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Archives for May 15, 2016

Me and my garden: ‘There’s no reason why someone in a wheelchair cannot design beautiful gardens’

When I have been at my desk all day or out on site in clients’ gardens, I love coming back to my own garden. It’s a wonderful cliche, but I eat, live, sleep and dream about plants.

Our 1960s bungalow, which we moved to eight years ago, is set in the centre of the plot, which is just under an acre. The garden was stuck in the 60s – lawns, large conifer beds. I am designing it from scratch – section by section. I have a wonderful civil partner, Jasen, who helps me out, as well as some very good friends who come over and do the digging; but I still do a lot of the pruning and planting myself. I’ve introduced wide paths, beds I can access from my wheelchair, and I have some privet hedging that I trim while seated in my chair. In the early evening I like to go out in the garden and dabble. I love getting my fingers into the soil, and pulling plants out to see how they are growing: I lay them out on a table and examine them.

About 15 years ago, I was in a car accident and had to have operations on my spine, which were complicated by me having spina bifida. My recovery was very slow: I had chronic pain throughout my body and chronic fatigue, and I ended up in a wheelchair.

I started designing gardens for friends, and it took off through word of mouth. I gave up my job in publishing and, over time while managing my conditions, I decided that garden design was my calling.

We try to go to the Chelsea flower show every year: I love to be nosy, to see what plants are new, and to be wowed. This year I’m excited to be going as a guest presenter for the BBC. If I can make a garden that’s fully accessible, I don’t see why other designers can’t do that, too.

I find it astonishing that I appear to be the first recognised garden designer in a wheelchair. The horticultural world needs its knuckles rapped. We know the research says that plants and gardening are good for the mind and body – I am living proof of that.

My favourite spot

Sitting among the long borders around the swimming pool. I love getting in among taller plants: the heleniums, monardas and persicarias are all about 80cm tall – my height when I am sitting down, so my viewpoint is completely different from someone standing and looking down on them.

How does your garden grow? Email

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Downtown Streetscape: Crew gears up for Part Two

Posted May. 14, 2016 at 7:00 AM

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The lady is back

Posted May. 14, 2016 at 1:16 PM
Updated at 10:00 PM

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United Way Day of Action planned June 21

Non-profit organizations seeking help with an improvement project can join thousands of non-profits nationwide on June 21 — the United Way National Day of Action.

Area organizations can submit their projects at and the United Way of the Wabash Valley will send volunteers on June 21 to help complete them.

Possible project ideas include painting, small construction, landscaping, administrative, cleaning, hanging up flyers, update/clean equipment.


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On June 21, breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m. and projects will be completed from 8:30 a.m. until noon.

For more details, contact Ellen Reeves with the United Way of the Wabash Valley at 812-235-6287.

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Theres a lot about Winslow, Ariz., to keep you coming back for more

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Although Winslow, Ariz., was made famous by a line in the Eagles hit “Take it Easy,” it has long been a place with a lot going for it.

Once an important stopover along the “Mother Road” – Route 66 – Winslow has rebounded after Interstate 40 sliced its way across northern Arizona, regaining much of its charm with a quaint and historic downtown fed by red-brick streets.

La Posada Hotel (, one of the last remaining Fred Harvey hotels, has been restored to its prior glory. Designed by famed architect Mary E. J. Colter and built by the Santa Fe railroad, it first opened for business in May 1930.

Strolling through its elegant gardens is a relaxing interlude, and its public spaces are filled with historic displays ranging from photos to exhibits to old newspaper articles. There’s even a guided tour of the hotel presented by the Winslow Harvey Girls that includes a trunk show.

Tina Mion’s art is a hotel highlight. Mion has been shown in museums around the country, such as the Smithsonian Institute’s National Portrait Gallery, the Truman and Eisenhower libraries, and the Hoover Presidential Library. La Posada includes an extensive look at her retrospective on wives of American Presidents as well as a stunning, 18-foot-wide piece, “A New Year’s Eve Party in Purgatory for Suicides.”

The Snowdrift Art Space is a unique art space/gallery/studio/living space shared by sculptor Dan Lutzick and his wife, Ann-Mary. (Courtesy of Snowdrift Art Space)

And when it comes to art, it’s hard to top the nearby Snowdrift Art Space (, the home, studio and gallery for sculptor Dan Lutzick.

Lutzick transformed the old Babbitt Brothers department store into a vast art center covering about 24,000 square feet, where he also lives with his wife, Ann-Mary Lutzick, who is also director of the downtown Old Trails Historical Museum.

And it’s open to the public for free tours – on 24 hours’ notice, she said

“We take people through the entire space, including the living areas,” she continued. “We’re not just letting people into the gallery. We like to show them how we live and work and exhibit throughout the entire space.”

Instrumental in the work of restoring La Posada, Dan Lutzick took time off from the project to work on the long-neglected Babbitt store.

“Every area of the building has Dan’s stamp,” Mary-Ann Lutzick said. “Except for the electrical and the plumbing, he did all of the work restoring the building. It seems like whether or not they’re interested in artwork, they’re always curious or fascinated that we live in such an unusual space and surrounded artwork.”

The Old Trail Museum features Native American artifacts dating to pre-Columbian times. (Courtesy of the Old Trail Museum)

The also-within-walking-distance Old Trails Historical Museum ( details the history of the area from pre-Columbian through the advent of the railroad, Ann-Mary Lutzick said.

“We interpret the history of Winslow and the surrounding area,” she said. “We have a very big history for such a small town.”

Winslow marked the rough boundary of the Native Americans from the Hopi, Navajo and Laguna tribes, Lutzick said. And there’s information about nearby Meteor Crater (, the historically significant Winslow—Lindbergh Regional Airport and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

The airport, which is still open, features a small museum detailing its history. It was one of 12 refueling stops created by Charles Lindbergh when the first cross-country air service was created. It remains the only one still in use, Lutzick said.

Then, of course, there’s the far newer history that’s recognized through the “Standing on the Corner” park in downtown, taken from Jackson Browne’s lyrics: “Well, I’m a-standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me.”

The park includes a two-story trompe-l’œi mural by John Pugh, and a life-size bronze statue of Browne by Ron Adamson standing on a corner with a guitar.

Surrounding the park, a wall of donors’ bricks stands with a tale of each patrons’ description for their fondness for Winslow.

Multi-level planters with built-in seating, native landscaping, trees, lighting and more inscribed bricks complete the ensemble, which draws visitors for photos.

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Sunset Celebration Weekend in Sonoma Valley draws big crowd

Ayesha Curry was preparing parsley-mint chicken, steak with chimichurri, and a citrus-infused tequila cocktail Saturday, and the crowd that had come to see her at Sunset magazine’s newly opened outdoor kitchen and test gardens in Sonoma Valley was captivated.

Some, of course, even chanted. “Go Warriors!”

And Curry, a popular and bubbly lifestyle blogger and wife of Golden State guard and NBA MVP Stephen Curry, cheered in return.

She was teamed up for Sunset’s Celebration Weekend at Cornerstone Sonoma with Williams-Sonoma culinary director Amanda Haas. The duo proved to be one of the most popular draws for the estimated 2,000 guests Saturday who took in the newly opened landscape and culinary space for the Oakland-based lifestyle magazine.

Curry’s demo was one of the main reasons Fairfield resident Jennifer Washington attended the event, which continues today.

Her 11-year-old daughters, Camyrn Washington and Lauren Sheppard, raced to the stage after the demonstration to take pictures with Curry, and later snapped a photo with her mother, who was in the audience along with other relatives.

“I was shocked how fun she was,” Sheppard said about Curry, who will be releasing her first cookbook in September.

The demonstration was just one of many to feature food, wine and gardening in the new showcase spot for Sunset. The magazine’s parent company, Time, Inc., sold its Menlo Park campus and announced a move of its test gardens and kitchen last year.

Carol Hewlett, who attended the same event in the South Bay two years ago, said she was impressed with the new site.

“Now that I’ve seen the new test gardens, having a bigger parcel to work with I’m sure has been a big blessing,” said Hewlett, 69, of Clearlake.

She was upset to miss the Curry demonstration, but couldn’t wait to catch the other cooking and gardening demonstrations.

“There’s so much to see, so much to do,” she said, sipping on a pink-colored drink while standing in the Cocktail Garden, a small area filled with lavender, mint and citrus plants.

The mixed drinks served to guests included Jack London Gardentinis, Whiskey Smash and Sunset Garden.

Hewlett’s daughter, Kristi Silvestre, of San Jose, had to travel further for the event this year, but judged the North Bay site a better host for Sunset and its 118-year-old brand of western outdoor living.

“The location itself is prettier. It’s out in the country,” she said.

Kenwood Investments founder and Sacramento lobbyist Darius Anderson formed an investment group to acquire Cornerstone Sonoma in 2014. Anderson also is the managing member of Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat.

Booths were set up throughout the 40-acre grounds, some promoting travel destinations around the state and others selling plants, cutlery, linens, coffee and old fashioned sweets. Visitors sipping on beer and wine strolled the many gardens searching for landscaping and home-decorating ideas.

Napa resident Nora Levinson said she also had doubts about the new outdoor and culinary showpiece for Sunset.

After exploring the venue and looking for ideas to remodel her kitchen, she was convinced it was a “perfect” site.

“It’s going to bring more people to the area,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Eloísa Ruano González at 521-5458 or On Twitter @eloisanews.

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Elaine Sanders: Best new annuals for 2016

Well, it’s almost that time of year again when garden centres become flooded with consumers eager to fill their carts with flowering annuals that beautify residential and commercial landscapes all summer. Every year, breeders introduce a myriad of new flowers to the gardening market, but only a fraction of those are worthy of getting excited over, and worth the investment.

Following is a sampling of some of the best new annuals for 2016 that are available in garden centres now, which are for the most part, improved versions of old standby favourites. But first, a few annual basics.

Annuals 101

Annuals are plants that flower, set seed and die when frost hits — all within the same growing season. Unlike perennials, which only flower for one or two weeks at a time then go dormant until next year, annuals are not hardy enough to overwinter in our zone 5b climate, but are nevertheless invaluable for enriching landscapes with continuous flower colour all Quebec-summer long.

Annuals can fill spaces in new garden borders or as perennials fade and are useful anywhere landscapes need an extra boost of colour. Hanging baskets and containers overflowing with healthy annuals decorate entranceways, enhancing curb appeal. Continuous flowering uses up much of the plant’s energy so annuals require regular fertilizing to replenish depleted nutrients and to continue performing optimally. There are more annual selections for sun than shade, and this year more than ever, orange colours abound.

Annuals for Sun:

Bicoloured Bidens

Bidens is a popular annual whose small but profuse, sunny flowers bloom all summer atop barely-seen wiry, green stems. New bicolour Bidens varieties like ‘Campfire Fireburst’ or another called ‘Beedance Painted Red’ are unique in that the flower centre remains yellow while the outer half of its flower petals changes colour depending on the temperature: in cooler weather edges take on a reddish hue, whereas heat makes them turn orange.

Like all bidens, bicoloured varieties are drought tolerant, but also attract bees and other pollinators with its sweet perfume and high nectar content.

Bidens are multipurpose flowers with a mounding habit that look great alone or as fillers with complimentary flower colours such as purple perennial geranium, purple petunias or blue salvias. Bicoloured Bidens would also pair nicely in containers with small fountain grass thrillers such as ‘Pennisetum Advena Rubrum Minimus’.

‘Cleopatra’ Canna Lily

Here is another hot new annual with unusual, variable colour. This striking tropical statement plant is eye candy in any large decorative container all on its own. It is perfect for sunny patios by poolsides with its bright orange and yellow flowers that are sometimes speckled with orange polka dots on tall, sturdy stalks. Cleopatra’s foliage is just as appealing and surprising, sporting either all green, all burgundy or burgundy striped markings. Cleopatra cannas are a bit pricey, but their rhizomes can be saved and stored for growing in following seasons.

Portulaca grandiflora ‘Mojave Fuchia’

Their succulent leaves hold water, so Portulacas can take the heat, which makes them perfect annual flowers for extreme places like rooftop terraces or as a groundcover in rock gardens or wherever soil is lean. They are also excellent annuals for anyone forgetting to water or who is often away. This portulaca is an improvement on older varieties because of its large, loonie sized, floriferous, hot-pink flowers. ‘Mojave Tangerine’ is a similar variety with orange flowers.

Shade Annuals


The coleus family of annuals are grown for their uncommonly multicoloured foliage rather than for flowers. ‘Campfire’ and ‘Under the Sea’ are two new introductions to an already numerous selection of cultivars. ’Campfire’ is an impressive, rusty-orange coleus and ‘Under the Sea’ is dark burgundy with vivid lime-coloured, fringed edging. Both are easy to grow and suitable for containers or as bedding plants where they will compliment strategically placed perennials with like colours. Although coleus grow well in moderate amounts of shade, their colours are most vibrant in full sun, so experiment to determine which ones works best in your site.

Nonstop tuberhybrida Begonia

‘Mocca Bright Orange’

No surprise that it has been named the 2016 annual of the year, the begonia is not just effortless to grow, but is one of the most diverse plant groups with literally hundreds to choose from. As the name implies, it continues to produce flowers ‘nonstop’ over summer without having to remove spent blooms. What is special about this variety is the dark leaf colour, a seductive backdrop for the extra large, vivid orange flowers. These popular, versatile shade or sun annuals look best in landscapes on their own where their simple beauty can be admired.

Whatever annuals you choose this year, make sure you plan out your needs and colour preferences before heading to the garden centre or you may get carried away once surrounded by beautiful flowers.

Elaine Sanders can be reached at

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Get your garden springtime ready with easy and smart tips

Tips to grow a successful garden from Home Depot

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Garden tips for May

Fruit and nut

Do not spray insecticides during fruit tree bloom, or pollination may be affected. Disease sprays can continue according to schedule and label directions.

Avoid using Sevin on apple trees until 30 days have passed from bloom, or until fruit is near the size of a quarter.

Control cedar-apple rust. When the orange jelly galls are visible on juniper (cedar) following a rain, begin treating apple and crabapple trees with a fungicide.

Fire blight bacterial disease can be controlled at this time. Plant disease-resistant varieties to avoid diseases.

Continue spray schedules for disease-prone fruit and pine trees.

Tree and shrub

Proper watering of newly planted trees and shrubs often means the difference between success and replacement.

Remove any winter-damaged branches or plants that have not begun to grow. Prune spring flowering plants as soon as they are finished blooming. If you wait too long to prune them, you may destroy next year’s blooms.

Control of powdery mildew disease can be done early with detection and regular treatment. Many new plant cultivars are resistant. 

Leaf spot diseases can cause premature death of foliage and reduce plant vigor.

Spray pine trees for Diplodia Tip Blight.

Clean up weeds from around the base of ornamental trees and shrubs. Maintain a 3 to 5 foot weed-free, grass-free area around trees that were planted less than five years ago. 

Watch for Nantucket pine tip moths on Scotch pine. Hatching larvae will bore into pine branch tips, killing the shoot. Imidacloprid, Acephate or Sevin can be used. 



Most bedding plants, summer flowering bulbs and annual flower seeds can be planted after danger of frost. This happens around mid-April in most of Oklahoma. Hold off mulching these crops until spring rains subside and soil temperatures warm up. Warm-season annuals should not be planted until soil temperatures are in the low 60s. 

Harden off transplants outside in partial protection from sun and wind prior to planting. 

Let spring flowering bulb foliage remain as long as possible before removing it (until it turns brown and withers).



Wait a little longer for it to warm up before planting cucurbit crops and okra.

Plant vegetable crops in successive plantings to ensure a steady supply of produce rather than harvesting all at once.

Watch for cutworm damage and add flea beetle scouting to your list of daily activities in the garden.



Hummingbirds arrive in some states in early April. Get your birdfeeders ready using one part sugar to four parts water. Do not use red food coloring.

Keep the bird feeder filled during the summer months and help control insects at the same time.

Lace bugs, aphids, spider mites, bagworms, etc. can start popping up in the landscape and garden later this month. Keep a close eye on all plants and use mechanical, cultural and biologic control options first.

Be alert for both insect pests and predators. Some pests can be handpicked without using a pesticide. Do not spray if predators such as lady beetles are present. Spray only when there are too few of those to be effective.

Herbicide injury is a particular concern for some plants like mulberry, grape, tomato, redbuds and most bedding plants. Take care when making decisions about spraying your landscape.



Warm-season grass lawns can be established beginning late April from sprigs, plugs or sod. 

Warm-season grasses can be fertilized four times per season using one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. in each of four applications. Apply one pound in April, May, June and September. Water in nitrate fertilizers. 

Mowing of warm-season lawns can begin now. Cutting height for Bermuda and zoysia should be 1 to 1 ½ inches high. Buffalo grass 1 ½ to 3 inches high.

Damage from Spring Dead Spot Disease becomes visible in Bermuda grass. Perform practices that promote grass recovery. Do not spray fungicides at this time for SDS control.

Grub damage can be visible in lawns at this time. Check for the presence of grubs before ever applying any insecticide treatments. Apply appropriate soil insecticide if white grubs are a problem. Water product into soil.

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