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Archives for May 24, 2016

Hillier breadth makes new RHS Chelsea garden design viable

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Ebola crisis inspires a Milton Keynes charity’s garden design at Chelsea Flower Show

Milton Keynes-based charity, World Vision is set to stun at Chelsea Flower Show with a spectacular garden featuring waves of turf.

Garden designer John Warland, who is the designer behind the Queen’s Coronation Arch at Windsor Castle, took the unpredictability of life as his starting point, to create a stunning, and thought-provoking, horticultural installation for the children’s charity.

The garden that is inspired by the vulnerability of children, especially those surviving in extreme places, features ribbons of grass rising up to two meters. The grass is molded over mild steel so that it appears as if it has just been peeled from the earth. The natural rustiness of the metal helps create the illusion that you are looking at the earthy underside of the turf.

It also includes large pyrus chanticleer trees and densely planted orange tulips and springtime anemones to provoke, says John, “uplifting hope for uncertain times.”

John, who was inspired by the charity’s work in Sierra Leone throughout the Ebola crisis, explains that the ribbons of turf reflect the community and family links World Vision forges through their work.

“One ribbon alone is relatively weak, but as a chain it takes on a whole new strength,” he says. “The traumatic events of the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone are a good example of how a fragmented society torn apart by disease and fear can be slowly woven into a strong and coherent community once more.”

Sierra Leone is one of the three countries that were affected by the worst Ebola outbreak in history last year. The outbreak produced over 27,600 infections across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, of which some 11,260 were fatal.

World Vision has been supporting the Ebola response since the outbreak – providing safe and dignified burial work for Ebola victims, distributing food for quarantined families and providing psychological support for children orphaned through Ebola.

The international children’s charity aiming to improve the lives of the world’s poorest children by working closely with communities to tackle the root causes of poverty.

Through funds from Child Sponsorship it helps families have better access to water, education and healthcare. World Vision, a Christian charity, has a continued presence in almost 100 countries, so when disasters strike it is able to respond immediately and effectively to protect children who are particularly vulnerable in emergencies.

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The Basics of Landscape Design: Where to Start When Designing Your Garden

“Gardens are so much more than a collection of good design and good plants,” says Lauren Hall-Behrens, landscape designer and founder of Lilyvilla Gardens in Portland, Oregon. She specializes in large-scale residential projects, oftentimes using modern hardscapes, custom furniture, and bold plant combinations in her designs.

For Hall-Behrens, designing a garden is ultimately about creating an experience. Here are her nine guiding principles for shaping that experience on your home site, wherever that may be.

1. Tap into your gut

First and foremost, Hall-Behrens encourages clients to identify the feeling that they want to have in their new digs. Ask questions: Do you want to feel safe and enclosed, or free to meander? Do you want to feel calm and reflective, or pleasantly stimulated?


Delving into those desires—and what plants elicit specific responses—will offer a starting place for the whole design. “Defining that feeling and then applying a thematic layer to it is the beginning of everything,” says Hall-Behrens.

Once she understands how clients want to feel in their landscape, Hall-Behrens outlines a thematic concept that establishes the aesthetic parameters. She arrives at this by asking more questions. “I’m interested in where people grew up, what kind of outdoor experiences they’ve had, if they like art and what kind of art do they like. Do they tend to like minimalism or something more eccentric?”

The answers, combined with the site-specific constraints, form a theme that drives every decision for the ensuing hardscape (things like walkways and retaining walls made from hard materials) and planting plan. “For instance, I can say, ‘contemporary woodland garden surrounded by forested hillside,’ and then I can conjure up a plant palette that fits it,” says Hall-Behrens.

2. Contextualize the garden

Different properties require different approaches. “Urban, suburban, and rural gardens are all very different,” she says.

Since urban gardens are generally removed from a natural context and surrounded by an artificial built environment, city homeowners have more aesthetic leeway. “Stylistically there are a lot more options,” says Hall-Behrens.

In contrast, suburban or rural properties tend to have more established natural settings. In these cases, Hall-Behrens meshes the landscape design with the existing terrain. For instance, she might place interesting non-native plants closer to the house and plant natives closer to the property perimeter. “We need to contextualize the gardens that we’re creating so that it’s not a jarring effect to be in the space,” she says.

Raised planters help connect this garden to the house.
Josh McCullough

3. Scale, part 1: The landscape to the existing house

When designers talk about scale, they are referring to the size relationship of one entity to another. In landscape design, there are many scale relationships to mull over.

First, consider the garden to the existing house. “In urban gardens, oftentimes the house is very tall and the property is very flat,” says Hall-Behrens. “Larger plantings and manmade structures, like pergolas and other architectural elements, help to step down the house.”

For suburban or rural properties with more sprawling acreage, the opposite is true. Hall-Behrens uses plantings and hardscapes to build up the boundaries of the garden areas. To get the proportions right, she recommends applying the golden ratio.

4. Scale, part 2: Humans to the landscape

Then there is the human scale, or designing a garden that fits the human axis. Oftentimes this translates to creating a sense of enclosure in the space. “We want to feel contained and not just open and exposed,” says Hall-Behrens.

Enclosure can be achieved by erecting any number of structures, such as a pergola, trellis, or shade sail. Even stringing lights overhead will achieve the effect. This is also why we build up walls in larger, more open spaces. “The immensity of being out in the open can be too much,” says Hall-Behrens. “And not really relate to our human form.”

Tall, leafy plants create a tunnel-like space that guides the visitor forward.

Josh McCullough

5. Incorporate “pause and rhythm”

The straight lines of concrete sidewalks work as a virtual conveyer belt, moving human beings from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. But in the garden, the intent is to slow down and appreciate the surroundings. Hall-Behrens does this by thinking in terms of “pause and rhythm.”

She explains the concept with an example from the garden at her 1904 home. There, she planted tall, leafy Chinese bananas at the entry. “When they’re at the perfect height, they create the sense of walking through a lush tunnel,” she says. The end of the tunnel then opens to a gravel patio. “That gives a sense of release after that compression,” Hall-Behrens says. This strategic use of plantings and hardscape materials steers the way we move through the garden and experience it.

6. Look in every direction

Consider the views of the garden from multiple angles, starting indoors. “I typically ask what rooms are used in the home the most,” says Hall-Behrens. She’ll then pay close attention to how the garden looks from those vantage points.

Once outside, sightlines are directed with deliberate focal points, anchored with what Hall-Behrens calls “structural plants.” These can be bigger specimens, like trees or upright shrubs, as well as spherical, like boxwoods. Most importantly, they are plants with an “architectural” quality that provide visual interest year round, whether that’s a woody evergreen or deciduous tree with an interesting branch structure.

“Then I fill in with plant combinations that meet the requirements of the site and overall aesthetic and feeling of the garden,” says Hall-Behrens.

7. Create consistency, not chaos

It happens to every newbie. “When we all start gardening, we buy one of everything that interests us and then put it all in a planting bed,” says Hall-Behrens. “Oftentimes, we then can’t stand the way it looks.”

To achieve more consistency, she suggests repeating specific colors, textures, and forms. When doing so, you can still experiment. Hall-Behrens advises clustering similar plants together, such as massing varieties of ferns. The leaf structure differs, but the color and general forms remain similar. “It’s a way to learn about plants and see how they grow,” she says.

8. If space allows, build multiple seating areas

Planning for various spots to sit expands a garden’s functionality. Different areas can then get used at different times of day, and for distinctive purposes. For instance, install a hammock in a quiet nook, a pair of seats for an intimate area to drink cocktails, and a table for larger, more social gatherings.

On smaller lots, having this variety spins the illusion of more space. To plan for this, says Hall-Behrens, it’s important to factor in your lifestyle and how you’ll use the space. “Do you like to go outside in the morning and have a quiet cup of coffee? Or walk around and contemplate? Integrate that into the design.”

9. Let the design evolve organically

Gardens grow and change, and so does the design. It’s a fact of gardening that sometimes plants will need to be relocated. For instance, they may not like the conditions of their spot or you might not like how they look with their neighboring foliage.

Even professionals have to move plants around regularly. “In my own garden,” says Hall-Behrens, “I’ll just keep changing things and taking things away and learning what my eye wants to see.”

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Colorful mix of plants, ideas on display at neighbors’ homes

TICKETS: Tickets are $12 in advance; $15 day of tour. Raffle tickets for handcrafted art works also are available for $5. Tickets may be purchased from club members or at Floyd’s Fruits and Flowers, 5830 Davis Creek Rd., Barboursville; Garrison Designs and Florist, 301 5th Ave., Huntington; Hatchers on the Hill, 1601 5th Street Rd., Huntington; Hatcher’s Greenhouse, 8794 Co. Rd. 1, South Point; Kenny Queen Hardware, 4350 5th Street Rd., Huntington; MUG and PIA, 939 3rd Ave., Huntington; Red Door Home, 4341 U.S. 60 E., Huntington; Renee’s Birkenstock, 930 Lauren Christian Dr., Barboursville; Runway Couture, 917 3rd Ave., Huntington; Spurlock’s Flowers and Greenhouses, Inc., 526 29th St., Huntington; Sweet Sassy, 1112 Main St., Barboursville; Village Collection, 900 4th Ave., Huntington; or West Virginia Business Products, 1026 4th Ave., Huntington.

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Editorial: UDOT’s attachment to West Davis Corridor is not inspiring

Few Clouds
Salt Lake City 54 °
Traffic / Ski Report
Stories from last 36 hours

MAY 24, 2016  |  Salt Lake City
54 °
 |  Traffic / Ski Report
Stories from last 36 hours


The only thing worse than seeing a lot more cars moving rapidly though Davis and Weber counties would be to see a lot more cars moving slowly through the same area.

That’s why the Utah Department of Transportation seems keen to build the new West Davis Corridor Freeway — basically an expansion of the Legacy Parkway — so that the thousands of trucks and autos expected to follow population growth can zip through quickly, avoiding gridlock and the excess air pollution all that slow-and-go traffic would create.

What the planners at UDOT haven’t fully appreciated, apparently, is that building more highways just encourages more people to drive more cars — often holding a single person — clogging up all the highways the taxpayers can build.



And that’s if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others concerned with the local wetlands get out of the way and allow the project despite the damage it will do.

It’s too bad, then, that UDOT wasn’t more impressed with an alterative known as the Shared Solution. That’s an approach put forward by someone other than the department or the highway building lobby.

A group called Utahns for Better Transportation suggested that multi-faceted alternative to the $600 million highway. It would rely less on the concept of fast-moving freeway traffic and more on a combination of better land-use planning, wide and inviting boulevards and more and better public transit options.

UDOT, to its credit, did stop the process for some two years while it pondered the Shared Solution option. Officials said they liked some of the smaller ideas, such as noise-reduction technologies and more environmentally friendly lighting and landscaping. They also said more overpasses allowing east-west traffic to fly over, in spots where there would be no interchanges, would help.

In the end, though, UDOT said the Shared Solution didn’t meet the most important criteria for highway planning: The need for speed.

Until that highway gets just as clogged as I-15 ever did.

Better would be more aggressive action by affected communities, some of which oppose the freeway, to zone for mixed-use, no-commuting developments. And for the Utah Transit Authority to shake off its reputation as an over-priced, under-performing system so that UDOT, and the rest of us, would have faith that we could take the bus to work instead of everyone having to live in a three-car household.

When the feds finally kill the latest freeway plan, having a well-developed, workable alternative such as the Shared Solution in our back pocket will help everyone a lot.






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Stone Landscaping Ideas for Your North Carolina Home

Some people are looking for a home improvement project, whereas others would rather just buy a house that already has the amenities they require. Sometimes you find a house that has everything you want, but the yard is a mess. Fret not, however, because landscaping can be outsourced and it might be kind of fun to choose the landscaping for your house! If you are looking for landscape ideas or landscaping supplies in Fuquay-Varina, NC, here are some exciting stone ideas for you!


Why Use Stone?

Stone is becoming so much more popular these days with the drought on the west coast. The trend has spread as far as the east coast because of the ease and simplicity that a stone garden can offer. Since stone is in such high demand, you can often find a wider selection of stone at lower prices from landscaping companies in the US. Here are some interesting stone ideas that could either completely redo your landscaping layout or just add a finishing touch.


Boulder It Up

Adding small boulders to your yard or garden as accent pieces is very popular and can give your garden that earthy feel. If you think back to prehistoric times, all you see is rock bed. This look is coming back in a strong way by adding large rocks in any garden or yard. Large rocks are often placed in or around a fountain or swimming pool to complete the natural look. Any reputable landscaping company can easily install a fountain inside a pile of large rocks to give your swimming pool or yard the feeling of being natural.


Gravel It Down

Gravel is one of the most common landscaping supplies in Fuquay-Varina, NC. A gravel bordered fountain is a fantastic way to add the beauty of water to your home without the awful need to mow the lawn around it. Gravel gardens are becoming very popular among the water saving and eco-friendly community. These are extremely low maintenance. Once you get the beautiful fountain installed and surround it with smooth stone, it requires almost no maintenance. If you choose a nice soft stone to include in your garden, you can even add some chairs and create a perfect place to spend time outside!


Other Additions

Another very popular item in this region is a fire pit. An excellent way to make a fire pit authentic is to create an in-ground fire pit surrounded by large stones. Most fires occur on the ground, not in a bowl above the Earth. Give your fire pit that real feeling while ensuring safety by surrounding it with beautiful stones.


These are just a few of the endless stone ideas to implement in your garden or yard. With the availability of stone and other quality landscaping supplies in Fuquay-Varina NC, you will never be at a loss for how to shape your garden. These ideas can be used as is or can be the jump start to your creative yard or garden makeover this year!

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4 Causes of Landscaping Erosion and How to Control It

This content is sponsored by Gutter Helmet

Flowing water is one of Earth’s most powerful forces. It can carve massive canyons, wash away levees meant to contain it, cause mudslides that bury homes and create sinkholes that swallow cars. On a smaller scale, uncontrolled water flow creates myriad costly disasters for homeowners.

One of the biggest potential problems comes from water that drains improperly, often starting from the roof. “A house’s gutters, downspouts … and various drainage pipes are all part of the property’s drainage system,” explains “The trick to fixing drainage problems before they create substantial damage is to proactively identify and correct water issues in and around the property.”

Delphin Thebaud, Regional Marketing Director of Gutter Helmet by Harry Helmet®,  “states water is the number one enemy to your home.  In most instances you don’t realize you have a problem until it may be too late. Delphin states a preventative maintenance plan is the best course of action to avoid significant damages and repairs to your homes exterior or foundation.   Here are some guidelines to get you started.”

Check for erosion

As water flows around your home, gardens, flower beds and even your yard, it can carry telltale signs of erosion problems. If you see gravel, mulch and soil streaming out of these areas and onto your lawn, sidewalks, driveway, patio, etc., that is a sign of water flow issues. You might even see little gullies and furrows where soil has washed away. Once you notice signs of erosion, you can begin to identify the reason.

Watch for waterfalls

When it rains, check to see if water is running over the sides of your home’s rain gutters. When gutters are clogged with leaves or debris, water will pour from your gutters onto the ground around your home, which can cause a variety of problems, reports The impact of the water can cause erosion immediately under the gutters. It might even seep into your basement or cause water damage to your home’s foundation.

The National Center for Healthy Housing recommends cleaning your home’s gutters at least twice each year. Another option is to install a high quality gutter guard system that protects gutters from filling up with debris.

Control runoff

During heavy storms, runoff from roof downspouts and even neighboring properties can inundate your yard and threaten your home. Ways to deal with significant runoff are to redirect or capture it, notes information from Fairfax County. A possible solution is to use downspout extensions to direct water away from your foundation. You can also use catch basins, French drains and swales. The key is to quickly move the water away from your home and toward areas where it won’t cause damage.

Eliminate wet areas

“Wet areas that persist for several days after rain or snow are commonly caused by improper grading (low spots or depressions) or poor infiltration of water into the soil,” explains county literature. Make sure the grade or slope of your yard directs water away from your home. When the water sits in one area for days, likely problems are compacted soil, clay soil or even high groundwater. You can try alleviating the problem by amending the soil with organic material. If that doesn’t work, you might need to add underground drainage.

When you have water problems, it is important to deal with them quickly. The damage only gets worse over time and, by dealing with it right away, you can often prevent a minor issue from becoming a major concern. To make sure you handle the problem in the best way possible, consider calling an experienced professional to help you identify what needs to be done.

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Garden celebrates 300 years of landscape design

Three hundred years ago, the man who revolutionaised the country home garden – Lancelot “Capability” Brown was born.

And in one of his most famous Bedfordshire creations a plaque has been unveiled to mark the beginning of a series of events to get people gardening.

Wrest Park unveils plaque to celebrate 300th anniversary of Lancelot “Capability” Brown’s birth PNL-160523-132702001

English Heritage head of gardens and landscape John Watkins and Principal of Debois Landscape Survey Group John Phibbs, unveiled the plaque at Wrest Park, near Silsoe.

Wrest Park is just one of the many grand country houses Brown worked on, creating landscapes which looked completely natural but in fact were carefully designed.

Jemima, Marchioness Grey, and her husband Philip, 2nd Earl of Hardwicke, worked with Brown at their home Wrest Park – his involvement in the gardens began in 1758 and spanned a period of over 20 years.

Visitors can see where Brown created a manmade series of lakes that look like one flowing river, best seen from the Bath House, where the new commemorative plaque has been placed.

Three newly installed interpretive panels installed by Wrest Park’s visitor centre tell the history of Brown’s work with the De Grey family at Wrest Park, and other nearby properties where you can view Brown landscaping. In the the woodlands visitors can discover the Capability Brown Column – a rare monument dedicated to Brown, built in 1770 to celebrate the involvement of the family in the garden’s design and Brown’s assistance.

For more information about the events, running on Saturday, June 11 to Sunday, June 12; Saturday, July 9 to Sunday, July 10; and Saturday, August 13, to Sunday, August 14.

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Prince Pückler and his love for gardens

A new exhibition at the Exhibition Hall of Germany in Bonn entitled “Parkomanie” intends to highlight the meticulous – and often compulsive – manner, in which Prince Pückler transplanted entire landscapes. He started off with Bad Muskau, moved on to the town of Branitz and finally worked on Park Babelsberg outside Berlin.

Prince Pückler’s most beautiful and most famous work is located in his hometown of Bad Muskau in eastern Germany, near the Polish border. With 820 hectares, Muskauer Park is Europe’s largest English-style landscape garden, comprising the town of Muskau itself, surrounding villages and forests. The park crosses over from Germany into Poland, and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.

Pückler ingeniously laid out the park in such a manner that nature dominates over both Muskau Palace and the namesake town. His deliberate manipulation of the Neisse River with its surrounding forests and massive boulders dating back to the Ice Age managed to create a unique landscape, while also incorporating countless new trees with glorious foilage to light up the park with color.

Crazy for gardens

It cost the nobleman a fortune to lay out a park like that – even back in the early 19th century. Prince Pückler was lucky to have married a wealthy woman: Lucie, the daughter of Karl August von Hardenberg, who later became Prussian Prime Minister. Also lucky for Pückler, his wife shared his love for gardening, landscaping and parks. It’s thanks to her that he, originally a count, was eventually made a prince.

Born in 1785 – an era of change and upheaval – Pückler appreciated innovation – in fact, he couldn’t stand the baroque style of landscaping, which was popular at the time, in France in particular. His approach was much more in line with the landscaping of English gardens, which he had first discovered during travels to Britain. Prince Pückler developed what could be regarded as an obsession for gardens, sketching plans, writing papers and becoming a veritable expert in the field.

While traveling in Britain Prince Pückler also got acquainted with the main principles of the Age of Enlightenment, embracing its core tenets that man can improve the quality of life itself by improving on nature. His treatises continue to influence the world of horticulture to this day, with his 1984 book “Andeutungen über Landschaftsgärtnerei” (translation: Adumbrations on landscape gardening) still in print to this day.

Taming nature

In his book, Prince Pückler states that nature to a gardener is like the canvas to an artist: one has to be creative but also pay painstaking attention to detail. He even referred to his gardens as a “walk-through picture gallery” or “a home under the open skies,” and considered Bad Muskau to be his lifetime accomplishment.

However, his work in Branitz and Babelsberg can easily be regarded as equally outstanding and revolutionary for its time: Pückler hated straight paths in gardens and made sure that all ponds and lakes had a natural look. Above all, he appreciated biodiversity and wanted to make sure that there was plenty of greenery other than grass in his designs.

Divorce and reinvention

Prince Pückler’s wife Lucie von Hardenberg gave him all the financial support she could to make the gardens of Bad Muskau happen. But the money eventually dried up, forcing Pückler to sell the ground of his gardens to the Netherlands. The marriage didn’t survive: Lucie filed for divorce.

Pückler traveled to England again, this time not to learn more about English gardening but to find another wife, who would share his passion for landscaping and could afford to finance his work. He failed to meet a new wife, but instead he wrote a bestselling book in the meantime.

On the back of his success he was commissioned for his next major project, Branitz, where he built greenhouses to grow pineapples. Later on, he worked on transforming Babelsberg, where he managed to master the incredible feat of changing the soil from sandy ground to fertile land. Pückler added waterfalls, fountains and lakes to the landscape, creating an oasis just outside Berlin.

Germany issued a postal stamp in 2012 in honor of Prince Pückler’s work

He also incorporated artificial hills and devised a pipe system to water the gardens, which was run by its own dedicated steam power station. Despite all its engineering the park still looks incredibly natural. It proved that Prince Pückler deserves to be called an artist rather than a landscape planner.

While Pückler’s work is being honored in Bonn it won’t replace a tour of the actual gardens. Still, it offers a glimpse into the unbreakable spirit with which he approached his massive landscaping projects and giving this inimitable artist the green thumbs up.

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Prairie gardening: Tips and tricks

  1. Listen

    Tips for prairie gardening

    42min 21sec

Two hundred years ago, Minnesota was covered by more than 18 million acres of prairie.

Today, less than 2 percent of that original prairie remains, according to the DNR.

The habitat loss has been devastating for native plants, insects and birds. Though backyards may seem minuscule in comparison with the millions of lost prairie acres, homeowners can take steps to plant gardens that promote pollinators and other native species.

Dr. Karen Oberhauser, a professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota, and Ron Bowen, founder and president of Prairie Restorations, joined MPR News guest host Marianne Combs to share gardening strategies that support native plants and species.


Avoid pesticide use

“The insecticides we use to kill pest insects also kill beneficial insects, so we need to be really careful about those,” said Oberhauser. If the aim of your garden is to provide space for bees and butterflies, avoid insecticide use.

Encourage diversity in your garden

“The more species that are out there, the more checks and balances we have,” Bowen said. “Let your garden find its own balance, and I think that’s very possible: If you a diversity of species of plants, you will get a diversity of insects.”

Allow grazing — to a point

Many people try to restrict rabbits, deer or other animals from eating their garden plants, but that’s more about aesthetic goals than anything else, Bowen said.

“Grazing is a natural part of the ecosystem, so allowing for some might not be all bad — although it’s not as pretty to look at a chewed-off blazing star,” he said.

For the full conversation on prairie gardening, use the audio player above.

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