin-left:50px;}@media only screen and (max-width: 540px) and (min-width: 1px) {.trb_visualBrowseContainer_header_nextArrow:before{font-size: 4em !important;}.trb_visualBrowseContainer_header_prevArrow:after {font-size: 4em !important;}}/*@media only screen and (max-width: 321px) and (min-width: 1px) { .left{ margin: 0 10px 10px 0; } .right{ margin: 0 0 10px 10px; }}*/@media only screen and (max-width: 540px) and (min-width: 1px) {hr{ margin: 30px 0 10px;}.trb_visualBrowseContainer_header_nextArrow:before{font-size: 4em !important;}.trb_visualBrowseContainer_header_prevArrow:after {font-size: 4em !important;}h2.number{margin-bottom: 20px;}/* Fix broken default padding on NGUX HTML Stories */@media only screen and (min-width: 840px) { .trb_article { padding: 30px 40px 0; } }]]>

Whether it’s a certain celebrity style or designer acumen, the luxury home beat is a great honey hole to fish for ideas and inspiration. This week’s line snared a range of eye-catching homes and features. Here are a few of our favorites.

Neal J. Leitereg

A lesson of layers

What better place to start our design tour than the Beverly Hills home of Barbara Barry. The famed designer is asking $6.995 million for her villa-style home that has served as her personal design laboratory for nearly a decade.

From the calming hues to the subtle textures to the pieces from her licensed collections, every inch of the 5,000 square feet of layered interiors is an exercise in Barry’s celebrated style.

Barry bought the home in the Beverly Hills post office area nearly a decade ago for $5.44 million. (Anthony Barcelo)

Between a rock and a cool place

It didn’t take long for Rock Hudson’s onetime Studio City home to go pending, and it’s easy to see why.

Listed for $1.095 million, the Ralph Bowerman-designed post-and-beam retains its handsome good looks with clean lines, thick beams and wide overhanging eaves. Walls of glass wrap the exterior, making the home’s tree-topped grounds and drought-tolerant landscaping feel as if they’re almost inside.

Expect the current owner, film director Jason Moore, to see a solid return on the $640,000 investment he made four years ago.

Moore put his Studio City home with ties to screen legend Rock Hudson up for sale at $1.095 million. (Luke Gibson Photography | Inset: Getty Images)

Game on

Local football product and NFL punter Chris Kluwe sold his Orange County home this week for $1.84 million, effectively kicking to the curb one of the cooler man caves we’ve seen around these parts.

The traditional-style home in a gated Huntington Beach community had a custom video game room that was featured on an episode of the DIY Network series “Man Caves.” Stadium seating, a dual gaming center and a drop-down projection screen are just a few of the perks of Kluwe’s custom cave.

Kluwe sold his Huntington Beach home with a custom video game room for $1.84 million. (Redfin | Los Angeles Times)

Baywatch boutique

The marital home of Pamela Anderson and former husband Rick Salomon came to market this week in Las Vegas. Set behind gates in the Summerlin community, the 11,000-square-foot home features interiors designed by the former “Baywatch” babe.

Among those of note is a modern kitchen with custom cabinetry, a professional sound stage and a lavish master suite with an oversized tub. Asking price: $5.2 million.

The marital home of Anderson and her former husband, Salomon, is for sale near Las Vegas for $5.2 million. (Eric Penrod / Perfect Images Real Estate Photography | Los Angeles Times)

A window into his world

It’s fitting that walls of glass are a signature feature of Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella’s Seattle-area home. Nadella this week sold the 1960s house, which features, among other things, a two-story wall of windows centered on panoramic views, for $2.775 million. Pretty nice considering he paid just $1.385 million for the pad more than a decade ago.

Nadella sold his home in Clyde Hill, Wash., for $2.775 million. ( | Getty Images)

Rose-to-close ceremony

Television producer Mike Fleiss bet on new construction on the North Shore of Kauai … and won.

The creator of reality TV series “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” had little trouble finding a match for his newly built compound, which closed sale in about five weeks for $11.4 million.

Features of the sprawling 7.3-acre spread include a Balinese-inspired main house, a separate guest house and a 100-foot saltwater swimming pool. A series of hardwood decks interconnects the property, while a private footpath leads directly to the beach below.

Fleiss sold his custom estate in Hawaii for $11.4 million. (Hawaii Life Real Estate | Getty Images)

New look in the 90210

The longtime home of late entertainers Gary Collins and Mary Ann Mobley is on the market in Beverly Hills for $7.25 million.

Renovated by SimoDesign, the traditional-style home has a contemporary look with such details as a floating staircase, modern light fixtures and a glass-enclosed wine cellar. A wet bar, a theater room and a yoga studio are just a few amenities within the 6,200-square-foot home.

The renovated home on three-quarters of an acre in Beverly Hills was formerly owned by late entertainers Gary Collins and Mary Ann Mobley. (Berlyn Photography | Associated Press)

#TBT to the old Kardashian days

Calabasas has always been home to the Jenner-Kardashian clan, but it hasn’t always been the same house.

In gated Calabasas Park, a Mediterranean-style home once owned by television personalities Caitlyn and Kris Jenner recently sold for $2.351 million. The Jenners owned the approximately 4,600-square-foot house from 2004 to 2006.

The “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” stars, who divorced in 2014, bought the house in 2004 for $1.765 million and sold it two years later for $2.425 million. Caitlyn now resides in Malibu, while Kris makes her home in gated Hidden Hills.

From the archives

It was 20 years ago this week that “Friends” star Courteney Cox made a splash on the Westside, buying a home in the Brentwood area for around $2 million. Cox eventually would sell the home on Carmelina Avenue six years later to talk show host Ricki Lake for $5.6 million.

Lake, in turn, owned the house for more than a decade before selling it in 2014 to actor Tobey Maguire for a cool $8.45 million. Maguire, to his credit, flipped the house a year later for a profit of nearly $2 million.

What we’re reading

— A villa once owned by music legend Prince continues to languish on the market in southern Spain with a price tag of roughly $5.91 million, according to Bloomberg. The late pop icon bought the house in a gated Marbella enclave in 1998 as a present for this then-wife, Mayte Garcia. He eventually sold it in 2006.

— Frank McCourt, remember him? The former owner of the Dodgers hasn’t been making much noise on the West Coast since he sold the team, but he’s been busy on the other side of the country. The Palm Beach Post reports that McCourt recently sold an equestrian ranch in Wellington, Fla., for $11.85 million. The Wellington area has long attracted titans of industry, including billionaire Bill Gates, who owns a number of equestrian properties in the area.

For more luxury real estate, visit us at the Hot Property blog and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

Article source:

Around Town 5/14/2016


The Abilene Community Band will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Paramount Theatre,

Admission is free. Donations will be accepted for Christian Service Center, which lost its facilities in a fire last month. The community band formed for a bicentennial celebration July 4, 1976. One of the original members, Joe Stephens, is now conductor of the band. For its anniversary concert, the band will perform music representing each decade of its existence, including a new composition by Stephens, “A Patriotic Salute to America.” David Bacon will emcee the program.


Texas novelists and sisters Linda Broday and Jan Sikes will be in Abilene from 1 to 3 p.m. today for a book signing at Texas Star Trading Company, 174 Cypress St.

Broday is a New York Times best-selling western romance author with 20 novels and anthologies, including “Forever His Texas Bride,” published last December.

Sikes has produced an acclaimed four-book series of biographical fiction, with accompanying music CDs, based on her life with a Texas musician. The fourth book, ” ‘Til Death Do Us Part,” came out last month.

Read more about them on their websites, and


Local nurseryman Adam Andrews of Willow Creek Gardens Nursery and Landscaping will present “Maintain a Beautiful Lawn with Minimal Expense” as a free program on Monday at the Abilene Public Library. The presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the second floor auditorium.

Andrews will discuss how and when to apply nutrients and weed killers to maintain a beautiful lawn regardless of the type of grass you have. He’ll talk about the pros and cons of various types of grasses along with when and how much to water throughout the year and also address specific issues attendees may need help with.

Andrews is a Texas certified nursery professional, Region XI chairman for the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association. He is also certified with the Interlocking Concrete Paver Institute.


Active and retired members of the military along with their families are invited to the Abilene Zoo from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 21 for the annual “Zoolute to Dyess,” an annual event that always coincides with national Armed Forces Day.

Present your military ID and get in at no charge and enjoy a free lunch and special entertainment.

The event is made possible through generous sponsorships and volunteer efforts. The zoo will be open to normal visitors as well.

The Abilene Zoo is located at 2070 Zoo Lane and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information about events at the Zoo, visit


The YMCA of Abilene has much planned for all ages designed to beat the heat.

Included are Summer Day Camp Programs for the entire summer. Other membership benefits include youth swim and sports activities, cardio and strength training, senior fitness, basketball, karate, aerobics, yoga, cycling, racquetball, Zumba, KidzFit and more.

For more information contact the Redbud YMCA Center at 325-695-3400 or the State Street YMCA Center at 325-677-8144.

Mail information to Jan Woodward in care of “Around Town,” Abilene Reporter-News, P.O. Box 30, Abilene, TX 79604. Email address is or fax information to 325-670-5242. Deadline for submission is noon seven working days before publication.

Jan Woodward Archive

Article source:

Things to do Saturday and Sunday – Corpus Christi Caller

CALLER-TIMES file Lemonade day, a free, fun, experiential learning program that teaches youth how to start, own and operate their own business will be Saturday throughout the Coastal Bend.


LEARNING: Lemonade day, a free, fun, experiential learning program that teaches youth how to start, own and operate their own business will be Saturday throughout the Coastal Bend. Information:

CLASS: The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center will host Baby Sign Language Classes during the next six weeks. The classes will be at 11 a.m. Saturdays at 5151 McArdle Road. Children must be 3 years old and younger. Cost: $60, one caregiver and baby; $85, parents and baby. Information: 361-288-8789,

ART: The Art Museum of South Texas, 1902 N. Shoreline Blvd., will host its SUPER sARTurday from 1-3 p.m. Cost: $5, members; $10, nonmembers. Information: 361-825-3500,

ART: The Art Museum of South Texas, 1902 N. Shoreline Blvd., will host the first session of an adult workshop for Drawing in the Galleries: Comprehensive Chiaroscuro Drawing from 1-4 p.m. Cost: $15, members; $25, nonmembers. Information: 361-825-3500,

BASEBALL: The Corpus Christi Hooks will play Frisco at 7:05 p.m. at Whataburger Field, 734 E. Port Ave. The first 1,750 fans will receive a Hooks Navy Jersey. Cost: advance tickets range from $7-$15; day-of-game tickets range from $8-$17. Information:, 361-561-4665

OUTDOORS: The South Texas Botanical Gardens Nature Center, 8545 S. Staples St., will host birder, naturalist, author Gene Blacklock for a “Shore Bird Identification with Summer Breeding Plumage” one-day short course from 9 a.m. to noon Cost: $45 members, $60 nonmembers. Information: 361-852-2100,

OUTDOORS: There will be a kiteboarding event with demonstrations, raffles, food and rides from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 305 Wildcat Drive in Corpus Christi. Cost: Free to attend. Information: 361-883-1473.

ROLLER DERBY: The Hurricane Alley Roller Derby team play Texas Outlaws at 7 p.m. at the American Bank Center exhibit hall, 1901 N. Shoreline Blvd. Cost: $12 adults; $7 children. Information:

RUMMAGE SALE: Calvary Lighthouse Church, 7251 Buddy Ganem, Portland, will host a rummage sale at 8 a.m. Cost: prices vary. Information: 361-249-1718.

PERFORMING ARTS: The Rialto Theater will host “Red Velvet Cake Wars” at 7:30 p.m. at 327 S. Commercial St., Aransas Pass. Cost: $15, regular tickets; $80, reserve premium tables for four. Information:

MARCH: The March for Babies Corpus Christi 2016 will start at 8:30 a.m. at McCaughan Park, 602 S. Shoreline Blvd. Cost: General admission. Information: 361-855-4215.

CLASS: The Academy of Asian Martial Arts will host a self-defense seminar at 2:30 p.m. at 5858 S. Padre Island Drive, inside Sunrise Mall. Cost: Free. Information: 361-882-5088.

WATERPARK: The North America Flow Tour will return to Hurricane Alley Waterpark, 702 E. Port Ave., from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cost: Information:

NONPROFIT: Women Encouraging Women will host a free community parent fair at Kennedy Elementary School, 1102 Villarreal Drive, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information: 361-855-9886.

FUNDRAISING: The Relay for Life will host a gumbo cook-off for Team Pam “Strong” at 8 a.m. at Aransas Pass Moose Family Center, 2540 Farm-to-Market Road 2725, Aransas Pass. Cost: $20, to enter competition; $1, cup of competition gumbo; $5, cup of house gumbo. Information: 361-332-9450,

PERFORMING ARTS: The Aurora Arts Theatre will perform “I Want to Be a Princess” at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. at 5635 B Everhart Road. Cost: ticket prices range from $8 to $12. Information: 361-851-9700.

PROPERTY: Chief Appraiser Ramiro Canales and the Nueces County Appraisal District will host a workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds Central Pavilion, 1213 Terry Shamsie Blvd., Robstown. Employees from the district including appraisers from the residential, commercial, market analyst, personal property and exemptions departments will be on site for informal hearings about property values and to answer general questions. Attendees are encouraged to bring their 2016 Notice of Appraised Value along with any pertinent information such as photographs, contractor estimates, sales information, etc. regarding property concerns. Information: 361-881-9978.

LANDSCAPING: Gill Landscape Nursery will host the Plant Professionals Garden Talks every Saturday through June. Phillip Elbert will present a talk on fun, functional outdoor spaces at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 1, at 2810 Airline Road. Information: 361-992-9674.


ART: The Art Museum of South Texas, 1902 N. Shoreline Blvd., will host a free family day from 1-3 p.m. Cost: Free. Information: 361-825-3500,

BASEBALL: The Corpus Christi Hooks will play Frisco at 2:05 p.m. at Whataburger Field, 734 E Port Ave. The game will be a Whataburger Youth Sports Day, and the first 2,500 fans will receive a Hooks fly swatter. Cost: advance tickets range from $6-$13; day-of-game tickets range from $7-$15. Information:, 361-561-4665.

FAITH: The Brighton Park Baptist Church, 3418 Airline Road, will host a concert of prayer for vacation Bible school from 6-7 p.m. Cost: Free. Information: 361-853-2555.

BOOK SIGNING: Cecilia Garcia Akers to give presentation at the Instituto De Cultura Hispanica De Corpus Christi, 1617 N. Chaparral St., at 2 p.m. García Akers shares a daughter’s perspective on the achievements and sacrifices made by Hector P. Garcia. Cost: Free. Information:

For more events check

Article source:

Lime Stone Road Townhomes: When quality of life matters

Lime Stone Road Townhomes is part of the nationally recognized community located in Parkville. It’s rolling terrain, breathtaking views, natural habitat, award-winning Park Hill School District and, of course, its Tom Watson Signature Golf course are just a few reasons why The National stands apart from all other developments, the marketing team said. And now The National can brag about its location in Platte County, the No. 1 county out of 115 in the State of Missouri for Quality of Life as reported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The National and Platte County do not stand alone when it comes to winning awards. Lime Stone Road Townhomes has garnered Community of the Year accolades, best maintenance provided product by the Parade of Homes judges, Grand Award winner for its landscaping as presented by the Mid-America Green Industry Council and Links Magazine best golf community for convenience to city life. Come see for yourself what everyone else is writing about.

Once you arrive you can choose from several floor plans. Along with the numerous floor plans offered with our traditional product you can also choose from a new concept in maintenance provided. We have a limited offering of 8 stand-alone maintenance provided townhomes. These townhomes have no common walls and will offer an optional third-car garage. Our current inventory offers walk out and daylight lower levels. As with our existing townhome product, the stand-alone product will offer an open feeling as you enter the front door with high ceilings, large expanse of windows, efficient living spaces with the kitchen, great room and master suite on one level. They will carry our standard finishes featuring custom cabinetry, granite countertops, hardwood floors and GE appliance packages.

The good news, as a resident of one of our maintenance provided communities, you will have time to shop and play golf because as an owner you never have to take time out of your life to paint your home, repair the roof, fix/clean gutters, mow, mulch, trim, fertilize or even remove snow from your sidewalks and driveways.

If shopping and golf is not your idea of how to spend your free time you can enjoy the activities at the metros best YMCA or walk/run along the extensive trail system right outside your front door or visit English Landing Park where you may walk/run along-side the Missouri River or become one with nature while walking/running in Parkville’s very own Nature Sanctuary.

And the location, well it is second to none. Convenient to anything a resident could desire. Less than 5 minutes away you can shop for all your basic necessities. Parkville Commons, a 250,000-square-foot retail center is anchored by a Price Chopper grocery store. In addition to Price Chopper you can pick up dry cleaning at Pride Cleaners, find your everyday needs at Walgreen’s and dine at Nick-n-Jake’s, Rusty Horse Tavern, Jimmy John’s, Sakae Sushi and Pizza Hut. In addition to Parkville Commons 5 minute drive, homeowners enjoy quick and easy access to The Legends at Village West, Zona Rosa, downtown Kansas City, Kansas City International Airport and a number of other destinations within 15 minutes of the Townhomes.

Chris Powell, who markets the property for FiveStar Lifestyles thinks with prices starting in the low $300s coupled with historically low interest rates, the Lime Stone Road Townhomes offer an unprecedented opportunity for those who want to experience The National’s active resort lifestyle.

The National

Prices: Townhomes from to low $300’s up to $400,000;

Location: 5903 South National Drive, Parkville, MO 64152

Hours: Model open 12-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and by appointment anytime.

Contact: Chris Powell, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Kansas City Homes, 913-890-3596.

Article source:

This week’s gardening tips: Compost, fertilizer, caterpillars and birds

This week’s garden tips: During dry weather don’t forget to occasionally water your compost pile. Dry organic matter will not break down. It’s also helpful to shove the hose into the compost pile to make sure water reaches the inner parts. 

Apply a slow-release fertilizer to your outdoor container plants to keep them well fertilized through the growing season. One application will feed for many months, saving you time and effort.

Most of the cool-season vegetables still lingering in the garden will be cleared out this month. As cool-season crops finish, rework beds and plant heat-tolerant vegetables for production during the summer.

Caterpillars will feed on the foliage and flowers of ornamentals and the foliage and fruit of vegetables. The tomato fruit worm eats holes in tomatoes. Spinosad, BT (both organic insecticides), carbaryl or permethrin applied regularly will keep them in check.

Birds will peck holes in tomatoes just before you decide they are ripe enough to harvest. If birds are a problem, cover your plants with bird netting or harvest the fruit in the pink stage, and ripen them inside. Bird netting also works well to protect fruit crops, such as strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and figs, and is available from local nurseries or feed stores.

Article source:

Plant those flowers, tomato tips, lawn weeds: This Weekend in the Garden

Time to plant the annuals

We’re past the official all-time latest spring killing frost for Harrisburg (May 11), so it’ll take a record-setting cold snap now to kill tender flowers, such as petunias, marigolds, zinnias, geraniums and other summer annuals.

This is a good weekend to plant them in the ground, in pots, in window boxes or in hanging baskets.

Consider gradually exposing young annuals to increasing light for a few days before planting them. That’s because greenhouse-grown flowers may never have been outdoors before and could be shocked by suddenly going into the open ground.

Annuals displayed for sale outdoors won’t run into this as much as ones grown and sold indoors. To be on the safe side, do your own “hardening off” for a few days and then plant.

Another planting edge: Plant on a cloudy day or just before a soaking rain.

Once planted, soak your new flowers every other day for the first few weeks when rain doesn’t happen. That’ll prevent the young roots from drying.

Once the roots have begun reaching out into the soil, you’ll be able to cut back to a once-or-twice-a-week watering regimen.

In containers, figure on watering annuals daily throughout the season. Be sure your container has ample drainage holes, and start with quality, light-weight potting mix instead of bargain bags of potting soil that are noticeably heavier.

A shot of fertilizer once a month is usually enough for in-ground annuals, but container-grown ones benefit from weekly fertilizer – or even half-strength fertilizer every watering or two.

Which annuals to plant? See the 10 that Sinclair Adam, director of Penn State’s Trial Gardens, recommends most, and see my 10 all-time favorite summer annuals as well as my 10 all-time least favorite summer annuals.

Tomato time, too

This tomato has damage commonly called “catfacing.” 

It’s also prime time to get your warm-weather edibles in the ground, such as peppers, cucumbers, beans, eggplant, melons, squash and the king of the veggie garden, the tomato.

All of these thrive in warm to hot weather and can be planted throughout the next several weeks. Just plant them soon enough that they have time to mature and produce a harvest before frost returns in fall.

Planting tomatoes too early, though, can lead to some troubles even short of outright death from frost.

When tomatoes start to set fruit before temperatures stay consistently above 50 to 52 degrees, that chilliness can lead to a condition called “catfacing.” This is when the bottom of the fruits become deformed or grow in a sort of bumpy, “gnarly” manner with brown lines between the bumps.

Big-fruited tomatoes seem to be most susceptible to it. The fruits are safe to eat, but they’re of poor quality and usually mean cutting off the bottoms.

A better option is to yank catfaced fruits so the plants put energy into growing healthier newer fruits that develop normally under warm temperatures.

Catfacing is just one of the many things that can go wrong in growing tomatoes. More serious is the increasing trouble posed by blight and fungal leaf-spot diseases.

Some tomato varieties are more disease-resistant than others, but how you grow is as important as what you grow.

Tomatoes are the rare plant that does best planted deeply. Pinch off the lowest set of leaves and plant halfway up the stem. Roots will form along the stem, resulting in more robust plants.

Also improve the soil with generous amounts of compost and a bit of aged manure or mushroom soil before planting.

After planting, mulch the soil surface with an inch or two of straw to discourage soil-borne disease spores from splashing onto the stems, and keep your plants consistently damp all season. It’s best to water directly into the ground as opposed to over top of the plants.

For more on how to grow a great tomato, check out the article I did last year on Derry Twp. tomato-grower extraordinaire Heng Lim and his system.

For a list of the best tomato varieties – as well as top-performing veggies of all types – see my past article on The Best Vegetable Varieties.

And here’s an article I wrote on how to get the most out of your vegetable garden in general.

Time to tackle lawn weeds

Creeping veronica (also known as creeping speedwell) is a lawn weed that’s been particularly widespread this spring. 

May is the month when our lawns really kick into prime growth mode, and that – unfortunately – includes weeds.

A majority of new lawn weeds sprout between April and June, and existing ones coming back from roots produce their best growth during that same period.

That means now is a good time to get all weeds under control – especially before they have a chance to develop and mature seeds that will only multiply your troubles in the future.

The enviro-friendliest way to dispatch weeds is to dig them out. That’s very effective for bigger ones, such as dandelions, plantain and hawkweed, but it’s more difficult for creepers, such as creeping charley, chickweed and creeping speedwell.

An option for creeping-weed control is to spot-spray them with a liquid herbicide formulated for use in lawns. Those products kill most weeds without harming turfgrass (unlike broad-spectrum herbicides such as the popular Roundup, which kills most anything green).

Spot-spraying is a way to at least limit herbicide use by applying the product only where it’s immediately needed.

The sledge-hammer approach is applying a spray or a granular “weed-and-feed” product over the whole lawn. That’s more enticing when weeds are everywhere, but it can be wasteful and unnecessarily polluting to apply herbicides even in areas where there are no weeds.

May is also still early enough to apply granular weed preventers in the lawn, such as Preen Lawn Weed Control or corn gluten meal (an organic option). These don’t stop all weeds, but they stop some, including crabgrass seed attempting to germinate in late spring.

A non-chemical approach to lawn weeds is thickening bare or thin areas with new grass seed. That can be done now, too, so long as you’re not inhibiting grass-seed germination with a weed preventer, except for one called Tupersan (siduron).

A thick lawn throws up an excellent defense against all kinds of weeds. If your grass is filling all of the space, there’s no room for weed seeds to elbow their way in.

   Read more: Dealing with lawn weeds

   More when-to-do-what tips: George’s “Pennsylvania Month-by-Month Gardening” book

Article source: