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Archives for May 27, 2016

Sustainable, Drought Tolerant Garden Design with Natural Swimming Pool

sustainable drought tolerant garden design eckersley architecture 1 Sustainable, Drought Tolerant Garden Design with Natural Swimming Pool

What better place to go “green” that in the great outdoors? Eckersley Garden Architecture has indeed gone the green way in its sustainable garden design. “Climate change is having a real impact on the way people are approaching garden making in Australia. Our traditional approach of copying northern European gardens is failing as our country faces protracted drought, flood and fire,” according to the Richmond, Australia-based landscape architecture firm. “There needs to be a change in attitude toward gardens if they are to be successful in the future.” This forward-thinking eco innovator designed this garden as a personal attempt at a fully sustainable garden using drought-tolerant, native plants. A “Natural Pool” is chemical-free and puts the principles of natural filtration into practice: the water run through the roots of native water plants growing along the edge. Eckersley Garden Architecture.

sustainable drought tolerant garden design eckersley architecture 2 Sustainable, Drought Tolerant Garden Design with Natural Swimming Pool






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Outdoor entertainment can guide garden design – Walla Walla Union

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author and columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. Her website,, offers gardening videos and tips.

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Ideas emerge for reclaiming Lawrence railbed – Eagle

LAWRENCE — Along rusted rails, across patches of mud, over piles of debris, under the Lowell Street bridge and through a small swarm of mosquitoes, a group of about 30 hiked an abandoned railbed Wednesday from the Methuen line to the Merrimack River to brainstorm ideas with planners about how the grungy, overgrown strip can be remade into something spectacular.

The group of adults and children stopped to consider that question four times over the 1.5-mile, two-hour trek, where the trail passed by Burgoin Park, Family Day Charter School, the intersection of Broadway and Essex streets, and ended at the river. 

At each stop, Abel Vargas, the city’s economic development director, and Brad Buschur, project director for Groundwork Lawrence, posed questions about what else beside a trail for hikers and bikers might be built at the spot, then handed out Post-it stickers so the hikers could paste their thoughts onto maps Buschur held up at each of the sites.

“Should we keep the track?” Buschur asked at the section of the railbed beside the charter school. “Would it be a cool relic to keep of the past, or do we just rip it all out and make a path for long boarders?”

Onto the map, the hikers posted their thoughts: an easy interface with the school, landscaping, more trees.

The Boston Maine Railroad carried passengers and freight on a spur from Lawrence to Manchester, N.H., from 1848 to 1993. Methuen and Salem, N.H., and other communities further north have redeveloped their sections of the railbed into a trail for bikers and hikers, although in most of them the project remains a work in progress.

Methuen received a $1.7 million grant from the state’s Gateway Cities Parks Program last month to help finish the remake of its section of the trail, including paving over the crushed asphalt that was laid down when the rails and ties were removed.

“It was brutal,” said Tim Vermette, who led the volunteer crews that did most of the construction after the rails and ties were removed, and now does most of the maintenance. Pointing to the ugly rows of invasive phragmites as high as 7 feet, he added “It was crap like this, even taller” that helped slow the work. 

Vermette said the economic challenge of converting the railbed to a trail may be greater for Lawrence because the overheated Chinese economy that was buying up scrap steel around the world has slowed since Methuen sold its rails.

In Lawrence, the project already has made a few significant strides since Abel pushed Mayor Daniel Rivera to propose it last year. 


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The state has given the city a 99-year-lease for the railbed and the federal Environmental Protection Agency provided $200,000 to study how the corridor of abandoned properties and creaky industrial buildings can be cleaned up and redeveloped.

The hike paused a third time where the railbed swipes the intersection of Broadway and Essex. Vargas offered a hint of what he’d like to see in the open spaces along the trail at that point: He would rename it Downtown Crossing, the same name given to a once-shabby Boston neighborhood that now hums with commerce and condominiums.

The hikers pondered that for a moment, then scribbled their own thoughts on the Post-its and stuck them on the map of the neighborhood that Buschur held up: Preserve a large brick building on Broadway a few hundred feet from the trail. Create a wetland out of a muddy low point of the trail that runs under Lowell Street. Install bike racks. Build a parking lot. 

It’s here, in the few downtown blocks of the railbed south of Lowell Street to the river, where the bumpy ride over the tracks across Broadway and Essex streets still reminds the city of the center of manufacturing it was for two centuries.

 Otherwise, as the railbed ran north out of downtown in the quarter century since the last train pulled away, it disappeared behind chain-link fences and ragged rows of aggressive weeds, where it was overtaken by drug users, vandals, midnight dumpers and graffiti artists.

Driving them out and claiming the railbed for hikers and bikers would be a key benefit of the project, said Jeovanny Rodriguez, a city councilor who joined the hike. He said he also joined a cleanup along the rail bed on Earth Day last month, when he said volunteers picked up enough trash to fill 55 bags.

“When we build something, people will show up,” Rodriguez said. “Anything illegal going on, they’ll go away.”

The hikers reached the Merrimack River just before dusk, spooking a great blue heron that someone speculated was looking for fish to bring back to its nest at a colony of the birds a few miles away in Andover. Vargas handed out more Post-its. The hikers scribbled their thoughts and stuck them to the last of the maps: Build a platform over the river, cut back the brush to improve the view.

Vargas had a more ambitious idea: “In a dream world, this trail would go over the bridge,” he said, pointing to the long row of wooden rail ties that still cross the river beside the Broadway bridge to the former terminal where the Lawrence to Merrimack line once ended. 

“Imagine going over the bridge with these beautiful views, without any interruption of vehicles,” he said. “But we realize it’s a high-cost item.” 

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Building Boom Fuels Economic Recovery on Island, But Outlook Mixed – The Vineyard Gazette

Nearly a decade after the Great Recession, Martha’s Vineyard is showing strong signs of recovery, including in the areas of construction, hospitality and real estate. But a predominantly seasonal economy and lack of affordable housing continue to challenge the year-round population.

The northeast region, and Massachusetts in particular, didn’t suffer as much as some parts of the country during the recession that began with the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008, so in some regards the Vineyard had a shorter road to recovery. Nancy Gardella, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged that many Island businesses are still struggling to recover. But in general, she said, things are looking up.

“When people in New York are doing well and Washington D.C. are doing well, then the Vineyard does well, as does Cape Cod, as does Nantucket,” she said. “In those East Coast metro areas, people are doing well, and that is good news for us.”

Ms. Gardella noted a 14 per cent increase in visitor spending in 2014 (using the latest data available from the Department of Revenue) and short-term growth in the fall shoulder season. She said she sees signs of a gradual shift toward a three-season economy, which could open the door to industries beyond tourism, but that will mean addressing the Island’s affordable housing shortage and increasing opportunities for job training.

“We are at a critical juncture because housing is a crisis issue,” she said. “Housing and employment and how we grow our economy all go hand in glove.”

Data from the American Community Survey, which supplements the 10-year U.S. Census reports and provides a shorter-term snapshot of the Island economy, also indicates a general upswing. Total employment in Dukes County has grown steadily, with about 8,760 adult residents in the workforce as of 2014, according to the survey. Total payroll was around $289 million in 2014, up from around $253 million in 2008.

Construction, real estate and landscaping are often touted as the main drivers of Island economy, although Ms. Gardella argues that none of those industries would survive without tourism. For everyone who builds a house on the Vineyard, she said, we can most likely thank tourism. “It started with a boat ride across to see the Island, and now they’re in love and they’re staying,” she said.

But the devil is often in the details. Construction may be booming, for example, but not all the numbers have returned to pre-recession levels. And while the total number of construction workers on the Island (including in the winter) is on the rise, there are still fewer than the 824 counted in 2008, just before the national economy crashed. Retail sales as a whole have been mostly flat since around 2009.

“The economy is not improving,” said Steve Bernier, owner of Cronig’s Market in West Tisbury and Vineyard Haven, noting that construction is only one piece of the puzzle. “What I’m seeing in the grocery store is a customer very conservative, very careful, not in a party mood.” Rather than an improving economy, the longtime businessman said he sees people adjusting to a new reality. “We are coping better,” Mr. Bernier said.

He said sales at Cronig’s have been flat, and many products are harder to find then before the recession because suppliers are still keeping a tight budget, he said. He said a quarter of the items he would like to carry are often out of stock, compared to about five per cent before 2008.

Other indicators also paint a darker picture. Despite the increase in total payroll, for example, about 11 per cent of the Dukes County population in 2014 was living in poverty. And between 2012 and 2014, the number of people earning less than 50 per cent of the poverty level grew from 823 to 1,236, an increase of 50 per cent.

But many would say there are reasons to remain hopeful, especially when it comes to the summer economy, which by all accounts has been on a strong upswing since 2013.

Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank president Paul Falvey said this week that all the usual indicators, including real estate sales and pre-bookings at hotels, are up again this year. He tied the upswing to the health of the financial industry in general in the Northeast. “When those firms are doing well, bonuses are good, people are a little less concerned about potential layoffs and downsizing,” he said. “I think that translates very much so to activity on the Island.”

Ms. Gardella said increased room occupancy was one indicator of a growing shoulder season, although it was probably less pronounced in the up-Island towns. She said Arts Martha’s Vineyard has been aggressively promoting the Island as a fall cultural destination, and those efforts have finally begun showing results.

As another indicator, the Steamship Authority reports a 12 per cent increase in traffic to and from the Vineyard so far this year, and small but steady increases in fall shoulder season traffic at least since 2010. And while the number of small vehicles from 2010 to 2015 followed the usual peak and lull, the number of large trucks (including deliveries) has been on the rise in each of the past five years from May to October. Sales of excursion tickets for year-rounders grew by 11,000 over the same period.

Some anticipate the Island becoming more of a year-round destination. Ms. Gardella said most of the business people she knows live here at least nine months out of the year, and bank deposits often remain solid into the late fall. “I think there are more jobs lasting longer, more jobs available, a broader diversity of Islanders for longer periods of time,” she said.

Martha’s Vineyard Commission director Adam Turner also said he sees a shift toward a more year-round economy, with more businesses open longer, but he shared Ms. Gardella’s concern about seizing the opportunities for industries beyond tourism. “We need to look at doing a much better job of training and having a workforce that is ready for what we are going to see here,” Mr. Turner said.

Our Island Club, which provides discounts to Island businesses for year-round residents, may offer another view of the changing trends. The club had about 6,300 members as of last year, representing more than half the adult year-round population. Co-founder Geoff Rose said he has seen significant growth in membership in the past four years, especially among seniors, who represent a large sector of the population.

But the increase doesn’t necessarily point to an improving economy. Much of it is due to a 20 per cent discount now offered at Cronig’s (up from 15 per cent last year), which Mr. Bernier said was an effort to support year-rounders and had nothing to do with an improving economy. Membership also increased sharply following the recession, Mr. Rose said, when more people needed the discount.

Meanwhile, real estate trends have continued their upward march, with single-family home sales increasing across the Island. For the first time in years, said Mr. Falvey, some brokers are even worrying about running out of inventory. Edgartown had by far the highest dollar value for its single-family homes last year, he said.

Perhaps equally revealing are patterns related to wastewater in the down-Island towns. Unlike other Island towns, Edgartown bills its wastewater customers by the number of drains on a property, offering a unique window into the town’s current building trends. Wastewater superintendent David Thompson said the number of sewer permits related to retrofits and subdivisions in Edgartown has skyrocketed this year, with many houses having more than 30 drains. (The state average is 10.)

“You used to have a four-bedroom house with two full baths and a half bath,” Mr. Thompson said this week. “Now you have a six-bedroom house with six full bathrooms . . . . It’s a hotel disguised as a residence.” Mr. Thompson has seen houses in town with as many as 50 drains, although the average for Edgartown is 14. “The plumbing fixture business must be outstanding,” he said.

Charging by the drain, rather than by the gallon, has helped eased the burden on year-round residents, Mr. Thompson said, since total wastewater flow quadruples in the summer. Volume has increased only modestly in the last few years, largely because new connections are limited to the Edgartown Great Pond watershed. The town’s year-round customer base has likely been flat or even dropping, Mr. Thompson said.

But wastewater in Oak Bluffs, where homes are generally more affordable, may tell a different story. Volume at the Oak Bluffs wastewater facility showed small incremental growth over the past four years, mostly in April and December, which may further reflect increased business activity in the off-season.

Looking ahead, Ms. Gardella stressed the need for housing and job training to support a three-season economy. But she also noted a new level of collaboration among Island businesses. As one example, she pointed to efforts among all three business associations — in Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven and Edgartown — to share ideas and develop marketing plans.

“It’s a real testimony to the Vineyard recovering from such a brutal recession a little bit more quickly than other resort areas,” she said.

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Plaza 618 to open by July 4

Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2016 7:40 pm

Plaza 618 to open by July 4

By JESSICA CAMPBELL Staff Writer (219) 326-3887  

Herald Argus


Countdown to the opening of Plaza 618 has begun.

City Planner Beth Shrader said during the Redevelopment Commission on Wednesday that progress for the plaza is going terrific.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016 7:40 pm.

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Man starts own landscaping service

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The best landscape designs don’t require hours of watering and maintenance

In the past, water would flow in the area and flood both properties. But a French drain and native plants were added to divert water away from the properties. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Pity the poor yard. It receives constant care and attention during the spring and summer, but let a few dry spells or heavy downpours mar its beauty and efficiency and suddenly it’s the bad guy.

Maybe it’s time to hit the reset button. Adjustments to your landscape can conserve water, prevent erosion and produce a healthy yard that you can be proud of for its low impact on the environment.

Sustainable design is the hottest trend for residential landscapes, according to a recent survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects. The results revealed that members expect the greatest consumer demand for residential outdoor-design elements that are environmentally sustainable, reduce water costs and require little maintenance.

Harvesting rainwater and greywater took the top spot in the survey of landscape projects expected to have the highest demand in 2016. Also popular are native and drought-tolerant plants, permeable paving, rain gardens, low-maintenance landscapes and water-efficient irrigation.

Laura Allen, author of “The Water-Wise Home” and co-founder of Greywater Action, a collaborative that leads workshops and presentations on greywater — water coming from sinks, showers and washing machines — believes that many conventional landscapes prevent water from being used as a liquid asset.

“Most yards are designed without consideration for the climate and natural rainfall patterns,” she said. “People often shape their landscapes to remove rainwater from the property, and then they have to water more.”

She advocates designing a landscape to capture the rainwater so it will soak into the ground and deeply charge the soil with moisture.

You can start small and make incremental changes to the landscape. Consider consulting with a landscape-design professional who specializes in sustainable practices to get an idea of the scope of the work. Also, check local codes to ensure compliance with building and landscape ordinances.

Before the landscape project, David Evans and Juliette Searight had a traditional back yard with a lawn. (Jennifer G. Horn)

“People can choose the easiest projects for their landscape,” Allen said. “They can put in a simple rainwater-catchment system that will collect free water the first time it rains. If they build a greywater system using their washing machine water, they can build it in one or two days. And then every time they do laundry, they will be irrigating a portion of their landscape.”

If you are building a new home, addition, patio or driveway, try to minimize hard surfaces that can’t absorb water by installing pervious concrete or pavers, which allow rainwater to seep into the ground.

“Many people have a fully paved driveway, and they may only need strips of concrete for the tires to drive on or a parking space,” Allen said. “Also, there are nonpermeable options like gravel. Interlocking pavers have openings in the middle. Plants can grow in them, and rain can soak in them. Someone designing a new landscape can design the landscape to soak up as much rainwater as possible.”

Landscape architect Jennifer G. Horn developed a shade-loving garden of Chinese Paperbush, Sweetbox, Lady’s Mantle and ferns to envelop the porch at the Evans-Searight home. (Jennifer G. Horn)

Choose native plants that coexist rather than compete with the environment. Once established, the vegetation requires little water beyond normal rainfall.

“People can have plants that sustain themselves just from the rainwater,” said Allen, who lives in Los Angeles. “Native plants are great to grow, but people have more options. They can choose plants from other regions of the world that have similar rainfall patterns. In California, we can grow plants from similar climate regions like South Africa and Australia.”

At Sterling Custom Homes in Austin, Customer Selection Manager Christine Mann said home buyers have the option to choose drought-resistant plants. The builder’s website lists several plants that thrive in the Texas Hill Country, including Jerusalem Sage, a bright-yellow hardy plant native to the Mediterranean region.

“The landscaper reviews the design, what customers are looking for, and they will discuss what they want to put in the flower beds,” Mann said. “If they say, ‘I don’t want to water much,’ the landscaper will go for more drought-resistant plants.”

Many civic landscapes showcase demonstration sites that are designed to encourage responsible landscaping.

If you visit the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, find inspiration for a water-wise landscape at the Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel. Near the menagerie of colorful hand-carved animals is a rain garden strategically placed to intercept stormwater runoff and hold it until it can be fully absorbed into the ground.

It’s one example of how the zoo, a conservation organization, demonstrates good stewardship at the 163-acre park through sustainable practices, said Jennifer Daniels, the zoo’s senior landscape architect.

“The Smithsonian has an LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] Gold directive for our large projects,” she said. “Animals have a relationship with the land. We are obligated to do the right thing.”

The rain garden adds to the educational and sustainable components of the solar-powered carousel exhibit. The objective is to take pressure off the District’s storm sewers.

“If one home puts in a rain garden, it’s a critical first step to encourage the entire community to work together on ways to contribute to the healthy function of the watershed,” Daniels said.

At the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, stormwater-management technologies are used in an initiative that serves as a model for low-impact development. The Rainkeepers program aims to encourage behaviors that reduce the flow of stormwater and pollutants into the city’s stormwater-sewer system.

Museum scientist Eugene Maurakis pointed out some of the facility’s eco-friendly features, including a garden filled with native plants, tree-well filter boxes, a rain garden, a pervious concrete parking area, and a rainwater harvesting, storage and irrigation system. A roof covered with vegetation was installed to minimize the amount of hard surfaces and to reduce heating and cooling costs. Indoors, the museum features 22 exhibits that highlight the ecological benefits of these practices.

To fully appreciate sustainable landscaping, consider the animosity that can grow between neighbors over runoff that damages property. Such disputes can get ugly and frustrating unless homeowners work together to minimize the problem.

Effective stormwater management is the goal of an ongoing collaboration between Jennifer Horn, a landscape architect in the Washington area, and her clients in the Bannockburn neighborhood of Bethesda.

Juliette Searight, seated, and her husband David Evans added native plants to their back yard. Their family also includes daughters Niniane Evans, seated, and Morgane Evans. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Horn has been working with Juliette Searight and her husband, David Evans, on their landscape for about four years. Last summer, as the couple’s Cape Cod was renovated, a dumpster was parked a few feet uphill of their home. During a torrential downpour, debris blocked the flow of water between the dumpster and the street. Taking the path of least resistance, the water traveled through a neighboring yard and down a slope to Searight and Evans’s home. About 3 inches of water flooded their patio, covering it with mud.

Their neighbors, Cheryl and James Dodwell, hired Horn to help them manage the water’s flow after that incident.

“We’ve lived here for 16 years, and these water issues have become worse over time,” said Cheryl Dodwell. “We’re noticing the impact of these big storms and deluges more lately. I feel terrible when some of our mulch ends up in our neighbors’ back yard.”

Horn created a dry riverbed along the shared property line, fortified with boulders and rain-garden plants to capture and divert water. She’s still fine-tuning the project.

“The construction began in November, and it is, no doubt, a work in progress,” Horn said. “But I think it illustrates a growing dynamic among neighbors — how to respectfully and carefully manage the flow of water as it moves from your property onto your neighbor’s with as little impact as possible. The water has to go somewhere, so how we do collaborate with neighbors to manage it?”

Several factors make the Evans-Searight property vulnerable to flooding. Their street runs downhill from a cross street, and the drainage patterns and design of the curbs are insufficient for the length of the street, according to Searight.

“We’ve had water moving this way before, but never with this force or volume,” she said. “We have very low curbs, and water just careens over the curb sometimes. It’s not a regular occurrence, but when it happens, it’s a big nuisance.”

It’s also a challenge because, Searight said, there are no gutters or stormwater drains on her street. “Our street not only collects stormwater from our block, but it also collects stormwater from the block above us,” she said. “As soon as there is a dumpster or car on the street, all the debris that comes in the water — leaves, branches — this volume of water sweeps debris, which makes a little dam and goes over the curb and into our back yard.”

Cheryl Dodwell, right, and her daughter Emma stand in a re-landscaped front lawn that controls the flow of runoff water between two houses. Previously, water would flow in this area and flood both properties. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Dodwells also turned to the Montgomery County Division of Highway Services for help in mitigating the flood risks. Curb replacement on their street is planned for this month. Barring funding problems, the entire neighborhood is expected to undergo street improvements over the next two years, including spot patching and resurfacing.

“The county has been so responsive and great in terms of working with us,” said Cheryl Dodwell, who described the overall experience as an “interesting collaborative process.”

“It’s been pleasant, but I could imagine a scenario where it couldn’t be,” she said. “It can be a pretty tough issue. Stormwater is really a force of nature, and managing it can be such a challenge. I feel lucky that we live next to friends, and we have been able to take this positive approach together.”

Cheryl Dodwell says Horn’s help has been invaluable because she is able to see the situation from both sides and design a solution that takes everyone’s needs into account.

The threat of future flooding on her neighbors’ property has Dodwell keeping her fingers crossed.

“We are just trying to do what we can do to be prepared,” she said. “The next big storm will test us.”

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Best Landscaping Company

The guys at Victory Gardens believe the best kind of landscaping is native, environmentally responsible—and best case scenario—edible.

Organic farmers Reid Archer and Kerry Shay first forged their partnership running Bethesda Academy’s garden program and created their own company in 2013 to bring the joys of backyard homesteading to the masses.

With a mission of “crafting ecological and abundant spaces for coastal Georgia,” the tilling team has built hundreds of garden beds around town and filled them with seedlings cultivated on leased acreage behind their headquarters at the Old Dairy off Tennessee Ave. They’re responsible for the bountiful landscapes growing at Trustees Garden and several schools as well as private residences, and they offer year round services to keep the land flourishing.

“We don’t do the ‘mow and blow’ stuff, but we maintain gardens, remove invasive species and fertilize the soil,” says Shay.

They’ve recently added hardscapes to their menu, creating patios and flagstone paths through the foliage. Always in demand are their aluminum-sided garden beds and drip irrigation systems that save water, and they continue to seek out more knowledge as their field expands.

“We really value the spirit of craftsmanship,” Shay vows. “We want to build thing that are durable and serve somebody a long time.”

Both the daddies of young kids, the owners of Victory Gardens have plans for their business as their families grow. Their land will soon yield a crop of sweet potatoes to sell at the farmers market, and plans are in motion for a retail shop to provide veggies, tools and other essentials for the urban farmer.

But no matter how much their ventures yield, their commitment to the values they’ve seeded remain strong.

“We do everything organically,” promises Shay.

“Not once have we sprayed a non-organic chemical on anything.” —Jessica Leigh Lebos

Runner up: RP Shaver Lawn Garden

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Tips and Trends From Top Gardeners

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, we’ve got top gardeners spilling the beans on how to grow everything.

In this Oct. 27, 2015, photo, Big Muddy Farms, an urban farm in northern Omaha, Neb. is seen amongst residential homes. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)


Barbara Damrosch, co-owner of the Four Season Farm in Harborside, ME. Gardening columnist for the Washington Post. Author of “The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook,” “Theme Gardens” and “The Garden Primer.”

Steve Bender, senior writer and expert gardener at Southern Living, where he writes the Grumpy Gardener column. Editor and writer of “The New Southern Living Garden Book,” “Southern Living Landscape Book” and “Southern Living Garden Problem Solver.” (@grumpy_gardener)

Ketzel Levine, expert gardener and landscaper. Consultant at Garden Fever in Portland, OR. Former NPR senior correspondent. (@ketzelish)

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: Green thumbs, take note: Brussels sprouts come in purple, too — “Purple Brussels sprouts come from the same lineage as purple cabbage (or red cabbage, as it’s usually called), and in both there is a color progression as the plants mature and cold weather sets in. The leaves of the young plants have a bluer tone than those of green cabbage, and the heads turn redder as they firm up.”

Southern Living: Six Flowers That Sing The Blues — “It’s human nature. We disdain what is common and lust for what is rare. This is why gardeners drool over blue blossoms, because blue is the scarcest flower color of all. It also blends well with every other color. If you’re lusting in your heart and soil for blue, here are six great plants to scratch that itch.”

The Guardian: ‘Grow three herbs and build up’ – the millennial’s guide to gardening — “When to prick out and when to pinch out, what to dead-head and what to mulch – the Royal Horticultural Society says a whole ‘lost generation’ of people in their 20s and 30s have no idea when it comes to gardening.”


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Agromin Gardening Tips: Mild June weather makes gardening easy in Southern California

While summer heat is not far away, typical gloomy June weather in southern California can make the month ideal for planting a garden and catching up on yard maintenance, says Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly compost products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities. Residents can obtain Agromin soil products in bulk or in bags at Rainbow Environmental Services (gate seven) in Huntington Beach and in bulk at South Coast Supply in Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos.

Revive Established Trees
: Planting a new tree requires almost daily initial watering. To keep water bills at a reasonable level, consider revitalizing existing trees by providing nutrients and by trimming and shaping limbs. This easy maintenance encourages new, healthy growth without the expensive startup costs associated with new plantings.

Remove Weeds Before They Flower: Pulling weeds while they are small is a lot easier than waiting until they flower and their roots are established. Allowing weeds to flower and then go to seed means you’ll have many more weeds to pick throughout the growing season. Pull weeds after a particularly overcast morning when the soil is moist so it’s easier to remove the entire weed—roots and all.

Plant Instant Gratification Vegetables: Sometimes it can take months for a vegetable plant to start producing. If that’s too long to wait, try planting these fast maturing vegetables: radishes, green onions (stalks, not bulbs), Romaine lettuce, spinach and baby carrots.

Pinch Back Basil and Cilantro: Basil and cilantro plants are quick growing and love to flower as soon as the weather warms. To keep plants producing tasty and tender leaves, pinch back any signs of flowers. Keep the plants six to eight inches tall so they remain full.

Plant Herbs That Require Little Watering: Rosemary, English thyme, oregano, lavender and sage are all native to the Mediterranean so do well in southern California. Once their roots are established, they can withstand full sun and minimal watering.

Plant Avocado Trees: Plant your avocado trees in well-draining, loose soil. If the avocado tree is in a pot, make sure the pot contains plenty of drainage holes. Overwatering can produce root rot–the single most common reason young avocado trees fail. Let the soil around the tree become somewhat dry before watering. Flowers bloom in spring, but most will fall during the first year after planting. This is normal. If all goes right, expect avocados in two or three years.

Plant Pumpkins Seeds: Pumpkins are slow growing–they need a good four months to mature. Once planted, pumpkin seeds will begin to sprout in seven to 10 days. Leave plenty of room for the plant’s vines to spread and develop. The plants need lots of warmth and moisture to thrive. Yellow flowers will start to appear about three weeks after plant growth begins. The flowers will develop into pumpkins after they are pollinated. If planted now, pumpkins will be ready for picking in time for Halloween.

For more gardening tips, go to

This article was released by Agromin.

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